Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The wind is gusting outside. The gusts have reached 70mph. In some areas, they've been as high as 90mph. That air is around us all the time, and yet, we only notice it when it's affecting us in some way. I notice it when it's blowing too hard. I notice it when it's too hot or too cold. I notice that air when my lungs can get enough inside of them.

Faith: Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

"We cannot see the wind, but we can feel the effects of the wind. Likewise, we cannot see God, but we can feel the effects of His presence.

When I feel the effects of the wind, how to I respond? When it's a refreshing breeze on a hot day, I respond with joy. When it's a 90mph wind gust, I curse that wind. When God breathes His breath onto me, how do I respond? When He blesses me, I rejoice. When He allows hardship into my life...do I curse Him or continue to praise Him?

Roofs, sheds, buildings, power lines and street signs were destroyed today in El Paso. I can't imagine how much more destruction has occurred just minutes away in a city largely made of cardboard. But, I know the people of Juarez and the families for whom we build. I know that today, in the midst of hurricane force winds, that they are praying to God. They are praying for His rescue and security when the world cannot offer it. They rest in Him in a way I don't know if I'll ever truly understand. It's my prayer that God will teach me that lesson and humble this old heart that often falls into the ridiculous belief that I can do things on my own, without His hand guiding me.

And as I look back today on the past year of my own life, I can see both the refreshing breezes and torrential gusts of God's breath. I felt that pleasant breeze the day I married Jason and the day we welcomed Pancake into our home. I felt it when the Family Outreach Program overflowed with donations, and I felt it when Francisca & Jose received their new home because God broke people's hearts for them. But the gusts were there too. I felt the gust of God's lessons when blood clots blocked the breaths I could take. My spirit was blown over in grief at the loss of my mom.

The roofs blown off the houses today were not on tight enough. The sheds blown over were not secure to a foundation. The power lines were weakly connected to the poles. The street signs were poorly installed. The gusts of wind today tested the strength of these things, and the weak did not survive. I believe, God allows the gusts of in our lives to test how firmly we are secured to the One who cannot be moved.

Today, while outside the winds are blowing, my heart breaks for the people of Juarez who are not safe from it; but at the same time, I am overwhelmed with humility knowing they are relying on their faith in an amazing way.

When the air is still, both outside and in my heart...will I remember to be thankful? I hope so.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Leaving her mark

Many, many years ago, my grandpa was fixing the plaster in my house.  It wasn't my house then.  The house I grew up in was also where my mom and my grandma grew up.  My grandpa was fixing that plaster when my mom was just 3 or 4 years old. He pressed her hand in the wet plaster, and after it dried, covered it with wallpaper.

Over the years, the wall paper was removed and replaced a number of times.  I remember the last time we replaced it.  I was in high school.  My mom and I pulled the pieces off, and she showed me her handprint hidden beneath the paper.  And then we covered it again, forgetting that a moment of her life was hidden under the flowered paper.

My sister was staying with my mom over the summer, and while she was there, she tore down the paper hoping to replace it.  Then my mom's health spiraled down, and re-wallpapering the stairwell wasn't a priority.  When Jason and I went home in early September, I made a point to show him my mom's handprint.

My beautiful mom passed away on October 18th, and I couldn't be more thrilled for her.  Oh...I miss her. Please don't misunderstand me.  My heart has been breaking every day since her death.  I am selfish.  I, of course, want my mom to be here.  I want to hear her stories.  I want to get her advice.  I want to hear about the newest clearance deal she found, and I want to know about who she helped, because she was always pouring out her life to help others.  And I want her to want to know about me.  She always wanted to know about my life, and it made me feel loved to know someone cared about the details of me.  The lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes right now are the physical manifestations of my grief for time lost with her.

But, I am still thrilled for her.  The pain she experienced here over the past 2 years...no one should have to endure that.  Life in her last days was boiled down to simply trying to make it minute-by-minute, waiting for her next pain pill.  She knew Jesus and lived her life to honor Him.  She was ready to see her Father.  I'm thrilled for her that she is freed from the body that held her back.

All around me, I can see where my mom left her mark...the impressions of her influence.  There are families in Mexico who are warm and clothed because of her.  There are unwed mothers who have received care because she gave.  There are mentally and physically handicapped people who have been blessed by her generosity.  Everyone who knew her respected her.  They liked her.  Most everyone, after spending more time with her, loved her.  The impressions of her love are everywhere.

Mostly though, I recognize them on my heart.  She's made such a lasting impression on me.  She is the example to me of living a life as we're called to live...pouring ourselves out to love others, even when we don't feel like it.  She sacrificed so much in her life in order to make someone else's life better.  I want to do the same.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Learning about Bob and Darlene

So, my heart broke a little bit tonight.  I'm watching Katy's two kids while she takes a much needed break away...some Katy time with her friends to go see a movie.  I love these kids.  Mia is full of ideas.  Jax is restless and inquisitive.  We've played some games.  They've attacked me on the floor.  We've had our evening snack, and they were enjoying Curious George...well...Mia is more than Jax.

Jax just didn't want to sit still.  I can't blame him.  If I could muster up energy at 9pm, I wouldn't want to sit still either.  I snuck away to the "game room" (so they named it.  It's actually our study, but also where Jason stores his wonderland of a game collection) to put something away, and Jax followed me in....and he was followed by Sammy and soon after, Pancake.

He played with the animals and got excited about every game he saw.  Then, he noticed a picture up high on a shelf.  It's a picture of my mom and dad.  It's at Christmas time, and my mom is standing behind my dad, laughing the biggest laugh I've ever seen from her.  It's my favorite picture of the two of them together.  Mom was healthy then.

"LOOK!" Jax screamed.  "It's Mike and Pat!" (which are the names of Amy's parents, who were just in town.)

"Nope, those are my parents."

"Can I see?"

So, I brought the picture down to his level.

"Who are them?"

"That's my dad.  His name is Bob."

"Who's the pretty grandma?" Jax asked.

And this is where my heart broke.  My mom is so sick right now.  In the last stages of her battle with stage 4 renal-pelvic cancer which has spread to her liver, she's no longer walking, lives in pain constantly, and is very, very confused.  The doctors have given her 1-2 months to live, and that diagnosis came a few weeks ago.  She is no longer the laughing woman in the photograph, but a shell of the mom I know.  She does, however, remain my hero and the most beautiful person I've ever met.  Even Jax noticed it.

"That's my mom," I said, through a choked up voice I was trying to hide. "Her name is Darlene."

"I like her," Jax said.  And then he was off to admire another game.

Potentially the greatest desire of my heart which will never go fulfilled is for my children to know the beautiful soul and heart so full of Christ's love that dwells inside my mom.  They'll never get to know that "pretty lady".  They'll just have my stories.  I miss her already, and she's not even gone yet.  She'll be so much happier in Heaven, where she'll be freed from her pain and suffering.  That doesn't mean I don't selfishly mourn, in advance, the opportunities I'll never have with her.

She is pretty...and her name is Darlene.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Let's give it a whirl

I have a lot of thoughts in my head lately.  Maybe it's time for me to join the rest of the online world and write a blog.  I generally feel like my thoughts aren't of much interest to others, but then again, I love reading about the lives and thoughts of my friends.

And this blog says "Jason and Janette", but judging by the background and colors, I think we can all agree on who's managing this thing! :)