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29 August 2017


We woke up in an almost embarrassingly dry place while the storm continued to rage only a couple of hours to the north. We watched the scenes of destruction on TV and waited for word from family members in vulnerable places. And we watched. And we waited. We received text from other family members wanting news, and we had virtually none to share. 

Finally, realizing that watching was doing nothing, I did something. I made breakfast. Even if I can do nothing to change the weather, I can feed the people with me. I beat eggs into white peaks. I measured and remeasured and measured the flour again, distractedly losing track of how many cups I dumped into the bowl. We watched the batter ooze from the sides of the waffle irons (yes, our family is a two-iron family), and waited on the tell-tale beep of the ready alarm. I stacked waffles, steaming, toasted golden brown.

And then, I prayed. I think sometimes I have been tempted to think it's just prayer, the lesser action to really doing something. Yet, aren't we encouraged, even commanded to do just that? "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God," writes Paul in Philippians 4:6. This morning brought so much to be thankful and yet, so much to plea. It is good to do something.

27 August 2017


"You are not taking this seriously," they accuse  me as the tropical depression turned tropical storm threatens to morph again into Hurricane Harvey. At this point it seems rather unlikely that we will be affected with more than rain. OK sure, maybe a good amount of rain, but still... However, there's little that I dislike more than two united teenagers telling me "I told you so." Therefore, when our city opens up opportunity to get free sandbags, I agree; yes, we should go pick up our ration.

My concerned weather-watchers and I hop in the car and drive over to the city building complex, where a surprisingly long line of cars has formed down the the shoulder of the highway. Having an appointment in 30 minutes, I almost drive away. But willing to give it a try and not wanting to be chastised, we queue up. The line moves with unexpected efficiency. We never even have to get out of the car, rolling forward to show our address, rolling forward to get the mark on the windshield, rolling forward to receive our sandbag allotment, rolling forward to thank the workers. We are back on the road with 10 minutes to spare. Once home, we strategically place our six bags of sand. Six doesn't seem like much. Will six sacks of sand stop a flood? Surely our house wouldn't flood...?

I err and turn on talk radio. Never underestimate the power of disaster semi-hysteria. It will make you question everything that you think you know to be enough. We go to our usual spot to fill our water jugs and they are out of water. We make a second successful stop, and then calculate how much water that would give each of us. I start to doubt its sufficiency. I look at the gas gauge on each car with a leery eye. I think Sam's Club to be just the destination, our one-stop fill up  and pantry reinforcement location. But the line for gas extends around the perimeter of the parking lot. And the bottled water is sold out. I ask my daughter if we need more bread, and decide our stock is fine. But then I turn the corner and the bread racks are empty and I start to doubt. Maybe I do need more bread?! And now I can't get it?! Surely I need more pita chips? And don't we need a box of canned tomatoes, a flat of Cup O' Noodles? I don't even like Cup O' Noodles. Wait! Cup O' Noodles needs water! I buy a case of Topo Chico, our favorite carbonated mineral water, and package of 16 hamburger buns to compensate. And another bottle of wine. Just in case.

We learn that our university bound daughter can't move in, her school straight in the projected path of the storm. We learn that the school campus is closed indefinitely. We learn that our daughter and son-in-law living north of us have to evacuate and are coming south. We learn that our friend's condo on South Padre Island needs to be checked. We do what we can do and we wonder if it is enough. Everywhere we go, the talk is of the storm. How big will it be? How long will it last? Where will it go? We check the radar again. We make chocolate chip cookie bars. We wait.

We arrive at the island and stop and breathe in the calm before the storm. The water has begun to churn, and even so, a few still linger on the beach. The sky and the water take on dark jewel tones, and the clouds hover ominously, and still, I am tempted, almost mesmerized, to stay, to sit from a 5th floor vantage point and watch the coming torrent move forward. We shake off the irrational allure and head back west across the causeway, noticing boards going up on store windows, noticing emergency workers starting to strategically stage their vehicles.

