Wednesday, July 23, 2014

a little local

Rumor has it that the average resident around here consumes 500 KG of fruit a year...
I don't doubt it a minute.  Watermelons are selling for 1Y (about 17 pennies) per kilo right
now and they couldn't be sweeter.

A normal restaurant will always serve this rice dish and a spicier noodle option.
That's it.  Every restaurant.  Everywhere.
In the wildest stretches of local cuisine, there are about 5 - 6 total possible meals and there are occasionally a few variations in side items.  A few non traditional meals are popping up on some menus but with these two standard dishes, how could anyone ever want or need anything else!?

He wanted his pic with all the animals... dried turtles and rats and lizards and a ram skull and horns
in front of the local pharmacy.  How's that for natural medicine?

Over the weekend we visited this street market with two precious friends of ours that came from the states to visit us.  In order to get any good local food we've had to wait til dark (for Ramadan) so the kiddos were especially hungry by the time we found those plates of rice or noodles.

What an encouragement it was to share our new home land, new neighbors with you....  We are so grateful for our time with you Bart and Pam!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July... so far

Evening reading with Daddio

Argh... this blogging slump!  I don't know if I've had such a slow blogging stretch anytime in the past five years or more!?  It's been busy lately and I'm still just getting in the groove with new things in our new place, new town...  I do smile and dream of getting to share more here again in not too much more time.  I miss sharing and recording our family journey and processing things here...  Hopefully there will be more chance to post soon!
We got a sweet visit with these dear friends...  

Perfect Ten.... (in synchronized downhill hiking.)

These two are so super cute together!  Their goofy humors are so similar and they bring out the silly best in each other.  

This guy went from "I only love baseball" to "dad, could we just kick the soccer ball around instead of playing catch this time?" in just the past few weeks.  Thanks to FIFA, Germany, and inspiring local and Tennessean friends!  
And then there's this bunny....  "Cloudy" has taken over in our hearts and home this week.  Pictures next post, hopefully.  Matt and I count it as the ideal pet experience that we get to watch our friends' bunny for a week while they're gone to impress on our kiddos how very much work pets are!  We really could be pet people.  We are animal lovers.  But it's just the limited space, no yard, 4 kids to clean up after already stuff that gets in the way of us having big pets.   Still,  there is a turtle buying outing that still needs to happen somewhere in our future since we left John's two turtles in our last city.  (But you know, it still might be a while...)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Reading in the Sun...

A super spectacular friend of mine managed to load just three little paragraphs with precision brilliance for this mama season, this fight for joy, this marathon of endurance and contentment, promise-clinging, glory-seeking...

I love you dear friend!  Thank you for this....

Friday, June 27, 2014


I'm really hungry and so needy for this all lived real and happening in me.  Praying for patterns in my own heart and home to grow strong to bless... 
I long for a life, a marriage, a home...  I long to train my children for life, that is not filled with the easiest things, the quickest clicks and only instant gratification, the cheapest thrills, the everyone-can-do-that skills, the bag/bucket/box meal nutrition, the mud-puddle joys.  This little bit here is going to hit the fridge in our house....  a battle cry for endurance and glory and joy!

(Excerpt below from Jon Bloom's post "How to Stop Procrastinating:  What to Do When You Don't Feel Like Doing It," at  (June 25, 2014).
The pattern in everything is this: the greater joys are obtained through struggle and difficulty and pain—things you must force yourself to do when you don’t feel like it—while brief, unsatisfying, and often destructive joys are as inviting as couch cushions.
Why is this?
Why the Struggle and Difficulty and Pain?
Because God, in great mercy, is showing us everywhere, in things that are just shadows of heavenly realities,that there is great reward for those who struggle through and persevere (Hebrews 10:32–35).
He is reminding us almost everywhere to walk by faith in a promised future and not by the sight of immediate gratification (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Understood this way, each thing we don’t feel like doing, great or small, becomes an invitation from God to follow in the faithful footsteps of his Son, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Those who are spiritually blind only see futility in these struggles.
But for those who have eyes to see, God has woven gospel hope right into the futility of creation (Romans 8:20–21). Each struggle to overcome becomes a pointer saying, “Look ahead, past the struggle itself, past the temptation of the puny, vapor joys to the great, sustained, substantial Joy set before you!”
Endurance, Not Indulgence
So, back to that thing you don’t want to do today.
Don’t let “not feeling like it” reign as lord (Romans 6:12). It’s not your master; you don’t have to obey it.
And even though it’s counseling comfort for you, it’s not your friend either. It’s a whiny, lying joy-stealer. It’s pointing you to feeble joys and away from deep delights.
Instead, through this feeling see your Father pointing you to the reward he has planned for all who endure to the end (Matthew 24:13). Transpose it from reluctance to a reminder that God is calling you not to indulgence butendurance.
Then lay this weight aside and run with faith the race he has set before you. God will meet you with the grace you need (2 Corinthians 9:8).
And the thing is:
This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)
Do it for the joy!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

