Friday, August 29, 2008


...some interesting politics...boy do I have a lot to say about this!

Have a good weekend...and God Bless America!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Where is God in all this?

I must say that the question above makes me crusty. I'm not going to lie. I don't think people are wrong in asking the question, but I'm saddened by the question,and crusty, nonetheless. And at the same time, I am strengthened and encouraged.

People ask, "Where is God in all of this?" This, referring to pain, heartache, sickness, disease, poverty, abuse, war, loss, death, horrible, horrible things...

People ask, "Why do bad things happen to: good people, innocent people, me?" Good, referring to humans that aren't as bad, as say, bad guys, or innocent, referring to children or helpless victims, or maybe innocent in hopeful reference to themselves.

I get the questions. The wondering. The temptation to compare. The inability to make sense of it all..."Why is his/her life so easy?" "Why did my: wife, husband, child, friend, gramma, grampa, aunt, uncle, cousin, sibling; die? They were: wonderful, kind, so giving, so young...they loved God so's such a waste..." I am not pretending to make sense of it all, but I can, and boldly will, say this:

God isn't somewhere else...He's in the middle of all of it. Now, understand I did not say that God makes it all happen. There's a reason God left the book of Job in the Bible. For that matter, He left all the words so that we weren't left to live life here floundering, but so that we would see the truth and live life by it...God's purpose in giving us His word is to expose the Enemy of our hearts, his schemes, his bent on destroying our view of God and ruining our God-ordained relationship. God is in the middle of it because He is everywhere. It doesn't mean He likes it. God never leaves us...never. I found God in the middle of our pain. In the middle of what was the darkest time of our lives, God was there, with us, with Noah, and the reason I know He was there is because, after kicking and screaming, I opened my heart to see that we live in a fallen world, but one that God did not forsake. I found Him, right where He said He would be, never wavering, but knowing exactly what to expect given that He had experienced it all on the cross Himself...for me...for Noah...for you...

That's where my hope sets in. What truly should be defined as my lowest valley, as I look back on it, and as I lived through it, I realize was a mountain top experience. God was there. I sought Him and found Him...and He never left. Of course He hates that even the possibility of pain in our lives is a potential reality. He knows the affairs of His enemy...He knows. But He provides through it, knowing that life on this earth will indeed present the pain. And knowing there is so much more. And what satan intended as a full-on assault on our lives, not our physical bodies but our lives as whole people, fell on soil that, for satan's plantings, was not fertile. Not for his use or deathly intentions. He received no glory...though he does in other assaults around the globe, on our blocks, in our churches, schools, grocery stores, every day. He receives the glory because people have a skewed view of God because of, dare I say, religion. A false representation of the intimacy God desires to have with man through Christ. Jacked up thinking. God equals Santa Claus. "God, I want this, this and if You don't do it my way, hit the highway." Exactly what the devil wants us to harbor in our hearts.

I have said it before and will say it again, I don't need to defend God. He's a big boy. He obviously can handle Himself. What my intentions are is to introduce people to God the way I see in His word that He desires to be known. He is good. He is gracious. He forgives us...even those we don't feel deserve it...that's why He's God...He sees a bigger picture, one of which He is the Artist, and it is magnificent and beyond description, and we have yet to see it. He thinks differently than we do, and it is more wonderful than we can comprehend, and we have yet to conceive it. He loves you exactly the way you are because He made you, designed you, and smiles every time He thinks of you. He desires to be known and is ecstatic at the prospect of you letting yourself be known to Him. And, He wants to be found 'in all this' because running from Him or turning our backs on Him 'in all this' is a lonely place, and He understands...there is nothing that was not nailed to the cross that day...nothing.

So, rather than running from Him, it's in the center of 'all this' that you will find Him, and it's there you will find His peace...shalom...nothing missing, nothing broken.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Update: Em LOVES school! Like, Luhhhh UVVVS it! Trying to get across the love here, people...hope you are catching on...

Just had to share this:

The other day while I was bent over picking up bath toys, I get a small-handed smack on the rear. Em says, "Mom, how come your buns are hard as a rock?!"

A smile instantly spreads across my face, but knowing a smart ass answer would not pacify the kid, I had to admit the only reason was because I was bent over (just the facts, ma'am, just the facts)...I proceeded to stand up, and, like magic, my buns of steel were gone. Gravity took control of the situation, and, voila! Sad, but true. It was nice to think I had rock hard buns, if only for a moment. Perhaps when I am done with my Avon walk, my answer will be different, but for now, it is what it is.

