Category: Uncategorized

We’ve Been Robbed!


As the youngest of six, I grew up hearing stories often enough that it was hard to remember which ones I wasn’t even around for.  One of which was when my mom was walking my brother home from school with a classmate and his mom.  My brother, bounding in the door first, immediately rushed back out yelling, “We’ve been robbed!”  She tried to ignore his call for alarm but there was no way to minimize the concerns of the others without proof.

To my mom’s chagrin, she ushered them into the kitchen, the scene of the crime as she left it just thirty minutes prior.  Open cupboards, overflowing drawers, half-prepped ingredients, dirty dishes in the sink and pots and pans were all part of the debris.

Today was that day.  Most days, I do my best to maintain order.  Well, at least the parts that will be visible, right?  I often try to do the same thing around people, present my best side.

Both are exhausting…the mess and the order.  Which is why it’s freeing to just say, “This is today.  Yes, it’s been nuts.  And no, I have not been robbed.”

Mercy in the Mundane


Another dirty diaper.  Another treasure hunt of “Where did one of the dogs pee?”. Another leak in the roof.  Another trip to the store, I forgot something.  Some days it feels like I get my 10,000 steps just trying to keep up.  How is it that the day can feel so long and still get away from you?

The barrage of social media with so-and-so’s recent workout, favorite restaurant, best recipe, latest vacation, newest purchase, current home renovation or…well, the list is endless, doesn’t help.

It’s a lot harder to celebrate the mundane.  Most of my days are spent either at the house or in the car.  Of course, no day is the same, but it can certainly feel like it after awhile.  Some days I feel like I’m racking my brain for how to mix it up.

It’s easy to play the self-pity card–to blame the husband who is away traveling as you’re cleaning up another dog mess or the long line of traffic when you’re already running late but it doesn’t change anything.

The truth is when we blame, we’re usually avoiding something much deeper.  Is it really my husband’s fault that the dogs peed again?  Why then do I default to blame most of the time when I’m tired, disappointed or just, well, bored?

Mercy is defined as “compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”  Perhaps I can start today showing a little more mercy to myself.  We can be our own worst judge.  I can also extend mercy to my fellow driver by allowing him to merge or to my husband with a welcome home hug.  It is in these smallest of things that we are human.

Boys & Marriage: Vow to Me

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Before getting married, I wasn’t much for titles.  Don’t label me.  Don’t pin me down.  I wanted to think of myself as independent and a free spirit.  Yet, somehow, that seemed to change overnight without my knowing.

One week after my wedding, I moved to Central America.  Within seven days, I went from what I thought was having a clue to none at all.  No work, no friends, no language, no tv, no internet.  Whatever will I do?

As I began meeting people, at least the few who spoke English, I found myself begrudgingly answering the dreaded “What do you do?” with “I’m Chris’ wife.”  It felt hollow.

I was lonely and I was lost.  It’s not an easy transition to married life, let alone an entirely new life.  I’m still figuring it out.  This cross-cultural experience has had me scrambling for identity–something familiar, something I can point to define me or even as my own.  Yet, each time I reach for it, I seem to come up empty-handed.  It’s rough having your world ripped out from under you.  But it also has you seeing things for what they are.  May I not lose sight of what is real and what I truly need.

May my vow today be:

  • I will choose to connect with my Creator
  • I will make time to be active in some way
  • I will forgive myself when I don’t do the above
  • I will slow down for what matters without feeling guilty
  • I will speak up for myself
  • I will not make excuses
  • I will spend dedicated time with my son
  • I will tell my husband what I like about him
  • I will discover what truly brings me joy
  • I will be disciplined for my own sake
  • I will enjoy the good gift of wine and chocolate
  • I will let go and stop thinking I have control
  • I will stop wishing for what once was and embrace what is
  • I will choose to believe that the Lord rejoices in me more than I do in my son

Photo by Jess Koehler

Boys & Marriage: Vows to My Son

At the end of October, my son will be 18 months old.  He grows more observant every day, adding new vocabulary and interests by the minute.  Recently, my most joyful moments are filled with his laughter and discovering new curiosities together.  I’m most impressed with his amusing humor, as he puts things on his head to make me laugh or makes every object a phone.

