Saturday, December 20, 2014

Flashback: There's a Chicken in my Bathtub, What's new with you?

Wednesday I saw pictures and the status from last year on my Timehop announcing that Rahab "found" a chicken in our back yard and I realized that I had never blogged about it. (My blog has been pretty much neglected since we left Lowville, not for lack of things to write about.) As I was talking with Glenn about it he told me that it should have been included in my how this house is preparing us for life overseas post since it reminded us of a recent blog post on a blog we follow of a group of people living in Burundi about being given some birds and having them live temporarily in their schoolroom bathroom.

So, as best as I can remember it, here is the story of the chicken in the bathroom...

A year ago on a Tuesday morning I let Rahab, our German Shepherd, out to go to the bathroom. I heard a bunch of squabbling in the back yard and I was afraid that the new chihuahua puppy from next door had somehow gotten through our fence and Rahab had gotten a hold of her or one of the older chihuahuas. (Rahab has never gotten a hold of one of them, thankfully, but their barking annoys the daylights out of her... and us.)

On further investigation it really didn't sound like a dog and then I saw feathers flying. "Oh no! It is a bird!" I thought as I tried harder to get Rahab to stop pursuing whatever it was. Finally, after a game of "chase, catch, escape" around the yard the chicken got away under the neighbor's fence and I got Rahab back inside.

When Glenn got home that evening we saw that the chicken was still huddled up behind a bush next to the neighbor's house. He got permission to go beyond their gate to check on it and we ended up putting it into a box. There was a bit of a chunk of feather's missing from her breast but other than that she seemed like she was not too much the worse for wear from her tussle with Rahab.

Now we had a chicken... what to do with it? None of our neighbors seemed to know who it belonged to and it was getting dark so into the house it went in a box. Glenn took it out and formally introduced it to Rahab
 and we announced it on facebook.
  I got lots of advice on what to feed it and what to do if we decided to keep it and how we really would need to get others because chickens are social animals and don't do well alone. We knew we couldn't keep it in the box so we moved it into our bathroom and gave it some water, rice, and veggies.
  The chicken was great entertainment for us for breaks during school. It was fun to peek in and see what she was up to (good thing this house has 2 bathrooms so we didn't have to pee in there too!).
She got bored with the bathtub and decided to play on the sink. 
   We asked more neighbors about the chicken and some neighbors offered to eat it for us and some others pointed to one house that might be the owner. We put our phone number with a note in Spanish and English on their door and hoped to hear back. We wandered the streets and the alleys around us looking for evidence of chickens in people's yards and putting bilingual notes with our phone number but had no response.
 So we had a chicken. In our bathroom. It was always interesting to see where she was when we'd visit/ check on her. Sometime she was on the sink,
 sometimes she was on the mop handle "roost" we put over the tub,
and she even figured out how to roost up on our shower rod.
 As entertaining as it was to have a chicken in our bathroom it really wasn't sustainable. Since we couldn't find whoever owned her and keeping her, building her a coop, and adopting other chickens so she didn't get lonely wasn't something I was up for we looked into other options. A few local friends told us that they had considered getting chickens and might be willing to take her, one friend really wanted her but worried how she would interact with her other babies, er, I mean chickens. It was starting to seem like we'd have a permanent visitor in our main bathroom.

 That Thursday night our Sunday School class helped out at a Christmas party at church and we told our friends about our dilemma and showed them pictures from my phone of our bathroom fowl guest. The teacher of our class was interested in her because he had always wanted an Americana so he decided to come over afterward and take her home to live with his chickens.

Below is a picture of a couple of our girls saying good bye and her new child owner meeting her for the first time. The girls decided to name her Penny Peacock Har-Maas and off she went to her new home.
I, for one, was thankful to be able to get out our steamer and clean that bathroom that was no longer a chicken coop.

It turns out Penny has a street chicken attitude and was a bit of a bully to the suburb chickens in the small flock she joined but they worked out the details and she's still living with them and doing fine last I asked. Several weeks ago her owner was working in our neighborhood and found the home where, most likely, Penny came from but the previous owner said he could keep her.

After this experience I'm not sure that I ever want to own chickens but I can say that the bathroom is not where I would keep them if I did.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Small Group

I love my small group. 

We were a part of two different awesome small groups that helped us so much through our ups and downs in Rochester. Shortly before leaving Rochester I was filmed on a video for church talking about how great small groups were and how it was the first thing we'd look for in a church when we moved for med school. I even blogged about it here.

Things didn't work out quite like we planned. First, we went to a church that did community well but didn't have small groups. Then we went to a church that did have small groups but we didn't connect with as well and didn't really get deep. Blame it on Glenn's schedule or our own unwillingness to open up, I'm not sure but small groups didn't look like they did in Rochester.

When we moved for Glenn's rural rotation I was invited to a ladies Bible study and was warned by Lynn that I'd be asked four questions and I'd need to be prepared to answer them:
- How are you doing with your husband and children?
- What temptations are you facing and how are you dealing with them?
- Are you spending time everyday in God's word and in prayer?/ What are 
you learning?
- What can we pray for about you?
It was a bit awkward at first but it was great. I grew and changed because I knew every other Tuesday night four ladies would be looking at me and asking me how I was doing and reporting in to me how they were doing. It was a very special part of our very special months there. 

Our church here doesn't do small groups. Well, I guess, technically, they do but we couldn't figure out how to get involved in one because they're through the Sunday morning Bible studies and our class thought it might be a good idea and we met once or twice a month but with everyone's schedules and the distance we all live apart it just didn't work out. 

