12 February 2016


They managed to surprise their teacher, bringing an early birthday party to class today. Each of the girls had a gift to present and a sweet word to say and their teacher cried. "I knew that she would cry!" one of the girls furiously signed to the rest. "Joyce cares for us so much and she always starts to cry when we are doing well!" We laughed out loud, because it is true! And it reminded me again, how important these relationships are. The girls are learning to sew and making great progress, but to see and know such an example of love through their teacher is equally as important.

(and that candle! what a wonder! it opened and turned and played a birthday tune!)

11 February 2016


When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, "A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God."

- Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

(photo from a hazy day in Aquiles. They were burning trash over at the dump and I could see the heavy smoke over the neighborhood several miles before I even crossed the border. And even so, again this day we experienced the goodness of God.)


A long day ends catching up on the computer, and I am thankful for the reminder that His grace is sufficient for me.

(screen saver from Hand Lettering Co.)

09 February 2016


The view on this day included sugar cane smoke to the north, and a bustle of activity right below me. A short-term team in for the week and no one lacks for work. A landscape architect student eager to serve means cleaning up the yard and the trees and general beautification. Maybe even in Aquiles there is room for some curb appeal?


Not so super picture of a really super crowd to hang with on a Super Bowl evening...

05 February 2016


"She was not a slowpoke grownup. She was a girl who could not wait. Life was so interesting she had to find out what happened next." 
— Beverly ClearyRamona the Pest 

Life is so interesting.

I started the day with a group of homeschool moms. How did it happen that I was (at least nearly was, nah, I'm pretty sure I was...) the oldest still-homeschooling one in the room? I got to share about art and draw lines and color and create with super creative and very fun 4th-6th graders. 

I borrowed money from a friend for the toll (a friend in need is a friend indeed!) and picked up a box-full of basketball trophies and drove down the road. I crossed into Mexico. Traffic backed up immediately. I got the red light (and so did seemingly everyone crossing into Mexico today). The guy looking in my car examined every trophy, even called over a supervisor, and then told me to have a nice day. 

I dodged pedestrians and cars and dogs in the street and wound my way back to our neighborhood. I spent the afternoon translating English to Spanish (which was then translated to Mexican Sign Language) for a class of girls from the deaf school learning to sew. I crossed back over to the States after being asked to buy peanut patties and pottery and snacks and jewelry, after offers to have my windows washed, after appeals for money and more appeals for money. I dropped off friends, and drove back down the road, talking about ESL with a friend in far-away-Nebraska ready to start Bible studies with Karen people. 

I picked up cupcakes for the end-of-the-year basketball banquet and chicken for our dinner and headed home, 10 hours later. 

What is going to happen next?

04 February 2016


If I were in kindergarten, today's report card might read:
Needs help wiping nose; doesn't play well with others. 


Dillon chillin' with some tunes...

(have I mentioned, he's a patient one...)


I walked into their room and time turned back and then flew forward, all in the blink of an eye.


I recently read about a ceramic art form called kintsugi, when artists use gold dust and lacquer to attach broken pieces together. Somehow the broken pieces become useful again, and even more beautifully held together than before the piece was broken.

After years of praying and months of waiting and weeks of planning, we spent this day focused on trafficking issues on both the Mexican and US side of the border. My heart broke into pieces over and again.

Our time together today was just a start. We have few specific answers and no concrete plans. But we move forward in hope, knowing that He who calls us is faithful, knowing that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. He can make the broken beautiful again. Would you pray for us and our teammates as we, broken people, go and live and serve in this broken world, and speak and show and love in Jesus' name?

02 February 2016


I headed toward the entrance to get my bulletin and her smiling face greeted me. Even though it had been many years, I recognized her immediately, and returning the grin came easy. We exchanged greetings and hugs and started to make our way to our pews. But then they stopped me and invited us to breakfast after church.
Invited us to breakfast after church!

We are rarely, rarely, invited to join folks to eat after worship. And so, that invitation came as an unexpected grace. But even more, what a treat to share a meal with this special couple. All five of us grinned ear to ear, from sitting down and squeezing into the booth to eating and on the drive home.

Our hearts and our bellies are full. You blessed our socks off, Dottie and Charles! Welcome to south Texas!

30 January 2016


At times it seems that the finest of lines divide complacent from content, but today I could honestly confess gratitude for place and people and circumstance.

My faithful barista and early morning latte delivery
As there is seriousness without sourness, so there is a cheerful liveliness without lightness. (Thomas Watson)
But God... (Ephesians 2:4)
morning run
morning prayer, even over the phone
unexpected phone calls
the blessing of a left, a left, a right, and down the road pick-up
doggy play date
chicken tortilla soup
easy lunch date fellowship
sunbeams on the car
parking lot real
a hug from my fave Sam's Club greeter
text that makes me laugh
a brew with my man
good dinner
confession and repentance and forgiveness
and the promise of tomorrow


on the Running Playlist today-
while there's breath in my lungs,
I will praise you, Lord.

(from "Joy of the Lord," by the Rend Collective)