A Homeschool Mom’s Fantasy?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  A big part of the choice to homeschool was so that our kids would be HOME, and with Robert and me a majority of the time.  Ironically, though, I consider this to be the most difficult part of homeschooling ~ that everyone is ALWAYS at home, and consequently, I am never ALONE.  I don’t think I even knew how much I valued silence and and being by myself until I found fairly early in our homeschooling years that my ears were ringing at dinnertime each evening after a full day of teaching and mothering.  They actually ached and seemed to be craving silence themselves!
Oh, I have had some time alone over the years, mostly because I have a husband who prioritizes and enables it, but this week he’s gone all out for me to have a sabbatical in the midst of sabbatical ~ 48 hours of silence in my own (well, temporarily) home, and then 72 more hours with just him.  He promised not to talk when he returns.  
Just kidding.
After Classical Conversations today, (Monday) Robert met us and took the kids to San Antonio for a birthday dinner for cousin Anna who is turning 14.  Then they headed to Hondo, TX to stay with Robert’s parents.  (He’ll come back mid-week, but the kids will stay with Grammie and Paw-Paw)
Meanwhile, I came home to a very QUIET house and discovered verses about REST placed in strategic places.
 This is what he chose to do with his day in a quiet house. Have I mentioned that I am very blessed (and spoiled) by him?
So, for the next several days I will not be doing any of this:
 But I will be doing a lot of this:
The fantasy is being realized ~ sooooooo ready to bask in it….
…but will probably be more than ready for some kid and family noise and togetherness come Sunday.  The best of both worlds are a gift to me this week!

A Delightful Daughter & A Date With Daddy

 Another sweet sabbatical gift has been a bit more time to focus on our kids and spend some one-on-one time with them ~ especially for Robert.  He has gotten to play some basketball with Cooper at our neighborhood recreation center and been on a couple of lunch and breakfast dates with Kory.  Last night he planned a special dinner date with Kayla.  When he insisted on “dressing up”, she expressed some concern.  She kept pleading for a casual outing to Jamba Juice or Barnes and Noble, but he insisted on a fancier dinner date.
Note:  These photos have not been edited.  That is the REAL color of her hair, and she gets stopped by complete strangers who marvel at its beauty on a regular basis. (Mostly women who say they pay BIG money to have hair that color!) Recently, while we were out and about it happened twice in the course of less than an hour!  It’s just a given now when we go out in public.  Oh my!
 Before they left, I wanted to capture her cuteness by taking a few photos.  She’s going to change so much in the next few years, but right now she is still a tree climbing, tree swinging, tree hugging little girl.  (She would be a vegetarian with a houseful of animals if I let her!)  So glad I got a several sweet shots of her before the special night out!
 The plan was Olive Garden (they have a gluten free menu now!) and The Yogurt Experience ~ you know, her favorite type of dessert ~ “healthy.”
And we even got her handsome Daddy in on the photo shoot!  I had to give him a little bit of smile and posture coaching…
…but then they just decided to be their usual selves:
Yes, this is one of their favorite things to do ~ make weird faces and take pictures of each other.  Can’t tell you how many of these I have on my phone and computer!
After they left last night and then again this morning, I prayed…
Thank you, Lord, for Kayla’s date with Robert.  I pray that you would please use the time to speak deeply to her soul your love for her and her complete loveliness and acceptance in Your eyes and those of her Daddy’s.  Fill her with joy and confidence because of Your love being demonstrated by Robert.  Give her a godly view of herself ~ a healthy and positive one based on Truth, and let no lie that enters her heart or mind remain there to bring about doubt or despair.  May she thrive and become the woman You’ve designed and called her to be.  May she be filled with a feminine strength and be free to know and love You more deeply with each passing day.  Guard her heart and protect her from all harm.  Deepen her faith in You and may she know Your nearness each day of her life.  Free her from fear and anxiety and grow her in peace, wisdom, and trust ~ all in abundance from You.  Knit her heart tightly to her Daddy’s and even more to Yours.  Amen.
Then, I thought of this verse:
Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants,
and our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace.
Psalm 144:12
And found this commentary:
“When we see our daughters well established, and stayed with wisdom and discretion, as cornerstones are fashioned in the building; when we see them by faith united to Christ as the chief cornerstone, adorned with the graces of God’s Spirit, which are the polishing of that which is naturally rough, and become ‘women professing godliness’; when we see them purified and consecrated to God as living temples, we think ourselves happy in them.”  
~Matthew Henry
Yes Lord, may she be adorned with Your Spirit’s graces, and purified and consecrated to You.  May she be stayed with wisdom and discretion.  May she be well-established in the grace of the gospel.  Thank you for my delightful daughter.  Thank you for her humble and sacrificial Daddy.  Amen.

