Monday, October 24, 2016

some days: you just sit down.

I want to know what ghosts haunt the halls of their hearts. I want to know what burdens rest indivisibly to the passers by. I want to know what pain sits behind the scenes, out of reach, and causes the tears. 

I think there's more to it. 

And it's exhausting to dig deep and to set up camp, some days.

Because it is not all solved with hugs and sweaters. 

And it hurts, because I can't solve everything. 

It's not all just a matter of math facts or perfecting pronunciation. 

Because here is what I see: I see shrunken shoulders, I hear broken sobs, I see shuffling feet scurrying into the shadows, I hear cries of anguish just begging to be loved, I see too-young hearts carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders-with fears of immigration laws, the burden of hunger, the care for their siblings, and the little caves beneath their eyes tell me there is more to all of this, than I'll ever know.

And so I hustle to and fro, even amidst such an admission, because I have a waiting list of places to be and ones to see. And there are times, there are times when I tell myself I have to trade in my time just to cross off a list of tasks. 

Yet, Jesus enters in and I stop before I can even make it down the stairs, because a little heart shouldn't have to wrestle with worth. And I may not come close to repair what has been broken, but I can heed the call of staying. I can heed the call of holding the hurting hearts. I can sit down and pour out hope to fill in the holes. 

I can dig deeper, even when it is exhausting.

Because these little loves deserve love and a sense of home, and I'll spend the rest of my days gently reminding them that they aren't alone. 

Today, I chose to dig a little deeper and let my love go even further-with fifty or so words each written with a different heart in mind. I handed out the little square notes and as I was turning around to head out; she caught me in an embrace and said she couldn't stop crying. 
It has been two days of holding loves and gently tending to their tears.

And I may not being able to fix what has been broken; I may never know what remains unspoken. But I cannot let that keep me from loving. I cannot let that keep me from staying.

It's not always about the tasks and exceeding expectations. It is not even about perfecting the lost art of pronunciation. 

It is about love and ensuring that not a single one becomes lost in a system of streaming numbers. 

It isn't a glorious story of fixing, but it is a beautiful story of being, sitting and choosing to stay.
In the midst of what seems to be missing, these little hearts somehow know my name, return my love, and bring me joy. 

And oh, I am blessed. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

take a hand...

He was running rampant on the gleaming wooden floor, and it wasn't his first offense for the day. But after walking the halls and attempting to keep the peace on the ramp, good morning wishes, hugs and handing out sweaters; I have learned that tough love doesn't always scream a solution. 

So I steadied my gaze and caught him before he burst out in another run, and I gently asked him to choose to take my hand. I held it out, halfway hoping/halfway pleading for a semblance of calm in a raging sea of chaos. Much to my surprise his dark eyes looked up at mine, questioning the choice, and he placed his hand in mine. 

The screaming, running, and kicking suddenly stopped. 

He held my hand during the wait, as we walked towards the bus. 

And I'm often prone to wonder and wander. I'm the kind that over-thinks things to absolute pieces, that creates something out of nothing. 

And so as I was driving away, I was struck with a few thoughts. 

I'm not any different than that darling boy, who often is overlooked or reckoned too much. 

Circumstances cause my heart to run amuck, and I kick and scream proclaiming that enough is enough. Inside screams are no different than outside screams; thoughts are heartbreakers, too. 

But if I just made the choice to look up. I know I would find his steady gaze, his eyes glimpses of grace, looking upon me. 

Tough love would be absent from his agenda and his hands would be held out in the open and up for my taking. But he wouldn't grab for my hand; He would wait for me to choose. 

So today, I wrestle with the choice and I choose to take his hand. My kicking and screaming ceases. Even the over-thinking stops as quickly as it started, and I take his hand. 

And I am calm.
I am safe. 

And before I close my eyes and bid another day farewell, I ask Jesus to give me eyes of grace, hands ready to hold, and a heart FULL, to love. 

As He is my safe place, I will set out to be theirs. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

morelia & evansville: two worlds apart

To the little heart that sits inside your bones,
I love you and I will not let go.

Long ago, you mastered the art of packing your bags, but you still would walk up to check them with trepidation that they would be overweight.

Long ago, you found peace in the busyness of airports and waiting at your gate.

Long ago, you stumbled upon a country that was just another place on a map and you, my insecure girl who used to hide behind the pages of books, you would settle in for more than just a winter’s night.

