Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Yesterday morning Nate went to the store to pick up a few things for me. When he came back, he had surprises for Suzy and I. For Suzy, he had a little doll - Blueberry Muffin from Strawberry Shortcake. Suzy's crazy about Strawberry Shortcake. all day long she totes around a little strawberry-shaped tin that holds her little dolls - Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Torte, Lemon Meringue, and Orange Blossom. If she's not doing that, she's asking to see the Strawberry Shortcake movie. The only two she didn't have were Blueberry Muffin and Plum Pudding. Those two seem to be rare - it's hard to ever find them in the store.
I thought this was such sweet gift. First, it was sweet that Nate wanted to give Suzy a surprise treat, and that he even thought to check the Strawberry Shortcake display, and then to recognize the rare find a Blueberry Muffin was, and then buying it for her. Suzy told me this morning, "I like Blueberry Muffin the best, because she comes from Daddy."
You know what my surprise was? Another can of red spray paint!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Thoughts

This Sunday's sermons was on 1 Timothy 2:9-10
"Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness."

And we sang this hymn, which I love:
The Love of God
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

And to think of God's love of beauty in creation. I don't usually like mushrooms, but it I had a rainbow of colors like these growing in my yard, I would!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Suzy's new Jean Skirt

I love taking something old and turning it into something new, useful, and pretty. I love craft blogs with easy and clever ideas.
I made a skirt like this for Suzy using this tutorial:

Tea Rose Home Jean Skirt Tutorial
I thought it was a great idea. I had a pair of Levi's with huge holes in the knees, so I was really happy to give them new life.

Doing a little dance:

The only issue I had was that I did not have cute little flower cookie cutters to make appliques. And I looooved those flower appliques! After several failed attempts to freehand some flowers, I used a star and tried to make it look like a five petaled flower. Please tell me it looks like a flower!

The skirt turned out a lot cuter than you can tell from the pictures. I had a rather unwilling model:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Like a Kid with a New Toy

About a week after Christmas, I was standing at the sink when the thought hit, "Oh no! I have TWENTY pounds of potatoes in the pantry!"
A couple weeks before Christmas, Wal-mart had a huge sale on potatoes. $2 for 10 lbs. So I bought 20 lbs. Nate questioned the need for so many potatoes as he lugged them to the car. I assured him that I would make tons of things with them and use them all up before long.
And then Christmas came, and traveling, and I totally forgot about them. I threw open the pantry door, and there they were - twenty pounds of potatoes with sprouts and eyes staring back at me. That week we ate a lot of mashed potatoes. And potato chowder.
It seems to be a pattern for me to find things that I forgot I had, and then for joy or necessity, go a little nuts with it. Today it was a can of red spray paint. I found it under the sink, and suddenly, I could see dozens of bland things on my counters crying out to be a festive red.
It was raining, but I went out on the porch with some newspapers and tried to stay upwind. So far 7 things have been given a new red lease on life, and I have a list (of course!) of 5 or 6 more things that will be painted. As soon as I get a new can of spray paint.
I'll take pictures and post them when I finish, and post the other unpleasant life lesson I learned in the process.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Evolution of An Elephant, an Art Study

Two weeks ago my little baboo sat in my catechism class with the big kids. She was pretty proud of herself. She occupied herself by filling a little blank book with drawings. When I asked her about them later, she said every picture was an elephant. I looked closer, and I could see it. She wanted to draw an elephant, but her first attempt must have seemed a little off, because on each page she would try again, making some changes. I was sooo proud of her. So proud that I'm going to post every picture. You may think that's unnecessary, but it's my blog. Bwahahahaha.
This is the cover of the book. If you look closely, she tried to write "My Book."

This is her first attempt at an elephant. She must have felt it was not quire right. Possibly because it looks like a snail sans shell.

So, skipping ahead four pages that were mainly pink blobs, we come to this. This must be the amoeba stage, but notice the elephant now has eyes.

Her she's working on a trunk:

Her elephants are now multiplying, and proudly sport mouths as well as eyes. A few have grown feet.

