Sunday, December 30, 2012


"I am not afraid of storms,
for I am learning
to sail my ship."

-Louisa May Alcott
Little Women

On the first day of second grade my teacher asked us to share our favorite color.  When my turn came I proudly declared, "The color of the sky right before it storms."  I thought it was a brilliant answer, the class thought it was funny.  "Do you mean gray?" She threw out a line to help.  I said yes and thought no.  My family and I had often sat on the swing and steps of our porch to watch storms roll in.  We would feel the sharp switch in wind and temperature. The skies would darken in layers of  gray and blue and then open to rain.  I still love to breath in the smell of rain and damp earth.  But it is very different it is to be on open sea when a storm hits.  When the wind and rain shape the seascape like clay in a child's hand.  Standing on land the stormy sky is like a canvas, colors crashing and blending.  At sea, it becomes a mirror.  What ever is trapped between sky and sea becomes part of the storm until it passes.  

I loved the story of Jesus calming the storm as a child.  That when the storm was at it most destructive state, and the others were at their most desperate, he stopped it with three words.  "Quiet!  Be Still."  And it was.  Be still.  The opposite of what storms are and what the others in the boat felt.  Still, unmoving, at rest, free from sound or stirring.  Can you imagine what that was like?  To go from the roar of the storm and sea engulfing you, the slamming waves, colliding cold, wet bodies into rough wood.  Dark clouds opening to let lose torrents.  And then three words spoken and it is all still. 
We are not use to being still in this wild ride of ours.  Ministry is at full tilt, the boys at times out pacing that.  Five lives tangled and moving forward.  Fundraising and mailings.  Visits with old and new friends.  But not this Christmas break.  We have been sick the majority of it.  First Levi with the flu, then Ian holding onto a fever and nasty cough, and now Luke with an ugly five day virus.  Plans have been changed, cancelled, and we have stayed in.  Scrabble, movies and books have replaced sight, sounds and people.  And it is strange to not be going at the speed we expected to.   Jeff instead reads aloud another chapter of The Hobbit to a feverish boy.  I listen as Bilbo Baggins fights fear of a great adventure being thrust upon him, longing security of an old life instead of the new self doubt.  And I chuckle thinking of our lives right now and the adventures coming.  I watch Ian put puzzle piece after puzzle piece together.  Completely satisfied when pieces lock together and undeterred when they do not.  He shouts the same "YEA, I did it" as they lock, and a quieted, "not yet"  as he pushes away the pieces that didn't match up.  And  I realize he knows more about this process than I do.  I delve into Anna Karinina and am challenged with forgiveness.  And then with kids still sick read The Help, amazed at Skeeter, and her naivety and strength realizing we are all a lot stronger than we think.  And I can't remember the last time I read a complete book that changed me, much less two.  

Right now  the learning curve is still big, the storms are bigger, but the God who created each is more than able.  And for the first time in  a long time I am still.  Fevers are not gone yet, and sheets are getting washed again as I write this.  But in these weeks of stillness I have heard His voice clearer.   Praying that you are able to be still today.  That the wind and roar of  life quiets a moment and that you hear him speak.  Gentle and true.  And that the next time it storms, you look up and notice the color of the sky, and you hear him in the stillness. 

He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet!  Be still!" Then the wind died down, and it was completely calm.   Matthew 4:39

Saturday, December 22, 2012



 "Joy does not simply happen to us. 
                      We have to choose joy
                and keep choosing it every day." 
                                     -Henri Nouwen

Everyday is the same. Luke shrugs his backback on and lumbers off the bus, brows furrowed in thought. Levi rushes past him towards me flushed and grinning.  With his coat falling off a shoulder and backpack bouncing he bellows "That was the best day EVER!"  Luke will often try to articulate that it is impossible to have a "best" day everyday. But Levi can't hear him because he has already launched into explanation of why the day was so wonderful. 