The night passes peacefully. At the daybreak the sky shows itself cloudy, but barely a sprinkle of rain splashes on the windshield. Hardly a stiff breeze blows in a place where strong winds are commonplace. And yet, on the radar Harvey looms ominous, ever creeping slowly slowly to the coast.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by.

Psalm 57:1

(update: Harvey decided not to visit the Rio Grande Valley, not a bit. Now we have a lot of water and a some like new sandbags to show for it. The difference of 150 miles seems incredulous as we watch the storm reports from places north and look at the sun outside our windows. We pray for friends in dangerous places. My girls are still waiting. We will forever take refuge in our God, in the shadow of his wings.)


The buzz and chirp of cicadas and the hum of Norteño tunes and the rumble of traffic a few blocks over play the soundtrack for our midday stroll through the 'hood. Sometimes I remember more than others that I am not in the United States. Unlike my more traditional suburban Texas neighborhood, this place is commuter friendly. You find most people on foot, maybe on a bike, in this place. The kids see us coming and shout out our names. We stop every few houses to greet someone and share with them the news. We step into the little corner stores that must number in the dozens and tell them what is happening. We help to tape posters on walls and light posts. We meet men and women on the sidewalks and share a bulletin. We see dogs in the street and cats in trees and pigs tied up behind a fence. We notice a aviary full of parakeets and canaries, their blue and green and yellow bright plumage a flash of color under the eaves. We wait for others to talk and look for shade, backing up against a wall for a bit of shelter from the sun. 

We are messengers today, ambassadors of sorts. Doctors without Borders will be using our community center for a weekly health clinic, and we want our neighbors to know. "Medical aid where it is needed most," touts the Medicos sin Fronteras website. A multinational humanitarian organization, Doctors without Borders came to Mexico "to provide medical and psychosocial support for Central American migrants and refugees, as well as local communities affected by violence." And they want to be in our neighborhood, because though we often think of it only as home, we also remain ever aware that it is a cross point for migration and a place where trauma is never far away. 

In Romans 12 we are instructed, "Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." Our constant prayer is to bring and share the gospel of peace and hope to this place. On this bright blue day, hopefully we did just a little bit of that.

25 August 2017


We learned early that 1000 miles separated us from the Path of Totality, and so, catching Eclipse Fever came slow. In fact we sort of ignored all the hype. I only saw one display for the Special Viewing Glasses, at Lowe's Home Improvement of all places, and it stood empty. Fail to plan, plan to fail, says the old adage. "$14.98" read the tag. "No way!" said I. Before I gave in to prescription lenses, I wouldn't pay more than $10 bucks for sunglasses. $14.98 for a one time two minute event? 

But then, the day of came, and it was hard not to at least give it a try. You friends in Oregon and Nebraska and South Carolina. You who made pilgrimages. You who hosted Eclipse Viewing Parties. You who bought Moon Pies and Sun Drop soda and Eclipse gum. Your excitement was contagious. Suddenly I couldn't NOT at least give it a try. 

We don't have any welding masks lying around. The girls laughed at my suggestions of the Box Over the Head viewer, and we didn't have any cardboard around anyway. I read mixed review of the Selfie View of the Sun. I wasn't even sure we had plain white paper. And so I begged a short stack of leftover paper food trays from a friend, and carried them home. We found a safety pin and poked holes in the middle and hoped for the best.

15 minutes or so before peak, we went out and laid down in the middle of the street, holding the trays up to the sky, trying to get the sun shadow to show. And amazingly, it did! That turned out to be a pretty good thing, because about a minute later, a storm cloud moved past and settled right in front of the sun. Apparently the clouds, who have rarely made an appearance for months, didn't get the Cloud Parking Restriction- Big Event Solar Eclipse Today memo. 

Look at that itsy-bitsy tiny little crescent. We geeked out. 
Can you imagine what we would have been doing with a total eclipse?

