Friday, February 28, 2014

fifteen hours.

In three hours, I'm leaving my home. In five hours, I'm saying goodbye to my family. In twelve hours, I'll be cruelly awakened at an ungodly hour when I'll stumble out to loaded van for a two hour drive. In sixteen hours, I'll be on a plane….to AFRICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
this is a very old map, by the way. ethiopia IS accurately charted though.
Slightly exciting.

Anyway.

I covet your prayers. Don't just pray for our health and safety - pray for the church we're visiting, pray for the children. This is about the glory of God - not about us.

We'll be home March 10th full of stories and pictures and hopefully with a better picture of the heart of Christ for the fatherless than we did before we left.

Until later, then, dear ones!

Joy,
Liza.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

dear summer.


dear summer,

i had peach today tea. i was at a bridal tea for my big sister, and that's where i had it. one sip, and i was hit with a wave of summer nostalgia and a longing for south carolina, the beach, warm sun, short sleeves and flip flops.

it was seventy degrees outside today, and february is nearly over. spring was in the air today, and i thought of you. i'm packing for africa and had to go find my summer clothes in the garage and i thought of you. i tried on my short skirts and bright tops, threw my hair in a pony tail and i thought of you. i felt like writing a blog post with no capital letters, sleeping in shorts and not wearing socks.

don't think i'm writing to you because i don't love spring - it's not that at all. i'm not rushing you along, but please don't wait too long this year.

xoxo

liza

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"okay, we need: lion, africa, mother goose...and uncle wiggly."

Every morning during the school week, I spent one straight hour reading aloud. Sometimes it ends up being longer than that. Why this daily exahustion of vocal chords? Ah, it comes back to the Littles.

From 0830 to 0900 and the from 0900 to 0930 I have Time with Joshua and Susannah, respectively. Each of them has a list of books that we're reading through - different ones depending on the day and/or week. Hence the post title. That's how my time with Zanna starts - I call out the books, she finds them on her shelf.

I thought, since many of y'all, dear readers, have Littles (whether siblings or your own - if you have the latter, I'm jealous) I thought I'd share some of my favorites, maybe you'll see some you already know, or you can add your own favorites in the comments so I can add new books to our library!

Here we go!

for Joshua - age 7, kindergarten/first grade
*Josh can read, but I read aloud all his books to him or he listens to some on audio book. He gathers much more knowledge when he's listening than reading right now, and that's normal. 

History:
Fifty Famous Stories Retold is a simple, clear, easy-to-understand re-telling of some of the most classic stories from history. Not just confined to England, it covers a range of countries and time periods in no particular order, and gives great exposure to the noble character traits of heroes past.
Our Island Story is the ultimate history of England - and not told in a boring way at all, m'dears but once again, in clear language that a seven year old can grasp. Of course, there are somethings like Stonehenge that can only be explained in terms of Merlin and ancient magic, but since there's no proof otherwise, who's to say it's not true? *cough* 

Science and Geography:
 Christian Liberty Nature Reader - all of the Morales children have read the Nature Readers during the course of elementary school. They're a sweet, godly look at the beautiful world around us, and I've learned just as much reading aloud as I did when I read them myself! It's not an extensive look at every animal mentioned, but it's enough to whet your appetite - Josh and I have been known to look up YouTube videos and Plant Earth episodes of animals we've encountered in the Nature Reader.
Paddle to the Sea - another Morales favorite. We read it aloud years ago, and now I'm doing it again with Joshua. A fascinating fictional adventure of a little wooden Indian in his canoe as he travels from Nipigon Country, Canada through all the Great Lakes to the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. One of my favorites! 

Literature:
The Blue Fairy Book complied by Andrew Lang was the gem that inspired me to collect almost every single one of the fairy books - a library that I can't wait to share with my children some day. I will point out, some of your classic fairy tales have...rather gruesome moments that seem to have been censored out of most retellings, so sometimes I have to abridge it a little to keep from startling little ears *chuckle* Did you know that Cinderella's step sister cut off her toes to fit her foot in the slipper? Yeah, neither did we until we read the Fairy Book. Be fairly warned! *hehe*
Just So Stories by the ever-imaginative Rudyard Kipling. I almost put this book in the Science section. *laughing* *cough* *snort* *deep breath* I don't even know what to say about this book...just read it out. Read it aloud, actually, or you'll miss half of it. Nothing beats Rudyard Kipling for random wit.

