Tuesday, March 29, 2011

back to eden

The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food...

Genesis 2:8&9

Last week was spring break, and we had the delight of spending two days and nights at Eden,
enjoying the quiet and cool and rest.

We found ourselves reveling in the prolific natural beauty,
the displays of God's creative handiwork.

From the wildlife like these fuzzy dark-brown deer

and the flock of busy swallows nesting in impossibly tiny nests at our cabin,

to the amazing botany like this
pink banana heart
(and the bananas growing below it)

and the 'chenille' plant - soft enough to weave into a sweater.

Michael stopped to read about Hydroponics,
a topic he'll be studying in science next year.

We convinced friends of ours, Mark and Deb,
to accompany us for our two days and nights there,
and we were so blessed by their presence!

They brought recorders and played lovely classical trios with Amy,

and they taught us some new fun games:
Kings in the Corners (is that the right name, Deb?)

Fill or Bust, a card and dice game.
Any game where I can get 5,000 points in one turn is a winner!

Elise spent most of the two days and nights behind her camera
bent on capturing the beauty all around.

We'll post some of her best photos next time!

Monday, March 28, 2011

disturber of my rest

It's Sunday night; I've closed my book and turned out the light. My mind wanders to the coming week, and then into the fuzzy state of almost-asleep.

It's at that moment the scratching begins.

My heart does a flying leap up to a position around my throat. The scratching sounds are pretty much directly over our bed, somewhere just behind the thin ceiling. I'm pretty sure it's the same creature that's been rustling around in the attic over the computer room for the past couple of days, with an intent to make me nervous. It's working. Mark is sound asleep, and doesn't even notice, but I'm most definitely nervous. It sounds so close, I pull the blanket a little tighter around me just in case whatever it is scratches its way right through.

Then the scratching stops. All is quiet. My heart settles back down in the cavity where it belongs, and I begin to relax. I'm all but asleep when the scratching and scrabbling resumes. I don't think I can take too much more of this nightlife. My whole body tenses up, listening, waiting, poised to meet a sudden invasion. Instead all is quiet again, and again I begin to relax, drifting slowly into the rest I'm so ready for.

But it's not to be. As if on schedule, the scratching erupts; this time loudly enough to rouse Mark. He sits up to listen, then sinks back to the pillow; back to the blissful oblivion of sleep. Not I. This is just about enough excitement for one night. I grab my pillow and evacuate to the living room couch. As I curl up under a blanket, our cat stares in at me with round yellow eyes through the front window, mewing softly in welcome. The irony hits me as I wonder what one good reason she has for not being up there in the attic chasing out the late-night intruder and the Disturber of My Rest.

As I shift to find a comfortable position, I find myself thinking of the other things that disturb my rest. Not my night-time sleep, but my soul's rest.

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psalm 62:1 & 2

Fears. Tension. Worry. Doubt. Bitterness. Stress.
Just as I respond to this disturbance in my sleep, how often do I enact the same response to the events of the day? How often do I allow circumstances and my own personal desires to crowd out the rest and calm and peace found in the presence of God?

I know I'll be visiting the hardware store tomorrow for a solution to this disturbing critter. If only I could also buy a solution that would eliminate all those other things that rob me of rest, too.

But my heart knows that the solution is found only in Him. Only in abiding in His presence, taking His yoke upon me, being led of Him; there I'll find rest for my soul.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Eleven years old.

This week Michael celebrated another birthday;
his second on Filipino soil!

In preparation to celebrate,
we all pitched in.

Amy and Michael combined time,
tape and scissors

to produce streamers and flags,

Elise designed a birthday banner,
and I baked up a batch of cappuccino muffins for breakfast!

Michael's hope was to take his friends to a local pool for an evening swim.

But then, wishes don't always come true.

The 24th dawned cloudy, with rain on and off all day.
Not the best evening for a swim.
Maybe another day, Michael...

But none of his friends seemed to mind too much
that we just stayed home.

The boys played games,
tried out Michael's new Nerf gun,
(perfect choice, Grandma, for boys without much area to maneuver in!)

played some DS and watched a movie,

feasted on Pizza Hut pizza and Mountain Dew,

played balloon volleyball and statue tag,

opened gifts,

(cool binoculars!)

and topped it off with chocolate cake and ice cream.

We give thanks to God for the gift of you, Michael!

And we pray, that even in the disappointments, you will see His good gifts extended to you in love, and that you will, all your life, be full of heartfelt thanksgiving!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

out to eat

It isn't too often that we eat out.
Last week we found ourselves away from home at dinnertime,
so we stopped by Antonio's, thinking we'd find some Italian options.
We paused to look at the menu outside the door, but before we knew it,
we had 3 or 4 employees out there with us, urging us inside.

