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27 April 2017

116/365

I didn't accomplish a single thing on the to-do list. The truth is, I never even made the list. Oh, there's plenty of tasks that need to be accomplished, that could queue up and wait their turn. But on this day, I just kept doing the next thing.
Or not.

I shuffled through the 'hood for the first time in a month and gave myself a pat on the back for just going out, because any accolades sure would not  have been for my pace! I showered, which everyone around me for the remainder of the day can be thankful for. I tried to play with my buddy, and finally he fell asleep watching a video. I did the newspaper crossword. I spent way too much time trying to trick my very broken iPad into letting me play Words with Friends (and no- there is not a way to trick a broken iPad). I tried to sweeten the day with a mango raspa, which was pretty good but sugar only satisfies for a moment you know, and sometimes even peace offerings are not enough.

Really, it was an ordinary day, probably not all that much different from that of anyone else. Still, I walked into dinner grumpy, maybe a bit weary. And yet, grace abounds. The care of a friend to stop me spoke volumes. The surprise of a pledge kept gave me a reason to look outside of myself. The evening lesson taught a timely reminder of our God's sovereignty. We had enough time to pray without hurry. I could dash through a door for a quick couple of minutes to review heart truths. The weight of some days press down, and yet, we continue to look to the things unseen.

26 April 2017

a birthday

We never celebrated a birthday together, since we never lived in the same place. Truth be told, we don't always connect on birthdays, coordinating schedules and phone calls and such. And shamefully, I am often tardy to the post office and gifts don't always arrive when they should. But on this day, I especially remembered the day this guy was born. (I was on a trip to the Mall of America and shopping with friends. The labor took days. We kept waiting on updates and worked hard not to pester. We had lots of time to scour sales racks and amass a small wardrobe for a little guy.)

But today, I grieved that he's not here with us to celebrate. It's been four months and a couple of weeks since Harper died, and no- we're not over it yet. (Yes- I've been asked that. Yes- I've tried to be gracious even so.)

My daughter asked us to share some memories of Harper. You know, Ashley and Tom, how very much we love him. Harper was so very curious. I loved to answer his "why" questions and watch him think and consider the answers (and then challenge me again). I loved to read him stories and hear him debate with his brother the qualities that make one superhero more super than the other. I loved how he would snuggle up right up to my side but not in a demanding or consuming sort of way. I loved how in him I see Ashley, the same inquisitive blue eyes, the same sort of blond cowlicks, the same know-no-stranger friendliness. I loved that he took one more selfie with me at the airport that day.

The memories are sweet, but oh how I long for eternity together.
Happy birthday, buddy.

115/365

That photo- it doesn't begin to do justice to the beauty of the morning. It doesn't show the warm gusty winds, the shadow of the clouds across the fields, the true blue of the sky, or the emerald greens of new growth. I want to remember that the scene was enough to draw me to the side of the road to kneel down and try to capture the moment.

The morning reminded me of the importance of living with intention- and of being purposeful to take time to be still. How do you put words to the value of gathering to pray, no chatter, no requests, but directly to heads bowed down and voices lifted up? How many times have we seen our Father's faithfulness in very specific answers to petition? I have lost count. But it's not just that, as He would yet be good even if we never knew a single Yes. It's also the sitting quiet and remembering and knowing with absolute certainty, we are His. Oh that mystery, that He lives to make intercession for us, and yet, we are commanded to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in all circumstances. I needed that time, and on this day, I am thankful for those reminders of His steadfast lovingkindness.

114/365

It took a somewhat mad rush to get from one side of the Rio Grande Valley to the other on time, waiting on an attorney and judge with the clock ticking, coordinating rides and meeting points, negotiating highway backups and a jackknifed semi-truck and a road full of mulch, stop and go traffic, and why on earth don't people go on green and stop on red? But, we arrived and slid into our seats just as the introductions began. The tribe came out in full strength to cheer on our director and our actress (though she was really a natural for the part- we are pretty sure no acting was really involved!). And you gave us a reason to gather for our own post-production party, besides! Bravo, friends!

25 April 2017

113/365

“You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for another. The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to us the beauties of others.” C. S. Lewis

What are those qualities that attract one person to another? I'm not really sure why I have won the favor of my little friend. But her gifts of crayon-colored church bulletins after the worship service and the  firecracker blossom plucked from the front lawn make my heart swell. It is a sweet thing, to stop and bend down to kindergarten perspective and see the world with different eyes.

23 April 2017

112/365

The sun streams through the window, illuminating the dust of the border town in the morning light. Outside the window, vendors begin their day, hawking woven baskets and woven bracelets, straw hats and paper flowers, cut nopal and strands of garlic, whirly toys and bobbling birds, chicles and sweets in a cardboard box. A shoeshine man sets down his wooden box and stool, stained with black and streaked with brown, and briskly polishes worn boots to a new glossy sheen. A man pauses to lean against the column before moving on. Children clamor for biscuits and mermelada toasting on a hot griddle. Shoppers stroll, open cans of beer in hand and it seems too early in the day for that. Bright plastic sacks and the ever-present plaid bags and even a luggage cart stacked high carry the morning purchases.

And inside, the drill whines for a root canal.

111/365

Friday was
books,
and greetings,
and books,
and driving,
and waiting,
and hope for the future,
and friends,
and familiar places,
and comfort food,
and the drive home,
and ready to drop in bed.

22 April 2017

110/365

You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true - anyone can cook... but only the fearless can be great.
- Gusteau in Ratatouille

Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.
- Joshua 1:9 (MSG)

21 April 2017

109/365

Little did I know, that all the talk that day would be about some unicorn pink and blue sparkly drink.
No thanks.
Give me Raspa Wednesday.

108/365

The will-o'-the-wisp, end-of-the-rainbow, daydream idea of happiness, of happy marriages, happy families, happy people, and "having a right to happiness" doesn't touch upon reality.
   What is family? A family is a blending of people for whom a career of making a shelter in the time of storm is worth a lifetime! A Christian family is meant to be different because of its knowledge that human beings are significant in this life and throughout eternity. A Christian family has been given enough in God's verbalized Word to know that when one part of the body hurts, the rest of the body is affected and does something to help.
- Edith Schaeffer, What is a Family?

19 April 2017

107/365

I sat, one of 90 in the potential juror pool, and considered the question before me- "Do you believe that life is the result of destiny or that it is a matter of choices?"
As if it is simply a decision of one or the other?

I can't answer that I think that life events are determined by the most pure definition of "destiny," a predetermined state of events "which implies an inevitable and usually adverse outcome." Although I do believe in a sovereign and holy God who works providence over His creation, we are yet people who make choices.

And certainly, we know that choices have results and consequences that can tremendously alter the course of life. I wasn't chosen for that jury- so I'll never know what decisions led up to the moment that night when two lives ended and another was forever changed.

I finished my day in court and had over an hour of driving to think about the day, and the questions. My destination is the generally less-than-desirable Mexican border neighborhood that has become our second home. The kids there, they have not had any more choice over where they live than the kids in upscale neighborhoods across the river have chosen their homes. Neither choose the people who come in and out of their lives, what they observe and learn in the world around them. The Aquilles kids no more choose what they experience or the memories they keep than middle-class American kids do.

We go about our project for the evening, filling in the letters of our first name with the arcoĆ­ris, the colors of the spectrum of the rainbow. I am reminded, again, that each of these kids is unique, and uniquely known to our God. He gave the promise of the covenant long ago. He calls His people and never leaves them alone.

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.

Isaiah 43:1-2 (ESV)

I wonder if all the people back in the courtroom are remembering that same assurance?


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