Pages

Thursday, December 5, 2013

neither here nor there

I was talking to a friend the other day--she was sharing about being at that spot where you are just in between. You know where you need to be, you are okay where you are--but you are waiting, focused on the goal while trying to maintain a good, peaceful attitude in the meantime. I told her, "I know! I always hate feeling like I'm in limbo..."

I thought about how often Rey and I have been "in limbo". When we felt called to join up with my aunt and uncle in their missions work--there were months between that decision and the day we moved. It was hard to live fully during those months, not to just throw them away since: "I'm not staying here anyway..."

When we felt called to return home to Illinois, again there were months between the decision and the actual fulfilling of that decision. Big decisions, big moves like that take lots of time, lots of prayer, lots of investigating and organizing. It is so easy for the decision to become so all-consuming that you forget to live fully in the in between.

And again, we find ourselves in an "in between". We feel we are being led in a certain direction--but we are most-certainly in limbo. Not here, not there. Leaning, but not sure. Directed, but lacking detail. I felt myself chafing at being at that point again. Just wanting to be there, or here, but not in between.

Then the thought came: Really... we are called to live our whole lives in limbo. We are living for the promise of being unified with our Love. We are constantly pulled between the heavenly and the earthly--longing to be with our eternal Father, but loving our life here. Yearning to be where our feet are leading us, but striving to enjoy the journey as we are walking. It made me reflect on the yearning of generations for their Messiah... the waiting remembered in these days of Advent.

I am *finally* delving into the great book "One Thousand Gifts", and in my last reading this phrase jumped out at me: "It's the in between that drives us mad." Wow. Exactly what I'd been contemplating.

Further, I had been realizing that this irritated feeling I'd been having with being in between, was also combining with my utter abhorrence of Illinois winters. Ever since the bitter cold and long, grey weeks have blown in, my overall mood has also been grey and dreary. I have been lacking energy, impatient with the kids and generally a real treat to be around. ;) I have been feeling actual anger towards the weather, towards being stuck indoors when we'd rather be out playing, towards the world being pitch-black by 5 pm... you know, anger. Because it helps so much.

Slowly, though, I feel as though God has been breaking through the irritation, despondency, and anger... and calling me to return to fully living where I am, how I am. Saying things like, "Buck up" and "Get over it" and other kind things. In a gentle voice, because I am a sensitive soul.

In this time, I was reading Luke 21 and came to this verse: "By your patience possess your souls". This can mean many things to many people, but to me in the time I read it, my eyes read: "If you can choose patience in these in-between times of life, you will possess your soul. If you choose patience when the kids are being kids, you will possess your soul. If you wait for Me patiently during your years on earth, you will possess your soul."

Then, I read a smidgen from My Utmost for His Highest I stumbled upon, relating to this passage:
"Luke 21:19 means that we take possession of our souls through patience. But many of us prefer to stay at the entrance to the Christian life, instead of going on to create and build our soul in accordance with the new life God has placed within us. We fail because we are ignorant of the way God has made us, and we blame things on evil that are actually the result of our own undisciplined natures. Just think what we could be when we are awakened to the truth!
There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives. Moods nearly always are rooted in some physical circumstance, not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise as a result of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do. The problem that most of us are cursed with is simply that we won’t. The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh."

Good old Oswald. I guess if I didn't hear that whole, "Get over it" message before, I should now right?

All of this to say, I'm learning I need to be okay with in between. I need to learn to fully live, in patience, in limbo. Because, our entire existence is a thread stretched between here and another place, the perfect tension between two places that both hold such portions of our heart and time--yet must compliment each other instead of competing with each other.

In the meantime... I am especially loving this hymn of longing and expectation:

"Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, our day spring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
 
Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!"

Monday, December 2, 2013

Trunk Show in a Blog Post! :)

It's Cyber Monday... and what better way to spend it than by investing in the lives of families and communities?! I'm inviting you to sit back and enjoy browsing my list of top picks for gifting this season! Several of these items are best sellers--all of them are personal favorites and changing lives with each purchase made.

Let's pretend I'm having you over to my house for a trunk show. Come on in! The music is on, there's a hot beverage to sip on and some yummy snacks. This trunk show has a twist though! Since there is no hostess... I will be selecting a "mystery hostess" from you who are able to join! Those of you who decide to purchase from my site in the next 5 days will be put into a drawing for a $50 gift card from Noonday Collection! Make sure you pick my name, Liz Sanchez, from the ambassador list at checkout to be entered in the drawing.

If you have ANY questions about sizes/colors/ordering... I am always available to help!

Ready to see my top picks?