Over the summer a fellow resident wife friend and I started talking about how being a part of a small group was something that we both really missed. We talked with a few others and it seemed a common theme so we had a brainstorm meeting about what starting a small group together might look like for us as a group of residents and spouses. 

We've been meeting for a couple months now every Monday night with 5 other couples and a single guy. We've never all been there since over half of the members are residents but it's been great. We meet as a group for the first half and break up by gender for the second and those four accountability questions from my Tuesday night group get pulled out with the ladies. 

It has been so good. I'm not really sure how I once again survived this long without a small group and I'm so thankful to be a part of one again. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Working through some fears...

*disclaimer* I originally titled this "Five Minute Friday: Ebola" but this is not an actual Five Minute Friday prompt. I haven't seen a Five Minute Friday prompt in a while and haven't done one in even longer but I felt I needed to write today so, after recess, I had the kids sit down with me and write on Ebola because I feel like we all need to process our thoughts a bit. Here are a few of mine that I scribbled out on paper in "a bit" more than 5 minutes and then added to a bit when I got on the computer. The title changed to "Some Ebola thoughts" but that isn't even true because I have absolutely no clue what it is to live in an Ebola outbreak. I feel it is disrespectful to those in the front lines of this outbreak, especially after reading this post, to even have the word Ebola in the title because I truly have no idea what they are facing every second of every day. God has used living on this side of the ocean at this time to help me address some of my fears though so the new title is "Working through some fears..." I feel that is a more accurate representation of what this post is about.


Oh, God, help. So many thoughts flood my mind when I think of Ebola, an idea that has never been far from my mind or my prayers since I first heard the (then unknown to me) word back in March.

God's glory.

On that day in July when Kent was diagnosed I was with the kids at my brother's house and my first word was, "NO!"

"Why does he have to die after he has been there helping so many people?"
"Why does my dear friend Amber have to become a widow so young?"
"What will those precious blondies do without their daddy?"
"Is Africa really still the white man's graveyard?"

I prayed that God would be glorified. I had no idea how He would do it but I knew that He would - either by Kent dying or somehow miraculously defying the odds and surviving - God would somehow get the glory.

In those first days after his diagnosis I  thought of those missionaries who were killed in Ecuador and the countless people who have become missionaries as a result of hearing their story. God was and has been glorified in that tragedy. I'm thankful that God chose to heal Kent and get the glory that way and still use his story this time!

The need is great in West Africa. Because of Glenn's contract with his residency program it wasn't even an option for us to go to Africa to help with the Ebola crisis but now there are Ebola patients and contacts of infected people in the US. At some point, being that we are in DFW, it is possible there might be Ebola patients at his hospital in the future. What are the protocols at his hospital? Will he be caring for said patients? I don't know the answers to these questions and so many others. The protocols are evolving even as I write this.

Even if Glenn doesn't come into contact with Ebola patients somewhere in the world during this current outbreak of Ebola he is a doctor and, as such, it is his right and responsibility to care for those in need which does put him in dangerous situations at times and will do so in the future, especially since we desire to work overseas. It is not necessarily a safe career choice but it is what God has called us to and our safety is not necessarily His first priority.

Just as living here in Texas/ our house has been molding me and helping me pre-deal with issues that will be much bigger when I am living in a different culture, different climate, surrounded by people who speak a different language, etc., having these fears surface has been good for me. 

Do I have fear? Yes.

Can I trust that God is in control? Yes.

I've had a chance to try to work through my fears again and deal with the "what if?" question of losing my husband. I've come to the conclusion that, since my primary purpose here on earth is to glorify God, if He knows that the best way for me to bring Him glory is to have Glenn taken from me or some have some other dread ordeal happen then I accept His will for me and think that it is best. He is good and He does good.

We have two new favorite albums around here that play quite frequently that are having an impact on my thinking, and two songs in particular.

1. Send Me Out - the title cut on Gilbert Hovsepian's first album in English - it's great!
This song was written by the son of an Iranian pastor who was murdered for his faith. We got to hear him sing and picked up his CD at the VOM conference we went to in June.  I think knowing the story and it's source makes the songs even more powerful. We are called and we need to answer God's call, even when it is difficult. The need is great. This is a prayer of our heart:
Lord I plead with all my heart
Anoint my life set me apart
Deliver your power and liberty Lord send me
I cry out for the world to see
Your beauty and majesty
Bringing nations to their knees Lord send me

Send me out to the world I will go and make you known
Send me out Here I am I will go

Every nation every tribe
Every tongue from every side
Every soul needs Jesus Lord send me
Move and stretch your mighty hand
By your spirit sweep our land
Use me as your instrument Lord send me

Preach the good news to the meek
Be his voice, his hands and feet
Bring release to prisoners
By his power heal the sick.
2. Without You - for King and Country - one of my kids' favorite songs from one of their favorite artists - Caleb pre-ordered their new album with his birthday money because he loves them so much and it has been playing in our house almost contantly.

When I first heard this song I thought of Amber and how she must have felt as Kent was in the battle with Ebola and how not only were his "strong arms too weak to hold her" he couldn't hold her and she couldn't "dance a little" with him because he was contagious. The joy at seeing them together holding hands on the news will never, ever grow old for me.

Lately, as I have heard it I have been selfishly thinking of myself. Hearing this album over and over it's been stuck in my head and I thought it said, "I don't want to live without you. I'm not willing to live without you." I've battled with that because Glenn is not mine forever. He is just on temporary loan to me. We aren't promised tomorrow. If it is God's will I need to be willing to live without him because that may be part of God's plan for His glory as it was for the families of Martin Burnham, those missionaries in Ecuador, so many others throughout history and so many over this past several months on the other side of the world.