Gluten Free Friday ~ Ginger Orange Chicken

 We’ve been enjoying our local Pei Wei restaurant here in Austin. (Sort of the fast food version of P.F. Chang’s)  They have a limited gluten free menu, but there are several very tasty items on it. My kids usually go for the Sweet and Sour Chicken, and I typically get their Vietnamese Rolls, which are good, but so much better with the forbidden peanut dipping sauce.  I may have to start bringing my own!  Eating out can get a little old, though, so last night we decided to made our own Asian-ish dinner. (“-ish” because I’m not convinced true Asian food ever involves orange juice!?!)
Breaded chicken, a sweet sauce, and white rice are almost always a perfect combination for happy teenagers at mealtimes here, so this dish was a definite score, and we even had leftover gluten free chocolate chip cookies that Kayla had made the day before to look forward to for dessert.  Yep, everyone was fat and happy with these comfort foods before bed last night.  We were missing Kory, though, who we had just put on a plane back to Massachusetts for a weekend conference, so we weren’t completely content, especially when we found that his flight from Orlando to Hartford had been delayed three hours!  He did not arrive in Hartford until after midnight, but he is safe and sound now and doing just fine.

Ginger Orange Chicken

4 chicken breasts (or 3-4 lbs)
2/3 cup GF flour mixture (I used 1/3 cornstarch, 1/3 rice flour, and 1/3 tapioca starch)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 tsp ginger, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 Tbsp agave nectar (or brown sugar)
1 Tbsp prepared mustard
3 cups orange juice
3 tsp orange peel, grated
1 bunch green onions
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
*2 Tbsp GF soy sauce

Cut chicken up into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes and place in large bowl.  Sprinkle the chicken with flours, salt, and pepper and toss until chicken is thoroughly coated. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add chicken.  Cook the chicken, stirring and turning, for 20 minutes or more and until golden brown.  (I like cooking it longer than the usual recommended time of a few minutes per side.  It gets more tender the longer it cooks.) Grate the orange peel, mince the ginger, and chop the green onions while chicken is cooking.  When chicken is done, remove it by slotted spoon to a separate dish, leaving the drippings/oil in skillet.  Add minced ginger, and green onions to the drippings, and press the garlic into skillet. Sauté for just a minute or two on medium heat.  Next, add agave nectar (or brown sugar), soy sauce, and mustard and stir.  Then, add the orange juice and peel. Stir over medium heat.  Add water to 1tsp of cornstarch and stir briskly.  Pour this mixture into the orange juice mixture and stir until mixture is thickened and bubbly.  Return chicken to the skillet and cook 5-10 more minutes.  Serve over rice.

*I did not use the soy sauce in our meal last night, but I think it would add something nice to this dish.  The sauce would then look darker than my photos, of course!