It’s exciting and scary to see how much he picks up in a day.  Lately, while pointing my finger, I’ll scold, “No, don’t throw that.” or “Be gentle with the dogs.”  Immediately, he’ll point back, smirking, “No.”  It’s no wonder he smiles as he does it because I can never keep a straight face.  So, of course, he’s learned.

It makes me wonder what he has already observed of our marriage.  Co-authors of Nurture Shock, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, state:

“What this means is that parents who pause mid-argument to take it upstairs–to spare the children–might be making the situation far worse, especially if they forget to tell their kids, “Hey, we worked it out.” [Dr. E. Mark] Cummings has also found that when couples have arguments entirely away from the kids, the kids might not have seen any of it but are still well aware of it, despite not knowing any specifics. | Cummings recently has shown that being exposed to constructive marital conflict can actually be good for children–if it doesn’t escalate, insults are avoided, and the dispute is resolved with affection. This improves their sense of security, over time, and increases their prosocial behavior at school as rated by teachers.”  (p. 185)


I was most profoundly convicted by Cummings’ challenge to not escalate the conflict or use insults and resolve it with affection.  I’m more of a conflict avoider.  When it arises, I tend to avoid it or somehow make it explode.  It’s a great combination.  I make life super easy for my husband.

Now, as a parent, I’m more motivated to be a good example for my son.  First, this means I have to learn to manage conflict better myself before I can somehow teach it.

May my vow to my son today be:

  • To be more patient
  • To identify and name what I’m feeling so I can teach you about your own emotions
  • To speak kindly and respectfully to you and your dad
  • To be walk through conflict with your dad when I want to walk away from it
  • To commit to resolving any conflict you’ve witnessed in front of you
  • To laugh with you every day
  • To celebrate the smallest details of our day together
  • To not be afraid to tell you No
  • To study you and your interests so I can know you more
  • To be quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness

I love you, my dear boy.

Photo by Betsy Markwald


Boys & Marriage: Vows

My husband recently shared with me a friend’s post on fighting for his wife.  A week later, I’m still moved by Timothy Willard’s courage and commitment, as well as his wife’s.  (Read here:

When I was single, nay, most of my marriage, I’ve had a selfish view of love.  I wanted it to be about me: what I need and what I want.  Therefore, I’d been riding through most of the marriage based on emotion.  Now, I’m finally beginning to understand when elders say, “Love is a decision.”

Before I was married, I was certain I was the perfect wife.  Oh, how quickly I have fallen.  Fallen into routine, pride, selfishness, unforgiveness and excuses.  This rut creates the deception that I can live without humility and forgiveness each day.  As the years pass, it’s easy to assume that nothing will change.

So Willard’s post has me thinking about my own vows.  I thought as I planned for and said my wedding vows that I understood the meaning of what I was saying.  Yet, over the years, I’ve focused more on how my husband is serving/treating me versus the vow I made to him.  As I read the charge our pastor gave me on that day, I see how little I really grasped about making a lifetime promise.

Cindy, Chris has chosen you, loves you.  This means you have power over him…but use your powers for good and not evil.  Chris may doubt God’s love for him.  He may doubt if he has what it takes to be a good husband, a good father.  He may become distant, tired and disagreeable.  It is the he’ll need you to be the hands and voice of God.  Pray for him, encourage him, love him and help him find his way back to the heart of God.  And remind him he is the son of the King who bled for him.  In serving your husband, you’ll discover your true beauty.                                                                                        – Octavio Cesar Martinez

May my vow today be to:

  • Be a better and more patient listener
  • Be more concerned about how your day went than to tell you about mine
  • Be more discipline to draw near versus hide or escape
  • Be an encourager of you
  • Be a praying wife
  • Point you towards the man you want to be and remind you who you are
  • Choose to forgive more quickly
  • Remind you that I have chosen you
  • Discover my true beauty in serving you

Photo by Jeremy Yates


31 Days of Boys & Marriage

For the past 18 months, I’ve stepped away from writing to figure out this whole motherhood challenge.  In this new role, I’ve wrestled with being away from family and friends and where I feel most known and understood.  In my yearning to be home, surrounded with the familiar and other moms in similar life stage, I’m beginning to admit I would miss out on what I have here if I did live in the U.S.