Poetry:
While not *exactly* in poetry form, E. Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare is full of lovely retellings of our favorite works from the Playwright, and I love reading these aloud almost as much as the children love hearing them. You can never start Shakespeare too young - and this is the perfect way to introduce your siblings to the glory of such classics as "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Hamlet", "Much Ado About Nothing", "As You Like It" and "The Taming of the Shrew."
When We Were Very Young by Alan Alexander Milne. My friends, it doesn't get much better than this until we are six. Joshua is memorizing about a poem a month out of this book (or more, depending on the length of said prose) and then sometimes we just sit and read through a few more for fun. A priceless look at the inside of a child's mind.

Religion and Life:

 
Trial and Triumph....This can be a bit of a hard read, as the saints of God have been so much persecution over the past centuries, but in the midst of the trial, the Triumph of Christ is clearly seen and He is glorified. It's just as important for our young ones to know the sufferings of the saints as it is for them to know good literature. Don't neglect that side of Education!
Aesop for Children is just that - a nearly exhaustive collection of Aesop's Fables with illustrations for children. Sometimes the morals can be hard to understand (even for me) so you may need to reword them for young folks to get a grasp on.


Okay. So that's Joshua. Now for the Littlest Little...

Susannah - age four, preschool/kindergarten
*Zanna's curriculum is a little different, as we are working through Sonlight's Exploring God's World (Core P 4/5). I don't do the activities, since we have something else we do for that side of her school, and we aren't reading all the books either, but here are the ones we are doing/have done this year so far.

Story Time:

Oooooh, these are my FAVORITES! Especially Stories from Around the World - and *not* just because the cover is that padded, soft stuff that's fun to hold *grin*. I love the colors, the stories, the flair and smell of travel and adventure. Zanna loves it too - it's always a happy day when I get to say, "Around the World!" for her to pull of the shelf. The Lion Storyteller is very similiar - longer stories, but still an ethnic collection from every (habitable) continent.

Growing Up:
Susannah is only four, and so many of the "normal" knowledge I take for granted, she has yet to learn. The First Thousand Words (her personal favorite from all our books) walks us through picture after picture of familiar American scenarios with an extensive picture-and-text bank on each page. I have her identify the pictures on the sides ("what's this called?") and then she finds it in the big picture. It's incredible how many words she already knows from only being alive for four years, but there are still quite a few she doesn't know. Things People Do is similiar, but focuses on the work place. It's a Morales favorite - every single one of us has spent hours pouring over the stories and fictional island life of Banilla and it's inhabitants (all of whom had parents with incredible insight into what to name thier children...it's positively uncanny).

Science:


Pretty self explanatory - we FLEW through Eric Carle's book way early because we couldn't stop - the pictures are so lovely we had to keep turning the pages :) And Susannah LOVED What's Under the Sea? and we even had to go look up some YouTube of coral reefs, and it inspired a surge of Planet Earth viewings for a week or two as we learned about more and more fascinating sea animals. I'm not a big underwater girl, but it was fun to see everything with new perspective through a four year olds eyes.

Literature:
Uncle Wiggily is a classic we grew up on (well, the picture book at Annie's house, but the same lovable bunny rabbit gentleman). These stories can sometimes be a little on the long side and can get wordy, but they are a great favorite - Susannah doesn't seem to mind. And I just about jumped up and down when I held our new copy of Brer Rabbit - it's a Southern child's staple, and the fact that it's in the official curriculum made me so very very happy. Once again, we grew up on Brer Rabbit (thanks to Grandma this time! no one reads the Old Plantation tales like Grandma), and these stories, while some are different, are basically the same ones I loved as a child.

Mother Goose - we read one a day (or five a week - sometimes all on the same day). They're short, sweet, and funny. Memories tied to every single one! The Children's Book of Virtues is, admittedly, a little heavy for Susannah - especially the poems and fables. A lot of it goes right over her head. But the stories and illustrations are stunning - I've been reading this book since I was very small and I know which stories she'll understand. However, I say, go ahead and read everything, 'cause they'll only get smarter if we push their little brains to work a little harder each time. Her favorite story is "The Little Hero Boy of Holland'...I don't think I need to expound further on this classic, but I will say that I've read it aloud at LEAST three times this semester, so we're taking a break *cough*

Sooooo....we haven't started these yet, but when I saw them on the schedule for next week I about flipped. You guessed it...another Morales favorite! We've listened to these read aloud, read them on our own, had them on cassette tape, the works. So excited to introduce Susannah to Milly Molly Mandy, Little Friend Susan, Billy Blunt and the rest of the delightful characters in this happy little world.

