Showing posts from 2016

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…

The many forms of "fine"

I've been asked a lot about how I'm doing lately.  It seems a simple question, but it trips me up every time.  I pause.  I falter.  I mix up words and try to gauge how much the person really wants to know.  It doesn't seem appropriate to go into the deep places my mind has been wandering when I stand in a passing conversation.  It doesn't seem a complete truth to say that I'm fine.

In many ways I am fine.  I look at my children as they head off to school in the morning, each finding their own way to normalcy again.  They are in the beginning stages of new friendships, and new experiences.  In some respects, I see how this move has changed them already.  They have embraced so much more than I thought they were capable of, and there is a strength I see emerging from each one of them.

And my husband is tackling the many challenges of living in Nicaragua with strength, resolve, and confidence.  He is finding his way too, one day at a time, learning, surrendering, and …

Bienvenidos a Nicaragua

It was two years ago that I sat on a quiet bench in the cool of the morning.  Tim was by my side, coffee in hand.  The mission camp was sleeping, save for the birds calling loudly to one another somewhere above us in the tropical trees.  The sun was not high enough for us to hide our vulnerable skin.

Those around us had been preparing to return home, talking amongst themselves their readiness to leave.  I said it quietly, as if a secret, "Am I the only one who isn't ready to go?"  He smiled warmly in his thoughtfulness before he shared, "If it wasn't for our girls waiting for us at home, I could stay here."

And to place it before you simply, we did.

The past two weeks have felt like the sum of short lived days, traveling by in a blur.  We wake with the sun, and lie down when it slumbers.  And in all the moments between we live a life that we have never known before.

God's grace is present in all of this living.  Right next door reside Tim and Chris Bagw…

Let's not say goodbye

I walk slowly along the shore line.  The dark blue waves crest then curl over themselves before they break in a white foam that reaches for my feet.  I don't want to move too far into the power of the sea where my steps become unsure.

I can feel the edges of it coming closer, touching me.  There exists this certain sadness that I don't want to fully embrace.  I fear that if I give myself to it, it will overtake me and I will drown.  The thought catches in my throat making it hard to swallow.
I have spent the last week with the people who have grown me.   My father, my mother, my sisters, our families. We have had so much time to sit and talk about nothing that matters, and somehow that means something when you know these moments will be fewer and farther between.  We have laughed and loved and eaten too much food, sipped on coffee that no one could brew just right, scolded children, teased our patriarch and laughed even more.

There is no longer a year left.  Not months or even …

The God Surprise

When I first started writing this blog 4 1/2 years ago I was a very different person.  I was full of fear and insecurities, and wanting so much to know that God created me for a special purpose.  Very slowly, I believe, God opened my eyes and my heart to the joy and the struggle of telling true stories.  And it changed me.  Or more accurately, God changed me.

I began to feel a special connection to God through the writing of words.  We were in spiritual communion, and I could sense His nearness as I wrote.  For so many years, I never bothered with the practice, because although I enjoyed it, I did not feel it had purpose.

I'm learning now how it has saved me from a life of self-centeredness.  I'm still learning...

The dreamer in me began to imagine being invited to non-profit organization's mission trips for the purpose of blogging about the experience to raise awareness.  I couldn't fathom a greater use for words than to tell others of God's heart for the poor.


Walking on water

It was dark.  I remember because the cross on top of the building was aglow.  It was raining too, causing the white lights to warp.   My small fingers traced the uncommon path of drops that slid down the outside of my window in the back seat.  The street lights around me blurred in the haze, but I could clearly see that cross standing distinctly above The Christ Hospital.  I told myself I was going to work there someday.

I don't remember the why, but I can go back to remembering the when.  It must have started during my first year of school as I filled out the question in a little book my mom bought me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  Always, every year, it was a nurse.

There was a small space in time during my senior year of high school when I thought that I would like to go to school for writing, but I didn't have the courage to change course so late in the game.  I started at the University of Cincinnati that fall, and shortly thereafter at the age of …

Does my life matter?

I sat in the last row.  There before me, before all of us was a large cross laying claim to the front center of the humble space.  The speakers came, one at a time, to stand behind the pulpit as we listened to their stories.  It was a light affair, if you could consider a funeral to be so, but the spoken words about a man who was cherished held weight.  He was honored and respected.  Heads nodded in agreement at the truths being shared, and somehow the occasion of a life gone quietly from the earth did not hurt in the most terrible way.  It was a celebration of life lived well.

Last night I had a dream.  The details have gone fuzzy now, but I still remember the emotions that stirred me awake.  He was gone.  My son's life taken from my own, and I would never hold the warmth of him again.  It was final.  Permanent.  I was left touching the ache of my helpless sorrow, my hands erasing tears that would never cease to fall.  I was broken to pieces and spilled out on the floor.   Even i…

Trust and Obey

I am 34,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, and drifting somewhere between two homes.  There are clouds below me and volcanos, but I cannot see them in my unfortunate seat assignment.  Tim and I are heading back to Cincinnati from a week long trip to Nicaragua, but it doesn't really feel like we are going home.

The night before found us in the living room of Tim and Chris Bagwell.  Tim stood behind us, Chris before us, and three of their precious girls flanked our sides.  They placed their hands on us, and touched our hearts as each member from youngest to wisest reached heaven with their words.  They prayed for the present and the future.

