Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Living for Today

Ever sit back amazed at the way God answers your cries? I have spent the past 4 days in turmoil once again about what I should do with my future. I couldn't keep my mind from wandering to consider what was coming. I've longed to know how things are going to play out. Well also during these past 4 days I've experienced my first round of sickness since arriving in January and have started to have some troubles sleeping. Both of which are rare for me. So with each passing day the tired, stressed, cranky Ashley has begun to emerge more and more. In an attempt to refocus I grabbed my bible, journal, and Jen's ipod and retreated for a bit. I attempted once again at a few minutes of sleep and when that didn't work turned to the word. Wouldn't you know that within the letters of the pages I found comfort. The Psalms were full of promises for me. One of the first places I flipped to I read "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God, he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." You see fearful and anxious thoughts slip away while we are in His presence. I had forgotten this simple fact. Though I was still going to Him daily I was going with a troubled heart. I went begging for answers. However, I had to be reminded today that God created time as a protection for us. We are told to neither look behind or head but instead focus our attention on HIM. He knows what is coming and is preparing us for it with each passing moment. At some point I had stopped just living for this moment and had started to worry about all the ones that hadn't happened yet or even those that have long since passed. By doing this I had forgotten to live out the day that was right in front of me. Then as if He wanted to make sure HE really had my attention the song below started to play just as I was closing my bible. He never stops amazing me. It was as though I could feel His breath on my face as He leaned in close and gently whispered "I love you my sweet child and did not create you to worry about tomorrow. Cast your fears aside and let me handle your future. When will you learn to simply let your light shine for today and let me handle the rest?" Did I suddenly feel sleepy like I would finally be able to sleep through the Did all of my thoughts about the months ahead suddenly leave my mind as if they were never However, I found a sense of peace that tells me I need not worry about what is to come because MY God has gone before me as well as with me. He is holding my hand and leading me along the way. I pray that you all find the same peace. That if you too are struggling with what is to come that you seek wisdom not in my words but in the Word.

Sittin' in my room staring at the wall
Wonderin' about the meaning of it all
Why is it this thing called life
Has got me goin' crazy
So I open up your word and let it speak to me
The purpose and the plan that you've designed
Is clear to see, and I believe
I'm gonna live for today
I'm gonna follow in your way
I'm gonna let my little light shine
Like there's no tomorrow
I won't worry about the past
I know my future is intact
So I'll choose to live my life one way
I'm gonna live it for today
You told me not to worry
About what lies ahead
So I am gonna focus on today instead
Making every moment count and counting
Every single blessing
I'm gonna set my mind on the
Here and the Now
This is what I want my life to be about
And this is How...
(Repeat Chorus)

