Maravillosa Jesus! In El Salvador

Success!  We made it into El Salvador last night without incident!  And dry clothes!!!  Today we have been having meetings to plan out our week, and there are exciting things in the works.  Teaching, playing, cooking for the homeless… can´t wait to get started
(above from Sunday)
I´m finding it difficult to find a moment to write, but since I promised to share the journey while I am here, I´m squeezing in a moment before the English class begins.
Its difficult to put into words as eloquently as I would like, what we have seen, heard and experienced so far.  Pictures will have to wait until I return because the internet is spotty and I´m likely to cut out at any minu… just kidding.
This morning we toured the fishing pier where many of the El Salvadorian´s make thier living.  They go out on row boat sized fishing boats that are lifted by a small crane and ropes into the surf, (where by the way there are international surfing competitions held).  Going out on the water in these boats is no small feat.  But they do it day in and day out to provide for their families.  There was a young boy who swam out into the huge waves to bring in a huge fish that someone on the pier had caught with just a hook and line, no pole.  but the boy had to go out to hand reel it in and then carry it back up the rocky bank/cliff to the pier.  it was unbelievable!  The man on the pier offered the boy $6 to swim out and reel it in.  It was so dangerous!  He was continually getting knocked around by the waves, the fishing line was going all over and around him.  But he did it and didn´t give up until he had that fish in hand.  I wondered how it could possibly be worth risking your life to bring in a fish that was as big as his torso, but I found that an average salary is $30/week.  And then it made perfect sense.  Lunch is here.  Almuerzo!  More later. 

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Why Missions?

Tomorrow I’m stepping onto a plane headed for San Salvador with six other people. I’ve been asked multiple times why I’m going.  I tend to answer the same way each time. 
“We’re teaching English to children so that they can get jobs someday.”
“We are helping out the workers at Gran Comision Iglesia, who work day in and day out to provide meals for children who would not otherwise eat.  At all.”
Last year we helped build a house, and helped hundreds of people see nurses and doctors for the first time in some of their lives.  It all sounds a bit like patting myself on the back.  And its not at all why I’m going.
A few weeks ago I wrote about being an “Always Changing River.” And that is part of the reason why I seek to be a short term missionary.
Next week I get to bring books to children.  Stories about Jesus.  The homes we visited last year had no floors, they barely had walls or clothes or beds.  They certainly did not have books.  And as someone who fancies herself a writer and lifelong lover of reading, this breaks my heart.
So tonight with my husband who supports me in all things, and money from my sister, {who incidentally is a Kindergarten teacher with a masters in childrens’ literature and uber-passionate about children reading} I went and purchased books! 
I’m traveling to El Salvador with 12 brand new books that are just waiting to be opened and to fulfill their little book purpose in life.  They are just waiting for little hands to lovingly pour over their colorful pages and words!!!! 
I can’t wait to take those little bodies into my arms, hold them, and read them stories. 
And why?  Because “God so loved El Salvador, that he gave his one and only Son, so that if the people of El Salvador believe in Him, they will not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

Please follow me as I take my second journey to El Salvador.  The adventure begins tomorrow!

Melt in Your Mouth

I leave for El Salvador in 4 days.  Am I working on Mt. Laundry?
No.  I’m too distracted.  Good thing I’m not God, am I right?  I’d wager he doesn’t do laundry either though.
I’ve got my kids to prepare for me being away.
Grocery shopping {endless chore}.
Round up that silly passport, {they tend to not let you in and out of the country without it}.
I need to kiss my husband {alot}.
Write a book about my kids and their special quirks for the babysitter.
Continue to fight against the  raging emotions and heartbreak that comes with having family you love.
And so, to calm the torrential storm going on inside my head, I find myself here writing.  Addison is waiting for me to go play Rapunzel with her in the tree house, so this will be quick.

5 Things that Make Me Happy:
1. My anniversary date. I’m still smiling from it.  We adore our kids.  But having an opportunity to just be Alex and Mari for a couple hours was priceless. If we were a Master Card commercial this is how it would go:
Dinner at Wild Mango- $$
Anniversary Card-$
Friends who watch all four kids plus their two- Priceless
Opportunity to be alone and in love- Priceless

2. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake that I made for Alex’s birthday

3. Going on Izzy’s Second Grade Field Trip

4. Leftover rotisserie chicken on a sun-dried tomato tortilla.  If you have never had this run, don’t walk {I suppose you should really drive} to your nearest dealer in rotisserie chickens, put it in your fridge, take it out the next day and put a big hunk of delicious chicken breast on a sun-dried tomato tortilla and wait for the bliss.  It will change your life.  If you really feel the need, you could add alfalfa sprouts or avocado or tomato.  This is not necessary however, and I’m concerned about the ramifications of making it even a smidge more delicious.  One might not live through the experience.  I have no picture because I couldn’t put it down long enough to take a photo.  And I didn’t want to show the world me, inhaling this tortilla wrap.

