Saturday, November 22, 2014


I find myself grasping for more grace these days, wanting to be filled so I might be emptied, again.

and…I reach. I reach out with my feeble hands and I attempt to unearth what grace is, what it does. 

I take my seat at the head of the table in my classroom and I relish the feeling, the honor of being able to teach, the honor of being able to plant seeds. 

and the meaning of grace falls from my tongue.

grace, it gives people the benefit of the doubt. 

grace, is an open heart, an open door. 

but grace, is misused and misplaced. 

and i find myself reaching and reeling, longing that my every student might know, might truly experience grace, the grace that understands the unfathomable, the grace that welcomes the weary, the grace that says nothing, when nothing is needed to be said. 

I struggle. I struggle, because I know I can't fix what is broken. 
I can't reach deep into hurting souls and turn on the light to wash away the darkness.
I can't always have the words to bandage the heartbroken, the salve to lessen the scars. 

but I don't think grace focuses on what can't be done. 

i think grace is always enough. 
i think grace is always overcoming. 
i think grace is always forgiving.
i think grace is always grasping. 

I think grace is beautiful, it leaves me in awe, because grace is what brought me here. You see, I, I was just an innocent girl with a crazy dream. I was just one of those that rarely attempted to be someone else, to do something more, to speak when it wasn't required was something I all, but avoided. 

I hid in the face of confrontation. 
I hid behind the pages of my books. 
I hid from pain, from heartache, but it eventually found me. 

and well, grace found me, too. 

it found me battered, bruised, and left-behind. it found me on my knees. grace found me when i least expected that any hope could be left for me, because i started looking for grace and love in all the wrong places, in all of the wrong people. 

i found myself stretching to please those around me. i found myself opening the forbidden doors of the past, just because i thought i deserved, i needed to be loved by a boy, and not by God, alone.

i started quietly, fiercely demanding that a boy's over-promised love would finally be for me, that i might have a hand to hold. but this demand ended in torrents of tears for years. it ended, just as it begun, empty hands and a failing heart. but you see, my reaction and the common response to our hurt is claiming that jesus, that he had something to do with it. but i knew all along, that grace and love couldn't be found in this boy. that my expectations were far-off, i was leaving God out of the picture. i was telling him what i wanted, what i deserved. 

but grace. His grace looks at these failures, and says "oh, child, you walked right into heartache, what you thought to be enough, was just a way of settling, barely getting by." His grace looks at the homes we build, the short-cuts we take, and He whispers, "oh child, will you just put down your tools, will just sit down with me and trust that I have complete control."

and grace, it's enough.

my hands are still empty, but my heart is full. because everyday, i get the chance to give grace to my students, my children. because everyday, i get the chance to tell my story and miraculously God uses the heartache, he uses the past pain and he accomplishes something. he accomplishes something beautiful. because unlike the people our hearts long to please, our God's words never return empty. 

He will fulfill what he has promised.  

His grace is enough. 
It always will be. 

so let grace find you, today, you, wherever you are. whatever you are standing in. let grace find you and let grace heal you. let it fill you. wrap your empty hands around grace and refuse to define life by what you can't do, but rather seek out what you can do, give grace.

make it a point to realize the house you are building for yourself, the people you are pleasing are ways of settling, it's your way of telling jesus that you have everything under control, but dear child, you are one step from breaking into a million pieces, your God knows exactly what you need. unclench your controlling fists and cling to grace, it's enough. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

moment by moment.

I had a moment. 

One of those God-entering moments and I'm sitting here on the other side of it, amazed. 

You see, somedays as a teacher, you just don't have the gusto, nor the gumption to speak up to battle against the giants that your students face. 

Sometimes, you just want to give in. 

You just want to do things halfway and reckon that when it all is said and done, it's okay, and you decide that in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter if you do enough, if you are enough. 

But the beauty of it all, is that grace is enough.

God is enough. 

And even on the days when our pale faces reflect what we lack, He is enough. 

and he lets us in...on beauty. 