Monday, June 25, 2007


As promised I will finish the Santos blog that I started this time last week. I apologize that it has taken me this long to return to it. However, not only was it a very hard experience to process and put into words but also it has been a crazy busy week.
So at long last here is the much awaited story. As you all know from my previous post death here is done much differently than in the states. Monday’s experiences were just a brief glimpse of that. Tuesday morning Jen and I got up and got ready to head back to be with the family. We were not only attending the funeral but would be donating our services in any way that was needed. Once we had gotten ourselves in the car we headed to pick up a “few” others from our community that were wanting to come as well to pay their respects. However, when we pulled up to the spot where we were meeting them we found that “a few” was an understatement…there were about 12 or 13 others waiting there to ride with us. Without even batting an eye they did what I’m becoming accustom to calling the “Honduran way”….they packed into the van until there was barely any breathing room. Finally situated we headed back into the city. We arrived at the house around 1 and almost immediately Jen was asked to go with a couple of the guys to see about getting papers that were needed for the burial. Jen immediately looked to me to make sure that I would be fine by myself for awhile. Seeing my nod of assurance she quickly followed the men out the door to do what needed done. As I watched Jen climb back up the hill to the car it finally hit me that I was not only sitting grieving the loss of a great man but I was doing so completely surrounded by Honduran men and women. All of whom didn’t speak my language and whose language I definitely am not yet fluent at. However, in those 30 + minutes I spent waiting on Jen to return I watched men, women, and children grieve over the loss of one of the greatest Honduran men any of us has ever had the privilege of knowing. It was then that it hit me that it doesn’t matter what country you are in or how they choose to handle the death of their loved ones within that country. The heart of the matter is still the same….that no matter where we are we are all connected by that same feeling of grief. I stood, sat, and knelt beside dozens of tear stained Honduran faces that day as I too wept in sorrow. I held hands and offered/received hugs as we all leaned on one another for strength and support. It was in those moments that I realized that the truly important things in life are those things that span across all nations….grief, love, joy, sorrow, laughter, etc. They are the things that need no translation for they are not heard by the ear but felt with the heart. Eventually Jen found her way back to the house and she too joined me in the process of grief. As time inched forward the next moments were ones that will live in my memory forever. Thinking that they may enjoy pictures of the day I offered to take a few for the family. They not only graciously accepted my offer to take pictures of the decorations and such but also asked if I would take pictures down in the casket. If I had felt morbid taking pictures to begin with I was definitely feeling it then. However, I wondered if this was possibly the only photo they would ever have of their dad/husband. The entire day was filled with reminders of how privileged we are. The day was full of kicks in the pants that made me yet again want to see all I have and live off of nothing. We sit with books full of pictures of our loved ones while they get their first chance at a photo during the funeral services. We spend hundreds on a casket that’s only purpose is to hold our dead bodies while they place their dead in simple boxes. I don’t know about you but when I die I hope someone makes me a simple box and lays me to rest in it. If we would cut the cost of our funerals in half we could make a huge dent in the hunger problem that exists in our world. The next picture I took was of a cross that had been placed in the corner sometime in the night. It held a simple plaque that read Santos Maradiaga Nacio 6-11-1967 Murio 18-06-2007. I would still like to know who made the cross and who spent the time to write and draw on the plaque. I can remember thinking only one thing… “What a labor of love.” I stood back staring at the spot we had decorated the day before in preparation for the hours that had now passed. The flowers had wilted and died. The cloth was starting to sag. Candles that had been placed around the casket had long since melted wax all over the floor. However, never in my life have I have see a more beautiful display of affection and care taken for the viewing of a loved one. Finally, it was time to head to the burial spot. Jen left a few minutes ahead of me so that she could go get the truck. Our truck would be serving as the hearse for the day and she was to be the driver. Then as I made my way to the door Santos’s youngest daughter suddenly reached her little arms out to me and began to sob. For some reason her little mind had decided she wanted with me and only me. Swinging her up on my hip I did my best to shift her into a comfortable position that was conducive both for comforting as well as walking. I then joined the “procession” out the door of the house. Know how we drive from the funeral home to the graveyard. Well the cars that usually carry us were replaced with the feet of those weary grief stricken people who had spent the entire night awake watching over the body. For the first time in my entire life I had the desire to run for a bowl of water so that I could sit and wash each set of feet that marched before, after, and all around me. I stood watching each person follow the small foot path that cut its way back and forth up the mountain where Santos was to rest. We aren’t talking a small slop but a rocky, sewage and liter filled mountain! Let’s just say I also learned a lesson in wearing shoes that were sensible…not fashionable. Gone forever is the notion that my shoes need to match my outfit. Instead I will be picking my shoes according to rational! Without thinking of what was to come I had simply slipped on a pair of sandals that morning because they were “comfortable.” Gone was the comfort as I attempted to balance a purse of one hip and a child on the other. Gone was comfortable as I sloshed through water/sewage. Gone was comfort as I found myself being swarmed by fire ants whose bites leave your feet feeling on fire! However, on I marched…there was no stopping. We walked through the "graveyard" on our quest. It was just the side of a mountain where they had quite literally dug up every spot they could to bury their dead. All of which were marked by a simple cross and lined with rocks. If I had thought that in the house was hard to watch the graveside was even worse. As Santos’s wife realized this was truly her last goodbye the wails returned. Only this time along with that wailing came fainting. Then I watched as they wrapped rope around the casket as their “mechanical” way of lowering the casket into its new resting place. Finally, came the worst part…the men took turns using the two shovels to throw dirt down onto the casket. I say to you all….be glad that when it is our loved ones someone comes behind you after you are gone to do this process. There is something final in that thunk thunk thunk sound. Something that resonates deep in your being. The thing I found most odd about this whole experience was the fact that before leaving the house someone had scrapped up the candles, the melted wax, the dead flowers, and anything else that had been around the casket and placed it in a bag. Then when the casket was half covered they threw all of that stuff down in the hole before returning to the covering process. Then as the cross was placed, flowers were laid on top, and the family knelt to say their goodbyes my heart broke even more for this poor family. I felt as though all of Honduras should be feeling the loss of one of their finest. As the service came to a close I was shocked and amazed as I watched the mother compose herself the best she could and walk away with strength that surprised us all. She walked up to the truck and informed everyone she would be sitting in the back with her children. There was yet one more difference that struck me between here and home. Where as at home people would have baked, cooked, and provided them with the food they would need to see them through this we simply decided to take them out to eat. Jen and I piled them all back into the van ....this time there were 20 of us....and headed for the requested pizza hut. We took all of them in and sat with them for an hour or two as they learned to laugh, play, and live a little bit again. It was good to see them out together giggling and sharing in the joys of life. As I looked into each of their faces I was reminded of why exactly I was here and just what it was that made me fall in love with these people. Communication might be a bit of a challenge at times but when it came down to it we connected in the way that matter....the heart. Please continue to pray for this family as they begin to walk through this period of grief. They now must learn what it means to do life with out a daddy or a husband. I wish you all could have met this sweet sweet man who touched my heart in so many ways. He was some good stuff and will always be remembered.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