It wasn't always this way, goofy grins, and chuckling loud at life. He came into the world with colic.  Red faced and little fists clenched.  I never knew quite what to do when the crying would start. With unkempt hair and emotion I would pace back and forth.  Sometimes praying sometimes crying not knowing how to soothe this new child of mine. The one we named Levi, "one who lives in harmony".  Trying everything I could think of to get him to sing a different melody. The colic passed leaving me exhausted and unsure and Levi emerged from it contented, eyes smiling.  I would pray over the boys in their cribs before they could talk or understand words spoken.  Different prayers for very different boys. Luke's prayer was that he would love others more than himself and God even more than that.  And for Levi to be a joy bringer.  To carry God's joy into the lives of others.  And laughter comes easily to him.  Whether we have a house full of Highschool kids, leaders, or friends his nature is easy and light.  The only thing better than to belly laugh is to get someone else to join him.  

He is still the one person who can get Luke to laugh until hiccups punctuate each intake of breath.  Right now, at seven, Levi can wear joy and laughter  with ease. As he gets older, life will get harder.  Belly laughing at life will be seen in most circles as silly, childish, and niave.  I remember my mom often praying "God give me joy as my strength today."  Joy withstands the storms, the judgements, the pain.  It chooses to trust that there is always the option of a content and happy heart in Christ. Joy is the ballast in seas of changing swells.  Happiness bubbles up and breaks, pain pierces and dissapears, but joy can remain.  

My prayers now for Levi are often whispered in the dark.  Words he understands but can't hear because he is already asleep.  Words asking for him to choose joy as his strength in a world that arms itself with false power and control.  That this chosen joy will point others to the true joy bringer.  The one that gives life to the full and sees past the swells that rock us.  I hope you get to experience that type of joy this season and learn to choose it each day. 

"Be joyful always; pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances,  
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 
          1 Thessalonians 5:16-18     

Monday, December 17, 2012

Landfill Harmonic

I found this video, Landfill Harmonic, posted on a blog that I read.  It is about a town in Cateura, Paraguay that takes trash from a landfill and fashions it into instruments.  In a place where there are no orchestras, kids are making music out of garbage.  Hope you can take a couple of minutes to watch this movie clip about it: 
God is able to make music, something beautiful, out of our lives.  Not just the beautiful parts but the parts with jagged edges and gaping holes.  If given to Him they can become something made new.  What we would count as loss He is able to see with a redeemed purpose. 
This morning I am reading the beginning of Isaiah 61 and praying that God will make beauty out of the ashes of this week, garments of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  And music out of a trash heap.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Name

“Stories are light. Light is precious
in a world so dark.....
Make some light.”  
― DiCamillo, Tale of Despereaux

Luke, our oldest son, has always loved a good story.  The minute he was talking he was asking for a story.  I would knit words together each night as he stared, big  eyed, into the darkness.  The story would always involve Luke, taking adventures and discovering hidden treasure.  One of my favorite places to tell a story to him was around a fire in the backyard.  It was silent except for the crackle of wood.  Jeff would be holding Levi and I would begin, the whole time staring at Luke's face lit by the fire.  His most beloved story was not made up.  It was true and happened to Luke, and Jeff and I got to be a part of it. 

"Tell me again the day I was born, and what dad said to me, why you named me Luke."  I would begin the same way every time.  "I was very surprised, you see.  We thought you would come to us much later, years later.  Even the day you were born you surprised us!  Two weeks earlier than the doctor had thought, like you couldn't wait any longer to see what the world would be like.  "And did it hurt when I was born?", He asked this each time also.  "Yes, it hurt, but everything worth it hurts, and you were worth it.  I remember you came into the world not crying, and dad was worried, because all babies cry at first.  But the minute the nurses took you to see why, you let out a good, loud cry.  "And then dad spoke to me?"  Yes, He first kissed me and then walked over to get a good look at you for the first time.  He looked at your pink face and small belly breathing in and out.  And he looked right into your eyes, smiled big and said, "Hi Luke, you are my son and I am going to be your Daddy forever."  'And what did I say?" You cried, but I think you meant, I'm so glad your my daddy."  Luke would laugh at this part and stare at the picture that captured the time when father and son met.   Luke would end with, "But I knew him already, I knew his voice because he talked to me each night when I was in your belly."   He would continue to look at the picture quiet eyed and grinning.  

