Sunday, July 25, 2010

More Sweet Moments

Scroll down for the original "Sweet Moments" post and explanation.
  • dinner (yummy homemade curry) and conversation with a childhood friend, Brittany (Hemphill) Foster, and her family at her home in Tulsa. Thanks, Facebook -- it had been 20+ years since we had seen or talked to each other, and I doubt it would have happened otherwise!
  • the blessing of being with my entire family, all at once, at Stephens Family Reunion 2010 in Hot Springs, AR
  • reading stories to my nieces
  • brusing Michaela's hair
  • lunch and conversation with Ken and Ann Bolden, missionary friends from Kenya
  • introducing Josh and Julie to Settlers of Catan
  • talks over coffee with Mom and Dad
  • walking in downtown Hot Springs with my sister, window shopping and drinking iced coffee
  • watching a thunderstorm roll in and smelling the rain coming (I love a good thunderstorm!)
  • presenting Matt and Janille with their wedding gift from all of us (a year's worth of Date Nights in a Box -- I'll share more about this gift idea in a later post), followed by prayer-time for them, and a toast with Bitter Lemons all the way from Kenya
  • singing before bed with all the kids
  • couples date to the Pancake House in Hot Springs
  • playing Scotland Yard
  • lunch at Mayuri (our favorite Indian restaurant ever) in Memphis
  • browsing a used bookstore for hidden treasures
  • taking Alex to see "How to Train Your Dragon"
  • visiting with friends, old and new, at Esther's birthday party
  • lunch with our Support Team at Hillsboro (We are so blessed to have the support and encouragement of so many people there.)
  • singing old hymns, in English, in 4-part harmony with our church family
  • picnic supper at a very cool park
  • playdate with Rebekah and Hannah Brown at the Monkey's Treehouse in Nashville
  • watching Alex become so much more confident in the water -- he is not swimming completely independently yet, but we have made some great strides this summer due to all of the opportunities we have had to swim during our travels
I do plan on sharing some pictures soon -- "Top Ten" posts of Matt and Janille's wedding, and our family reunion in Hot Springs are in the works. For now, there are pictures on Facebook, or you can visit my sister's blog.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sweet Moments

We've been back in the States about a month now, and we have another month to go. One thing I decided to do when we first got back was to record in my journal some of the "sweet moments" of this time back in the U.S. There isn't a lot of time for journaling and personal reflection when you're on the road, fundraising, visiting family and friends, shopping, and running around like crazy gathering paperwork for your visas. However, it doesn't take long to jot down a few things every day or two, and it keeps me mindful of the blessings that we are experiencing, even in this hectic time. Here are some of the sweet moments so far (excerpted from my journal):
  • Listening to cousins squeal with laughter while playing in the sprinkler together
  • Wii fun
  • Dinnertime craziness with 5 kids under 5
  • Worshipping God and hearing from his Word in English
  • Carousel rides at Greenfield Village
  • Chuck E. Cheese madness
  • Conversations with my sister
  • Seeing the "stars and stripes" billowing across the sky
  • My first trip to Target in almost four months, followed by a strawberry limeade from Sonic
  • Having our own car again
  • Dryer fresh clothes -- so soft and sweet-smelling!
  • The feeling of homecoming our first Sunday back at Hillsboro
  • Alex welcomed back with joy and open arms by all his friends from church
  • Singing my favorite hymn, "Be Still My Soul" with 500+ Hillsboro members -- beautiful!
  • Good American pizza
  • A sultry summer night in Nashville spent with friends from Hillsboro, watching our kids get soaked in the sprinkler and eating delicious food off the grill.
  • World Cup excitement -- we've managed to squeeze in watching a few games
  • Hearing stories of veteran missionaries to Kenya, Hilton and Avanelle Merritt
  • Being prayed over at the West University Church of Christ in Houston after Rusty presented on Wednesday night, and the realization that settled over me of the privilege it is to be playing a part in God's work in Angola.
  • Sharing blessings and marriage advice with Matt and Janille at their rehearsal dinner, and enjoying the absolutely scrumptious Texas barbeque!
  • Watching my baby brother and his bride say their vows, exchange their rings, light their unity candle, share their first kiss as husband and wife, cut their cake, and leave the church in a shower of birdseed and bubbles. My heart is so full and so thankful that we got to be there to celebrate their special day!
  • Family friend and former Kenya missionary Carla Dean running up at the literal last minute (as Matt and Janille were about to drive away from the church) to hug Matt and wish him well. Her plane didn't arrive in time for the ceremony, and she almost missed him after the reception, but made it in the nick of time!
  • Listening in as Uncle David, Aunt Mary Helen, CDT, Mom and Dad shared memories and funny stories around the table. How amazing to consider all the ways God has worked in and through these 5, not to mention countless other missionaries to Kenya.
  • Fireworks with Steve and Wendy and their kids in Abilene on July 4th
  • Bedtime lullabies with Steve on his guitar.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


One of the summertime treats in Portugal is caracóis, or snails! Yep, you read that right. We first had the opportunity to try them on our field trip to Sintra. I only had one or two, and this because I finally caved under the intense peer pressure being put on me by my teammates. They really aren't that bad if you don't think too hard about what you are actually eating (which can be difficult since you have to remove them from the shell with a toothpick). The texture reminded me of mushrooms, and they take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked in, which in Portugal is onion, garlic, and bacon.

Alex was in school on the day of our field trip, and he was intensely jealous when he found out that we had all eaten snails without him. He begged for days to try snails, so one afternoon, just before we left for the U.S., we took a walk down to a local café and ordered a large plate to share. I wondered if Alex would really go through with it; I half thought he would chicken out when it came down to actually putting one in his mouth. However, to my great surprise, the kid who turns his nose up at asparagus and spinach ate his first snail without batting an eye, then smacked his lips and announced, "Mmmmmm, that was good! I want another one." I guess I shouldn't be surprised... he does, after all, like green tea and curry, two things most four-year olds wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole.


"Nooooooo, don't eat me!"

And after the snails... a pastel de nata, another of Alex's favorite Portuguese treats.

Stephen tried snails, too, but wasn't too impressed.