Ok, seriously? La Noche Bracelet is an absolute show-stopper.  Square-cut beads are skillfully woven together by our Guatemalan artisans and cast off amazing glimmers and sparkles with every movement of the wrist. Can't go wrong with this one. Price: $38






 

Whatever you are doing... STOP and check out our Home & Gift selection! Every item is on sale right now! Our stationary is a go-to choice for those shopping for gifts for teacher or mom... and our tea towels add a bright spot to any kitchen. Check them out! {Sale} Prices: $12-26



This Charlotte's Bag has been my one-and-only bag for most of this year. It has gone with me to playdates, soccer games, grocery shopping, church... (I know, I know. I lead a wild life)... And, has held up beautifully even with all the abuse it has received. It is a roomy, open bag with a small interior pocket (like for a cell phone), and two, larger pockets on the front of the bag. It would work perfectly for a cute diaper bag. Skillfully stitched by our group in Rwanda. Price: $58







These Bone Carved Leaf earrings? Best sellers. Oh, yes. And for good reason! They are just the right size, super light-weight and go with everything! I've seen them on bridesmaids, in family portraits--and with a baseball hat at a sporting event. They are that versatile. Made in India. Price: $30




Best-selling scarf for me this season? The Lines and Stripes Infinity Scarf, beautifully hand-knitted with 100% alpaca wool in Peru. It is soooo light-weight and easy to wear. The soft, mustardy yellow provides a nice contrast to the natural creamy oatmeal colored scarf--so that even "non-yellow-wearers" such as myself love putting it on! The knitting is so fine that it is almost like an intricate crochet, leaving the scarf so soft that it is just fun to touch. Price: $72






Now, I'm just going to throw in one of my personal favorite new items from this line: The Annie's Feathered Earrings! (I may mention that I saw Jen Hatmaker wearing them all through Europe a few weeks ago--so, there you go!) ;) These earrings are made of leather--so they are so light-weight. They are longer in length, so they may not be for everyone. However, they add such a great pop of color and texture, even to just a basic t-shirt and jeans kind of day. Easy, no fuss--but all kinds of fun! 





And, it wouldn't be a true "Noonday Trunk Show" without talking about the Bethe Rope. This is basically a "Noonday Classic". One of our best-sellers for awhile, it is made from upcycled artillery in Ethiopia--providing not only dignified work for our artisans... but a chance to live. You see, our artisans in Ethiopia all are HIV positive, and their creations make it possible for them to be able to purchase the medication necessary to become healthy people--truly back from the dead. Our Bethe Rope can be worn in a number of ways: long as pictured here, or shorter... or even as a bracelet! Many of our customers who prefer a more simple, uncluttered look gravitate towards this piece. It also is a great "layering necklace"--adding movement and interest, but not looking too "busy". Price: $40





Another best-seller, and just an easy go-to piece for a pop of color: The Tagua Seed Bracelet. It's just as great as it looks. ;) Made in Ecuador. Price: $28





One more best-selling scarf: The Angelica Infinity. This scarf is made of cotton, not wool, so it can be worn year-round. Woven by the campfires of our Guatemalan artisans, this is a true piece of culture. (*Note that the scarf is currently on backorder, but we expect our shipment from Guatemala to arrive December 15th, so Noonday is planning to have the scarves delivered in time for Christmas). Price: $58

I hope these picks have helped you to get started making your shopping list! Feel free to browse around on my site. You navigate it just as you would any other online retailer... the only difference is choosing my name at the checkout page. Noonday Collection is guaranteeing delivery by Christmas on any items ordered by December 17th (that are not listed as being on backorder).... and remember: shipping is a flat $6, so, order away!! :)

Happy Cyber Monday to you! (And, here's hoping YOU win the $50 shopping spree!) :) :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

expressing love...

It was during one of our last weeks in Mexico. The decision to leave was bearing heavily on our hearts--although we felt convinced that it was the right choice.

Many of our friends there, although motivated by love, were saying things that weren't making the leaving any easier. When we stated we needed to get help for Noah, they said there wasn't anything wrong with Noah. And then gave us all kinds of other options. "I went to a man who is so good with aligning the personalities of people. He can sense things... Like, maybe when Noah was in your womb, he didn't feel love from you. So, you can go and this man does hold therapy. Where you can hug Noah tightly and heal that rift that happened..." 

Or, when we stated that--plain and simple--we weren't even close to making it financially, some criticized our faith. "You just need to believe harder!" When we said, "What if God is purposefully shutting that door to guide us back Stateside?", they would shake their heads emphatically.

I also struggled with feeling misunderstood. The times were few and far between that I was able to travel out to the communities with Rey, and I often felt that was not well-looked upon by many.

So, it was hard. Jumping into a lot of unknowns... dealing with the really hard place we were in with Noah and our finances... trying to sell off everything and work out all the details of moving to a different country--I was feeling completely drained. On less than empty, really.

We were invited to a small house church a friend of ours helped to pastor. Rey shared a sermon that day. Towards the end of the service, people were going to the front for a time of prayer. I stood near my seat, praying silently and listening to the music.

