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30 November 2016

December Photo Project 2016

If it is December, it is time to begin the December Photo Project! Thanks to Rebecca at View from the Prairie Box for allowing us to participate again this year. It's one of my favorite December activities. The goal is to post a photo from your day, once a day through Christmas. It turns out to be a great way to look new at the world around you. Will you join me? Go to the December Photo Project page to learn how to be part of the fun, too!


In the very last play of the first half, our leading scorer fell down, the weak ankle injured again. The rest of the team needed another quarter to get their bearings. But in the fourth quarter, every single player left really played. Every girl hustled and scrambled and shot and little by little, closed the gap. In the end, they fell just short. But despite the loss, it was a victory for teamwork, I think. Isn't that how it is? We don't know how much we have within us until we are forced to use it?

I'm thankful for:
my friend at the Sam's Club door,
a cuppa and the best company,
dinner in the crockpot,
our visitor,
girls who play hard,
ankles that heal,
"But when the prophets of the Bible foretell the future, the future they foretell is Christ."

29 November 2016


Lousy vacationers, really, we are; still, days pass by in a blink. At the airport, the sign reminds us, "eat, drink- life is short."
Too short for silly squabbles, too short not to be kind, too short to waste time on foolishness, too short to ignore gospel truth and gospel grace, to short to miss joy all around us.

I am thankful for:
one more chocolate croissant,
the privilege of leaving,
the joy of coming home,
safe travels,
memories made,
friends who give without hesitation,
the bond of life together,
a place to call home.


“If you want to be reminded of the love of the Lord, just watch the sunrise.” 
― Jeannette WallsHalf Broke Horses

Moment by moment the sky changed from dark to grays to pastels. And then finally, right on time, the brilliant bright light peeked over the horizon. I suppose that most don't cheer the sunrise, that act which happens every day, whether we are there to watch it or not. But to watch it, really, isn't it a marvelous show?

I'm thankful for:
the wonder of every day,
hot coffee,
those who labor for my comfort,
stories that captivate,
the rhythm of the tide,
good company,
laughing out loud,
a savory salad and a sweet crepe,
my dinner date,
the fan overhead,

28 November 2016


One of the surprise blessings of raising up kids is that one day watching other littles becomes an unexpected bonus. The sad goodbye is quickly forgotten with the "well, should we go eat?"
And when you are the babysitters, a dinner of watermelon, strawberries, an empanada, ice cream and sprinkles is all good. We wandered through the tables of goods, looking with the eyes of children... Look at the turtles! The butterfly spins! (don't touch the glass!)

I'm thankful for:
no purpose of yours can be thwarted (Job 42:2,
slow days, slow waves,
life with children,
children who are young adults,
early to bed.


We walked a little bit farther and then turned back. I stopped and wondered, in the certain busy-ness of life even then, did a woman ever stand at the edge of the sea and marvel at how beautiful it all is?

I'm thankful for:
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,    and his righteousness to children's children (Psalm 103:17),
new roads,
travel buddies,
"of course. You're the Hollidays.",
afternoon naps,
surprise photos on my tablet,
a couch in the corner, sitting next to my guy.


So we need grace to see again,
to tremble again,
and to bow down again 
at the feet of the One who deserves
our awe.
Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies

On the first morning of vacation, I sat with my face in the sun, and really, just sat, still. Although I miss the traditions of the day- family not with us, the parade, the cooking and all the familiar food, I was yet content in this moment. Yes- grace new every morning.

I'm thankful for:
blue skies and blue water,
sitting still,
non-traditional holidays,
grace to see again.


The getting-ready's and the getting-there's finally morph into the getting-on.

I'm thankful for:
my passport,
opportunity to travel,
anticipation of rest.

22 November 2016


I think that by the time we were leaving, we all figured that we wouldn't get the visas today, but we wanted to pretend like maybe we would, because we knew that we could get tacos.

I am thankful for
tacos that are just a bridge crossing away,
sitting still on the porch,
my friend who is a natural and very gracious hostess,
2/3rds of the flock in the nest,
forgiveness and grace.


These kids, some using a computer and the mouse for the first time, learning to think logically, experiencing success. Boys helping one another, explaining what they have learned. Art classes painting. Bible lessons taught. Fútbol played. For a short time, it all seemed exactly like we all have hoped and prayed it would go someday. 