When I actually looked up the words I was comforted because they actually say, "I don't want to live without you. I'm not ready to live without you." That, my friends, is true. 

I don't know that anyone is truly ready to live without their spouse but I know that, if it is God's plan He will be with me and He will give me the grace I need in that trial to behave as His child and make that trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He wants me to learn. He is good and does good, even if, at the moment, it looks awful. I need to keep my eyes on Him and not borrow tomorrow's trouble that may or may not come tomorrow. There is a 50/50 chance I'll go first.

When Glenn gets off tonight he doesn't have to go back in for a week - hurray for PTO! We are planning on getting away for a bit as a family and I'm looking forward to it. We'll enjoy our God, each other, God's creation, time in prayer, and our time together because we aren't promised tomorrow we need to be faithful today with the time we do have.
So let's dance a little
Laugh a little
And hope a little more
Cause I don't want to live without you, without you. 
And this good advice posted on my fridge from a great book based on The Great Book is what I'm practicing:

To quote a friend of mine: "The name of Jesus is greater than Ebola." 
I can trust Him. 
I do not need to live in fear.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy 15 Years Glenn: a walk down memory lane of what led to that day

16 years ago today I was finishing up my summer temp job working at a factory 20 minutes from home making some kind of car parts on an assembly line. I worked 2nd shift so I usually got home just before midnight. Most nights as I got out of the car I was astounded at the beauty in the sky and many a night the song on my heart was one by Nouveaux from their album "And This Is How I Feel"
Maybe Tomorrow
The heavens paint a silent symphony
As Orion shines for me
Are you there feeling the same as I
Whispering love songs to the lonely sky

And though I don't know where you are
I know you must be there

So for now I'll lay me down to sleep
and dream and maybe tomorrow

I'll kiss the air that covers you -
I'll watch the moonlight dance in your eyes
I'll hold you safely in my arms -
Maybe tomorrow you'll be mine

I said a prayer for you today
May troubles be far away
And I'll be here on bended knee
Until the day you say you'll marry me

And though I don't know who you are
I know you're beautiful
So for now I'll lay me down to sleep
and dream and maybe tomorrow

I'll kiss the air that covers you -
I'll watch the moonlight dance in your eyes
I'll hold you safely in my arms -
Maybe tomorrow you'll be mine

I'll be waiting patiently - promise you will wait for me
No one else to hold on to - until I'm holding you

I'll kiss the air that covers you -
I'll watch the moonlight dance in your eyes
I'll hold you safely in my arms -
Maybe tomorrow

I'll love you more than life itself -
I'll watch the moonlight dance in your eyes
I'll hold you safely in my arms -
Maybe tomorrow
I'd never had a boyfriend and had no desire to date around as I'd seen the pain that caused in friends' lives. I was sure I'd never get married (at the "old maid" age of 20), so I always envisioned myself being a single missionary lady teaching MKs or native kids overseas somewhere but I spent many a night that summer praying for a "maybe tomorrow" guy that might be out there somewhere because of that song.

When I returned to Tennessee Temple that fall I had a meeting with my adviser and she informed me that I would be able to graduate on time in 2000 despite the fact that TTU was my third post secondary school. I guess that God had orchestrated just about all of the classes from my previous schools to count for something toward my degree. I was excited because that meant less time, less money spent on college and my dreams of living and teaching overseas were so close! The meeting also confirmed in my mind the fact that I would never get married - there was just no way in the only 2 years left of school to meet and marry anyone and everyone knows there are way more single women on the mission field than men and I am definitely not worthy to be one of the married ones and it's totally not likely I'll get married anyway, especially since no guy had even ever liked me before.

I think God has a sense of humor. I spent some time yesterday looking through my prayer journal from the fall of 1998. It was an exciting beginning of the semester. God was doing a work on our campus. Lives were being changed. God was at work in my heart. Looking at my prayer journal I guess that "doing thank yous" wasn't something we started when we got married. This whole book is full of prayers of thanksgiving for sunshine, for reunion with my dear Yuko, for my job at the Happy Corner, for sermons, for Tapestry, for opportunities to share Christ and so much more including tons of names of people I was able to spend time with.

A new name shows up on September 18 that had never been written before. An excerpt from that day's journal says: "Thank You that I could go to Asian Fellowship tonight. Thank You for the people I could meet! Thank You for Bridgette, James, Sean & Glenn."

What my prayer journal doesn't say but I clearly remember, September 18, just 3 weeks after my meeting "confirming I'd be single forever," an outgoing young gentleman sat next to me ("some weird girl") in chapel because he wanted to sit with the friends I was sitting with and I was "in the way." After chapel he held the door for me two different times on the way to class, not because it was me but because his mother had taught him to hold doors for ladies (thanks dear Mom-in-love). Later that afternoon he held the door for me again coming out of the post office and I was so annoyed that he kept showing up everywhere at that point I stuck out my hand and introduced myself. Though he was a new freshman he was well known on our small campus. I knew who he was and he knew most of my friends' names but we'd never met. On our short walk together down the sidewalk I think I learned he was from Wyoming but I don't remember what else. [He laughed when I read this to him. He hadn't lived in WY for 5 years at that point. He still claims WY though we lived in NY most recently and nearly as long as he lived in WY growing up.]

I was excited to go to Asian Fellowship that night. My roommate, Yuko, had gone every month the previous spring when we lived together and always seemed to have such a great time. God was turning my heart to Asia and I was excited to get to go and eat Asian food and hang out with Asians and others interested in being missionaries in Asia. I caught a ride there with my friend James and who do you think was in the back seat next to me? Glenn. Again. Really?? Why does he keep showing up?

