Saturday, August 30, 2014


We have definitely been celebrating here lately!  Between our days of vacation and now an invasion of 5 beautiful, fascinating, encouraging women at our house, LIFE & FRIENDSHIP is front & center and our home is full of fun & great conversations!  It would be impossible to describe the emotions of all the LOVE in this home for Jenna and the great sacrifices made by these dear friends to be with her on her birthday.  I have just been blown away by their loyalty & tireless affectionate acts...

L to R:  Carolina (Italy-Lebanon), Dani, Justine (half Armenian, APU/US), Jenna, Hannah (US, Mauritania), Betty (Mexico-CostaRica, Iraq), Saray (Argentina, Uzbekistan, Indonesia)

Justine had had a plan to come since June but it was a surprise for Jenna.  We actually pulled it off and it was so GREAT!!  Dani & I went to pick her up at the airport in the morning and then had Justine take in her morning tea.  We have her reaction on film - shock, surprise, crying, hugging, laughing - awesome.  SO GLAD we pulled it off, Justine!!  Justine graduated with a Business degree from APU in May, is a real foodie & everything roses, gets along with anyone and I can´t wait to see what she may entrepreneur!

For Jenna´s birthday, she whipped up a sugarless, chocolate-banana soufflé - divine!

A few days before she actually arrived, two other friends had arrived who together with one other girl make up an endearing TCK foursome that have not seen each other much but when they have it´s just as deep & dear as before.  They haven´t all been together since 2009 and I have dreamed all year that they would all be able to reunite & it has come true!  Of course, it was all of their dream, too, but it just seemed SO CRAZY that no one ever thought it would really happen!  Thanks to 2 of their Dad´s mileage and 2 churches who are helping with one ticket and some of the taxes, they are all here together.  Wow.

Reunited in Málaga, 2014
Representing Argentina, Morocco, Spain, Iraq, Mexico, Costa Rica,
 Mauritania, US, Uzbekistan & Indonesia between them!

Saray is from Argentina and met Jenna there when they were just young girls.  Later Saray & her family went to Uzbekistan where she spent a good part of her growing up years.  She also later lived for a year plus as a high school student in Indonesia where her parents are currently working.  Bruce & I are very close to her parents and have journeyed with their family all these years.  It is precious to see the special bond Saray & Jenna have that goes back so many years.  Saray is studying in med school in Buenos Aires and is getting married on Jan 10th!

Betty´s parents are Costa Rican and Mexican and currently live in Mexico while she goes to university just over the border.  She grew up in Iraq and her parents still travel all over the region.  I´m so glad she still remembers her Kurdish!  She has been friends with Hannah (the 3rd muskateer) since she was little.  Bruce & I are also close friends with her parents and there are a treasure & inspiration to us.  Betty is studying graphic design.  She has a perfect gentleman of a boyfriend who Hannah introduced her to but I will leave that to her to tell you about!

Hannah flew in from the US but grew up in Mauritania.  She has fluent Arabic and has been able to intern within the region closer to us.  She is studying International Studies at Princeton and her twin brother is at Columbia.  Her parents currently reside in the US and are involved in Reconciliation work.    Her boyfriend, who also grew up speaking Arabic, is in CA in med school in SF.  With her keen interest in NGO´s and ability in languages, we can´t wait to see where she ends up!

Jenna has been with these 3 over the years at various conferences and they just clicked.  They have tons of memories, lots in common & can talk international issues all day & night.  They all love God and as part of this new generation want to make Him known in relevant ways through justice models.  It is an immense treat for them to be all together.

Getting ready for Jenna´s birthday bash.  :)  I´m glad they´re all 
¨taken¨ or we may have had our hands full!  haha

Carolina is Italian but met Jenna during a year abroad in Beirut last year.  She was a great international friend for Jen to have there and they enjoyed many meals, trips to art galleries & historical places in Lebanon.  Carolina´s fascinating family is made up of her Dad who with his family owns an Italian clothing factory (she brought us some shirts!) and her Mom is a film critic who travels to Cannes and the rest!  Carolina majors in Arabic and minors in International Relations.  She´ll be studying Arabic this year in Paris and hopes to finish next year.  We´re so thankful for her loyal friendship and although she has only known Jen since last year, she really wanted to come and visit.  We are so glad she did; she is un encanto!!