And then, just a few minutes later, back to the reality of inattention, and squabbles, and picking fights, and "I'm sorry- you will have to leave but you are welcome to come back tomorrow." 

One step at a time, grace on grace, love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I am thankful for
invites from friends,
text that makes me laugh out loud,
girls who giggle when I get their names right,
the smile when it finally works,
love that endures all things.

21 November 2016


Never skip a reason to have a party! This day we opened the gates because it is Revolution Day in Mexico. Turn up the music, pull out the Lotería Cards and bottle cap markers, fire up the grill for hot dogs, make sure that there are balloons to pop and other games to play and lots of sweets. And a sack race. Yes! The sack race!

All that, for the opportunity to sit next to our neighbors and hear some of their stories, and love on kids, and laugh together over losing lotería, and say, "Yes, we are here with you."

I am thankful for
prayer first thing,
time with little people in the nursery,
my wandering friend returns,
neighborhood parties,
our little girls,
fist bumps from boys,
phone calls and voices from afar,
Sunday evening on the couch with my girls.

20 November 2016


Some games are soft touches and easy lay-ups. Others are nothing falls through the hoop and everything in your body hurts. No matter, character proves itself through faithful steadiness in both.

I'm thankful for
but he is unchangeable,
sunny afternoons,
teens who play hard,
faithful coaches,
laughing at lunch,
the car-full I love so much.

19 November 2016


Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
    for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul.

Psalm 143:8 (ESV)

I am thankful for
the stillness of dawn,
this crazy back and forth life,
doctor friends who go above and beyond,
the opportunity to celebrate,
the smell of bleached tablecloths and the therapeutic repetition of ironing,
the ease of serving together,
always always His steadfast love.

18 November 2016


At the end of the report, all I could really think of was how grateful I am that we have such a place to serve.

I'm thankful for
the afternoon sun,
good news for my girl and
friends to share it with,
a cup of tea and easy-be-still at the end of the day.


…apparently we believe
in the words
and through them
but we long beyond them
for what is unseen
what remains out of reach
what is kept covered
with colors and sizes
we hunger
for what is undoubted yet dubious.
I am thankful for
cool mornings, the hover and still of fog, little boys who babble away, the familiar voice of my longest friend, the promise of eternity, gathering together.

15 November 2016


These people, my English as a Second Language students- they help to make my life so very rich.
One became a US citizen this summer, just in time to proudly vote in her first United States Presidential election. One visits her mom and family across the border every weekend to make sure that they go to church. One has brought several other friends and family members to class this semester. One is mom to three busy and very adorable kids. One is a pastor's wife in a bilingual congregation. One was badly hurt in a work accident during the summertime and is yet enduring healing and physical therapy. They work hard and they continue to persevere and I'm proud to know each one of them.

I'm thankful for
the generosity of others,
His love isn't conditional and his grace is never temporary,
a sincere "how are you today" when he didn't have to at all,
examples of friendship in perhaps unexpected places,
gathering together and giving thanks.
(um, and still again, apple pie...)


Everything seemed just a hand's reach out of grasp for that littlest guy last night. His brother rolled him up to the door in the stroller, and had to leave once to go home to change his diaper. When it was time for art, we taped paper on the easel for him, too. He scribbled his self-portrait with lines in three colors. We kept a tight grip on his chubby hands around the staircase, and he never really strayed from eye-shot of his brother.

(and checkers?! who knew that rules differ across borders and even across families of the same culture...?!)

I'm thankful for-
He who does marvelous things without number,
eager third-grade learners,
blue skies peeking through the clouds,
our team,
these neighborhood kids,
home at the end of the day.

14 November 2016


I didn't expect the sprinkles when I walked out the door to worship, and the fresh coolness of the day somehow surprised and refreshed me. I feel sadness for those who don't know the simple contentedness that comes each week in anticipating Sunday worship. He indeed allows us to be filled with all the fullness of God. 

I am thankful for
cool, fresh mornings,
prayers of the saints,
well-prepared teachers and iron sharpening iron,
prayer and praise,
a surprise lunch out,
dear friends around the table,
apple pie on the counter,
girls on the couch,
a lesson ready,
his hand in mine to end the day.