My last class had more empty seats than students, so rather than forging ahead with grammar; we found ourselves with more than twenty questions and answers. 

and some of the questions were simple-what kind of animal would you be, should Spanish be spoken in English class, but among others were how did you meet God and what was an experience that changed your life. 

before we knew it our fifty minutes had passed, but out of comfort and being settled into my second home i told my students that they could decide if they wanted to stay. and the majority stayed. we found ourselves wrapped up in an inexplicable comfort, a safety in numbers..but one by one they left. until fifteen or so minutes later there were just four.

four with tear-stained cheeks. four hearts tethered to mine in a God-ordained moment reckoning with abandonment, death, divorce, and coming alive again after almost giving up. 

four sets of hands clasped with i prayed for each of the sweet four.

and i. i am the changed one. i am the blessed one.

you see so many people think that this is all about the grandiose escapades of a girl on foreign soil, when really it's about a girl that never spoke up, that kept to her books. the same girl now, being blessed by moments such as these when God's presence is something tangible, blessed by students that ease into telling their stories and opening their hearts that were once left under lock and key.

you see. i'm just a girl. 

a girl that is wordy and lacks words simultaneously, because this place, right where i am, is the more i prayed for when i was just fifteen. 

and what i'm learning is that you can't love empty. i think that's been my problem, here lately, losing sight of the importance of meeting with my Maker to fill me up, and attempting to fill others, while i am lacking. 

but i can't love empty. 

my heart needs to be filled, just like yours. and when we set aside time, when we leave the dishes in the sink, when we refuse to give into closing our eyes and stumbling into sleep, when we go to Him, our hearts will be filled. 

and full hearts can love deeply.

i don't want to traipse through life without loving deeply. i don't want to live this life without loving fully. 

my students need me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Questioning the Finish: Running for NOE

Feet graced the pavement methodically, resuming the pace that I have come to call my own and the rush of adrenaline coursed through my veins without ceasing.

And I was never tempted to stop. I never stopped.

I didn’t fight the queasiness, the doubting sensations of whether or not I would successfully make it to the finish.

Instead prayers echoed from within the pulsating walls of my heart and I knew, without a doubt in my mind that my God was running for me.

He has used life to teach me in the past that I am, but a vessel. A vessel to speak when words of truth quake within me, a vessel to write when words flood beneath the lead of my pencil, a vessel to run with the cause set before me.

And yes, the heart longs to give, to rebel in the midst of the storm, the heart longs to flee- when the rushing tide tempts to overcome the soul.

But God met me at the starting line that fall day before dawn and he gently whispered, “Welcome Daughter, I am with you and in me, you are victorious.”

So I ran with a knowing that long ago, before I even knew what keeping a pace meant, that God saw me speeding up at the Portland Marathon finish line.

Before I even knew I could, He saw me conquer.

And that is something that we should write on our ever so often-shaky hands,
we were made to conquer.

While you might have never seen yourself in the place that your heart now calls home, He knew.

Nothing has taken, nor will ever take him by surprise.

Yet we fear. We fear our mile 8s, when our body tends to give out, reminding us that we are fragile hearts merely attempting to dream bigger, grasping more grace than our feeble hands can hold, and barely standing on our weak knees.

We renounce victory, we desperately clench to control before things get too far out of our reach.

But God, the God who stands by you at the starting line as you jog in place is the same God at mile 8, who starts cheering you on and runs beside you to keep your pace.

He is the same God whose eyes light up with fierce joy as you fight to finish strong; He is the one who runs to embrace you at the finish.

I rely too much on my own strength. My tendency is tell my heart that enough is enough.

But thankfully, our life does not depend on “our enough.”

Our body does not depend on our strength to run the race that He has called us to run.

You see, we were always chosen for more.
We were always chosen to run…and we were always chosen to conquer.

I don’t want to remain the same anymore.

I don’t want to stand still when God has made me brave enough to move.

I don’t want to let my dreams go to waste and collect dust on a shelf full of worn-out memories.

I don’t want to go life without running a full marathon.

I know I can speak Spanish, so why stay silent?
I know I can love Mexico, so why not settle down and call it home?
I know that I was meant to sing, so why not sing?
I know I can run a half, so what is keeping me from running a full?