I confess, I watched the news guys as the sun bisected the nation. I saw the sky darken in Wyoming and heard the crowds scream. I saw the photos of the Diamond Ring and Bailey's Beads. I found myself jealous of nifty crescent shadows across cement driveways. I even performed the requisite chorus of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." In all honesty, I don't think it was quite the same awe inspiring experience.

In her essay recounting an earlier event, "Total Eclipse," Annie Dillard wrote, "A partial eclipse is very interesting. It bears almost no relation to a total eclipse. Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane."

But when it's all you've got...


My girls have teased me that they don't need me to arrange play dates anymore. They are absolutely correct. I have ceded that task. But I'm thankful that I've had just a few more occasions to see them gather with their friends, the parents of their friends also my own friends, before they officially start a new chapter of life. On this night it was tacos and s'mores, even on a 90 degree August evening. On this night it was the youth outside, and around the fire, and obediently tolerating posing for the moms photos. On this night it was my friends around the table indoors and teens floating in and out. On this night it was the blessing of knowing that these are the people who will continue to pray, who encourage my kids to walk well, who point my kids to Christ. And on this night, it was also a gooey marshmallow on a melting square of chocolate between two crispy grahams.


The day starts as always, at the desk, with a cuppa, in early quiet. The annual plan leads me to James, and nearly first thing, I read "But he gives more grace..." On this day, perhaps that reminder serves as a touchstone, the standard by which everything else can be measured.

I have plans for this day. I have calculated the hours and my hopes soar high- a lot to be accomplished today, I am sure. Early, with the sun bright but not too far overhead, I exit my neighborhood and drive almost without thinking to pick up my friend, my partner in the morning activities. She has gifted us an old wooden cabinet, to be used as a wardrobe in our Mexico house. Disassembled and waiting transport across the border, today is the day.

The chickens squawk in her yard, always moving, and the dogs watch at the fence, tails wagging, as I back the behemoth tan van into the driveway. We load it up, sliding and stacking hard wood pieces and planks through the creaky doors, a puzzle awaiting reassembly. A quick stop to fill the tank and we head west and then eventually point south.

Crossing into Mexico is commonplace for me, but still, I whisper a prayer that the passage might be smooth today. We pay the toll, "Comprobante, por favor," and enter the bridge over the river, cruising past commuters making their way to the States. Stopping at customs control on the Mexican side, we hope AVANCE, for the green light to go ahead. We get the red light and pull forward to the right. The customs official asks us to unlock the doors and looks in the back. We wait in silence, watching in the rear view mirror to see what's next. I am ever aware that I am the sojourner, the guest here, at the mercy of this official. "This is wood. For what is the wood? Where are you going?," he questions us. Yes it is wood, I agree. We hear an explanation, that we should pay a customs fee for the wood, though I explain that it's not lumber, it's a cabinet, used, ready to be reassembled. There is silence. "Well, this time you can go, but next time you need to pay." "Sí, claro que sí, muchas gracias," I tell him, while thinking, "there will be no next time."
But he gives more grace.

We wind our way to our little house, the river visible through the brush, cows grazing by the side of the road, dust kicking up alongside. They are burning at the dump today and the stale smell of smoke hangs in the air. Here too, the dogs come to greet us and we can hear the chickens cluck and peep and cackle behind the wall next door. I start a pot of coffee, remembering the water from the refrigerator and not filling the pot at the sink We unload the boards, ready to play carpenter.

My friend, she starts sanding rough edges, determined that this aged piece will once again look presentable in our house. She makes me promise to paint the boards once we are finished, and I agree, though I can't imagine being bothered a bit by some nail scarred planks in my room. Those scars tell a story, I think. We begin the process of assembly. We hammer and square and hammer some more when we don't hit the nail square on the head. The vibrations reverberate off the concrete block walls. I close my eyes to the pounding. Finally we are ready to lift the skeleton upright.

