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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 arcoíris, 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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18 April 2017

106/365

See, what a morning, gloriously bright, 
With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem; 
Folded the grave-clothes, tomb filled with light, 
As the angels announce, “Christ is risen!” 
See God’s salvation plan, 
Wrought in love, borne in pain, paid in sacrifice, 
Fulfilled in Christ, the Man, 
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead! 

- "See What a Morning," by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend

The girls bought themselves new dresses to wear for Easter- and doesn't it seem right for that day when God the Father made all things new? We put on a clean tablecloth and napkins and let the ham bake. We colored eggs and then shared a meal with dear ones. We broke eggshells over each others heads and had a mini-confetti celebration every single time. And then, maybe best of all, my favorites sat around the table with dessert and coffee and laughed and laughed.

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

17 April 2017

105/365

Today I want to remember-
up before dawn,
And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved...,"
bacon and egg breakfast taco with pico and green salsa,
hot coffee,
"yes, US citizen,"
a man who loves his job enough to come in on his day off,
looking down for the stars,
iced coffee and a table in the corner and no where to be,
a long uninterrupted sit,
surfboards and sharks and "how on earth did he get that shot?"
"essence energy and planet types"?,
not caring if I buy a thing,
slow wanderings,
the really delicious gyro and really good fries,
back to the palm trees,
a clean house,
end of the day content,
promise of tomorrow hope.

15 April 2017

104/365

Does anyone else in the world find a 3 mintue auto-propelled cleaning trip so immensely satisfying?

103/365

This day of ups and downs, of contentedness and dissatisfaction, of surrounded and yet sometimes alone even in a crowd, of ready to be away and of ready to be home and of ready to turn in and be finished and try again tomorrow.

14 April 2017

102/365

An afternoon cuppa in a favorite mug and then, finishing a book, quickly wiping the tears away before the pest control guy makes a pass through the living room. ..

“To love someone is like moving into a house," Sonja used to say. "At first you fall in love in everything new, you wonder every morning that this is one's own, as if they are afraid that someone will suddenly come tumbling through the door and say that there has been a serious mistake and that it simply was not meant to would live so fine. But as the years go by, the facade worn, the wood cracks here and there, and you start to love this house not so much for all the ways it is perfect in that for all the ways it is not. You become familiar with all its nooks and crannies. How to avoid that the key gets stuck in the lock if it is cold outside. Which floorboards have some give when you step on them, and exactly how to open the doors for them not to creak. That's it, all the little secrets that make it your home. " 
- Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove


101/365

“Nothing
would be
easier without
you,
because you
are 
everything,
all of it-
sprinkles, quarks, giant
donuts, eggs sunny-side up-
you
are the ever-expanding
universe
to me.” 

Kate DiCamilloFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

11 April 2017

100/365

Plan B, the gift of bonus when I expecting an entirely different sort of day.
Frustrations and breathing deep when websites don't work, when phone calls go unanswered, when traffic comes to a complete halt, when long-set plans require change.
Blessings come with unhurried time at my desk, a cup of coffee outside with my guy, in a phone call along the way, in prayer for those I love, with caps and gowns in hand, during dinner around the table together.

And someday, that trip to Maine...

10 April 2017

99/365


Truly, truly, I say to you,
you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful,
but your sorrow will turn into joy.

John 16:20 (ESV)

98/365

Small goal days:
post office- check.
movie- check.
photos- check.

97/365

Watching the event from behind the safety of the snack table seems a heck of a lot easier than participating in it, my friend and I agreed. We remembered high school, that awkward never-quite-fitting-in feeling, and dances, where we never quite had the right moves. I admire my girls, my tall girls taller still in heels, who get out there anyway, so much more comfortable in their skin than I ever was. I admire the ones who don't really want to dance, but in kindness, take a spin anyway with the one brave enough to ask. And thank you, Werner Thomas, for the Chicken Dance, that jiggy tune anyone can follow.
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08 April 2017

96/365

Spring Fling prep in high gear and we were getting close to finishing. When she came across the darkened room crying, I really thought that they were tears of laughter. I really thought they were because of my version of Total Eclipse of the Heart. Let's be honest, Bonnie Tyler I am not, though "every now and then I fall apart" is not all that inaccurate...

But as is most often the case, it wasn't about me. Goodness, a staple gun misfired into the palm is worthy of a few tears. And even a ride home.