Religion:
We just started these - Susannah loves them. They are profoundly simple and moving stories from the misson field of Africa. Faith, love, and trust - and a confidence in the Lord Jesus that we would do well to learn from.

~

Well, there you have it! An overview of my Littles' curriculum. Now when I say I've been reading aloud, you have an idea of what exactly that means. Don't forget - I know you all are literature lovers like myself, I'd love to hear your favorites! We love new books.

Joy!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

my Littles.

If I've done one thing well while being home, it's been spending time with my Littles. These "babies" who went from being two years old and newborn to SEVEN and FOUR in absolutely no time at all. These Not-So-Littles who I want to be my buddies forever and ever and ever - even once I'm old and married with my own Littles. We do school together in the mornings, we play lots and lots and lots of UNO and Slamwich and Candy Land and Sum Swamp (don't even get me started on the last one - goodness) and sometimes we just snuggle up and watch Disney movies with hot chocolate or something low key.

“You can't help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn't spell it right; but spelling isn't everything. 
There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn't count.” - aa milne.


I think it's my Littles that keep me in love with the best of British and American children's literature. Paddington Bear, Teddy Robinson, Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne in general, Andrew Lang's Fairy Books, William Bennett's compilations of Child's Book of Virtues and American Folk Tales, Little House on the Prairie, Uncle Wiggly's Story Book, The Tales of Uncle Remus, and the list goes on. 

“My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.” - aa milne


Of course, working closely with the Littles means that sometimes we have….our moments. But I keep quotes like this in mind, and we get by tolerably.

“If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. 
It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”  - aa milne


They keep me young - keep me crazy, keep me on my toes. They are my "Mama Bootcamp" drill sergeants - I see direct results every time I over-react or do something they do not appreciate. But there's also great joy when I see us growing closer together. Love is a decision, an action, a life-style - and when your priorities are straight, things change, and it's very sweet to see. 

“When stuck in the river, it is best to dive and swim to the bank yourself before someone drops a large stone on your chest in an attempt to hoosh you there.” - aa milne


Learning their love languages has been fun too - found out that game time and snuggles and food of any kind is sure to be a hit. Especially with the Boy.


“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.” - aa milne



My Littles make me want to use my camera - to take zillions of pictures. Good thing they are willing models - always and always, as long as they get to "see" afterwards. Vain little dears. <3

“Oh Tigger, where are your manners?"
"I don’t know, but I bet they’re having more fun than I am.”  - aa milne


Most profoundly, though, my Littles have taught me how to see things on their level. To see those beautiful eyes best, I have to kneel down. Even in the snow, when my jeans get soaked, it's worth it just to get them on film. Sometimes its buttoning a coat, or tying a shoe, or helping on and off with boots, or holding gloves for little fingers to wiggle into - you have to be on their level.

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.” - aa milne


I love my Littles. So thankful I get to be their big sissy forever and ever.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.” - aa milne

Friday, February 14, 2014

why I'm not lonely on Valentine's Day.

I'm going to get right to the point, and you all can stew on the title later.

Firstly, Valentine's Day is a celebration of love - specifically, romantic love. However, growing up in a family that hardly encouraged sending cheesy hearts and fluff to guys once a year, I have the mentality that one can celebrate the love of friendship just as well on Valentine's Day. In fact, I have yet to send a romantic note on February 14th - I'm sure that day will come, but for now, pfft. I have so many friend-friends to send cards to I have to start a week in advance!

Secondly, speaking of "some day", I do not in any way find Valentine's Day to be a more difficult day of the year than any other when it comes to being "single." (single what, anyway? single crochet? single release?) Being a girl, being a young adult, being human, I have days and moments when that longing for my own family can feel a little overwhelming, but overall, I'm a very happy little hobbit and Valentine's Day is when I get to eat peppermint brownies with pink frosting while sitting on the kitchen counter singing showtunes with my equally-depressed-and-single-sisters and read all our pink and red cards given to us so sweetly by siblings and friends, admire the roses and chocolate from Daddy, watch a chick flick and wonder what the big deal is about all this anyway?

Thirdly, the bone to pick I have with Valentine's Day Haters is a question about the state of your heart. Are you content? Paul in the book of Philippians (a personal favorite of mine) states that "in all things I have learned to be content." Have YOU learned to be content? It's not something that just happens, you have to work at it. Are you focused so much on what you don't have that you're losing sight of what you do have? To add insult to injury, have you considered the command of Jesus to "rejoice with those who rejoice?" Is your rotten attitude about being "alone" souring the joy of those to whom the Lord has brought a mate? Think about that. I repeat: Are you focused so much on what you don't have that you're losing sight of what you do have?