But here's the rub. Either the floors, or the ceiling, or both, slope because the very tight clearance becomes none once the frame stands erect. Well, not quite erect. We ponder how to fix it, and come upon a plan without the base, giving us a few more inches clearance. We pound some more, one handing nails, one hammering, like the most violent surgeon and her assistant.  My friend, the mastermind, steps back and quietly studies our work and realizes, this is not going to work. We  scheme some more and hatch up Plan B. We pull nails and rearrange boards and lift and scoot and move the base into place underneath and pummel the nails once again. Victory.
But he gives more grace.

We finish the work in the bedroom and move to the kitchen where the same crooked conundrum waits.  We give up early on the second cabinet, realizing the sun is high and our time is short and the bridge line is long and what we really need here is a table saw. We clean up dust and put away tools and lock up doors and chain gates and finally pull away. It requires some navigation to get to the bridge, construction detours along the way. I count pesos for a toll, inching slowlyslowly towards the Ready Lane, weekend traffic queued deep.  We talk through the wait, pondering life and our God and our call. The words come effortlessly, but we also know the ease of comfortable silence, and can speak volumes to the other with only a look. We have few boundaries, yet know how to navigate the hard places gently. We have known each other a lot of years, and have earned unusual and extraordinary trust, a rare privilege in life to walk with a friend like this.
But he gives more grace.

We plan a quick stop for ice tea and a sandwich. Once across the border and back in US cell phone range, my friend's phone lights up, the text and message boxes filling in an instant. A message from our dear widow friend comes through; she is frustrated with computer problems. We will pass her exit soon and can make a quick bypass along the way. We enter her little house and crowd in her bedroom to assess the problem. My friend taps this and that on the keyboard, without success. We look for Internet help, and still, the wheel on the screen spins. A few glimmers of hope, but no real progress, we concede, again, that perhaps we aren't enough. We promise to find help and leave with a hug.
But he gives more grace.

The day ends well, though perhaps not the way I envisioned it might be. Cabinets left unfinished, tasks in progress, work at home yet to start. And yet tomorrow holds the promise of sabbath rest and my heart is full.
But he gives more grace. 

22 August 2017


In dog years, he counts something around 84, we suppose, though there remains some dispute that it could be closer to 91. He naps a good many hours a day, moving from the expected back of the couch or curled up in a chair to a hidden corner behind a side table or next to the toilet. Yes, the toilet. We can't figure that one out either.
He lived a bit of a sad existence through the summer, when most of us were away and we had to count on the kindness of friends to feed and water and love on him when we weren't. He became a bit neglected, smelling doggydog, hindquarters a bit matted, beard a bit disheveled.

Therefore, it was time for a long overdue spa day at home, a gotta-get-him-cleaned-up-before-we-can-pay-to-get-him-groomed, makeover. He tolerated the wash and spin cycle well. Of course, he ran around like a pup once released from the tub, rubbing himself caddywhompus on the entryway rug, siding back and forth against the couch, shaking and spraying innocent kitchen bystanders. We left him to dry on his own. But once his fur lost the wet, he couldn't avoid the inevitable brushing. We fluffed and detangled and cut out knots, one set of hands at work on the coat, the other set petting and restraining and calming him, all while whispering sweet nothings like "you're such a good boy." He remains a patient pup, with a very short memory and awfully forgiving towards his people.

The end result?
Still in need of help. But awfully cute while waiting.

20 August 2017


I pulled off the blacktop and into the shoulder and rolled down the window and tried to get the steer to look my way. He did, and he looked rather annoyed at the intrusion on his mid-afternoon stroll.
Really, I can hardly blame him...

Sure, the skies are clear and the view is sublime, but does a care even care? Certainly, cows feel the August heat too, don't they? I keep wondering, when the sun beams hot overhead, when there's no shade in these south Texas fields, where there's not a drop of water nearby, when the grass is on the driest side of green, do the cows think, "Psheesh. I'm over this whole summer thing..."

Or do they just graze and sometimes stop to look up at the crazy lady on the side of the road?