"Turn around bright eyes..."
:-)

(and the goat picture? What cuteness! Wouldn't you post a photo of baby goat too?)

06 April 2017

95/365

This kid, he ate five of those sweet oranges in very short order, handing them to me, one by one, for the work of peeling. As easy as tearing a piece of paper, mandarin skin rips away, pithy and tart. I divide the globe into segments. His chubby not-quite two-year-old fingers separate one section from another. I watch him suck the sugary juice from every single piece and then consume the rest. Finished with one, he returns to the kitchen basket for another. And another. The Very Hungry Caterpillar has nothing on this guy. We finally wise up and move the fruit out of reach, knowing that if left to himself this morning, he would consume every piece that his hands can grab.

94/365

"This work is about appreciating the flow of the moment, the rhythm and currents and eddies of life, rather than neatly packaging the world into perfectly formed little jewels. . . . Many moments are mundane and seem worthless, but they form and shape our lives."
- Photographer Paul Graham, as quoted in "A Shimmer of Possibility," by Laura Lynn Brown in Art House Blog

04 April 2017

93/365

I spent two parts of my day with him today. He wouldn't stay in his seat if his very life depended on it. He runs laps around the property; really, he runs laps. He leaps at the Jenga tower and the girls scream. His fuse is lightning quick and super short. He's wiry and surprisingly strong, though he looks like a little guy. He dives into the bigger boys without fear or any obvious concern for his well being. I think he attempted a few parkour moves off the desks during Bible study tonight. He might have used up half a bottle of glue on his own project. We say his name 100 times a night, with an accent on every single syllable at different points. All this and yet, he has my heart. He's the cutest bundle of trouble I think I know. I'm sure that he could tell stories no one his age should know to tell. He tells us that he's thankful for his mama and he's sorry for behaving badly, and we remind him again that our Jesus loves him. His toothy grin when he sees you is generally contagious. We want him to succeed and man, we're learning patience in the doing. Again and again, we echo, "Let the little children come."

92/365

Isn't it a blessing when the most needed help at the moment requires you to sit around a table with funny girls and fluff puffs? And, shouldn't more of life be as forgiving as tissue paper puffs? They still look good with a few rips. They don't require one specific method of opening to be lovely. The secret is slow and steady.
Maybe there is a life lesson there...

02 April 2017

91/365

The fourth-year nursing student led us in front of the hospital bed, eyes blinking on the otherwise seemingly lifeless mannequin, explaining how the clinical program works. "...Always practicing so you know what to do when the situation goes down," he told us.

Little did I know that a few hours later, when the car wouldn't turn over, not even a click, not even a blink, the situation would go down. But grace, oh grace! (it was all my fault- leaving in the before-daybreak-darkness and arriving in full sun, one forgets about lights, especially in this unforgiving, no-warning-bell-to-chime-you-back-to-reality, car...) We stood open the hood and sure enough, two strangers with jumper cables and more than a measure of patience helped these sojourners to charge the battery.
That's enough practice, I think.

90/365

"There have been so many times in my life when what I know of God—what I know to be true of Him—clashes with the murkiness of what my day-to-day life looks like. Many days my life seems to be at odds with the God I know, and I find myself doubting Him. I forget He’s good, and that my version of good cannot compare with His perfect knowledge of what truly is. I forget He is faithful, and that my version of faithfulness looks more like getting my own way instead of living according to His. I worship at the altar of today’s circumstances, thinking they’re the most important and most pressing of all."
- "The Fall of Babylon," SheReadsTruth blog

On this afternoon, I stopped to admire the blooms and then right then and there decided that the only thing left to do was go to bed early. And I did.

89/365

The photo reminds me of a Richard Scary book, just missing the labels for the words and a little Goldbug hiding in the corner.

"Full days" best describe the last weeks in the sewing class for the Isaiah 55 deaf students. The girls are finishing a blouse for a graded exam. A few are working on a special project to create pockets to go on the back of chairs for the deaf school. And they all have started to create a bed cover quilt from fabric samples that were donated to the school, learning to consider color and design and preferences and dislikes. The fans whirl overhead and the spools spin on the machines while the hum of the little engines create the background noise of the afternoons. It really is such a fun thing, to share in the process of watching these girls listen and observe and absorb and learn.