I don't remember what happened that night but in my prayer journal I did say, "Thank You for the fun time watching Veggie Tales tonight." so I can only imagine we spent at least part of the night in the Holritz's basement playing with the kids. Glenn must have really caught my attention because by Monday the final line in my journal says "Lord, please help me to be able to keep my focus on You and not a boy or anything else - I want to glorify You in my life!" On Tuesday I see "Give me wisdom about Glenn." [He tells me he was definitely not thinking about me at that point.]

The following Saturday was the SMF (Student Mission Fellowship) picnic. On our way there in the van I think one of the first things that made Glenn actually notice me was something I said. When seeing round bales of hay on the side of the road, I mentioned that they were going to be outlawed in New York soon. Glenn, growing up on ranches in the West and already holding a low opinion of New York, was a bit appalled until I told him the reason was that the cows were complaining they couldn't get a square meal (thanks for that classic, Dad! It's still one of our favorites). [Note: He tells me that the first time he took notice of me was actually when I was the one who got a 100 in Dr Ray's first Math Concepts test, not him because he'd made a couple of careless mistakes. Not sure when that was.] That day was spent having fun with friends by the lake and chatting with Glenn on the way home. That evening we both ended up at the walking bridge where many students would gather on Saturday nights to hang out, play their guitars, sing praise songs, and chat with people about Jesus. He caught my attention again when he helped take care of a sick friend of mine that night.

Reading through it, I'm glad I have my prayer journal from those early days but what I wouldn't give to read the emails that passed between us. We shared our hearts and our vision for how we thought God wanted to use us. It was amazing to each of us how, as we read the other's emails, it was almost exactly what we would have written ourselves, our callings were so similar.

God was at work in my heart and my life. Wednesdays during my TTU days were always a challenge to me. It seemed to me that God told Dr Bouler what I was struggling with and made him preach on that particular thing on Wednesday nights. The Holy Spirit always convicted me on Wednesdays. The last day of September was a Wednesday and Dr Bouler preached on "Growing Through Waiting." On that night I thanked God for how I had grown spiritually since starting to like Glenn. I wanted so much to focus on and to please God and to want what He wanted not to please myself and what I wanted. I told God, "I had totally given up all hope that a guy who wanted to serve You and love You and know You and go to the [the 1040 window] existed anywhere. I'm shocked at how much Glenn is exactly what I need. Oh Lord, I don't know if he's the one or if You have someone else for me and for him - I trust You! I know that You will take care of me! Lord, please bless our friendship and help it to always be focused on You. Lord, please help me to cease striving and trust You. Oh Lord, while I am waiting on You please help my life to be characterized by faith, prayer, growth & resting in You. Lord, please help my soul to wait in silence for You only for my hope is from You. You only are my rock and my salvation, my stronghold and I will not be shaken. On You my salvation and glory rest, the rock of my strength - my refuge is in You. I will trust in You at ALL times and pour out my heart before You. Oh Lord, I want to be more like You and I want You to be glorified in and through my life - please give me a greater hunger & thirst for You!"

I laughed so many times reading through my prayer journal yesterday. Boy, was I really struggling. I really liked Glenn but didn't know what he thought of me. I was struggling with not knowing if being with Glenn was part of God's plan or not. I was struggling with being distracted and not completely focused on God. Many books and magazines being talked about at that time in the Christian community encouraged "true love waits" and didn't really encourage dating unless it was the person you were going to marry and I think I was very worried about making the wrong choice and doing it wrong so I think I wavered between hiding from Glenn and spending lots of time with him during that time. (One of my friends called it chasing him until he caught me.) I was also clearly annoyed by people asking me about Glenn and implying there was something more than a friendship going on between us.

At the beginning of November I see he confirmed that he did indeed like me (Did I really doubt that?) but I told God "I don't want a relationship with him unless it is Your will! Please guide and direct!" In the middle of the month my Dad, Uncle Paul, and my grandparents stopped in Chattanooga in the RV on a business trip. They took us out to eat and it seemed they approved of Glenn.

We didn't officially start dating until December 11 (I made him ask my dad to date me. I'd read it somewhere and thought it was what what I should do. Both Glenn and Dad thought it was weird but chatted on the phone about it anyway.). Our first official date was the next day to India Mahal with Ben, Kumiko and Naomi. (Third parties were required at our school if you were under a certain age which we were.)

During Christmas break we met up at a Restricted Access Nations conference in Cleveland then he came back to Waterloo with me for the rest of break to meet my family. It was fun watching him interact with my cousins' kids and introducing him around.

He got permission to ask me to marry him when my parents met up in Chattanooga for Valentine's weekend in the middle of a several week business trip my dad was on with my grandparents (Glenn blogged about that here.) We were engaged February 24 on a bench at the corner of Orchard Knob and Vance Ave where he had first told me he loved me.

I didn't meet Glenn's parents until a few weeks after we were engaged at the beginning of spring break when they came to pick up Glenn. We chatted for a few minutes in the Welcome Center just before I was leaving for Tapestry's mission trip to Hungary, Slovakia and Austria. They must have really trusted Glenn (probably they were trusting God more) to let their 18 year old son get engaged to a random girl they'd never met. [I need to remember this as one or more of our four may do this to us in the not too distant future.]

Spring semester ended and, after finals, Yuko let us borrow her car (while she returned to Japan for the summer- thanks Yuko!) to drive to Glenn's parents' place in Missouri where I got to meet the rest of his family and go to his sister's college graduation. We then drove to New York where he went with me to the wedding of Aaron and Phoebe, one of my best friends, before he headed back down to MO to work for the summer in a car borrowed from my parents while we left Yuko's car in our driveway to await her drive back to Tennessee after our wedding.