Here we have one happy elephant amoeba apparently splitting into two amoebas, and one startled elephant amoeba, obviously disturbed at the method of amoeba procreation.

Here's the crowning achievement. We have many little elephants, all with eyes, ears, and mouths, though one cheerful little fellow has yet to develop legs. But look at that big one! (Picture an elephant standing on his hind legs waving at you. Now do you see it?) He's got legs, forelegs, ears, eyes, and a TRUNK!

Yay! I was so proud at Suzy's artistic (scientific?) endeavors.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Proverb for My Birthday

It's not my birthday - that happened last week and now I have a year free of pondering the speed of aging.
But I'm still pondering a proverb I read the morning of my birthday. A wise older woman once suggested reading a chapter of proverbs for the date of the month. The first of the month, you read Proverbs 1, ect. You only hit Proverbs 31 seven times a year - I should probably double up on the last day of the off months!
But my birthday is the 14th, so I opened up and read:

Proverbs 14:1
"The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish tears it down with her own hands."

That is definitely something to contemplate. Are my actions building my home or tearing it down? Am I energetically using my talents to make this home a haven for my family, or does my laziness make it a place of chaos and stress? Am I seeking to express God's beauty and creativity in pursuing beauty for my home, or is my neglect making it unattractive? Are my words encouraging and blessing my family, or wounding and demoralizing them?

I pray that the Lord will make me a wise woman!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cranberry Oat Bars

My friend Elisabeth made these for us one evening, along with her cheesy manicotti. The manicotti merits a post of its own, so maybe that will be the next recipe. Elisabeth told me that her family's tradition was to have cranberry oat bars and hot chocolate as they decorated their Christmas tree. A lovely tradition, and we've started it ourselves! But it's too good for just once a year, so I made it just recently.
Step One:
Find a cute helper with a can-do attitude:

Step Two:
You have a choice here. The official recipe call for 2 cups of cranberries cooked with 3/4 water and 1/4 cup sugar until the berries pop.
Or, if you like it very tart, you can do it my way: 3 cups of cranberries and a generous cup of sugar with about 1/3 cup water.
Either way, let the cooked berries cool.

Step Three:
Mix 1 1/4 flour, 1 1/4 cup oats, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt in a medium bowl.

Step Four:
In a large bowl, mix 3/4 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar (1/4 cup at a time) 2 large eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add the oat mixture and mix well.

Step Five:
Reserve 1 cup of dough; spread the rest in a greased 9" or 8" pan. Cover with cranberries. Drop reserved dough in spoonfuls. If you've used a square pan, drop the dough in a checkerboard pattern. It will turn out very pretty. If you're using your blue deep-dish Emile Henry pie dish because it's beautiful and you love it, you'll find out that checkerboards don't work in the round. In that case, drop the dough as best you can:

Step Six:
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

That's it. They're delicious, and they go very well with mugs of hot chocolate. After you're done making them, if you have an easily-pleased child, stuff the empty flour bag with notebook paper and tape it shut. Tell her it's a toy bag of flour for her play kitchen:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Your Child As God's Prophet

Last week Don Currin came to our church to teach on the Christian family. He mentioned that sometimes our children are unintentionally little prophets, bringing rebuke and conviction. I experienced that the very next day. Nate had gone grocery shopping with Suzy and I. This is always a source of tension for me. How bad is that? You think I would be happy to have a husband content to spend his day off walking the aisles of a grocery store just so he can spend time with me. But I have a sin issue - I tend to make an idol of my grocery list and budget. No changes! No going over budget! It must be MY way! Unless of course, *I* change something or decide I need to go a little bit over budget this week. Then it's just fine. But let Nate put so much as an unauthorized box of gummy fruit snacks in the buggy, and I wig out.
I've actually gotten a little better at not physically wigging out - no tears or shouts!- but obviously the issue of the heart is still there. I say obviously, because some such thing happened on this grocery trip. It may have been cheese from the deli. I don't remember. But I endured the violation of my sovereign grocery list with a grimace and then sent Nate off after an official, from-the-list grocery item. Suzy, sitting in the buggy, watched him walk away, and then looked up at me with sad, enormous eyes - "Momma, we disobey Jesus when we have attitudes." I could have cried right there by the dairy case.
Thank God for His forgiveness in Christ. Thank Him for His mercy in sending a little prophet to show me my sin!

