Hands and house

Hands and house

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On Joy (or being thankful for the pressure cooker)

We snuggled up last night,
and wept and prayed and talked...
Of heartbreak,
of stress,
of worry...
and ultimately of joy.
It is a time of feeling hard pressed on every side.
Medical bills pouring in that we don't know how to cover,
relationships that we do not know how to heal,
fears of the 'what ifs' and the 'we'll just watch it for now',
scenarios of our children's health.
So many burdens
that at times make it hard to breathe,
hard to look up,
hard to see.
So we weep, and we pray,
asking God to show us through His eyes,
what we cannot see through ours....
we lift our heads.
The conversation turns.
Those bills?
Make us thankful for the very bread on our table,
the humble and worn clothes on our backs.
That brokenness?
Brings shining joy to the real, the deep, the true relationships,
where we are so, so undeservedly loved.
Those fears?
The 'what ifs'
oh the clarity they bring...
to what matters most.
The honor of kissing those sweet children goodnight,
their soft breath on my cheek,
the curl of their body next to mine,
the way their eyes shine and see the world like Jesus.

And my heart begins again to learn that peace grows 
Not from wealth or the absence of trials

But in the middle,

In the middle
When we are hard pressed on every side.
and once again I fall to my knees...
in Joy,
with thanksgiving...
...begging that God do whatever it takes,
strip my life bare,
break down and steal anything that keeps me,
from truly
seeing the gifts.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Saturday, November 1, 2014


This child just grips my heart.
Maybe it is because we have spent so many tearful nights
 begging for just one more day with her.
Maybe it is the times we have had to hand her over,
for them to fix her heart.
Everything on the line...
Or maybe it is her joy.
Her certainty of God and who He is...
that is just uncanny.
She is such a gift.
We were asked to create a video to be shared at a friend's church in Texas this weekend...
this was so fun to make!

It has been so long....

   Wow, it has been almost an entire year since I have dusted off this keyboard!
We leave for Baja once again in 19 days!
It has been a rich year,
a trying year,
a year of deep joy,
and weeping on our knees...
and I have really missed writing.
I have no idea if anyone stills checks here,
and honestly it doesn't really matter.
It just want to write,
to record for my children,
just how beautiful this life is,
pain and all.
To remind them and myself,
just how faithful God is,
even when the answers don't come.
So hopefully I can come here and recapture lost ground from this year that I desperately don't want to forget....
because I know that I need to write down
just how faithful God has been
for those times when I need reminding.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Solomente Uno

    I have been silent on here for quite awhile, just letting things simmer in my heart and mind. Each time we return from Baja, I find myself with less answers and more to chew on, less assurance that I have much to offer and more amazement in what I have seen.
    One phrase seems to keep rolling around in my mind. I find myself pulling it out, sometimes savoring it, sometimes examining it like a strange and wonderful treasure I hardly understand.
    On the day we left for Baja, a friend gave us a gift. Tons of facepaint and 1,500 glitter tattoos. I had never seen a glitter tattoo before much less applied one to another human being. After a quick tutorial, I threw the box in our burgeoning car and we headed south.

    Weeks later, sitting on the beach in Baja surrounded with supplies we packed up for an epic adventure. 6 days on 4wd roads to visit 14 different villages.

We really knew next to nothing about what we were going to experience. Every year our hearts have longed to get off the main highway in Baja and see what life was in the mountains beyond. Through a crazy series of events we stumbled upon a church last year. We showed up at the church which was held in a tiny bar.

A few days later they were heading to a boarding school to spend the night, do a weenie roast and be a part of the kid's Posada (Christmas celebration). So when they asked who was coming Doug and I looked at each other and raised our hands!

We didn't know anyone and they certainly didn't know us but that 24 hours period at a little boarding school in the mountains of Baja sealed the deal, we wanted to go wherever these crazy people were going! So we begged to come this year on the 6 day mystery trip.
     I still struggle to wrap words around the adventure we had. We saw life, this world, people, community, nature like never before. Parts deep within all of us have been irrevocably altered and we are still exploring the new territory within our own hearts.

   At each stop the kids would jump out of the car loaded with fists full of glitter tattoos. Typically then, Georgia would flash a big old grin and show off her own glittery tattooed arm...and the swarm would begin. Some of my favorite memories of that trip were standing with Ravenna surrounded by children waiting to be tattooed. Watching her spout off, "Que quienes? Que color?" and inevitably..."Solomente Uno!"

     Solomente Uno. Only One. Because you see, I have a feeling we would still be at that first village, fingers aching and covered in glitter if we hadn't set a limit. What kid doesn't love a glittery dragon, pony, heart or crown bedazzling every inch they can find?
     Solomente Uno. It rings in my head almost constantly. The phrase glitters and sparkles making me want more.
    Solomente Uno. Only One.
   Baja radiates the exotic, the juxtaposition of limitless arid desert that gives way in the blink of an eye to lush oasis valleys that most of the world has never seen. Raw salt flats reflecting the sun's glory give way to villages of people with tenderness in their eyes. Humble buildings reveal communities content to have each other and just enough.

