29 March 2010

Keep on counting

It's Holy Week. Counting the blessings.

0440 The Jesus Storybook Bible. If you don't already have this, please get it. And I don't mean only if you are a parent. Get it for your own encouragement.

0441 playing together in afternoon sun

0442 bags of hand-me-downs

0443 wise people at church

0444 writing

0445 working together on science fair projects

0446 talking in bed with my love

0447 inviting neighbors to church

0448 neighbors (I know, that was on last week's list but redundant praise is good!)

0449 praying before we go to sleep

0450 our community group and our times together

0451 umbrellas

0452 buds on branches, new life hiding inside

0453 the Lord's Supper. I need a lot of Jesus.

holy experience

27 March 2010


Lucy and I were driving home in the afternoon sun few days ago, coming from delivering a meal to a friend.
Shadows played across the winding road as Lucy happily pressed buttons on my cell phone from the back seat.
"I'm texting Papa," she said. "This says, 'I want to kiss you, I want to love you, I want to snuggle with you so much, I want to go somewhere special with you and get CANDY!'"

"Okay," I replied, a bit nervously. She's been known to save weird numbers to my contacts and call people unwittingly. That's what I get for letting her "see" my cell phone.

We arrived at home, I retrieved my phone. Back in our warm kitchen, I noticed a text from John had just come in. It seemed cryptic, most likely a mistake. I disregarded it.

Later I asked John what that had been about and he said, "I got the weirdest text from your phone! I was so confused."

Lucy had ACTUALLY texted John. See below for the exchange. At least she told me the interpretation of it while we were in the car. Mystery solved.

26 March 2010

What I Carry

In our weekly faculty meetings, we often spend the first ten minutes writing together. Someone will bring a prompt, usually a piece of published writing (poem, book excerpt, children's book).
Yesterday, a fellow teacher read to us an excerpt from a book called The Things They Carried which is about the war in Vietnam. The passage had to do with the things the soldiers carried, both physical and emotional.
The prompt was this: What do we carry (as teachers, people, parents, etc.)?
Here is my response, unedited. I found it such an intriguing question. I think I may want to spend more time thinking and writing about this soon.

What do I carry?
I carry children, lunch boxes, school bags
File folders, papers, paper clips
Lip gloss, legos, tiny swords
Pennies, lots of quarters (oh please let me have quarters!)
Water bottles, cleats, sticks, rocks, shells
Crumbled leaves
Candy wrappers, lollipop sticks
Apple cores
Science projects
Shoes, newspapers
Thanksgiving and gratitude
Children's questions, a few answers
Calvin and Hobbes, Tintin books
Markers, socks
The true light that lighteth every man

23 March 2010

Thankful Tuesday

Well, I missed Multitude Monday yesterday.
So it's on to Thankful Tuesday for me.
The numbers of our blessing in our journal at home and the list on my blog are a bit off...In our home Gratitude Journal, we hit #500 this week!

0412 Fernando Ortega songs

0413 laughing really loudly

0414 a dear friend at church who just got a job after LONG months of looking

0415 warm fire

0416 hot tea

0417 slippers and knee socks

0418 blankets

0419 reading the paper

0420 all those things I just listed seem so luxurious to me!

0421 getting cozy all together in the living room

0422 Martin Luther

0423 the gospel

0424 a roof to stay dry from the rain

0425 our friend Annie and how she loves our family

0426 the "baby" song by Margaret Glaspy (new music introduced to Lucy by our friend, see above)

0427 a warm and sunny weekend

0428 our neighbors

0429 seeing the neighbors again after a long winter

0430 artistic and creative people, like this one

0431 hearing from an old student who tells me he can't believe how much Spanish he remembers! Yay!

0432 John being the head of our family

0433 my identity in Christ

0434 things outside are starting to GROW!!

0435 seeing beauty in the lives of others

0436 Lucy re-telling her Sunday School story to me

0437 being able to get home from church on the bus

0438 laughing with the boys

0439 listening to Lucy play with her dolls

Abundant joy, never ending thanks!

20 March 2010

Doulos Discovery School

This mango tree is in the center of campus. Isn't it awesome?