That summer Glenn worked at Lamberts in Missouri and I worked at Zotos in New York and we emailed a lot (we treated Juno on dial up like instant messenger before there was such a thing) and talked on the phone when we could (There was a deal that summer 99 cents for the first 20 minutes. We took turns calling each other and we'd time ourselves then sometimes call back).

Finally, August came and Glenn came up for last minute wedding preparations the week before that wonderful date, August 14, 1999 when we became man and wife. Yes, in a lot of ways we were still kids at 19 and 21 and we had a lot of growing up to do but it has been so much fun growing up with Glenn (with quite a bit of pain thrown in for good measure).

It's 15 years later and we will soon be adults (AKA done with the formal education/ training parts of our lives) and I am excited to see where God takes us next. Looking back on the past 15 years the song that comes to mind is one that has been playing in my mind all week by Matt Redman called "Never Once."
Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us
Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say:

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
Through every step of these last 15 years God has been SO faithful to us. I am so grateful for 15 years so far with my dear Glenn. I give God all the praise for us making it this far. I am so thankful that, in the future, no matter what comes our way, our faithful God will be there to walk with us.
After our 15 year anniversary date last night
Happy 15th anniversary, Glenn! Thanks for opening doors for me almost 16 years ago. My life has never been the same and I am so grateful for the grand adventure that our God has us on. It has not been as I expected it would be but 15 years, 4 kids, 7 vehicles, 18 homes, 2(+?) seasons without a place to call home, 15(?) dogs, 3 states, 8 years as the wife of a student, 13.5 months as the wife of a resident, countless miles driven on road trips, many fun adventures later I'm so glad to have had you as my partner through it all and thankful for God's grace that has brought us through it all - the good, the bad, and even the ugly. Thanks for a putting up with me these first 15 years. I pray that God will allow us many more years to love, learn, laugh, grow and serve together. I love you!

Note: Sorry this post is so long. I am very verbose. Also, sorry it is a day late - my dear resident husband got home early last night (at 4:30!!!) and we got to go out and celebrate our anniversary with dinner at an Indian Restaurant then dessert and a chance to chat about life at Central Market.

Monday, July 07, 2014

India-Style Lentil Stew Recipe

It's Monday again. We try to practice "Meatless Monday" around here. We don't do it perfectly. For lunch we usually have leftovers so if there's meat in it - oh well. For dinner I try to make a meatless dish. (Not that we eat a lot of meat around here anyway so it's not that much of a change from the norm. It would probably be more of a wow-er for my crew if we had a "Meat-filled Monday" but I digress.)

For years I've looked for a lentil recipe. I almost always have lentils around here. I'm not sure why I buy them. Probably because they are a cheap source of protein and I always hoped that, someday, I would find a recipe that we'd like. I've tried lentil burgers and various other lentil recipes none of which ended with rage reviews from the eaters in my home until...

Recently when I was going through paperwork in my cupboard I came across a recipe I had gotten from when I borrowed Family Feasts for $75 a Week from the library. I had never tried it before but I saw the word "lentil" in the title and thought, "Maybe this is the one!" We tried it and it is a winner. Finally.

Problem is... I keep losing the paper that it is on and that is why I am adding it to my blog today. I really like this recipe. It tastes good, doesn't take much time or effort and I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand = winner. So without further ado...

Leftovers from tonight's dinner (I snuck some winter squash in it tonight - yum!)
Indian-Style Lentil Stew
serves 6 prep time: 45 minutes
1/4C (1/2 stick) butter
2 medium sized onions, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced 
One, 1-pound package of dried lentils, rinsed and picked over (about 2 1/4C)
2C pureed canned or fresh tomatoes
6C chicken broth [If you are truly vegetarian you can use a vegetarian option here. I am not that hard core. So I guess we aren't really doing purist "Meatless Monday."]
1T ground cumin
1T curry powder
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
1T minced fresh cilantro (optional)
Salt to taste

1. Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat; add onions and cook, stirring a few times, until softened. Add garlic and lentils, stirring for a couple of minutes to thoroughly coat lentils with butter. Add remaining ingredients, except salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are soft, about 40 minutes, stirring occassionally. Season with salt and serve.

We've eaten this on rice and as a filling in tortillas. Both options are very tasty. Supposedly you can also eat it on biscuits but we've never tried that.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

How this house and living in Texas is good preparation for life overseas

As I was bending over the bath tub in my very dark bathroom (because it has no power at the moment) filling bowls with water to take to the kitchen to wash dishes in my sink that currently has no faucet I was thinking of how living in Texas, and this rental house in particular, is good preparation for life overseas. Here are a few reasons I've come up with in no particular order:

1. Electricity outages: at random times while we've lived here part of our home has been without power because of various electrical issues while we wait for someone to come and fix it. It's an old house and has those cloth covered wires run through metal pipes. Every electrician who's been here shakes their head and is concerned for our safety. Thankfully the house is being totally re-wired so I won't need to fear fire as much but while its happening large chunks of the house are without power. For the last couple of days all of the bedrooms, the main bathroom and the kitchen have been without power because they are all on the same circuit. The ceiling fan/ light in our bedroom started working today for the first time in almost a month. Many of my friends who live overseas experience frequent power outages. We've gotten to practice here in this house.

2. Cockroaches: 2 inch cockroaches are a semi-common sight around our house. We've recently discovered they aren't fans of diatomaceous earth so hopefully that will help deplete our population. I think only people who have not lived in the south think that the exhibits of Madagascar hissing cockroaches like there were in our zoos in NY are cool. They move quick, sound horrible when they crunch when you step on them to kill them and still wiggle their legs and tentacles when you pick them up with toilet paper to flush them. I'm not a fan.