Bella Carolina!

Their tea time at one of Jenna´s favorite teterías here in Málaga.

In Beirut, where they met last year.

When Jenna´s actual birthday came around on the 19th, we had a full house & happy hearts.  Her 3 besties from Málaga came over in the morning to do this song & dance for her at breakfast:

L to R:  Leila, Cristy, Sonia

Then they watched a DVD which was a compilation of birthday greetings from friends all over the place!  I was so touched at all the time & work that had gone into that.  Jenna is so blessed with so many great people.

She also was delivered some gorgeous roses from Cristy´s family:

Both Carolina and Hannah arrived during the day and they all went downtown to the old Arab castle in Málaga to walk around before dinner.  Here they are:

Saray made an GREAT homemade, Argentine-style lasagne for dinner and along with fresh salad, bread and wine we had a great feast outside on our front patio.  These pics are a bit dark but you get the idea...

We also were blown away by a special delivery of international cupcakes from the Galloways which were both gorgeous & delicious!!!  It even included one small cake which was both sugarless & white flour-less  for Jenna.  :)  You guys are the best!!

With all the jetlag in the house, everyone fell into bed, happy & tired!

Friday night there is a big ¨Garden¨ party with a bunch of young people invited from Málaga and fortunately,   we´ll have 5 extra sets of hands for that!  Some friends are donating their talents so we can have live music and I´m sure there´ll be lots of surprises since Jenna wants NO gifts, only cards or something creative that doesn´t cost money.  :)

In the meanwhile, since there are 8 women in this house right now until next week, Bruce & Jordan felt it was the perfect opportunity to get away on a backpacking trip just the 2 of them!  They left this morning to get away from all this estrogen!!  haha

Obviously, I´m way behind on the blog because of so many things going on - guests, vacation, patio project, birthday, etc. - but I´ll be trying in this next week to catch up.  We´ve been extremely busy but happy and now it´s time to ¨normalize¨.

These 10 days in particular have been an amazing GIFT.  I feel as if God has given all of us this:

¨When you give it to them
(aka their this case, the food of friendship),
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.¨

Psalm 104:28

Here´s to MANY good things!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014



I seek Your face -
more than Your hand.
I long for Your presence -
More than Your miracles.
I need Your love -
more than Your power.
Your steadfast accompaniment -
more than any other demonstration.

O God, Your nearness is my good!
Your closeness, my salvation.
I live to be with You
and to show You off to those around me.

If You grant signs & wonders -
open up seas, float bread from heaven,
heal the sick & open blind eyes -
I will praise You for Your mighty deeds!
But I will not worship the signs - or demand -
these wonders from You.
You are enough.

 I know Your works flow from who You are.
They are, in some mysterious way, inseparable
from Your very character.
You are the God of both the
Old & New Testaments.
But right now You are the God of my today -
And You are writing my testament,
My book.

I long for it to be said
that I sought Your face,
That Your presence was my highest good.
I would love for it also to be said
that there were many colors,
many wonders, many signs
That flowed from the Presence in me.
But that is Yours to write.

I seek Your face -
more than Your hand.
But both are with me.

Photo by:  Moyan Brenn

Friday, August 1, 2014


I cannot imagine life without Him...especially right now.

If You were not Completely Sovereign,
Innately Good,
Insanely Abundant in Love, 
Perfectly Visionary within Your kingdom,
Where would I be?

If You were not Incredibly Wonderful,
Discerningly Perfect as Counselor,
Fiercely Tender as Shepherd,
and Intimately Involved,
How would I go on?

If You were not Majestically Kingly,
Justifiably Lord,
Holiest of Holies,
and Forgivingly Precious as Savior,
On what would I stand?

If You were not my Source of Bread,
my Pure Fountain of Living Water,
My Life-Guiding Truth,
and my Creative Teacher,
By what would I live?

If You were not my Endless Life,
my Song in the Night,
My Protective Hiding Place,
and Shadowy Almighty Wings,
Where would I take refuge?

Even just One of these things would be Enough.
But You are All of them!

You are my Safe Boundary in this life, 
Marking my Alpha & my Omega,
My Beginning & my End.

If You were not...

....but You Are!

Photo by:  Rene Yoshi