Long ago, you would hold close to the chocolate-eyed children, the ones hungry for more than just food, the ones in dire need of love. And you would fear the goodbyes and the return flight.

You would be the g├╝era, the one that would spend years loving in the orphanage, the open air and the first NOE. You would be the lone gringa accompanied by sweet students that quickly turned into family and friends and you, my love, you would learn how to stay.

You found parts of yourself there that you surely would have never found elsewhere.

And now you are braving, you are trying to brave the transition…very similar to the transition that once took you there.

And here’s what I need you to know…

To the little heart that sits inside your bones, to the little heart that quakes because what once was familiar has now turned into the unknown.

I love you and I will not let go.

Here and now, you stand at the top of the ramp, you share good mornings and hugs, and sometimes all you are greeted with is a smile and a shrug.

Here and now, you see hunger, too. It’s a hunger for more than just food.

Little brown, blue, black eyes stare at you and at times question your willingness to give up your sweaters, your time and your lunch. And they never are asking for too much.

They look for you in the halls and they scream out your name in delight; they hug you, and they hold onto you real tight.

Little ones come up to you and spill out the day’s events in Spanish; they look to you, because they know that your love is one that stays, it is not one that can easily vanish.

Here and now, your heart is compelled to pray for the ones here and the darling ones that sit 2000 miles away. Here and now, you see the needs that are keeping you, here to stay.

Your burden for the children, my love, isn’t solely kept on the field.
The call to love isn’t something that you can refuse to yield.

So in the meantime, in this time of transition, when you are reeling at what it means to “just be.”
I want you to understand that the best thing that you can do is just LOOK TO ME.

I am the same God here, as I was there.

I know that missions is a call on your heart, a steady beating that rests within your bones, and I am not asking you to give it up.

Instead, I am asking you to carry on.

The 5:30 wake-up call is cause to remember that there are sweet little ones that need your love here, too. The 5:30 wake-up call is cause to remember that I am still not done with you.

Your burden for the children, my love, isn’t solely kept on the field.
The call to love isn’t something that you can refuse to yield.

Love, transitions are tough, but I AM ENOUGH.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

goodbye, NOE [part I]

4 years, 11 months, and 17 days ago I wrote, “I can already tell I will easily fall in love with this place, and that I am at peace.”

I’m sitting in the middle of suitcases and last-minute things waiting to be packed away that are sadly still strewn on the floor. And I cannot surrender my eyes to sleep until I find my way, in words.

March 23rd would mark five years of loving NOE, but in just a matter of hours I will be navigating the night with five suitcases and I’ll be leaving behind a trail of tears.

I feel like I started the grieving process a couple months ago, but at the same time, it felt like today would never get here.

I lived in the state of denial for days and I ignored the fact that goodbyes would come in rushing like a sudden tide and try to sweep me off my feet.

I didn’t want to feel too much, but I didn’t want to be overtaken at the last minute, either.

But. I’m here on the other side.

I’ve had my share of goodbyes and surprises; my heart is overwhelmed.

I knew God was up to something when He placed that book in my hands. I knew He was up to something, when my nervousness that first night in my pink room was replaced by an all-consuming peace. I knew He was up to something when my idea of perfection became pale in comparison to what He had in mind.

I knew all of this, but I never would have imagined what it would mean.

I never would have imagined that I would settle into a family of two sisters and a brother and feel at home in the unfamiliar. I never would have imagined the incredible tug on my heart that would cause me to love on my students as long, as I could. I never would have pictured holding a pair of house keys and the innumerable times I threw them out my window.

I came for three months.
I stayed for five years.

That is what happens when God shows up.

I thought I was out of my mind, but He knew that I wasn’t.
I thought I was a hopeless cause when it came to making simple conversations, but He saw something different.
I thought a few months served as a good distraction, but He said that a few years were worthy to be deemed a calling.
I thought that I would never be able to fully share my faith, but He gave me the courage to find my voice.
I thought I would never make it off the plane, but He gave me the courage to stay.

NOE loves:

Your letters are stowed away in my carry-on, because I don’t want to let our memories out of sight. Your words these past few days are embedded upon my heart, forever.

You are staying and I am leaving, but let me be honest and tell you, that I will never fully leave.
I will never fully leave, because with you God has given me the best years, a full heart, children, families, and a love.