Would you like to share one of your "kids say the darnedest things" with the rest of us?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Season of change

Em's not in Australia, though one day...This is actually the entrance to our new favorite zoo. It's in Colorado Springs. When you walk through the gate above, you are actually in the wallaby's habitat.
Em petting a baby wallaby.
There is a great bird room, called "Budgies" or something, where you can feed them and they land on your shoulder or head, or finger or whatever.

One of our favorites since Em's favorite color lately is aqua.
Em and her very favorite guy.
Yes, my kid is on a mushroom, but she is not on mushrooms.
Spider legs
So, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is very interactive. Obviously from the above photos. But, you get to actually feed giraffes, which, unless you live in Africa, isn't something you get to do a lot in the city, or really America for that matter...
You probably aren't supposed to ride them, either, but who could resist?

So, we went to the zoo on Monday to have a special day with Emily. We were sensing a change...You see, Jason and I have been praying a lot for Emily regarding this school year. Until two weeks ago, Emily was totally opposed to going to any school other than home school. I was great with homeschooling her because I think it's a unique opportunity, though I do not feel it is right for everyone. Our plan was to home school Em until further notice from the Lord. Well, God has been showing Jason and me that His plan for Em, His divine design, does not include home school at this time. I fought it because there is such freedom and nurturing with home school. I started doing research on our area schools: magnets, charters, public, co-ops, private. I went to several of them to learn more about the schools, interview their principals, go on tours, and peek into classrooms. One I couldn't even leave the parking lot to enter the offices because I had a horrible shooting/stabbing pain in my gut that would not subside until I drove out of the parking lot. Literally, the moment I hit the street, it disappeared.

Em even sat in on a couple interviews. Here's how one played out...
Principal: "Emily, how would your friends describe you?"
Em: "I don't know."
Principal: "What would your friends say about you?"
Em: "I really don't know."

I asked Em on the way to the car why she didn't know how her friends would describe her. She said, "Mom, my friends and I play when we are together. We don't sit around and describe each other." Touche.

Anyway, I was getting discouraged with the process because the schools I thought I liked had 'no room in the inn.' I thought, "Lord, how's that writing on the wall coming?! I know you have put it upon both Jason's and my heart, so why all the closed doors?" I figured I had just heard God wrong, so I was ready to buy our upcoming year curriculum and settle into a routine with Em. Then, God prompted me to look at the school that is actually in our boundary area. I hadn't considered it because it is a year round school track and Jason was opposed to that...originally. I took Em and we headed over for a tour. We sat with the assistant principal and shared some of our story, asked many questions, and heard her heart about the 3 different 1st grade classes and tracks. One track had plenty of room and actually could use a couple more girls, but the class that had borderline room, the AP really felt like would be a good fit for Em, having heard our story. I gathered all the paperwork and told her I would go home and pray about it and see what Em's daddy had to say. While walking out the door, Em said, "Mom, I want to start that school tomorrow morning." She said what I felt, but I hid it in my heart and prayed. Em and I spent the rest of the day reading, hanging in the hammock and nuggling. Jason and Em and I headed back to the school after it dismissed so Jason could meet the teacher. It was love at first sight! I'm serious! I wish I were enrolling myself! The teacher spent an hour with us, even though we showed up unannounced, answering Em's questions and all of ours.

So, all that to say, today, Em started 1st grade a little late, thirty years after I did the same thing because of a move from Ohio to Arizona. 1978, baby! Jason and I were a little sad, though we have great peace. Jason's going to miss her popping into his office every few minutes while he's trying to work...And me, well, I'm not exaggerating when I say that last week my heart felt similar to the days prior to January 12, 2007. Because of the way I felt, I thought that God must be mistaken regarding sending Em to school. But, God showed me, without a pillar of fire or Gabriel the Angel, but in a more obvious way, that what He was leading us to was a specific teacher not a school. My mom reminded me that God loves Em more than I do and has a specific plan for her life...and that if I seek Him for His will for her, He will lead me as her parent.

