Maybe Tomorrow

 

I go to an orphanage, torn in my heart whether I actually want to do it. Fighting the feeling. I procrastinate and I stall.  Maybe tomorrow. But I get in the car.

“But you’re a missionary!”  you think to yourself now.

You might even now be asking yourself, “Isn’t that what you went there to do? Stop complaining, you asked for this. You are being paid, by other people, from their salaries to do this exact job.”

I go to the orphanage and they are excited to see me. And I them.  My jaw hurts from smiling so hard.  I hold the baby with no muscle tone at 1 year close to my beating heart and never want to let her go.  That beating heart in so much pain because I know how this came to be.  Wanting nothing more in the world than to take both of them into my heart and home and love them as if I had carried and birthed them both. Her 15 year old mom looks on, as I hold her baby with all the experience 4 babies has given me.

I leave the baby house to go visit the older kids.  Kids who have endured horrors no child should, and now live in an institution. They run up and ask for Alex and my biological kids.  They smile and group hug me, even though I’m a lone visitor for the day.

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They forgive me for not visiting in so long.  Illnesses had me away for a few months, but they welcome me back.

You think, “You’ve haven’t been in months? What have you been doing? You’ve let them down like every other adult in their lives.”

I get back in my car amid 15 kids watching me leave. Again. I roll down my window and shout an “I love You!”  I shut the window and I can breath again.  Breaths coming in gasps.  I drive home to my husband and my kids.  Nothing can break the images running in my head and the pressure on my chest that remains after relinquishing her. I can still feel her heavy on my heart.

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You are probably thinking, “Why do you even bother? You will just keep hurting them by coming, and going without them. Just stop.”

 

And that voice, questioning me and my inaction, and my inability to give these kids families?  It kicks my emotional ass all night long.

It was mine all along.  The voice telling me I’m not enough.  Questioning me. All me.

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{photo credit: Samuel Rivas}

The only respite, the gracious quiet voice that comforts deep in my soul.  The voice that is not mine.

“They are mine Mari. Not yours.  Consider the lilies of the fields, and the sparrows…do I not love them infinitely more than you? Do I not weep for them with more tears?  This is not yours to fix.  They are yours to love. Feel it, and go back.”

I’m a missionary in El Salvador.  Some days I yell at the people I love, and lose my patience.  Dogs get into bathroom trashes (where all our TP goes), and food burns to pans on stove tops whose only setting is high and medium.  Floors need mopping every day, which is annoying and I let it do just that, annoy me. Some days I don’t want to go do the hard things.  Missionaries are just people.  We’re real, and fallible.  But that Father, who will never fail a single one of us, He is mine too.  And full of grace.  So I can grant myself grace.  But maybe tomorrow.

 

Power of Story

When I was a little girl my mom would sit out in the hall, with 3 bedroom doors open, her five children already tucked in, and she would open a book.  As she read to us, Mom would make the story and the characters come alive. She would do different voices, dramatize and make the ink on the page become so much more than printed letters.

I think those nights being told a story are a huge part of why I love story today.  Now I read to my kids, I read for myself, but more than this, I love to learn the stories of the people I encounter.

Humans crave story. Whether in a book, play, song, poem, movie or television, we want feel what the story is saying.  We can learn about ourselves.  We can learn about others. We can escape for a moment in time.

Being open to someone else’s story, if they let you in, is an incredible gift.  I am not a fan of superficial or casual friendships.  I want to KNOW you. Start at the beginning, first grade if necessary.  Knowing a person, and their life, takes bravery, because you will begin to care.  Caring about others outside of ourselves, outside of our bubble, is like putting on glasses for the first time!  The whole world becomes vivid, worthwhile and interesting. And you will care about it.  When you care about something, then you take action. When you care about someone, you start to love, and if the whole world started to care, and love a whole lot more???? A revolution.

With this is mind, I’m going to begin a series on stories of individuals.  Living, breathing, thinking, feeling, individuals, of El Salvador.  Its easy to just read news articles, or hear what the media wants you to hear and believe…. but that is not the real El Salvador.  I always tell people, the real story of El Salvador are the hard working, faithful people who love their country and each other.

Make sure you subscribe over there on the right side bar.  Once a week you will receive a a new story.  I will never flood your inbox.  Be brave, open yourself to someone’s story, you will be so happy you did.

12716395_10207284904514362_7976793031138941208_o{incredible photo credit: Loren Noyes}

 

Start Again

When I moved to El Salvador I really thought I was going to be writing ALL the time.  I had big huge aspirations of writing beautiful words, accompanied by fabulous meaningful photos, that would make you feel all the things…..Life just doesn’t quite happen like you think it might. For me, writing got pushed to the corner.  I have a lot of reasons for stopping, but a good friend I’ve had since the 7th grade, told me to just write. It can be scary and overwhelming, but that’s not a reason to stop.

I just looked at my last post date and it was in October y’all. So it got me to thinking about this little old blog of mine.  Its gone through quite an evolution.  I started out “journaling” and keeping long distance friends and family up to date with my babies.
Then I went through a phase of recipe blogging. Included in this was party planning ideas for families on a budget, and how to make special traditions and memories.  I am not kidding you when I tell you I have a draft sitting in my bank of writing, solely devoted to 90’s music.  Boys II Men, Mariah Carey, girl bands and boys bands.
Soon after this I became involved in Adoption and Orphan advocacy.  Fundraising for friends’ adoptions and starting orphan and foster care ministry at my church became a focus and I started attending seminars, holding planning meetings and going to the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit every year.  (Really going to miss going to Orlando this year!) I met so many incredible people and made great connections.
As my writing drifted away from my family and more towards social justice, I began to creep towards a journey that would forever change me too.  An enormous life change happened and we moved to El Salvador. We worked with the local church on sharing Jesus, and community development to combat that severe poverty, gangs and lack of hope. Writing was pushed aside for a number of complicated reasons.   This brings us to today.

As you can see, if you have stuck with me through all of that time, I’ve added ring, upon ring, upon ring to my tree of life. And I’m not even done yet.  God is not done with me yet.  I’m working on adding another ring, that is big and bad and scary…. and essential.

I’m really hoping to resurrect this blog, but for me that involves fear.  And insecurity. Why would people care about what I have to say?   What do I even have to say?  For a writer, its  kind of like putting a piece of art in a museum that no one stops to look at.  Then I saw this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald on Pinterest:

And my favorite fan is my Grandpa, so I know he will continue down this path with me.  What else could I possibly need? Plus Julie says to go for it 🙂
So I invite you to come along,  be encouraged, learn something new, meet new people, feel new things, and as always, to Love Like Crazy.