our birthdays

It’s been two weeks since I said goodbye to my four year old boy.  We sure are smitten with this guy.  He has the funniest expressions, and a big tender heart.  Yea, there is also that (loathsome) propensity for fussiness unmatched among any I’ve personally ever witnessed., but we love him endlessly still and we. are. working. on. it!  He started reading lessons and is doing great!  I love seeing his excitement and eagerness to catch up to the big kids… We are so proud of this fantastic son…. our son whom we love, who we pray will be faithful, fruitful in the Lord…  

For his birthday, we had super cool friends visiting and once again, I neglected my camera.  Even missed shots of the bday boy and his cake (actually, brownies).  But he did have a pretty fun party, thanks to Daddio.  Matt planned a fun game of dodge ball and then, once all the kids understood the game- in one of the three languages spoken- then he brought out the water balloons to bring dodge ball to a better level…. It was especially fun because it was a hot day (we haven’t had much super heat here yet- it's been beautiful) and I loved watching all our neighbors behold a water balloon fight for the first time….  shoulda got some pictures of them too!

Here’s  a sweet pose of him and the little sis (who was eagerly guarding her balloon.)

And for my bday too…  We went with some friends to a mountain spot nearby but they closed the road out to the trailhead so we had to hike a long way down the road to begin.  That’s when I hitched us a ride with these guys- who were for some reason, allowed on the road.  The back of the van had two seats and a large space with a fresh and bloody lamb skin (it's so normal... with intestines and lungs too, delicacies here).  If only this shot could be a scratch and sniff, then you'd get the full effect.  

I'm pretty sure 7 kids and 1 dad made it into/ on top of those 2 seats just to stay as close to the front of the van as possible.  

It was beautiful but we were cold (it's not much higher in elevation than the city, but man, it was a lot cooler there!  So nice!!)  It was a bit of an adventure to hike and hitchhike our way back to the cars at the end of the day too!  Finally, Matt paid for a ride on a motorcycle once we thought we should surely be allowed to drive in, since so many other cars were.  And then it started to rain.  And then the girls all jumped in another van- a comfy one this time and, in the end, Matt brought 5 local ladies who needed a ride and all the boys in our crew (6 of them total) (in our 7 seater-van) back to meet us at the front....  a funny little ending to our funny-hike day.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Marriage Retreat Discussion Guide.... {many thanks, Pastor Reju!}

Just a quick link to share here....

Matthew blessed me exceedingly with gifts for my birthday this year.  All the best:  time.  I got a morning out alone to read and write and then I got him to myself all afternoon and evening, while dear friends of ours watched our kiddos for us.   To prepare for that time, I googled for some help with goal-setting for marriage and I struck gold.  There were a few sites that looked alright but I think what Deepak Reju, a pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, has shared as a guide for a Do-It-Yourself Marriage Retreat, just can't be beat.   Incredibly helpful questions to connect and hear from each other  and find ways to spur one another on in godliness and serve and support one another with kindness, help, encouragement....  I hope we'll be returning to this retreat guide for years to come!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


My man is covering homeschool this morning so I can write to friends and catch up on the crazy list.  What a blessing to have such a superstar substitute!  Here's just a few moments to share from the morning....