Jesus was enough for 13.1 miles and my Spirit rests in the certainty of knowing He will be more than enough for 26.2.

I am done living in fear of the starting line, because God is already waiting for me at the finish.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Octobers: Running for NOE

I remember it like it was yesterday.

The shadows beneath my eyes were ever so deep, the fear of never leaving was prevalent and I was consumed with a dream. I longed to walk into my sweet, little home and open its doors to the children that would run up to me screaming "Cristina" in utmost delight. But no matter how hard I tried, this dream remained just that, a dream. 

A fresh graduate out of college, I had to meander my way back into the racks of clothing and attempt to ignore the hold on my heart for a country so foreign to my own. But it wasn't possible, I was stuck. 

While many of my classmates found life after, I felt as though I was waiting for my life to begin. 

So October of 2010, I walked into my mom's office with Sonic and her eyes lit up like she knew a secret. She directed me to the book she was reading and told me to read one particular part in Chapter 12. I followed her direction and found myself joyful, because it was about my Mexico. It was about students. It was about second chances. Breaking down walls. 

Before I could realize what I was doing, I searched for the website, perused it and a couple days later I was filling out the application. 

I couldn't even pronounce the city name. 

I didn't know a soul. 

It wasn't Baja. 

They weren't my sweet children. 

I got accepted with a "FELICIDADES" from a director whose name was just a name to me. And so began the fundraising and the praying that if this was from God, that He would make sure it would work out for HIS GOOD. 

That October quickly turned into a tearful March 22, 2011, a night that I spent telling myself I didn't have to go, it wasn't something that I had to do, I could tell people it just didn't work out, it just wasn't right. But my Mom, she's pretty fearless and she had this knowing about her, that God was going to use this unknown, this awful uncertainty and He was going to show His glory to me. 

Brian Overcast called that night right before I was going to bed and checked-in.

March 23, 2011 I was sitting on the plane with eyes full of tears, millions of questions running around in my head, most of which were questioning my sanity. The question "what on Earth are you doing?" was almost audible. But somehow I stayed on the plane, and I fought the questions as best as I could. I tried to tell myself that this wasn't any different from going to college eight hours away from the ones I knew and loved. 

But it was different, let's just be honest. 

I was moving to a foreign country, where books couldn't be my only company, where I would have to learn to teach and most importantly I would have to learn to speak. 

I was moving to MORELIA, and I couldn't even pronounce it. 
I was moving in with a family that I didn't even know. 

So you remember? That beautiful long-winded story started in October of 2010 and we now find ourselves in October of 2014. Just five days ago, I was again, bombarded with the question "what on Earth are you doing?" 

But instead of a plane, I found myself at the starting line of the Portland Marathon. And sure, I have learned to run over the past couple of years, but 11.5 miles was the most distance I had ever covered. As I stood there waiting for my corral to be called, I couldn't help but try to talk myself out of it, or there was also the thought oh Kristen, just run a little and then walk the rest, it won't matter. 

But then I remembered why I was running. 

Students started showing up in my mind, moments from my three years at NOE started playing on my heart's movie reel and I became sure that I was going to run and I was going to finish. 

I got teary-eyed midway, because I remembered my reason for running and I could feel God's presence with me. 

Mile 8 was my problem-child the last few distance runs I did in Morelia and I was incredibly afraid that I would lose my pace or I would get sick, so I thought about starting to walk. But then I renounced that idea and I declared that I was going to keep running. I declared victory in Jesus and I started to see myself crossing the finish-line, before I had even arrived. 

Mile 8 turned into mile 10 before I could even realize it and then I knew with all that was within me, that I would be able to finish. A 5K seemed like a breeze compared to the ten miles I had already completed. 

I started hearing the cheers and people of all ages were telling me the finish was just around the corner…so I took a deep breath and I decided that I wouldn't slow down, but that I would speed up for the finish.  

I ran my first half in 2 hours and 5 minutes. I ran it all without any walking. 

It was the first time for such a long distance and the first time I have ever run without walking. 

I was able, because my God is able. 

I was brave enough, because God makes me brave. 