Here, I’m faced with another reality of life.  As much as I’ve fought it over the years, I’m learning a lot about myself and the people around me.  Therein lies the benefit to raising my young son in a foreign land.

Here I’ve learned to slow down, sometimes uncomfortably so.  I’ve don’t like to be still much less silent.  Yet, I’m forced to do both.  Without being fluent in the language, I find myself often smiling and nodding in conversations versus jumping in.  I can’t say that this has made me a great listener because that would assume I always understand what is being said.  Prior to moving here, I found my identity in my busyness.  Yet here, it’s a lot harder to do that when I’m figuring my way around culture and language.  That said, it has helped me in early days as a mom to focus on being fully present, albeit lonely.

Over the past near decade, I’m constantly meeting new people.  These friendships have opened my eyes to a new way of living.  I’ve observed the closeness of family–living in the same neighborhood, daily conversations, family group Whatsapp chats and Sunday lunches.  Here I have the permission to slow down and allocate time to family.  Where I once was fighting for my independence, I now wish I was nearer to our families.  As a new mom, I’m seeing how living in this culture is impacting my son’s experience of family.  Though we are distant from our own, we have been adopted by others and as a result have an even more extended family.




La Gringa: Daily Adventures

I’ve often struggled with where and how I fit here as The Gringa in a Latin land.  The best way to describe it is the first day of middle school as the new kid to a well-established, tight-knit community.  Not only is it literally a different language but there is an unspoken cultural language that I don’t understand either.  For seven years, I’ve been embracing this “I don’t fit” mentality.  Yet, through the media encouragement of complete strangers, I’m reminded that “The adventure/action is here.” I’ve been waiting for something to hit me, for inspiration to jump out…thus, I’ve missed the exciting things along most of the way.

So today I share with you a small taste of what goes on in my routine trip to the grocery store.

  1. Two dogs literally stuck together back to back.
  2. Criminal in handcuffs in the bed of police pick-up truck.
  3. Taxi driving backwards into traffic.
  4. Two teens sitting on top of a water tank truck.
  5. A minivan stopped between two lanes of traffic to pick up/drop off passengers in the middle of the road.
  6. Open flame blazing on the side of the road, burning bushes.
  7. Countless street dogs.
  8. Ice cream guy pushing his cart up the steep hill.
  9. My nemesis boulder that was stuck under my car a week ago.


La Gringa: The Beginning

Always a classic…it’s fun to look back at how this adventure started seven years ago.

I had been living in Honduras for 3 weeks, and only married for 4.  The first day I ventured to drive alone, I was heading to to meet my husband, Chris, for lunch. Driving in Honduras is a combination of the traffic of LA, the mountains of Denver, the honking of New York and the only road rule that exists is to play one big game of “Chicken”. Passing over double-yellow lines is fair game and you can expect cars to come head on into your lane at any time, reverse without warning, or even come to a complete stop on the freeway, all while dodging pedestrians along the way. It also includes driving over medians and curbs OR passing on the right to make a left-hand turn while another car is doing the same. The police don’t have cars so no one has to worry about the consequence of getting a ticket.

Halfway through my drive, I found that 3 lanes merged into 2 so I politely signaled to change lanes.  I allowed one semi to pass and then another as I slowly inched my way into the sardine-packed traffic. Now trapped between 2 semis, no one was going to let me in.  Sure enough, within seconds a huge semi screeched past me, only this time I cringe as I hear scraping metal. When I called Chris to tell him about the accident, he asked, “Did you stop him? He must not know that he hit you because it’s illegal to drive away without getting insurance.”