01 April 2017

88/365

today was
coffee and "a taco con juevos y tocino, tostado," only, for the first time ever, it WASN'T tostado, but that didn't matter when the conversation was enough to distract us, and a mariachi guitar starts playing in the middle of the restaurant, like that is something normal at breakfast time;
trains and trucks on the floor, and under the couch, and Curious George read outloud, and Thomas on the tv;
back and forth between the mission and the house and the ballfields and Larry's and dusty feet and a bit of sunburn on the arms;
white paint and silver paint and sweeping;
queso and chips and Coke and limeade and chicken casserole and rice and broccoli and brownies;
the harmony of hymns;
and,
getting smoked in Words with Friends yet again...

29 March 2017

87/365

“I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.” 
― Rudyard KiplingThe Cat That Walked By Himself


What is it that the neighborhood cats choose MY yard to hang out in?

28 March 2017

86/365

Kids. Doesn't matter what they look like; doesn't matter the language they speak. All of them, they grab your heart and squeeze it tight and break off pieces, sometimes big, sometimes small. Morning classes were loud, unruly, and a huge challenge, and even so, a few leave with a wave goodbye and a "when will you be back?" and a handwritten note with hearts and "Te quiero." Then there's the afternoon, and chastising the teasers and cheering on the readers and lines and dots and erasing and "do your best, one more time." There are the Jenga rule stretchers. There's the sweet little girl who asks us to walk her home, and then we learn hard stories from her dad.

but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

So we pray and we teach and we play games and we get dirty and we lean in and we listen and we pray. Let my heart be broken again and again for this.

85/365

¡Cuánto te amo, Señor, fuerza mía!
El Señor es mi roca, mi amparo, mi libertador;
    es mi Dios, el peñasco en que me refugio.
Es mi escudo, el poder que me salva,
    ¡mi más alto escondite!

Morning worshipper, afternoon tourist (sort of). 

25 March 2017

83/365

The day started very early and continued very full. Miles to travel, groceries to buy, laundry to wash, linens to fold. Movements in slow motion cry out for coffee. A trip back down the road, hurry to pick up one, to pick up three more, to be at dinner on time- until all comes to a halt when traffic slows to a crawl, obstructed by a highway collision. That's when you give up and just enjoy the wait; today, late is your fate. Not long later, the laughter started, the silly memories replayed out loud until we could hardly speak. That's when we caved to the cry for drinks from the drive-thru. That's when you realize that your kids know just when to take advantage of your weakness and that's when the easy familiarity of friendship is the sweetest part of the day.

82/365

Everyone needs a specialty. Honestly, who could ever go wrong with sugared up cream cheese layered between crescent roll dough and covered in butter and cinnamon sugar?

(but I really don't know why they call it sopapilla cheesecake. Any New Mexican can tell you that no legit sopapilla has cinnamon sugar on it!)

23 March 2017

81/365

Today's images include
sitting at my desk quiet, the pink of morning dawn filtered through the shades;
the drawings of schoolkids, a funky monkey sketched out in a fast food booth filled with friends;
a post office queue and wait to obtain a new passport;
trains and cars making circuits on the table and stories of Thomas and George on the couch;
deaf girls critiqued by their sewing teacher and seams turned by accident and ripping out labels from samples, tiny pieces of white thread stuck to the legs of my dark jeans;
iced down Topo Chico in a sweaty glass bottle;
soapy suds for washing plastic cup after plastic cup after plastic cup;
smiling children with glue all over their hands;
dinner served, just enough for everyone;
text from evening services, to make me smile and to sigh;
bulk groceries, boxes and bottles and bags put away, stocked and ready for the week to come;
sitting on the couch listening to chatter from home, a connection that makes 50 miles sound much farther.

22 March 2017

80/365

"In approaching any new culture our first task is always to remove our shoes, recognizing that we are standing on holy ground. We are not bringing the Lord somewhere new, because he is already here. Our primary task, therefore, is to identify God's fingerprints and to trace his footprints in the new environment."
- Dirty Glory by Pete Grieg

21 March 2017

79/365

-ING on a Monday in Reynosa-

Outside my window... bougainvillea in bright bloom.

I am thinking... about my to-do list, today and beyond.

I am thankful for... the crazy back & forth life I get to live between the United States and Mexico.

From the kitchen... (well, not MY kitchen. I'm mostly at the Isaiah 55 mission this month with spring break short term teams...) I am washing a lot of plastic cups and oatmeal nearly every morning, and loving the food our tremendous Tencha and Leti serve up every day.

