Thank You?


Thank you letters were non-optional in my house growing up.  It was a good lesson in practicing gratitude for the kindness of others.  Nowadays my gratitude seems to be more along the lines of Jimmy Fallon’s Thank-You Notes.

  • Thank you, Multiple Drivers, for cutting me off, when you can clearly see I’m mid-turn.
  • Thank you, Poorly Constructed Roads, for potholes requiring monthly tire repair.
  • Thank you, Fly, for laying eggs inside my dog’s skin that hatched into full-on worms.
  • Thank you, Taxi Driver, for zooming ahead on the left into oncoming traffic to make a right-hand turn in front of me before the light turns green.
  • Thank you, Woolly or Bear, for urinating inside again.
  • Thank you, Power Company, for cutting off power for twelve hours at a time.
  • Thank you, Litterers, for the mountain of debris outside my house.
  • Thank you, Charades, for being usual when my limited Spanish fails.
  • Thank you, Police, for standing in the middle of the road for random traffic stops while not directing traffic.
  • Thank you, Son, for removing every pot, pan and tupperware right before bed.
  • Thank you, Tropic of Cancer, for 12 hours of daylight year-round.
  • Thank you, Ants, for multiplying and leaving my house scented “Bug Repellent”.
  • Thank you, Roof, for leaking in five places in one room, including right over the bed.  Good thing rainy season is only six months out of the year.


God, Are You There?


Faith is a gift.  I don’t have it.  I thought I had it.  But my gift seems to be more along the lines of doubt.

Maybe it was starting over in a new country or the reality of marriage or years of infertility or a recent miscarriage but it felt more like my faith was diminishing versus thriving.

But then I realized I’ve been redefining faith.  It doesn’t mean “you wish, therefore it is.”  Rather, faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

I wanted to believe that if I had faith, I would then get what I requested.  And as disappointments increased, my faith began to decrease.  Why ask?  Why hope?  It only seemed to bring greater heartbreak.

Now as a parent, I see how limited faith is immature.  My son requests things and generally believes he will get them.  He also doesn’t understand when he doesn’t get what he asked for.

Similarly, I don’t understand the “No” or “Not now” and my confusion brings frustration, anger and doubt at times.  But I also know that He is with me, even more than I am present for my own little loved one.

“Yes, Cindy, I AM here.”

Photo by Cindy Haughey

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.



Making Moments Memories


I was a sophomore in college when my first nephew was born.  Over the years as the babies continued to multiply, I couldn’t make it to all the family gatherings.  One tradition I most regret missing was the summer family camp.  My parents planned games, songs, crafts and skits for one week every year.  The best part was the annual family t-shirts that my dad designed to commemorate the occasion.

Unfortunately, those days have been outgrown by most of the family now.  And though we didn’t get the chance to experience family camp with our own son, I’m still so grateful for my parents’ example to make every moment a memory.

Today I treasure the few times every year when we can be surrounded by family.  These moments are more valuable to us now as parents but especially because we have so few of them.  We don’t get to share in cousins’ birthdays or nieces’ sporting events or nephews’ plays.  We miss parents’ anniversaries and emergency visits to the hospital.  So when we do get those few short days together, we want to make memories.

Photo by Betsy Markwald

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?

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