5. Layla’s new lunch box that I got special with her name on it. 

5. Addison’s Uno Faces, this one is “I drew a wild!”

Sometimes life threatens to swallow you whole.  And for the most part, I love to take part in every part of life.  I put on my game face and yell “BRING IT!”  And if need be, bust out some “Eye of the Tiger” or “Boogey Shoes” or if the situation really warrants, “We Like to Party” by the Vagabongs.
But when you feel like you just can’t take a second more of the overwhelming “stuff” that comes with the package deal, its important to sit, breathe, maybe do some yoga, pray, write, pray some more and then jump back in cannon-ball style.

Don’t forget that next week I’ll be writing from El Salvador.  I’m going to try and share the journey with you while I’m there, we’ll see how it goes.

Bieber Birthdays? Really?

Today I’m going to write about something that I find apalling.
I’m going to make generalizations and assumptions and use the word “you.” All of which my writing professor Martha would find apalling and she surely would have a red pen all over what I’m about to write.
But this is my blog, and I can write what I want to.
And I’m a mommy, and sometimes I find other mothers apalling.

Last Summer, I went to the opening night of one of the Twilight movies with some other adult friends.  It was late, maybe 11 p.m.  In the theatre was a woman who had a little daughter who could not have been older than 3.  Now, you might be as shocked as I was at first that a three year old was even awake at 11, or that she was out of the house at 11 p.m.  But the real shockeroo came when said woman bought two tickets for Twilight.  A vampire movie. For a 3 year old.

This precious little sprite followed the woman who gave birth to her (notice I do not call her “mom”), into the theatre.  Where much to the annoyance of the other movie goers and and my heart, proceeded to cry that she was scared, that she was tired and that she wanted to go home to her bed. And the woman’s response? “Watch the movie and shutup or I’m going to take you out and spank you.”

Yesterday,  my little girl came home with a Justin Bieber birthday invitation.  She’s 7 years old.  It makes me angry that teenage boys are being marketed to little girls.  It makes me angry that they are being encouraged to think about, follow, obsess over, and have teenage, boy, themed birthday parties.  How is this remotely acceptable?  Its not innocent fun, and its not cute.

I overheard a mother quizzing her 3rd grade son on which girls in his class were cute, if he has a girlfriend, or even a little crush.  He was totally apalled at the very idea, but the manner and words that she used gave nothing other than the impression that there was something wrong with him because he didn’t have a crush.  She then proceeded to point out some possible prospects to him.  So help me if she had pointed at my daughter I would have walked straight over to her and punched her in the face.

Adults wonder (told you I was going to generalize) why little girls are maturing so quickly?  Why they are boy crazy at younger and younger ages?  Why are they letting junior high boys convince them that oral sex at school is a good idea?  Why are they having sex as Freshman in highschool? 

Perhaps, it is because parents think it is ok for 5,6, and 7 year old little girls to have crushes on teenage pop stars.

Perhaps we should let our little girls, be little girls.  And play with dolls, look for fairies, live in a Strawberry Shortcake fantasy…. instead of wearing a Team Edward or Team Jacob shirt, or throwing them Bieber Birthdays.

Am I the only one upset by this?

I write about a lot of things. God, love, my kids’ silly antics, adoption advocacy and overseas missions… and when I’ve got nothing else, I laugh at myself (like when meeting The Pioneer Woman).   I don’t often build a soap box and stand on it.  But once in a while, I choose to take a stand.  Today was that day. 

He Caught Me

Today is the day.
Nine years we have been married.
If you read my  “Its a Love Story” series, you will not be able to miss the fact that Alex knew from the moment we met that I would be his. 
Or that he had to convince me of that.
Or that he had to catch me because I was running away.

There has never been a woman so happy to be caught as I.
And the beauty of it is that, now, I can’t imagine ever being away from him.
And that he continues to catch me. Not because I’m running, but because he catches me when I’m falling.  When I’m hurting.  When I’m laughing.  When I falter. 
For nine years he has walked beside me (except for the years I was pregnant and needed him to push and/or pull me up the stairs to get to bed), not my superior, or dictator, or boss. My counterpart.
The one God made for me to have.
And it certainly doesn’t hurt that he still buys me roses {which apparently he went through quite an ordeal to get today, but I don’t know the details yet}!

