The Great Popcorn Hunt: The Dare to Believe God

Several Saturdays ago as the day progressed onward through joys and difficulties untold, I wearily thought about the pending “women’s meeting” I had scheduled with our five eldest daughters that same evening from 5:00-7:00pm.

My insomnia had raged the night prior, leaving me robbed of sleep, drained of all natural energy. Some pioneering women’s meeting with five precious, tender-hearted, rebellious young women would simply require more of me than what I had available to give.

The tempting thought crossed my mind to postpone the meeting indefinitely, waiting for that ever-elusive ‘perfect’ evening in which my energy and mood levels would be just right so as to pour myself with utter devotion into our precious teen and pre-teen daughters. After all, so-and-so and that other one over there had behaved terribly just a few moments ago and I was more in the mood for a thorough butt-chewing or leave-me-alone cool down than any kind of sit-cross-legged-on-the-floor-and-pour-your-heart-out meeting that I would not only be attending but leading (and without any guide materials other than the Spirit of God upon my heart).

However, I knew that there is never a ‘perfect’ evening in which to adeptly direct our women’s meeting, aglow with flawless health, soaring spirits and the wisest of pre-planned counsel. The time is now, however imperfect my efforts.

(Plus, in our household we put a very heavy emphasis on fulfilling your word. If I were to cancel the meeting that I myself had dreamed up and scheduled and revved everyone else up for during the prior week, well, that would really splash a gallon or two of hypocrisy stain across the parade from which we daily proclaim the necessity of letting your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’.)

So, leaning into whatever strength God could lend my weary soul, in an undeniably dull tone (which was ironically the peppiest I could muster), I instructed our girls to grab their pillows and head to the little office building where we would be sitting on the floor for our women’s meeting. It would, after all, be starting in three minutes and we mustn’t be late.

I had zero plan for the meeting beyond a very intense desire — which in the moment seemed to have left me entirely — to continue guiding our daughters in the realm of sexual purity, urging them — begging them, imploring them! — to believe the Truth of Christ in a very real way rather than giving in to the lies of the enemy.

So we all sort of meandered over to our office building in a lazy herd, some of us already showered and in our comfy pajamas while others decided to remain hot and sweaty after a day of chores, Saturday classes, kitchen duties, etc. As is generally the case, the girls took their unspoken cues from myself and our eldest daughter Dayana, both of which looked about as bored and discouraged as could be. Several of them somewhat skeptically asked me what we would be talking about in our meeting, and I answered very honestly behind that exhausted glaze in my eyes: “You’ll see…” (As in, I’ll-see-too-because-I-certainly-haven’t-planned-anything-because-all-the-burning-desire-and-moving-messages-I-had-previously-wanted-to-communicate-to-you-have-since-left-me. Let’s see what God does, because your bet’s as good as mine.)

So, our first women’s meeting seemed to be a dreadful bust from the get-go as my sandaled feet strode one after the other, carrying my own two or three pillows as I trusted through foggy thoughts that God would do something with my raw — although unenthusiastic — obedience.

As we entered the little living room of our office building with its light-green walls and duck-taped ceiling boards (to keep the bat poo from falling all over the floor), I put on a fake smile (as did our girls) and indicated for all of us to sit in a circle on the tiled floor to commence the meeting.

We prayed to begin — I do not remember who prayed, but it was obvious to all that it was done out of habit and a general respect for God rather than any sincere longing to include God in our gloomy reluctancy, our pointless meeting that promised to rank in ‘boring’ just behind washing the kitchen walls and just above scouring the yard with a flashlight looking for dog poop.

Well, quickly enough we sat down and all eyes were suddenly trained on me, waiting. I am the adult, after all — the mom, the married woman, their daily counselor with all of 25 years’ life experience —  and I had called the meeting. What for?

Drowsily fighting back thoughts of “This is awkward” and “Oh, God, I don’t even remember what I had so earnestly wanted to convey to them in this meeting!“, I thought with a matchstick-flicker of joy in the back of my mind: “Well, here goes nothing…”

What only I knew was that I had hidden snacks in various locations all around the simple cinderblock office building in a planned attempt to start our meeting with a game that could hopefully open their eyes to a reality that’s been gnawing away at me for weeks. (Plus, in our home snacks like chips and candies are very prized and not very frequently purchased, so all of this would doubtlessly be a big deal whether or not they understood the deeper message.)

But I had to get my attitude right if this was going to work. Like a shovel thrust deep that hits rock and can go no further, I scooped out whatever remaining energy I did or didn’t have — whatever genuine joy God would allow to flow through me — and said with a new spark, however small, in my eyes as my facial expression remained intentionally flat:

“There is a bag of popcorn in Gaby and Josue’s classroom [the room attached to the living room where we sat] in the third drawer of the dresser.”


I did not say, “Go and get it,” or “Bring it on over so we can all share a snack during our meeting.” I simply put the naked truth out there with the same bored tone of voice as a dentist might comment to their new patient, “You have a 2:00pm appointment next Friday.”

I resisted the urge to laugh out loud as their unenthusiastic faces stared back at me, confused and somewhat put-off, waiting for further explanation. After all, I had not previously mentioned the fact that there would be snacks in the meeting, nor was that normal of me to have purchased junk food for any occasion. Why was I being so weird?

I paused to let my comment hang in the air. They were all waiting for more instruction and/or clarification, neither of which I would be giving them.

Then, the miracle: 11-year-old Gleny’s eyes lit up without any further cue. The youngest and — by far — most immature participant in the “women’s meeting” (alas, I had considered not inviting her due to the maturity /complexity of the themes I had hoped to discuss with our teens!) understood my comment and ‘got’ that I was inviting them to believe me. She blinked enthusiastically several times, looking at me with a wild “Can I, Mom? Can I? Can I?” look in her eyes as she glanced at her sisters on either side of her who simply rolled their eyes at her and/or gave her a you’re-weird-and-I’m-too-cool-for-this look.

I took the time to review each girl’s expression as I steadily, carefully and without emotion, repeated my announcement: “There is a bag of popcorn in Gaby and Josue’s classroom in the third drawer of their dresser.”

Upon saying the announcement for a second time, it’s as if the electric energy inside of little Gleny’s body just couldn’t take it any more — she sat up straight and got into a low crouch as her eyes continued to search mine with increasing energy. Seeing as I wasn’t going to say anything else, I suppose she, too, felt called to an charged silence in this strange activity. She was so cute; it was obvious that trouble-maker, roller-coaster Gleny didn’t want to disrespect me by jumping up even though everything within in her urged her to do so. Without putting her question to words, her entire body language screamed: “Can I, Mom? Can I go? Can I look?” It was as if the news was just too good to be true. Popcorn?!

Allowing her expectant energy to continue multiplying, I looked even-faced at the others, who seemed less than amused. 15-year-old Dayana might have even checked her watch.

Then, understanding that I wasn’t going to stop her from getting up to go look, Gleny finally leaped to her skinny, toned legs and disappeared behind the door to Gaby and Josue’s classroom in the blink of an eye.

My privilege was to see 12-year-old Jackeline throw a glance over at Dayana, both of whom rolled their eyes and scoffed at Gleny’s antics. I suppressed a huge smile welling up in my chest.

Not three seconds later Gleny came triumphantly bursting through that wooden door with the rather large bag of artificial-cheese-covered-popcorn raised high in her extended arm.

All at once, the other four who had so incredulously mocked her exchanged wide-eyed glances first with each other and then at me. It’s as if they didn’t know if they should be in total outrage (but something stopped them because, after all, I had plainly announced the popcorn’s availability to all) or if they should be kicking themselves for not having gotten up to go investigate my statement. Then, still without anyone having spoken they all seemed to settle on the feeling of despair as Gleny jumped up and down, squealing with delight at her find, her eyes ablaze with the joy of discovery, the thrill of promise fulfilled, hope satisfied.

Waiting for a few moments to pass — and without me saying anything else (not even “Good job, Gleny”), I announced in the same slow, detached tone: “Under Gaby’s backpack in the [currently unused] crib you’ll find a bag filled with cartons of milk.”

This time I couldn’t even blink before all 5 were wild on the chase. Jackeline and Dayana, our original scoffers and both of which are quite athletic, dove simultaneously at the fragile fold-up crib and nearly collapsed it as Jackeline went head-first over the side, grabbing at the dirty pink backpack that surely concealed the bag of milk cartons.

Well, Jackeline found what had been promised as pony tails went flying this way and that and nearly-grown young women stampeded about, shrieking with glee.

Then: “Behind the Spanish dictionary there is a packet of candies.”

Take cover! Five wild bodies flung themselves at our poor, wobbly bookcase, skimming dozens of titled spines in a desperate attempt to be the first to happen upon the prize. I believe this time it was Dayana who came upon the unusually thick book, reached her hand behind it, and pulled out the package of promised candies. She, as her ‘immature’ little sister had done so only moments before, raised them high in victory.

So, tall, teetering bookshelves were nearly overturned, bathroom mirrors nearly broken and chairs just about thrown over as a bewildering frenzy overtook the small enclosed space as I announced promise after promise to be sought out and discovered.

Joy was restored in the process; both mine and theirs. Theirs for treats discovered; mine for Truth uncovered.

As the search came to a close, each girl plopped down upon her pillow, but this time with a big smile on her face and with hands full of treasures as we split everything up into plastic lime-green bowls that I had brought with me for the occasion.

As everyone set about divvying up, trying this type of chip and that type of candy, I dared to enter boldly into the purpose of the search-and-find activity:

“Now, Gleny — since you were the first one to find the hidden popcorn — I have to ask how you knew to look for it.”


She swung her head toward me, her entire face — no, body — still utterly, wildly alit with an electrifying joy (perhaps pulsing with such force not for the momentary pleasure of eating popcorn but for the fact that she — she of all people, our aggressive, precious daughter who oftentimes picks fights, verbally attacks others, flees in tears! — led her older sisters, did something noteworthy, understood some juicy secret that they refused to believe), answered immediately as her eyes flickered at me:

“Because you told us it was there!”


As everyone else began munching on their snacks — our women’s meeting having fully and wonderfully commenced — the others looked at me, intrigued, but surely thinking, “Duh, Mom. Don’t you remember? Why are you asking Gleny how she knew to look for the popcorn?”

I continued, rejoicing in my Father for hiding such things from the worldly-wise and revealing them to little children:

“That’s right, Gleny. But how on earth did you know that the popcorn was actually there?”


Still ablaze, she responds:

“Because I got up and found it!”


Another resounding, “Duh, Mom” could have been deciphered by investigating the glances of the other four, but by now they knew I was onto something. I had their attention.

“Ah, yes. But how did you know that when I told you about the popcorn that it would actually be there?”


Without skipping a beat, she proclaimed as innocently and as radiantly as I have ever seen anyone speak:

“Because you never lie to me!”


I stared at her as we sat on pillows not three feet from one another, momentarily stunned at the extent of Gleny’s revelation, the purity of her child-like faith. My heart bowed low as my recognition of the Lord’s hand on her young life caused my hope to soar: Thank you, Father, for granting Gleny a faith — a trust — that is so uncommon in today’s world. May she always trust You in such an unswerving fashion.

So Gleny’s simple, trusting faith — and even simpler way of explaining it — opened the door to the following 2+ hour discussion we would enjoy that night (and we really did enjoy it).

Many things were said, understood, as we wrestled with what it means to have faith. Had the other four not heard just as clearly as Gleny about the popcorn in the third drawer in the classroom? Maybe, even, they had ‘believed’ what I was telling them, but to what end? How did Gleny harvest the blessing, discover the promised thing? These questions and many more were looked at, considered, from every possible angle and put into many different contexts as the search for discovery — the enjoyment of Truth, of hope satisfied and promise fulfilled — continued among us in a very real way for the duration of the night.

This was the topic the Lord had planned all along for us to discuss.

Soon connections were made with the real world — the world beyond popcorn hunts — and the dawn of revelation, new understanding, began lighting up our young daughters.

“In this journey together as family, it is of utmost importance that you believe me. The Spirit of God lives within your Dad and I; you have to believe — in an active sense — the promises we communicate to you daily if you are to reap God’s blessing.”

“You can hear 568 times that real blessing is found when one waits in sexual purity for their future husband, and you can look at me numbly and say, ‘Yeah, I know. You’ve told me that before; we’ve read it in the Bible too. Thanks.’ But how are you actually going to reap the blessing, discover the joy of promise fulfilled?”

They are getting it. Dayana, bowl of yummy treats nearly empty, stares at me from across our little formation of pillows and women and agrees with me with her eyes and words as she speaks slowly, aware that she is on sacred ground: “We will reap the blessing if we actually put into practice what we know of God’s Word. Like when Gleny actually got up. That’s how she got the blessing.”

“Yes, Dayana! And how many of us fail to believe God, do not act upon the instructions He leaves us, and then shake an angry fist at God when we don’t reap blessing? We blame God for our own failure to believe, to act!”

I continue, encouraged by this new outpouring of wisdom among us: “I could have told all of you six thousand times about the popcorn in the dresser drawer, but if no one had actually believed me and gotten up to go look, you would have all tricked yourselves into believing that I was crazy and that there was not, in fact, any blessing to be discovered! And it’s worth mentioning that Gleny, venturing out in faith, found the popcorn because she looked in the right drawer! She didn’t open the first or fourth drawer; following my instruction exactly, she reaped the harvest of blessing. Had she checked the second drawer, all would have been in vain.”

They are getting it and we are all encouraged in our dimly-lit little room at the base of some mountains in some forgotten country.  Push farther, go deeper into my love, He urges us, leads us.

“How many times have we discussed the precious freedom that Christ has for us, is calling us to? Each of us can probably recite all the verses, nod our heads in agreement — and then what? Do we actually believe Him? Do we move to discover the blessing; do we actually react? We can numbly hear marvelous, outrageous promises from a good God while sitting by idly, nodding our heads — or possibly scoffing in disbelief! — and never actually discover the blessing. The blessing is found, harvested, when we react, obey, move, venture out. If we don’t move, we simply don’t believe.”

Our night as young women together on the path to Freedom — to Eternal Love — was truly marked by God’s presence among us that continued onward, gaining momentum and depth long after the fleeting pleasures of this world (snacks) were gone. Since that beautiful night we have referred back to sweet Gleny’s wild act of faith many, many times as we all laugh and remember her outrageous trust in her mom that never lies to her.

Oh, may we actually live this way every day of our lives, believing our Father who never lies to us! May our eyes light up, may our body become electrified with joy when we hear of His promises!


June 2016 Updates and Prayer Requests

Outrageously Fun Learning Curve

At the Living Waters Ranch we are currently riding quite a thrilling learning curve, seeing as none of us has previously done the kind of work that the Lord has currently assigned us.

Special-needs kids, sexual abuse victims, parenting teenagers who spent their childhood in someone else’s family, teaching God’s Word weekly to dozens of people, intimately guiding the hearts and lives of wounded youth, mounds of (sometimes confusing) legal documents to be continually written and updated, designing and then operating a new high school, seeking to cultivate an intentional Christian community, financially stewarding a growing ministry, managing (and guiding, loving, investing in) a team of Christian workers, legal adoptions, a herd of milking cows? 

Our hair is blown-back and our lips are flapping in the intense wind as we daily engage in the outrageous privilege of learning on the fly, utilizing every spare second of freetime to absorb new teachings, devour the Word, go and learn from those ahead of us, listen to sermons directing our steps into this unknown territory of children’s ministry, devour books on topics such as sexual abuse/spiritual warfare/leadership training, sit down to pray and seek guidance together as Christ’s body, and make 1,459 mistakes along the way.

Let us give thanks to our Father who calls the unlikely, and then — miraculously! — equips them to go out and proclaim His name! Amen!

Miss Isis, Primary Teacher and Christian Laborer, Will Move to the Living Waters Ranch in July

Miss Isis, our young primary teacher who has been roughing it with us in the ‘wilderness’ among rogue youth, hard-learned lessons and joy abounding since August of last year, will be moving into a spare bedroom in our office/special needs building with her year-and-a-half-old daughter at the beginning of July.

She is a native Honduran and has been called to leave her family’s home, sell the majority of her belongings, and take the huge step of faith to begin living on our mission base 7 days a week as a way of deepening her walk with the Lord. The step she is taking is very counter-cultural and has been difficult for her family to accept, but it is such a privilege to see that she is assured even moreso that Jesus is calling her into deeper intimacy with Himself.

She is a sponge, has grown exponentially in these 10+ months of laboring alongside of us, and is a tireless worker in proclaiming the incredible grace of a good God.

We are so proud of her and are excited about taking the step to include her into our growing family/community at the Living Waters Ranch as our Father continues to mold us into His family, a beautiful expression of His love for wounded, rebellious humanity.

Sandra’s Mom Begins Attending Bible Study

15-year-old Sandra, who moved in with us in February of this year due to a situation of sexual abuse with her step-father and about whom I have written many updates and prayer requests since then, continues to hold a very precious relationship with her mother.

Sandra´s mom, who is still trapped in a difficult relationship with Sandra´s step-dad but doesn’t have the financial means to leave him with her three younger kids, visits Sandra weekly at our home/mission and has begun to attend Bible study in our dining room with us as she continues to seek refuge in the warrior God who loves her and is constantly seeking to protect her heart from the harsh circumstances in this world. Two of Sandra’s younger sisters (who are not in danger with Sandra´s step-dad because he is their biological father and treats them well) have also become actively involved in Darwin´s youth choir, and their mom is now attending first grade at a school for illiterate adults on Saturdays as she desires to be able to read God’s Word for herself.

Please continue to pray for this precious woman as she continues to seek God’s will in the midst of an unhealthy marriage relationship and deep poverty.

Celebration of Four Years Living in Honduras, Three Years of Marriage

The 5th of this month I celebrated my four-year anniversary since moving to Honduras as a recent college graduate in 2012, and on the 24th Darwin and I will celebrate three years of marriage. Glory to God for these milestones!

Prayer for Additional Supporters

Due to the fact that this is the first year we have offered our discipleship-based 5-day-per-week high school program along with our new special-needs classroom to local youth from our (destitute, gang-riddled) rural neighborhood, we have higher monthly expenses than we have had in years past as we are now serving more people. Each month more is going out than coming in, so I am humbly expressing our need to see if anyone is called to join with us to fill it.

My husband and I currently toil joyfully alongside of four full-time Christian laborers (local Honduran missionaries serving as teachers, prayer leaders, etc) whom the Lord has brought to the Living Waters Ranch and from which they earn their living. All four full-time laborers have been added on in the last year, and thus salaries — however meager they are — are currently a heavy (but entirely necessary) financial burden in addition to the many other monthly expenses we incur (medical/dental/basic care costs for the 8 who live with us full-time, food, administration, legal fees, educational materials for our students, etc).

There are currently 18 individuals/families and  3 churches who financially support this work monthly and several others who give generously from time to time.

Please pray with us that the Lord would raise up a handful more of faithful individuals/families to partner with us in this incredible expression of God’s Kingdom among us here in Honduras. If you or anyone you know is called to participate with us in this work, you can go to

Trampolines, Proverbs, Beach Balls and Letters of Gratitude: God’s Grace Experienced in the Classroom

This past Friday our beloved high school teacher, Miss Ligia, was away from the classroom during the morning hours to attend an appointment in the nearby city of La Ceiba, so we searched long and hard to find a suitable substitute teacher…

Well, we found one, but her teaching methods were a little off-the-wall (sometimes quite literally as her inflated beach ball bounced off the walls…)


Where’s the ball going next?


15-year-old Sandra, the newest addition to our household in February 2016,  eyeing her crazy substitute teacher…


Heads up, kids! It’s comin’ your way!


Each student had to be ready to drop whatever they were doing  to catch the roaming beach ball when their name was called, stand up, and declare the Biblical statement I had scribbled on the very, very full whiteboard.


Our 15-year-old daughter Dayana, one of our two live-ins who study in our new discipleship-based high school program


14-year-old Messy, a local student in our program


18-year-old Exson, Messy’s older brother, who is in my twice-weekly prayer group and who has begun to ask the Lord to grant him wisdom above all else. Every time we ask who has a prayer request, he always says with a smile, “Wisdom.” We give thanks to God for Exson’s participation in our program because truly a large portion of the young men in our rural neighborhood who are his age are involved in gangs or drug-trafficking or simply roam the streets and engage in utter purposelessness.


12-year-old Dariela, an exceptionally bright student from our rural neighborhood who is in the beginning stages of being transformed by her knowledge of God’s Word and His love for her


14-year-old Arlen, whom we’ve known consistently for two years now and who is acquiring a very precious maturity, wisdom, and love of God. He used to be extremely childish and lazy, but in the past few months he is emerging as a leader in our Bible studies and is being transformed as a son of God in a very real way.


Here’s the good news: if you’re really talented, you get called upon to come shout out the declaration with the beach ball and jump on the mini-trampoline at the same time.







We all enjoyed an incredibly blessed morning together on Friday. I implemented a partially-Montessori-style learning environment geared toward older kids while including hands-on stations such as “architecture” (blocks/Legos), painting, and Chinese Tangram puzzles.


14-year-old Rolan, a very artistic young man from our rural neighborhood who has fantastic questions about life, God, what comes after death, etc. He is very open to hearing God’s word and is one of our better students academically.


For the majority of our teenage students, something so simple as playing with blocks is new to them because they never did so in their early childhood. As much as we are moving forward with our students, much of our work with them is also going backward with them and providing what they didn’t receive in the beginning stages of their development.


Rolan, Charlie and Exson enjoying a painting project on the tile floor after having finished their desk work


The sit-in-your-chair stations were: an independent study on several chapters of Proverbs, written thank-you letters (one to Father God and one to any family member or person who supports them in their daily life), and a discussion-based study guide of questions based on chapter 13 of Ted Dekker’s novel “30 A.D.” that we are currently reading as a class.



13-year-old Charlie, another student who is undergoing a very surprising transformation. He came to us in early February as a little jokester, constantly making fun of others or turning everything into a big joke, but as of late he is very active in Bible study, is becoming a much better student academically and is truly finding his niche in our hidden little discipleship center in the foothills of the mountains. Please pray with us for his continued transformation, salvation and protection as seeds of Life and Truth are being planted in his life.


13-year-old Elalf and 12-year-old Sindy working on their letters of thanksgiving




Reading several chapters from Proverbs and writing on index cards the verses that impacted them most






This is 12-year-old Cristian, one of our 7th-grade students who has had many struggles with constancy and work ethic in his first several months in our program due to the general indiscipline that reigns in our neighborhood and undoubtedly defined his education and outlook before arriving at our front gate. In these past couple days he has begun to work a bit harder after a very productive meeting we had with his mother. Please pray with us for him as he continues to be exposed to the liberating Truth of Jesus and the purposes that God wants to involved him in.






Seeing as the 12 students had spent the first part of the morning in their socks after having been instructed to leave their shoes at the door (to protect our little mini-trampoline from dirt clods, etc), after an hour or so had passed it was time to rotate stations.

To shake things up a bit and ensure that no one fell prey to boredom or restlessness, I informed the students that on the count of 10 they would jump up from their seats, find and put on their shoes as quickly as possible and then run 2 laps as fast as they could around our little schoolhouse before returning, taking their shoes off again, and sitting down in their new stations.


Go, go, go! Get your shoes on!




Here come Sindy and Dayana! They’re on Lap 2!



Stampede of young men!


Who knew that running laps would be so much fun?


I definitely didn’t think it would turn out as well as it did; everyone came in laughing hysterically and panting.




As each person collapsed in their seat, I informed them with a huge smile: “I liked that so much, that you’re gonna do it again. 1, 2, 3 — 10! Go!”

Eyes wide and still panting hard, everyone jumped up again and repeated the whole process!


Do it all again!




Oh no! Elalf cheated! He’s carrying his shoes rather than wearing them!



I think Sindy’s tired!


Go, Sandra, go! She’s heading back to class after having completed her two additional laps!




Well, the lap-running had the exact effect I had hoped for: it canalized their energy enough to persevere a few more hours with our focused activities in the classroom. Worship music continued to play from our little CD player in the classroom as each student worked independently at their designated station, the entire morning marked by such tangible peace, gratitude and joy as can come only from our good Father who is beyond this world of ours that is stained by just the opposite. Truly we thank Him for granting us a morning of such grace as we continue to grow together, fervently seeking the One who holds all answers, all hope, all joy.





Forgive Me for Having Killed You

11-year-old Gleny, whom my husband and I are in the process of legally adopting along with her older sister and younger brother, recently approached me in the midst of the afternoon hustle and bustle in our kitchen and motioned her hand to pull me aside and speak in private.

This not being uncommon, I left whatever bulk-sized snack or dinner-warming project I was so intensely dedicated to on the kitchen counter and took a few steps to accompany my wild, immature, affectionate daughter near the doorway to our storage closet. (I think she adores me almost as much as I adore her.)

Our emotional roller-coaster Gleny wore a calm yet very resolute facial expression. I crouched down in front of her as she said: “Forgive me, Ma, for having killed you.”

Although her words could not have been spoken more clearly, my mind did a couple dazed somersaults as I thought I must have surely misheard her. After searching her face a second or two, groping for any kind of meaning, I asked dumbly, “What’s that?

She repeated, completely sane, her brown eyes trained on mine: “Forgive me for having killed you.”


Of course.

Having seen the dawn of understanding shed its light upon my face, she sighed and added, “Earlier this afternoon. When I got mad at you.”

I smiled into her eyes, remembering all too well what had happened between us just an hour or two before. I had asked her to do such-and-such terrible thing (like study or hang up her school uniform or wash her snack Tupperware), and she had responded in a moody, delayed obedience, muttering under her breath words that could sting the ears and heart. Such instances are not uncommon for my Wild-Miss-Gleny-in-the-Process-of-Being-Transformed, but her repentance and way of seeing the situation are definitely new.

Still crouched in front of her in that little nook in our busy kitchen, I followed her lead, humbling myself: “Forgive me for the times I’ve killed you. We’re all murderers, aren’t we?”

She smiled big, but perhaps my joy was even bigger than hers.

She sees, understands.

For the past couple months in our pull-your-chair-up-and-let’s-sit-in-a-circle Bible study, we’ve been studying Jesus’ radical words:

“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)


So now…the standard – the expectation – has been raised. Infinitely so.

We are no longer asked to merely abstain from physically taking another human being’s life. (I don’t know about you, but I’m doing incredibly well with that command. I mean, I can pat myself on the back and announce to the world that my behavior in regard to the no-murder command is spotless. I haven’t slipped up even once!)

But Jesus says that now anyone who becomes angry unjustly is guilty of the same crime. Guilty of murder. Who hasn’t gotten mad at least once (or thousands of times) in their lifetime?

So, then, we’re ALL…murderers.

You know those cute babies or toddlers who go on a screaming and kicking fit even though they’ve been fed, changed, and had a nap recently? Yeah, they’re murders too.

So why did Jesus have to go and make the standard so unattainably high? Why couldn’t he just leave us with the solid, respectable command not to kill (which, even if broken, is quickly justified in times of war or self-defense)? Why would he go so far as to call all of humanity murderers? Even the ‘good people’?

We chewed on these questions with our kids, students and Christian laborers for several weeks as we met every Tuesday and Thursday in our oblong rectangle in our dining room to dig deep in the Word, in the Truth. I even posted these questions all over the walls in our school building to get the kids thinking in their free time.

After much effort, no one could understand why Jesus did it, why he went and raised the bar so high that no one could reach it. It almost seemed like a bad move to do so, right? A lot of his closest followers and friends abandoned him because his teachings were so hard to accept. I mean, what was he thinking? Did he want to discourage us all, eliminate us from the great Morality Competition? Why did he command us to do what we simply can’t?

The answer:

So that we would recognize that we need a Savior.

Every single human being.

We had (have) to recognize that we simply cannot do it on our own, cannot reach the standard of perfection by our own strength. If all the commands from Heaven were easily attainable with a little moral training (and excusing), why send a Savior to die a cruel death, taking on the punishment we deserve? (And the ‘good people’ cry out: “What do you mean ‘the punishment I deserve’? I’m a ‘good person’ — I don’t kill, don’t steal and am (mostly) faithful with my spouse! I mean, I lie sometimes, but who doesn’t?“)

‘Good people’ and ‘respectable citizens,’ don’t await a punishment; murderers do. And especially serial killers, those who go around time and again taking the lives of others! (Are you starting to get the point?…How many times have I — have you — gotten mad today? In this past week? In the last 25 years?)

I praise God that my wild Gleny recognizes — as she did the other day and has done so several times since — that her temper flare-ups are the equivalent of taking a machete to someone’s throat or gunning them down with an AK-47. Because she understands this, she can very quickly and easily jump to the conclusion that she needs a savior. 

So this knowledge of our status as ‘murders’ before the Just, Perfect God is infiltrating our household and rather effortlessly becoming a part of our worldview and our daily interactions as we continuously come back to the cross, remembering the punishment that we no longer have to pay.

A few days after the aforementioned incident in the kitchen with Gleny, 12-year-old Josselyn with her too-short bangs (that she cut) approached me in my bedroom doorway, her eyes wide, and informed me: “Before [learning that we are all murderers] I had never thought about it like that, but I’ve…killed a lot of people…” Her eyes and voice wandered off a bit as she processed such a strong thought.

Suddenly her eyes grew even wider as she swung up an extended finger to my face: “I’ve killed YOU!” And then, under her breath, “Several times.”

She looked up at me, both shocked and relieved at her own statement, and we began to laugh together.

“I know, Josselyn. I’ve killed you on numerous occasions too. But the good news is that Jesus already suffered our murderers’ punishment, and now we are forgiven if we believe in him. I mean, the only reason it makes sense to forgive one another is because God has forgiven us. Right?”

She sighed and nodded her head. Together we both continued to laugh out of a total relief — awe — at the goodness of God. He lets murderers off the hook, punishing his own son in order that the killers might experience freedom and mercy. What extravagant, undeserved love!

Seeking Prayer for Current Frustrations

We are currently facing many difficulties with the students in our discipleship-based school program. The general attitude in our poverty-stricken rural neighborhood is one stained with a deep sense of laziness, ingratitude, self-pity and dishonesty, all of which is brought onto our property daily as the students pass through our gates.

Weekly we face many instances of cheating, blatant disrespect and/or a total refusal to complete basic assignments, and many times when we look for healthy ways to discipline/correct such behavior the students´ parents come to their rescue, defending and justifying their children´s dishonesty and laziness. Sometimes the family members even accuse us, and in one instance a student´s family got the local educational authorities involved to come against us because we are determined to hold honest, just standards in this culture of complicity that only breeds more ignorance and evil-doing. This is very frustrating and saddening for us, and it makes for long and sometimes seemingly unfruitful days.

Just this morning my husband and I had to rearrange our plans last-minute and go make three personal house visits to talk with certain students and their parents after having confronted a severe situation of cheating/lying/scoffing. Likewise, we have other students who simply don´t come to school or their moms send notes to the teacher saying their child is sick when in fact they aren´t (that happened this morning as well.)

Please pray for us during this continued period of discernment/learning as we are still in our first 4-5 months of our first school year with these programs and students. All of our local students come from the public school system where they were accostumed to missing as many days of school as they wanted, cheating with zero consequence, and passing their grade no matter the effort given because the Honduran government has declared that all students must pass their grade whether they actually learned anything or not. (There are thousands of cases nationwide each year of students who at the end of the school year have earned a 30% or 60%, etc, but the teacher is forced to write ¨70%¨ on the report card and pass the unprepared, lazy child onto the next grade). That system produces, as we know too well, students who are 15 or 18 years old in 7th grade who still don’t know the times tables and don’t understand why it might be important to learn them.

So, please pray with and for us, that we may be granted a right view of these cultural ills and thus know how to inculcate a genuine sense of self-discipline, punctuality, responsibility, truth-telling, dogged work ethic, etc, in these students who are accostumed to the exact opposite. Furthermore, may our Father grant us the perseverance and wisdom to not become discouraged or too caught-up in certain details that, eternally viewed, do not matter as much as our daily labor of sharing God’s Word with the students, loving and guiding them according to His good will, and praying with and for them.

It is a very fine line, because if we implement the godly discipline we believe in and know to be very healthy for rebellious, lost youth, we would currently be left very likely with only one or two students (because the rest would have stormed out or been expelled). On the other hand, if we are too flexible and ¨understanding,¨ very quickly everything becomes permissible and we fall prey to the same evil that plagues the public schools.

Just this morning two of our teen boys from primary school expelled themselves after having reached their fifth strike, a very reasonable discipline system we have put in place to protect both ourselves and our students from contaminating our home/mission with an attitude of uncurbed rebellion. Prior to being expelled their general attitude was deeply marked by a defiant laziness, too many unexcused tardies, cheating during exams (and laughing when getting caught…and then yelling at us and accusing us of being unfair for not having let them cheat), and disrespectful attitudes, oftentimes proclaiming to their teacher that they wouldn’t be coming back the next day because our school is ¨too strict.¨

I share these frustrations so that you may go before the Lord with us in search of the answers.

A handful of students in both primary and secondary are truly succeeding in our program, are actively absorbing God’s Word as it is presented to them, and are in the beautiful beginning stages of being transformed by their knowledge of the Truth. Let us give thanks to God for the receptivity and work ethic of these students, and may the Lord continue to protect them against attacks from the enemy. May His will be done in and among us, and may He continue to guide us with all wisdom, justice and love as we seek to earnestly shepherd the rogue youth He has brought to us for His glory. Amen!