Suddenly, I felt gentle hands press on my back. I heard the voice of a dear, older woman who faithfully served in the outreaches to the communities. She prayed loudly, as the music pounded around us, that God would wrap me in his arms. That he would uphold me as I upheld my husband. That he would give me wisdom as I mothered our children. "Because, father, we all see she really is a wonderful mother..." That he would give me peace as I went into an unknown situation. And, then, she said: "God, we place Noah into your hands. May they find the help they need for this precious boy. Heal his mind and body and give his parents what they need to raise him...." And then, folks, it was all over. Hot tears ran down my cheeks and I began to sob uncontrollably. To hear such words of affirmation, comfort and love spoken over me was like water onto parched soil.

As other women in the church saw my state, more encircled me... placing their hands on me and lifting high prayers for God's comfort, strength and healing. It was an amazing, unforgettable moment. A moment that I so felt God's love for me through the hands and prayers of these women. A moment that taught me... that I need to be like that one woman who acted on what I can only imagine was God's whisper to her: "Go pray for Liz."

Who do I need to be praying for today? Do I need to pray for them from my home? Or face to face with them? What about you? Who is someone in your circle that could be so renewed by truly being seen by you?

I pray we don't hold back from expressing love when we have the opportunity.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"go clean your room"

So great--the kids are getting to an age I can tell them to clean their rooms. What??! :)

They were soooo cute this day as they excitedly called me to check in on their handiwork.

Instead of a quick run-through... they had really done their best, and the results were amazing!

Noah's shelf:







SO.MUCH.WORK!!!

Aleni had cutely arranged her ponies in their castle:



 I also love what this picture shows about the difference in their personalities. Ha!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

moments in time

I was out running errands the other night, and pulled into a parking spot. I soon realized an area junior high school was having their homecoming dance dinner at a restaurant in this shopping center, as I saw little, tiny babies dressed in suits and frilly dresses walking in groups. Of course, they weren't really babies, they just looked that way to my momma-eyes.

Out of the car next to me emerged a tall, thin boy in a shirt and tie, looking awkward, nervous and eager to escape his parents. He stood outside the car while his dad took a picture of him with his phone. He looked determinedly away, obviously not wanting to be delayed. After the picture was taken, with his dad's comments of how great he looked falling un-received to the ground--the boy began to stride away from mom and dad toward the shopping center. His shoulders were bunched up, his hands either shoved into his pockets or adjusting his tie or patting down his mop of brown hair.

I looked over at the mom. She stood away from the car--one hand on her chest, one hand waving. Her mouth moved, but no words came out. She looked to be on the verge of tears. I felt tears spring to my eyes, too. Will my boy have this same moment?

As I walked through the shopping center, groups of junior high kids passed me. Their electric energy was palpable; the level of glam they each were exhibiting was mind-numbing. They were so young! I thought about how hard those ages are, how high school is even harder. I imagined my own kids in that crowd. In that awful, awkward age where you are between child and adult. Where no one knows who they are and there is a lot of "mean" going around. I said a prayer for my babies, and these, to be strong.

Those moments are seared into my memory. I don't know what junior high and high school will be like for my babies, but I pray they make a safe passage. I pray that today I can be instilling in them the things they will need to make it through those years...

But, mostly...it makes me adore today even more.




Today, my boy grabs my face and insists we kiss on the lips when I drop him off at school. In front of his friends. With a big, big hug.

Today, my girl insists on wearing combinations of clothing that leave me equal parts embarrassed and pleased that she can feel so good in such an eye-watering array. "Aleni boot-a-full." Yes, you are.

Today, my boy wrestles me to the ground and makes me laugh until I cry when he says, "Don't worry about it, dollface." (Thanks, Penguins of Madagascar)

Today, my girl stealthily sneaks down the stairs at night after her brother is fast asleep... her freshly-bathed hair hanging in her eyes, thumb in her mouth. She tiptoes into my room, wanting just a few more moments of mommy-girl time before going off to sleep.

Today, my girl whispers to me her secrets, my boy asks me to snuggle him....they find me to tell me they love me.

And... they tell me--there truly is no way to freeze time? Maybe not, but in writing about it... at least it can be remembered.


Monday, September 9, 2013

meeting the founder...

A couple of weeks ago, a dream I didn't even realize I had came true. Some other Noonday ambassadors contacted me and let me know that noonday founder, Jessica Honegger, was at that time vacationing with her family in northern Indiana. Jessica had graciously offered--last minute--to get together with area ambassadors to meet us and have a little time together.

I hadn't really imagined meeting Jessica up until that time, but when the invitation was sent--I suddenly realized: "I would LOVE to meet her!" Jessica said we could come right out to the lake home that her family was staying out, and she would share appetizers and a boat ride with us. What? Seriously?? Sign me up!