14 Days to El Salvador

I couldn’t stop thinking today about the vast difference between my feelings one year ago as I was heading to El Salvador, and the calm that is over me now, as I am looking at my two week mark.

Last year I was petrified.  I’d never left the country, my safety net, or my husband and childrens’ side. 

This year, I know who I am going to see.  What I will be doing.  Where I’m going. 

There is no fear of the unknown.  I was certainly excited last year, but this year it is quadrupled.  I’m returning to a place where I felt the Holy Spirit in the wind, the torrential rain, the music, and heard his voice as I stared into the faces of the children.  Those dark brown eyes that stared back into my blue ones and stole my heart.  Children that can play with a simple balloon for hours without their excitement waning one bit.  Some had shoes.  Some didn’t.  Some got to eat that day.  Some did not.  I get to take them into my arms soon and hug each and every one.

Yes. I cannot wait to get back.  To embrace my dear, beautiful friends that I have missed for the last year.  But I also can’t wait to see what God does in me this year.  If you read back about my trip last year, you will find a very different woman that changed completely.

I’m still working out the kinks.  Looking for a waterproof suitcase! Planning another early Father’s Day and Birthday for my husband.  Soaking up as much of my 4 loves as I can.  Today though, I realized that I need to be spending a lot more time in prayer.  Praying that God will be able to use me for something small, big…. doesn’t matter.  I just want to be used.  I’m going to yearn for my children, my husband, and my plumbing.  But oh my goodness!  What an adventure.  🙂

Please follow me as I try to do a good work, and bring awareness to the need {of a most beautiful people} for Jesus and food.  But mostly Jesus. 

June 18th is the big day!

Its a Love Story- Anniversary Edition

I thought about continuing on in our story for a while.  But its not necessary.  This week is our 9th Anniversary.  We’ve been together 11 years now.  That is a long time.  And the truth is, we are every bit as in love as we were 11 years ago.  You don’t need to hear about every detail of how I worked my way from being happily in “the friend zone” to falling in love. I can tell you that it had a lot to do with seeing him play classic rock ballads on his guitar in the flickering light of a bonfire.

Alex, he knew from the beginning that we belong together.
It took me a little longer to get there. I was cautious.
I am Alex’s first and only love (which I LOVE)
I had experienced heartbreak.
But now I know real love.

For the last 9 years I’ve been wishing that I had never dated before Alex.  And there is a large part of me that still does.  But would I truly appreciate everything that Alex is, if I hadn’t been let down in the past?  I’m sure I would, but maybe I wouldn’t fully realize exactly what an amazing man I got. 

So here is what I’ve come up with on the matter of what to look for in a man:
1. He wants to be around 99% of the time.  He doesn’t have to work me into his schedule.
2. I do not have to pursue him.  Because I am too busy being chased.
3. He does not hurt me on purpose. 
4. He does not disrespect me in front of his buddies.
5. There are so many proverbial butterflies when I see him.  Still. Butterflies. I still get goosebumps when our arms or hands accidentally brush by each other. Chemistry.
6. A loving, fun Daddy.
7. He’s my very best friend.
8. Seriously a hard worker. He has goals, goes to work, provides for us, doesn’t complain.
9. Trust. Trust with not even a smidge of fear.  He is mine, and I am his.  And no one else will ever know the intimacy we share with each other.
10. Most importantly- he loves God. 
11. And a number 11, since we’ve been together 11 years….. it isn’t necessary, but certainly doesn’t hurt that he is totally gorgeous!

If you’re looking for love, the most important thing to remember is this, don’t settle.  There ARE good guys out there. My man proves it every day.  We give our all, to be worthy of each other.

Thank you Alex.  Thank you for pursuing me and not quitting.  You didn’t give up on me.  Thank you for wanting me so much that nothing and no one could get in your way {not in a creepy way}.

So while it is true that our love story is one of those really great, sappy stories that you need to read once in a while, its more important to tell about today.  We have had our ups and downs {more up than down}, gut busting laughter, soul crushing heartache, and more joy than some see in a lifetime.  The rest of it I am going to leave in his head and mine.  I’ll probably continue to write it out, but for now, I’m going to keep it ours.  I hope you enjoyed your peek into one of the great love stories of all time.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4