I did not know when I left my house in Villa Obregon six months ago that I would not be returning. I did not pack up my Christmas ornaments, my journals, my kids’ favorite books. I did not say goodbye to friends. I did not give away extra pots and pans, tupperware, or clothing to my neighbors in need. I stood on the curb and kissed my husband goodbye, telling him we would see each other in a few weeks in Virginia. I took a last glance at the plants on the balcony, leaves lit by the just rising sun, and wondered how many would make it through the sweltering summer and how many I would need to replace upon my arrival home in six months.

Six months have passed and our lives are on a completely new path now. We are staying in Virginia where Ben can work a solid job that will pay our debts. Where we can take the kids to the library and watch them experience snow. Where we can enjoy the crisp fall weather, wear wool socks, grow vegetables and own chickens. It is so much of what we have been dreaming about. We knew that we were coming up on the time to leave Mexico. We knew from the beginning in 2011 that we would not be there forever, that it was a time to enjoy and that one day we would go back to four seasons and chopping firewood and frost on the windowpanes. I have longed for that life.

But I have also loved our life in Mexico. I love the ocean and the beach. I love the people we have served at our cafe and the friends we have made around surf boards and restaurant tables and yoga mats. I love that my kids both learned how to swim and can handle a boogie board in the waves. That they have seen the briny miracles: a whale tail slap the water, dolphins dancing in waves, baby turtles crawling out of their sandy nest, the sun rise and set over the ocean. I feel those miracles make up some of the marrow in my bones and I love that we have shared them. It is hard to walk away from that goodness.

I will be the first to say that our life in Villa Obregon was far from ideal and I am glad that we are moving on. It is not how I wanted the move to happen and there have been tears and sleepless nights as we struggle with making this decision. On hard days we wonder if it is the right decision. I think it is.

These days my little family piles into our minivan and drives to look at potential houses to make a new home in. We go to fall festivals and truck pulls and rodeos. We play on playgrounds and hike around the woods. I am slowly accumulating winter coats, boots, fleece lined jeans. The kids ask once a week if it will snow soon. We say goodbye to Papa in the morning and hug him in the door in the evening light. Ben and I talk about living in America again and how we can stay involved with the poor and the immigrants. The days are cool, we have had plenty of rain and grey skies, and the giant wolf spiders are getting cozy in our closets and boots. We hear the geese honking and watch little yellow leaves fall from the trees. Autumn is coming. There is goodness here.



It is now the beginning of September. It is hard to believe we have already been here 5 months and most of the summer. Virginia is hot and humid like Mexico but it cools off at night and we live in air conditioning which makes life so much more bearable. Even so, I am eager for the cooler temperatures that the forecast is predicting.

We did spend almost a month in North Carolina with my sister and her family. The mountains with so much water it just flows out of the ground and pours down the street. Hot coffee on the deck in the cool shade before the sun makes its way around to heat up our skin. Walks and hikes with babies and we did not sweat. I miss it.


We managed once again to get all of us together. Two parents, five children and their spouses, one more son, and now 6 grandbabies! It was a week’s worth of late nights, early mornings, volleyball, hiking, river swimming, and laughter!


Life for Ben and I keeps on changing in unanticipated ways. We encourage one another to keep on smiling and do the best we can with what we’ve been given, which is so much grace upon grace. And we get these beautiful gifts all along the way: a warm evening in the lake, snuggling kids into bed with campfire smoke still lingering in their hair, lightning and thunder at night, dew-wet feet in  the mornings. Always good coffee. And crickets.

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone.” they sang. . . Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into fall. . .
~ from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web



me and America

I’m not sure how to write this post. I’m not really sure of what I want to say. Since the middle of April I have been living in America. I haven’t been here since May of 2014 and that was only for a month of visiting family and celebrating a sister’s wedding. In 2013 we spent the summer in the San Juan Islands of Washington but I was on a remote island with no wifi, no television, and very little interaction with the outside world. So I would say that the last time I really lived in America was the 5 months we spent in Washington when Ayden was born in 2010.

While living in Mexico we follow American news and, to some extent, American politics, but we prefer to get our daily news from the BBC and Al Jazeera. We celebrate Thanksgiving but not Independence Day. We speak English but we don’t keep up with the Kardashians; I’m not even sure who they are and I don’t care enough to google them in order to find out. We only know about new music when someone posts a video on Facebook, the only social media outlet we know how to use. I suppose we live like the expatriates that we are.

I grew up as an expatriate. When I was 6 years old my family moved to central Mexico to plant a church in a small town. We were the only foreigners who lived there for the first few years of our stay and everyone knew us. When my mom walked through the market to buy our groceries with 5 little blonde children in tow women of all ages would reach out and touch our hair as we walked by. We moved back to the U.S. when I was 13 but only for three years. At 16 I was back in Mexico only to turn around at 17 and head back to mid-America where I immediately started traveling outside the U.S to Latin America, Asia, and Europe. I barely had enough time to get my teenage feet planted on American soil before I left again, let alone form a mature opinion on American culture.