So I promise I will get back to the Santos blog. (hopefully later tonight) However, I need to do a quick update on a little boy whom I know lots of you have been praying for. Last Saturday while the Grand Central group was here they visited the state orphanage (Kennedy.) Well while there Jen discovered that Luby was not in fact at Casitas 21 but instead was there at Casitas Kennedy. He ran up to Jen, wrapped his arms around her, and promptly started to sob. He begged her to let him return to Casa. He promised that he would listen to the rules and that he would stop hitting the kids. Jen promised to talk to our children, the adults, and the people at Casitas. Well as you know we have had a long busy week and we have not had the time to get back to the city. Jen had asked the kids what they thought and all but Yovani had said it would be fine. Yovani was actually very adamantly against the idea. Well even though we haven't had the time to return to Casitas this week he has never been far from our thoughts and prayers. God took those decisions out of our hands. I was sitting on the couch with my back to the door when I hear Jen say "are you ready for this?" Let's just say that as I turned around the last thing I expected to see was Luby standing in the doorway. However, that was the exact thing that my eyes did see. Then as my eyes began to fill with tears (big surprise that I was weepy!) I reached out for that little boy who had found his way into my heart so long ago. As he climbed up into my lap and wrapped his arms around my neck.... I lost it! I held onto him for 2 or 3 minutes just whispering into his ears that he was loved and that we wanted him. In the moments to come the rest of the story had poured out of him. He had climbed under a wall and escaped from Casitas. When we asked how he got here he held up a dirty looking Wrigley's spearmint wrapper with no gum in it that had one single word written on it....Santana. He then showed that little wrapper to every bus driver between here and Teguc and begged them to bring him here. He showed up around 6 almost afraid that we would turn him away or be mad at him. Instead we welcomed him with open arms. We then sat him down and talked to him about what was to happen. We explained that Yovani wasn't big on the idea of him returning and asked if he would talk to Yovani. We brought Yovani back to the porch and watched as Luby approached him in an attitude of humility. He told him he was sorry. He told him he would never hit his brothers again. He told him that he wanted to live here. Talk about weepy....I was gushing! Yovani then looked at him and said sure he was fine with it! So at least for the night Luby is laying his little head on our pillows in his old bed. We will be going to the city to see about bringing home a little boy who we so desperately want to be ours. So again I ask you to be on your knees. Lift this little boy up to our Father and beg Him for a changed little boy.

The gum wrapper that got a little boy back into our home!

The other boys joined Luby in the bedroom to help him find his clothes and get ready and such. It was so stinkin sweet!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