At that point it was pretty hard to say no.

Even though there was not one Italian offering on that menu.
Silly us. Why did we think we'd find Italian at Antonio's?!?

Once inside, settled in our very nice booth with our own menus,
I found myself enormously amused by the selection.

Delectable entrees like
Breaded Squid With Garlic Mayo Dip
or Deep Fried Squid Tentacles With Lots Of Garlic
Or Sizzling Squid Tentacles

The kids were looking a little worried.

There was Balut (raw duck eggs)
and Milkfish
and (above)
Spicy Hot Pork Ears Tossed in Lemon, Vinegar...
Or Crispy Fried Pork Intestines With Garlic Vinegar Dip

I might have been looking a little worried too.

On to the salads...not your typical options...
Banana Heart Salad
Jackfruit Salad
Grilled Eggplant Salad
Fresh Pomelo Salad
Green Mango Salad

And the shakes!
Which one would you have chosen?

We chose the Watermansi Juice,
a blend of Watermelon and Calamansi,
a small lime-like fruit.
It was delicious and refreshing!

Our waiter saw me with my camera,
and offered to take a family shot.
What a nice idea.

It was a beautifully presented meal.

But not exactly a place anyone is begging to go back to...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

the race marked out for us

Friday marked the end of school's 3rd quarter,
and the beginning of Spring Break.
Joy of joys!
In celebration, the morning was filled with Field Day events;
races, relays, frisbee throws, hurdles, soft ball throws, and jumping.

Amy and Michael both joined in the 1k race,
against kids from Kindergarten on up.

Michael's wearing red with stripes in the front row,
Amy's in red behind him

Guess who came through the finish line first?
I guess all that training with Dad paid off, Michael!

With Amy nine seconds behind, in second place.

Elise (in light green) and Amy (far R) prepare for the girl's 300 meter dash

Elise shows her team spirit.
It isn't easy being GREEN.

Then the shoe split.
Michael's 2-year old Nikes,
the ones we found at the outlet mall before leaving Savannah,
finally gave out.
The heart and sole separated,
leaving Michael with the rubber toe of his sole flapping in the breeze.
Not what the well-dressed elementary student wears for a 300 meter dash.

But Mark offered to run home and snag the duct tape;
one more reason that living close is a great thing.

Here he is, ready to go,
hamming it up for all it's worth.

The duct tape didn't seem to slow him down at all.
Another 1st place.

No more mom-brags, I promise.
At least, not in this blog post...

But maybe the best part of all
was just the time with friends,

And we're thankful for all of it.
Healthy, fast bodies,
the ability to use them for God's glory,
friends to encourage and who encourage us,
and opportunities to learn and grow and give thanks
at every single turn...

"...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."

Hebrews 12:1&2

May we all be running whatever race God has set before us today,
with eyes on Christ Himself,
persevering all the way to the finish.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

the other side of the tracks

Michael and I took another stroll together last Saturday afternoon.
Our path led a different direction, and I was again amazed by the variety in our surroundings.

Hope you'll enjoy just another sampling of life in our colorful neighborhood...

down the street, barefoot boys and wandering chickens,
and for some reason it looks cleaner than it really is...

balancing produce for sale as she follows behind her mother,
hoping for customers along the way

the path to the cemetery, past the coffin-maker's shack

a posting of the schedule of interment;
written in chalk, so quickly washed away...
a reminder of our mortality

continuing down the path we pass several dogs;
all wild-looking, one blind, all skulking past us in fear

then past the home of a pig-keeper;
future lechon in the growing.
we smile and greet the woman in the background,
asking permission to photograph her prize-winner

the nearby pig-sty.
just a moment before taking the photo,
a pig had been peering curiously over the edge just below the blue bucket.

then we heard the squeals,
and peeked into a nearby dis-used coffin

home for the piglets

with no food in hand, we were a sore disappointment to them all

on down the trail and back to a road we went,
greeting elderly women, children, and all friendly faces after we spoke our
'maayong hapon' with a smile

lovely vines growing down into a drainage ditch at the roadside,
beauty nurtured and braided where it's found

seeing us photograph the vines, they cried, 'picture!'
'take my picture!'
with joy.
and a stalk of almost-ripe cooking bananas, too.

focused on his grazing in succulent pasture along the road,
this goat was coaxed to pose by Michael's encouraging noises

and children shy but eager to see their own faces digitalized immortal on my camera screen

cascading vines of periwinkle

and a moment's break in a street game of basketball

is it any wonder our children worry that life back in the U.S. might seem boring?