13 November 2016


It was a day filled with cooking and Spanish and that always unique bridging of culture.

I'm thankful for
this place,
these people,
this time,
finishing the last page and ready to turn back and start again,
sitting around the table at the end of the day.

11 November 2016


Most the veterans in attendance at the ceremony were older- with caps from Vietnam and Korea, even World War II. Even though he served 20 years in the US Navy Submarine Force, I rarely think of my husband as a veteran. And yet, a career in the military isn't just a job. It defined our life for a good many years. Sometimes it seems a bit ironic that our military serves to preserve liberty of others, and yet, it often seemed it was our family that suffered restrictions in those years. Daughters that wouldn't go to the stranger we kept calling "Daddy." Separations. Vacations on hold. How many words could we send in a message? Forty? Even today, 10 years removed, it would be easy to sit down next to another submariner and be transported back to those years.

I'm thankful for
those who sacrifice for our freedom,
encouragement to take an afternoon run,
the rich scent of pie baking,
the church leaders who truly enjoy one another,
a retreat back to my book at the end of the day.

10 November 2016


The grey hang heavy today, in the clouds, over my mood. Some days feel like slogging through- and that was today, through my run, through my  morning, through my afternoon. But my chef-in-training came home Iron Chef champion (Secret Ingredient- dates and mushrooms!) and that happiness proved contagious.

I am thankful for
He who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
cooler weather even with grey,
rejoicing with those who rejoice,
my haircut lady Lucy,
my girl who wins with Apple Cranberry Date Mushroom Pie (?!?!),
dinner around the table,
laundry folded,
open windows.

09 November 2016


On the morning after the election, I woke up and sat at my desk, like every other morning. I turned to the reading of the day, and read, 
I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted,    
and will execute justice for the needy.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;    
the upright shall dwell in your presence.
I believe those words true. I pray that my heart will reflect His. And on this morning, I ponder over and again that idea of dwell, 
to abide and to remain. 

I'm thankful for
my husband and my everyday morning latte,
dancing boys who fall asleep in a moment,
the sweet greeting of recognition at the door of Sam's,
girls who laugh with me,
checks on the to-do list,
the deepdeep ruby reds of cranberries popping,
ordinary grace,
love of every love the best.


The day started with rain on my face, a much welcome change to the so far unseasonably warm November. The open windows usher in fresh air, and I put the tea kettle on.

I'm thankful for
finally, fall?,
Our God will fight for us.
my pastors, who each pop their head in to greet me,
potato soup on the stove,
afternoon tea at the table, all real, all heart,
our ESL staff, the most faithful of faithful,
my English students who work so very earnestly,
a little hand to walk me out the door.

08 November 2016


Tonight was self-portraits in art class, programming robots on the computer and our Creator God.
And it was good.

I'm thankful for
the eager to please 3rd grade learners,
the smiles of neighborhood kids,
serving alongside these people.

06 November 2016


The answer, the next step, is very important: As there are no little people in God’s sight, so there are no little places. To be wholly committed to God in the place where God wants him—this is the creature glorified. 
- Francis Schaeffer, "No Little People, No Little Places"

Our Sunday routine has become home, shower, laundry, lunch. Today it also included scanning job applications. We could hear the rain as it started to fall, and immediately I wondered how long will the rain last? Will there be rain tonight? Where will she sleep?

Every week I wrestle over what is help. My friend, one who empathizes and knows just how those doubts go, wrote me this week. "I struggle with that always," I read. "Does it help?  Are we making a difference?  But when the Lord brings it our way, it is probably safer to do that which doesn't make sense to us."

No little people, no little places.

I am thankful for 
morning greetings and surprise gifts,
challenged at every turn,
to the praise of Your mercy and grace,
catch up phone calls,
Sunday night rituals, 
and chocolate pie.


The sun shone unseasonably warm for a November day, but who can predict 10th anniversary celebration weather? The teachers and students and families came out to eat and to fellowship. How can you go wrong with the MexiDog and bounce houses? I generally feel pretty comfortable is Spanish, at least to make my point known (though I did turn over in my head the possibilities of the conditional tense of querer all afternoon...). But being with the deaf kids knocks any sense of confidence to communicate well right out from under me. Sure, it's easy to question "one hot dog or two?" with the flash of a couple of fingers, but it's so much more difficult to ask, "how have you been? How are the sewing projects? You look so pretty today!"

