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28 July 2017


She was boarding the first flight before I went to bed.
In the middle of the night, I could see the next leg would depart on time.
Another pre-dawn check showed her over the Atlantic.
At breakfast, the little jet icon crossed my telephone screen into Canada.
By lunch, she reported in, through customs and live from Dallas.
And before dinnertime, the small silver plane landed on the hot blacktop of the place we call home and we waited for her to emerge from the gate.

Today, we were the Airport Reunion scene and others watched us and smiled.

Welcome home to our missionary servant traveler. We missed you, Sarahbear.


In hindsight, probably the last minute dash for a raspa was mistimed at best. Probably I should have chosen a stand closer to home. Maybe I should have resisted the temptation to the sweet primary brights altogether. It all seemed like it was going to work, that I could have my ice AND make it to dinner on time, my crockpot ready to carry out the door. The street signals untypically changed in our favor. I chose the back road route and hardly a car could be seen ahead. And then, I squinted; sure enough, in the distance, the slight movement of the train gave cause for concern.
"I don't think it will last long."
"It's almost through, right?"
"It can't be THAT much longer."
Yes. Stopped. Completely halted.
At that moment, "We might be late," turned to "Dang. We're late."
And we were.
But all in all, the raspa was worth it.

26 July 2017


Recipe for One Good Day-
Morning latte,
Hatch Green Chile Egg Potato Sausage breakfast taco,
Morning shared in Reynosa with the best company, the best,
Bridge line confessions,
Bookstore escape with only one title,
Spinach Mushroom Piadina,
New library card (which deserves it's own post. The friendliest customer service, bright light crisp, a new book to go, and MORE OVERDRIVE!! Yes, this is true- not the dream where I wake up and owe money...),
Wish shopping,
Making her new purchase fit in the back,
Large unsweet tea with lemon,
11 hours uninterrupted,
Home again, home again,
Back down the road,
New shower curtain and bath mat,
Steak with my favorite electrician,
Home again, home again.

Finish heart happy and deeply content.


Creature of habit, soul food came in walking through the back door and waving to my favorite peeps and finding my place at the table for prayer. The apex of the day certainly peaked with worship. And once that finished, everything else happened blurry slow. Who knew that PBS could be such great white noise, the background soundtrack to an afternoon of dozing? My perspective stayed horizontal for a good piece of the day, and that was just right.


You visit the earth and water it;
    you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
    you provide their grain,
    for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
    settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
    and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
    your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
    the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
    the valleys deck themselves with grain,
    they shout and sing together for joy.

- Psalm 65:9-13 (ESV)

He lifted read the verses and we remembered, "Oh yes, this is all grace." Then he lifted his hands and prayed. We all gave thanks for the fruit we were about to pick. The harvest this year certainly overflowed in abundance. The grapes hung heavy on the vines, intertwined bunches waiting to be extracted. The presence of the wasps and hornets and bees gave testimony to the juicy sweetness of the fruit. We filled bucket after bucket, and remarked again and again, "What bounty!" After a couple hours of searching and snipping, covered with sweat and a coat of dust, we finished. Our fingers were stained purple red and our toes showed splatters of grape juice. We smiled and rejoiced with those who rejoice. We shout and sing together for joy.


This day started early, before sunrise, and from then on, everything happened slow and deliberate, checking off one box and then another. But "deliberate" must also include recognizing ordinary grace- like fresh sweet cherries for a great price in the produce section, and "why don't I take you out?" from my guy when it came time to make dinner.

22 July 2017


For this is one of the miracles of love; it gives... a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.
To see, in some measure, like God. His love and His knowledge are not distinct from one another, nor from Him. We could almost say He sees because He loves, and therefore loves although He sees.
- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

19 July 2017


The good news- we added 20 new kids to the neighborhood VBS today. We scrambled to form a new group and create a new schedule. We snapped colored rubberbands around little and big wrists and tried to convince them that even if it wasn't their favorite color, it was still a good group. We wrote nametags and stuck them on shirts and then we wrote nametags again when their shirts got wet and again when their shirts got wet again. I looked down and now I think we will call the tile floor "Luis."

For three hours, the place was teeming with kids- sweet, naughty, active, wide-eyed, ever-thinking, "what comes next?", thirsty, neighborhood kids. It was all the chaos that you might imagine, and maybe then some more. They waved their arms and spun circles in dance. They ran and kicked and the littles played Pato, Pato, Ganso. They sweat. We sweat. They listened to the parable about the Pearl of Greatest Price. Well, sort of they listened...