W.A.L.K.I.N.G. with Beth

A much anticipated and worked-for weekend finally arrived last Friday.  A year ago, my sweet friend, Karla, invited me to join her in participating in Beth Moore’s Scripture Memory Challenge. The goal was to hide the Word in our hearts by memorizing 24 Bible verses over the course of the year.  The accountability was having to enter your verse in the comments of Beth’s blog post on the 1st and 15th of each month.  Anyone who did this 20 out of 24 times was eligible for this very special conference at no charge.  All you had to do was get yourself to Houston, show your memory spiral upon entry to First Baptist Church, and be prepared to say at least 10 of your verses to another woman at some point during the conference
 Friday evening and Saturday morning were filled with the wonderful worship music of Travis Cottrell and Beth’s passionate teaching, not to mention a free tote bag, a notebook and pen, cookies and hot chocolate, and the opportunity to be around a lot of beautiful women who love the Lord and His Word, who came from 48 of 50 states, Canada. and the UK!  As you can see, Beth is quite animated and NEVER without great excitement about her Lord and Savior. Her enthusiasm  might be off-putting to those who don’t realize that she has great integrity. Really.  She is never NOT animated and excited.  She is also never without a humble, yet vitally fresh teaching from God’s Word.  This time she spoke on 2 John.  She had memorized its 13 verses, and  “spoke” the book to us twice.  She then exhorted us through its words with this acrostic:
W ~ We’re all starved for some “face-to-face.”
(We need each other in real time and real community)
A ~ All we’ve worked for can be lost. 
(Not our salvation, though, because that’s not “worked for”)
L ~ Listen with the ears of a chosen lady.  
(Eklekte Kuria = “The Chosen Lady” = the Church and me!)
K ~ Keep the pace of true abiding. 
(Not running ahead with “innovation”, and not sitting still either)
I ~ Invest your whole life into love. 
(The whole Law summed up.  Not a new commandment!)
N ~ Never forget the ploy to infiltrate. 
(“Many deceivers will go forth…”)
G ~ Go out into the world walking in what you know. 
(Walking, abiding in Truth, loving God and others)
Go read 2 John if you want to find out what all of this means!  I found her personal testimony of losing and then choosing to “take back ground” she felt she had lost in recent years especially meaningful.  She encouraged us to take some dirt home from Houston, TX to remind ourselves that we’re taking back ground the enemy may have stolen or deceived us into letting go of.
On Saturday during a break, we were to get with a partner and recite our 24 verses ~ special prizes for those who could do all 24. Grace was abounding in all of this, of course.  It was a beautiful sight to see pairs of women all over the sanctuary and in the hallways speaking their Scriptures from memory, and oh what a privilege to be with women who treasure His Word so deeply ~ kindred spirits all around!
(I memorized Hebrews 11:24 – 12:3 & Psalm 71:5-6 & 17-19.  Karla memorized all of Romans 6)
Kindred fashion spirits, too, evidently…
Yes, imagine my surprise to see this top that I ordered from Ruche, an online catalog company, last year for my birthday, come walking down the hall toward me on another sweet, Scripture-loving sister.  What else could we do but laugh and take a photo together?!?  So funny…
As we entered First Baptist Church each day, we walked through a really amazing missions display.  It was like a missions museum with creative presentations of the many missions the church is involved with ranging from building water wells in third world countries, to volunteer work with Crisis Pregnancy Centers, to human trafficking rescue missions across the globe as well as right there in Houston, which, unfortunately, is a major hub for human trafficking in the U.S.A.
I was also so excited to see their involvement in reaching the “unreached people group” of New England through the North American Mission Board’s church planting efforts.  The North American Mission Board is  the organization we were sent by to New England 13 years ago, and who continues to support our newer church plants in Massachusetts.
I’m just kicking myself for not getting a picture of the three of us ladies who were sitting at this vantage point on Saturday night after the conference!  Laura W., who was my first Bible study leader through Campus Crusade at the University of Texas hosted Karla and me for the weekend.  She took us out to City Centre for some delicious gluten free and gourmet pizza, and we all enjoyed sitting outside listening to music, watching the fires and lights and the kids playing.  We didn’t come to any earth shattering conclusions, but discussed the future of Israel, replacement theology, dispensationalism, and other weighty topics like our hopes and goals for the new year as well as our love for butternut squash.  Then we took in the new movie, Iron Lady, about Margaret Thatcher, which was excellently performed, but a bit unsettling.  I have lots of questions now!
Before I left Robert was reminding me of Henri Nouwen’s writing about guests and hospitality ~ that guests have a gift to give, and that we as hosts do also.  He challenged me to look for the gifts from the weekend, and I’m so thankful for his reminder.  The gift that stood out to me the most was that I have a life FULL of people ~ and really special people at that.  Not only is Karla’s friendship a gift, but I kept being amazed over and over again at the people I was able to share with her from my own family, to Laura, to a dear college friend, Yvette, to “Miss Riggs” my middle school Spanish teacher, to my 87 year-old grandmother, to my 73 year old dad.  So, there were many gifts from a weekend of  conferencing and hosting, as you can see, but the realization (again) that the Lord has filled my life to the brim ~ overflowing, really ~ with loving people, encouraging people, joyful people, faithful people, people who’ve surrendered their whole lives to Him was the best gift of all.  
Truly, I am blessed.

