This is my Isaac

I've been dreading the day when the knowledge would be common.  When everyone knows of our return, that means it is real, and I can no longer ignore the pain of it.

I've been feeling my own loss of understanding, my own questions marching through my mind after the lights have gone quiet, and the only sound is the whir of a fan.  My eyes adjust to the purple shadows, but my heart has no vision for the unseen.  I can't touch the other side of this.  In some ways, perhaps many, I am afraid to.

We didn't know how long we would stay, and that's the truest thing I can remember before our move, except for knowing without a doubt that we were to go.  I've never been so sure, and that made the decision to sell our life a simple one.  I refuse to say it was easy, because the reality of those moments left me with a dull ache.  I see how things are just things, but I had wrapped my dreams around them and they had become a part of who I was.  Who I am?  Perhaps that's w…

A daily surrender

Nearly three years ago we packed our bags and boarded a plane headed to Nicaragua with our two oldest children. We could not have known that the souvenirs we carefully packed would be in the company of so many hopes and dreams that we brought back with us. We had come to serve this land full of serene lakes and majestic volcanoes, but we were the ones who received the greater blessing. We were the ones who were changed by the gospel.

Outside are the sounds of tropical birds singing in the ever present sun. The palm trees are waving against the bright sky through a gentle breeze, but the day promises to warm up to a steady heat that has everyone seeking shade. The dust blows and covers the world here with a fine layer of grit, and we pray for rain.

We call Nicaragua our home, but the truth remains that we are only passing through. When God called us to this beautiful country, we knew not the length of our leaving. So we sold our life in Cincinnati, and cut the strings that might pull u…

By his wounds

The memory remains clear.  I was sitting on the elevated table covered with a sheet of thin, crinkly paper.  The man in the white coat, M.D. credentials embroidered in blue, stood in front of me.  His words left my anger boiling just below the surface.  I could feel the heat flash into my face.  The brimming tears blurred my vision before spilling onto my cheeks.  I regretted how they betrayed my sense of control.  My hands clenched the edges of the table beneath me.  My jaw was set.

He had told me it was too late in the pregnancy to turn the baby.  He was breech, and the safest way to deliver a past-due baby was by C-section.  I was given no other option.  I would have to take the scar; a scar I would wear forever because of a mistake, an oversight, a miscalculation.  I hated my lack of power.  I hated that my choice was taken.

All of my planning and dreaming of bringing a child into this world under my strength and endurance vanished.  I see my selfishness now, but in that moment, t…

With my hands open

I remember the loss, and the dark ache that swallowed me.  Fifteen years have been lived since then, but the thought of surviving those moments burn in my throat even now.  Grief has a way of lingering.

We named her Mathia, God's gift.  God's gift that we never held, never rocked to sleep, never even saw.  On occasion my children mention her name, and we dream about the role she would have played in our family.  She is a part of my story, a shade of who I am.  She softened me to suffering, and gently gifted me with the understanding of loss.

I wonder of God's grace in those moments.  In that place of darkness, he was there reminding me of his goodness.  In the depths of my sorrow he gave me a song of worship.  And maybe that is why the words of Job sink so deeply into my heart, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."  The beauty of worship in the moment of loss and difficulty astounds me.  It points to the belief that even i…

I'll be home for Christmas (sort of)

In less than a week, we'll pack up and head back to Cincinnati for a brief time.

We've made plans with our families, and a few of our close friends.  The schedule will be busy, but we are looking forward to reconnecting to the place we have called home for most of our lives.

In the first few weeks after we moved to Nicaragua, I reprimanded myself for referring to Ohio as home.  In some ways I felt that it represented a disloyalty to where I now live.  Somehow that phrase made the move feel more like a trip, and less like a long term decision.  And yet, the people who have loved us most are there, counting down the days until they can welcome us with open arms.

But we live here now in a place where seasons change discreetly.  If I didn't have a calendar I might never know the page has turned to December.  The temperatures are still hitting ninety, but the last few days have relieved us with the kindest kind of breeze.  I smile at the poinsettias blooming near the walkway ou…

I am left with 1,000 words

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I nod my head to agree.  I've fallen in love with the art of photography, the ability to pause a moment in time and relive it again and again.  I won't pretend that I'm good at it, but my lack doesn't lessen this desire to try.  Pictures tell stories, and I love a good tale.

But today, I have only words.

We pull off of the main highway to the dirt roads of Cristo Rey.  Although the distance isn't great, it takes us well over an hour to make our way through the thick traffic.  In Managua, we had been experiencing a lot of rain despite the nearing end of rainy season.  I was thankful for the downpours because it cooled the heavy heat, and offered my internal Ohio thermostat some relief.  But here, the rain is a mixed blessing.

The road into Cristo Rey is bumpy but solid in most places.  The side roads hint to the recent rain with their mixture of mud, standing water, and dust.  It would be a poor attempt on our part to …

In this season

The seasons have changed once again.

The trees are displaying their breathtaking glory, crying out in their red, orange, and yellow voices.  The leaves will honor the place they have grown until they can hold onto their home no longer.  The Lord gives, and he takes away.  In time they will fall to the ground before the wind whisks them into some unknown place.  The tree remains.  Empty, naked.  It's twisted branches exposed to the elements for a season.  With patience and endurance it will be beautiful again.

I pretend autumn has come to Nicaragua.  Each day the temperature climbs into the 90's, but I sit down to a cup of spiced coffee in the mornings.  The candle I burn reminds me of my other home, and that marvelous can of pumpkin puree that my mother spent too much money to send me was baked into a bread yesterday.  My children enjoyed it until only the crumbs remained.  We remember where we came from, and we savor the memory.

My season has changed too.  I feel so much lik…