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29 March 2017


“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


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.


¡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


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.


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


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


"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


-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. 

19 March 2017


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)


"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


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.


Spring break-ers.


"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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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.

06 March 2017


Today I want to remember
morning quiet at the table,
"The mystery of life is that we discover this human togetherness not when we are powerful and strong, but when we are vulnerable and weak."
a mug (ok, two) of hot, strong coffee,
cheerios with blueberries,
wandering through the store picking out my faves faves,
peanut sauce on spring rolls,
warm spicy Pho,
the best lunch date,
a long, comfortable nap,
patters on the window and the earthy smell of rain
sweet hospitality, beginning to end,
Drake the Goat lives.



We're learning how to be just two again, sometimes slowly, sometimes little by little. It might seem obvious, but just two is different than all those numbers up to eight. Two means that we only interrupt each other. Two means that sometimes there are miles and hours of quiet. Two means that we stop when we are ready. Two means just a short time of deciding what to eat. We sure are thankful for the eight, but there are some pretty sweet blessings in two.

02 March 2017


Random Wednesday thoughts...
Isn't it something, how little people have the attention to watch the same video, read the same book, listen to the same song, over and over and over again? No wonder they learn so much, so quickly. Repetition, repetition, repetition. (note: for this very reason, I am adding to my ASL vocabulary week by week!)

My girls took the Mom Survey, answering questions about me. My favorite question and answer- what is something your mom would never wear? Answer- a crop top.
WORD! I almost spit out my drink. I didn't even wear crop tops in 1984...

I got a postcard notifying me that I may be called for Jury Duty. Unlike 98% of United States citizens who might be called for jury duty, I clapped! Finally, I am at a place in life where I could serve on a jury!

I baked a cake that I have baked 50 times without problems- until this time. Like a molten chocolate volcano, it bubbled up and flowed over and smoked out the house. Why, on this day, it behaved differently, I have no idea. We will see how Smoked Chocolate Kaluha cake tastes.

And oh for grace to abound all the more.

01 March 2017


After a week of coughing and sneezing, no more excuses. Back out today.

My husband still fast asleep, I slide out of bed and move as quietly as I can through the dark. I collect my wears. No light necessary. I know the feel of my shorts at the top of the drawer, the bright white of the shirt, the weight of the socks, the elastic of the headband. I walk into the closet and kneel down right where my shoes will be and feel for the tell-tale laces. One. Two. I dress from habit, without thinking. I pull my laces tight and tie my shoes without thought. I feel for my watch and strap it on and feel for my music and clip it on and feel for the little flashing light for my shoe and stick it around my heel. I go to the cooler with my water bottle, knowing when it is full by sound. I exit the house and enter the street. I wait for my watch to be ready and do that simultaneous music/time click. I am on my way, looking forward, sunrise to the east, birds calling, dogs barking, the world waking. I never once look down...

...until the jog through the 'hood is complete and I'm back on my street.
I laugh out loud.
Two different shoes!