And, as far as the year round school, we can still go to Africa next summer for a month without problems, and, whenever Em is home on extended breaks, we'll do home school, since that is a lifestyle, not a curriculum...And, yes, I'll probably be the PTO president one day (smiley face)
(And yes, anyone who has been here since Em went to preschool, I am wearing the exact same outfit...2 years later)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The olden days

Remember when God used to write on walls, lead groups of people by clouds and pillars of fire, speak through donkeys and burning bushes, turn rivers to blood and send top dog angels like Gabriel to tell people stuff? I don't really remember either, but living life by the Holy Spirit is harder than the Israelites had it. Why did they have to whine so much? I would have loved to have had breakfast served every morning with wafers of manna on my back lawn! Whenever someone asks, "If you had to choose between a chef, personal trainer, or maid service for a month, which would you choose?" I ALWAYS CHOOSE CHEF!!! They even got dinner every night! Believe me, I'm not saying the Israelites had it easy, obviously they were led out of Egypt where they were slaves for many years, they were beaten, their sons killed...horrible, horrible things. But be led by GOD OF THE UNIVERSE, ALMIGHTY GOD, DIVINE CREATOR, AWESOME GOD, personally, being given lands full of milk and honey, olive orchards and all that great stuff, led to it like a horse to water...and then whining about being scared of big guys that God already told them in advance He would let them beat...No, I don't wish I were one of the Israelites for many reasons, but especially because I'm a whiner, too. I whine when I seek God and haven't gotten either A: the answer I want or have mapped out clearly for God; or B: an answer as fast as I would like. We have a no whining policy at our house...we've always said to Em, "Whining isn't a language, so I don't understand what you are saying. Use your words or show Mommy/Daddy." So, as I type this, God has already shown me that when I whine, He doesn't have a translation for that since it's not a language...I need to use my words or show Daddy...and then trust that His Divine Design for our lives is spectacular and splendid and mine is only sub-par...

Thanks for letting me process's already helped...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When your 'Cat's' away... do you play?

For the most part, whenever Jason goes out of town, I get a 'bee in my bonnet', as my friend Rachel calls it, and I decide to do something out of the ordinary to surprise him...

Well, last week while Jason was gone for 24 hours, this happened:
Me: "Hey Em, let's surprise Daddy!"
Em: "Okay, do you want to make cookies?"
Me: "No, let's paint the house, or something..."
Em: "Okay!"

We headed to the store for some paint...
...but then I thought it would be fun to re-plaster the family room wall. I'm not a big fan of the standard texture they put on walls these days.
So, I did this...
And, once it dried, I did this...
And, eventually had to fill it in with 'Old Violin' by Ralph Lauren...
So, a week later, here's the final project. When I pulled the tape off the walls, some plaster and paint came with it, so I have to do some touch up, but otherwise, I love it. Jason wasn't as keen on the texture initially, but now he likes it.
The kitchen was actually my first project. I was dreading it because the cabinets are really tall so there is about a foot of wall above them to tape, caulk and paint. It, along with the plaster, was what was finished when Jason walked in the door from his trip.
The nook 'before'
Here's the 'after''s a Martha Stewart color called Birdhouse MS331 by Valspar
It's darker than this shows...
Jason really loved the kitchen, so it made the power 24-hour makeover worth it!
Slowly, but surely, I am painting the house. Once I muster more 'umph', I'll finish the family room and work on the hallways, but that may not happen for a long, long, l o n g time...

I love to surprise Jason because it's fun to see his responses. He's a very even keel kind of guy, so trying to get any kind of reaction is fun. I know I probably make him crazy by being so 'fly by the seat of my pants', but, hey, life's short, I'm random, and quite frankly, I know no other way.

So, when your 'Cat' is away, how do you play?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The other house

The girls in room 4: Kelly, Gina, Megan and Leah
(Some of Em's 'goodies')

Of course, again, my kid couldn't resist picking up "just one more" perrito (puppy).

Because we took 31 people from our church and met up with about 15 others from California, we were able to split into two groups during the week in order to build two houses. That was an unexpected blessing since we thought we'd only be building one originally. The 'Jolly Green Giant' pictured above is for a Canadian missionary named Jason who married a Mexican girl named Reina. (Ray nuh - 'queen' or 'royal') They had been living with her familia in their home but because her parents had a double lot, they gave them a portion of their land on which to build their home.
Here's a pic of a cool kitchen counter top the other team built for Jason and his new bride.
Once the house was finished we prayed blessings over their home and marriage.
Jason surprised Reina by sweeping her off her feet and carrying her over the threshold after she cut the ribbon. Que romantica!