The drill-seargent voice:  "Take out your notebooks and copy this.  Get started guys.  Come on.  No dilly-dallying.  The sooner you finish, the sooner you can play."  "Dear, homeschooling can be... it should be... fun."  (We both know relaxed, fun learning is the goal and is, by grace, possible, but I said that line like a true hypocrite....  oh, Lord, give us mercy.)

Tears... wimpery-shaky fussing.... "I can't do all of this math worksheet!" "Bud, just listen: do the first five rows."  Deep-Breath.  Bravery coming (slowly).  "Ok, I can do that."  I don't know why this strikes me so funny, except that for this morning, Daddy gets to deal with it instead of me.  It's nice to have a break.

John:  "Daaaaad....  I want a break!"
Vivi:  "Ok, John, you can have a break now."  (with the most loving, fake-authority 3 year-old voice)
John: "Oh, good."

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

short and sweet

Vivi found the scissors tonight and forgot the rule. The scary sad possibility came true: she gave herself a haircut.... a style straight from the heart of an exploring crafty adventure girl.  I nearly cried when I sat her on the potty and noticed the path the blades had, just a minute before, cut across her sweet hair.   Still, there was hidden laughter in my sadness because I knew right away it could have been so much worse.

It's almost straight and pretty short across the front and she snipped a large handful from her left side too (I'm so thankful it wasn't all her hair there.)  It's actually not super noticeable, though when I mentioned that I didn't think it was too bad to Matt, he mumbled something about grieving for it still.

Marian announced to the boys that they should "pretend she was still pretty" and she piled up all the lost locks and told me "you must keep this precious hair, mom!"  She told Vivi that she looked like a little China baby girl- short bangs are quite the style for little ones here... but usually not this short!

Vivi cried with me to begin with but when I swept her bangs down and cleaned up the front cut just a bit, I'm pretty positive she thought she had just got a terrific new look.  Here she is....  short hair, heart as sweet and silly as ever.

Yep, this is the same dress as she's wearing in her photos in the post below.  It's her "flower dress" that she gets to wear if she lets mama sleep at night.  It's no problem at all to yell for help to go potty at night, but she does *not* get to wear her dress if she pulls a temper tantrum after I take her potty  b/c she doesn't want me to go back to my own bed!

This look, with her bangs swept straight down, reminds me so much of pictures I have somewhere of my mama with a similar haircut as a little one.  I can only find this one pic for now where it looks like she might have gotten the scissors herself as well!  It is sweet to see my lovely mama's picture alongside my precious little girl's.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Becoming Normal

These two neighbors are regulars at our house.  We're so grateful for such great friends for our family! 

We are finally, truly settling into our new normal... living in this great place, this wonderful home, beautiful weather, among this precious, dearly loved people.  

So, so grateful to be here!

We spent a day in the mountains last week!  Went to the closest place, run like a state park,  and it was *so*beautiful*!  We played baseball in a tiny patch of grass and it was bright and sunny and there was snow... and yep, my photography skills couldn't make a nice shot happen there!  So glad we'll get to get back to that place before too long- Lord willing!  Here's just one of me and Vivi and a shot of these cute nomad boys below.  This is probably their summer job, riding around all day looking for tourists to pay top price for a ride. 

to the butcher...
the center area of our apartment complex... this is where to hang out to hear all the news and meet all the neighbors.
Such community!

Caring for her little sis...
they know they're loved...
I would hold them and snuggle them and tickle love kiss them all day long if they'd let me

always the social center of a home

This precious friend of mine!  We love their 4, and soon 5, kids (and her beautiful braids!)

Someone is getting pretty opinionated lately... a switch was flicked somewhere on her inside and she's gotten wow-stubborn-fiesty in the past 12 days or so.  It was quite chilly today and I told her she needed to wear pants before I'd take her outside to play baseball with her daddy and siblings and she tried to put on a pair of pants but she just couldn't make herself go through with it.  (You should read that to mean- she had a little fit.)  She went back in her room and came out again, "mom, can I please wear my dress and tights?  I just have to wear dress up!"