When I signed up to come to Honduras I had no idea what was ahead of me. I didn’t anticipate the struggles and hard times that were to come. I didn’t envision myself developing such a passionate love for a people group so different from my own. However, God was calling me to be the light to a dark world. So I booked a ticket and climbed onto a plane that would take me into the unknown. I came here prepared to serve God’s people. He calls us to do for the least of these and I was geared up to do just that. However, I shamefully admit that I recently failed at that task. One of our guards (Santos) had been sick for about 3 weeks with stomach pains. He hadn’t been coming into work because it was so bad. Well last Saturday while the Grand Central group was here one of the nurses in the group went over with me to give him some medicine. In my broken Spanish I attempted to explain to him when to take which pill and how many times a day. I then asked questions about how he felt and all that. As we were leaving Thea (the nurse) explained to me what she thought the problem was and how bad it truly could be. Promising to come back to check on him and bring his family food we left. That day and the next were crazy busy and I didn’t make it back over to their home to check on him. Monday morning came around and at about 4 a.m. I found myself being awaken by Jen as she informed me that Santos had passed away during the night. Her presence was being requested at the hospital to see what needed to be done with his body. He had gotten worse and had gone to the hospital the day before but they hadn’t been able to do anything for him. Climbing out of bed I offered to ride along and seeing the relief that came across her face at those words I quickly prepared to leave. I was barely able to suppress the guilt and tears that had suddenly engulfed my body.
Grabbing my stuff I joined Jen, our pastor, and a couple of local men whom are friends of ours in the trip to the hospital. The drive to the city has never felt as long in my entire life. As we all sat consumed with our own thoughts and grief nobody could seem to find words to speak. It was surreal. As we reached the hospital gates the “long” ride suddenly felt way to short as I realized I was far from prepared for what lay ahead. However, ready or not I forced one foot in front of the other as I followed the men through the front gates of the hospital. Walking with a sense of confidence and strength they seemed to know exactly where to go. As we went down a set of stairs and followed a long hallway I could hear the wails of a women in pain. The farther we walked the louder the wails became. I can remember thinking to myself that someone should help the lady by giving her medicine or something. I thought she was one of the patients there and expected to eventually pass a doorway that would lead to the room that she was being treated in. However, as we rounded the corner the cries grew louder and then suddenly there she was. The wails were not of a women who was in physical pain but instead were the wails of Santos’s sweet sweet wife as her body was gripped with an emotional pain like none I have ever known.
I think that now would be a great time to mention that they do death here completely different than they do in the states. Where we place the bodies of our dead in separate rooms where the family may grieve separately they simply had rolled their dead out into a hallway by one of the main entrances of the hospital. He was still on the metal bed that he had been on while they were working on him. He still had tubes in his nose and an IV in his arm. They had simply rolled him into the hallway and covered him with a sheet. He was left there for the world to gawk at as they went by. As we approached I could see 2 beds lined up along the wall…both holding the bodies of those that had passed in the past few hours. The men immediately jumped into action and went to find out what was needed. All I could do was stand numb from the sights before me. 2 gurneys holding 2 men whom would never see another day with their loved ones. A wife half laying on top of her husband’s body crying out for God’s help and howling uncontrollably as she for the first time had to figure out how to do life without the love of her life. I will never forget the sound of her voice as she cried out God Help Me and I will certainly never get the sound of those wails out of my mind. It was the sound of a heart breaking…It was the sound of part of her dying there right beside her soul mate. Slowly I approached her and wrapped my arms around her in an attempt to pour out every ounce of strength that I could find. As Jen moved forward to do the same I retreated for my own moments of break down. As I stood sobbing I couldn’t help but think I should have done something…anything. More than likely I wouldn’t have been able to save his life. However, God called me here to try. He called me here to do the best I could for HIS people. I should have been there to at least offer the family a peace of mind that we did indeed care dearly about their father/husband. I should have been there to allow him a sense of peace that no matter what happened we would be here to help his family through it. Instead for whatever reason…be it my fear of the communication barrier, my busy schedule, or my American mentality that something like this wouldn’t happen because people don’t die from this…whatever the reason…I did nothing. I would like to think that I would have gone first thing Monday after Jen returned home but I will never get a chance to see. I waited too long. We stayed at the hospital for a couple of hours offering any help we could. The entire time we were there the other man was never visited. As he lay there dead and alone I couldn’t help but grieve for him and the fact that he didn’t have any sweet wife there missing him. Then in an act of complete disrespect and morbidity a lady walked over to the body, pulled back the sheet, and stared down at a man he didn’t she didn’t even know…simply to feed her own curiosity. She then covered him back up and was on her way. However, before she covered him I had seconds to stare into the face of a man who had very clearly been mangled in an accident of some sort. Those few seconds were just enough to add to the list of things that would forever be scarred into my mind.
Shortly after we were asked to go back to Santa Ana, break the news to the children, and bring them back into the city to meet up with their family. Not an easy task I can assure you. One of the guys with us sat the kids down and gently explained what had happened. Then all together we headed back to the city. Only this time we went to the home where Santos would be placed. Again they do things much different here. Instead of taking the body to a funeral home to be embalmed and prepared for a funeral they simply place them into a box and place them in their home. They have a 24 hour period of “watching” the body. Someone stays awake with the body for the entire 24 hours. The body is never left alone and throughout the time people can come and go for a “viewing.” We took the kids to the home where he would be placed and joined in as they began to clean and prepare for the arrival of the body. They brought in their table as well as the neighbors table and placed them together so that it would be big enough to hold the casket. Someone else donated these beautiful white cloths that were then hung on the walls and draped from the ceiling in an attempt to make a place for the viewing. While that was going on someone else was picking fresh flowers from a field and pinning them to the cloth backdrop and placing others in plastic bottles to lay around the foot of the casket. Still others were there from the community to donate their chairs to be lined along the wall for people to sit in. It was a beautiful sight of people coming together to do what they could. They may not have much but what they have they are willing to share and give in times of need. I wish you could have been there to see them form into the most real body of Christ I have ever seen. One was certainly being the hand while another functioned as a foot. However, the thing that moved me the most was watching the children. Santos has 4 children ranging from 4-14 and they jumped right in to help. The one that got to me the most was his 13 year old daughter Fanny. Her autopilot had kicked in and she was sweeping, washing, and serving in every way she knew how. Now I have to tell you that my autopilot had kicked in as well earlier that morning and I was still finding it hard to function. I also came to realize that my autopilot doesn’t come equipped with Spanish! Things that I have heard and understood a million times fell on deaf ears this time as I couldn’t seem to bring myself to focus on and translate what was being said to me. So how this little one so quickly and affectively switched to autopilot I will never know. Jen and I stayed until the casket was brought in and Santos and been placed in his spot of honor for the next 24 hours. We then hugged the family and slipped away to give them time to grieve.