    There is another treasure in Baja hardly ever seen. People stepping forth to help others, one at a time. Solomente Uno.

 It comes in the form of the pastor bringing a woman two goats so she can support her family, and coming back every year to bring more goat feed and to celebrate as her grandchildren grow.

 It is a man spending months stopping at schools, playing with the children, listening to the teachers, finding out what they need. It is that same man driving hundreds of miles to get those supplies and bring them back.

It is a woman named Laura who cares so deeply for a widowed rancher that it brings him tears of joy when he see her.

It is that same rancher turning around and telling us, "I don't have much to offer but I have my land and will gladly share it with you to camp on." It is that beautiful man joining hands with us to pray in different languages to the same God.

 It is a woman who spends her spare time drive to remote villages with a trunk full of eyeglasses bringing people the ability to read for the first time in years.

It is the man who when asked, "Do you have adult diapers?" by an elderly woman who can barely walk, pulls out his notebook and writes down to remember to bring her a full supply when he drives back through.

It is a pastor who loves the children of Baja so much that he seeks out every opportunity to don a Santa suit, hug each child, look them in the eyes and tell them the real meaning of Christmas....every year for 15 years.

Solomente Uno is a couple who are giving their lives to live in a tiny room and raise 25 children all from lives that have been battered and bruised.

It is a group of retired people camping on the beach hearing about orphans in Baja then digging through their trailers and pockets to give anything they can to help out.

Choosing poverty...picking up a moving to the poorest area in a very poor town in order to reach out to those living in the trash dump and the children living nearby. Solomente Uno.

It is a man who used to drive the bus to pick up migrant children, knowing that during the holiday they would not have enough food. That same man using his own funds and asking others to help to buy and deliver food to these children who sometimes go for 2-3 days with nothing to eat.

   While driving down a dusty street to deliver food to the children with none, I asked my friend question after question about the area, the needs, other ministries and how to best help. In response he said, "The first time I heard these kids would go for days without food, I went home and I wept. I just couldn't believe it. I spoke with my pastor about what I should do in the face of so much need and he told me, do the one thing God is leading you to do. Fill that one need."
    Solomente Uno.
Solomente Uno.  I had the honor witnessing these people pouring their lives out. No big titles, no fancy websites, no matching t-shirts. Just people stepping out and doing one thing at a time to show God's love. Solomente Uno.
What they are doing is not easy. It takes moxy to sleep in tents at a goat ranch in the middle of nowhere Baja. A sleepy morning sipping coffee at home would be easier than loading a car up with reading glasses and hitting the dirt road. A car gets stinky and scratched up when loaded down with goat feed. Adult diapers are not small and take up a lots of room in a car.
 I always used to think if you were going to help or do 'ministry' it meant joining a group or having a big plan. But what if it really means saying yes to the need God is placing in front of me? What if we didn't wait for a big plan but just stepped in and started doing?
Solomente Uno.....for some of us that may look extreme like living near a trash dump, for some it may mean starting a mom's group, or a book study or befriending a group of teens. God has made us all so differently...but He has made us for a purpose, it may take some moxy, it probably should take some risk and hard work.
Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky
Philippians 2:15


Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Second Glance...

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.1:27
1 Corinthians 


I am surfacing once again, probably for my benefit more than anyone else...

so much feels like it is bubbling beneath the surface and many times it is when I sit down and write that the Lord and I sift stuff out into a semblance of clarity.

We have been here in Baja for over a month now.

We have traipsed across Baja to visit ranches as fishing villages, stepped onto the Holy Ground of orphanages and seen stories play out like only the Great Storyteller can write them. We have driven through salt flats and date palm oasis'...over roads rough and smooth all the while having our eyes opened and  our hearts changed in so many subtle ways.

We have seen so very much,

and yet we are just babies in beginning to understand.

The thing is, it is so easy to come down here and  to make assumptions.

To look on the surface of things and  compare  it to our own way of life, our own frame of reference.

Honestly, to look and see first poverty and to label it "so sad"....

if I am really honest, that is the easier thing to do.

But as I sit here debating about sharing pictures of things that can easily be labelled, I think I want to write about something else.

Because what is much heavier on my heart is the overwhelming beauty and the incredible honor of what we got to see.

The first glance was "poverty",

the first thought was "what  can I do to help?"

...the second glance was...





A friend of ours who has worked extensively in southern Baja has asked people in these remote places, "Would you ever  want to live in America?"

Guess what their answer was?

"No way! We have family, God and just enough of what we need right here."

and that is what we saw.

Yes, sometimes they do not have enough food.