3. Cold temps in our house. We rented our house without a source of heat. This winter, during the ice storm, before we bought our heater and got it hooked up, at times it got into the lower 40s in our house. It was possibly colder in parts of the house but I only ever put the thermometer in the main areas. I was reminded of a picture a friend sent from his classroom in China where all the kids were wearing winter coats in class. Heat is not a requirement. I'm grateful we have lots of layers and that we didn't get rid of our wool socks. I didn't think I'd need them in Texas but I was sure glad to have them!

4. Hot temps in our house. Last summer we just had one, old, inefficient window a/c unit for our 2400 sq foot house. We live in Texas. Though it was a "mild" summer there were still 31 days over 100 and many more in the 90s. It got hot in here. I never moved the thermometer from the dining room (where the a/c was) and the highest I saw it reach was 96 in our home last summer and rarely was it below 85. I have no idea how hot it got in the far reaches of our house. Almost every night all summer we dragged our mattresses to the dining room to camp out with the a/c and lots of fans and sheets we'd put in the fridge or freezer. I figured it was good training for living closer to the equator in a place where a/c is not even an option. I thank God that our landlord decided to put in central heat and air last month though. It will make hosting other people much more pleasant.

5. Fire ants. These are something that we did not have in NY. Their bites hurt. Don't walk through the grass.

6. Our break in. Almost every missionary I know of has been stolen from at least once. It gives you an icky, violated feeling to be stolen from which we learned first and second times in Rochester and got to experience again here. Our break ins have been humbling experiences where we've been reminded that everything we have has been given to us by God and is really just on loan to us. He chose to allow His computer to be taken from us last summer. We still mourn the 13 months of pictures we lost but we trust Him that He knows best.

7. Many of our neighbors' first language is not English. According to city data about 1/4 of the residents in our neighborhood were born in a different country and speak English either not well or not at all. Most of the kids speak English really well, having learned it at school, and many of them serve as translators for their parents.

8. Fighting fleas. We defeated lice and bedbugs during our time in Syracuse but, since our dog adopted us here, we have had the opportunity to fight fleas. At this point I feel like we're losing the battle. I have no idea what insidious insect will be a problem wherever we end up but I am sure some kind of insect will.

9. Being close in proximity to the ministry we're involved in. We didn't chose this house for it's proximity to a church but we decided, since we live across the street from it, we might as well go there. It's definitely not the church I would have chosen had I lived elsewhere and visited but it's not a bad church and, if we move overseas, our options for churches will be few so it is good practice jumping in and getting involved in a ministry close by. We have enjoyed our class, the ministries for our kids and getting involved in serving weekly with the benevolence ministry.

10. Dr. Dad working long hours, often with patients whose first language he doesn't share. Glenn has worked long hours as an intern this year and he is often dependent on translators since he has many Hispanic and refugee patients here.

I know I could go on but I've decided to stop at 10. Many of these are things have caused me to struggle with contentment over the last year. Many times over the past year, especially last summer, I've gone to my fridge and had a talk with God and Ella Spees. Ella Spees was a missionary for 52 years long ago in Africa where she had to bring her thermometer inside because it would break when it got over 120 degrees (why on earth would I ever complain about it being 96 in my house??). I first read her "prescription for contentment" in Linda Dillow's Calm My Anxious Heart years ago and it has been a challenge and inspiration to me ever since. I have it written out on a 3x5 card on my fridge so I can read it when I need a reminder:
* Never allow yourself to complain about anything - not even the weather.
* Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else.
* Never compare your lot with another's.
* Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
* Never dwell on tomorrow - remember that [tomorrow] is God's, not ours.

Chatting with God, reading Ella's prescription and my favorite quote from Andrew Murray helps me to put things in perspective. God has taught me a lot this past year. Why He always has to re-teach me contentment when "I thought I got it last time" I don't know. I am grateful that He keeps working on me and that He is teaching me how to deal with these new and different things in a place where I speak the local language and at least partly understand the culture that surrounds me.

Lord willing, someday soon we will have reliable power in our house and all the electricity will be turned on and I won't have to go to the bathtub to get water to wash dishes. How grateful I am that I have indoor plumbing and don't have to walk two miles one way to a muddy, disease infested well. How grateful I am that God allows trials in my life to give me a better perspective. He is good and does good.

Oh Lord, thank You for all You are continuing to teach me. Thank You allowing circumstances to refine us and make us more like You. I don't know what You have for us when we are done with our training here but I pray that You will help me to be faithful today where I am and trust You for our future. Please help me to always keep my eyes on You and not on my circumstances. I love You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Monday, May 12, 2014

One Year Ago Today: Broken Axle Thank Yous

One year ago May 12th was a Sunday, Mother's Day. We went to church, worked on packing and finally left for our graduation in NY/ family reunion in WY trip sometime late in the evening.

We made it about an hour down the road when the rear axle on our minivan, Winnie, broke. We sat in the van waiting to be rescued wondering what we were going to do, if we were going to be able to make it to Glenn's graduation or the family reunion, how that was all going to play out, etc.

