Through a Glass, Darkly

Retrospection. Introspection. These speak of looking backward or inward, respectively. It tickles me to think of eyeglasses being called spectacles. I looked up the Latin root, “spec,” and it, indeed, means to “look or see.”

Have you ever been one to take Sunday drives? If you haven’t heard the term, it refers to taking a drive just to enjoy the scenery, just to look and see. It’s a pleasant pastime–when gas prices allow.

Sometimes, good things come out of the process of looking. When we take the time, we really see. Artists must really look in order to draw what is before them.

And yet other times what we see isn’t so pleasant as a lovely landscape scene. I have seen myself more fully recently. Partly, this is stemming from having lost my mom less than six months ago. That loss is still sinking in, still congealing into firm reality.

Death has a way of sobering us. Of moving us into retrospection and introspection.

There is a Scripture that I like especially (one of many, of course):

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” That’s how 1 Corinthians 13:12 reads in the Living Bible.

In the old King James Version, the wording itself lends a cast of mystery: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

Do you ever think that you don’t really see yourself accurately? Like the skeletal anorexic who looks into a mirror and thinks she’s still fat, what we see isn’t always an accurate reflection of reality, is it?

And what is the reality? I am flawed and not always very functional either–like the tea cup in this photo from the Crystal Bridges Museum.

But I can take comfort in God’s promise that I will one day be complete, and one day I will know Him completely. How glorious is that?


Front Door Color

Work (at home) has lightened up slightly enough that I was able to run errands in town this morning. My husband needed a copper cap for a water line and I picked out two new lock sets for exterior doors. We are fixing up the secondary house that is on our small acreage. This little house had been abandoned for, the neighbors tell us, six to eight years before we bought this property about twelve years ago. Then, my mom lived in it until this summer. Now that it is available to work on, we have transformed the exterior with the goal of improving the curb appeal of our rural neighborhood. The house is located only a few yards off the street and had truly been an eyesore!

Another goal was to strengthen the house as it was built unconventionally with panel construction which left no way to insulate it. The crumbling stucco has been torn off, the walls have been framed with 2 x 4s, the rusty metal roof has been replaced with tidy asphalt shingles, the inoperable, single-pane sash windows have been replaced with dual-pane single-hung windows, and the new horizontal siding is up. Time to paint!

Have you had the blessing of experiencing a redwood forest? We have to drive a few hours to get to that type of forest. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is a favorite! There’s a large redwood tree in the front yard of this little cottage. (I do mean, “cottage,” as it is about 800 square feet.) When I stopped into the paint store this morning, I had in mind a front door color that would play off the redwood tree in some way. I came how with a color sample called Adobe Dust. It’s kind of a terracotta color, like the dried leaves littering the ground around the redwood tree.

During the Christmas season, I love to have a wreath of fresh greens on our front door. Even if I didn’t do much other Christmas decorating, I really love a wreath. (I typically get mine at Trader Joe’s.) One of my concerns about the front door color is that I want it to coordinate well with the greens of a wreath. Green plants look very nice in terracotta pots, don’t they? I guess it’s a natural combination, reminiscent of red clay soils and green plants found in nature. I also want the front door to look inviting and cheerful. Maybe even a little surprising.

Why surprising? Because the house will be a cream color with a grayed-tan trim. Very ho-hum. It was important to my husband that we use a light color on the house because summers in Northern California, and indeed in most of California, are very hot. In fact, he accidentally painted the trim with the darker color that I had picked out for the house. He had painted all the trim before I went to look and it was only then that I realized the mistake. Too late! And I was going to select a very dark roof, but at the roofing supply place, I could tell it would always trouble him to have a dark roof.

It is preferable that I be flexible concerning all this, to keep the peace and to please my husband. Also, I admit that he is more sensible with wanting to keep the exterior light as it will make a difference in cooling costs. So, there you have it! Nothing is as I had envisioned it. And that’s ok. It’s all nice and new and fresh and strong and improved greatly. Such a blessing! I am grateful for this. There are wars and persecution and great poverty all over this globe. How can I complain about the color of a house? Or the bathroom window that arrived and was installed before I saw that it was the wrong window? Forgive me, Lord, that in my heart I am still grumbling about this window.

It is also probable that we will install a standard security door at the front. So all my careful planning over door color will be obscured by a ho-hum security door.

Do you have a favorite front door color? And how do you do with keeping such trivialities in perspective?