I was homeschooled and, living outside the U.S., we studied American history and economics from a distance as though examining a foreign country. I grew up believing in the American dream and that hard work, perseverance, and integrity is the way to build a successful life. (A philosophy that carried my Grandfather to success and one that has been severely challenged in my own life.)  I believed that America was a beacon of hope to those looking for freedom from oppression and that she accepted migrants willingly since the country was built by migrants. I grew up knowing that America was that golden country where the truths were self evident and accepted by its inhabitants: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain, unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I grew up believing that in America slavery had been abolished and that men and women of all ethnicities had equal rights and that racism was dead. When I was a teenager I finally learned the national anthem; “Oh say, does that star spangled banner still wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave?” still brings tears to my eyes every time. But I tear up because I have come to realize that America is not the country I grew up believing in. It seems that the only people who believe this is the home of the brave are the ones willing to carry and use guns to prove it. And that is not freedom for those on either side of the gun.

The violence of the past week has broken my heart. Perhaps it is that being in the U.S. now I am hearing more about these senseless and unjust shootings than I would have or maybe there has been more bloodshed over the past few months and it is all adding up. I am beginning to think my heart hurts because I am supposed to fall on my knees over this country that I love and pray for the healing of so many wounds. I want to march in the streets and yell and scream at the unjustness and senselessness of all this killing. I want to close my ears and eyes to the death and move on with my own life. I cannot do either but I can pray for America and believe that Jesus’ kingdom of peace and justice is not that far away and that others are, like me, praying and believing.

Please read the words of another person struggling alongside: D.L. Mayfield’s excellent post In the cocktail party of my life.



Mother of three

Well, here I am. Mother of three. I love it. And I hope I am blessed with a few more babies on top of these ones I love so dearly. Yes, I’ve had a few sleepless night since Liam came into my bed. I have fought to control my frustration with my two older kids as we all adjust to this new normal. I have wanted to snuggle up with my husband at the same moment that Liam decides he wants to nurse. But when I watch my two older kids as  they run laughing through the sprinkler on a hot summer day, or when I hear them apologize to one another without being prompted, or anytime that this new little baby smiles I know I am blessed. My heart overflows.

I feel like I am finally emerging from the post postpartum haze and becoming interested and aware of things again. Christy and I have started meal planning – which is so much fun with all the produce available through the local farms – and working out a rhythm for our collective children. So far the rhythm revolves around meals and an afternoon rest period with plenty of outdoor time. They love any game involving water and Ethan (3) and Willow (now 4!) spend much more time naked than clothed.

The garden is producing broccoli, squash, zucchini, and lettuce. We have lots of herbs that get thrown in everything from pastas and salads, to iced teas. The tomatoes and peppers are getting closer to harvest. We finished up the last of the strawberries just before the strawberry moon of the solstice and are now on to wild blackberries. Our first harvest brought in enough for a night’s dessert, this morning’s blackberry lemon scones, and Sunday’s pie!

Ayden is into superheros these days and runs around in a cape and mask much of the time. Thankfully, his recent superhero power is helpfulness. He is growing up so fast and loves to spend time working with Ben and Dustin. Or just working in general, preferably outside in farm boots. He does well with Liam although he is not always as gentle as I would wish.

Willow is still the princess in the games. But a princess with super powers. She falls in love with one dress at a time and will refuse to wear anything but that dress until I manage to sneak it into the laundry without her knowledge. We went bowling for her 4th birthday and she loved it. She will sit with Liam sleeping on her lap for 30 minutes before she needs to move.

Liam is a darling boy. I think his favorite thing to do is nurse all day, every day. He sleeps pretty well; I have only had a handful of those exhausting and frustrating nights. (Quite the change after Willow, my little fireball.) When he wakes up from a nap he often opens his eyes and starts looking around. Twice now, I have gently said his name as he is laying awake and he smiles, turning his head to look for me. Melts my heart.

Parenting in this community style – two families in one house with 5 children ages 5, 4, 3, 1.5, and a newborn – is a challenge, to say the least. But it is also such a blessing. To have another young mother encourage me when I am having a hard time holding it all together is a gift I have not experienced very often since becoming a mom. I am thoroughly enjoying sharing life with Christy here on the farm.

Light the Candle

This wee one is coming. Please help me light the way.

I am like a flag unfurled in space,
I scent the oncoming winds and must bend with them,
While the things beneath are not yet stirring,
While doors close gently and there is silence in the chimneys
And the windows do not yet tremble and the dust is still heavy –

Then I feel the storm and am vibrant like the sea
And expand and withdraw into myself
And thrust myself forth and am alone in the great storm.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke


The birth box is fully stocked, the birth area has been decided on, the baby has flipped head down, and Mom has arrived. We are cleaning floors and counters, making playlists for laboring along with, and washing newborn infant clothes the size of a dinner plates. The energy is high (figuratively speaking for me…) and the anticipation is real. It is still early and we all realize that we might end up waiting weeks for this little one to make the big entrance into our lives. But even so, nesting is in full swing and it feels like I could be holding this new little life in my arms sooner than later.

So pull out a candle and set it aside to light when the moment comes, light the way for an infant making his way from one world to another.


37 weeks

I try to take photographs of life here but I can never capture what I’m after: wet rubber boots on the wrong feet, clouds dropping rain in the distance, blond hair flying in the evening’s still cool wind. The strong, scarred man’s hands milling log after log into beautiful boards, the never resting mother’s hands wrapping around a steaming cup of coffee, the red clay smears on knees of dresses and jeans. The glow of sunshine on shoulders, the wood deck warm with May day heat, the blankets pulled tight around children snuggling in arms at the embers of a bonfire.


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