As I sit here retelling this story I find that my mind is reliving it all over again. Though it is a story I hope I never forget I'm having a hard time reliving it again so soon. So for now I'm going to allow you all to read this part. I will continue the story later today.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Jen CAN make all your dreams come true

If you have ever doubted that God has a sense of humor just listen to this story. We spent yesterday in the city with Gina. One of the errands Gina needed to run was to the the pet store to get fish food. Jen and I went in with her hoping that we might find a lab for sale. We have been wanting to buy a dog for here for a long time now but have had our hearts set on a lab. Well we were sad to hear they didn't have labs. Letting go of the idea of a puppy we went about the other errands we had to run. It wasn't until after lunch hours later Jen said to me again "how fun would it to be to take a puppy home today?" Agreeing I turned to Gina asking where exactly we could find a lab puppy. She told us that there was no where that she knew of that we could get one. I kid you not we hadn't gone a block farther when Jen hit the breaks and gave out a squeal because there sitting on the hood of a car along side the road were 4 labs FOR SALE. We whipped the car into the parking lot and had Gina work her magic. She was so good that after she mentioned the dog was for an orphanage the guy took 1000 Lemps off of the price! We picked out the one we wanted and headed to take Gina home. On our drive there we decided that the puppy needed a friend and so we headed back to get yet another lab. Well believe it or not in the 15 minutes we had been gone the guys had left. There was no sign of them or lab puppies about fate. We had been there at the perfect moment! We continued up that road and came to the corner where there was yet another man selling dogs. Only this time it was the Cocker Spaniels. When I first arrived at Casa back in January Jen commented on the fact that she was here to make my dreams come true. Since then it has become our little joke. Well today that joke became a reality as she truly did make a dream of mine come true. I have always wanted to own a cocker spaniel....well today Jen took that dream and made it a reality by buying a 6 week old cocker spaniel. Again we convinced them to give us a discount since it was for the orphanage and we were on our way to the vet to have them both checked out. It is a very good thing we decided to take them to the vet right away because we found out they have fleas, ticks, and round worms! Not only do they have them but round worm can be passed to people and can cause you to go blind or could even move into your brain. Therefore, the vet strongly warned us to not let the dogs around the kids for the next 15 days as the meds kicked in and did their job. So we are now the proud owners of 2 puppies! I choose to believe it was God's gift to us and the kids after a particularly rough week. Not to mention that we are told that puppies (animals in general) are good for sexually abused children because it helps give them something they can love and receive love from without feeling scared. It teaches them to trust again. So I ask that you pray that these two little puppies (whom I've already become so attached to as much as the kids have) make it and become very healthy very soon. We return to the vet next week so there will be more updates for sure! Oh and we also need names so if you have any suggestions let me know....I'm getting tired of calling them puppy 1 or puppy 2! I wish you all could have shared in the joy this morning of watching those sweet little faces as they walked into the play room and saw me standing there holding not one but two puppies. It was like Christmas all over again. They squealed, clapped, jumped, and were beside themselves with joy. I might also add that the lab slept with me last night. You all will appreciate this story for sure! It took me two seconds after putting the lab in his box (aka clothes hamper) to know that he wasn't happy being there. His little whine and occasional bark let us all know he wanted out. He was only quiet when he was cuddled up next to someone. Therefore, I decided to brave it and took him to bed with me. As I lay there I kept imagining waking up in the morning with poop and pee filling my bed. So....I did what any other mother would do...I got up and grabbed a pamper. After cutting out a hole for his tale I expertly placed the pamper on his bottom like I would have one of the children! Content I climbed back into bed and curled up next to that cute little puppy. I awoke to find him curled up on my pillow with his nose ever so close to mine...breathing his little puppy morning breath into my face. However, I had a very clean and very dry bed!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