Like I said, this was all last minute. It turned into one of the craziest days of my life--and that's saying something! Around noon on Tuesday, it was decided I would go. Noon... as the kids and I sat at a park, where we had spent the entire morning, sweaty and unshowered. I went into crazy overdrive. Threw the kids in the van, rushed home, got a shower, got changed (seriously--what accessories to choose??). Threw the kids back in the van, rushed them over to my wonderful sister's house so she could watch them until Rey got off work. Hopped into my sister's van (which she kindly loaned me, since ours was on a spare tire) and began driving towards Indiana around 2 pm.

The plan had been to meet up with two other ambassadors at the Illinois-Indiana border, and then ride over to the lake with them. The idea of only having to drive halfway was really what had sealed the deal for me. However, as I neared the border, the other ambassador called: "Liz! Bad news! We just realized where Jessica is is an hour ahead of us, so we are going to have to go on without you." Ugh! Talk about a sinking feeling! A whole hour lost!

Mapquest put the destination about 5.5 hours from my house, and it ended up being 6.5. I pulled in just as the sun was sinking in a glorious, glowing orb over the lake. Jessica was seated behind the house on a lake-side deck with 3 other Indiana ambassadors. As I rounded the house, she jumped to her feet and gave me a big hug. We were all introduced and took a picture together before we went inside for some snacks.



Jessica smiled, "Sorry, girls. I'm on vacation--and this is what you get. I'm still in my swimsuit, no shower, no makeup!" Even so, she glowed with warmth and kindness. She excitedly invited us to watch a video with her. "They just sent this to me, so I haven't even seen it yet. It is the behind-the-scenes video of when we were shooting for the catalog." How sweet of her to share that with us. You can see the video here.

Later, we took a nice, leisurely boat ride on the now-darkened lake, swatting off the hordes of mosquitoes as we all got to know each other a little more. It was so refreshing to note Jessica's sincerity and lack of pretense or awkwardness. She was just her genuine self, having a relaxing evening on the lake. It was also inspiring to see how she truly lives and breathes the passion of Noonday Collection's vision. Our artisans and their well-being is constantly on her mind and in her conversations.

Jessica spoke of dreams she has for them, of desiring to develop a few very deep, sustainable relationships with specific artisan groups--as opposed to shallow connections with many. She talked about the goal of having a scholarship fund for the children of the artisans to be able to go to school--and even university! She encouraged us to never be embarrassed of what we do--specifically speaking to the direct-sales aspect--because what we are doing is changing lives, families and communities. "Just get out there, be bold and don't doubt your impact... I really believe we've only seen the tip of the iceberg in regards to what Noonday is going to be and what it's going to do."

I share this story not to "put Jessica on a pedestal" at all. Not at all. Instead, I do it to give you a glimpse of the sincerity and passion that runs Noonday Collection. People ask me all the time about percentages and "how can you be sure the money is going where it is supposed to go??". (Check out some good info on that here). Those are valid questions, and ones I myself ask and have asked. I left Indiana, after sleeping for 4 hours, filled with excitement about what I am a part of--and what I am able to share with you!

Rest assured that Noonday Collection is a company with real heart for the people it employs and passionate vision for the ongoing development and growth of their families and communities. Noonday is a collection of dreamers who are in love with the power of work, the power of community and the power of hope. I am SO honored to be able to partner with them in connecting you into this huge, global family. It is truly a beautiful thing!

In honor of the Fall launch, Noonday ambassadors have been participating in a month-long "blog train"--with giveaways each day! Today, it is my turn... yay!

{PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED}

I am giving away this best-selling: "Light Layers Necklace, Seagreen":



This beautiful statement piece is made up of strands of green, hand-carved, hand-dyed acai nut beads from the jungles of Ecuador. It represents hours, weeks and even months of work.... a labor-intensive process of collecting, drying, carving, dying & stringing.

Leave a comment on what YOU love about Noonday Collection (check out the whole catalog here ) --or tell me when you are going to host a Noonday show ;) ...  and I will randomly choose the winner on Thursday!

Thanks for reading!

PS--If you're reading this and are in the Peoria area... Tuesday night (September 10), I am doing a launch party for the Fall line at the Bradley LeavesnBeans in Peoria from 6-9p. Be sure to stop by!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

I Spy Noonday... aka... What a World-Changer Looks Like!

If there's one thing I love more than Noonday... it would be seeing friends catch the Noonday love! It just brightens my day when a picture of a friend + Noonday pops up on my screen... So, I wanted to share some of those snapshots with you!

Why do I say people wearing or using Noonday are world-changers? Because when you buy from Noonday, you are keeping children off the streets and out of orphanages. You are giving girls a chance at college. You are restoring dignity and breaking generations of poverty. You are bringing the story of artisans around the world into your homes and making it part of your own story.