Luke would then ask about his name.  Why we chose to call him Luke Isaac Stables.  I always loved the name and as he grew in my tummy I knew more and more that would be his name.  Luke, means bearer of light.  Isaac means laughter.  I wanted Luke to bring light to people.  Truth in stories.  But that seemed a heavy mantle to carry, so Isaac means laughter.  And from the time Luke was tiny his laughter has been large, deep welled, and contagious.  It is a laugh that surprises people who only get to see a pensive boy with thoughts too large to express.  The contrast of furrowed brow in thought and belly laughing loud.  Luke always made sure we knew he was glad we gave him the right name.  What if you had named me George he would ask in horror. 
 How we come into this world is important but lasts only a moment.  A name is important and you carry it through your days.  It is how the world will first hear of you, how you are announced, called forth.  One of the most important things Luke will learn and relearn in life will be to know who he belongs to.  Who calls him by name in love.  Who began his story before we knew he would be written into our lives.  That story is the one that will become more important the older he gets.  What does your name mean? Who calls it forth in love?   To whom you do you belong?  Praying that you will hear his voice call you by name.  And hear the most important story to be told.

"You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."  Psalm 139:13-14

Friday, December 7, 2012

Euskara and the Basque flag

In Basque everyone can speak Spanish and is willing to (phew).  Though their native tongue is Euskara.  The boys will be doing school 1/3 English, 1/3 Spanish, and 1/3 Euskara.  That is if we get in the government subsidised private school, the one with the two year waiting list.  Written Basque is as strange-looking as the language is strange-sounding, featuring an extraordinary number of x's and an apparent disregard for vowels. The Basques refer to themselves as Euskaldunak, or ``speakers of the Euskara''.   Language is incredibly important to their identity.   We will be learning Euskara along with Spanish.   The picture below is the Basque flag.  Hope you are enjoying learning a little Basque history.  Next time I will share about the three American couples we met during our February exploratory trip.  They encouraged us in many ways and let me ask any question I wanted.  Those who know me understand why I hold them in high regard for that! 

Fears relieved

"Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt."
-William Shakespeare

      "I don't want to look back and regret that we missed being a part of something way bigger than ourselves.  That we played it safe, and that was okay, but missed out because of fear."  We circled back to this over and over.  Jeff repeats with gentle truth his stand.  Should we leave home, our support system, our family and friends to be part of starting Young Life in Basque Country, Spain?  When it came down to it, the marrow of it all, I was afraid.  I saw the doors open as clearly as Jeff, but we had just cracked a window to get fresh air, I did not expect the front door to swing wide. 

Fear has been my friend you see.  The thin, hard, fragile egg shell that makes me think I am protected because I am separated from it all.  Fear, the reality I believed for so long, a reality that has no room for God.  For His tender mercies, or abiding love.  It makes no place for grace and joy and peace.  Fear makes you believe that scars are shameful and trophies are wanted by Him. 

The opposite is true when I read scripture, His word living.  When I read about the men and women who trembled and stepped out in faith in scripture He promises He is with them, with me.  And they fell... some fell and evidence of healed wounds stayed.  Scars of misstep and sin all woven in His forgiveness to tell a story bigger than themselves.  So we said yes, knowing skinned knees are coming, that there will be no bronze plaque that is given at the end.  But we will get to take a leap of faith like many before us and see God present in a story that is not written in fear. 