They mixed granola and butter and honey and toasted it all up. They added the hidden treasure of M&M's and craisins and filled bags with trail mix. Little kids were separated from their groups and returned to their groups and middle boys wanted a different group and the big boys were too cool for their group today. Was it the sugar? Maybe no M&M's and craisins tomorrow...

But in one place, everyone sat and hardly even spoke. Unlike anywhere else in the building, calm permeated the room- the Art Room. Almost without exception, the kids storm into the Art Room, and then settle. Today they painted treasure boxes, and plain wood was transformed with rainbow bright hues. Little boys stuck out their tongues in Michael Jordan-like concentration. The helpers refilled paper plate palettes with color. They praised the efforts of the artists and thanked them when they finished, almost oblivious to the pandemonium below. Art. We are keeping art.

And prayer. We are keeping prayer. Because in all the smiles and in the tears today, we recognize as much as ever that we are not enough. Yet, even in the chaos, we see Jesus here. So we pray, Lord, give us all ears to hear and eyes to see and a mind to understand, just as you hear and see and understand us. Help us to know your still, quiet peace in the midst of the all the wild activity around us. Enlarge our hearts to love just as you love us.

18 July 2017


From nearly clear skies, the sun beats super hot at midday and hardly a soul is to be found. Yet these volunteers persevere, measuring and re-measuring to prepare for the new soccer goals to come. Modest shack-like homes line the back of the fields. My teammate told me that he met a local resident with a Lipizzaner horse, high-stepping and trotting through his paces on the very same ground. He was invited into the rider's home, and shown the fine leather saddles and told about the travels he takes and where he buys his steeds. We are reminded, again, we can never take this place for granted.


"It's a fixer-upper," we might say with a grin. Ordinary description doesn't really do the property justice- this little house made into a duplex. It sits at the end of a road in a less than desirable Reynosa neighborhood. Pass the house on a dusty little street heading west and gun up a short steep hill and you'll find yourself at the top of a levy, looking at a complex of dirt playing fields. If you were to travel as the crow flies, in less than a half a mile, you'd find yourself at the city dump. Inevitably, piles of trash litter the side of the road, along with the evidence of charred garbage and the discarded soda bottles and chip wrappers that serve as staples of the local diet.

The house itself, it's not much to speak of, really. The front door opens to the entryway living room. A few steps more and you pass a bathroom that's being restored and continue to a corner bedroom. The kitchen is, um, unique. The walls display no less than four styles of tile. The counter tops are granite, yes, but they came together through pieces and parts leftover from other jobs. The original wiring allowed one plug in each room, but our make-it-happen electrician friend is installing more boxes. (Can I mention how grateful I am to have an electrician friend? And friends who tile bathrooms? And who paint walls? And who paint fences? And who clean up yards? And who donate furniture? And who pray?)

Then there's the little structure at the back of the property. We know that the owner has used the brick ovens to roast pig. There's an abandoned band saw in the corner. All manner of trash has been removed. Surely bugs and rodents must hide in the crevices, yet undetected.As grubby and dark as the picture shows, cobwebs knit into dusty cobwebs. Yet, the window set into the top of the wall allows streams of sunlight to expose this place. It is a work in progress, but slowly the glow of light filters out the darkness.

17 July 2017


Some days are
morning latte,
unsweet tea with lemon,
iced coffee with room,
large diet coke,
keep something cold and wet in your hand,
all the day long.

16 July 2017


Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
    and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
And the effect of righteousness will be peace,
    and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
    in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

- Isaiah 32:16-18 (ESV)

15 July 2017


Far and wide they’ll come to a stop,
    they’ll stare in awe, in wonder.
Dawn and dusk take turns
    calling, “Come and worship.”

- Psalm 65:8 (The Message)

I looked up and the pink-peach-coral glow called me and up and out and a photo does not do justice to the glory of it all. For a few minutes, we could forget the humid dusty heat of the day to yet to come, forget the hard stories that would bring us to tears, forget the cacophony of the noise of life in this place, and just put our eyes on Him who created all things.
And it was good.

12 July 2017


Meet Todd the blond mutt. As of today, Todd is bilingual- because he heard a "No" and "Get out!" about a thousand times today. Repetition, repetition, repetition is the key to learning a new language.

Now, although we feel bad that this dog is mangy and underfed and looks at us with incredibly pathetic eyes, still, Todd's a dog. And when he finally wanders away down the street, I didn't stew over it very long.