Here, Lilly models earrings and a necklace made in India, where slavery and exploitation is an every-day occurrence among the poor. Brooke models a necklace made in Ecuador, from seeds harvested from the jungle floors. The artisans take each seed through a 3-month process to make the seed a bead.

Lilly's earrings: http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/earrings/sparkled-sky-earrings#.Ugk16NK1F6E
Lilly's necklace: http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/necklaces/collectors-seed-bead-necklace
Brooke's necklace: Was so popular... it is now sold out!

Callie is wearing some beautiful Indian silver earrings that she actually scored for free after hosting a show for Noonday! When you host a show for Noonday, you spread the word about their work--and provide more work for more artisans!

 Callie's earrings: http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/earrings/clustered-earring-in-silver#.Ugk2ZtK1F6E

Jennell makes this Ugandan bracelet look amazing with that beautiful "mommy glow" she has! :) This necklace is made from unique, white embira seeds and has been a best-seller for Noonday.


Jennell's bracelet: http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/bracelets/embira-seed-bracelet-1#.Ugk2ztK1F6E

Monika has found all kinds of great ways to wear this "Rockstar Orange" paper bead necklace from Uganda! Uganda is where the Noonday story began, and the paper beads made in this workshop require hours of painstaking and skilled work!

Monika's necklace: http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/necklaces/rockstar-orange-necklace#.Ugk3iNK1F6F


Erin shines in these gold Indian earrings--which she also scored for free when she decided to change the world and be a Noonday hostess. Thanks, Erin!



Erin's earrings: http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/earrings/clustered-earring-in-gold#.Ugk3ydK1F6E


Klarissa looks so cute in this fun and funky Noonday favorite--made in Uganda!

Klarissa's Necklace: http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/necklaces/funky-paper-bead-necklace-1#.Ugk38tK1F6E

 Can you spot the Noonday?? Remember, Noonday isn't all jewelry... We also have empowered and trained a group of women in Rwanda who make different bags and textiles! Jada will tell you--Noonday makes a great gift! :)


Rachel took Noonday to a wedding--why not?? (No, sorry... Noonday doesn't sell any feather boas!)

 Rachel's bracelet: http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/bracelets/tagua-seed-bracelet-seagreen#.Ugk5fdK1F6E

Rachel's Necklace: http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/necklaces/evening-horizon-necklace#.Ugk5jtK1F6E


Shannon is a big lover of Noonday, and is herself in the process of adopting! So beautiful to see how we can spread our love--whether it is by helping to prevent orphans by providing work, or by providing a forever-home for the orphaned. In Shannon's case, she opts for both. :)

Shannons's Necklace:http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/necklaces/minted-necklace#.Ugk6BdK1F6E

Shannon's Necklace: http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/necklaces/festival-necklace#.Ugk6G9K1F6E

Jane rocks these amazing earrings, made by our talented Ugandan artisans.

Jane's earrings: http://lizsanchez.noondaycollection.com/earrings/packaged-pretty-earrings#.Ugk7e9K1F6E

I am hoping that you will decide to join the ranks of these amazing women and join Noonday's vision... And, if you are already a Noonday fan--I will be keeping my eyes open on Facebook to see you sporting your style! :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

one for the memory books....

The other day, Rey walked in and told me that one of the guys he does mechanical work for had invited him to his son's birthday. He thought we should go, and obviously bring a present. Oh, and the party was that afternoon.

"Oh, yeah? How old is the son?"
"I don't know."
"Oh, what's the son's name?"
"I'm not sure."
"What does the son like?"
"I don't know."
"There must be food at the party."
"Yes. I think there's going to be a lot of food."
"Ohhh! Now I understand!" ;)

So, while Rey called his friend Hugo to get the necessary details for successful gift selection, I got the kiddos ready to go to the "amigos" party. We stopped by the Dollar Store to grab a gift (while I was paying for the gift, the cashier held on to the receipt and asked if I was married. "Yes." "Oh, well, you're still beautiful anyways." Ok? So, it was already a weird afternoon.).

We pulled up to an big abandoned-looking house on the south side of town. It appeared to have been built in the early 1900's and was probably beautiful at that time. Now, the screen door hung open, some screens on the house were broken out. All the lights on the first floor were turned off. "Are we sure this is the right house?" But, as we stood at the door waiting, we could hear the far-off sound of the steady tuba beat, so we knew we had to at least be close to the party.

We ended up letting ourselves in to the darkened house.... "Hola? Hola?"

Soon enough, someone walked past and saw us. "Oh, hello! Come on in, the party's in the basement!"

So, we walked through the dark, sparsely-furnished house--sheets tacked over the windows. "This is my brother's house," Hugo explained, "It's bigger than ours, so he let us use it."

He led us down the narrow, steep cement basement stairs into an explosion of light, sound, movement and color. It was incredible. There were 2 actual taco stands down there. Like, right off the streets of Mexico taco stands. Large boxes on wheels with glass windows, men chopping rapid-fire at piles of meat, cilantro and onions--smoke rising from the sizzling meat and filling the basement. The banda music sent out a steady beat, the volume making any kind of communication impossible--unless you shouted into a person's ear.