Praying you get to crack open a window today.  That you will let God write this chapter and not fear.  Can you imagine the new things you would see and be a part of?  What cobwebs would be cleaned out with new light brought in? 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Hebrews 12:1

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Life overflowing

"Materialists mistake that which limits life
for life itself."
-Leo Tolstoy

"I am grateful, I just..."  this is the mantra of my struggle.  I am happy, I am grateful, I love my life of  dirt rimmed sinks and tender husband.  But I still want, I still feel the lack of something.  And my wants are silly ones mixed with deep.  A coat I pick out and not one given secondhand, the living room carpet clean and fresh, a book I purchase and read because I want to.  None of these are bad things, but I put importance where it was never meant to rest.  And surely there are so many others who have more, and who are much more ungrateful than I am.  This is the smoke screen I justify my want with. He has taught me time and time again that what I have is enough, that I live a life overflowing, and that He has so much more to give I just don't see it.  I know I don't see it clearly, as if I am waking up trying to focus on something with tired eyes. I even feel it when someone I love is given something beautiful.  I rejoice and laugh wonderment with them.  But then it comes.  The small voice that wants to know why it was not given to me also.  Maybe something not quiet as beautiful, even ordinary would do, but something.  Can I know the Giver but still question His giving.  When my vision is tired from want, the gifts given to others will seem too generous and mine too meager.  But if I look at the Giver's heart, the heart that knit me together in my mother's womb, that calls me by name, who loves me more than I am able to comprehend,  my vision is focused sharp.  I see that His will is perfect.  And if His will is perfect then so are His gifts.  Even the ones I didn't ask for.   And all of these little gifts I desire, the silly ones, would bring me great joy, but the joy would begin to disappear as soon as the coat frayed, the carpet stained, or the book had been read.  So, I pray that in this season of gifts you can focus on His heart and not His hand.  That we will be able to live in His love, His sacrifice, and the ultimate gift ever given.  And that we will thank Him for a life overflowing.
              "And my God will meet all of your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." 
                                                               Phillippians 4:19

Friday, November 30, 2012


       Did you know that the Basque are the OLDEST surviving ethnic group in all of Europe?  Or that scholars have yet to discover the exact orgin of the Basques?  Did you know their language, Euskara, is considered a language isolate?  It is not linked to any other language root in the world.  The Basque country (north, west Spain and into the south of France) is bordered by the Pyrenees mountains and the Bay of Biscay.  This may be why they were able to be isolated and unconquered for so long.  Are you getting curious yet?

The Wonder of it All

"And is this the art of life-to keep awake to the wonders in His Word and this world?"
-Ann Voskamp

       We ran breathless up the station ramp, the double decker one, to reach the train before it pulled away.  A long freight carrying over 100 cars.   In our haste to get to it we didn't realize it was only inching forward with it's heavy load.  Suddenly it screeched, heaved again and abruptly stopped groaning as if it was dying on the tracks.  Still and now silent,  it filled up our whole view on the station platform.  We waited while I warned, Ian on my hip, for the older boys to stand back, it was sure to lurch forward at any moment.  We had never been so close.  
Only a broad yellow paint line infront of the drop off separated us from the frieght.  Ten minutes past and it didn't move.  We walked up and down it reading graffiti marks and examining the steel wheels.  I let Ian down warning them all again to not go near the worn paint line, to not touch the grimy sides of the box cars.  

Ian excited, chattered only words he could understand and walked up the platform slightly ahead of us.  Then, Ian slowed and stopped staring at something on the ground.  It was near the stone wall and massive plate windows.  The windows ran along the entire platform and all the way up to the overhang.  It was dead bird in the shape of a heart, wings folded and head to the side.  It must have just flown into the window breaking its neck while we were further down the platform.  My instinct was to move Ian and the boys along, away from the broken bird.  But Ian was mesmerized.  He thought it was sleeping.  He stood silent and wide eyed.  This thing that had only fluttered way out of reach of his chubby fingers  was now lying still at his feet.  He stared and whispered, hushed and thoughtful.   He didn't try to touch it or get too close.  He sat and looked down at his hands and back at the bird trying to figure out why this one didn't fly away.  A moment earlier I was snapping pictures of happy boys framed by a large boxcar behind them.  I snapped a picture now of this moment.  I had never seen Ian wear this expression, this body language.  His little hands resting on folded knees so calm.       
It was wonder, unanswered and unexplained that stilled him.  For me to explain why the bird was lying at his feet, why it couldn't fly, would have offered nothing to the moment.  He didn't need it explained to know it was sacred.  I love answers.  Days and blog posts that tie up neatly.  Weeks planned and lived out with a checklist in hand.  Lost in the busy rush of the days I forget to stop and look at God's world with wonder.  Especially the parts that are broken and damaged.  I rush past the moments that should have been something else, something better.   Struggle to look with awe at every twig and feather much less the muddy bare spots in the yard.  Can I stop and wonder.  Stop and praise a God who created, and gives and takes every moment we breath in and out.  