I am wearing... capris and the Adventure shirt (NOTE! the Adventure shirt has been mishap free for a good long while now!)

I am creating... I painted walls today and scrubbed paint off of floors. Does that count?

I am going...  home to Harlingen tomorrow! (for 26 hours, anyways!)

I am reading... Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and Dirty Glory right now.

I am hoping... my back is better soon and very soon.

I am hearing... sounds of Mexico, music and dogs and fans.

Around the house... I'm at the mission this week, so my "house" is home to 30ish people, a short-term team from Alabama and the Isaiah 55 staff. LIfe is busy and sometimes dirty and always dusty and always a blessing.

One of my favorite things... today a kid from the neighborhood walked into the house we are painting. I told him, "Bienvenidos a mi casa." He said, "¿En serio?" The look when I said, "Sí, en serio" was priceless. Playing Jenga with the girls tonight, watching the little guys make art, and then, sitting and nothing else at the end of the day.

A few plans for the rest of the week: home to see my girls and ESL and time with my favorite little guy and then back to Reynosa to finish the week. 
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19 March 2017

77/365

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

- "For All the Saints" by William W. How (1864)


76/365

"It surprised him that his grief was sharper than in the past few days. He had forgotten that grief does not decline in a straight line or along a slow curve like a graph in a child's math book. Instead, it was almost as if his body contained a big pile of garden rubbish full both of heavy lumps of dirt and of sharp thorny brush that would stab him when he least expected it."
- Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Helen Simonson



18 March 2017

75/365

March means Spring Break for schools and Spring Break means short-term teams serving at Isaiah 55 Ministries. This March, teams are mostly participating in two projects- cleaning up a house in the neighborhood to use as classroom space for the high school deaf school and as a residence for staff (even me and Tim!), and constructing dug-outs and bleachers at the nearby neighborhood sports fields. "How does that spread the Gospel," many will ask. Sometimes we are surprised.

As you might imagine, the locals notice a group of gringos and the activity down at the ballfields. Neighborhood kids like to come over and watch and play with the workers when they take a break from digging holes and mixing concrete. This week, one of our kids, a regular at our evening outreach, started hanging out at the fields, and even jumped into the work to help out. He impressed one of our team members, an adult from Illinois. This man doesn't know much Spanish, keeping his sentences short, our team member told our young friend, "I don't know if I will see you here again, but I hope that I will see you in heaven."

That simple sentence started the neighborhood kid thinking. He pulled our pastor, Mario, aside, to ask about that- "see you in heaven"? Mario spend an hour talking with this kid about being a disciple of Christ, about trusting and walking with Him, about living a life that glorifies and honors Him. This kid, who just a couple of years ago was asked to leave our Vacation Bible School activities daily because of his behavior and attitude, is beginning to understand the Gospel. He expressed a desire to be baptized. He even promised not to hit or say bad words. (smile!- that's pretty huge!) Our prayers are fervent for this kid and for others. The conversation will continue.

Sometimes I hear those considering short-term missions say, "But I want to do something that will mean something." Be assured that yes- even gathering on the ballfield can be a witness to the community. Even mixing concrete and cleaning up a dirty house can give opportunity to share the very Good News of Jesus. Even a simple farewell can be a seed for change. Join us in praying for Gospel transformation in our community as God uses these short-term teams in the coming weeks and months.

74/365

Spring break-ers.


73/365

"Ma, me, mi, mo, mu," said my little friend as she read her own handwriting. Then we read the line backwards. Then we read the syllables on cards. Then we mixed them up. I am pretty sure that we got past the point of memorization, and that she really started to put the sound with the symbol. She is learning to read.

Do you remember learning to read? I don't. Of course I know that I wasn't born reading, but it was so long ago...
I can not remember NOT reading.

What started as an evening outreach to minister and teach neighborhood kids with Bible lessons and art projects and computer skills grew when we began to figure out that our kids were coming to us not knowing how to read. Very few of these kids go to school. Several attended classes sporadically for a period of time, but did not finish even 6th grade. A handful are at the neighborhood elementary school but continue to supplement their learning.

Keila and volunteers that she has recruited from the church come daily to sit next to these kids and teach the skills required to pass the test to graduate from primaria, and then from secundaria. We all know that our life changes when we learn how to read. But showing up and sitting together, correcting and encouraging, teaching and motivating, day after day- our hope and prayer is that those things will have eternal value too.