I'm thankful for
friends who share generously with my family,
safe travels back and forth,
10 years of service to the Reynosa deaf community,
we know He hears us.

04 November 2016


The Baby Gender Reveal Party- "who even thought of that...," I was thinking? When did that catch on?

Now, I'm sold.
Because honestly, what is better than rejoicing with those who rejoice. Celebrating a new little girl coming into our world, that's a pretty sweet thing.

I am thankful for
the early morning run,
lime squeezed over caldo,
be before us and behind us, to our left and to our right, 
intercession for the persecuted church,
an unplanned date with my guy,
my peeps,
an evening at home.


“If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.” 
― R.J. PalacioWonder

I am thankful for early morning friend meet-ups,
you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else,
the women who sharpen me,
dinner in the crock pot,
my girl who bakes,
tunes to sing to on the radio,
unexpected drink stop,
plans coming together,
and a peaceful meal,
and a very good ending.

02 November 2016


We walked in and the first thing we discovered was the aquarium full of toys this busy guy deposited while his mom took a quick bathroom stop. It's his new favorite pastime- so far he's a bit unrepentant but I think he'll learn pretty quick. After all, he is quick! and busy! we rolled the ball down the slide and tossed the ball up the slide and we read books (well, the same book again and again) and stacked blocks and shook the shaker and climbed up and climbed down... all in about an hour. It was good medicine, to get down to toddler level, and remember the joy of ordinary delights.

I am thankful for my friend- the best Spanish teacher and the mom who always encourages my sometimes crusty heart, for busy little boys, for sitting next to friends to learn together, for looks that say without speaking, for a short nap in the sun, for calls from far away, for voices in unison Holy, Holy, Holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!, for corporate prayer, for the thrill of game 7. 


(for November I'm participating in the November gratitude challenge with the hello there, friend community- an image and a bit of text each day. not much different than every day, right?) 

I remember the first time I read Be still and know that I am God, a brand new believer maybe reading the Psalms for the first time. My friend gave me a book with the old poetry in modern language. 
"Relax, stop fretting, and remember that I am still your God; I still hold the reins on this world of yours."

Even today inhale deeply when I think be still- those moments of peace that arrive in surprise places. On Tuesdays it shows itself in a half hour increment of routine, making coffee for the evening and sitting on an old couch in quiet, waiting for everyone to arrive. 

I am thankful for everyday habits of peace, for a coffee visit and a ride in the passenger seat with dear ones (um, & for coffee...), for a quiet couch, for my faithful ESL staff, for my students, for friends that cause me to smile, for my family at the end of the day.

01 November 2016


"Halloween is not too haunted for true saints. This is no night for God’s “holy ones” to run and hide, but rise up and revel in the power of our sovereign Christ. This is not the devil’s day, but ours. No concessions, no treaties, no retreat. No call to fear, but an invitation to feast."
- "Christians, This is Our Night," by David Mathis, Desiring God website

We have been planning to begin an afterschool outreach at the community center in our Reynosa neighborhood for many months. The past couple of years of activities- of Vacation Bible School and art camps and woodworking and special events and serving at the ballfields- have been the foundation of relationship building. It is time. 

We wrestled over which days and what times and who is available when, the details of making it all work. We chose a start day. And then we realized, that without specific intent, we chose October 31 to begin. Halloween. 

Our neighborhood is a historically dark place. In the evening it can be physically dark- there are few streetlights, and little lights shines through windows that are behind gates and walls and set back from the street. But more importantly, it is a spriitualy dark place. We are aware of evil practices of abuse and injustice and worship and shrines to gods of darkness not farther than even I can throw a stone from our front gate. But we are the Christ-followers who believe Jesus when we said, "I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." (John 12:46)

We opened our doors and the children came. We pounded nails into boards and created stars and arrows to pierce the darkness. The kids bobbed for apples and ate sweets and kicked the ball around and in a most ordinary way, light shines in the darkness. In the weeks to come, we will be there to help with homework and offer computers for assignments and teach and disciple and listen and love. We will extend an invitation to feast.