Sometimes Quick, Sometimes Slow

Sometimes the Lord answers our prayers quickly, other times the answer comes after we have waited patiently for quite some time. I want to thank all of you who prayed for us yesterday and let you know that this time the Lord answered your prayers and ours quite quickly!

Yesterday there was a tropical storm passing through our region, so school and other activities were canceled and all eight of us (Darwin, the five kids who live with us, our neighbor-son Brayan, and I) were at home all day. Praise God for the tropical storm that forced all of us to slow down and spend an entire day together uninterrupted! The kids prepared an elaborate vegetable soup for lunch, Darwin and I danced in the living room, we spent time working through the events of the last few weeks with one another and in prayer, a lot of hugs and loving words were exchanged, and there was a riotous tickle-fight after lunch that led Darwin laughing and screaming around our large yard as many little people chased him.

As for 7-year-old Jason, after praying for him while he slept the night before last, yesterday he woke up with an entirely different attitude. He spent the morning and afternoon in his room (part of his consequence for his poor behavior in school), and he re-did the various pages of homework that he had previously torn up, and got ahead on a couple other assignments. He surprised us all with his newfound work ethic and joy, and we pray that it continues.

The three girls and I scheduled a long overdue “women’s meeting” in the afternoon, which consisted in us sitting on the freshly-swept floor in Mom and Dad’s Bedroom to give each person the opportunity to share frustrations, joys, problems, etc, in a safe, open environment. At first no one wanted to share anything, so we began with prayer and a Bible reading, and from there a lot of things came to light — hidden bitternesses, jealousies, honest tears, sincere compliments, worries, feelings of sisterly love and more. A true women’s meeting indeed! I feel that this first intentional encounter we had yesterday was a huge leap in the right direction, and we are planning on holding similar meetings every so often to get everything out on the table and speak the truth to one another in love. At the end of our little group meeting there were about 183 prayer requests, so we joined hands, all sitting cross-legged on our tile floor, and presented ourselves to our Father. As the girls bounced out of our bedroom, there was a tangible lightness and freedom in them that beforehand could only be categorized as darkness, anger and unspoken sadness. They literally galloped out of our room after several group hugs, and they began doing crazy gymnastics on the porch, carrying one another on their shoulders and including little Josue in their wild games of joy. Yes!

On the legal front, I was able to make contact with my new lawyer yesterday, and she’s on the ball and already working on my case! She lives in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, so she has direct access to the government’s offices there and went yesterday to access my file. Please continue to pray for justice and efficiency in regards to my residency, and let us give thanks to God for this turn of events.

Last night after a dinner of peanut butter sandwiches, all eight of us piled on and around our small couch to watch a movie together, something we have not done, well, ever. During the movie we tickled one another’s feet, scratched so-and-so on the head, cuddled together, and rested in God’s love.

As the movie was getting ready to start and everyone hurried in and out of the bathroom to take turns showering, Diana — with a newfound freedom shining from her face — asked sincerely, “What do I call Brayan now that he doesn’t live with us anymore?” I answered, “He’s your brother in Christ and [a term that doesn’t translate directly in English but means ‘non-biological brother with whom you grew up’]”. With that all three of us smiled, content with the unusually large sense of family God has blessed us with.

So I don’t know if we are parents to five or parents to six, although I’m inclined to say six. I don’t know what struggles tomorrow — or even this afternoon — will bring. But I do know one thing: God is with us, and He hears us.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. –Psalm 136:1


Please Pray for Us

If you are a person of faith in Jesus Christ, I ask that you pray urgently for our children (and us!) during this time. This past week and half have been wrought with darkness and unforeseen struggles, and we are at the end of ourselves and no longer have many ideas of what to do.

Our seven-year-old son, Jason, passed the entrance exam to a very good local Christian school, and he entered in second grade about two weeks ago after having been in homeschool with us for a year (the Honduran school calendar begins in February). It has come to light in the past few days that he has been lying both in school and to us, got sent to the principal’s office yesterday for ripping up his homework and throwing it in the toilet, lost his only pair of school shoes, and has deliberately not been doing all of his classroom and homework assignments. We are aghast at this turn in his behavior and are at a loss of what to do after trying several disciplinary techniques, talking with him on end, etc, and last night as he lay in his top bunk sleeping Jenae, Darwin, Jason’s two biological sisters and I tip-toed in and gathered around him, gently laying hands on his little body and asking God for a miracle in his heart. We prayed for liberation from the darkness that has begun to consume him and that his light – which is Christ within him – may begin to shine once again. Please pray with us so that any spirit of laziness, of deceit, of ungratefulness may be eradicated from his life so that he may walk in light, truth and freedom. In the Honduran public schools, children have been known to be sexually abused during recess, classes can be canceled when there is a big soccer game on television, and it is not uncommon for sixth graders to barely be able to read, so this opportunity for him to study at a small, sincerely Christian school with good academics that is only a 20-minute drive from our home is an incredible blessing and we don’t want him to do to it what he did to his homework assignment yesterday.

Our eldest daughter, Diana, is having some very strong emotional and spiritual struggles with the arrival of Jackeline and Josue to our home. Adolescence can be a stormy season for anyone, and especially with all that she has been through in fourteen years. We are looking into Christian counseling for her because, although we want to be able to meet her emotional needs merely by providing a stable, loving family environment with healthy opportunities, etc, we are quickly realizing that she needs professional help. Please pray for her emotional stability, identity in Christ, and wisdom for us as her parents during this time.

Our 10-year-old daughter, Gleny, is having similar (although not as extreme) struggles as her little brother Jason in the sense that she is not valuing the opportunity to study as a fourth-grader in her new Christian school, and her behavior and laziness are quickly becoming a huge problem. Please pray for her in the same manner that I have asked you pray for Jason.

The two new arrivals (Jackeline, age 11, and Josue, age 6) are doing well. We have found a small special needs school for Josue, and we are currently in the middle of all the medical and psychological exams in order to be able to enroll him there as a student. Jackeline has entered fifth grade in our homeschool program, and is doing okay by all accounts, although I ask for prayer for her work ethic (which is currently very poor), emotional stability, and salvation.

My Honduran residency has been in process for two years now, and I just received notice that I will need to leave the country for three days before March 3 because the government is about to close my case due to my lawyer’s extremely faulty job. I have been calling my lawyer three and four times a day for weeks, and she does not answer. After a long series of phone calls yesterday with the government offices in Tegucigalpa, I was finally told that I need to change my lawyer and do a whole other process in order to get my Honduran residency, although I will likely still have to leave in March for a few days and then return to continue the exhausting legal process. Please pray that the government and my new lawyer may have mercy on my case and that the legal process may be done according to God’s standard of justice (and not Honduras’).

In the past couple weeks my cell phone has been thrown down the toilet (thanks, Josue), our days have been consumed with disciplinary procedures, sleepless nights have been spent in prayer, and joy has been squeezed out amidst trying difficulties. Thank you for taking the time to read this long, rambling list of prayer requests, and I ask that you sincerely take the time to present our children before God so that He may continue the good work He has begun in their lives.

Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. — Revelation 8:3

I Cannot Fill You.

Several nights ago — three nights after our 10-year-old fireball received two new siblings, to be exact – Gleny lay face-down in her top bunk with her face toward the wall, crying. I had seen her through the girls’ open door as I strode through the living room on some important expedition to sweep or fold laundry, so I snuck in and patted her on the back.

“Gleny, do you want to talk?”

She lifted her puffy face from her pink pillow case and spat her response in my direction: “But in private!”

I motioned with my hands for her to get up, so she pushed herself up and began to scoot lethargically toward the built-in ladder on her wooden bunkbed. I reached up and took her into my arms, her little legs wrapped around my waist and her face buried in my shoulder as I carried her to the room that is normally off-limits for the kids – Mom and Dad’s bedroom.

I sat her down beside me on our bed, and she leaned into me and began to weep harder than she had been when she was alone on her top bunk. I held her for a while before asking gently, “What happened? Is there something you want to tell me?”

Without lifting her head, she said in a one-word-runs-into-the-next type of way, “Today when we went shopping for clothes, you said that I couldn’t buy a dress because we were only shopping for Jackeline. After that I didn’t want to talk with you anymore, and that’s why I didn’t laugh very much.”

By God’s grace, I’ve got enough experience in 15 short months to already be a veteran with these types of situations. I responded, “I’m so sorry, Gleny. But you know what?”

For the first time during our whole conversation she lifted her head up, which I then placed in my hands. “I’m so proud of you that you could use your words to tell me what it is that’s bothering you. And I’m sorry that you feel so frustrated. It definitely wasn’t my intention to frustrate you.”

A glimmer of something sparked in her eyes before she folded back into my lap and continued weeping.

This little girl has a long record of screaming at adults in public, viciously telling Brayan – the other young man who moved into our family last February – to leave, making big scenes with emotional breakdowns when we have guests in the house, and allowing her mouth to get her in a whole lot of trouble, so this quiet, sincere moment reflected God’s gift of peace that He is steadily bestowing upon her stormy soul. I, too, felt like weeping, but for joy.

Without falling into the easy trap of trying to “fix” her sadness or explain her out of it, I opened my mouth and said what I felt God had given me to say: “Gleny? You know what?”

Once again, she lifted her head and allowed her eyes to bare into mine, calming down momentarily. “I cannot fill you, Gleny.”

With that she doubled over and began to sob, harder this time. I continued, knowing that she was listening. “Gleny, we could go on a ‘date’ everyday, and I could buy you 100 dresses and hug and kiss you all the time, but it still wouldn’t be enough. I cannot fill you. I’m just a person. I’m limited.”

“Gleny, only God can fill you. He is the only One who is limitless. I cannot be with you all the time, fulfill your every need. It’s impossible. But He can.” Carefully, without stating the obvious, the very thing that is probably screaming in her thoughts – that I have four other kids to care for in addition to her – I continued, “I have to spend time with Dad, too. I have to work. I have chores to do. I get tired, hungry. I’m just a person. I cannot fill you. I wish I could, but I can’t. You’ve got to look to God for that.” I felt like I was addressing not only her but also myself, for I, too, oftentimes look to other people or external situations to fill me. Oh, how many times have I wrongly become sulky and frustrated with my husband for not being able to ‘fill’ me!

A few moments later I asked, “Is there anything else you want to tell me?”

She immediately responded, “No. That’s all,” and I knew she meant it. She sat up, calming down as she looked around our small, comfy room with chipped blue paint on the walls.

Then I picked her back up, carrying her out in similar fashion as she had entered, but this time with more understanding between the two of us. I entered her room, passing by her two older sisters who sat at their wooden desk, working on a puzzle together. I glanced down at them, exchanging knowing smiles, and deposited their little sister in her top bunk to rest.

Less than an hour later we all sat around our long wooden table in the kitchen after dinner, Darwin and I laughing as we watched Jason, Josue and Gleny stage an intense battle with the long pieces of Styrofoam that had come in the box with our new fridge the day before. Gleny led the troops valiantly as Jason hunted wild animals with his Styrofoam bow and arrow to feed his family.

I felt joy surge in my chest, in awe of just how literally He does fill us, has filled me. More than once Gleny took her eyes off her imaginative play with her little brothers to look over at me and smile, and I felt like she and I understood something perhaps for the first time: He definitely does use us to meet one another’s needs, but we’re only the tools. It’s not about me, and it’s not about her. It’s about God’s glory working in and through us, filling us.

Do You Think God Can Utilize Someone Like You?

The following are some written responses from the children in my Gifted and Talented program to the question ¨Do you think God can utilize someone like you?¨


I don’t know. Only He knows because I have made a lot of mistakes. I hope He forgives me. – Boy, age 10

Yes, in a big way I want to preach the Word to children, and I want to be a good servant of God, and study a lot to be a doctor and save many lives. – Girl, age 10

I think God could use me, well everyone, because He can change people. – Girl, age 12

He is God but does not abuse His power. That is why He utilizes people for the good. – Boy, age 11

As for me, I would like for God to utilize me to teach His word to other children, Who He was and that He is our salvation. That He is the most important, and if it weren’t for Him we wouldn’t match the design He has for our life…That His word is mega important in everything. That He gives everybody the same importance – for Him, color, race and culture are not important…That He gave His life and Son to us…and we despised Him and at the same time we sin against Him and against our loved ones. – Boy, age 10

I believe that God can use my life but I still have not discovered what for. – Boy, age 11

I know that God can use me because He already is. – Girl, age 14

Maybe, if I keep growing in wisdom like Him, going to church, reading the Bible, etc. And if I keep respecting Him. – Girl, age 10

I would say so because He created us and it was Him who gave us life. – Boy, age 10


“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10


I weaved in and around the kids in my Gifted and Talented program as they sat on the school’s tile floor in our quiet upstairs room where we meet every Friday, each one answering in their notebook the day’s free-writing question.

“Jesus says that if we pay attention to His teachings and put them into practice, we are wise. But He says that if we hear the teachings and do not put them into practice, we are fools. The only difference between being wise and being a fool is putting it into practice. “ Suddenly, without planning on it, I blurted out, “So many times I am a fool!”

One fourth-grade boy who is new to the program snapped his attention from his notebook up to me, eyes unusually wide, probably thinking Is the teacher really calling herself a fool?

I look down at him with a wide grin and said emphatically, “Yeah!” as if to answer his unspoken question. “Jesus says ‘Do not worry’, and yet so many times there I am, worrying about something. In those moments I’m a fool! I know very well what His teaching says, but I fail to put it into practice!” The realization of just how foolish I tend to be hit me rather unexpectedly as I stepped carefully over the legs of another student sprawled out on his stomach, elbows propping him up as he wrote with a wooden pencil in his bright yellow notebook.

“He says to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us, but so many times I don’t. What a fool I can be! Knowing God’s word is not good enough – you have to put it into practice or you’re just another fool!”

Today’s prompt for the allotted free-writing time was: Jesus says that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. What do you think of that? Do you have enemies or people that persecute you, make fun of you, or treat you poorly? How can you put into practice Jesus’ words to love your enemies?

By now I was on my soap box, talking more to my own foolish soul than any young student in particular. I walked around the extremely quiet room, bare of furniture except for an oversized dry-erase board at the front filled chaotically with the day’s schedule, different thoughts, arrows, and writing prompts. “There are a ton of people out there who know the entire bible, but don’t put anything into practice. Fools! You can go to church everyday and know every last detail about Christ, but if you don’t put it into practice, it’d be better to just stay at home and watch television.” A sixth-grade girl whom I have known for three years and attended my wedding made eye contact with me and we both laughed.

I continued my excited speech, propelled onward after remembering the saddening journal entry of a smart young girl in the program. The prior week as I sat on the school’s playground after school revising her journal entry about the injustice in the world that makes her mad, she went on a long written tirade against idolatry, writing about how outrageous it is that so many people do things against God, sprinkling her writing with various distinctly biblical terms. Unfortunately, while reading her entry, I overheard her at a nearby table ferociously back-stabbing a classmate of hers. Poor fool.

“I don’t care if you can quote the bible – good for you! Do you actually live it? It’s not enough to ‘know’ that Jesus said ‘Love your enemies’ unless you actually do it, so think about if you have enemies. Is your dad a drunkard? Did your mom abandon you? Do the kids in your class bully you? Do you have a neighbor who mistreats you? How can you love that person, or at least pray for them? Write!”

The children continued in a joyful silence as they filled a couple more pages in their journals, the contents of which I would read and re-read during the coming week, enthusiastically marking them up with ideas, comments, and Bible verses to help guide them along.

You may think I know Jesus said not to kill or steal, and I’ve definitely put that into practice. I’m a good person. But, do you lust? Do I love money? Do we become anxious about what will happen tomorrow or in 16 years? Is there anyone you have yet to forgive? Do I love my own life more than I love Christ? Who have you judged? How many times have we been disobedient to the Living God for love of our own twisted egos? Do you rush to help when you see someone in need? Is my gaze fixed more on this current world than the one to come?

According to Jesus, the only difference between being wise and being a fool is whether or not you put into practice what you know of God’s word.


“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock…But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” – Matthew 7:24,26

One Body

At 7:34pm last night the kids came bursting into the living room with a wave of energy that I felt like might push me right over the edge after having finished with dinner clean-up, and suddenly there were five heads in the open doorway with 654 comments and questions for me about who-knows-what. I sat on my bedroom floor under a more-organized-than-it-looks pile of legal documents, folders, reports and photocopies fanning out all around me under the thin light of the headlamp strapped to my head as I stapled, stamped, signed, and organized.

I looked up suddenly at the eager faces before me, unintentionally blaring them in the eyes with the light from my headlamp. The lights had been out all evening, and we had all been squinting in the darkness and shuffling around carefully, sharing the few flashlights we have.

Darwin soon appeared as well, and I reluctantly put aside my half-finished job, carefully pushing the precarious pile out of the way at the foot of our double-sized bed so that we could all meet around the wooden table in our living room and hold the family meeting that Darwin and I had planned with the kids.

With a single red candle placed on the table, mostly spent with drippy wet wax pooling around its base, all seven of us sat/stood around the table to try to figure a lot of things out. Together.

I stood in the same clothes I had put on that morning at 5:00am, talking more than I should, the light of my headlamp helping the little red candle light our corner of the living room. Jason had forgotten to feed the dogs that day. Little Josue had gotten ahold of the jewelry-making supplies and scattered all the beads, twine, etc all about after someone else had carelessly left it out on the living room couch. I had lost my patience with Josue during the bedtime routine when he dumped the entire bucket of Legos on the floor for the second day in a row. Gleny, Jason and Jackeline had staged an apocalyptic nightmare for me as I parked the car in our yard after having been gone for a few hours, greeting me with a barrage of highly exaggerated comments and problems that I had to fix immediately. Our car had logged several miles that day and another tank of gas after chauffeurring Gleny and Jason to and from their new school and Diana to and from her new art school. I had forgotton to buy more Pampers for Josue. Diana felt fed up with having two little sisters who want to copy everything she does.

What started with frustrations and complaints ended with asking forgiveness and granting it. Then we all stood, joining our hands to form one body, and we gave thanks to God. We reminded ourselves that God’s Word says that we must place all of our worries, our stress, in God’s hands because He cares for us. And it is our task to believe Him and do so. At the close of the prayer, I wearily — and without any real expectation — asked the children to pray for me in their free time if they feel led to do so. My insomnia has been creeping back, and for the past four or five weeks I’ve only been able to sleep about three to four hours per night. Darwin and I then took each child individually into our embrace and reminded them how much we love them.

This morning at 6:23am, teeth brushed, uniforms in place and ready for a new day, Gleny asked from the backseat of our cab-and-a-half truck while we drove down the highway, “Mom, how did you sleep last night?” I smiled at her very thoughtful question, and answered sincerely, “Actually, last night I slept the entire night for the first time in a long time. I think I got almost seven hours of sleep!” As I continued driving, peering through the heavy rain beating down on the windowsheild, she answered from directly behind me, “All three of us girls prayed for you last night,” and I felt my heart sink into my chest, heavy with joy. Then Diana, her elder sister by blood, chimed in, “Yeah. In our room we have a new system with Jackeline of taking turns each night to pray for you so that you are able to sleep.”

And with that the Lord granted me a deeper sense of rest than anything a good night’s sleep can provide. He is knitting us, as different as we are and as uncomfortable and demanding as the process can be, into one body. His body.

Hang on Tight!

This morning we went to our local park to celebrate the fact that the Lord has meshed Darwin and I together as a family with the five children he has placed under our care. It was a joyful time of zip-lining, swimming, picking fruit, running, and playing. We breathed deeply of God´s grace in a time rich in change and new beginnings. Tomorrow Jason and Gleny will enter a private Christian elementary school for the first time (the Honduran school calendar is February-November), and tonight our dear sister Jenae will return home after spending six weeks visiting her family in the States. With time we will learn what our new special-needs son, Josue, needs from us, and we are on the cusp of beginning a new year of homeschool with our two eldest daughters and a few kids from our neighborhood. Hang on tight!


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Who Pooped in the Burger King Playground?

My new six-year-old son did. Poop in the Burger King playground, that is. We were on Day Three of our parents-to-five-children adventure, and after going to a couple used clothing shops for our two newest arrivals I took the kids to a special treat that we´ve only done one other time — lunch at Burger King and time to play in the big playground inside.

Darwin was on a ´date´ with our eldest daughter that day, so I was with the four youngest ones and everything was going along perfectly. I sat in the playground room, distracted from reading my book as various little people continually stuck their heads out of the big play structure calling my name to look and wave.

And then something strange happened. Jackeline, our new eleven-year-old daughter, came over to me and said plainly, ¨Josue pooped in his pants.¨ I was sort of dumb-struck and could only think to ask, ¨Does this happen frequently?¨ Her response: yes.

I put on my metaphorical ¨momma¨ pants and said, ¨Ok, I´ll take care of this. You just keep playing. Have fun!¨ and then looked down and his big grin and smelly pants and asked myself, ¨What now?¨

The only logical solution seemed to be to walk him to the women´s bathroom (he´s a bit too burly to carry) and try to clean him up in one of the really small stalls. I did so, leaving a sporadic trail of smeary poo from the playplace to the bathroom as the poop continued to drip down his pantsleg and onto the shiny tile floor. Not to mention the little pile of wet poo he left on the site of the crime within the playplace, which I didn´t notice until returning with him from the bathroom.

So anyways, him and I squeeze into one of the two stalls in the women´s bathroom, and after stripping him of his clothes I sit him on the toilet because there was hardly enough room for one person, let along two, to stand. Seeing as his legs were smeared with poop, the act of sitting him on the toilet then transfered — or maybe even multiplied, who knows — a large quantity of the sticky substance onto the priorly squeaky-clean toilet seat. Poop was everywhere!

The whole experience seemed quite surreal, like I was watching in on someone else´s life without getting stressed or grossed out (or vomiting), and I realized in that moment the reality of the ¨unexplainable peace¨ that is available to us through Jesus Christ. I began to laugh out loud in that little Burger King bathroom stall, uncontrollably joyful as I said out loud various times to no one in particular, ¨God is enough! God is sufficient!¨

So many times we think we need God plus something else to make us happy. Maybe God plus our days off or God plus a comfortable income or God plus kids who behave well and don´t poop in the Burger King playground. I realized in that moment that God alone — Who He is, His promises to us, His justice, love and mercy — is all that we need. He is enough. Add or subtract anything else — displeasing circumstances, a restful vacation, a bad night´s sleep, a great relationship — and nothing truly changes. If we cannot find contentment in God through Christ, we cannot find it in anything else.

So there I stood, hunched over the poopy little boy in the Burger King bathroom, laughing like a mom who has done delirious, and declaring for all other bathroom patrons to hear, ¨God is sufficient! He is enough!¨ I think for the first time I actually understood how to be patient — serenely so — in a truly sticky situation, to rest in God´s grace rather than in my own power or agreeable circumstances.

Then a long and somewhat clumsy series of events led us to the car to get out the new clothes we had just bought for him, return to the bathroom, and then walk hand-in-hand back through the restaurant towards the play area as several customers commented out loud on how bad the restaurant smelled. I think all of the restaurant´s janitors were called to the scene, because we passed by more than a couple moppers and disinfecters hard at work to recover the glistening floor that my beautiful son had spoiled. I had to hold in a giggle and resisted the temptation to laugh out loud and say, ¨It was us! My son is the one who pooped on your floor! But God is sufficient!¨

When we got home that evening, Darwin and I were talking and I told him, ¨I bought this little backpack for Josue, because from now on whenever we go out with him we are going to need to take an extra pair of clothes, because anything can happen.¨ He looked at me somewhat confused and I laughed, saying, ¨It´s a long story. But God is enough.¨