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Birthday

Yesterday was my __st birthday. Nate gave me a card when I first woke up. It said he had a sitter for Suzy and we were going out to dinner. He meant it to be a surprise, but it's pretty easy to read him, so I already knew. But it was still very sweet. He gave me some chocolate (always a winning gift with me) and some kitchen gadgets, including a piping attachment to fill eclairs. Yay! I made banana cream eclairs with chocolate icing. Eclairs might be my new temporary hobby. They are inexpensive and relatively easy to make, and soooo yummy. My goal right now is to make them as attractive as they are tasty. Let's just say mine aren't winning any beauty contests! They're sort of bumpy and hard to frost. Hopefully my technique will improve! If I ever make eclairs that are pretty, I'll post a picture.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pretty Good Theology

Today I was sewing and Suzy was sitting on the floor near me "doing her beads" as she likes to call it. She threads beads on a chain, then pulls them off and starts again. Over and over. It's wonderful, for me at least!
So she's sitting there stringing beads, and she says, "Momma, I will sing songs to Jesus and pray for Him to come give me 'nuggles and lovin's."

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Had a Difficult Day?

If you're tempted to focus more on the negative aspects of your day, instead of your blessings, read this letter from a missionary in Zambia
Lozi Tribe Update, January 7, 2010

Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

Dear family and friends,
After several weeks of silence, it is high time for an update, and there is exciting news to share. But first I must explain my strange choice for an introductory verse.

Last Saturday we were driving back to camp from the build site. Our families had spent the day on the lodge grounds with the Johnsons. We got a text message that they were watching a large snake in a tree, so we hurried to take a look. Sure enough, high in a tree near one of the tents (where we’ll be sleeping for the next month looking after the lodge for the Johnsons while they vacation in South Africa) was a big snake. A few well-placed shots from Gavin Johnson with a high-powered pellet rifle paralyzed the snake and it fell to the ground. Two more shots finished it off. It was a 2.5 meter long (8 feet) black mamba, the most deadly snake in Africa. Also that day, the staff killed a stiletto snake in the lounge and my daughter, Alicia, saw what may have been a spitting cobra near the lounge where all our kids were playing. 3 venomous snakes in one day. Granted, that is extremely rare, and I don’t tell this to be dramatic. But in case you haven’t prayed for our safety lately, this would be a good reminder. We grow more and more comfortable here, but there are occasional reminders that we live in constant potential danger from crocs, hippos (our friend Vincent’s brother was recently attacked by a hippo and nearly lost his arm), hyenas (their tracks are on the lodge road), leopards, and snakes (recently some men clearing brush from our land were chased out of a rock formation by a spitting cobra).

Our greatest challenge many days is just driving from our camp to the build site and back. As we reach the mid-point of the rainy season, Shannon and I are earning our 4×4 badge (thanks for the lessons Sidney!). We’ve only had to use the winches twice. Our appreciation for the vehicles God gave us grows as the mud holes deepen.

OK, now let’s get to the good stuff. In early December, because of our trip to Lusaka to get the water pump, we were gone from the villages for almost 2 weeks. When we returned, Vincent had exciting news. He said that some people from a few of the sub-villages had been talking about the Sunday meeting that we’ve been trying to start (hit-and-miss) for a couple of months. They asked Vincent, “Do we have to wait for the Reeces to be here? Even if they are not here to teach us, can’t we at least meet each Sunday to pray?” In addition to that, Dom and Vincent went (without consulting us) and chose a meeting site and cleared it. The site is under a large shade tree beside the river, and appropriately, is not far from where we first camped in our early trips with the South Africans. This past Sunday felt very historic - we met for the first time at the time and place that THEY CHOSE without our help. It was a small group - our 2 families, 4-5 Lozi women, and 3 men. But the Lord loves humble beginnings. Christ WILL build His church among the Lozi, and He doesn’t need our help to do it. But what a privilege to be included!