Gluten Free Friday ~ Totally Awesome Tilapia

Getting to shop for groceries at H.E.B. again here in Texas has been an interesting adventure.  I enjoyed grocery shopping, in general, much more about 20 years ago when it was only for two people, didn’t require regular weekly trips, multiple stores, a very extensive list, and a $250+ bill, but even today I still love to check out the local stores wherever we are.  H.E.B. is a great store, has decent prices, and usually a really nice selection of gluten free breads, crackers, flours, and prepared mixes and other items. 
Last week, I walked into our local H.E.B. and immediately saw a display offering a deal on a package of frozen tilapia fillets.  For buying one package of about 20 fillets for $13,  you were then able to get four more items for “free” ~ a package of fresh baby spinach, a package of brown rice, a bottle of canola oil, and a box of rice crackers ~ gluten free rice crackers!  I couldn’t pass it up, especially after coming to really like tilapia after eating it on my birthday a couple of years ago at a famous Texas landmark and restaurant ~ yum!
On Monday, we decided to try and grill it.  Robert did a little research on how to season it and we came up with this recipe.  I couldn’t believe how tender and tasty it turned out.  Really, it was the best fish I’ve ever eaten and kept praising the “Recipe Researcher and Grill-master” for a meal I would not stop thinking about for days.  Yes, that good!
Totally Awesome Tilapia
4 tilapia fillets
4 cloves garlic, pressed
6-8 cherry or grape tomatoes, diced
4 Tbsp butter
1/3-1/2 cup Chardonnay 
salt and pepper
You’ll also need heavy duty foil.
Tear off large piece of heavy duty foil and arrange tilapia fillets in a row in the middle of the foil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each fillet, and place one tablespoon of butter on top of each fillet.  Press one clove of garlic onto each fillet, and sprinkle diced cherry or grape tomatoes on top of each fillet.  Lastly, pour the Chardonnay over the fillets, and then loosely gather and seal the foil making a “packet.”  (I know some of you may not want to use the wine, but I think it really does add to the smooth and delicious taste.) Place on the grill for 15-20 minutes, let rest 5-10 minutes, and then serve.  
We served ours with brown rice and green beans.
My kids did not really appreciate this meal as much as Robert and I did, but they managed to eat most of what was on their plate.  Tonight, though, we planned to have salmon, so I bought some chicken tenderloins to throw on the grill as well, so my poor children wouldn’t have to suffer through TWO fish meals this week! The grown-ups (my friend, Karla, from Massachusetts is here visiting!) didn’t complain at all.
Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

A Party, Party Weekend = Flan, Fine Art, and Fish Tacos

What is NOT unusual is that I celebrated my birthday in Texas.  I’ve done that every year since we moved to Massachusetts, except for one.  The one I didn’t celebrate here in the Great State was my 30th, and that was because it took place right after Y2K.  We had booked our tickets for later that year, since we weren’t sure if we’d be able to travel ~ or drink fresh water, or have electricity, or phone service.  
What IS unusual is that, since my birthday (and Elvis’s, of course) took place on a Sunday (and a very busy Sunday at that), Robert made sure that we celebrated almost all weekend starting with a wonderful meal on Friday night that was planned and prepared by the kids.  (and I’m talking Friday the 6th ~ I’m behind with my blogging!) We had grilled chicken (marinade made a day ahead by Kory), red potatoes (Cooper and Dad), and salad (by Kayla).  There was even champagne and special gluten free bread sticks!  But the most amazing part of it all was the birthday dessert that Cooper made for me ~ Mexican flan!  It is one of my all time favorite desserts, and he truly sacrificed to do a GREAT job ~ has the burn blisters from the caramel sauce to prove it!
 Saturday the 7th, we visited a museum on the campus of the University of Texas.  It’s located right next to the dorm in which Robert lived his freshman year there.  We love being on the campus of our alma mater and revisiting all of the memories we made individually and together there.  The museum was beautiful, too.  Loved the painting of Eliezer and finding Rebekah at the well, and there was another interesting one of David holding up the giant head of Goliath after he’d been killed. Kayla sketched her way through each new room, and even the boys “appreciated” the art for Mom’s special day.  (It probably helped that they knew they would be walking up the hill to the Frank Erwin Center in a few short hours to watch UT play OSU in basketball!)
             Sunday the 8th  was spent at Manchaca Baptist church where Robert preached in the morning service, and then we took turns giving reports on our ministries in the evening service.  We love visiting our old church ~ the one where Robert served his first 4 years in ministry.  We were married and had Kory during those years, and so many of those who loved and supported us way back then are still there ~ very special. There was Mexican food for lunch and a visit to my dad’s house in between.  Dear friends Jack and Kelly (a.k.a. Miss Riggs) came up for the evening service, and then treated us all to dinner at Jason’s Deli = gluten free bread and menu!  We got to see photos of Jack’s beautiful hand crafted kayak on its maiden voyage and hear about Kelly’s birthday gift ~ a Porsche Boxster!  That’s right, she likes to cruise 410 and take it to Blossom Athletic Center for her early morning lap swims. Just kidding ~ Jack doesn’t let it out of the garage much, I don’t think! (And anyone who really knows her will know who the “gift” was really for ~ although she does think they’re very “cute”  which is the comment that got her the gift in the first place!) Can’t wait to take a spin!    ☺                                                                
 And the fun continued with a trip to San Antonio on Monday to meet up with Robert’s family for MORE Mexican food.  (I had to declare a Mexican food fast after this meal ~ for a few days anyway.)  The cousins all sat at one end of the table and there was no lull in the laughter and lively conversation. My fish tacos were absolutely amazing ~ best I’ve had so far, I think! I received handmade birthday cards on the backs of kids’ menus, and was even treated to a bowl of ice cream delivered by waiters singing “Feliz Cumpleanos.”
Flan, Fine Art, Fish Tacos, and FAMILY (both biological and spiritual) ~ WHAT could be a better birthday combination than THAT???