There are no words to tell you the pain that comes with this goodbye. 
There are no words to tell you the impact that you have had upon my life.

I’ll spend days grieving your absence, but all the while I will still be grateful that God graced me with five years.

My words won’t end here, but daylight is coming soon…and with it means the last of goodbyes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Talitha Koum, [five years at NOE]

"He took her by the hand and said to her, "talitha koum," 
which means, "little girl, I say to you get up!"
Mark 5:41

I wrote this last September 4, 2015. It was one of those moments when words stirred up unruly emotions and I had to rush to fill up the glaring screen, before it was too late.

I claimed them over someone else and now, I am realizing that God was and still is claiming them over me.

You see after braving the field for ten years, my body finally started giving in.

After months of striving to keep my feet firmly planted on the foreign ground, I have realized that there is no shame in saying it’s time.
To the resilient warrior,

Thank you for rising up and relentlessly seeing my dream to fruition. Thank you for never losing sight of why you were here, even when people misunderstood the meaning. Thank you for fearlessly defending what we fought for five years ago. Thank you for realizing that while there maybe a number of people solely criticizing your choices, that in the end they don't name you, and sadly they don't even know you.

They don't know the burden of bearing a heart between two countries or the culture shock that takes a toll on you for more than just a couple times a year. They don't know the pull on your heart that keeps you overthinking and up at all hours of the night with the vicious truth that fixing people is just too much of a feat to even frustrate yourself for trying. They don't live with the guilt of living with bare necessities and occasionally treating yourself with a cup of coffee.

But you tread the treacherous waters and you brave living in two worlds. You keep your hands steady, at times emptying them to fill up others. You carry the roles of director, mother, teacher, friend and confidante simultaneously, and you bend at times until you do break.

But the truth is you don't really ever reckon with the breaking, you push it underneath the rug for safekeeping and you refuse to take time to address it.

But just the like the billions of others sharing this side of Heaven, your heart heaves a heavy, hurried sigh and there are moments when you deserve to revel in rest.

Your heart deserves to break every once in a while, to be able to redeem its’ misshapen mess of a shape.

Thank you for bearing the burden that so many look over. Thank you for believing in the overlooked, unwanted little ones that walk into your office on a daily basis. And thank you for not giving in to the questioners and the misunderstood.

You are just shy of five years stronger, today.

And you deserve to know that I'm proud of you.


Love, you are a warrior and you have kept the pace of loving with abandon, up until this very point.

There’s no shame in going home,

instead you should see how brave this makes you.

Because in your leaving, you are letting me resume your loving.

You were brave enough to come here and you are going to be brave enough to leave.

However, the same world that told you that you were crazy and reckless for forgoing a life of normalcy is now going to tell you that you are a quitter and you are fleeing, instead of facing your fears. They'll show up and say it's fight or flight, but don't you dare think for an instant that you're wrong in this. 

But please remember Sunday, remember your Sundays.

Remember that sweet stranger resting her hands upon your face and telling you that she was sorry.
Remember the hope that you felt rush into your hopeless veins with those two dear people, who took time to unravel your tangled threads of hurt.
Remember the love you found here, when you least expected it.
Remember the dear ones who let you love them even in your absolute brokenness. Remember the conversations that happened when you just showed up and sat down.
Remember the loves that sat around your table and the glimmer of thankfulness that lit up their eyes when they said your name.
Remember your students that rose from their ruins.
Remember the children who found Jesus in the midst of studying English.

Remember the moments around the table, on the street, and in the classroom.

Remember all of this and please remember, that your five years were not spent in vain.
What others deemed failure, I deemed fearlessness, because you braved the brutal commentary and you delved into the depths of uncertainty…because you knew that you couldn’t go anywhere that I hadn’t already been.

I was there and just like I was there, I am right here.

You have had your share of goodbyes and you have realized over time that your heart is a thriving village- and there’s more than enough space for every single heart that you have met along the way.

You are leaving, but sometimes love comes in the form of leaving and other times it comes in the form of holding on.

Your life doesn’t end here, your love doesn’t have to take your heart hostage when it’s time to say goodbye.

Instead, go in peace, daughter. 
Remember your Sundays. 
Rest in knowing that you've done more than enough. 
Trust that you deserve to get up. 

talitha koum, little warrior, talitha koum