 I hope you get to stand in wonder of His gifts today.  I pray that God opens your eyes to see the way He creates beauty in all things even the broken ones.  I want to approach each day knowing it is a gift to be lived out intentionally, with joy and wonder.  Wonder that is not made up of naivety or  choosing to not see what is hard in this life.  But choosing to see it with new eyes.  Stopping to look at what He is doing and has already given.  And being able to say it is good because it is from Him. 

  Against all the hard cold steel, we were suprised to see bright green grass
growing from clumps of dirt on several of train cars.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the
heavenly lights,
who does not change like
shifting shadows." 
James 1:17

Heading back to the van, our five minute stop turned an hour long.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Donostia, Basque

Go ahead and google Basque Country!  We had to when we got the first e-mail.  But be careful, what began as curiosity for us has unraveled into a wild adventure.  Isn't it amazing that over a year ago we had never even heard of the country we are moving our life of three boys to?  Even if you are better versed in geography than we were take a peek.  It is one of the most amazing, dynamic, and culturally mysterious places on Earth.  Our heart strings have already begun to be tied.  We are currently at 20% raised in support.  That is based on a three year committment and with the knowledge that 90% must be raised to be able to leave in June.  When I fisrt started fundraising Jeff Hall from International Younglife kept saying, "It is all about God doing a work in people, it is all about relationship and not about money."  Funny to hear that when looking at the European sized budget.  But he has been proven right every time we meet with someone to share the vision.  We will not go alone.  We will not go with one big check written because some one can.  But with many people joining with us to share who God is and His deep love with the Basque people.  Thank you for reading and praying and asking questions along with us!  Here is a picture of the city we would be moving to: Donostia, Basque/Spain. 


"...the secret I have only now just learned; leaving feels good and pure only when you leave something important, something that mattered to you. Pulling life out by the roots.  But you can't do that until your life has grown roots."  -John Green
     My blue bottle is a common vessel filled with an even more common clipping.   I bought it for less than a dollar and it has moved with us from place to place.  Every Spring I cut some green off the side hedge that grows unruly and put some in my blue bottle.  The clippings get tossed every two weeks or when the leaves edges turn brown.  It wasn't until an art lesson this past winter that I realised that I hadn't tossed the clipping in the bathroom out in a while.  Eight eager students, oil pastel in hand were ready to draw the blue bottle and green leaves for a still life.  As I was setting it down the light above the table pierced through the cobalt blue to reveal a tangle of roots.  I tried to remember the last time I had put new clipping in.  I remembered the countless times wiping down the smudged sink, finger prints and mud.  I remembered filling it with more water while yelling to the boys to wash the sink after they wash their hands.  It had been at least six months I was sure.  That winter and following spring I continued to wipe down the sink and add more watter to the blue bottle.  I now lifted the bottle to the light each time to see if the roots were still growing.  A year and a half later it is still alive, roots growing and green leafed.
 I cannot paint a more clear picture of what the past years have been like here in Culpeper, Va.  We moved here to start Young Life ten years ago.  We drove through this small sleepy town with a five month old and a five year commitment.  I remember asking if we had to stay the whole five years.  I remember Jeff grabbing my hand and smiling.  And then the ministry started, and more importantly the relationships started.  God began to weave many high school kids,  their parents, and friends into our hearts and lives.  I joke that our front door should be a revolving door.  Luke and Levi have asked why the girls come cry and talk on the couch for hours while the guys stand outside and talk for ten minutes.  We have seen nine graduations, a new high school built, and new start ups.  New leaders, countless camp trips, and early morning bible studies.  We had a Levi, a house fire, a renovation, and an Ian.  And all that time our roots grew.  You don't notice the roots grabbing deep the earth around you.  It happens unseen, quietly.  The green leaves and fruit are way more visible.  