15 March 2017

72/365

Truth be told, we girls all rather thought that it was the end for this furry friend. What began as an annoyance a few nights prior steadily escalated into a health crisis for our octogenarian pup. I expected the worst when we carried him into the vet on Monday morning and gently laid him on the exam table. After lab work and x-rays failed to reveal anything critical or immediately life threatening, we left him for a dose of B12 and fluids. We were slightly encouraged but still, apprehensive.

Imagine our surprise when we returned at the end of the day, and out walks our Dillon, tail wagging at top speed, as if to say, "Girls! Get me outta here!" We left with meds and special food and the checking account a bit lessened, but grateful. Once home, he still retired hard at the end of the day, but we're pretty sure he has yet a little time left with us. We'll take it.

13 March 2017

71/365

It took about 4 hours into the day to be certain of the time. Like most of life at the US/MX border, it's hard to be sure. I spent the night in Mexico, but my cell phone,  also my clock, never quite knows where it is. I can sit in one spot, not move a bit, and watch the label at the top of the screen change from US to Mexican cellphone coverage, TMobile to TelCel, TMobile to Movil, back and forth, back and forth. Would the phone clock make the change on it's own? And when the alarm goes off in the morning- how will I know what's right? I'm pretty sure (but not absolutlely positive) that I woke up an hour early, on the day when we already lost an hour of sleep. So, it seems right that the rest of the day was hazy and slow, a rest to start the week.

70/365

Today I want to remember-
slow moving morning,
Do not be afraid or dismayed,
calls that restore,
helpless to help,
lying on the bed,
"I feel old." "I do too."
mesmerizing henna,
how very hard marriage is,
how important to say "I'm sorry."
the ease of serving,
the promise of tomorrow.

12 March 2017

69/365

Brown paper packages tied up with string. 
These are a few of my favorite things.
- "My Favorite Things," from The Sound of Music

"Bring 3 of the SAME of your favorite thing...," said the invitation. "Looking forward to fellowshipping with each of you!!"

But which favorite thing to choose?
The price limit helps narrow the list, and yet, to decide on one single favorite...

The Moleskine journal that holds my thoughts, jotted down morning after morning or the black fine point pen I use to scribble?
The bars of soap that I buy in multiple packs every time I'm at Trader Joe's?
My favorite dark chocolate bar?

I think about what makes a favorite thing. It has to be that perfect combination of size and color and scent and usefulness and perhaps some other often unnamed characteristic that simply appeals to my senses. Sometimes it comes from experience and stories in life; usually it has to have some time of proving itself worthy of "favorite." Favorites certainly are grown over a span, rarely created in a moment.

I finally decide on a little pitcher of Mexican pottery, a design of white and blue with blue and yellow flowers. It is a piece that references my relationship to Mexico, and how I love a hot cup of coffee with a splash of half and half. It might be useful to display a few cut flowers, if called to serve in that way. It's something I would delight to receive and so it is an easy decision to give, as well.

We gathered and told stories of our favorites, verses and hymns, pastimes and foods. We had a glimpse into the best parts of one another, because isn't it contagious, the enthusiasm that comes when we reveal our favorites? To sit in a circle and take turns, hear voices of young and older alike, that gives joy to relationship.

These are a few of my favorite things.





11 March 2017

68/365

Go where your best prayers take you.
Unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy.
Breathe deep of the glad air, and live one day at a time.
Know that you are precious.
Know that you can trust God.
Frederick Buechner

67/365

On International Women's Day, I read all those exhortations from women to women, to be strong and persevering, to celebrate achievement, to break barriers and walk without limits. I nodded my head and thought of those women who have gone ahead, who are my heroes. I am thankful. But for this woman, evening came and I was almost defeated. Hard relationships, physical limits and everyday ordinary challenges of life pressed hard against the edges of the day. So as I sat at my desk at the end of the day, my consolation was from Him whom, in the beginning, created woman and all things- 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)

09 March 2017

65/365

The train glides by on parallel tracks and I can't help but think of possibilities. It points north with cargo intended for a faraway people in an unknown destination. I daydream about sitting in a passenger car, miles and miles of gazing at flashing scenery, hot coffee in the dining car, slowing down and pulling into the station in a brand new town.