Category: Uncategorized

One-Sided Negotiations

I’m definitely honing my management skills parenting a toddler.  Negotiations are another story.

After a full breakfast with my son, playtime ensued by tossing a sippy cup of milk across the kitchen.  No-spill cups are no match for him.  Since it was no longer serving as a tool to drink milk but rather a weapon, I took it away.

In less than a second, a shriek rang out coupled with gritted teeth and shaking fists.  Where does he get this?  So I remove him from his highchair.  As his feet touch the ground, his body crumples on the floor into a full body meltdown.

Of course, you don’t want to reward such behavior.  But it is baffling how you go from a simple drink to this.  In negotiations, defining ground rules is essential.  I’m not sure how clearly those get communicated between a parent and a toddler.

I wonder if it would work if I responded the same way he did while upset.  But alas, it’s just spilled milk.

La Gringa Fails: Part 2

My first year here, I had a college friend visit during the country’s spring break–Semana Santa.  Wanting to give her the full tour, we drove outside the city, along with everyone else.

What is normally a two lane highway was transformed by drivers into four lanes, at least three of which were going one direction.  Cars hanging off the shoulders, dodging oncoming traffic, it was another ruthless game of chicken.

Fed up with constantly being cut off by eager beach-goers, my last straw was with one driver that was within an inch of my car.  Reaching out my window, in dead stop traffic, I pounded my fist on the hood of his car, shouting, “Hey, do you have insurance?” in my limited Spanish.

My friend slunk down in the passenger’s seat.  The thirty-something year old driver, leaning in front of his rowdy crew, slowing smiled and responded, “Ay, mamasita!”

Sheepishly I rolled up my window and was forced to inch alongside the guy in traffic for the next forty minutes.


La Gringa Fails

When you live in a foreign land while learning a new language, you’re bound to have some fails along the way.

My first few months here, I was shopping in local Walmart and needed help to find Advil.  So I asked, “Dónde está las drogas para mujeres?” (Where are the drugs for women?)  With a blank stare, she replied, “Advil??”  “Ah, sí, Advil.

Less than two weeks later, I returned looking for Coca-Cola.  “Donde esta la coca?” (Where’s the cocaine?).  “Coca-Cola?” she asked.  “Ah, sí, Coca Cola.”

Pretty sure I’m giving the wrong impression here.  #findanewplacetoshop

Fire Came Down

Cindy & Chris wedding

I’m convicted by how little I really know about or experience prayer.  The mountain of books on my nightstand on this topic shame me each day.  Yet as I start my day, I realize there’s no amount of reading on prayer than can substitute for it.

I sit down but stumble on what to say.  Distracted by my own thoughts, the baby talking, dogs barking, birds chirping, phone beeping…anything but what I’m trying to focus on.  Within minutes, I’m through.  Discouraged.

As I read 2 Chronicles 7, I realize there is so much more to be experienced.

1When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.”

There is power when we pray.  Yet we make excuses, self-blame and assume we must be deemed worthy or perfect before we can pray or see results of prayer.  His glory is here.  His glory is now.  His love endures forever.  He commanded Solomon later in the chapter:

“14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Will I turn from what I want?  My selfish ways?  If I want His glory, will I choose humility?  Will I tune out distractions to seek His face?  Will I choose to believe I will hear Him?

He has forgiven my sin.  He has healed me.  His love endures forever.


Photo by Jeremy Yates

He Will Not Return To Me




His infant son became deathly ill.  He wailed in despair, refused to eat and laid on the floor in his grief-torn clothes.  Friends drew near only to have their comfort rejected.  A week later, his son was gone.  Fearful he would break, or worse, his friends delayed delivering the news.

But when he did discover the unbearable truth, , he showered, ate and worshiped.  Wait, what?

King David’s response to this unthinkable loss was While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 11:22-23)

The grief doesn’t go away.  Walking through it is the most painful thing I’ve experienced thus far.  There is nothing to be said that can make it hurt less.

But as David recognized his own finiteness, I am reminded of my own as I read 1 Corinthians 15:54-57:  “Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?”  For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.  But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The sting is quite real.  And penetrating.  And at times, debilitating.  And I don’t want it.  I don’t want death, I don’t want to walk through it.  But it does come.  And there is no victory in it without our Lord Jesus Christ.