But, in the last few days, I've seen people and heard stories that I will remember much, much longer. I've seen sick and sad little kids- a tot with impetigo, and a few broken collarbones that are healing, and sores that are not. I've met young teen girls that have experienced more in their short lives then any adult should ever know. A woman stepped on the scale and weighed 80 pounds and turned her eyes down in shame. I have double checked blood pressure readings and blood sugar levels because they just seemed much too high to be correct, though they were. I checked in a man who had tattoos on his entire body, no kidding- every piece of skin I could see, face included. We wonder about relationships that seem questionable at best.

I listened to a pretty long story about a man's job history and on the job injury and problems with the national health system and current unemployment and homelessness, in Spanish. Then he told me that he had retired from an auto plant in the States, in Spanish. "Why am I speaking to you in Spanish?," I asked him, in English. "I don't know," he answered, in perfect English. We both smiled big and then laughed out loud. I listened to an older woman who has lived in the area for more years than she remembers, most of those years working in the Zona Tolerancia down the street. But now, she told me with a content smile while holding my hand like the grandma she is, she is old and single and she's quite content to be married to Jesus. Oh yes, even among the hard, there has been plenty of sweet, babies and elderly ladies that are adorable, doctors who share good news, hearts that have been softened and soothed in counsel and prayer.

But Todd? Well, our hands are pretty full. Maybe Todd can find another place to hang out.


My teammate first saw the idea on the Internet. To be clear, he gets lots of ideas on the Internet. If we were counting, I'd guess that the majority of time when he sticks his phone in front of us and says, "Watch THIS!," we nod and then wait and then laugh out loud, loudly. Sometimes we say, "We could do that!," but really it might be a Pinterest Fail just waiting to happen. But sometimes we say, "WOW! That's cool! We should do that here."

This time, Ryan really made it happen.

You think potholes are bad where you live? Sure, they probably are, for a season. But those of you living in the States, if you complain, the city will mostly likely send a crew out to fix them and then you forget that they ever were. That doesn't happen here. Potholes, or rather- avoiding potholes, become part of the daily obstacle course of life. Another teammate (and lest we be accused of cultural insensitivity- he's Mexican), tired of the jarring hits on his car, decided we could start filling the potholes in the neighborhood. And last summer, that's what we did. With the help of crews from our short-term summer teams, we hit the streets and mixed up concrete and starting filling holes.

Then sometime in the winter, we saw the video. It showed examples of folks in other places topping off pothole repairs with mosaic art. That was a natural for this place.

We started making art with our neighborhood kids a year ago. In that time they have created drawings and paintings and self-portraits and collages of all sorts. This time, we are taking their art to the street; really, laying the art into the street and capping off the pothole repairs with the mosaic tiles. Over the course of this summer, we have laid down tiles with Esperanza and Gozo and Amor, literally bringing hope and joy and love into our neighborhood roads. Our kids and volunteers have designed flowers and ice cream cones and animals and abstract colorful designs. We are patching our streets with beauty. 

Street art doesn't last. It's temporal. Cars drive over our art and the tiles crack and will eventually disintegrate. And maybe, then, we'll do it again all over again. But no matter, the message we keep is from Him who is eternal, the Creator of all things who made us in His image to create. We can tell our kids that He too is making all things new and that our Jesus, he does not disappoint. And whether in the street or anywhere else, that is the most beautiful message of all.

11 July 2017


We opened the doors for the medical clinic at 9 and already a couple of patients were waiting. Today we saw 60-something people come through our gate: babes, tots, kids, youth, adults, elderly, men, women, familiar faces and others completely new to us. These servant doctors and nurses and helpers allow us to invite our neighborhood in to receive very practical helps. They give us yet another means to love our neighbors.  We heard stories and symptoms of all sorts of aches and pains, physical diseases and spiritual ills, too. We pumped up cuffs for blood pressure readings and measured pulse ox levels and poked fingers for sugar tests. We dispensed vitamins and meds that had been prescribed and ran labs and watched super cool portable sonogram procedures. So many more consultations and procedures took place in privacy, our community center transformed into examination rooms. We prayed with the hurting and their family members and asked for healing in Jesus name.

We are broken people who met broken people today- physically hurting yes, and spiritually fractured too, and that is humbling. At the end of the day, we know that there is so much more left to do . And even so, at the end of the day, we know our Jesus and know He is enough.


Summer Sunday habits-
early quiet if not for the chatter of waking birds,
eggs and beans,
worship and "Dios te bendiga" and kisses on the cheek,
pollo asado and rice and banana pudding,
avoiding potholes and keeping the distance right and a drive past fields and bones and young people as the dj,
lazy look shopping and "gracias, no" and small buys,
Topo Chico with lime and topos and Spanish peanuts and lounge music and random sports on tv while sitting with friends in a smoky bar,
BLT in the kitchen,
an exchange of text and "not restful but rested."