On our second day in Jarabacoa, we spent the morning at Doulos Discovery School (the whole reason for our visit!)

First we attended Doulos' morning meeting (I think they call it flag time), where announcements are made and they sing their national anthem (like we say the Pledge of Allegiance). We had prepared a short skit to introduce ourselves. Boy, were our kids nervous (okay, I was, too).

Our students had spent time in class creating a game based on the popular game The Settlers of Catan but that was particular to the land and resources of the Dominican Republic. So, of course, we wanted to take some time to teach our Dominican counterparts how to play!
NOTE: I have some great pics of our students and their students playing together. However, I'm not sure about posting our students' photos here unless I have permission from their parents. I'll add those pictures in if I get the go-ahead.

The school buildings at Doulos reflect the geography, climate and the culture. The windows are open, several classrooms are outdoors and the architecture is quite simple yet functional.

Lovely Japanese garden in the middle of campus, designed by students as part of their expeditionary learning.

The playground for the little ones, also designed by students as part of an expedition.

Outdoor amphitheater, with classroom space behind. This is where flag time is held.

One of the newer buildings on campus, with administrative space above and Cafe Taino, the school's cafe, down below. No indoor eating space is needed!

Lastly, this playing court was used for MANY purposes: volleyball, tennis, basketball, just plain running amuck, and even class space. We noticed a math class out here, doing body movements to go along with math operations!
More to come as I chronicle our day of service and our trip to the beach!

19 March 2010


It's about time I posted about my trip to the DR, right? Sheesh.
I think this trip, while it was quite wonderful, actually took a lot out of me. I JUST NOW feel like I'm getting back to some kind of normal.

So, without further ado, here are some shots from Jarabacoa.
Jarabacoa is toward the middle of the country, in the lush mountains. It is a popular place to have a vacation home.

We stayed in these little villas. They were quite simple, three bedrooms, one bathroom, little kitchen and sitting room. I stayed with Henry and Nancy Utter (some of the coolest people you'll ever meet) and three hilarious middle-school boys. The other two villas had either all boys or all girls. I figured I'm pretty used to living with boys, so I'll share a bathroom with these guys.
(I'm just glad they didn't harass me as much as they harassed each other. Privacy is just another 7-letter word to them. Can you imagine being in the bathroom, taking care of business, and having someone knocking on the other side of the door for a good five minutes: "Dude, what are you doing in there? Dude, are you taking a dump? Dude, when are you going to be done?" Lord have mercy.)

I wish I had picture of my room. The only light was an overhead one, so at night I would lie in bed and read with my headlamp on. Pretty cool, I know.

One huge cultural difference with which we all struggled was the constant NOISE. No matter the hour, motos were zooming down the street, music blaring, roosters crowing, babies crying and trucks with LOUD advertisements slowing passing down the boulevard. One night in particular, the neighbors had a boisterous, LOUD party that lasted until about 4 am. I'm not sure any one of us slept at all that night. So crazy to think that that noise level is NORMAL for Dominicans.

Below is the patio where we ate our meals while we were at the villas. The warm, soft air felt heavenly, as we had left Boston in the middle of a snow storm! The kids went swimming but not us fuddy-duddy adults.

Our colleagues and classmates back at home had arranged that each of us would have a note of encouragement to open for each day of the trip. On our first day in Jarabacoa, the kids received these sweet hearts and verses from the children at Covenant School.

Tomorrow, I'll report on our first visit to the Doulos Discovery School.

18 March 2010

Hugging and Kissing

In the car the other day, Lucy told me that she was hugging Jesus right then. She also said, "And I'm kissing him so much! And He never gets sick. He never gets the shingles. And He's never cold when it snows."

I agreed and reminded her that Jesus might have felt all those things when He was on earth.

"Yes," she said, "when He was a little bitty baby."

But wait, there's more!

"And," she reminded me, "I'm not YOUR daughter. I'm Jesus' daughter."

She loves to make that point...