Lifted Up


It’s amazing how you can read Scripture multiple times and it rings true in a different way with each read.

In Exodus 17, we read of the Israelites battle against the Amalekites.

Moses said to Joshua,“Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”  10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 

Moses knew his responsibility.  And he did it with hands held high.

I’ve read this story several times.  But convicted by my lack of prayer, I wonder, why do I not practice this?  Several excuses run through my head.  Ah, that was then.  It’s just a matter of the heart.  That’s embarrassing, even in private.

Then I look at my son.  His earnestness.  No words, just hands lifted high.  A trust that he will be lifted up, embraced, comforted.

When I practiced this, I was overcome.  Humbled.  Now lifted up.


Skip the Instructions


There is no manual that comes with parenting.  That said, my son, I will fail you.  I came into parenting with preconceived notions, as I do in many situations, and I realize I don’t have a clue.  But I do know I must learn to study you.

What I’ve learned so far:

  • Play in puddles.
  • Jump on the trampoline daily.
  • Love dogs.
  • Enjoy books.
  • Share a common interest.
  • Explore everything.
  • Have no fear.
  • Experiment doing things yourself.
  • Voice your opinion.
  • Slow down and swing twice a day.
  • Laugh so hard until you don’t remember why you started.

Photo by Betsy Markwald

Dear Son


I never imagined how much you would fill my heart with joy.

Your curiosity, laughter, compassion and smile is contagious.  You must be where the people are and you force a belly laugh when you hear us laughing because you want to join in.  You make friends wherever you go.  As we pass strangers, you hear, “Ah, que bello!  Los ojos!”  You never slow down, not wanting to miss a thing.  You are fearless as you pull the dogs tails or try to mount them like horses.

You know what you want.  Even if that means taking the butter right off the bread to eat it directly.  Or picking out your daily clothing and shoes, including your pajamas.  You never stop chatting, even as you go to sleep.

My dear son, in just a matter of months, you have made me a better person.  I am challenged to grow in my compassion, patience, authenticity and communication.  You are teaching me to slow down and see the flowers, insects, animals around me.  You are teaching me to pray as you reach out for my hand and give an enthusiastic “Amen” every time.  You are teaching me to love, to embrace, to want what is best for someone other than myself.

Thank you, my precious boy.

Love, Mama

Photo by Betsy Markwald

Come and Sit


“Come” is the most recent command my son is learning.  With four dogs in the house, he’s grown accustomed to hearing it regularly.   He’s more liberal in using the command than obeying it.  Of course, the dogs don’t understand him but it doesn’t minimize his urgency.

The beauty is when I don’t demand that he draw near is exactly when I’ll find him cuddling up next to me as I am reading.  Throughout the day he’ll randomly wraps his little arms around my neck or grab a finger to reassure that I’m here and not going anywhere.  These fleeting moments in my day render me speechless.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  What I love most about the cuddles with my son is that they’re unprompted.  I’m in his presence and he’ll just initiate the hug, the finger grab, the face hold.

Why then is it so hard for me to take the same unabashed approach with My Father?  He is always present.  He desires to give me the rest that I so long for though seem to search for everywhere else.

As my son reaches for me today, may I be reminded to seek comfort and peace from My Father.



Hermit or Hero?

Hero or HermitIn 2010, I moved to a new country, one with the highest murder rate per capita in the world.  Not exactly my vision of where I would raise a family one day.

Years later, I began teaching at a local high school.  Impacted by the increasing violence, I wanted to challenge my students to be part of the solution.  So I polled my twelfth graders, “How many of you would help a victim on the street?”  Less than 4 students out of 100 said they might help.  If the victim was a family member, the poll results flip-flopped.

It was much easier for me to pose the question than to answer it.  I didn’t want to admit that it’s more comfortable to be a hermit than a hero.  And now, as a parent, I must face my lack of courage more honestly.  I can no longer do one thing and say another.  I have a real and daily audience now.  And I want to teach him to be courageous.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus asks, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)

Will you?