Does Anyone Remember Punky?

Punky Brewster?  The cute and spunky little orphan from the 80’s sitcom?  Well, sometimes I look at my daughter and think I’m currently living with my own little Spunky Punky!
Do you see the resemblance?  And I think they even have a shared love for colorful socks and Converse sneakers.  Kayla now owns three pair of very bright colored sneakers and countless crazy socks that she usually wears mismatched ~ more color that way.  And did you know that you can even BUY them that way?  Yes, we now own a package of 12 socks which are all a different pattern, and whose package states how many possible combinations there are within.  I could never do that.  I must be symmetrical at all times, but I’m so happy my girl is able to pull it off!
We visited a new art museum on the campus of my alma mater, and Kayla was quick to take the offered sketch kit for our tour.  She loves drawing, and produces WAY more pieces of art than our refrigerator or magnets can sustain.  We have no magnets at our sabbatical “home” here in Texas, so the artwork is piling up in various locations around the house ~ including my purse!

Sweet little thing.  It dawned on her only after she had sketched Saint Agatha, just exactly what that “bread” on the platter was.  We had to do a close reading of the semi-cryptic description of the painting to discover that St. Agatha was a Christian martyr and that this painting depicted only one of the tortures she endured.  (And now I can only imagine who will land on this blog post that mentions both Punky Brewster AND St. Agatha, and I would be willing to bet they’ve never been mentioned in the same posting before now.)
Even two different colored ponytail holders!  (Again, such a thing would never even dawn on me.)  Bright.  Colorful.  Joyful.  Spunky. Persistent.  Creative.  Thoughtful.  That’s my girl, and I’m so thankful she’s mine!

Sweet Sabbatical Gifts: Sewing!

Preparing to make the 2000 mile journey…
 Oh sewing machine, how we’ve missed you!  Surely you were so cold and lonely (and dusty!) sitting there on our basement floor, oftentimes covered with dirty laundry. Oh, how we enjoyed the trips to the fabric store you required and completing the beautiful and original projects you made possible!  You are such a delight with your patterns and threads and possibilities! But alas, you also require so much time and space, and those things have simply not fit into our crazy weeks at home in Massachusetts with their potlucks and coffee dates and Bible studies and schoolwork and piano practice and guitar lessons and houseguests and….well, you know…life!
We thought Texas might be more kind to you, though, so we packed you up and hauled you 2000 miles south.  Did you notice the sunshine?  The warmer weather?  The little lull in our usual flurry of activity?  Maybe you even heard Kayla pleading to take you out of your case, so that she could start creating something?
 Did you get excited when you heard us leave for our shopping trip and return with bright fabrics, pink thread, velcro, a rotary cutter, a mat, and LEFT HANDED SCISSORS?  Kayla thought she had died and gone to heaven when she was able to glide through paper and cotton like NEVER before!  You know, it really is a right-handed world, Little Miss Sewing Machine, and you are just another contribution to the discrimination of our left-handed friends. Kayla was undeterred by your challenges, though, especially after having been equipped with those very special scissors.
That’s right.  She cut and she ironed, she threaded your bobbins and needles, she pinned and she stitched, and she only had to rip out a couple of seams. (Which is really a good thing, seeing as we did NOT haul our seam-ripper 2000 miles south, nor did we remember to buy one at the fabric store. Sigh.)