The basement was divided in 2 by a cement wall. On one side were the taco stands, on the other several long tables were set up, filled with people. The cement block walls were painted neon green, balloons and streamers taped to the walls. There were perhaps 3-4 different disco/club-type balls hanging from the ceiling. The kind that shine different kinds of lights around, or different light shows, on the cement walls, floors and ceilings. It was crazy.

The tables were filled with different snacks and kinds of beers in bottles. The adults quietly imbibed as they watched the children chase the light beams around the room, or bob to the loud music.

At one point, Rey pulled me to the side to say I needed to change spots because the drunk guy across the table had a staring problem. That's never happened before. The weirdness continued.

With the loudness of it all, the fact we knew no one didn't even matter. No one was really talking anyways. The tacos were pretty awesome.

The bathroom was upstairs on the main floor, so whenever the kiddos needed to go potty--we would again experience that mind-boggling difference between the basement and the main floor. It was as if by ascending out of and descending into the basement we could travel back and forth between countries in a matter of seconds. It was almost too much to process! We would stand in the dark, silent main floor of the house, waiting our turn for the bathroom--hearing a soft, steady beat through the floor... and then, when we were finished, walk back down the stairs into... another world!

I guess the experience just made me smile. When we had the kids in Mexico, I'd often think about how different their childhood experiences would be from my own childhood experiences. Now that we are in the US, there are more things in common with my childhood... but I know I never experienced a party like that growing up! Culture is so fun. :)


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Noé is 5

People kept telling me "Five is a big one!"... and I kept kind of blowing it off. It's just a number... no big deal. And, it is just a number. But, five has been a big birthday for Noé. In the last couple months, the change in Noé has been notable and huge. He is markedly more mature, more independent. He wants to snuggle less, needs me less. He doesn't just automatically laugh at my jokes--he analyzes them first. He can get embaressed if I appear to be offering him too much help or tenderness in front of his peers.

In short, that which I wasn't sure would happen is happening: Noé is growing up.

I have heard that a child basically "is who he is" by the age of 5. If that's true, I'm pretty proud of the little man Noé is today.

There is nothing better than Noé's laugh. He is always studying things so intensely, his face solemn in thought... and then when something strikes him as funny--his face splits open in huge smile; his laugh is so honest and genuine. I love it.

Noé continues to be a tender, sensitive little man. He often is in tune with how others are feeling and is very good about checking if his friends are okay when they hurt themselves. If I hurt myself, he will rub my back and ask me if I need a band-aid to feel better. I love his compassion.

He is insanely smart when it comes to memorizing things that fascinate him--for now, that is dinosaurs. He is also very good at remembering people's names. He definitely gets that ability from his daddy!

Noé is in the stage of defining the differences between boys and girls; between babies and big kids. He is sure to let us know he is no longer "cute"; he is "handsome". He wants desperately to win, but he is learning to loose with grace. He loves to note how tall he is ("I am almost taller than you, mom!") and check on his muscle growth. He daily makes new mental connections that amaze me.

Noé has always been very meticulous and logical, so it has been so different to watch him begin to develop behavior more typical of a little boy: crazy, silly, goofy. So fun.

This has been the first birthday that Noé was able to join in on the planning and know what was going on. He was counting down to May 26 all month, putting an "X" on the day passed each new morning. He did a great job being patient for the big day to arrive.

The fact that Noé is beginning to pull away from me is a healthy thing, but it also makes me treasure the "snuggly moments" when they come. I told him the other day, "You're breaking my heart because you're getting so big and your not my baby anymore." I heard him proudly telling Rey at dinner time, "You know what, daddy? I am breaking momma's heart!" ;)

Noé is still one of the most tenaciously loyal and loving friends a person could ever want. It has been such a joy to watch him learn to be a kind friend, but also to stand up for himself when needs be. He has grown so much in every area, I can't even believe it most days. It is hard to put into words.

I am just glad I get to be his mom.


5 years ago today... pt. 4

5 years ago today, Rey went to work as usual around 6 am since my contractions weren't getting any closer together. I hadn't slept much at all that night, with the constant-yet-very-seperated contractions going on.

By 8 am, I found out what labor really feels like! Now I was getting those contractions that stop you in your tracks. No talking through these babies! My aunt and I would laugh somewhat hysterically between contractions as she'd read the "helpful" descriptions of labor from different books on the subject. "Imagine birth like the opening of a flower..." Whaaaa---?? Who writes these things?

Around 11am, we called Rey and the other midwife. They could come around noon, we said. The contractions were probably more like 5 minutes apart by that point.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in walking, stopping, walking, stopping. Kneeling, sitting, leaning. The midwife kept telling me the baby was still too high to push and encouraged walking. I was having some intense "back labor" and got to a point that my legs were shaking too bad to walk, but the baby was still too high.