Even with a brown thumb, I try!

It’s officially autumn here on our calendars in Northern California. I picked up four seed packs for a little fall garden. Spinach and lettuces will do better now that the excessive heat of summer has passed. Mostly, I want some good, fresh cilantro–which we like to use to top off our Mexican meals. I read that cilantro is super great for our health, as it clears out some heavy metal toxins and is loaded with phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins (including K), and it even stimulates digestive enzymes. That’s a fine reason for making the effort to include it in our meals more often and motivation to grow it organically at home. We like it atop bowls of beans, in burritos, on tacos. I liked the pretty way my dear friend Kate once served it at her table, mixed with chopped onion. And when we harvest our Fuyu persimmons and our pomegranates, there’s a luscious salad made with those and cilantro–and a squeeze of lime and pinch of salt. I am so grateful for my friend Jane for sharing this recipe with me a few years back.

I would tell you about my summer garden but there wasn’t really one. I do have zucchini plants and I had zinnias. However, this summer, my precious mother, who lived in another house on our property here, had some increasingly concerning health issues. We canceled our summer vacation (a drive to Florida, etc.) and I spent more time with Mom. I am sure glad that I did. Mom went to the hospital and passed away on July 4. Talk about an “Independence Day”! She is with her Lord, Jesus, and truly free of all the sad effects of sin that we suffer in this life. By that time, my seed starts had long-ago withered and I was left with the good, old, hardy zucchini and the easiest of all flowers, the zinnias. And these weren’t put to use as much as they could have been. Sometimes there are specific demands on us and we have to step back from other things. This summer was like that for us. So the fact that I have a brown thumb is a mute point, this year.

I spent an hour or two out in the garden area today, thinking I would enjoy the 78-degree weather around noontime. Still, I was sweating after having done some Hula-Hoeing. That got my heart rate up! I was hacking at the roots of a spearmint plant. Mints are invasive. They spread like crazy, even when pretty well neglected. I regret putting mint in a raised garden bed. I realize that I won’t get out all its roots and as soon as I plant something else in that bed, those overlooked roots will spring to life! There was one that I found to be still sporting a few green leaves, so I transplanted it into a small pot that was handy. I also removed the now-dead sweet peas that had woven themselves into the fence. In the photo is my daughter sitting for her 8th-grade graduation photo, late last spring, in front of the small sweet pea bush. It was the first time I had any success with my favorite flower.

Before going back inside the house to work at my part-time job, I picked most of the Granny Smith apples. I will make an apple pie soon! It’s a favorite of mine. There is vanilla ice cream waiting in the freezer already.

Oh, and after pulling out the dead zinnia plants, I confirmed that five hollyhock plants were hiding among the zinnias. I had gathered hollyhock seeds along a roadside–a deep and clear pink–and I also had dumped all my old flower seeds from packets in that flower bed but nothing else seems to sprouted. I am not familiar with the habits of hollyhocks. Will it send out a bloom in fall? It could be a light yellow, a dark purple-black, or the pink. For now, it’s a mystery. Something to draw me out into the garden to remind me to water it until the rain comes. And, just maybe, my thumb will take on a green tint.

Giving Thanks in February

Winter Trees, Winter Sky, at the Park

Winter Trees, Winter Sky, at the Park

I am taking up the challenge of counting 1,000 gifts ala Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Here is my listing for February 2014:

1. THREE GIFTS RED: Hot tea in a red thermos cup; a stock of red tins of peppermint Altoids; red eyes crying for the suffering
2. THREE GIFTS ON PAPER: The Word of God; maps, maps, maps!; words to spur growth, written in books on my bedside table
3. THREE GIFTS FOUND IN WRITING: The Dead Sea Scrolls; the promises of God; a offer to pray from a friend via a text message
4. THREE GIFTS FOUND WHEN BENT DOWN: A sprouting acorn; a wiggly earthworm; green mint sprigs pushing out of the soil anew
5. A GIFT STITCHED, HAMMERED, WOVEN: Three quilt tops pieced; a lovely verse hung on the wall as a reminder; the way a Bible study takes shape as the Spirit brings to memory Scriptures and weaves them together into a cohesive lesson
6. THREE GIFTS FOUND OUTSIDE: The sunshine on the front porch; an orchard prepped for planting across the street from our home; my hens out scratching in our orchard
7. A GIFT AT 11:30, 2:30, 6:30: Reading library books to my daughter;
8. A GIFT BROKEN, FIXED, THRIFTED: A spirit of fear broken; a new set of batteries for a talking book for my daughter to enjoy; a luminous milkglass mixing bowl
9. THREE SURPRISE GIFTS, UNEXPECTED GRACE: A jar of honey from a friend’s first extraction, golden; a chalkboard book for number-writing practice for my girl; a necklace made by a gentle-spirited woman
10. THREE TIMES I HEARD LAUGHTER TODAY: My child’s delight when extracting a long-lost toy car from under the refrigerator; when suddenly seeing my husband’s truck pulling in at lunch time, a rare surprise; when Selah and I were doing spontaneous jumping jacks after sitting for reading time
11. THREE GIFTS IN WORKING: Clean-up progress becoming visible on our forest land; forced time outdoors becoming a pleasant change from being inside; work bringing order to chaos
12. THREE HARD EUCHARISTEOS: (i.e., giving thanks while suffering) Having my grown son and his challenges nearby after so many years of disconnect; that steroid shot that will bring relief from itchy rash of poison oak; the opportunity to home-educate our daughter though progress isn’t earth-shakingly awesome
13. THREE GIFTS BEHIND A DOOR: The food in our refrigerator; the pork in our freezer; the washer and dryer in our garage
14. THREE WAYS I FEEL THE LOVE OF GOD: My supportive and encouraging friend, Kate; the faithfulness of my husband these eighteen years; seeing the beauty of His creation for me to enjoy
15. A GIFT IN LOSING, FINDING, MAKING SOMETHING: The time we had with Grandpa Bruce and for God’s longsuffering patience for Bruce to come around to faith; finding an opportunity to teach God’s Word to women in jail; making plans to get a bridge over our creek
16. THREE GIFTS IN SHADOWS: Psalm 17:8–being in the shadown of His wings; Isaiah 25:4–God is my shade when things get heated; Colossians 2:17–Christ is the fulfillment of the what was but a shadow in the Old Testament propheses
17. THREE GIFTS FOUND GIVING/SERVING: In serving as a homemaker, I do not have to get out into the rat race; in giving kisses, I get kissed back–so sweet!; in serving in jail ministry, I get filled
18. THREE GIFTS ON PAPER: The warmth of an evening fire, kindled with crumpled papers; the inspiration of a magazine article’s creative photos; my daughter’s first drawing of a duck, as she sees it in the number FIVE
19. THREE GIFTS THAT WERE PLAN B: Our daughter’s adoption through relinquishment when Chinese adoption plans halted; the homeless shelter available for a wayward son who can no longer stay with us; moving to Tehama County instead of Trinity County and thereby finding these friends here
20. A GIFT AT BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: Fresh eggs with dark orange yolks; a friend from almost twenty years ago, joining me for brunch at my house; tacos–our favorite
21. THREE GIFTS WHITE: a mortar and pestle for fresh-grinding of cumin seed; a crockpot for making dinner prep less rushed; copier paper in the printer
22. THREE GIFTS THAT CHANGED TODAY: Fair weather in the winter; enough propane to heat the cabin overnight for our spontaneous sleep-over in the woods; friends who offered to teach us a new skill
23. A GIFT OF TIN, GLASS, WOOD: The cans of food in the kitchen cabinets; glass jars of pickled beets; a wooden fruit bowl
24. THREE GIFTS BEFORE 11 a.m.: Full laundry baskets being carried to the washer mean we have lots of clothing; hearing my six-year-old beginning to read from a book about the farmer’s hat; left-over homemade waffles, hot out of the toaster, with real maple syrup
25. A GIFT WORN OUT, NEW, MADE-DO: a pair of jeans in need of patching; my new brown coat, so soft and snugly; a satisfying lunch made with no kitchen facilities–foccacia bread heated in foil over a hot fire and topped with deli turkey
26. THREE GIFTS SEEN AS REFLECTIONS: God, you were with me all through my years, waiting for me to just turn toward You; those clouds in the creek and those tree tops in the creek; my rash, healed
27. THREE UGLY-BEAUTIFUL GIFTS: death, when there is hope of entering the promises; weeping, when it brings healing; disorder in my office, when I realize all the resources represented
28. THREE GIFTS FROM THE PAST THAT HELP ME TRUST THE FUTURE: My husband’s moist eyes when he held my hand over the table and thanked me for being his wife; the fact that we are almost all beekeepers now after our bee club year; the heart locket and peace bracelet left as lost and found in my desk drawer as I finished my first (and only) year of teaching in public school
29. A GIFT DULL, SHIMMERING, CLEANED: tarnished silver earrings; glowing amber bracelet; the new fish tank finally keeping clear water

For these 29 x 3 gifts, gracious Lord, I give thanks to You, the Giver of every good gift!