Fourthly, what DO we have? Folks, this should be a no-brainer. You might not have a spouse, or a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a cat (meow), but we have something infinitely better, and His Name is Jesus Christ. Are ya having trouble making yourself happy with your lot in life? Give it to Him. His plan is so infinitely better than anything you or I could think of, that honestly it's imbecilic how long we hold out, insisting that we know better. Hogwash. You need a spouse more than you need Jesus? I think not.

Fifthly and finally, I'm a hopeless romantic and most of you know it. I am not writing this to make myself feel better, or sound funny or cynical or sour grapes or anything. I'm simply a girl who is learning more and more everyday that her sweet Savior is enough. I'm probably going to be learning this for a long time, and that's totally okay because I have eternity to do it. Whether I ever get married to my young buck and have my twenty children is entirely in the hands of the Author of Life. And the truly beautiful thing is, no matter what happens, He's going to stay the same - all together lovely, all together worthy, all together wonderful to me.

So now you know why I'm not lonely or bitter or frustrated or depressed or anything of the sort on Valentine's Day.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

<3 <3 <3
all photo credits to the lovely Catherine Morales - my fifteen year old sister

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

forgiveness.

Forgiveness. It's not selfish. It's you, letting go of something that hurt you. It doesn't require an apology from the other party involved. It's one-sided. And that's what makes it hard.

This has been a lesson I've had to learn. At the beginning of my journey was the cry of my heart for an apology - an ache, a need for reconciliation not initiated by me. It took a summer of soul searching to realize that maybe it was mine to start. Oh, how I prayed, begging the Lord for a clear opportunity! And oh, the release when He answered me. Then that gut-wrenching evening when, in tears by the shore of a lake, I forgave. I let go. I thought I had months before, but I hadn't. And my heart was finally at peace.

Humbled, I gave a peace offering, and received forgiveness in return. I still haven't heard the I'm sorry I thought I needed to hear, but that's okay. The Lord calls us to "As much as it depends on YOU live at peace" - not "as much as it depends on OTHERS live at peace."

Last month was not easy for me. I don't even know why. I've had many hard days and weeks since the move, the unrooting and unsettling and the replanting has brought to the surface many old things I thought were gone. But on the day I needed encouragement the most, the Lord brought this post on The Rebelution (good old Rebelution!) to my inbox, and I'm sharing it because it clearly echoes the cry of my sore, sinful, imperfect heart as I learn to yield and follow Christ in every area of my life.

Be blessed!
---
From The Rebelution {read original here}

When those we love hurt us, it leaves our emotions raw and gaping, gasping for air. It scars our hearts, our memories. It scars our friendships and it sometimes even leaves us with an injured outlook on life, on people.

And we just can’t forget.

But whatever happened to ‘forgiving those who trespass against us’? Does the Lord really expect us to show grace to those who do us harm?

There once was a girl who wondered the same thing, after the time of war in Germany and that evil man who would crush & torture God’s people. And this is her story …


“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear.
It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.
It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’
The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947.
People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.
“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!
“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’
And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?
But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
“ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.
‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’
And I stood there — I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven — and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place— could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
It could not have been many seconds that he stood there — hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
For I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us.
‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’
I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.
And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion — I knew that too.
Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.
‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’
And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’
For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then…
But even so, I realized it was not my love. I tried and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Romans 5:5… ‘because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.’”
— from Corrie ten Boom in Tramp for the Lord

No, she wasn’t perfect. She was made of bones and flesh, and faced temptations just like you and I do. But she still learned that lost art of showing God’s unfailing grace to those who don’t seem to deserve it.

Something I still need to learn. That forgiveness is not a feeling, but instead it is an act of grace & love — Christ-like love — that God gives us the strength to give so freely, as He has so freely given to us.

And, I think, why should I hold grudges against others for hurting me, when I have hurt God over and over again and He still loves me, He still shows me this grace without fail, without hesitation? And you know what? I don’t exactly deserve it either.

I fail Him daily, because I am not perfect. I’m nothing near perfect. But I am loved by a perfect God.

This forgiving others, letting go, giving grace — it’s a way to share the gospel, to witness, to those who don’t know Christ.

Just like the martyrs.

The martyrs never fought back against their persecutors, but boasted in Jesus Christ alone and showed off His grace, love, and forgiveness to those who hurt them.