Along with the church-planting work, there is also progress in the construction work. The roof of our camp shelter is finally framed up, and thatching begins next week (Lord-willing). Then begins the challenging work of installing the solar water pump, storage tanks, and running water and septic lines. Are there any plumbers who could be here in two weeks? Shannon and I are encouraged to finally feel some progress.

Our wives are encouraged by the thought of looking after Mutemwa Lodge for the Johnsons for the next month. The last 3 months of tent-camping (2 of those months in the rain) have been rough on our wives, but they have earned the title “hard-core” from some of our Southern Baptist missionary friends. At the “lodge” we’ll still be sleeping in tents, but in real beds. And they’ll have electricity from a generator for 3 hours a day, and a small pool for the kids, and comfortable furniture in a semi-enclosed lounge area, and hot showers without building a fire (thanks to on-demand propane heaters), and battery-powered lights at night. All in all, it will be a nice break to help get us over the hump until water and septic are operational on our land. Words can’t express our gratitude to the Johnson family. They are fast becoming dear friends, and we enjoy many hours of sweet Christian fellowship. Penny sympathizes with our wives, and Shannon and I are learning from Gavin’s strong and simple faith in his Heavenly Father. Their hospitality was a great help with our homesickness during the Christmas season. We praise God for His grace in sustaining us through our first Christmas away from home. Thanks to all of you who sent encouraging emails or packages, and remembered us in your prayers.

Grace and peace to you all in this coming year. May you be blessed with ever-increasing views of Christ’s glory.

Kept by Him,
Lori again. In conclusion, if you haven't found an 8 foot long black mamba snake hanging over the place you sleep, count it a good day!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Yesterday Nate spent his ENTIRE day off doing laundry. I was completely behind due to our crazy Christmas traveling. And I was under the weather yesterday. So Nate *cheerfully* did loads and loads of laundry and put them away. I didn't ask him to, and he never conmplained or acted like a martyr. It was the sweetest thing. Needless to say, he had a pretty happy wife!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hymns from Yesterday

I loved the songs we sang yesterday at church. It was also bitter-sweet because it was Wes Voorhees' last Sunday as our music minister. Here are a few quotes from yesterday's hymns and songs:
"Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever."
-A Mighty Fortress is Our God, by Martin Luther

"Unless Your grace had called me
And taught my op’ning mind,
The world would have enthralled me,
To heav’nly glories blind.
My heart knows none above You;
For Your rich grace I thirst;
I know that if I love You,
You must have loved me first."
-My Lord I Did Not Choose You, by Josiah Conder

"I was so lost I should have died
But You have brought me to Your side
To be led by Your staff and rod
And to be call a lamb of God...
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah, praise the lamb!
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Glory to the great I AM!"
_A mix of Lamb of God by Twila Paris and the hymn Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Whew. Christmas and New Years, it's little tag-along, are over. We've been jetting around here and there. I packed my toiletry bag on the 24th, and finally got to unpack it last night. We went to Huntsville, Alabama, for 2 days back to Selmer for a day, to Nashville for a few days, back to Selmer for a day, to Columbia, Tennessee, for another day, and now it's all done and we are home. PICKING UP THE RUBBLE! We are slowly digging ourselves out of the pile of laundry, and now I'm turning my attention to some other housework.
The toys are another issue. Suzy loves her new stuff. So far she hasn't noticed that while she was napping the day after Christmas, we hauled two garbage bags of old toys up to the attic, and threw out another bag full of junk. I think the post-Christmas purge will be an annual tradition.
Suzy is beside me right now, dressed in a pink princess gown, a tiara, several pieces of costume jewelry, and a flower wand. She kicked off the purple plastic shoes a minute ago. She is so girly.