O God beyond all praising,
we worship you today
and sing the love amazing
that songs cannot repay;
for we can only wonder
at every gift you send,
at blessings without number
and mercies without end:
we lift our hearts before you
and wait upon your word,
we honour and adore you,
our great and mighty Lord.
Then hear, O gracious Saviour,
accept the love we bring,
that we who know your favour
may serve you as our king;
and whether our tomorrows
be filled with good or ill,
We'll triumph through our sorrows
and rise to bless you still:
to marvel at your beauty
and glory in your ways,
and make a joyful duty
our sacrifice of praise.
"O God Beyond All Praising," Michael A. Perry (1982)


Turns out that maybe watching the previous evening's nightly news might not be the most peaceful start to the day. We got all riled up over the headlines, and we both started talking back to the screen and to each other. Things besides coffee might rapidly accelerate your heart rate in the morning.

Just in case anyone would be wondering, although I know that the ugly beauty of the United States Constitution gives Americans the right to freedom of speech, I believe any and all white supremacist nationalist groups and their vitriolic expressions of hate should be condemned, quickly, consistently and zealously, by our leaders and by our own words and actions. Violence of any kind should be handled swiftly, as a matter of enforcing the law.

A few days ago, reflecting on the events in Charlottesville and the current climate in the United States, Pastor Kevin DeYoung wrote, "So no matter how far we’ve come, or how loudly we denounce racism, we have to realize that the pride of racial superiority is still sin, and it’s still with us. Even on our best days--as a country, as the church, and as individuals--it’s still the case that the worst days weren’t that long ago. For some, they were just last weekend." In a letter published in the Washington Post, the president of World Relief, Scott Arbiter wrote, "Claiming the supremacy of any race is an affront to God." I serve and worship the Lamb who was slain for every nation, tribe and tongue.

16 August 2017


This kid. He's the tag along little brother. He's the youngest among the kids that gather for community outreach, by at least five years. He holds his own. He is all lime green right now. Dressed in lime green. Coloring with lime green. Always wanting to hold a green lime. He has a strong arm. If you aren't paying attention, that lime might whiz past your ear, a fastball in the making. He will play catch with you for a good long while, until he figures out that he can launch the lime over the fence into the neighbor's yard and you figure out that "No" is probably not warning enough. His name fits him perfectly, as he is really quite a teddy bear.

We're going through the Lord's Prayer right now with these kids, teaching it line by line. Really, those petitions sum up what we are praying for each one of them. We're praying that they would know the Lord's will in their lives; that they would be kingdom servants and leaders. We're praying that they would know His sufficiency day by day; that they would not be tempted by the momentary pleasures of the world around them. We're praying that they would be protected from evil. We're praying that they would love the Lord and that they would love others and that they would know that they are children of the King.
We're praying for them just as we pray for our own kids.

15 August 2017


"You're not from here," said the checkout guy, as he looked skeptically at the two thick red-green stalks. "Only people from up north buy this."

Yeah. No kidding. One time, oh, seven and more years ago, my friends would beg me to take a bagful home from church, the garden bounty they were delighted to share. On Saturday (my Nebraska and Iowa friends, please sit down because you will gasp and need a deep breath...) I paid an obscene $4.98 a pound for that south Texas produce rarity. Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? It is rhubarb.

Honestly, it wasn't a choice. Because what says summer better than Strawberry-Rhubarb pie?

I don't remember eating rhubarb as a kid growing up in New Mexico. My Grandma Cole was a pie maker extraordinaire, so surely she would have made that variety... But I remember the first time I had Strawberry-Rhubarb pie. I think it was the summer before 5th grade. It was brought over as dessert for a meal from friends when my Grammy died. I sat at the table downstairs and watched the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, and ate pie. Apparently this kid didn't lose her appetite easily. A pie never tasted so very good.

I can't remember how old I was when I started climbing on the kitchen step stool chair to be right next to my grandma while she made pies. And then I married into a family with Grandma Lorraine, the pie-making matriarch who delighted to share her crust recipe with an interested granddaughter-in-law. But it took moving to the Midwest before Strawberry-Rhubarb got back in the rotation. (cue "happy baking music") Really, tell me what's not to like about rhubarb? Rhubarb pie, rhubarb cake, rhubarb pastries, rhubarb punch... rhubarb all summer long.

