My Humble Garden – His Meaning Therein

In those beautiful days of spring and summer, James would lead his daughter to a little arbour from whence could be heard the morning song of the feathered tribes, and from whence could be seen the whole of the garden, enamelled with flowers and sparkling with dew –
– the range of vision taking in the rich and lovely country shining in the rays of the rising sun. Here he taught his beloved child, and prayed with her, and here he found text for his lessons in every surrounding object.
Pointing tho the bright rays of the early sun, he spoke to her of the Son of Righteousness; he explained to her the darkness of her heart by nature, and the Source of light and life; he pointed out the lessons taught in Scripture from the rain and from the dew;
he taught her to listen to the praises of God in the morning song of the birds. He endeavoured to teach her to trust in God, who dresses the lilies in their magnificent vestments and feeds the birds, though they sow not, nor reap, nor gather into barns.
He read with her the parables of the sower and the seed, the wheat and the tares, the small grain of mustard seed, – emblem of the kingdom of heaven, – the barren fig tree and the the vineyard – and the magnificence of abiding in the vine.
He spoke to her of the first garden where man was placed, and of his sad expulsion from it, – of the garden as the emblem of her own soul, given to her to cultivate, and bring forth fruit to God – and of the glorious garden above, to which, in His own good time, God transplants his people……
He explained to her the blessed hope of the resurrection of the body taught to us by the springing of the seed. but above all, he loved to trace the Savior in the various emblems under which He is presented to us in Scripture, as the Root of David, the Branch of Righteousness, the Firstfruits of them that sleep, the Plant of Renown, the Rose of Sharon, the fountain, the Sun, and the Bright and Morning Star.

The Basket of Flowers: A Tale for the Young
by Christoph von Schmid

(This is a wonderful book from the late 1700’s/early 1800’s – a tale of trusting God and quietly allowing Him to bring forth your righteousness in the midst of accusation and misjudgement. See Lamplighter Publishing.)

Gluten Free Friday – Pesto

I first had pesto with my friend Abbie at a local restaurant called Pasta e Basta before I discovered my gluten intolerance. I loved it and was thrilled there was rice pasta to continue to enjoy it with. We typically eat pesto on penne pasta with chicken, but it’s great on grilled chicken, tea sandwiches, wraps, etc. I’ve had tons of basil in my garden and can get an unlimited amount at our farm, so I’ve been making it like crazy. It freezes really well, too!


2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese (or both)
2 Tbsp pine nuts (walnuts and pecans will work as well)
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend well. Add more olive oil if needed for a smooth consistency. Toss with pasta, etc.

Any other ideas about how to use pesto? I’d love to know!

Transition Time in Texas

The kids and I recently flew to Texas to hang out with my sister and her kids as they transition into a new home and life in Austin. We all LOVE Austin – what a diverse and happenin’ place – from being the birthplace of Whole Food and a bastion of hippie-ness, to rubbing elbows with the starched, white-collared shirts of the business world in the Arboretum Starbucks! And of course my old college days hangouts – Chuy’s and Mt. Bonnell. Above, the whole Rowland Family (minus brother Stu) gathered at a Tex-Mex restaurant on the night of our arrival. What a fun week we had!

Melissa and I had lunch with a wonderful old friend from our days at Manchaca Baptist Church – Chris H. He was a source of encouragement and blessing to both of us.

We visited Mt. Bonnell after eating at Chuy’s and enjoyed the beautiful evening view of Lake Austin. I used to hang out there in college with my Bible study. Our leader, Cas Monaco, took us up there on a couple of occasions and we would spread out, spending alone time in prayer and study, and then join together for discussion. (Does it require mentioning that Bible study is not the typical way to spend time at Mt. Bonnel?)
One of the most exciting events of the week was watching my sweet niece, Maisie, register for sixth grade and go to camp there to prepare for the middle school experience. She did a great job, was very brave, and even met a new friend!
We’re praying for you, Maisie!
Jonah and Madeline will be at the same elementary school this year – one of the best Austin has to offer! It was incredible to watch the many ways the Lord is providing for them.
Another fun outing was visiting more old friends in Georgetown, TX. The Grafs have been our wonderful friends since college and now our kids are good friends! We swam and had dinner together and the kids played non-stop. Chandler and Kory (in the back row) got to spend some extra time together. Would you believe that they are the same age? Chandler is 6’1 and going into the 8th grade!
Thanks, Grafs, for letting us invade your life for a couple of days!
We packed so much into this week – this doesn’t even touch on all that was accomplished and experienced – a cookout with Robert’s side of the family, and Miss Riggs and Jack, a wonderful housewarming brunch with my sister’s closest friends, home improvement projects, grocery shopping, movies, and more – Whew!