And just like October of 2010, God reminded me that the most beautiful moments in our lives are the ones where we question "What on Earth are we doing?" Because those are the moments when we unclench our controlling fists and let Him have His way in us. Those are the moments that He gently shows us are much better than our detailed plans.

Friday, September 12, 2014

the comforts of home...

my dear brother came over and sat right down beside me and held me for about twenty minutes exclaiming how much he missed me, our hearts sat still as i listened to him fall back into ease

and my heart leapt. 

leapt for joy, because just maybe with a heart full, consumed of prayers, this will be his year...

where he meets Jesus. where he comes to know the love of a maker that made Him, the love of a Savior. 

my heart was full as i sat around a table where two girls giggling at my whole-hearted attempt at speaking their language, turned into three years of knowing and learning the ins and the outs, the comings and the goings, three years of stories sat around that table surrounded by bright pink walls... and i was consumed, because they were now more than names, they had become and still are my family...

sitting around the table, where the youngest opened up- just last year, losing herself to tears, admitting that Jesus did become more than a name to her, that she felt him, that conversations and vulnerability we had between us brought Him to life…the other, my how she's grown and seen and felt a pain, deeper than most will ever know, gently retelling me of her days…reviving the joy that rests within me for knowing that her heart, too, came to know our Jesus that Spring...

and my heart is full, because i see students reflecting love, i see students rising above their circumstances. 

and my how i believe in each and every girl and boy that has graced my classroom and even the ones that have just merely, just barely graced my presence. 

and well, sometimes, my emotions get carried away for them, because there's a fear that some day or in the middle of the night they might feel like they have arrived at a place in life, where they are alone. their feelings, their voice might go silent and they might need to be heard. 

so i hover over them, and i try my best to stay and fill the silence with rambling reassurance, but i forget that sometimes, it is okay to stay silent, to be a silent cheerleader, or to silently fall to my knees and give them back to Jesus who has graciously given them over to me for such a time. i forget that i can't fix things, that i can't know all things, and that maybe the closest thing that will come to love will be just to be there, to hold them for a time, or maybe even to walk away, with their names upon my lips and prayers being uttered for their dear soul

and that's where i find myself, back in the arms of the ones I love. feet dusty from the foreign soul, that is now less foreign than the one i used to call home. reveling in the stories of my students and marveling at the grace that I see in them, the ruins that have been redeemed, the lost causes that have claimed victory, the messes that have become messages.

and i'm struck. left speechless and left consumed with gratitude, that my God, would choose me, to be here.

He chose me.

the idea that i get to somehow be a part of this, this beautiful thing, called life at NOE causes my heart to quake and my soul to shudder, my hands are still very much empty, but oh my heart is full. and i have found, that is okay. i'm okay with empty hands, because that does nothing to my very full heart…

and so, here i am another year, full of hope that this year will be my brother's, that this year will belong to him and my students, that they'll come to know Jesus and bask in His beautiful love, knowing that He will always, always be enough…

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Baja & Beyond…[the ones that I've met along the way]

Dear Baja, Goodwill, Reynosa and the many homes that have held my heart, 

Loving you has always been easy. Yes, you might think it has been quite some time since my feet have graced the gravel roads, the red dirt pathways, the bustling sidewalks and the many racks of clothing. You might think the absence of years or maybe just mere days means that your significance has faded, that loving you has stopped. 

My cheeks have lost the flushed, rosy gleam of learning you and seeing you as something new. And sure, maybe my feet haven't stepped afoot on your home turf, but in the grand scheme of loving, that means nothing. 

My faith has indeed been tested a time or two, but you will see after I lose myself to my words, that there's always, there's always been you. 

You've been tucked away in the suitcases of the past-nudging me forward on into uncertainty. 

And well the truth is, there you will always be. 

I'm a different bird, a girl wounded by the pangs of rejection and weariness from worry, a girl that finds more peace in moving to a foreign country that meeting a new soul. And you might think that this means I am lonely, but I beg to differ...

You all graced me with your presence and your people and those people, they waited patiently me for me to find my voice. 

And with my voice, comes my story…people often peg my life as perfection, but oh I'm only human and so is my life. It's plagued with doubts and failures. It is full of questions and crazy risk-taking. It is ravaged with hard times and wondering where is HIS promised provision, but oh how He always comes through. 

