Tuesday, January 31, 2012


741. Two of my kids working together to sketch out a cow on poster board for a 4H project.

742. Twenty sandhills who greet me as I walk the fields.

743. Seeing flashes of insight in students just learning to think deeply.

744. Early morning stroll.

745. Cows and calves at the fence.

746. Room full of teenage girls, all doubled up in one tiny bedroom.

747. A lone egg in the back yard, left by a hen who missed curfew.

748. Early bedtime and deep sleep to fight a cold.

749. Delicious Iranian food made with love.

750. Horseback ride with the cowboy.   (BUMPY!)

751. Stymie and his mother bellowing their protest over separation.

752.  The new friends that teaching brings me.

753. Pink morning sun.  (Afternoon rain?)

754. Funny little notes from students: "Dear Mrs. O, I still don't like To Kill a Mockingbird."

755. Little brown rooster sprinting awkwardly across the year.

756.  "When two or more are gathered..."  The beautiful privilege of pleading for soul protection of a young person.

757. Prayer warrior friends who can pray a powerful sermon right from the Word of God.

Because I am Free

I started this over two weeks ago.  This topic is so painful for me, so gut wrenching, that it has taken this long to finish.  I'm still not sure my words can do justice to the need....

As I am jotting items down on my list of 1000 gifts on January 11, I remember that it is Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  I must remember to wear bright orange.

I add to my list: daughters who have grown up safe, protected, and loved.

At the same time, I force myself to think---but what if.....

It doesn't require much imagination to consider, because I once had an unspeakable nightmare....

In the dream my youngest daughter, who is gentle, sweet-tempered and creative, is molested by a group of older boys.  I see it at a distance--almost as if from behind glass.  She is too afraid to cry out or fight, utterly bewildered, and panicked.  I can see her, but I can't get to her. I can't help her.  I am screaming, but she can't hear me.  She feels completely alone, and I have to watch her be carried away, helpless to rescue her.

I woke in a frenzy from that dream, adrenaline coursing so strongly I could have killed if the monsters from the dream had been within reach.

As much as I hate to think of dreams like that, I force myself to remember them today, because that nightmare is a reality for many women and children.

My daughters are safe, but not everyone's daughter is.

Some girls are taken.

Some parents are tricked by a promise of a good job in the city for their daughter.

Some daughters are actually sold by their parents, who know full well what awaits them.

All are trafficked, dehumanized, abused to satisfy the appetites of the depraved.

This should not be.

Slavery is NOT history; it is alive and well throughout the world... even in America.  Obviously, killing the bad guys is not the answer.  However, there ARE solutions, and many wonderful organizations working to fight this evil:

Loose Change to Loosen Chains
International Justice Mission
Somaly Mam
Love 146
One girl. One dress. One year.

Today, because I am free, I am speaking up for those who are not.


719.  Enthusiastic adolescents.

720. Staghorn plants--so remarkable.

721. Trusty old stapler: 9 moves and over 20 years later, still with me.

722. Bright orange moon inching up above the tree line.

723. Keeping the cowboy company while he works on the truck brakes.

724.  Reed's steer letter--so full of his personality!

725.  Sandhill cranes in the pasture, breaking up cowpies. Nature's farm equipment.

726. A good reputation. Help me be worthy of it, and protect that of others.

727. Kids discussing and learning to appreciate their uniqueness.

728. Frosty Florida morning.

729.  Fellowship with friends, breaking homemade bread together.

730.  Watching my children blossom.

731. A love note from my mom.

732. Surprise cupcakes just as we are craving something sweet.

733. Competent and gentle technician for medical tests.

734. SEVEN egg day!

735. Catching up with friends.

736. Encouraging teaching from a mentor after a very grumpy day.

737. Really sound sleep.

738. Sandhills flying past the porch in the morning.

739. Guacamole!

740. My 5th-7th grade class.  So bright and eager to learn.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cultivating Gratitude #696-#718

696. One last everything before sending our Frenchman home.

697. My funny girls!

698. Back to routine, such as it is.

699. 5-egg day

700. Worship with my "family" at church.

701. Teaching what I love.

702. Excellent young adult fiction.

703. Early gray sky--gorgeous morning.

704. Still amazed by the eggs!

705. Dorothy safe in her home in Haiti.

706. One more paycheck.

707. The Pomodoro Technique great for "distractables" like me!

708. Wonderful encouraging book written by an encouraging friend.

709. Sweet note from one of my favorite underdogs.

710. Hassle-free replacement of our "school" kindle.

711. One way or another, a chance to trust God's provision.

712. Power-walking the pasture with a very happy dog.

713. Steers dozing in the sun.

714. Amazima necklace as a gift.  Someone was listening!

715. Happy students, glad to be back together, (if not back in class).

716. Aircraft work for Mike. God's provision.

717. The sound of rain through an open window.

718. Reed taking a personality test: "This ALL describes me!"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Lord has chosen YOU

1 Chronicles 28:10, 20

"So take this seriously.  The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as His Sanctuary.  Be strong and do the work....."v. 20 Then David continued, "Be strong and courageous and do the work.  Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you."