There are just some things a mother should never have to do. Spending time in the cancer ward of a hospital for any amount of time is right up there on that list. Yesterday Jen and I took Katty back to Hospital Escuela to meet with her doctor. Some of you may not know that when we got Katty her blood test showed signs of problems and fearing the worst they thought possibly a chance of cancer. However, since then she has had more tests done and those tests came back clean. In an attempt to make sure they didn't miss anything they are having her tested once every 4-6 months. Yesterday was such a day. Jen and I awoke around 4:30 and headed into the city to be there by 6. We arrived on time only to find out that the doctor didn't actually come in until 7. We were directed to go through a set of doors and wait in the next room. As we walked through the door I looked at Jen as if to say are you kidding me. They were having us wait in the room where the kids in the cancer ward were having chemo! I'm talking beds along every wall of the room full of kids hooked up to chemotherapy. We sat watching mothers (who looked exhausted) hold their children over top of a tiny little trashcan they had been given as they threw up every part of their insides! I sat staring at bald heads, sunken in eyes, and tear stained cheeks. I sat watching kiddos who were hooked up to IVs and chemo treatments until my eyes hurt as bad as my heart. There were more kids than there were beds. Therefore, the chairs that had once been placed in the center of the room for waiting parents were now being used to hold children in desperate need of a bit of comfort. So as I sat there staring at the scene around me I couldn't help but grief the pain of each of those little ones. It wasn't something my "tough" little heart could have taken on any day...let alone the day after taking Luby back. It was a good reminder that there are kids in there every day sick and dying that we think very little about and pray for even less. I know your prayer lists are already way long but I ask you to add those within the hospitals to your list. Katty's test results were once again clean ...thank you Jesus. For those 7 hours I had sat in prayer not only for those before me but also for that little one in my lap. I sat terrified that she too might be added to the children I saw before me. However, after spending just 7 hours in the hospital I had more respect and sympathy for those parents standing beside their children.