Then we moved to the US/Mexico border. (cue "screeching halt")
Which brings us to the moment of The Happy Dance in the HEB produce section when on a Saturday rhubarb makes its surprise annual appearance.
Even if it is $4.98 a pound.

It was worth it.

(Here's the recipe that guided me this year- Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Improved. But (confession), I changed my usual crust recipe for all-butter and regretted it. You're right, Grandma Lorraine- it's got to be Crisco.)



"To encourage one another to pray is not legalism; it is breathing."
- Gloria Furman, Missional Motherhood


13 August 2017


A whole list of places would be preferable but for now, she's pretty much stuck in this one. My friend smiles wide when we enter, and we find a wall to lean on and a corner of the bed to occupy. She updates us on this and that and shares a few stories of time past. I want to remember how pleased she was with a hot cup of coffee and a visit from her pastor and a few friends and a book at her side. I am still working on that "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."


Somewhere far down the coast, the tempest raged, dark and wet and gusty, I know. But here, the tall clouds on the horizon looked to be only a beautiful warning of the coming storm. We didn't yet know what it would look like.

And isn't this all of life? Isn't always there some storm in route, if not already tossing around us?And yet, "In the middle of the pain of life in a fallen world, we groan with hope, knowing that when the new creation does come in its fullness, then all our groaning will not be remembered."
(Gloria Furman, Missional Motherhood

I keep my eyes fixed on the horizon of eternity.

10 August 2017


We walked maybe 10 yards before we spotted our first and second and third chacalaca, those chubby dusty brown birds scavenging under the low shrubs outside the Visitor's Center. Several hours later, we had spotted at least a dozen more bird species, overhead and in the trees. Lizards, long and short, fat and small, zip across our path, at least every couple of minutes. Rabbits and squirrels hop and skip on the trail, and then stop wide-eyed as if they are surprised to see us. Butterflies and moths flutter by along the way. We wonder where the ocelot and jaguarundi might be hiding to watch us. Spanish moss hangs thick and heavy and a bit gloomy. The Sighting of the Day must be the Very Impressive Blue Indigo snake, dark and thick and long and hustling, slithering to get out of our way. We see scat, full of seed, and wonder what animal could be responsible for littering the trails. We visit a cemetery full of wooden crosses, graves one hundred years old.

We spent the morning at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, a federally managed park that nestles right up to the US/Mexico border at the Rio Grande river in south Texas. The morning sun burned bright hot as it moved overhead. Cicadas played the high-pitched whine and click soundtrack to our hike. We saw just two other people for most the morning, although I've read that 165,000 visitors arrive at the park each year. It's a gem of a place, a place where you cannot help but recognize and be impressed by the stark and harsh beauty of this tropical dessert zone.

This still, beautiful place has been in the news recently. It has been marked as the site of the next border wall project. And frankly, that ires me greatly, for many reasons. I believe that there are better solutions to navigate immigration issues than with a fence across a wildlife refuge. I believe that other options can be found to truly improve our nation's security than to scar this land with a wall. I believe that we can be far more creative, much more resourceful, smarter and better stewards of the land, than to resort to fencing off this place.

John Muir, early advocate for the wilderness, wrote, “Everybody needs beauty...places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike.” I hope that the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge continues to be one of those places.

09 August 2017


The three days passed in a blink of the eye. Few things bring me more joy than spending time with these people. We shopped and sat and cooked and ate and worshipped and visited friends and played games and laughed and went to the movies and even managed to get in a hike. We did just enough. My peeps have a lot of personality (grin!). Together their similarities and differences and opinions and preferences weave a beautiful tapestry.  I love to listen to them and I love to watch them and I love to be with them. Though much too short, three days together is a pretty sweet gift. Thanks and I love you all muchly.


Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:23-26

08 August 2017


As far as birthdays go, it met the requirements for 49 years just fine. The commitments of the day require driving back and forth, more miles than I might have chosen, but with good company, the miles pass fast and turn it all to blessing. Catching up means trips to the store and the whole day there is the fighting off of the bug that all of us have seemed to catch. I fall asleep hard on the couch when I stop for just a moment. In the evening, we gather in mass for birthdays and farewells and just to be together. A mess of low country boil spills across brown paper coverings and tea spills on the floor. I find a soft chair to settle and then later move to the feet of friends. The kids groove behind the back lit screen, waving to create shadow dances and silent hand drama to entertain. And then finally, the glow of candles on a sticky sweet pan of cake, one for each of us, and another year begins. There is yet much to celebrate.


I realize that as I grow older, I anticipate the time together more. I found myself thinking about it throughout the day, looking forward to gathering for worship, to hearing the Word preached and proclaimed, to taking in the bread and the wine. In the communion service, especially, we remember Immanuel, God with us. I consider that perfect sacrifice made on my behalf, Christ died, his body broken, his blood poured out that I might live, and I am humbled to the core. Almost inexplicably, as we confess our unworthiness and proclaim Christ as Lord, he meets us there at the table again.

John Piper explains, "If we come to Christ over and over and say, "By this, O Christ, I feed on you. By this, O Jesus Christ, I nourish my life in you. By this I share in all the grace you bought for me with your own blood and body" - if we come to Christ over and over with this longing and this conviction in our heart: that here he nourishes us by faith, then the Lord's Supper will be a deep and wonderful act of worship. Nothing shows the worth and preciousness of Christ so much as when we come to him to feed our hungry souls."

So on this day in the afternoon heat, we gathered under the hum of fans. The buzz of the neighborhood continued all around us. The dogs settled at our feet. The littlest kids carried on in their play. And the rest of us paused and worshiped, recognizing the majesty and power of our God, confessing our unworthiness and receiving the assurance of forgiveness, and feasting on His grace that saves to the uttermost. 

06 August 2017


Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
- Ephesians 2:8-10 (The Message)

03 August 2017


Some moments are Bible study, sit alongside, listen, comfort, little kids, older faces, seeking, praying... is this the missionary life!
Some moments are raking, shoveling, trash in the yard, trash in the street, crazy broken phone, what are you trying to tell me, can you please say that again... is this the missionary life?


As each one began to fill the white sheet with sharpie sketch, we shook the rainbow hues out of the plastic container. What is it about that waxy scent that immediately conjures up years past? We spread the crayolas across the table and memories surface, of childhood school supplies when every point is shiny new, of my own little people gathered around the dining room table listening to the history reading for the day. We hope for those same feelings of safety and comfort in this place, where everyday hard is left outside the door. We hope for a place where kids come in and learn and create. We hope for a place where kids are simply kids, full of promise and confident in who He has made each one to be. On this day, the project was all silliness, but to see the smiles burst out at the surprise of the folds, that was all light.

02 August 2017


We wandered through the superstore and made a few small purchases. We exited and walked slowly in the afternoon heat, down the crowded sidewalk, shaking our heads at the offers for drinks, for prescription medications, for jewelry, for nopal, for toys, for clothing, for dental work. We crossed the ever dusty street in almost slow motion and made our way back to the smoky, dark cool of the lounge to wait. The Piano Lady played Strangers in the Night on her electric keyboard, bass pre-programmed, and a youth soccer game played on the big screen, crying parents celebrating their sons' victory. We ordered cold soft drinks, sweat running down the bottles, and poured them over tall glasses with big cubes of ice. We ate Spanish peanuts and chips covered with chili lime salt while sitting in low bucket swivel chairs at a short round table. In this place, the border fulfills exactly the stereotype you might imagine.

01 August 2017


For every beast of the forest is mine,
    the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
    and all that moves in the field is mine.

-Psalm 50:10-11

Another day bright and hot, and even sitting under cover, under fan, we feel the sweat form on our brow. I consider how very little is under my control, and fall again into prayer. And there I humbly remember that He who owns all the beasts of the field is completely trustworthy in our lives, too.