But that is the ease that comes with this life of ours- we refuse to see the invisible tears, we refuse to dig deeper and realize that someone, someone sitting next to you needs love. Oh they need love and they deserve it. Look a little closer, will you. The woman with swollen eyes in the store, she needs you. The man looking for a hot meal, he needs you. There's invisible pain. There are invisible tears. 

And thanks to you the ones that really saw me, most days, I am 27 and fearless. Fearless, because God used you all to teach me that my heart was always meant to break the mold, my hands were always meant to hold and my feet were always trained to run a path, different and out of the ordinary for most. 

This doesn't mean I'm brave. I'm not looking for accolades, nor are they deserved. 
He on the other hand is my bravery. 

The more I have found in life, well, those sweet findings have always been among the times that were less about me. 

That's the key that was long ago spoken over our hearts, now forever bleeding red among His beautiful, perfect Word. Wasn't it? More of HIM, less of me. 

Joy has come from giving all of you more than I really had. And the beauty is that I have always had enough. 

Love never runs out. 

And faith, comes like the rushing tide and wanes like a dimming candle, but asking for Him to enter in-always assures a soul that all is well. All truly is well. 

Since I have last seen you, I've had moments of darkness winning, but light always wins and with Jesus, there is always victory. 

My hands sure have been empty, but my heart has always been full. And oh how I have seen love in you all, I've felt love to the tips of my fingers on the beaches of Baja taken over by seven children trying to sit in my lap at one time. I've felt love to the overflowing with customers showing up and adopting me, retelling their precious, beautiful stories. I've felt love in all of you and I've never stopped loving you. 

I couldn't be the woman I am, today, if it weren't for you. You have all impacted this heart of mine and people will tell me that I am the one leaving the impact, but friends when life has taken your breath away, when you have been adopted by strangers both Stateside and in a foreign country, you are the impacted one. I have been taught by the chocolate-candy eyes screaming Cristina from down the street, the women whose lives have been altered by so much pain, but who still tend the fields for twelve hours a day so that their babies don't have to go hungry, the family that I walked into among a million racks of clothing and the students both Stateside and those that call Mexico home. I have been taught by the hundreds of people that have walked into my life and some of those that have walked out. 

Four years ago, I thought I was walking into my dream. A few months later, my bags were packed and I was told that I was running away from God, that I was walking out of HIS will. And oh the pain I was stricken with as I stared the judgments from others in the face, but you know what? The ones that I loved, the ones that loved me- they never questioned me. They held me, instead. 

Look for those people. Look for the people that hold you. Look for the ones that listen to you dream with misty eyes. Look for the people that hold your hand and your heart and keep it for safe-keeping while you are away. 

You will have people that tell you to settle, to step backwards, because you don't deserve to move forward. You will have those people that do nothing but cause you to deem life to be nothing more than a pile of rejection letters and unrequited love, but dear one, you know there is something more. 

Listen, be still your heart. 
And just breathe. 

Look for the people that run behind and before you, the ones that enter your mess, and let them. Don't just stand there in your silence with the key in your hand. Unlock your heart to the ones that make your heart sing with joy and refuse to settle for the fear of life being nothing more. 

Four years ago, I stood on the other side of the door at five o'clock in the morning. Tears stood in my eyes as I acknowledged that the dream I had perfectly drawn was nothing more than a sketch. It was a reckoning of sorts and my, how it took time to get over that voice telling me I would regret my decision. Four years ago, and the sweet sanity I left behind is still going strong; she still carries out the mission. And I have managed to find my own…

But Oasis, Baja, you are with me every single day. 

You helped me stumble blindly into confidence and He used you to help make me brave. Without you, I would have lived off the assumptions that life was all it could ever be. 

