Friday, October 31, 2014

even when I don't say it quite right

Selma  pumps the peddles of her little tricycle, bouncing along cracked sidewalks. She waves and shouts greetings to favorite shop keepers along the way.
Now Selma is 7 years old and all the neighborhood knows. . .

 Naomi and I made our way to the flower market on the metro. Roaming the stands, examining mounds of color, we searched for  birthday flowers for our girl. . . flowers that are "bueno, bonito, y barrata" (good, pretty, and cheap!) Then we hauled huge bunches home, again on the metro.

"Mom, hold onto the pole! keep your bag close." my daughter reminds me. It's a Mexico City adventure.

Saturday morning  Selma's school friends arrived for her party; we arranged flowers, crafted bracelets, ate fruit and sliced the little round cake with strawberry frosting.
And  I met some sweet mamas who came with their girls and stayed all afternoon.
Tere accompanied Diana, a sweet 7 year old with a face like a lit up moon and dimples.

So, I stepped into conversation with Tere, "Is Diana your only daughter?"
Ahh, how mamas in every culture share their hearts. . . no, there is another daughter who died years ago. Tere showed us a picture.
"But now I have Diana!" she exclaimed, smiling.

Too often my Spanish fails me in situations like this, when I want to move in deeper with compassion and comfort; I open my mouth and hear the wrong words or verb tense spilling out.

But I try anyway. . .

"Diana is so dear but she's not a replacement for your other daughter!" I stumbled, not saying it quite right.
Then I hugged this mama tightly-- and we cried.

Selma and Diana

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

a visit across the border. . .

I've been raffling through old pictures, lots in boxes, more filed on my computer. I pieced this quilt for Selma when she was born. . .I packed the quilting hoop in my suitcase when I traveled to Spain for her birth.
So, today I'll be off to Mexico City to visit Joshua and Naomi and the sweet grandchildren. And I'll be there for Selma's birthday--the first time since her birth seven years ago!

Again I'm packing suitcases, no quilting hoop this time but lots of goodies. . .

 So, my family asked the big question, "What do you want to do during your visit?"
 I came came up with a dozen options . . .

* Walk to and from school with the children every day
* Visit the urban garden in the neighborhood
* coffee at the favorite neighborhood shop
* make pozole (Mexico City style)
* visit the women and children's shelter
* meet and visit with lots of friends
* braid Selma's hair and eat birthday cake
* shop in the neighborhood produce market
* play at the park every day
*worship with the church

hmmm, I think we'll be busy. . .and of course, we will read books.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

ordinary work

I'm attempting to make order from my collection of saved paper. . .words, words, words written on paper. I love paper, and even as technology strides into my life, I still reach for paper, write words with my favorite pens and pencils, still keep a paper calendar, imagine that?

I dug into a "to go through" box on the shelf and found some homemade cards. I spent an hour reading through those gems- 10 years ago a sweet friend penned this quote in her card to me:

"Ordinary work, which is what most of us do most of the time, is ordained by God
 every bit as much as is the extraordinary. All work done for God is spiritual work 
and therefore not merely a duty but a unique privilege. . .
The story is told of three women washing clothes. A passerby asked each what
 she was doing. 'Washing clothes' was the first answer. 'A bit of household drudgery' 
was the second. 'I'm mothering three children who some day will fill important and 
useful spheres in life and wash-day is a part of my grand task in caring for these 
souls who shall live forever' was the third."
(The Shaping of a Christian Home, Elisabeth Elliot)

It's pleasant to think that when I was in the thick of washing and mothering, my heart reflected that third woman's response. But truth be told, I'm sure I responded like all three. . .
But then my friend wrote that she was praying . . . " I'm praying for you this week as you embrace the 'holy privilege' of  ordinary work."

I called my friend the other day and thanked her for the card and the quote, for her prayers for me. I keep reminding myself that ordinary work is extraordinary when done for God- my work looks different now (I mean, how many clothes do I wash each week for just the 2 of us?)
And I pray for the women I know who persevere in their ordinary work for the glory of God.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

their stories and more. . .

John's bike bumped up the porch at almost 6:00 PM on Thursday. He advised me in the morning, "I'll be late- I've got a mandatory faculty meeting about school policy incase of a safety threat."
And then I wondered if my husband was in lockdown. You know, sometimes the day feels endless.

I'd found remnants of his predawn breakfast . . . a crumpled wrapper from a dark chocolate bar, a mug with chocolatey dregs- I'd best feed the man. So I cooked dinner, a pasta dish with sautéed eggplant, sausage and feta cheese. And we sat on the bench at the cluttered dining room table, pushing aside papers and projects and books. How did 10 people ever fit around this board?
Dusk crept through window panes and over dinner we shared our stories from the previous day- people stories, kingdom stories.

First he told me about Juan Jose, a young fellow fresh from Mexico. Somehow he's connected with our children in Mexico City. He showed up at John's discipleship group, content to be there with men who love Jesus. And on the ride home he told John his story, "This is hard to say. . . but I trust you."

Then I told John about my new friend, a young woman who immigrated from Mexico years ago. She invited me to her home and and over coffee she shared her story. We talked about all the usual stuff  women talk about- and we talked about the gospel. I knew she would ask. . .and I was ready, pretty much ready.

"Her questions were sincere, thoughtful and I made it through in Spanish, well almost. . . Aye, I was cast upon the Lord!" I told my husband.

"Ah, I wish I'd been a mouse in the corner to hear it all," he exclaimed.

"I didn 't get it quite right in Spanish. . .the redemption thread connecting the Old and New Testaments. I need to practice- help me!" I appealed.

And he did. . .

Sometimes when I think about the next season of our lives, our retirement years, I wonder what it would be like to be retiring from a career. But no, right here is where I love to be, hearing their stories, and sharing His. . .

(Juan Jose's coming for dinner this week- he loves pozole. . . I'm sure there will be stories.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

noisy words

The city is paving our street- I dream about the banging, grinding, bell ringing  machines ramming into our house. I awake, startled. It's 6 AM, already a noisy day.
John came home one afternoon this week and commented, "Hear that clicking whistle sound? that's the sound I make in the school gym when the kids come in with shirts untucked- they think it's funny!"
Soon we'll have nice smooth pavement, a street without potholes. Then I'll wipe up the grimy window sills and I will have forgotten all about the chain gang on my street.

I'm always ready with words, maybe you know that about me? I love God's good plan, the potential that my words might love, comfort, convict, refresh, challenge someone.  It doesn't always happen that way. . . in fact, I'm thinking about an encounter last week when my words had the affect of noisy reverberation, akin to the paving machines on my street.

And later I confessed, "Friend, I'm sorry for my careless words."
So, I'm taking stock of my words, examining what transpired in my heart before the noisy words overflowed into awkward space.  I think my words outside the particular context were fine words- kind, truthful, caring, but- I got too personal in the wrong setting that day.

Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion,
that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph 4:29)

An aspect of wholesome talk is that I wisely tailor my words to the occasion and to the needs of the specific hearer. And why, Oh why, am I still learning these lessons? After all, I've memorized lots of Scripture and taught all my children, like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word fitly spoken in right circumstance. (Prov 25:11)

When I step back, I see God leaning in hard- because he loves me, doing his work to restore his shattered image in me, that one day I might truly look like my beautiful Savior.
(hmmm, I can't wait. . .)