Here we are celebrating everyone’s registry at new schools completed – fraps all around! Hurray!

Africa: A Life Altering Adventure

I’ve mentioned her before here, here, and here. Miss Riggs was my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Spanish teacher. I tried signing up for home economics as a junior high elective every year, and somehow always ended up back in Spanish class with Miss Riggs. I know the reason now. The Lord knew I needed to be under the influence of this godly woman.
This summer she and a few others traveled to Africa, but not for the first time. Miss Riggs has been there several times – mostly to visit her sponsored Compassion International children, but also to work in the Ugandan IDP camps. (Internal Displacement) This year was extra special for a several reasons. Miss Riggs’s current students at Jackson Middle School in San Antonio, TX raised over $8,000.00 toward having a water well built in Gulu, Uganda. She was able to be there for the opening of the well and collect and drink the very first drops of water from this well!
Here the villagers are pumping their own water from the newly built well.

Also, Miss Riggs was able to visit several of her sponsored children. Above is Dawit whom she has sponsored from early childhood to graduation. She was then able to set up an account that enabled him to get a higher education and become a teacher. They continue to exchange letters weekly even though Dawit has graduated from the Compassion Project. Dawit has also been an example to his younger brothers (4 of them, I think) and a blessing to his single mother.

I believe the older girl in this photo is Ritah – another of Miss Riggs’s sponsored children. Mariam is the name of the other, and they were able to visit twice – once to Ritah’s home and once to church. Here is an excerpt from one of the email updates I received from while she was there:
Ritah lives in what we would call the slums of Kampala (tin shacks, some with cement, corrugated tin roofs, very little electricity). As we drove up, the little brother and sisters were waiting outside and very excited. Ritah was in her school uniform, a green jumper and barefoot. It’s a law that elementary age girls have short hair in Uganda…as Ritah is still in 6th grade, that’s considered elementary. She was waiting for us and ready with a big hug and smile that never ended. Her father, a very frail man, sells soda from a small refrigerator in their rented house. As we entered inside, so did all the neighborhood children. Ritah speaks English and Lugandan (the national language of Uganda) so we had a good conversation. She talked about her activities in the Compassion project, her involvement with the choir and her progress at school. Last year she wanted to be a teacher and this year she wants to be a doctor. It was a good opportunity to talk with her about how much she could help people in her own country. We looked through the photos that Kelly brought of her family and Jack’s grandchildren…and she pulled out the photo album from Kelly’s visit last summer. Again, this visit confirmed how sponsorship helps the child educationally, spiritually, physically and socially.
And in this photo are Louis and Kenneth- two orphan boys that Miss Riggs has been able to sponsor as well. She was able to visit with the boys a couple of different times and said the following:
Since January, Louis has been able to be in school and Kenneth was moved from the school where he’d been going to a school closer to town. Louis had been abducted by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) when he was only 8 years old and was forced to become a soldier. He later escaped and after rehabilitation through World Vision he has an amnesty card and is back in society. Until January, he’d been having to work to support Kenneth and himself and they’d been living in a room built to be a latrine. Things have improved for them the last several months…… They both have beds, mosquito nets, kerosene lamp, 2 plastic chairs, drinking cups, and a stove that uses parafin. Although the lodging is quite small and dark at night, their smiles could light up the room.
And then this cryptic message arrived in my inbox:

Listen, I absolutely did not want to pass this message on over email but I do have some news. Please check your calendar for December, perhaps around Sunday the 28th? Jack and I have something that we’d like Robert to do…and of course for the two of you to be there. Can you guess?