Monday, June 4, 2007


Ever wonder if all of Heaven is crying with you...or at least feels your pain. Today I'm certain the answer is yes. We took Luby back to the Judges office this afternoon and after 2 weeks of loving him through life walked out of the office without him. He attempted to bolt out the gate this morning while it was open to take things in and out. After JT got hold of him and brought him back inside he then spent the rest of his morning saying that he didn't want to be here. He went to his bedroom and put back on the clothes that he came in. He yelled of wanting out. He told of what he would sell and how he would get money to feed himself once he was back on the street.
Well Jen had told him the next time he tried to run or said he didn't want to be here that he was going back. He has to know there are consequences in life. Not to mention that he hits, kicks, spits on, etc every one of our children and they are now afraid of him. Yesterday poor Monica pressed herself flat against the opposite wall to stay as far out of his reach as she could as she passed him. Although I don't believe he is of a direct danger to their lives we also can't have him intimidating them to a point where they are afraid to be near him.
It was the hardest decision and even more so the hardest decision to walk out! I rode to town with Jen in an attempt to assist her if he made an attempt to bolt or fight. He put up a big fight alright.....he sat on the seat with me and about half way there even allowed himself to lean back into my embrace and allow me to place my cheek on the back of his head. Then as we began to talk to him I looked over just in time to see a single tear slip out of the corner of his eye and roll down his cheek. It was enough to start my water works all over again. What must it be like to be 12 and not know what a home looks like? To not know where you are going to lay your head tonight? Together the three of us made our way into the building that not so long ago we had walked out of together. It seemed appropriate that we had started this journey out together and we were ending it together. We met with the judge and explained the situation. Then suddenly it was like someone snapped their fingers. The papers were signed and Luby’s life, for the next few days at least, had been decided. A girl walked in the door and informed him it was time to go. Before Jen or I knew what happened she had led him away to a waiting guard. We had to half jog to keep up and finally called out for the guard to wait so that we could say our goodbyes. Jen went first and as she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him close I could see her body begin to shake as she too lost the fight that had been holding back the dam threatening to burst behind her eyes. Then it was my turn to say goodbye to a kid who despite the attitude, hardness, and problems had become one of our own. He wasn’t a new project. He was just simply ours. I took him into my arms and in an attempt to find words to wrap up the emotions and love welling up within me I whispered words that were meant to comfort and assure him that he was indeed loved. Then with one final...I'll love you forever I turned and walked away. I met up with Jen outside and we headed for the truck where we laid our head in our arms and sobbed for a little boy who had not only made his way into our home but also into our hearts. Then as if a movie screen had been placed before my eyes I watched the scenes of the past 3 weeks flash before my eyes. I saw a scared little boy be brought into the judges office that first day so uncertain of who we were or what his future would hold. I saw a little boy sitting in the back of Gina's car that first day. Who when asked if he wanted to go for ice cream said "yea I have some money we can go." I saw a little boy who when taken to the dump with us coward behind Jen realizing he wasn't as tough as he thought. I saw a little boy who gave his seat up to a women who had nowhere to sit. I saw a little boy who opened so many doors, pulled out chairs, and who every once in awhile gave hugs like he wanted to hold onto you forever. I saw a little boy who hit, bit, kicked, and yelled at those that set boundaries for him simply because for the first time in his life he had someone who cared enough about him to do so. I saw a boy who in so many ways reminded me of me when I was young. I was a brat. I was mean at times. The more I saw me in him the more it hit me just how unfair this all was. How unfair it was/is that I had parents who loved me through those hard times instead of parents who created them. How unfair it was/is that we couldn't be those loving parents to him. However, the fact of the matter is we have 15 other kids who have never known what it means to be safe. We can't steal that from them now that they have found it just to save one. However, that doesn’t make losing him any easier. He was a part of us. There is an empty bed in our house tonight that will constantly serve as a reminder that I now have no idea where this child will find a bed tonight. I have no idea if someone is hugging/kissing him goodnight. I have no idea if someone is there to pray over him or sing him to sleep.
This entire experience has taken me to a whole new level of trusting God. A level that includes understanding that this child wasn’t truly mine but is His…he just loaned him to me for a couple of weeks. A new level of trusting that meant that I had to say “God I have no idea where this child is going…I may never see him again…but I trust YOU.” I’ve learned that this kind of trusting….not so easy for me. This kind of loving is also not so easy for me….it is hard on my heart! It is so worth it though because for 2 weeks I got to love on a kiddo who up until now nobody has wanted to love on. We possibly had the chance to plant seeds that someone else will have the privilege of sowing in the future. So for now I will attempt to work on the trust thing and have faith that no matter what he is in God’s hands.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

the sweetest of moments

Some of the sweetest moments here catch me by surprise but stink with me as memories that can last a lifetime. Lately my days have been full of moments like that with Miss Maryuri. They are the types of moments that remind me of just why I'm here and put a smile on my face for hours. Some of these very moments came last night as I was putting the girls to bed. After getting them all settled in I curdled up with Maryuri in here small task now that she is sleeping in a toddler bed that is barely longer than her. However, she has become quite cuddly lately and I wasn't missing an opportunity to take advantage of that fact! As I lay in bed with her listening to the girls say their prayers and good nights I began to sing to them. What started out as a quiet little solo ended up as a boisterous duet because before I was even half way through my first song my voice was blending with the sweetest little bellow of my little Maryuri. Of course she didn't know the words and at 2 isn't quite able to pick up on them as we go so eventually my words became drowned out by the grunting, mumbling, and flat at animated noises coming from the little one beside me. With a smile on my face and a lifted heart I continued on with my song simply enjoying the sound of the voice that was so happy to be part of the singing. Really put into perspective the whole “make a joyful noise thing!”
It was during that same evening that I was delighted to hear that same little girl utter the words “I love you mommy.” Each evening as I say goodnight to my kiddos I always whisper I love you with their name at the end. Well last night as I said I love you Maryuri I was shocked to hear her little voice whisper… “I love you mommy” right back at me. It is the first time I’ve ever heard her say those 4 words. Up until just recently she hardly talked at all. You can imagine the tears that found their way to my eyes in that moment! My last Maryuri story is one that still brings a smile to my face as I retell it. It isn’t actually a story of a moment that I had with her as it is a new development in her world. We aren’t sure where exactly she got it but she has started to tickle you (which feels more like she is digging her fingers into your esophagus) under your chin while saying toca toca toca all while giggling up a storm. We are pretty sure it is her attempt to say get ya get ya get ya. Either way it is absolutely adorable. If you can get past the pain that the entire encounter inflicts upon you it is pretty darn cute! :)