As is often our custom when trials come into our lives we decided to pass time by sharing and writing down things that we were thankful for. The following list was found in the first few pages of our current, almost full, thank you book. I never took the chance to record them on our blog so I decided to do that today, one year after the incident:

- we were only an hour from home
- Caleb heard it so we didn't have a major accident on I-30
- we stayed safe on the side of crazy I-30
- 2 nice police men ferried the kids and I to the next exit to Denny's
- the kids could use the bathroom at Sonic
- We didn't buy a house so we have cash available to buy a new to us car
- Geico is paying at least part of the tow fee
- Melissa could come get us so we could sleep at her house and since we wouldn't all fit in the tow truck.
- God is in control
- the tire didn't pop
- the axle didn't break catastrophically (the recall "fix" did help with that)
- I was able to get the tires onto the pavement
- the tire didn't pop moving onto and off of the truck
- Geico covered the entire tow
- the security guard is willing to let me stay here this evening
- all the help that Hayley from Geico was
- Glenn has internet on his phone
- Number 5 is with Amber and TJ and not with us
- that sign was down so we could walk on it
- we were packed in 2 TMI bags and really didn't have that much stuff in the car
- our car didn't catch on fire
- we could go to the monthly medical missions Monday
- we got to try a peanut butter fudge shake at Sonic
- I could sing praises in the middle of it - God working through me
- the tow truck guy gave me his card and a recommendation of a junk yard and a mechanic
- God's safety and watch care over us

Over the next few days we looked at vans, were ferried back to Fort Worth by the Phillips and were lent Kris's car, didn't get any answers. Glenn's grandparents gave us a generous gift that enabled us to rent a minivan and then headed to NY for graduation after saying a tearful goodbye to Winnie, still not sure of what we were going to do with her or if Ford would claim responsibility for the broken axle. We ended up deciding to get her "fixed" while we were gone because she would still be of value to someone even if we wanted to sell her with a fixed axle she'd get more than a junk yard would give us for her.
Our "So Long Winnie" picture
A year ago I would be shocked to know that in a year we would still have Winnie today but we do. Something in her frame still doesn't sound right after being "fixed" but we pretty much trust her to get us around the Metroplex and we have taken her all the way to Lake Charles once. We've decided that for longer trips we'll just rent a van for now because it puts less wear and tear on a vehicle we own and a rental van is less likely to break down when we go on long distance adventures.

I am so thankful that God has enabled our family to look for the good in our trials. The very first thing the kids started doing when we pulled off to the side of the road was start spouting off things that they could see that they were thankful for in our situation. I am grateful for this. I know that this will help them throughout their lives. God is so good to us.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

How We Became Dog Owners - Happy birthday Rahab!

Last year May 10th was a Friday and we had just been in our rental house here in Fort Worth a little over a week. We went to Frontier Forts Days at the Stockyards to learn some Texas history, check out the Stockyards for the first time and take a break from setting up our house. When we pulled into our driveway we saw a German Shepherd dog run across the street and into our yard and hide behind a bush. Glenn warned us to stay in the car to gauge what the dog would do. Seeing that she just looked scared and didn't attack he shooed us inside then, since it was such a hot day, went in to get water for her.

After drinking some water she laid down on our sidewalk and settled in. I guess she felt like she was safe with us. She was bleeding, whether from fights with other dogs or from wounds inflicted by humans we don't know.
We didn't know what to do with her. She had a collar on so we put her picture out on Craigslist as a found pet, contacted the city and the humane society and left her description. No one had reported her missing. We had just moved in and had told the landlord we didn't have any pets though we had discussed with him what we would need to do if that changed. We didn't want to let her into the house.

The kids were smitten with her. Initially they called her Voda because her ears were so funny and she reminded them of Yoda. We took her into the back yard and the kids set up a tent out there thinking they'd sleep with her out there.

In the morning she was still there so we took her to the Humane Society and found out that she wasn't chipped so no luck on finding her owner that way so we had a dog until someone claimed her. We decided to call her "Number Five" since she was playing the role of our 5th child and since we didn't want to give her "a real name" so we didn't get attached. The only problem (besides we didn't have a pet on our lease) was that we were leaving for a 3 week graduation in NY/ family reunion in WY trip on the 12th and we didn't think it was a good idea to take a new to us dog on a several thousand mile road trip. We looked into kennels but not having any idea of her shots history, or any history really, she was not a candidate to stay at any of them. What were we going to do with a dog in this city where we knew no one? God provided once again.

We contacted the German Shepherd Rescue to see if they could help since the Pug Rescue had been a help to my brother in the past with my aunt turned niece Tootsie. The first couple of people we heard back from said they couldn't help and then a lady contacted us asking if she could meet the dog. She told us that if she didn't clash with her dogs she would watch her for us for the whole time we were gone provided that we promised to take her back when we returned from our trip. She told us she already had 3 German Shepherd and 4 Pugs and she really couldn't adopt another dog long term at this time. We agreed to her conditions and drove up to meet her. The meeting went well and Amber even agreed to go and take her to get her first shots. We are so grateful for God's provision of this lover of dogs who was willing to take on one more for 3 weeks for us.
Number Five's first car trip - you can tell the kids don't like her at all, right? haha
She was kind of confused that we were leaving her and stared after us at the gate.
Well, we got 3-4 responses from our Craigslist ad but they were all either looking for a dog that didn't disappear until after we'd posted the dog's picture, didn't meet her description or we could tell they were just spam so we were now dog owners. Since she was actually going to be a part of our family we decided to give her a real name and the kids thought the name Rahab would be appropriate since we rescued her from the streets of Fort Worth just like Rahab was rescued from the destruction of the city of Jericho in Joshua 6 (not to mention that she may have lived a similar lifestyle out there on the streets before she came to live with us).
A quick family pic when we picked her up after our trip.
Lydia, our animal lover, is so excited to have a pet!
I think Lydia liked the kennel more than Rahab did. Rahab didn't do well in the kennel so it went into the garage.
Everyone loves Rahab.
 So, we've had a dog for a year now. There are pluses and minuses but we are so grateful for her. I was especially thankful after our break-in that God had already provided a guard dog for us, we had just taken her with us, not left her at home when the break-in occurred. She still needs a lot of training but she is a good dog and we love her. She is not the dog I would have chosen nor would I have chosen to go out and get a dog but God decided she needed us and we needed her. He knows best.