Thank you, Jesus, for being more than a dream. Thank you, Jesus, for being the author and perfecter of my faith. Thank you for being the confidence I need to run my race. Thank you, Jesus, my heart has never been the same. And oh all praises to you, because it never will be! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

shared hurt among hearts.

i want to erase the hurt that bevels beneath the eyes of the ones i love.

i want to chase away the phantoms of guilt and shame that throw aways the keys to the hearts i hold dear.

and i find myself here.

it's a reckoning, because Lord knows, I don't know how to mend, i don't know how to fix what life has left behind as wreckage.

what i do know is that God didn't choose this.

he didn't choose cancer to latch onto my grandfathers.

he didn't choose to place souls into the pits of depression.

he didn't choose heartbreak of two, too young souls.

and that is where some people think wrongly…

they think that God chose pain and hurt and death for some.

but He chose grace, victory, and love for all.

He chose saving and healing, rather than walking away and leaving.

but i'm at a loss, here.

there are words that beg to be said and to be written, but all i can say is that i hurt.

i hurt for the boy who has always held quite a big chunk of my heart. the one that has been brave enough to ask every last question, the one that challenges and admires, the one that criticizes and loves me at the same time and never once left. the one that deserves to dream and doesn't need to settle. the one that has been in my every prayer for so many years. the one that i pray one day finds that love isn't overrated, that it does exist, that maybe what he is searching for is the one thing that he has always fled from.

i hurt for the one who is a piece of me, the one who doesn't deserve heartbreak, the one that is too bold and too good to settle, the man that will always be a boy to me, the one that needs someone to love every last ounce of him, to chase the adventure and love the spontaneous. i hurt that he has to feel this pain, that i've known all to well, i hurt that i can't just take an eraser and ease away the presence of pain.

i hurt for the superhero that holds all things together, that doesn't bend nor break, the one that faces life with feet built to run and a heart to love many. i hurt for the shoulders that bear the world over again. i hurt that i can't change things. i hurt that i have to love from faraway sometimes. i hurt that sometimes all i can give her thoughts is silence, that sometimes i can just be and that's all i know to do.

i hurt for the one the superhero that deals with shame and more pain than i could ever see in a lifetime, because he shouldn't have to feel it. i hurt that i can't just pick him and put him back together. that i can't hold out my hands and just carry him over into the light. i hurt that this eats him away into silence and that at times i don't even know how to act, but cower.

i hurt for the sister that needs and deserves the beautiful and the best, the one that is brave enough to speak up and fight for her heart, but needs someone to start fighting for her. i hurt that there is always someone holding her back and telling her big dreams are impossible and that she is meant to bandage every wound and hold things together in perfection, when really she deserves her every dream and to break free on the open road.

i hurt for my second grandfather falling into cancer, the man who stole my heart hanging clothes in a store eight or nine years ago, that graced my birthdays with cards and flowers, that left me with tears standing in his eyes, i hate to see him in pain and the thought of losing him.

i hurt for the sweet little woman who has the story of JOB, the one who tries to find an answer to every problem and strives to be the mother of her grandchildren. i hurt that her love never gets returned. i hurt that she doesn't remember what it is like to feel love.

i hurt for the beautiful young mother who needs a man to provide and love her to pieces. the one who tends to her children with the eyes of love, and has more needs than i know. i hurt that she feels alone and that no one bears the pain with her. i hurt that just a few miles make the seeing her harder, and the fact that maybe just maybe, she thinks i have walked away, too.

i hurt for the free-spirited woman that stole my heart reteaching me the art of a credit card machine, the woman that chased her dreams and came back with questions and with love and a readiness to care for the ones so close to her heart, i hurt that she spends day to day working and fighting the nudge in her that there is something more to this life. i hurt that she hasn't found what her heart is looking for.

i hurt for the blunt, tender-spirited mother-hen that took me in her arms that january, i hurt that drama is never far off and just when she thinks she has found respite something else catches her heart off guard and causes her to question if there will ever be enough grace to get a break. i hurt that i can't ease the lines of tiredness that are underneath her eyes.

i hurt for my sweet students that have lost parents and friends too soon, the ones that have pain and hurt hiding and cowering in the corners of their hearts and are too afraid to speak up, i hurt for the ones that hurt, that are overlooked, the ones that need someone to hear them out. i hurt for the ones that haven't known the love of a Father and the ones that are searching and searching for Him in all the wrong places.