The storms that shake and bring doubt are more distracting.  But all that time they grew.  People have asked why we are leaving.  The work is not done.  It is hard to explain to someone what it feels like to be moving on to what God has next.  That the work will never be done until we are called home.  Leaving is easier knowing that roots were securely  planted.  Lives were changed and God did His work in us and through us and will continue to even after the blue bottle is packed up.  God is calling us to grow deep roots where He has placed us.  Most of the time it happens slowly while relationships grow and get tested.  While we tend gardens or have to work in the field.  During the warm spring months or the bitter winter storms. 

 I pray that you are growing deep roots right now.  Right where you are.  I pray that your roots grow deep in relationship with God and each other. And that when He does call you into a new place you will leave behind something of value.  Something that makes leaving a little easier because it will grow even after you are gone.

"So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ."
Ephesians 3:17&18

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


And here is the kind of adventure that happens when Jeff gets an idea.
How to get two boys to rake a yard full of leaves without
getting paid for it.  

Treasure hunting

"There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy's life 
when he has a raging desire to go somewhere
and dig for hidden treasure."
Mark Twain

My favorite adventure of the fall started with a week  filled with nagging and disgruntled sighs.  Me praying for more grace and the boys grumbling over homework and chores.  I was desperate to make a happy memory and take a break from the routine.  We all needed it.  Jeff was out preparing for Young Life club and would be gone until late into the night.  I don't know why on earth I thought to google old train cabooses.   I did, and only one applicable heading came up.  " navigators scavenger hunt ...old abandoned caboose near lake in Sperryville, VA...woodward Rd..."  Sperryville is a tiny town twenty miles from our house with no train tracks running through it.  Why would a caboose be there?  Intrigued I grabbed snacks and drinks and dressed a sleepy toddler up from nap.  By the time the boys stumbled off the bus the van was running and waiting to be boarded.

The boys were surprised and then thrilled  that an abandoned caboose was waiting to be discovered.  We drove into Sperryville and on an old gravel road.  Past small houses and towering trees and still no caboose in sight.  Two turn arounds later I put on the courage of my mom, it was time to ask complete strangers questions.  We pulled into a parking lot with four locals leaning on the back of  a pick up truck talking and laughing.  I hopped out and asked about the caboose, suddenly feeling foolish.  They replied all at the same time, eyes twinkling.  With four slightly different directions we set off again, going further on the same road.  The boys got impatient.  All three were chatting, wondering,  even the talk of hidden treasure in the caboose was  brought up...what if...  We drove on peering through the gravel dust and trees.  An older man with a walking stick and small dog came into our sight.  I slowed,  and  asked if he knew of it, thinking I had gone too far.  "Oh yes, it is there!  It is just up ahead, you just have to slow down and really look for it.  It is hard to see something in the woods that you're not expecting to be there."  I asked him who brought it there, he said it was a train engineer who had worked in Luray, VA and brought it over the mountains to turn it into a fishing cabin in the 1950s.  It never happened and has sat there since.  We thanked him and slowly rolled forward looking in the woods this time expecting to have a caboose come into view.

I saw the pond first.  The leaves had not yet turned and fallen, but the pond reflected the sun and I stopped.  We pulled over and Luke and Levi ran ahead screaming as if we had found gold.  Ian and I tripped trough underbrush and finally caught up.  THE CABOOSE.  It was found, we found it on an ordinary Tuesday that was suppose to be filled with homework and chores.  
We spent until sundown exploring and breathing deeply.  We walked the pond, found an old out house and well pump,  and laughed at our luck.  It will be a day forever locked in my memory.  

We are designed for adventure.  The kind that makes your heart pound and hands sweat.  The kind that leaves you feeling like maybe your world was a little too small.  I feel like that day made me long for a life of adventure with Jeff and the boys.  Honestly, before that day the move to Basque Country seemed scary.  Fundraising overwhelming.  Too hard, too much...  But that day changed things.  I realized maybe  not knowing all the details is okay.  And maybe living it out little step by little step is better then always prepping and bracing for it.