Finally, I leave you with some pictures from Rahab's first camping adventure to Dinosaur Valley State Park. She did great.
I'm so cool I need to wear shades
Dino tracks are much bigger than dog tracks!

Happy birthday, Rahab, we love you!

Five Minute Friday: Grateful

One of the things I am most grateful for is one piece of marriage advice Glenn and I were given about 15 years ago, just before we got married. We were told to get a journal and write down 3 things we were thankful for everyday, neat little things that we'd experienced or ways we'd seen God work in our lives. It is the one piece of marriage advice we've kept most days of our married lives together and as the kids grew we included them as well.

Our current book is nearing its last few pages and as I looked back at the beginning a couple of days ago I noticed that we'd started that book on 5/8/13. The kids excitedly asked me to read what we'd written. I read that day then they wanted me to share what we'd written on 5/10, the day our dog walked into our lives. It was fun to take a bit if a walk down memory lane.

Over the next couple of days I'm planning to share a few things that I read in the first few pages of our book when we saw God work in amazing ways. He has been so abundantly generous and faithful to us. I'm glad we have a box full of books where some of it is recorded.


Linking up with LisaJo's Five Minute Friday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April PTO Adventures ABCs

Our "after we made it back out of the Grand Canyon" picture
 To pass time our way home from our adventures we like to go through our ABCs to help us remember all the things that we did. Here are our ABCs from our most recent trip. I plan on posting my journal of our adventures soon, after I upload our pictures. Until then... our April PTO Adventures ABCs:

A- Abigail, Albuquerque, Arizona, apples, Angel Bright Trail, artifacts, adobe, Alsup, air pads, atlas, Albertsons, archeology
B- Bluewater Lake State Park, beds, Big Agnes, breakfasts: campside, street side, Easter and hotel, bacon, Basha's grocery store, Brunton stove, birds, buzzing insects, buttes, basket maker, baskets, botany lessons, Blue Mesa, badges, beautiful vistas, books, bill boards, bite valves, blue pots, BNSF train engines, bananas, bison, baby prairie dogs, Best Thai, brown sugar
C- Caleb, cattle, camping, icampgrounds, camelbacks, California license plates, Continental Divide, chicken, cattle guard, cows in the campground, cacti, cotton tail rabbit, coyote, Colorado River, condor, cattle shoots, Celeste & Luis watched Rahab for us, crop duster, Caprock Canyon State Park,
D- dogs, danger, deer, desert, donuts, dead wild hog
E- elk, early mornings, Easter, elk chasing rabbit, exit
F- forests, fossils, Fossil Walk Ranger talk, food, foreign languages heard, fauns, flowers in the desert, free petrified wood pieces, fly (of our tent) free nights, flexibility, fleeces, fried potatoes
G- Glenn, Grand Canyon, Golden Pride, Grand Caravan rental van, glass bottle Mountain Dews, geodes
H- Hannah, horses, hills, Homolavi Ruins State Park, Hopi art, Hopi Point, horse poop in our campsite, hot chocolate, Holbrook, hiking, hot, heat, He calmed the storm, hail AFTER we were off the trail, hand squeezed orange juice
I- ice cream, ice block, interstate, Indian roadside stands
J- Junior Ranger, juniper trees, Junior Ranger patches, jackrabbits, jelly, Jeff Myers CDs
K- kivas, Kendra's suggestion, knife- Caleb's new one, Keens
L- Lydia, Lydia fell in the Grand Canyon not into the Grand Canyon (PTL!!), Little Colorado River, license plate game, layers, library, lizards
M- mom, Mohave Point, Maas adventures, McDonald's parking lot- $4.20 for overnight parking and we got a free large fries, Mountain Dew, mesas, mule deer babies, mountains, mules
N- Navajo, necklaces, New Mexico, Nebula, nalgene, neon lights, National Parks and Monuments, nooks, National Geographic Store
O- Ortega's trading post, open range, Orange Line, orange juice, oranges, open late campgrounds, oatmeal
P- Petrified Forest National Park, petrified wood, Painted Desert, Painted Dessert Inn, Petroglyph National Monument, petroglyphs, Pizza Hut, pueblos, Park Pass, Paid Time Off, PBJs, pottery pieces, picnic area, patches, Park Rangers, parking spot, Ponderosa Pines, Peace Suplus, pairie dogs, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, plants
Q- quesidillas, Quitaque
R- railroad, Route 66, rim trail, red dust, ruins, rocks, ravens, Rainbow Forest Museum, rescue team on the trail down, rest areas, rain jackets, road runners, Rosa's Cafe, reading
S- shuttle buses, sage brush, schedule, showers, sunglasses, sunscreen, sunrises, sheep, Super 8, Smokey the Bear, sleeping bags, stars, spur of the moment, self pay stations, silversmith, scenic overlooks, strawberries, state parks, Sunset Crater National Monument, sausages, sunsets, singing
T- tourist traps, tortillas, tunnels (we made it to the 2nd one!), trees, Texas, tent sites, tooks, thrift stores, tumble weeds
U- umbrellas
V- van rental, visitor centers, vulture, vaulted toilets
W- water packs, water, washes, wind turbines, windmills, water fountains, wind, wool socks, Walnut Canyon National Monument
X- xantera
Y- yucca
Z- zipped together