i hurt for the shipmate that begs to be heard, even in silence, the one whose tender heart feels things all the more deeply than most and longs for reprieve. i hurt that i can't take away his pain and hold his heart close to mine, i hurt that sometimes my assurance of prayers don't offer much ease from the heartache, and that my feeble being there is often not enough.

i hurt for the brilliant blonde that stole my heart with one walk into her room with pictures of the mission field, the kindred spirit that begs to be heard and loved and that has walked down the roads with little light, i hurt that sometimes my words aren't enough and my love seems weak from afar.

i hurt for the best friend that questions what to do without having a clear answer and that is just fighting to bring God the glory in all things, i hurt that i can't just tell her right from wrong and that sometimes my speaking truth might seem a little callous in text, i hurt that i can't figure out things for her or make sense of life when it gets messy.

i hurt for the unnamed and the overlooked, the ones that i've met and yet to meet, and on nights like this the hurt is near, it surrounds me, and words fail me.

i want to take up the hurting and hold them in my heart until the hurting, the pain stops overwhelming their souls. i want to keep them all close...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

two month look back...

Sunday morning tears fell upon my cheeks, because as I entered into church it was as though God was entering into my mess. He was entering into the sadness, the loosening threads, the breaking. And I'll be honest, it's been pretty rough. But this time around, I have found myself stealing away for moments by His side. I have relinquished the need to fashion myself to something fleeting, and relished time with Him that is lasting.

Sunday morning worship consisted of two songs that I have clung to this past year. Songs that have stolen the words from my mouth and inexplicable feelings of walking upon the water and embracing the call of the unfamiliar. Songs that have carried me in the unknown and gently reminded me that in the midst of the mess, in the midst of being lost again Stateside, that it really is well.

My heart still reels from the goodbyes, and I'm on the other side. And what that tells me is, that when people gawk at my life, at this choice of mine (this choice that chose me) God had this planned from day one.

He knew that my life would be turned upside down with one step into Mexico. He knew that my pigtails and my stumbling Spanish vocabulary would be enough for the children and that they would become the more that my heart always, always desired.

And I'm here, I'm here again, confident that Morelia, Mexico is the home that my heart has always sought after. It's the more that I begged God for when I was a sophomore in high school.

And you know what? 

I had life planned out. I had wrapped it up into a beautiful box of my own doing. I knew the timeline. I had the picture of my home in the back of my mind and I was ready. Right out of college, I just knew that it was time. God was going to take me to the Baja and that's where I would spend forever.

But there was something wrong with that, because my perfect was never His perfect. My ready was never His sense of ready. Where I saw confidence, He saw a quaking spirit that needed, begged for love. Where I saw sure footing, He saw trembling knees. Time would stand still and I would just wonder if all was lost. I would just wonder if that day would ever come.

And oh child, that day came and went. My idea of perfection walked out just as easily as it came in and I, I had no idea what to do, nor where to go.

But that's when a paragraph stole my attention and challenged me to move.

I had fallen for the idea of waiting on Him. I had fell into the trap of thinking that my idea was as good as His.

And then…I walked into a house with bright-pink walls. I curled up in a bed surrounded by a world of unknowns and a family that I was about to call my own for a few months. My heart quickly became full and I had this feeling that NOE would be more than a three month stop on my journey…that assurance was something that was felt my first night.

Three months turned into seven and then into this past year and now I'm finishing up my time Stateside once again, and getting ready to journey back to love on my students and to be used up for love's cause in Morelia, Mexico.

And dear ones, it's really not a testament to my braveness. It's really not a testament to my craziness. What it does tell you is that if your willingness turns into full surrender then He will take you to your NOE, He will take you to your Morelia. 

Life won't be exempt from its challenges, nor from heartache, but you will walk in the assurance of that which you were called. And I don't really think there is anything more beautiful on this side of Heaven. 

I have seven hundred students that open their hearts to me. I have seven classes that let me teach them fumbling through the English language.

I have been blessed to the brim and my life from this point on is to return the blessing. These dear students deserve to know that they are worth it and I will live the rest of my life being spent for this cause.