123IMG_0667IMG_0665IMG_0578My latest experiement in foodstuff was with acorns. Because I happened to notice an overwhelming abundance of acorns this year, right in my orchard, falling from the valley oak along our road, I decided that I would be foolish to let this easy opportunity pass me by. We gathered a 5-gallon bucket-full from within a very small area.
Then, after a few false starts, such as guessing that I should soak the acorns and start them sprouting, I consulted a booklet that I had found online a while back. I spread out some acorns on a metal table with an open grid top to it so that the acorns could dry. The hulls started to split, revealing the yellowish white nutmeats inside. These acorns were long and meaty. I pulled the hulls away and made a stash of nutmeats.
I found that the VitaMix, as usual, worked like a champ to grind the acorns into flour with a bit of water added to the blender. I used the cold water method to draw out the bitter tannins: The acorn mush went into three half-gallon jars topped with cold water and kept refrigerated. I would carefully pour off the darkened water about twice a day and replace it with fresh. After a little more than a week, I was ready to move on in the process.
I read that I should heat the mush over medium heat, stirring constantly for fifteen minutes. It became like pudding, quite thick. I cooled it and then transfered it into freezer bags.
After freezing, I took a bag out and let it defrost at room temperature. Here’s when it really surprised me: I squeezed the water out and then added 1/4 cup to my flour to make biscuits–and the acorn flour actually changed in my hands from a playdough-like substance to a flaky substance. We could not taste the acorn flour in the biscuits but it gave a little brown marbling effect to the white biscuits.
Some friends were over for a birthday party and they noticed my soup pot of leftover acorns on the picnic table. (I had not processed them all.) Asked what they were for, I explained what I had been doing. One other homeschooling mom (Anette) then said that she would like to try processing acorns with her kids, as they have been studying California native Americans. I offered her a bag of acorn flour from my freezer. I was surprised by her call one morning, just days later. They had made a batch of acorn pancakes for breakfast and the kids deemed them the best-tasting pancakes they had ever had! Anette told me that she had modified the recipe and used at least a cup of acorn flour in with some whole wheat pastry flour. The family was then headed down to Sacramento to tour the California State Indian Museum. What a full and fun day for that homeschooling family!
My husband wanted to try the pancakes so that is what I put on our menu for tonight. We all enjoyed the pancakes very much! Really! Mine were made with a combination of white flour and acorn flour. Give it a try!

First Fifty-Five Gifts

“Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your blessings. See what God has done.”

So goes a little song I’ve heard. I recently read a book called One Thousand Gifts, about literally taking note of the beauty and blessings around us, and author Ann Voskamp’s challenge to all of us echoes the words of this old hymn. I am jumping in on this challenge of hers to write down my first One Thousand Gifts, as she did, as an exercise in becoming thankful. Seeing what God has done. Seeing reality. Seeing those gifts so often skipped by, unnoticed. Well, enough of my negligence: It is high time I made this change.

So, here goes. I am beginning this on January 8, 2014.

1. long afternoon shadows

2. sunlight through trees

3. the raking of dropped walnuts and blown brown oak leaves

4. that hot, hot shower I just took, definitely grace raining down my chilled body in the cold back bathroom

5. a husband who makes fire for me

6. glowing embers and flickering tongues in the firebox

7. new wool socks with delightful stripes

8. rainfall outside while warm indoors

9. a basket of knitting, ready

10. dishes, washed, all

11. hearing my son tell my daughter that he loves her, too

12. James finding things to give Selah–a white feather, a silvery rock

13. the crackly, frosty film that gets on old bottles

14. tarnished silver

15. having enough

16. hope found in a gaze held on God

17. my daughter deciding to keep me company, singing, while I wash dishes

18. her wobbling little bike-riding circles

19. the possibility of adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail

20. the penetrating, saturated color orange of an orange

21. getting to hug my son today
22. getting to see my husband in town as we ended up driving next to each other on the road; both our hearts beat faster to see each other unexpectedly
23. exchanging recommended books with friend Kate today
24. looking out the kitchen window and seeing a lot of small birds flitting in the front yard and one having very blue wings
25. the welcome sound of rain on the roof as I awaken
26. rich, moistness of pumpkin bread
27. my son sitting beside me in church, throughout the service
28. hens scurrying for scratch thrown from above to fall like manna from heaven
29. strawberry jam lovely as a ruby jewel, a gift from Valerie
30. driving on a newly paved road
31. cinnamon rolls with orange glaze, homemade and warm
32. lavender gates on an aqua blue fence
33. the ability to read well
34. the remnant of beauty God left us to see in this fallen world
35. being able to let my bees clean up a frame on a sunny winter day
36. jail inmates lifting hands in worship
37. the new fish aquarium being enjoyed so much by Selah
38. colorful bee boxes tucked in fields
39. pallets of white beehives waiting along the edges of an orchard, anticipating the nectar of many almond blossoms
40. Rachel, though 16, taking it upon herself to entertain Selah, 6
41. The Buttes, rising out of flat ground, touching the clouds, everything in muted colors
42. the silhouettes of winter trees, revealing bird nests
43. Old Glory, catching the breeze, proud atop a grain silo
44. the chimney, carrying away smoke
45. hardwood floors underfoot, gleaming
46. the floating lightness of maidenhair fern, seen growing out of a hillside along a hiking trail
47. enthusiastic children who are expressing thanks for our time hiking near Shasta Lake, all a-giggle in the backseat on the drive home
48. the gorgeous, glossy green leaves of a California bay laurel tree and their spicy scent
49. warm sun on my face on a mountain plateau with clear winter sky above
50. golden brown sugar creamed with butter in the mixing bowl
51. the joy shining on Eileen’s face though she is within another storm, though her body be damaged and failing her, to see God as her ever-present strength and to hear her relate her blessings and her willingness to serve Him through her illnesses
52. smell of apple pie in oven
53. honeybees out in January on rosemary flowers in town
54. the color and flavor of elderberry syrup taken for a cold
55. three women in a checkout line, strangers drawn together for a moment in sharing trials of taking care of elderly parents, then going their separate ways but feeling not so alone

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done” (from the hymn, Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1897).

Words to Light My Way

In Psalm 119:11, the psalmist David writes to his God: “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee” (KJV). David had composed this psalm as a poem, with each stanza beginning with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The entire piece magnifies the words of God and His statutes. Here, we learn that when we commit God’s Word to memory, thereby hiding it in our heart, it serves us by strengthening us against the temptation to sin. That’s a huge benefit!

In that same wonderfully-crafted poem, David says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (verse 105). Lovely imagery, isn’t it? Even in translation, the poetry shines through! The light that comes from God’s Word is helpful, guiding. We find ourselves stumbling about in this world, confused and lost, but God will guide us if we look to His Word. He will show us the way to walk, the way to live. The first Christians, in fact, were called followers of the Way!

The opening verse of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (1:1). Here, we learn something astonishing about God’s Word–it is one and the same with God Himself!  John goes on to write that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (1:14). Do you see who this is? It is Jesus! He is God, made flesh. He is the living Word. Wow!

In that same Gospel, it is recorded by John that Jesus called Himself, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). Jesus is that light for our path to show us the way, the way that leads to life. He reiterates this when He says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). 

The Greek word used for way, when Jesus calls Himself “the Way” (John 14:6) means also, “journey,” “a course of conduct,” “a manner of thinking, feeling, deciding” (Strong’s G3598). Therefore, since I believe God’s Word to be the Truth, I want His Word hidden in my heart to guide my way. I want Jesus to be my journey, my life more abundant!

I have just finished reading a book that strikes me as revolutionary: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I then decided to look up her website, wanting more of her encouraging words. I found that she is leading a Bible memorization project for 2014, with verses from the Gospel of John. I have decided to participate because I could use the structure she is providing. I am also drawn to it because she has free downloads of printables for each Scripture in the memory project–and they are lovely! I appreciate her sentiment about this. She seems to be saying that God’s Word is beautiful so it should be presented in a beautiful way. This just seems right, doesn’t it?

I’m excited to see more of God in my life in 2014 as I hide His Word in my heart!



Lemon Pie in a Cup or How to Use 14 Eggs

lemon pie in a cup

Got eggs?