Yes, they often have no electricity, or running water.

Yes, they say they are cold and hungry....

but even more than that,

they have joy.

They care  well for one another,

They have relationships with each other and with God.

On one leg of the trip Parker was hanging his head out the window (soaking it all in)

and Ravenna spoke up.

She said, "Mama, I know that some people in Baja may be poor but I think they are lucky. In America we dig everything up and build things. In Baja they get to enjoy the beauty just as God created it."


How much of our world, our lives and our hearts to we dig up while running after the next  'big' thing? I reflect on my life back home and from here, much of it can look like striving after wind.

So my first response was to think, "what can I do to help?"

But now....

we are asking God to search our hearts to be more like those that we have met on this trip.

Doug and I have talked at length each time we come down here (this is our 6th year) about how we live with our hearts in two places.

In the past we have talked about wanting to live in Hood River with our life affected by what we have seen in Baja.

I meant by that was sacrificing so that I could give more to the needs down here....and yes, there are real needs.

Now, I would say the same thing but the meaning would be very different.

How can we live in Hood River in a way that begins to in some way embrace the beauty and simplicity, the depth of relationship and  awareness of God that is slowly beginning to seep into the cracks of our souls?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Buenas Dias!

Hello from Southern Baja!

We have been here for a little over a week and life is moving beautifully slow!

Honestly, looking back at our life up north it seems as if we were moving at such a frantic pace....

it has taken us almost a week to slow down, 

recapture how sweetly blessed we are just being together...

how good it feels to walk with my biggest girl's arm around my waist,

or to sit looking out at the sea while chatting with Parker, just  hearing deep thoughts that rumble around in his mind....

or to have  Georgia smush here little cheek up against mine as she squeezes my neck with all here might a screams "I love you Mama!!!" into my ear.

To sit up at night with Doug with hearts swollen full of how deeply blessed we are.

Deeply blessed, living in 20 feet, no internet, no phone, only solar power....

with all of the 'things' we think we need sitting in our house up north...

and yet somehow, it is here with so very little that I can hardly bare the weight of our blessings.

So here are an obscene amount of pictures for the Grandparents(or anyone else who is interested!)

Our first day on the road...we just had to stop and get our fill of snow!

Parker lived up to the task for sure!

Getting in a little Taekwondo sparring just off the Mexico hwy 1

Too sweet for words!

The view along the Pacific is stunning...

Best car riders EVER

Letting off a little steam!
We hit some VERY bumpy roads...they cracked all of our eggs!

Lucky for us...the fridge was on too high so the eggs froze and didn't make a mess...but made for fun cooking!

Home Sweet Home!

Homeschooling for the next 6 weeks...it has been pretty fun so far!

Practicing counting with seed pods!

Miss Georgia hard at work!

This swee tgirl is ahead of her work already!

Making muffins to deliver to the neighbors up and down the beach!

When you have lots of time on your hands...make a racetrack! The kids are running a 'marathon' around it a little each day!

P.E. on the paddleboard

This Mama's sanity break
Even laundry is fun down here! Ravenna begs to do it!

One of our favorite pastimes is hunting for shells

Oh and dodging the waves:)

Ravenna is so alive down here among the shells and fossils!

You think she's happy!?!!!

and Parker seems so free with the wind in his hair. I often find him sitting in the sand looking out at the water

or perfecting his handstand :)

The kids have started a 'rainbow garden' in the middle of their racetrack

Complete with a Mexican racing flag (yes...Georgia is ok, her eyelid just became lunch for a mosquito)

I just  love having so much time as a family with Doug...our evenings often play out with a background of him on the guitar

and we have time to sit and do crafts for hours!

and to turn trash into high-tech robot arms...

and to embrace our inner pyro tendencies....notice all the lighters I promise they were supervised!

and digging for iron ore...to China or a flower garden depending on the kid!

We got to go sailing on the Sea of Cortez with a friend...one of Doug's dreams!

Safety never takes a vacation :)

We head out on Sunday on a trip with a local church to deliver supplies to 13 very remote villages (5 days on 4WD roads) and play with an estimated 1,500 children. Parker had a great idea. We have been told many of these children love to run alongside of the cars as we drive. He said, "Mom! I would just FREAK out if a car drove by and people started to throw paper airplanes out the windows! ...and what if we could write 'Merry Christmas' in Spanish on them!" So we are madly making Feliz Navidad airplanes to share with  the kids!

While we were making airplanes Miss Ravenna and Georgia were scouring the beach for seaweed to make a restaurant!

Stewed seaweed and sundried seaweed all for your dining pleasure!

We leave Sunday for the mountain trip. Could you pray for:

* Safety....both in health and with our vehicle, the roads are very rough and the villages very remote.

* That we would act in humility...we know that the Lord is at work already in these beautiful villages and we want to enter in and learn and to see.

Until then...Vaya con Dios!


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