If I hadn’t already been in tears over all of her amazing adventures and ministry in Uganda, I was now. Jack proposed! Jack had been traveling with her all the while, and it was definitely going to be a defining time in their friendship – 3 weeks in a third world country! Well, I’d say that things were defined for each of them as they watched each other give so selflessly of themselves for the sake of Christ and the people of Uganda. After 53 years of living singly for her Lord, she will now have the privilege of sharing her future with a wonderful, godly man.
I could not be happier for her.
Congratulations to Jack and Kelly!
We’ll see you in December!

A Crazy Busy Weekend

It’s actually been a crazy busy summer! (When is life not so full?) Last week Robert took Kory camping at Acadia in Maine. He arrived home on Thursday at 12 noon and I left about an hour later to meet my sister Melinda in New York City for a couple of days. She flew there to be in a wedding for a college friend and came in a few days early so we could see each other and hang out in the big city! Here we are in Times Square. We also saw Battery Park, Wall Street and the World Trade Center area, did some shopping and had lunch in Soho at another great gluten friendly restaurant – The Hampton Chutney Co. (they have huge crepes- dosas- made from lentil and rice flour), and went to Rockefeller Center. Later that night we went to see Mary Poppins on Broadway! This was SPECTACULAR! I was about in tears when it was all over – a wonderful show, and now I’m dying to take my kids! At 11pm we participated in an activity which was a stark contrast to the family friendly musical we had just seen – a bar hopping bachelorette party! Melinda insisted that I go along, but I wasn’t sure the other girls would be so happy about this nearing-forty-mother-of-three crashing their evening. It was quite an experience, and I’m pretty sure I was the oldest person at each bar we went to, but I did get carded (out of kindness and respect) and got to ride in a limo for the first time! I saw things that can not be mentioned here, and it was definitely an education in the 20-something bar scene which is very much a lifestyle for some! WOW!
We stayed with some friends of mine from Amherst who now live and work in NYC. Justin and Rebecca were so hospitable with their tiny two room apartment. Our air mattress took up the entire second room which is their living/dining/kitchen/office! They took us to a wonderful gluten free restaurant called Risotteria (GF pizza, panini, desserts, bread sticks and risotto, of course!) They also gave us many great tips for getting around in the city which was made even easier by the fact that they live at 34th and 7th – two blocks from Macy’s, the Empire State Building, and Madison Square Garden!
I arrived home at 1pm on Saturday which happened to be 30 minutes after the much anticipated arrival of Xander – our friends and fellow church staff – Nate and Sarah’s – second baby. We needed to leave for a wedding in Rhode Island about that time, but were able to stop by the hospital on our way. Xander is such a cutie – looking much like sister Kiera – and the delivery went really well.
Our overnight trip to Rhode Island for Justin and Rachel’s wedding doubled as our 16th Wedding Anniversary getaway! The actual date was August 1, but I was in NYC that day! We attended a rehearsal and dinner Saturday evening, and the wedding was Sunday afternoon at 2pm. It was wonderful to see Justin get married – we’ve known him since he was a senior in high school and attending Crosswalk summer camp, and all through his years at UMass. When we weren’t on wedding duty, we had some nice down time at the hotel, and over coffee – it felt like we hadn’t talked in months.
As soon as we arrived home from Rhode Island, I headed to First Baptist to get my room ready for VBS which started today! I got to infect all of my kids with leprosy via red sticky dots and quarantine them with yellow caution tape today, as we learned about the leper who remembered to thank Jesus for healing Him. It was a good lesson for me as well – cultivating a thankful heart – and relying on Jesus’s power to accomplish this in me.

Done with VBS Friday, giving a baby shower Saturday, leaving for Texas Sunday, returning to Amherst the following Saturday, and leaving for Maine the very next day! Whew – If there’s no blogging, you’ll know why! A full life – striving to be thankful for it – even on days of weariness.