And, because we had plenty of people on our teams, 3 of our guys were able to head down the hill to the house of a female missionary, the director of an orphanage, where they built her a staircase and a bridge between her upstairs dormers. I think that's one of the reasons I loved this trip so much...yes, our original purpose in traveling to Mexico was to build a home for a widow and her familia. But our schedule was not so regimented that we didn't have freedom to look around, see pertinent needs, and be able to fill them. I've been on a lot of trips that were so task oriented that, though we accomplished our goals, there just wasn't room to be used in a way that was specific to your gifts or talents, the way God designed you. I'll tell you about a great orphanage down there soon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Thank all makes sense now...

2nd or 3rd day in hospital
(Notice the blue in his blankie is the same as the house in Mexico. Personally, I could stare at pics of him all day...oh wait, I guess I already do that:))

I just wanted to say 'Thank You' for all of your encouragement and prayers. I've been praying that God would lead me in the right direction for the right counselor at this time. I have received a few names, one operates on a sliding scale, so that's helpful given our current financial sitch, but I'm just going to trust God for the right person and the right timing. Personally, I may take up garage 'saling' just to break dishes...I really like that idea. Actually, I have been recently missing a self-defense class I took at the college where I worked. We got to spar each other, and let me tell you, that was FUN! I used to do kick-boxing, too...that was exhilarating! It made me feel a bit "G.I. Jane" ish. I want to hurt something, not someone, so a punching bag would be nice...recently, training for the AVON walk, I get a lot of time to talk to God, listen, and think, but the only thing that hurts after that is me, from the hips down! A padded room sounds inviting,too, for obvious reasons. *I read a passage from the blog from a year ago...this must be a yearly anger may recall this rant if you've been here a while...

The thing is, even though Noah could have been treated upon his admittance to the hospital, I don't blame the docs or nurses. I am disgusted with 'The System', but I know that most of Noah's docs and nurses loved him and wanted to care for him...and cure him. One of the chapters in Noah's book will be 'My Theory'. There I hope to crack open a whole new world of saving little ones and begin to raise awareness. I'm still doing a lot of research so don't want to speak prematurely on any of it, but with regard to Noah, I do believe his rapid health decline could have very much been prevented.

Well, Em and Jason are off playing tennis so I have a few moments to myself. I need to email my growing 'Noah for Knockers' team because we have some serious fundraising to do. We have 4 members, soon to be 6! One is a cancer survivor from blog world that I look forward to meeting and walking with. Another is a 'Locks for Love' donor from January 12th who is studying diligently to one day be a Physicians Assistant. The other two are girlfriends from from Seattle and the other lives in NYC. That means, as a team, we need to raise $10,800.00! Holy Toledo, Batman! We have $50, thus far, without trying, so need to get a plan. We want to do a silent auction and get sponsors from local businesses. If anyone is interested in donating a service or items to the silent auction, you can email me here. But, given the recent advice, how much would you pay either to break a plate yourself or sponsor a mom who would love to break multiples? Huh?! Shall I do a 'Break a Plate' drive? I think I'm onto something here...helping people find a cure while helping others deal with anger...I like it...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Harder than I thought...

Since August 2nd I have had a really tough time. Part of it is coming back from Mexico where I thoroughly enjoyed my family, new friends, and meeting locals...and the other part is that somehow, 2 years later, my emotions; anger, frustration, deep sadness and longing, all of these are more poignant than they were in the hospital with Noah. Maybe because then, while experiencing those same feelings, at least I could hold him and soak him in my tears. I could eat his toes, nuggle his sweetness and stare at his beautiful face. Now, I try to cry when I am alone. I know Em has seen me cry, but two years later, does she have to be dragged through my agony? Jason wants me to see a counselor, and I really want to, but I'm afraid I've left out some details lately that are probably appropriate at this point...So, remember how Jason and Em and I drove up to South Dakota for the 4th of July? Well, the first morning we were there, Jason's job situation changed. Declaration of independence. So, though I'm not a big spender anyway, I'm not out purchasing expensive counseling sessions presently, either.

I really enjoyed our group sessions with the other parents. But I know that those meetings aren't all about me, my sorrow, my son, my hell, or my hope. I've been extremely frustrated lately at 'the system'. I can recall everything that transpired and DID NOT happen upon our arrival at the hospital with Noah. Noah is whole. He is safe. He's happier than I'll ever be until I'm in his position. But he never had to get that sick! We took him off the ventilator because we trust God but also because he was so very sick. Did I ever mention that he died right away? He was ready. Apparently, regardless of my hope in Heaven, my heart was not ready, regardless of my peace, my heart has a hole and it aches. He never had to get that sick. Did you know that from the day we walked into the hospital until the day after his lung collapsed, Noah was never treated?! #$%^&*#$%^&*#$%^&* THAT WAS 22 DAYS! Which is 22 more days than the 2 or 3 weeks of diarrhea he had at home. He had diarrhea and was weak. He was treated for his weak respirations. (Man, I can feel blood surging through my body right now because I am so angry when I think about the hospital situation and the room full of experts trying to catch a greased pig.) He was not treated for his diarrhea until AFTER his stool killed dozens of mice at the Center for Disease Control. Our hospital experience, save the nurturing care of the many of the staff, was a political nightmare!