Thus began the chase. As I gunned it uphill, I tried to catch the barreling semi.  I laid on the horn the whole way, all while driving head-on into traffic so that I could come along side him since it was one lane each way.  As I’m honking, I rolled down my window, gesturing for him to pull over–the whole time thinking, “What am I going to say? I don’t speak Spanish.”

Sure enough, he pulled over and I quickly began gesturing that he hit my car while repeating the only words I knew, “Tu culpa, tu culpa” which means “your fault”. I knew enough to comprehend that he did not agree with me. So I tried to ask for his contact information though I’m pretty sure I didn’t use any verbs. He finally mentioned something about the police. So we drove to a nearby police checkpoint, and as I followed, I kept honking, as if to cause a scene in case he decided to drive away. He began to explain the situation to the policemen. By now, Chris had arrived and with his perfect Spanish, he argued my innocence. Now a crowd had gathered, as often does with any accident, and they all confirmed my blame.  I felt helpless, knowing that I couldn’t communicate.  Chris gathered the facts and concluded… “Cindy, it was your fault. I sat on the curb thinking, “Who was that today?  I would have never done this back home. Seriously, what am I doing here?” 

La Gringa: Drive-through Drama

Today I cried at the Pizza Hut drive-through.  Yes, that’s correct.  I cried.  At a fast food joint.

Why?  Because I could barely place the order.  One pizza, two drinks.  That’s it.  Nothing else.  There was no traffic to blame.  No culture to curse.  No crying baby to need to yell over to be heard.  Sure, I’m sleep-deprived and travel torn but that wasn’t it either.

I just picked my world-traveling husband up at the airport and we both desired nourishment before making the traffic trek.  I pulled a U-turn at the only fast food place I could find.  All was well until I pulled around into the narrow curve.  Rolling down my window, I ordered a simple “pizza”.  For those of you non-Spanish speakers, it’s the same word in Spanish.  So how hard could it be to order?

I repeated myself three times to the faceless black box before pulling around to actually look someone in the eye.  Maybe if I could do charades (for the millionth time), I could make my request known.

The kind employee smiled as she asked to clarify my order.  Exasperated, I pointed to the pizza box, sitting in the revolving heater.  Now we’re getting somewhere.  Wait, what?  There’s more questions?  What kind of drink do I want?  How many?  In cup or bottle?  I’ve survived this long with using generic words for everything.  But here, there can be several ways to say “bottle”.  Meanwhile, my husband is repeating these questions from the backseat, trying to clarify.  But more Spanish isn’t helping me right now.

Calmly, I reached for my wallet, but tears began to well.  My sunglasses masked them until they fell.  Tears of frustration.  It’s been seven years now.  And I can’t order freaking pizza.

Shebraham: Letters to Baby #6

My Dear Boy,

Your imminent arrival is a pressing reminder that I wanted to share so many thoughts and lessons with you these past months.  As you will eventually learn, as we tell you the story of this recent move to the States as we wait for you, life doesn’t turn out as we plan.  In fact, what I’m still learning is that God’s will often clashes with our preferences.

When I first moved back here, over ten weeks ago, it was the beginning of Lent.  My son, you will soon learn that this is a time where we prepare our hearts for the time of Easter, the week we commemorate the sacrifice, suffering and resurrection of our Savior and Lord.

This year, I read a study which taught me more than I’ve learned in years about what Jesus sacrificed so that we might have eternal life (40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole). My prayer, dear son, is that you would grow and walk in such intimacy with the Father. Though I’ll want to protect you from every ache, scrape and pain, greater still will my desire be that you know Jesus personally, that you share His heart for the hurting and lost, and that you don’t run from suffering or sacrifice.

In John 18:11, Jesus so honestly states, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”.  The reality, son, is that we, too, will walk through suffering.  In fact, the grief or pain you will know will, at times, be unbearable.  It pains me to think of your future suffering, and I haven’t even met you yet!  This is why my prayer is that you know our Father, the Only One who can truly bear your burden.  May we both choose to trust in Him, knowing that He has not left us to drink the cup alone.