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.

Shebraham: Letters to Baby #5

My Dear Baby Boy,

Even these few letters are a reminder for me to release you back to God daily.  It’s not easy.

One of the first things you will be required to do as you enter this world is to trust…the doctor, me and your dad.  Before I can even teach you the definition of this word, you will know its meaning.  I’m sure I’ll be the one learning from you about how to fully trust.

Trust–“believe that someone is reliable, good, honest and effective.”  (Webster Dictionary)

My son, as I enter into the final stretch of awaiting your arrival, now, more than ever is when I must choose this trust.  There are so many thoughts, concerns, possible outcomes that can run through my mind even before leaving the house…thanks to the new at our fingertips today.  It can come flooding, easily knocking me off the grounding I had just moments earlier.

This is trust, this is faith, my son: believing that our God is good, reliable, honest and effective.  He will not let you out of his sight.  As I teach you this, I must believe and practice this truth myself.  Though I may be tempted to run, to panic, to spin my wheels, I must be still.  In this quiet, I hear God.  He reminds me that He is good.  He is honest.

As you grow in my belly, I can see more clearly a purpose that I didn’t have at this time a year ago.  Yet, at the same time, I can easily get sucked into more worry that I didn’t have a year ago either.  But I’m learning to trust too, little one, just as you will.

As one of your dad’s favorite authors writes in one of your soon-to-be-favorite books:

“Is—is he a man?” asked Lucy.

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Shebraham: Letters to Baby #4

My Boy,

I forget that the things that still shock me while living here will be normal for you, since this will be where you are raised.

Today I drove past a father on a motorcycle with his infant son.  I was again surprised that yet another father was not holding onto his helmetless son on their two-wheeled adventure.

Yet this sight made me realize that what is normal for me is not for others.  In my need for safety, I was looking at another parent as being careless and unprotecting while I’m sure they made it home safely, as many families do the same here every day.

My son, even now, before you are out of the womb, I want to shelter you.  I want to give you everything.  I want to protect you from harm.  However, I am reminded that the reason I started these letters to you is to remember that you are not mine.  Though I want to control and cling to safety and comfort, those are the things our God is trying to release from my grip.  He knows all things and He knows best.  He knows, my son, that I would not even be aware of such vices if I wasn’t removed from the land that I know.

My son, may you not fear.  May you remind me the same!  May you no seek only comfort and safety but walk in courage and strength in the unknown. Know, most of all, son, you are not alone.

Shebraham: Letters to Baby #3

My Little Man,

I hold you close to my heart as I know the blessing and miracle you are. Your dad and I have waited four long years, wondering if we would ever meet you.  Here you are, God’s miracle, without medical intervention, growing day by day.  I am reminded, though my heart has longed for you, that you are not mine.  It is not easy to do but I will promise to hold you loosely.

Fear. Control.  My dear son, these are two traits of mine that are being challenged more than ever.  The truth is, I’ve never truly had control but I certainly had the illusion of it, more so when I lived in my homeland.

You, my boy, will be born here.  My prayer is that you know immediately that you can control nothing.  You may be more aware of that before you can speak but you may quickly forget when you develop your strong will.   Yes, I need to prepare myself for that now, since your father and I are both blessed with the same will.  The point is, son, only our God is in control. May your faith in Him be BIG, my son.  May you walk in utter trust–knowing you have nothing to fear because He has you, more than I ever could.

When you know you have no control, you must fully trust.  With utter trust, you have nothing to fear.

Shebraham: Letters to Baby #2

My Dear Son,

Now, in these few mornings left of quiet and stillness before you come, I start each day with reading and reflecting.  Today, as I reflect on what I’d like to see change in my own life, I’d like to extend these few things to my prayer for you.  I pray that you might have a thick skin while developing a soft and kind heart.  I pray that you have a sense of humor and might laugh at life versus allow it to overwhelm you.  I pray that you would have flexibility and not hold to your own plans too tightly.  Most of all, I pray that you might pursue righteousness.  You will not be perfect.  You will make mistakes.  I’ll be the one pointing them out to you, because in my mind, there will be a “way” to do things.  Yet, at the end of the day, what I will want most for you is not that you fit into “my mold” but that you pursue righteousness.  The blessing is that each day we have the chance to practice who we want to be.  We won’t always get it right but we can practice together.