I hope you get to run away for a day or hour and see where your world might be getting too snug.  I pray you get to see how God is orchestrating adventures for you daily, we just have to slow down enough to see them through the woods.
"In their hearts man plans his course,  
but the Lord establishes his steps."  
 Proverbs 16:9

Saturday, November 17, 2012

past the backwoods

Here are pictures of just a few of our outdoor adventures past our own back woods. I love how Ian is always trying so hard to follow Luke and Levi. I was always yelling to not go too far and clicking away...not wanting to forget the time when Ian couldn't catch up.   (Or that once I got to pick the adventures we went on).   I wonder what the Basque back woods and wilderness will look like with my boys in the foreground?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A walk in the woods.

"Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place, there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and is the first bond of the wilderness you are going into."  -Wendell Berry 
     "Why do you like being in the woods alone so much?"  I know I ask Luke way too many questions. Thankfully, his love for me helps him tolerate them and sometimes he even answers them with great depth and a hint of warmth.  like this time; "It is where I feel the most like I am really a part of it, God's creation, it is quiet and I am me."  He often asks to go in the woods behind our house alone.  Happy, singing, talking, digging, crouching, walking and pausing every few steps.  

Levi on the other hand has only ever gone into the woods alone to cry.  Levi is a full two years younger at age 7 and is bursting with life and emotion.  He asks to go when his cheeks are already flushed and eyes are brimmed.  He comes home cheeks still pink and clear eyed; back to my eternal enthusiast.  Right now even Ian, age 2, feels at home in the woods.  He will set out on a path made by Luke and not look back until I can only make out a dash of color through the leaves.  The woods to my boys have become a safe place.  They know the boundaries and seasons.  We collect and create and display inside what we find out there.  The woods in our backyard brings the wilderness into safe exploration, complete solitude with the Creator.

The boundary the boys cannot go past is the fallen log, the big one you have to straddle to get over.  Once they get past that they can't hear my voice when I yell for them or be seen by me craning my neck standing on the picnic table.  The wilderness is different than the back woods.  It is unknown, unexplored.  I think God calls us into the wilderness and not just the back woods.  He calls us to what feels unsafe or unknown, past the boundaries we have set.  I love Wendell Berry's writings.  Not just because we share a birthday or because he was an amazing poet,farmer, and naturalist.  He understood the relationship that God intended man to have with nature and all that relationship would teach us.  We have felt all the emotions he has described.  We are about to climb over a big boundary we didn't think we would.  But the One who created the known back woods and the unknown wilderness is leading us.  

I am now beginning to call the move to Basque "The next BIG adventure."  The perspective being shifted from having to leave what we love and what is safe, to being able to go into new experiences and relationships that will stretch the pegs of our hearts and minds bigger.  Ah, I would love a heart and mind stretched out by God. I hope you get to take a walk in the woods this week.  That you get to be surrounded by trees and not people.  And that you get to cry, sing, pause, explore God's creation past a safe boundary.  

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." 
Psalm 32:8  

Friday, November 2, 2012

Here goes...

"You cannot look good and learn something new at the same time.  You have to pick one."  an Unknown but wise person

     This is Becca this time, and many times to come.  I just accidentally uploaded this picture instead of a really cute one of Ian.  I am keeping it up because this is exactly the season I have walked through.  Luke put this sign on his bike during a recent adventure.  We don't own a bike lock and we are known to park our bikes and explore off the bike path to discover something new.  Luke was hoping this note would keep it safe and it worked!  If I could give you a snapshot of me in the last three months it would be of me frantically scribbling out do not touch notes. I never wrote that note but each morning it was a choice of trusting God with what He has given and what He has every right to take away.  You do not realize the temptation to plaster every loved one and item with this note until you realize how little control you have over most of it.  Trusting a good God/Father is always the right answer and not always the easiest.
     Since the last post we have gone through more sickness than ever thought possible.  We have  had antibiotics, nebulizer treatments, surgery, gross drinks and pills, and in the end a lot more family time.  Much of the bigger incidents stalled fundraising start up and made us question if we can do life an ocean away and in a different language. In August we dreamed and planned for our last ministry year (year 10!!) here in Culpeper, and I started planning my art curriculum for eager students and new opportunities.  As we decided to move forward and send out the first letters it was quickly realized that Jeff could not pull back from ministry to do the bulk of the fundraising. I quickly realized I was the one who did have the flexibility to pull back from ministry and teaching art.  September and October has taught me a lot.  Mainly the quote I started this post with, and that the note does not have to be written if you trust the one who does the giving and taking.  We are currently at 13% raised of the three years of pledges needed before we leave.  We have so much more to go.  It seems to be inching forward with every mailing, call, and visit.  I have been humbled by people giving in grace and love.  I have been humbled by my often whiny complaints of being a type B person doing a type A job.  The most painful blessing is getting to see it is not about me or the percentage raised.  It is about believing God will use what we give Him daily to change hearts and lives here in Culpeper and eventually in Basque.
     On the way to school we are listing what we are thankful for. Today Luke's was for God designing scavengers and everything that helps decompose dead stuff (hmmm) and Levi's was that He gave us words we can understand and use.  We thinks Ian's was trains, that is what he yelled when Luke asked.  Mine was for relationships, the healthy ones and the hard ones.  Thank you for all the prayers and encouragement.  This journey would be a lonely one without you guys.

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength..."  Isaiah 30:15

Praying that our family and yours can receive this instead of writing DO NOT TOUCH notes this week:)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Nationals game

Trying to get up and running with blog stuff again.  This picture is a good metaphor for life right now.  A week ago I got a call from a dear friend at 10am saying she had 4 free tickets to the Nationals game... which started at 1pm.  So Becca and I made a LOT of phone calls, and changed plans for the day... and made it happen.  We discovered that traffic is not so bad when you don't arrive until the 6th inning.  Incredible experience.  We got to see Zimmermann hit a home run. We even got to take one of our best friends, Will Orr, who is a little bit like a celebrity.  Cant believe that at 9:45, I was working through big "important" to do list, and ended up here instead.

So the metaphor.
We are absolutely rich in gospel, in grace, in friendships.  That is all that matters.  2Cor 8:9

Though I daily have a "to do list" it is not nearly as cool as the Lord's plans.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Madrid adventure

What an adventure in Madrid today... Our last day in Spain. Becca and i struck out on our own. Riding metros and trains, seeing sites, street vendors, finding the only Starbucks. Tried to order a big coffee, ended up with a mini coffee.

Tons of thoughts and processing and praying...

...and Becca bought a burro.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Today we meet Kevin Darnell who is in San Sebastian working with imb. A true heart for the Lord and the Basque people. We met with Brock working with susa (summer in the usa) who explained his journey moving his family (wife and 3 children) to san sebastian in august of last year. He was a tremendous resource in terms of schooling options. His children are enrolled in a british school that teaches 1 third of the day in english, one third in spanish, and one third in Basque. Its subsidized private and costs 350 euros per month per child... A bit more manageable than we previously thought... Got another tour (this time with more of an emphasis on neighborhoods) from Chris Probasco, who works w Susa. He also let us sit in on a "intercombio" with a wonderful basque man who was fluent in English Spanish and euskara. Loved hearing about his childhood growing up in Basque county...
Lunch with the mcnamees in Hondarriba looking across the river to France was wonderful. Pictured is my opening course for lunch and a catholic church there. Looking forward to dinner tonight with a bunch more folks...

Continue to pray for favor and kingdom vision!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Becca and I have had a great time being hosted by the McNamee's in Madrid. Went to a great church service, worked through the jet lag, had a couple of great meals, and saw some cool sites (that we can't pronounce the names of yet...) But the palace looking structure is Madrid's post office! Looking forward to meeting with another staff family tomm... Loving the beginning of our experience here

Lesson learned for today: after pulling an all-nighter on the plane and going to a church service that morning, soft voices of interpreters right next to you make you verrrry sleeeeepy.