I just lack 140 dollars from reaching my monthly goal. Join the journey by following this link and looking for MAIN:

Or you can mail your donations, with my name on the memo line of your check to:
4100 Millersburg Road
Evansville, IN 47725

Here's a glimpse at NOE:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

like mother, like daughter.

    She is worth far more than rubies.

This little piece,, inspired me to do a little digging and well, what I found left me pretty awestruck. 

This woman is one of the most-talked about in my daily conversation, because she hasn't just held the title of mother for 26 years, she has held the title of best friend. 

My sweet Momma is a beautiful picture of a woman after God's own heart and I want to be just like her when I grow up. Thank you for being one of my biggest supporters as I have left time and again to chase my dreams. Thank you for speaking life and truth over my heart and for being here with me through it all. 

I love you so much, Momma. I hope one day your feet will step foot on the ground of my home, because it is something that I have dreamt of for years. 

I miss you, but I'll be seeing you soon. I am looking forward to our sweet little, simple mother/daughter dates that are our source of enjoyment.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

i need you.

I had a gentle voice awaken me from sleep the other day, the kind of sleeping your soul does after you've been wrecked by unexpected news. The kind of sleeping you find yourself in, that denial, because you're scared to death that you'll wake up and have to acknowledge what is happening around you. 

and it made me think. 

so the gentle voice asked, do you ever wish you didn't have to teach the last level of classes, because it's always a year of bittersweet moments, seems like you are saying hello to then just say goodbye?

and so i sat there and almost without hesitation I responded, I wouldn't have it any other way. I actually couldn't bear the thought of not teaching the last level of English. Sure, it's one year and then goodbyes creep upon you at the end of May and you're paralyzed, because the relationships you've seen bloom before your eyes start to dim with the thought of graduation. 

But I told the gentle voice that I loved teaching the final year, because I get to see my students' hearts get transparent as they think about packing up their bags and leaving NOE behind, I see them tendered toward the idea that maybe God brought them to NOE not to merely learn English, but that He brought them to NOE to know Him. 

And that is why I'm here. It doesn't matter how well my students speak English, nor does it matter that they may walk out of my classroom never to utter another word of English. What does matter, is that they leave my classroom absolutely sure of one thing, God loves them. That my dear hearts, is exactly why I'm here. 

It's difficult to teach the last year, but it's so beautifully worth it. I'll tell you why...Friday I had sixteen students show up on our day off of classes to start studying for their final. They spent an hour and a half with me reviewing, laughing and loving and lost track of time. 

I had students raising their sweet, innocent hands telling me that they would be waiting for me tomorrow at NOE to go to church. 

I had students walk up to me that started off the year painfully shy and tell me they loved me before they left. 

I'll be honest it is excruciatingly painful to think about leaving. It's heart-wrenching, because I'm absolutely sure this isn't something that I'll leave and get over. NOE has changed me when I thought change was impossible. 

When I first came here I was getting over heartbreak, I was shy and I didn't know a single soul...but now I'm about to leave again and the heartbreak is from leaving, it's not something that I will get over, the shyness still has its moments, but I'm able to hold my head up high in my classroom and the fear of speaking fades, and the not knowing a single soul? That my sweet readers  has changed, too. I'm the teacher of 90 and if we are honest, I have a heart that is built for all 700 of our students. I may not know every name, but every single student here means the absolute world to me. 

And so, I'm here. We are about to be on the other side of my third school year at NOE and I'm going to be absolutely honest. My support has drastically fallen and I'm getting ready to pack up, go home and work the summer away to get back here as soon as I can. 

I could use your help:
You can help me brainstorm and come up with fundraising ideas.
You can help me by praying for me and the transition that will come too soon and be praying for my students that are starting to worry about their final exam and graduating. 
You can join my team of financial supporters by following this link, but be sure to look for the box that says MAIN: give here
You can even help me by sharing this little blog or others of mine via social media!

I'm hoping that you see my heart in these words, because my love for NOE isn't something that is fleeting. My passion for Morelia, Mexico isn't something that can be ignored. Thus, I'm going home to do my part in all of this, but I need a team of you to stand up with me. Because after 26 years of living, I'm finally seeing that it's okay to need people. And I truly need you...