16 March 2010


The past four days have been rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy. Some places nearby had over 10 inches of rain just over the weekend! It's been blustery (to say the least), cold, wet, and miserable.
Then this morning, miraculously, the sun is shining.
Just like that, suddenly, no fanfare, no warning...the sun has appeared and is shining in my kitchen windows!
What a gift.
I'm thinking about this:
All during that late-winter storm that wrought flooding and destruction and a state of emergency in our Bay State, the sun was shining on the other side of the clouds.
Above the storm, the sun had not disappeared. It still gave light and (some) warmth to us here below, though not as brilliantly as we always wish.
I am so quick to shrink the size of my life down to the size of my life. I am so quick to believe that the rainy, blustery days must be the new normal.
And yet, all along, the sun is shining above the clouds. It never fails, though we may begin to forget its warmth, its glow, its luster.
I want to remember that the sun is always there, just behind the clouds.

08 March 2010


Today I have felt like our seven-year-old feels in the morning when he has to get up for school: weepy and like it's all just too much.
I really felt despair as I rose this morning and not because I have any hard circumstance to endure. Here's what I wanted to do: NOT get up, NOT teach two classes, NOT make dinner, NOT fold mountains of laundry and NOT host community group at our house tonight.
Wow, pretty ungrateful, right?

Medic...WE NEED THE LIST! BRING ON THE LIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here goes and quick!
(some of these are old, but I feel the need to catch up on them)

0383 the party for Pastor Rick
0384 Pastor Rick
0385 milk
0386 liberty
0387 that God made Lucy snugly
0388 Mug root beer
0389 yummy for salmon for dinner
0390 that John made the yummy salmon
0391 riding the bus by myself early to church
0392 warmer weather
0393 a day with Pop (Clay)
0394 raspberry soda
0395 the sun...it's actually warm!
0396 good sermon yesterday at church
0397 hacksaws are fun! (We used one for Walt's science fair project)
0398 Lucy's joy in having a simple picnic in the front yard today
0399 hanging around church and being the last ones to leave (can I get an amen?)
0400 Theo's haircut
0401 a clean, close shave
0402 funny commercials
0403 watching Clay and Walt play some intense tackle football with friends. No fighting!!
0404 how well Clayton did in baseball tryouts
0406 Theo and his friends playing with scooters and bikes
0407 being reunited with my people after my long trip to the DR
0408 a wonderful trip to a new country
0409 my brothers and sisters-in-law
0410 Walter's first acceptance to middle school
0411 that God is most available in our weakness

It really puts things in perspective.
Head over to A Holy Experience to read the gratitude lists of many many others!

04 March 2010

When morning gilds the skies

When morning gilds the skies
My heart, awaking, cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer
To Jesus I repair,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Does sadness fill my mind?
A solace here I find:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Or fades my earthly bliss?
My comfort still is this -
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this while life is mine
My canticle divine -
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this th' eternal song
Through all the ages long -
May Jesus Christ be praised!

01 March 2010

1000 Gifts: New Month

sunrise on Playa Fronton, Dominican Republic

So much to catch up on here! This list goes a ways back, as I haven't posted on a Multitude Monday lately.
One week ago today I was on a deserted tropical beach, rock climbing and snorkeling. Weird.

Let the song of thanks continue! Remember, this list comes from our family Gratitude Journal. We all join in the praise...which is why sometimes we're thankful for things like junk food and ginger ale and soccer all at the same time. I think it's better that way, don't you?

sun behind clouds

that Theo wants to make sure I have my smile on: "Now keep it on, Mom!"

big brother reading to little sister

birth stories

new babies

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their God

what I learned in Exodus 2: God sees, God knows and God remembers

new pens - felt tip! all colors!

holding Theo's hand in the dark of night

Derek and Luz (brother- and sister-in-law)

when Lucy tells me it's time for her to take a nap

beautiful sun driving over the Mass Avenue bridge

Sherri Kottman

the Baldanzas

eating utensils [remember, I'm not the only one writing this list...]

Papa's new warm hat

the song "Ol' Dan Tucker"

our blooming amaryllis on the kitchen table

the Constitution

free Keen sandals for DR trip! Answer to prayer!

our church family

civil rights

sunflowers to give to Mommy and Daddy

the truth will set you free

colored Sharpies!!!

holy experience