She fused interfacing, basted polyester batting, and even cut out squares for two nine-block quilt squares that served as side pockets for the very cute lunch tote project she chose.
Oh wonderful sewing machine, how you helped her make linings and leave openings, but the challenging foresight you sometimes required….oh my!  There was also the fragile and tedious turning inside-out of inner and outer, wrong and right, sides and pieces, but oh how much we remembered and learned!
And how thrilled we were today with our finished project ~ just in time for packing a lunch for our first day of the Texas version of Classical Conversations we’ll start on Monday!  It will surely boost our spirits and confidence, as well as give us something to talk about with our new classmates.  
So thank you to our lovely and lonely-no-more sewing machine, for the blessing of mommy-daughter time and for delightful accomplishments!  We hope there will be at least a few more.  And thank you, church, for the time, freedom, and gifts you’ve so generously provided for moments like this!

Not Resolutions, But Requests: Part 3

A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad the spirit is broken.
Psalm 15:13
All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Psalm 15:15
Lord, why do I always see the problems, dwell on the disappointments, get bogged down in the details?  Why is it easier to complain and be blind to the “bright side” or the many ways you are at work?  Why do I overlook the hundreds of little (and big!) graces you are bestowing day by day?  Why is it a struggle to surrender and just have fun?

I know I’ve prayed about this so often ~ been praying about this for at least 20 years when I first discovered the tendency of my heart toward discouragement and sadness.  You have answered and are so actively teaching me how to have joy ~ daily joy in my salvation ~ which is joy in all things, really.  It’s an encouragement that verses like this are sprinkled all throughout your Word, and that I am not alone in my struggle to rise above the despair of a fallen world.  I do desire the “continual feast” of a cheerful heart still, Lord, and pray that You would not cease to transform me and complete me in this work of joy.  Thank you for the book One Thousand Gifts that I can relate to so well, and for Ann Voskamp’s honesty regarding her own struggle to choose joy and the little glimpses into her heart and mind that gets enraged by sibling rivalry and bogged down with getting dinner on the table, and yet wants to run after the beauty of You in the low hanging harvest moon.  It is also the case with me ~ that I can be moved to joy and gratitude in worship of you so easily in one moment, and then in the next be crushed to despair by criticism, the attitude of a child, or the perceived slight of a friend.  Please keep moving my heart, and the thoughts of my mind to Your graces, Your mercies, Your goodness all around me, and let holy hope prevail in my heart over despair.  Amen.
Those are my requests for the new year ~ continued passion for building up my HOME, a wise and soothing TONGUE, apt and encouraging WORDS, and the continual feast of a JOYFUL HEART.  I can only resolve to cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work in me in these areas, and trust Him for the transformation.

Not Resolutions, But Requests: Part 2

 A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 15:4

Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.
Proverbs 25:11

Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and he who speaks right is loved.
Proverbs 16: 13

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24 
Please continue to transform me in the area of my mouth and tongue.  This is also a part of either building or tearing down my house, and I desire to have a tongue that soothes and heals ~ even when it needs to speak hard truth.  Give me WORDS, Lord ~ words that show interest in others, words of joyful, meaningful conversation, and the ability to articulate needs and desires in a loving way.  I know that I have hurt Robert, my kids, and probably others ~ even with few words, because I withhold words and store up frustrations, unable to think of how to positively communicate them, and then they come often come out wrong or totally unexpected by the receiver.  Also, I desire to converse effectively, joyfully, and meaningfully with friends, family, and even strangers, but often find it difficult to find words, questions, and topics.  Please make me a wise “talker” and a blessing to others in that.

I have always admired those who have a way with words, have stood in awe of those who so naturally set others at ease even while teaching and correcting, have studied those who seem to easily draw others out by conversation with genuine interest and warmth.  Truthfully, Texas if FULL of folks with this gift, ☺ so maybe the Lord will use their grace-filled examples in the next couple of months to continue to mold me in this area!  I also hope to make time to read a book on the subject, and not because I want to “win friends and influence people” (unless it is for Christ!) but because I want to lovingly relate to and enjoy them, to bless them with both truth and grace.

Tomorrow…requests for a melancholy heart.  ♥