Saturday, June 2, 2007


I sit here within the confines of my bedroom somewhat in hiding. Seclusion can be a beautiful thing when it is sought after and obtained. That would be the best word I could find to describe my day. As some of you know my best friend in the entire world (Colby) joined me on my flight back to Hondo and has spent the past 3 1/2 weeks with me. Well she boarded another flight today. Except this one took her back out of my world instead of bringing her into it. As we drove into the city we joked about the things that could prevent her from leaving today: bus/taxi strike blocking the roads, canceled flight, etc. However, a huge part of what we said wasn’t really done in joke but out of desire for more time. More time to share together laughing, serving, working, loving, and simply being. Her 25 days here seemed to have come and gone in the mere blink of an eye. During that time I was able to relish in the fact that for the briefest of moments I no longer had to straddle the fence between here and home but instead had found a place in which my worlds could collide. For 25 days I no longer had to close my eyes to picture what it would look like if I could grab a hold of both of my lives and pull them together. For 25 days it seemed more like Colby was here doing life with me instead of just visiting and I was able to play pretend for awhile. Well the world of make believe came to an end today as I clung to her in one last embrace. Then as every tear in me threatened to burst to the surface I watched her board a plane and head for home. It was as though the realization hit that this is now my life. That I will spend more time longing to be with my loved ones and watching their backs as they walk away than I will actually spend in their presence. Now I sit here once again crying out to God…..why is it so hard. Why does it seem like my life is more full of goodbyes than hellos and when does this get easier? The answer is simple…it never gets easier. As hard as that is to swallow I appreciate the honest answer because I’m reminded once again that I’m not in this because it is easy but because it is worth the fight. There will always be moments when I want to reach out and touch the skirt tales of my distant world and when I find that my heart is hurting to be with those living in that world. Today is one of those days. So as I sulk away in my room I will allow myself one evening of solitude. One evening to wallow in the pain piercing my heart in huge ways. One evening of emotions so strong I feel as though I could cry every time I open my mouth to speak. After that it is time to rejoin this world and those I’ve been serving with for the past months. I have kiddos to love and ministries calling out my name. That doesn’t mean it still won’t hurt...because it will. It certainly doesn’t mean being here is going to be any easier because it never will be. It just means I set my mind on the task at hand. To my best friend…thanks. Thanks for loving me enough not only to follow me to Canton Ohio for visits but also to Hondo. Thanks for entering my new world and reminding me that no matter how far apart God and life take us you will always be there supporting me. Thanks for being willing to step so far out of your own comfort zone and serve with me in my capacity. Thanks for loving those who have become like a second family to me. Thanks for helping to bridge that gap between here and home. I truly am blessed to call you friend.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Would we?

As i look out my high rise window, 810, i see the horizon
and the great expanse in between
and it is beautiful...
as i look down at the specifics i see the smoker kids down on the street who find their community in an addiction, on a sidewalk
whether, sun, rain, or snow
they find their place there on the outskirts of campus
on a piece of concrete.
i wonder if Christianity was ban on campus
and we had to meet out on the sidewalk
if we'd be so dedicated? or so addicted...
you would think Jesus should be easier to sell than cigarettes.
but then again community is a powerful thing
even if it's found on the outskirts of campus, in the cold, on a piece of concrete... we do often choose damage over healing and ask ourselves why
i thought our nice, warm, church buildings
with our high dollar programs would work better...
but then again community is a powerful thing.
Earth is a breathtaking sight from space, as the horizon is from my window
but don't forget to look down and closer
because the details can make a big difference.
attention to the detail is the difference between a finger painting and a master piece
it's all paint...
As I was messing around on myspace I stumbled upon the following song/poem on one of my friends blogs. It hit me in ways that he will never know. Would we be so addicted. If being a Christian became hard or inconvenient would people still want to play a part in it? Would we be there rain or shine wind or snow? Would I...would you?