And then great things happened. Things like prison guards falling to their knees in prayer before the most High God, and kings and nobles and whole countries bowing their heads in worship of the King of Kings. Could there be a greater reward for giving grace?

this post first appeared on the rebelution - february 3, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

dropping in on ellerslie // 2.6.14

Sometimes you have to do things on the spur of the moment, or they never happen. So you do, and have a whole new stash of memories and new friends and new experiences to add to your life story. And so begins our tale…

Once Upon A Time...Dad and Eric decided they needed to have a brainstorming session in person instead of phone, so they set up a day for Dad to come out and visit Ellerslie.

Of course, a member of my family cannot simply go off to Ellerslie without me, and through a rather simple series of events, both Maddie and I landed spots on the trip.


The adventure started in our very own local airport around 7pm, included an hour in Charlotte-Douglas, a late night arrival in Denver, and an hour drive up to Ft. Collins for the night. During the course of travel, I drank an odd assortment of liquids - including two coffee drinks, a smoothie, a bottle of water, and mineral water. I'm a bit of a strange traveler - I can't eat due to what I've dubbed "Travel Adrenaline", but I'll drink enough to sustain a camel in the Sahara. Anyway.



I was too excited to eat breakfast, but I made myself eat something and then we were off on a beautiful snowy drive to a place I have missed so much over the past six months.


Pulling into the chapel parking lot, hopping out in the three inches of snow, smiling ridiculously - I wanted to spin around and around and around in circles for joy.


Dad went off to find Eric, and I took Maddie through the Lake House and Everitt looking for people to hug ;) It was a glorious morning - it's hard to put into words how much I've missed Morgan - my dear, dear "mom" and roommate from the summer. She had been alerted the night before that I was coming, so it wasn't a total surprise, but still great fun.

We spent the morning making lunch for everyone on campus, and the afternoon cleaning the girls' dorms in preparation for the new basic class that was coming in that Saturday. We also bound the notebooks for both the basic and advanced students - that might've been the activity highlight of the whole trip. Twenty or so young folks in the notoriously awkward Mirror Room upstairs rolling black spirals through notebooks and telling stories about past semesters - it really doesn't get much more humorous than that.

I met so many lovely new friends, and made a few fun connections. It really is a small world we live in, a very very small world! I'm looking forward to spending seven weeks with this class, come April. We stayed up late snacking on the rather random assortment of food Dad dropped off for us. Once the other girls had retired, Morgan and I scampered across campus and crashed Rachel and Grammie's cozy room and ended up staying there for a few hours. As I lay snuggled up with Grammie Sharon on her bed, I was almost in tears I was so full of joy to be there - so, so, so blessed to have these precious people in my life! What a family I've got! Thank you, Lord.

Maddie and I spent the night on campus (in +Rachel Hooley and +Miriam nB.'s old room <3) - so sweet of the staff to make up the room for us!

Also, I was in awe of the Lord's perfect timing in bringing the right people to campus while I was there, including a member of The Epic Dinner Table - the group of seven folks I shared a dinner table with for three weeks and had a powerful impact on my Basic semester. Also dear Ada - ah! So happy to see her face, even for just a few minutes! And I was pleasantly surprised to see Basic friends back for Advanced, and meet younger siblings of my friends who were arriving for Basic. So many answered prayers!

Alas, it was over too soon, and Friday morning at 9:30 we were off to Denver to catch our flight home. No sad goodbyes this time, since I'll be back in a blink of an eye for even more reunions and even more memories! This was just a teaser.

Our trip home involved several more random drinks, but due to my sporadic eating over the previous 48 hours, I was happy to polish off a cheeseburger at the sports bar in Charlotte, all the while with a lovely view of the Liberty University poster hanging from the ceiling. (yay!) The Lord even used our not being able to get on an earlier flight home to work all things for His glory in some pretty interesting ways - I can't really articulately explain why, but trust me, it was pretty neat.


Also ran into my "master"of sorts - known to you all as variously Willie Wonka, Daddy Warbucks, Jud Fry, and Archibald Craven, read: the one and only Charif who went on (with me helping) to scare our fellow passengers into thinking we were going to be running lines and songs during our hour long flight home (in our very small plane). Of course we didn't, but he did test out his tray table's durability under vigorous attacks, as well knock my seat around a bit, all in the name of "testing it out". (did I mention the nutcase was sitting directly behind me?)


Altogether it was hilarious, magnificent, edifying, encouraging, refreshing, and completely God-ordained, Spirit-filled visit. I trust He will continue to be working this trip for His glory in the months and years to come!