That got us to a really "fun" part, where I was sitting and with each contraction, the midwife instructed Rey to push inwards and downwards on my stomach to encourage the baby down. Ouch.

Finally, the midwife decided it was ok to push... I think that was around 3:30pm... and at 5:45p--after the hardest day of work I'd done in my life up to that point--a darling little boy made his entrance into the world! He didn't cry at all, but was instantly very alert, taking in the world around him silently. He did begin to show us his lungs when the midwives got him cleaned up and dressed!

Baby boy didn't have a name yet... we didn't decide that until the next morning (we had a list of "maybes"... nothing for sure). But, he was here. He was our first child. Our hearts burst with love for him. He was beautiful, perfect. And, our world was changed forever..

5 years ago today.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

5 years ago today.... pt. 3

5 years ago today, I woke up somewhat annoyed to not have had any progression in this labor thing. I was having contractions anywhere from 15-20 minutes apart, and they weren't ever so strong that I couldn't go on with my daily activities. It was just tiring, not knowing what was going on!

Rey went to church that Sunday morning, and I opted to stay home. Didn't know when things could start heating up! When Rey got home, he announced that his family had thrown together a surprise baby shower for me that afternoon out at the family farm. To say I was not excited is an understatement! "They want me to go out there and be 'the star of the show' when I am having contractions???!!" And, poor Rey. Stuck in the middle!

Rey's mom and sisters stopped by a few moments later to say "hi". I thought for sure once my mother-in-law knew my predicament, she'd do a rain check on the whole baby shower thing. Instead, she advised me to take some chamomile tea and see if that helped.

By the time we were getting ready to go to my shower, I was in tears. I felt guilty--knowing that the family was putting the shower together out of love for us, and from their lack, but SO wishing to not be going ANYWHERE!

But, I made it! They had tables set up outside. We played bridal shower bingo, while I smile-winced through regular contractions (maybe more like 10-15 minutes apart now). They served large portions of carne asada, rice, soda... and I moved food around, not really wanting to put anything in my rather annoying stomach at that point. Every 20 minutes or so, I would waddle slowly across the field to the outhouse... give myself a little pep talk while there.... and then waddle back to the party.

We got home around 8 pm, and my aunt (who was to be one of the midwives) was there waiting for us. She spent the night, ready for whatever might come!

She and Rey were soon fast asleep, while I spent the night watching one Andy Griffith episode after another (the only videos we had!). Again, the pain wasn't so much intense as it was constant and noticeable.

5 years ago, today. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

5 years ago today.... pt. 2

5 years ago today.... Rey and I woke up and waited around for the gynecologist's office to open. I was feeling a little ready to be embaressed: Surely it was just my anxiousness to get this birth on the road that made me think labor was eminent, I thought. I envisioned the gynecologist shaking her head knowingly, patting me on the back.

And, that's how it started. Her looking at me, disinterestedly pulling on her gloves with the attitude of, "Little Miss Thing thinks labor is starting, eh?"

But, her expression soon changed to shock. "You're 3 centimeters dilated! Why are you out walking around like nothing is going on? Do you want your baby to be born in the street??! Get to your bed, stay in it. Do not eat--only take in liquids and prepare to be parents by tonight!"

Rey and I stopped by the movie store--since I wasn't in pain, might as well enjoy our day in. We informed our 2 midwives of the news, but since I wasn't in any actual pain... we didn't have them come over.

And so the day went. No real pain, just odd twinges here and there. I was getting ravenously hungry by the end of the day--but felt guilty eating, remembering the gynecologist's instructions. By nightfall, I decided to eat whatever I wanted and went to bed, feeling out-of-sorts and full of questions,

Was I in labor or not??

5 years ago today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

5 years ago today.... pt.1

Thinking back... to five years ago today.

I was 9 months married, 38 weeks pregnant. We were living in Rey's hometown: Rio Bravo, Mexico. Rey was working in a factory, I was home alone most days. It was sweltering outside, all the time. We had one air conditioner in the bedroom that we'd purchased the month before.

As I lay in bed that night, I felt like "something" was going on. Like "twitches" or something. Not painful, just different. I wondered if it meant anything, but went to sleep anyway.

5 years ago today.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Running... and making goals...



If you didn't know me before I had kids--you might not know that I used to run. Kind of a lot. I really loved it. I also loved being a runner. The identity in it. I also loved pushing myself, setting big goals, and achieving them!

So, then I had two kids. Kind of close together. And, we lived for a while in a region where just taking off and running on my own wasn't really a thing I could do. And, kids changed my body (big surprise there!). My hips are wider, my back is weaker.... and I am generally just a lot more tired than "back in the day". Throw in the added fun of things like sickness, plans changing and general life-craziness... and it all added up to me being too frustrated to even get motivated about getting back in shape.