I sometimes go to my mom’s house and watch cooking shows with her. She records the shows so we can fast-forward through commercials. Recently, we were watching Ree Drummond make a key lime pie dessert that called for FOURTEEN WHOLE EGGS, and I thought, “At last! A recipe that would use all those excess eggs that are cluttering up my refrigerator!” (If you keep laying hens, you’ll know what I mean!)
I decided to substitute lemon for lime, but otherwise I followed The Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I have to warn you, this is very rich. Serve small portions! It’s a pretty dessert, don’t you think?
But what did I discover? My family does not like this type of dessert. My husband took one bite and handed it back to me, and my daughter only wanted the graham cracker crust and the whipped cream.
And here I thought I was onto something! So, a few days later, I can say, again, “Yes, I got eggs!”


Beet Kvass

beets for pickling

Bright, bulbous beauties, beets are growing in the garden–and growing on me! This is my second season to can spicy pickled beets. I followed the Ball Blue Book recipe. I like having these to bring color and interest to our Thanksgiving spread. I have also found that certain older folks have a sentimental spark for these, so a jar makes a special gift for them. Plus, these are a fun addition to a green salad that needs some zip.

This year, I just had to experiment, too. I am trying a honey-sweetened version. To these, I added only red onion slices–no spices. The onions and beets were from my garden this year, but I did not get to use any honey from my own beehive. Maybe next year! I am hoping that my DH may like these beets in his salad. He is not fond of the spicy pickled beets.

I like to make a pitcher of beet kvass every so often, also. I ended up using every one of my beets in the canning process this year and forgot to save any out to make kvass. I typically buy three organic beets at the grocery store for a batch of kvass. I use the recipe from the book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. This drink is taken in small quantities as a health tonic for the liver and blood. It is a bit salty but I like it.





the “unpretty” calendar as launchpad

My joyful daughter enjoying her map search

My joyful daughter enjoying her map search

I have been seeing that educating my daughter at home is a FLUID PROCESS. There are sudden springboards that appear out of nowhere each day–and off we go, LAUNCHED in an unexpected direction.

I want to share a little thing that we are doing each morning after our Bible reading. I have a calendar from The Voice of the Martyrs ministry that gives a daily prayer suggestion for the Christians around the world who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus. (Here, I will ADMIT something. I usually don’t use these calendars. I like ART calendars! Garden calendars! Flower calendars! Pretty things! Shame on me for cringing from the pictures of the “unpretty” reality for untold numbers of my brothers and sisters in Christ.) Being ever-gracious, the good Lord seems to have prompted me with an idea that has helped me to START PRAYING and that has unexpectedly enhanced our learning at home.

My daughter (age 5) has been learing the calendar. She has memorized the months and days. I started this with her this year when she was driving me crazy, in the fall, asking about up-coming holidays and birthdays. I could see she had a need to understand the calendar! So, each day, we take a look at the calendar together. Thus, when 2013 came around and the new VOM calendar arrived in the mail, the idea came to use it–and I mean REALLY use it. We read the prayer suggestion and then pull out the world map (or sometimes the globe). We find the nation that we are to pray for. Suddenly, calendar work has morphed into GEOGRAPHY work which morphs into CHRISTIAN LOVE as we pray for these precious, hurting souls.

Yesterday, we were praying for CHINA. My daughter had earlier thrown her paper airplane onto the top of our biggest bookcase. Standing on a chair to reach the plane, I noticed the dust and decided to do a little cleaning. I had to move the heavy, giant atlas and the American painting book and THE BOOK OF PICTURES OF CHINA that we had bought during our three-year wait while we tried to adopt from China! (Not what God had in mind for us, however. That is another story!) So, then, the calendar time morphed into a walk along the Great Wall, a boat ride down the Yangtze River, a time of rest in a peaceful garden decorated with strange rock formations, and an admiring look at the terra cotta soldiers. We saw mountainsides terraced for farming and talked of the large population of China and how they need all that farming for their food and how so many Chinese had starved to death when there wasn’t enough food grown. We learned that those fierce lion sculptures with the curly manes were symbols of power for the emperors.

This made for a good morning in our home as we snuggled on the couch, oohing and aahing over the book’s glossy, panoramic photos!

Thank you, Lord, for the free VOM calendar and the help it is to us. I pray that you will bless our brothers and sisters around the world who suffer for Your Name’s sake. Meet their needs and fill them with Your presence. Amen.