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30 April 2017


This morning through the 'hood-
pastel pinks shading the clouds gradually changing to the bright orange globe of sunrise,
birds chirping high in the palms,
the woody smell of barbeque meats smoking,
the tell-tale clean of Fabulosa,
sprinklers rotating across thirsty lawns,
chihuahuas chasing me down the street,
and two pups cheerful to find a new friend.


Dishes put washed and dried and put away, cake covered linens in the wash, train tracks stored, crumpled colored tissue paper wrapping gathered up, and a content sigh for the day- remembering again the blessing of sharing celebration and the blessing of community that becomes family. We have much to celebrate!


“And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on."

- Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go

Ah well, it's a bit of a sad thing that the fashion gene skipped a generation. I have no better advice than to search for You Tube video instruction and no better encouragement than to offer a hearty "you can certainly do this!" I promise, we weren't lying when we said, "You look wonderful!" We wouldn't let you NOT look wonderful! I love you both for breathing deep and for wedging your feet into too small shoes and for stretching beyond your comfort zone and for loving those who love you in this little way.

27 April 2017


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.


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.


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


“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


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.


Friday was
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


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


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.


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


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?


18 April 2017


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


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


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


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


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


would be
easier without
because you
all of it-
sprinkles, quarks, giant
donuts, eggs sunny-side up-
are the ever-expanding
to me.” 

Kate DiCamilloFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

11 April 2017


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


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)


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


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.

08 April 2017


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


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.


"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


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."


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


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.


"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.


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


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;
getting smoked in Words with Friends yet again...