New Day

“Hey what ever happened to that Mari girl? Didn’t she used to be a writer?”

In case you were curious what became of us in the last 3 months.  The El Salvador missionary family that dropped big news about moving back to Ohio and then crickets….. We have been in Ohio for 1 month and 13 days now.

We are doing a lot of adjusting. When we lived here before I was a very satisfied stay at home mom-wife.  I did writing and orphan-adoption advocacy on the side.  My world revolved around my family.


Currently I have a half unpacked house, 2 dogs to vacuum up after, 4 kids full time in school, a husband in a very new job that he is loving, 1 photo hung on the wall and 1 den completely still unusable.

I just bought a car yesterday…. can I just say car shopping is the pits?! And way to go sales guy at Mike Bass Ford for just giving it to us straight instead of playing games with us for a week, like the other place we went to.

More than this, mentally I am processing and thinking about a lot of things.  We LOVE our people in Ohio. They have been incredible to us.  We LOVE our people in El Salvador, we miss them like crazy.

But what does Ohio life look like for Mari now?  Its really different.  If you don’t hear from me for a while its because I’m a full time student now.  I wasn’t really going to talk about that, but you might wonder why you go weeks without hearing from me… its because I am buried under a course load fit for 20 year olds without 4 kids and an hour commute.


I am Mari. I am a woman. I’m doing the very best for myself, for my family, and God that I can.  Learning a lot about the roles of women in the world.  Getting riled up about some things, and simmering on other things.  Its a new day, and all I can do is what I have to do today, and know that God is beside me all the way, cheering me on.

For me that means school. And selling Scentsy on the side.  Because we do whatever we can for our children and families, am I right? School and family doesn’t coincide well with getting a job to help make car payments, so I will be selling Scentsy.  I promise not to bug you about it, but if you want to come along side me, and plop yourself down in my rollercoaster car, strap yourself in and take this ride with me, I would be happy to have some girl time with you and help you make a party!  I am also still passionately advocating and holding events and tables to sell products for Esperanza:Hope for Futures.  So if your group/church/school would like to help kids rise out of poverty and hopelessness to an education and opportunity, please let me know.  We were just on the Kent State campus last week, and got to share with a lot of people.


Thats all for now, I have a test today, and better get to some studying!  Just get out there and love like crazy, people.  This world is really messed up.  So just go love like crazy.


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.


Its Complicated

Hello to you from El Salvador! I didn’t realize when we moved, that I would write less…. I guess what I didn’t factor in was going from being a stay at home mom/wife, to being a part time employee and full time teacher (homeschool), in addition to still being a wife and mom.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me recently how we are doing. How are the kids doing? How is it living in another country for almost 18 months now? Are you coming back? Are you staying? Do you miss the United States? 
I don’t know that I can ever fully answer these questions. It is nearly impossible to help you understand all the feelings involved in all those questions. 
If I say I miss the United States, that implies that we don’t also love it here. 
If I say that it is difficult to live here, that implies that it is easy in the United States. 
If I say the kids are very happy, that doesn’t explain just how very complicated it is for their little hearts. 
We were recently having a family meeting to discuss how everyone is doing. And my little Addison put into words what no one else could. It was incredible to me that she could analyze her feelings so succinctly. 
“No matter where we live now, I’m going to be sad. If I live in the U.S. I’m going to be sad for missing our friends here. If we live here, I’m going to miss my friends and family in the U.S.” 
We are of course going to try and help her see that it is a win/win, not a lose/lose. For to be loved in multiple countries is a great thing, and not a sad thing. But how do we do that, when we often feel the same way as her???
Here is truth. This isn’t an exotic vacation. Its the tropics, and its beautiful, but its hard. Glennon of Momastery uses the word “brutiful.” That’s what this is. Beautiful and brutal. 
We live every day with the hearts, histories, tragedies and triumphs of people in our hearts and minds. Some things are hard to let go of. So we try to let God be the God of those hard things. Because who can live with all of that in our heads all the time? And at the same time, we desire to have them let us into their hearts and minds, to be able to bear part of their burden for them. To know that someone cares. 
Some days it is as simple as wishing I could just go into Target and find what I need at a reasonable price. Or waking up and thinking, wouldn’t some nice, cool, Ohio, Autumn weather be nice right now???? Or wouldn’t it be nice not to sweat today?? Or, how amazing would it be to hug my nieces and nephews and have coffee with my grandma today?  I cannot even speak of being in the same room with my siblings and my parents without tears. Or holy Moses what is with these enormous beetles all over our door???!!!! Tarantulas…. there are no words. Don’t even get me started on bike rides and libraries with millions of books!! And pretty puhleeeeezzzeee stop posting pictures of your Disney World trip on Facebook! (just kidding we are happy for you and not the least bit jealous… a little). Oh Bath and Body Works how I miss you and your coupons, (I never had a shoe or purse vice, I had B&BW).  And then there is imagining watching Donovan in Little League, or Addison in dance recitals.
As you see, its complicated. Feeling many things, at the same time.  Ha! That all just spilled out suddenly 🙂   The thing is we live here. This is life right now. So to answer your questions:
The answer, as much as we can figure, is to find the joy. If this is a short season, or a long season of living here then we find the joy. The joy in today. 
*I can think of our friends.  I visited one of my closest friends last night. Just for a bit. She is a gift to me, and her husband is a gift to Alex. Two people that in 13 years of our marriage, we feel closer to, than almost any other people. I love her baby, and she loves my kids, without reservation. I said three times that we had to go home to bed, and she told me 3 times not to say that again and stay.  So to have that in our lives….. 
*The puppy that has been a healing balm for my little girl who struggled with this more than the rest. 
*The daily sunshine. 
*The little boy I gave birth to who is the most hysterical person I’ve ever met. His facial expressions, booty dances, taunting sisters with nakedness, laughter, schemes, hummed theme songs, teasing his dad, the way he says so many words fantastically wrong… the list goes on and on. Joy.
*Last night it was in the car, “Mom, I have a lot of ‘uhspicion’ that Layla is going to try and scare me while I’m sleeping tonight.”
*When I miss church due to a migraine and I receive 10 texts from people wondering where I was. 
*Avocados 6 for a dollar. Helloooo guacamole every day. And on a sandwich, and with rice, and with eggs… just yum. 
*Fresh Papaya. 
*Worshiping in Spanish, which always makes me think  of Heaven where we will all worship in different languages.
*The adorable little boy Christopher, who just giggled uncontrollably in my arms as I picked him up and swung him around. 
*Friends on missions team coming to serve and visit. And insist on me giving them a wish list for my family.
*The girl in our sewing program who used to be angry all the time, but now she is smiling all the time. She is incredibly proud of her sewing accomplishments, and I am even more proud of her. 
*All of the beds going out to families who may be sleeping on the ground. 
*Tiny little people who right this very minute are eating a plate full of healthy, delicious food!

*Hugs from  tiny people who yell “Mari!!!!” when I come into the nutrition center.

So I don’t have the answers. Not short ones anyway. I don’t know when we are coming back. I don’t even know how I feel from 1 minute to the next. But I do know about joy.