Father to son.  

King David spoke these words as he declared Solomon his successor and informed him that God had chosen Solomon--and not David--to build His Temple.  David had gathered material; he had drawn plans; he had arranged for skilled workers; he had given of his own treasure--but he could not build the Temple of God.  That was Solomon's job.

Fast forward several thousand years.  

I am by no means a king (or queen), just a mother of these three young people with too little time left in my home.   

Under the New Covenant instituted by Christ, the Temple of God is no longer a physical building in Jerusalem.  The Temple now lies within each believer.  

Still, there is a lesson for this modern mother from the kingly father of Solomon.

As much as I want to be able to build a Temple for God in the heart of each of my children, God says I am not the one to build His Temple there.  

Each child is ultimately responsible by the grace of God to build his own internal sanctuary for the Lord.  

Like David, I should provide materials, draw plans, help find workers, give of my own treasure.  I can encourage them to be strong and do the work. I can share my story with them as proof that God will never fail or forsake them.

However, I cannot build the Temple. I can't nag them into it.  I can't discipline them if they don't get it done.  I can't manipulate or bribe them to do the work.

For that, I must trust.

I read this week from a wise mother that only God can change a heart; only God can draw hearts to Himself.  I have to trust that He wants intimacy with my children even more than I want it for them!  I have to trust that He will not fail or forsake them even if they have times of failure.

God has graciously left in His Word the eloquent prayer of David for Solomon that I can pray for my children:

1 Chronicles 29:19

"Give my son Solomon the whole-hearted desire to obey all your commands, laws and decrees, and to do everything necessary to build this Temple for which I have made these preparations."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


683. Gorgeous winter sunset.

684. Mountain of dirty, smelly boy laundry to do.  Love those boys.

685. A husband who loves his son for who he is--and works to guide him according to God's plan and not dad's agenda.

686. Camille calling "Maaaama, Maaaama..." thoughout the house.

687. Bundling up for a very cold (for Florida) night.

688. Toys R Us with the wildman.

689. Granny calling to make sure we've tucked the animals in warmly.

690. Freshly disced pasture resting before seeds.

691. "Shopping" cute girl toys with Happy Girl. (She loves the Princess umbrellas.)

692.  Camille's description of American tourists..."So stupid....'where is, where is, where is...' oo la la... YOU 'AV A MAP!"

693.  Water twinkling in the sun as the cold wind ripples.

694. Beautiful brown egg.

695. Cowboy walking the pasture, surveying the herd.

696. Dad and daughter on the tailgate talking.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


666. Cold Florida morning.

667. Speaking French every day...no matter how badly.

668. Car rides with the whole family and Camille as the entertainment.

669. Sweet Cousin Ashley walking away from a bad accident with only a bump.

670.  Camille and Reed fixing fence--that they broke.

671.  Shocking translations from Google--don't trust it!

672. Just a few more bedtime chuckles with our much loved Frenchman.

673.  Ooops.  Frank solves our free-loading turkey problem.

674.  Multiple viewings of a documentary that fascinates us all.

675. New Year--a fresh start to remind me that God grants them every day.

676.  Silly, loud, off-key-on-purpose songs belted out by Happy Girl.

677. Just when you feel invisible--love notes left by the computer.

678. Forever parents for Yarik, sweet Ukrainian orphan.

679. Two marriage proposals, two enthusiastic yesses.  My nephews are lucky men.

680. Auld Lang Sine around a roaring fire with old friends and new.

681. New Year's call from my parents.

682. My new year's verse: Phil. 3:13-14  

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Monday, January 2, 2012


648. A serving of peas from the garden.

649. Cold weather--finally!

650. Five-year-old sage explaining the truths he knows: "Policemen eat special foods to give them super strength..."

651. Anna and Jackson for a day!

652.  Shopping western wear with the island boy.

653.  More and more eggs!

654. Steers outgrowing their halters.

655.  Good results from my blood test.

656. Being the go-to person for Camille when he needs "traduction."

657.  The sound of Camille and Mike belly laughing in the next room.

658. "For you," as he offers me a gift from a store's window display.

659. Slow, restful days.

660.  Time to connect for two busy friends.

661. Potato shoots!

662. My special weed-buster tool.

663. Flame-topped pair of wood-peckers in the scrub oaks.

664. Well-fed cardinal on the fence.

665. Freshly mowed pasture, tired but happy French boy.


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