09 July 2017


The great mistake made by most of the Lord's people is in hoping to discover in themselves that which is to be found in Christ alone.
- AW Pink (as found in Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges)

08 July 2017


I see the bright yellow plane swoop down behind the tree line, and I drive ahead to the roadside edge of the cotton field. I recognize the craft and I know the pilot and I pull over and get out to watch. Puffy clouds stacked high against the bright blue sky provide a technicolor backdrop to the show. The hum of the airplane engine gives narration to the unnatural maneuvers over power lines and across the green of the ground. The plane glides low before powering up and turning wide for another pass. I am mesmerized.

If only I didn't keep the smell of chemicals after the display...


Never take for granted the friends who let you invite yourself over to their outside-the-city-limits home to blow up your leftover not-advised-for-the-cul-de-sac fireworks.
Never take for granted the friends who zealously stuff the back of the Normandy full of grass and paper to get the box to light, and who risk life and limb to rip open hot cardboard to find the hidden fuse.
Never take for granted the friends who cheer when the spark finally flies and who whoop when the mini tank rolls off the deck and onto the asphalt.
Never take for granted the friends who use up a full pack of matches to light the Flying Pig because you were too cheap to buy a punk.
Never take for granted the friends who yelp as loud as you do when the Ladybug screams into the air and at the same time, are thinking how to put out a potential grass fire when it lands on the opposite side of the canal.
Never take for granted the friends who laugh with you and love you well.
Those friends, they are golden.

05 July 2017


Some people like the pop-pop-pop of the Roman candle, bursts of color exploding in the air. Kids of all ages enjoy waving the sparklers, using neon script to write their name in the air. The changing colors of the fountains always bring an oooh and an aaah. My dog, he could do without, running to get closer to us in shaking tremors at the first whistle of explosives in flight.

But me, my favorite? The Fire Engine. Have you seen it? It's just a little box, a red cardboard rendition on tiny black plastic wheels. But the entertainment value of this little guy? Super high! You first light fuse at the back and the truck propels forward with a stream of red flame sizzling out the back. Next the headlights light up bright, complete with sparks; then the top siren neon lights fire up. And finally, best of all, the ladder on the top pops up!

Last year, I bought fireworks, but then we never used them. We really aren't supposed to light up inside the city limits where I live. We got home late after the party last year and deemed my quiet cul-de-sac much too still for pyrotechnics. My birthday was the next likely date, but something happened and the displays never were set.  So they waited patiently in a plastic bag on top of the freezer, pink sticks peeking out in ready anticipation. This Independence Day, I used up my last Fire Engine, and immediately, I wished I could watch in delight one more time. So I quickly scooted over to the nearby stand to get another before the clock struck midnight. Alas, "We didn't get that one this year." No Fire Truck for sale?!

You are missing out, Black Cat.

04 July 2017


I once had a friend who, when talking about her growing kids, would be known to say, "THIS is my favorite age!" The rest of us moms finally made her confess that, really, every age was her favorite age. That's how I feel about my own age. Today I was thinking, I love being this age. My family is generally at a good place in life. I have lots of memories and experiences, and have the confidence of trusting our God's faithfulness in those yet to come. I'm ok with "my style," whatever that means, and go figure, my gray hairs are surprisingly hip these days. I have freedom in my days and can even fill in as a babysitter in a last moment pinch. I have even learned to smile at "for everything there is a season...," a place where I have been known to grumble for many years. My favorite age is now.

03 July 2017


At least a dozen gradually softening tubs of creamy cold goodness, cavity sweet toppings, syrups and whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Tables full of young to old, sharing stories and telling tales.
I dare to dream that eternity will be something akin to this, sitting around with my favorite saints, with nowhere else we need to be.
And maybe a mug of coffee in hand, besides.


The sun radiated white bright and white hot. The long days of the last week wore us down a bit and at the very first misunderstanding, our words came out swift and short and searing. My first choice would be to run and hide but that's not a choice this day. And of course, it has to be a day like this when I find myself smack in the middle of a book on transforming grace...

     "I need to be broken apart and put back into a different shape by that merging of things human and divine, which is really screwing up and receiving grace and love and forgiveness rather than receiving what I really deserve. I need the very thing that I will do everything I can to avoid needing.
     The sting of grace is not unlike the sting of being loved well, because when we are loved well, it is inextricably linked to all the times we have not been loved well, all the times we ourselves have not loved others well, and all the things we've done or not done that feel like evidence against our unworthiness. Love and grace are such deceivingly soft words- but they both sting like hell and then go and change the shape of our hearts and make us into something that we couldn't create ourselves to be."
- Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber