“Daddy, it hurts.”

What does, honey?

“Right here.” She said pointing to her heart.

I know, baby. She knew just by the tone in His voice, He did know, but she wondered why didn’t He do anything to prevent it. She knew Him well enough to know that He wouldn’t let her hurt in vain. He had never wasted any of her hurts before and she knew He wouldn’t start now. But didn’t it hurt Him to see her hurting, again…still?

“Did you know it was going to hurt this much?” She asked curious as to His response.

I did.

“So why did you let it all happen?”

So, we could get here.

“Where is here?”

Here is where no one would choose to be or pray to be. Here is where you hurt and I heal. Here is where you seek and are found. Here is where you ask and I answer.

“Well, can you blame anyone for not wanting to be here? I mean, it isn’t very exciting. It’s actually sad and depressing. What is so great about being here?”

You chose to be here with me. And baby girl, when you choose to stand with your Daddy even when here can be sad and depressing, it makes here a very great place!

Not fully understanding all He meant or how long it would be, she snuck her hand in His and chose to remain…here.


And the plot thickens…

Ever imagine a world without trials and suffering; with no pain and heartache? A world where we can be truly happy without risking anything or anyone? A world where there was no judgment, only empathy? Where everyone has enough and there are no Jones’ to keep up with?

I’ve heard lately that our trials are what allow us to grow to know God’s true character and immeasurable love . This can be a difficult thing for many of us to grasp in the midst of illness, death, unemployment, loneliness. We even tend to blame God for allowing such things to happen, especially if we are His followers. We tend to question and doubt His motives. We would never admit to it, but we wonder “is this really going to work for my good?”

We look at situations in our lives and are certain that God didn’t intentionally allow them because they are just too bad or too much for us to handle. We tend to give ourselves more credit than we should. We think it was our choice to go down that road or allow that person into our lives, when it was His doing all along; He allowed it for a reason.

I was watching True Stories in the E.R. today. There was a story of a 15 year old who came in because he had been hit in the side of his head with a baseball during practice. When he arrived at the E.R. he was able to speak, but as time passed, he was obviously losing brain function. A CT scan showed he had hemorrhaging in his brain and needed emergency surgery to stop the bleeding. During the surgery, they noticed that his bones were extremely brittle; he had advanced osteoporosis. Further blood tests showed the reason for the advanced osteoporosis was because his kidneys were failing. He needed a kidney transplant immediately in order to survive.  He had survived one surgery, but now needed another. In ends on a happy note; his father was a perfect match and was able to donate one of his kidneys with no complications.

Ok. Now, imagine if he wasn’t hit by that baseball? His parents admitted that he had not shown any signs of kidney problems or weak bones, but yet his disease was so advanced, he was on the verge of death. He could’ve died at any time and no one would have been able to do anything about it. But because he accidentally got hit by a ball, his life was saved.

How often do we experience the same thing? God often allows such devastation and heartache in our lives in order to reveal something deeper. He brings challenges into our lives, to show us the bigger picture. This world, our lives are not about us. He might make things harder for us just so we can draw closer to Him and bring Him the glory through those very trials He allowed and we survived.

All stories are so much more interesting when there is a twist in it. We are more excited and intrigued in a book or movie when the “plot thickens”. So, why do we shy and squirm away when the twists and the thickened plot happens in our own life? His plan for His children does not include happiness and comfort. Those are just temporary. What He offers, and our trials teach us, is eternal. It’s joy and contentment.

You’re welcome

I’m on a plane from Guatemala to Atlanta then heading to Birmingham. Now, I could make this post about how much I already miss Guatemala and how I so wish the Lord would lead me back there, but I will leave that for another post. I have something else I’d like to share.

As in all areas of our lives, especially mission trips, if we allow Him to, God will place us right at the place He needs us to be; where He can use us more efficiently and where glory can be given to Him alone. This trip was no exception.

Just to give a short example, is one of our team members. She was in Guatemala only 2 years ago. Since then, has had cancer, treatment and is now in remission. She gave her testimony a couple of times during the trip and one thing she said that will remain with all of us is “we shouldn’t feel like we have to do anything, but that we get to do it”. For example, she never has a bad hair day because she is grateful she gets to have hair at all.

Her words encouraged all of us even as we sat in a doctor’s office 2 hours before our flight was supposed to take off…interested, yet?

There are 26 people in our group, half are flying to Birmingham and the others are flying to Mobile. As we prepared to go through the first checkpoint, we all hugged goodbye to those on the other flight. As we walked through the checkpoint and about to get on the escalator, one of our team members, Cindy, fainted. Every one of us went to her aide. Did I mention this was a medical mission so we had about 11 nurses with us?

I asked Cindy as she was coming to if she knew who I was. She said she did, but by the look in her eyes, I knew she didn’t. We tried to stand her up and she fainted again. A paramedic came and took her blood pressure. It was 90/40. Her normal is 110/60, so it was low. The paramedic would not let her board the plane until she was cleared by a doctor. The doctor was in a meeting off site.

So, Cindy, her husband, and I, the translator, went in an ambulance to meet the doctor at her office. When we arrived to the doctor’s office, Cindy was shivering she was so cold. Although, it was almost 100° in Guatemala today.

The doctor said she was dehydrated and needed IV fluids, but we didn’t have time to start an IV and the doctor didn’t have the fluids there. We would have to go to the pharmacy ourselves to get them. Now, before you start thinking “well what do you expect in a third world country, keep reading.

In order to get to the pharmacy, we would’ve had to get a taxi to take me there and get me back because the ambulance wasn’t allowed to drive us since it was out of their zone. All 3 of us couldn’t go and I was the only one who spoke Spanish, so I headed out. Before, I walked out of the door, the paramedics said they would drive me. They said they didn’t care if it was out of their zone, they wanted to be sure Cindy got what she needed and we could make our flight.

They drove me as far as they could, then one of the paramedics walked me down a couple of blocks to the pharmacy. As I walked there, I prayed they had what we needed. They did, but only in coconut flavor. We paid and headed back to the doctor’s office.

When we got there, I told Cindy I hoped she liked coconut. She said at that point she would’ve drunk any flavor. We laughed and the doctor was curious as to what was funny. I explained it to her and she said she prefers the coconut flavor because it doesn’t make the patient nauseous.

Cindy drank as fast as she could, but not too fast so she wouldn’t get nauseous. Her blood pressure was back up after drinking the second bottle! She had to drink 3 bottles. The doctor gave her some meds to take there and some for later and we headed back to the airport. I’d like to add that this whole visit cost us Q66 which is about $8.

Security cleared us and our team greeted us at the gate with cheers. As we were waiting in line to board, Pastor James came to me and thanked me. Before, I could say anything, he cut me off and told me to take the congratulations and appreciation. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wanted to say that it was no problem, that is was my pleasure, that that is what I was there for. Instead, I started to cry and proceeded in line.

A few minutes later, he came over again and said that he knows I am a giving person, but sometimes negating or minimizing someone’s appreciation is robbing them. I said I understood and immediately proved I didn’t understand by saying “it was my pleasure” instead of saying “you’re welcome”.

I walked on the plane thinking to myself how I always, not often, but always do that. I never say “you’re welcome”. I always say something like it was nothing or something to that affect. I know why I do that. It’s because I believe I really did do nothing. I think anybody would’ve done what I did and that is true, but could they? I was the only person in that group that spoke Spanish. They would’ve been literally lost and more stressed without me, a familiar person who could help them.

As I write this, one part of me feels like I’m boasting. The other part is boasting…on God! He placed me there, at that moment for that purpose. The paramedics, doctor, pharmacy; all placed by Him for that purpose. He knew what would occur and He placed the right people at the right place.

The paramedic said to me as we rode back from the pharmacy, that there is a saying in Guatemala that says something to the affect that if the Lord allows it, the devil will oppose it. Well, the devil couldn’t stop all of the right people from being where they were needed, so he tried to negate our (my) participation.

What have I learned from this? That I should never say “you’re welcome”. I should always say “to God be the glory”! Let’s see how the enemy likes that?

Spoken Words

When we have accepted Christ as our Savior, our lives and the purpose of every action in our life changes…well, it should change at least.

In all of my trips to Guatemala, my friend, Debora, has always been the lead translator and I have played more of a supportive role. So when I found out she would not be with us on this trip and I would be the lead translator, I wasn’t too scared until I remembered the responsibilities included translating sermons, not only from Spanish to English but English to Spanish.

Now, many people who haven’t done this before don’t fully understand what a huge job this is. First, you have to listen to the pastor’s words, process them and translate them to the other language…all in a matter of seconds. Normal conversation is hard enough but when it is a sermon; the word of God spoken out loud, there is so much more at risk.

My first experience translating a sermon from Spanish to English was last night. In my opinion, it went horribly wrong. I wasn’t keeping up with the pastor. He quoted Scriptures I knew but was not able to quote them by memory like he did and it was difficult to hear him at times. When it was done, I went back to my seat, looked at another one of the translators and said “that was horrible”. I was defeated!

The feeling of defeat lasted through the night and into this morning. I was so disappointed with myself. I knew I had to move on from this so I began listening to praise music, snuck away from the group for a few minutes and just prayed. When I got back to the group, the Lord gave me 3 newborn babies to love on. He knows how easily they melt my heart. I was feeling much better.

As the day went out, several members of the group said I did a great job translating. I said thank you with the “yeah right” undertone. On the ride back to the hotel, the pastor asked if I would be translating for him. I mentioned I had asked another one of the translators to cover me since I had such a difficult time translating from Spanish to English, I couldn’t imagine translating from English to Spanish. The pastor mentioned that no matter what happens or what is said, God’s word will be spoken. A light bulb went off.

As much as I had prayed for it not to be about me, I had made it about me. I believed that His message was somehow altered by what I thought to be a failure when He already knew what would happen and spoke through me, despite me.

Well, it’s. Saturday night and I have 3 more sermons to translate. One from Spanish to English and the last 2 from English to Spanish. I have  not yet decided whether or not I will do the last 2 sermons; the knots in my stomach have gotten worse just at the thought of it, but I will continue praying and will do as the Lord leads. When I am weak, He is strong, right?

A Great Sound

The alarm hadn’t gone off yet but she was wide awake. The room although not hers, was quite familiar; after all it had been “hers” for 8 weeks last summer. She remembered how many mornings she had dread waking up for school but this morning was different, she was excited to see them all; her friends and “kids”.

When she arrived at the school, she could hear all of the kids chatting and laughing while they congregated for their Monday morning “civic lesson”. It was a great sound. A sound she didn’t realize how much she missed.

She walked through the gate and the smiles, long hugs and, best of all, the “Mees Jenneefers” were amazing! Tears filled her eyes, but she held them back; she didn’t want to be look too sentimental. She sat in the back row as the 4th grade class made their presentation on respect. They were 3rd graders when she saw them last.

In the middle of their presentation, they paused to call her to the front and welcomed her with beautifully designed signs and loud cheers. Her heart melted and the tears flowed. She didn’t care about looking too sentimental anymore.

So many times she had wondered if she was remembered. If her presence there had touched them enough to make a small difference. Those doubts had been erased as soon as she walked through the gate and received her first hug. She prayed that they could somehow know what a difference they had made in her life. Then again, how could they? She hadn’t known herself until that very moment.


The road was familiar to her; she had been here before. Not that long ago and here she was again. What a beautiful scenery; trees, mountains, volcanoes, amazing clouds. She had been here before, not that long ago, and yet it caught her breath like the very first time.

The drive to Zacapa was long, but not uncomfortable. She and her friend spent most of the 3 hour trip catching up on all that has happened the past 6 months; important stuff like who had gotten engaged, married, broken up. They talked about all that had changed in their own lives and how they have grown from it all. They both appreciated each other’s love for the Lord and, in a sad way, the singleness they both also now shared.

During the quiet moments, she would enjoy the scenery; reminiscing of the last time she had seen it and gave  thanks to the One who had allowed it all.

“I don’t know how I could have forgotten how amazing it is here. Was it this beautiful the last time I was here? Where the clouds this amazing?”

He laughed. I am glad you enjoy them. I love how every time you see them, it is like the first time.

“Really? It doesn’t bother you that I don’t remember being this enamored with clouds before?”

It’s okay because every time you come here, you experience the same rush of emotions.

“Does that mean something?”

Like what?

“Like I am meant to be here?”

For these 2 weeks…yes.

“How about forever?”

How about we just concentrate on these 2 weeks for now?

“Alright.” A slight pause…”How about a hint?”

With a hint of playfulness He answers her; Aren’t those clouds breathtaking?

“They are!” She said with a sigh of slight resignation, but just couldn’t help but agree! She had been here before and she knew she’d be here again!