And, after my AVON walk in NYC, I want to try, again, and I DON'T WANT TO TRY, at all! I am an oxymoron! I don't feel a need to replace Noah, I've said that on numerous occasions, because he could never be replaced, obviously. But my heart is sad for Em. She's got to be so sick of hanging out with two 30-somethings! And, the reason I don't want to try is not because I am fearful that this could all happen again. I used to be in a place where I wanted to solve Noah first before I entertained the thought of more kids. I have more than solved it, at least in my heart and through much of my research, so it happening again, I can't imagine it could...since it's PREVENTABLE! #$%^&* (I'm just puking out loud here...sorry)

So, all that to say, admittedly, I know I am an escapist. I like to retreat from my life at times because, as I found out at the hospital for 5.5 months, life still goes on without me...Mexico was great for so many reasons that I will continue to share, but Mexico was great because I got to leave my daily life and focus outward instead of on the anger that rages in this machine...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Lost in translation

Faces at the market

So, somehow on our trip I was designated as 'the translator'. Yes, I speak Spanish, I can read and write it and I understand it if the person is speaking slowly. But, medical Spanish...well, that just wasn't a class I took in college. Business, yes. Travel, yes. But not medical Spanish. I learned enough of it to get a shot in my 'bomba' (booty) once when we were on vacation. I had an allergic reaction to something and had a full body rash...that was fun. Anyway, there was a woman named Sandy from CA on the trip. She is a breast cancer survivor and became a nurse at the age of 55. She is a pediatric home care nurse for critical patients...we would have benefited from her care had Noah come home with us. She brought supplies with her to measure blood sugar levels and take blood pressure for people unable to access medical care. She chose me to be her interpreter. So, I told her that we should pray no one dies while I'm on the clock and we set out...We went to two different migrant worker camps* and set up a table and some chairs in the dirt next to the effluent water running down the road. We were able to assess many people, most with good blood pressure and healthy blood sugar levels, but between the two camps, we encountered about a dozen people with potential diabetes. I was honored to work beside Sandy and help her use her gift of nursing and to point the people in the direction of the free medical clinic in town for further assessment.

Because the migrant camps are usually located in the worst barrios, our main contact did not want the two of us ladies out there doing our street side clinic on our own. So, the second day 3 guys came along, bringing bubbles for the children and gum and such. They weren't bodyguards, but more of a presence. Well, our final 'patient' was Francisco, a beautiful old man of 70 years. He sat down in the chair, got his finger pricked, his blood pressure checked and waited. He was squirming a little as he waited, but all results were healthy, 'normal' in Spanish, which is pronounced nor mall. Well, he didn't get up from the seat when he was finished but proceeded to rattle off in Spanish something about problemas when he urinates...I mentioned to Sandy that he wanted to talk about his problemas. The 'bodyguards' suddenly were interested in where I would go with this one...Sandy wanted to know if his 'stream' was strong or weak? I said, "Cuando Ud. urina, es mas fuerte or mas despacio?" He said, "A veces es fuerte y despacio a veces." (Strong or slow/weak) Sandy said it was probably his prostate. I asked him how long he had the problema. He said 20 years. I translated to Sandy that it has been like that for 20 years. She said that he probably has an enlarged prostate, but since it's been like that for 20 years, it's probably normal for him. All 'bodyguards' eyes were on me. I kept looking around, thinking, and finally revealed to my little audience that I didn't know the word for prostate and as much as I wanted to tell him it was likely enlarged, I did not want to 'compliment' him by telling him he had grande pelotas or a grande package, so...I had to tell him it was nor mall for him. In the van on the way back to Motel Sanchez, after a good laugh, I asked everyone to hold me accountable to taking a medical Spanish class within the next year to at least learn the word for 'prostate'.

*A migrant worker camp is usually a U-shaped community of 10'x10' rooms where workers from the mountains come down to the valley to work the fields. They bring their families and live in horrible conditions for several months at a time. There is no electricity or running water.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

For the love of his familia...

Imagine standing on the very lot your husband worked so diligently to buy for you and your family...where you would build your dream home together and raise your teenage daughter and sons. Imagine receiving the keys to your new home, not the one you and your husband had planned, nor sharing the second set of keys with your spouse but your daughter because daddy died two weeks after purchasing the land. Before I left for Mexico, I was working with a team to build a house for 'a widow and her 3 children'. When I arrived, I met Antonia. She is a real person...a new widow. A single mom in a dusty town in Mexico, without running water or electricity. She is quiet and has a peaceful disposition. She is in her mid 30's. She has a daughter, Viridiana who is 16. Her sons are Alexis, 11, and Eduardo, 8. They are all very quiet. I could see pain in her boys' broke my heart. Her husband died of stomach cancer two weeks after he purchased land for his family. He did not leave them life insurance, but he left them land...and that is truly an amazing gift! I am sad that Viridiana doesn't have her dad around to measure every boy against. I am sad he isn't around to turn boys away at their new door. My heart is grateful that the boys have a new basketball hoop outside their new home...I wish their dad was rebounding their shots. And as for Antonia, the beautiful bedding that was given to her, to go on a queen sized bed, will be warm, but not as warm as if she were sharing it with her husband.
I'm grateful I know Spanish. I was able to ask her how her heart was her kids were feeling...apologize that the house we built in love wasn't the casa she and her husband had talked of building one day. I told her that I didn't understand her pain because I had not lost my husband. I did tell her about Noah and my hope in the Lord to one day see him again. She has the same hope.
One day, prior to painting the house, I asked Antonia what color she wanted. She said, "Amarillo". Her youngest, Eduardo, said, "No, mama! No me gusta amarillo! Azul!" I asked Antonia if blue was okay for her. She said yes. I asked which kind of blue, like 'that' guys t-shirt or the sky? She pointed to the sky...the 'sky blue' at the local mercantile store just happened to be the exact blue that we had painted Noah's room. We painted the interior yellow (amarillo). Actually, that is kind of funny because prior to the trip, I sewed curtains for Antonia's home. One set was yellow, the other two white with yellow trim. I just thought they would be cheerful. I didn't realize they were her favorite color.
At the beginning of the dedication party we prayed for Antonia, Viridiana, Alexis and Eduardo, for blessings in their new home, for hope in the Lord, strength for new beginnings, and for their home to be a 'Casa de Paz'. Paz is 'peace' in Spanish. You've probably read a little about peace on this blog...

Please pray for my friend, Jennifer...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Hola, Amigos!

Em on the truck ready to unload the building materials
Em helping Daddy cut the doorway
Em and the neighbor sisters trying to blow up beach balls...Guess who got to finish the slobbery job?
"Em, please don't touch the cats or dogs in Mexico, okay?"
"But mom, this one is just a puppy, it's not dirty..."

So, since we never had time to get to an Internet cafe, I'll share tidbits throughout the next couple of weeks about our time in Mexico. We had a great time! I want to thank those of you who prayed for us and supported us financially. God reminded me several times throughout the week that we were the hands and feet for many other hearts represented but not present. We were honored to be able to serve whoever God led us to. Jason and I can honestly say this was our favorite mission trip for several reasons. Because the team was made up of some families, some married people without their spouses, one 16 year old and many 20 somethings, it was the first time Jason and I have been on a trip where we didn't feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility for everyone. I'm not sure how that sounds, but every person on the trip genuinely wanted to be there, to be used, and to glorify God with their gifts. Basically, we didn't feel like we were babysitting...(and no, I didn't always feel that way on the other trips, if you were a team member in my past...)

I have a lot of stories to relay, so will share them as my memory serves me. Bear in mind, they aren't all uber spiritual, some are downright hilarious, while others gut wrenching and sobering. I pray that in sharing you will be encouraged in your faith and your perspective challenged.

So, in the picture above where Em's blowing up the beach ball with her new friends, she had just sat down in the dirt with them to play. One of the other moms on our trip had handed Em some shoes to give to the girl on the left. Instead of just handing them to the sweet girl with no front teeth due to rotting, Em plopped down in the dirt with her and took one foot at a time and placed a shoe on each. I didn't get to witness it, but the other mom, Michelle, did and said it was precious.

I'm still processing a lot of the trip with Emily, asking her questions, probing her feelings, but one thing I know is she dove right into the whole experience, didn't complain about the food or accommodations, and was a big helper the whole time. And she spoke the international language...child play.