I sat there thinking that our family just got a little bit bigger.

I am in the middle seat of the plane, and there is snoozing on either side of me.  I settle into my own place of comfort and wait for the music to begin playing through my headphones.  The old hymn of crosses and surrender echoes on as I close my eyes to shut out the world and fin…

The begrudging will of God

I was just a girl, but I remember now with amusement the thoughts that kept me awake at night.  I was never one to ask my parents incessant questions, but I did ask a few that I just couldn't seem to satisfy on my own.

I would spend sunny afternoons dreaming of my future and my wedding.  It was the dress that I considered mostly, and then the husband.  I would wonder if I already knew him, and if not, what he might look like.  Would he have strong hands like my dad?  Would we live in a brick house?  Would we have kids?  Of course we would.  At least four, maybe five.  Six?

These questions would rotate in my mind, and when I just couldn't hold them close enough I would offer them to my parents.  "Do you think someone will marry me?  What do you think he looks like?  Will he smell good?"

I imagine my parents were thinking the same thing I do when my kids ask questions that just can't be answered.  They would generalize something that would satisfy me, and not give …

Neither here nor there

I hesitate to write this.  I hesitate because I'm not sure it is relatable, and what good is a story that you cannot find yourself in.  I only know that this is part of our journey, a part that I may someday forget, and I don't want to.  Because it's important to remember the moments that change you.

This week marks a year since Tim travelled to Nicaragua with a small group of guys to plan a summer trip. When he returned, he knew with certainty that we were being called in some capacity to advocate for New Life.  I suppose I should have been scared, but I think relief was a better descriptor.  There was finally an answer to the unrelenting pull to that country.

To see where we are now in this process is nothing short of amazing.  It has been a year of unbelievable transition, and we still have a few months to go.  It seems a long time to be neither here nor there, but I am grateful for the time that we have had to adjust.  These series of small steps have brought me to the…

Finishing strong

I ran a marathon.  Once.  It's been nearly four years ago, and there are parts of me that want to run the full 26.2 miles again just to see if I can.  And then I remember the difficulty of it.  I would almost say that it was the hardest thing I have ever physically accomplished, but then I remember birthing four babies and that one horrific kidney stone.

I trained for four months, and each week the required miles would stretch my endurance even further.  I knew I could run at least 13 miles, having already accomplished a half marathon, but as the race grew closer, the miles grew longer and I doubted if I would be able to finish.  I never stopped trying.

The longest distance I would be required to run before the race was 20 miles.  I remember waking up on that rainy Saturday morning, and feeling a nervous excitement.  Would I be able to finish?  Would I do it well?

The rain poured down on me for three hours, and there was more than one concerned motorist that stopped and offered me…
It's been awhile since I've felt this way, all messed up inside.

A few hours of sleep stolen doesn't seem quite enough to steady the patience I need.  What we all need is love poured out in words and actions, because love is patient and love is kind.  All I am offering today is edgy tolerance.

But words from a smart mouthed boy pushes the balance of emotions too far and I'm am spilled out all over the floor.  There it lays, an ugly mess of words that don't speak love into a soul that needs to hear that what I have for him is unconditional.

What I have given is an order to take it all to his room.  Out of sight, out of mind, out of the range of me, imperfect me who can't stop the mouth from spewing out the sickness of a weary heart.

I settle into mindless scrolling and try to forget the give and take of pain.  Cries of the wounded reach me, and I shake regret from shoulders.  I'm forgetting again all about the blessing of grace received.  This God favor pour…

A new home

It was Christmas Day.  The weather proved unusually warm for Cincinnati, and I couldn't help but think that every Christmas from here on out would feel much the same.  I would miss the possibility of snow, but it wasn't a necessity.  I had woken early to the promise of delicious food and excited children gathered around the table.

In the shadows of my room, I took a quick glance at my phone that showed a message from Chris Bagwell, my ministry partner, my friend.  She had some news to share.

I hadn't seen Chris since my trip to Nicaragua in July.  She was just as I had remembered her from the year before.  Her southern accent a pleasure to hear; her genuine spirit a delight to a world that grows increasingly tired of pretense.  I recall the first time I met her and how she told the story of a dream she remembered from her childhood.  There on the doorstep she would find abandoned babies that needed to be rescued.  I find it no coincidence that she has been called to do th…

Moving on water

I step an unsure foot out onto the water, man-made and frozen over.  Bits of air bite at the exposed and vulnerable skin, those parts of me that blush when the wind blows.

I move unsteadily into the mass of others making their rounds, afraid of the bombardment.  Carefully I push forward, one foot before the other.

It is not long before those muscles who long believed they had retired, protest the injustice of being called forth on this chilly day.   They will scream at me tomorrow.

I hear the metal cutting through ice, a clean slice beneath my skate.  I remember this.  It was fun once.

A few more times around the rink and my confidence is growing.  I'm ignoring my son who has passed me a dozen times already, full of smiles and showmanship.

Just ahead I spot the pink of her coat.  Her Daddy holds her steady.  I coast from behind and  listen to the small raspy voice.  "Stay right there Dad.  Don't let me fall.  I don't want to fall, okay?  I'm gonna try this by myse…