I would half-heartedly do aerobics classes, sighing about how far back I had slidden. I would get it in my head that I needed to start running--and then would nearly kill myself running for 40 minutes... and wouldn't try it again for several more months.

It was so hard to really just face up to this "new normal" (again!)... and be ok with it. I felt frustrated as I would run with legs seemingly made of concrete--when I could remember back to feeling as though I was running with the wind. I hated (mmm... not sure if this one should really be in past tense...) how much my tempo had slowed down. I usually ran around 8 1/2 minute miles... now I am puffing away at 10 minute miles. It makes me feel like a grandma! ;)

But! I heard a snippet a great interview geared towards encouraging people to get back into exercising... and the woman said we can never continue on in our "wellness plan" if we are constantly thinking back to where we were, or ahead to where we wish we were. We just have to take where we are, and make a plan for tomorrow. And tomorrow, we need to make a plan for the next day.

That was SO encouraging to me, because I was beating myself up so much about where I was that I couldn't devise a do-able plan for my "now".

At the beginning of the year... the dreaded "New Year's Resolution" lists began circulating. I tend to shy away from those... but, this year I thought: You know what. I am going to stop trying to make "big" resolutions... And I am going to make resolutions so do-able... That it would be a crime not to stick to them.

So, one of the items on my list did deal with fitness. I knew I would love to do at least one 4 mile race this summer. But, instead of focusing on that, I devised an easy-peasy plan to get there. I decided to start with running 5 minutes. I would not focus on how far or fast I ran. Just that I completed the time running.

Then, every 2 weeks I would add on 3 minutes. That way, I was gradually building up to a greater distance and not hurting my body in the process. It also helped in the beginning, not-very-motivated days to know I didn't have to go far to stick to the plan!

Another great thing with this plan is it has actually WORKED with the craziness of life with little ones, and with starting a new business. It is not so set in stone that if I miss a day (or 5) that it is the end of the world. And, the time increases in such small increments that if I only run one time some weeks, it is still helpful.

All that to say, this momma ran 3.2 miles this morning in 30 minutes! Woohoo! Only a few more weeks to get to my 4 mile mark... and then it will be time to put a race on the calender! :)

I am grateful for this lesson in not getting bogged down in making grandiose plans that really are set up to fail in this season of life I am in. It is helpful to know what the bigger goal is, and then to figure out small, manageable ways to inch my way towards that end!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

noonday

So, this will probably be a long post. Do you have your cup of coffee with you? Good!

If you have been anywhere in the radius of my Facebook page... you have noticed something new going on. And, that something new is Noonday Collection.


Noonday speaks for itself. It is beautiful. It is hand-made. It is connection. But, I realized I have never written here what Noonday is for me. Why I have chosen to become an ambassador for Noonday. How it is changing my life, little by little.



If you know my life, you know I have had first-hand contact with poverty, with hard stories. I know that--ultimately--being connected to God is the only thing that can truly change a life, a spirit.



But, I often wished I could do more for the physical side of things. The needs were so great, and how could I help? Better yet--how could I help in a positive way? I've seen the damage that can be done when well-meaning people swoop in a "rescue" poor(er) people. When money is thrown at problem, quick solutions are provided.



This, "Let me rescue you" approach is flawed on so many levels... It comes, usually, from hearts of love... But it often extenuates the problem and creates new problems instead of correcting or bettering it. Money can bring out the worst in people, quick solutions can make people lazy and self-seeking.



Ah, how I love Noonday's help! It lifts the artisans to their best: providing them dignity. Possibilities. A chance to dream. A chance to actually be doing well enough--that they can help others. They can pass on the help they have received.

Providing well-paying jobs can keep kids in school, it can keep babies with their mommas. It can break cycles of poverty by teaching children that hard work pays off. It rescues entire families from the horrors of every kind of slavery.



Ultimately, it was the stories that "sold" me on Noonday. Yes, the items are beyond beautiful... but, the faces and lives of the artisans stay with me when I close my eyes at night. They risk it all every day--hoping for a better tomorrow. They believe in Noonday, so I do too.







Not only am I loving being a part of Noonday vision... I also am having my eyes opened to things that I truly didn't know before. I am ashamed to confess how little I actually knew about the plight of countless thousands around the world. The information is there for the knowing, I just never was exposed to it.

I think we must choose to expose ourselves to this knowledge. Yes, it is painful. Yes, it will break your heart. Yes, it will haunt you. But, I can say that in these months--I can say that I believe I have actually begun to experience perhaps the smallest, most minute portion of the pain that must be on our Creator's heart as He looks out on all the evil and suffering in the world that He made good and perfect. How His heart must ache as He watches mankind use their beautiful hands to scar His creation. The agony of seeing the hearts that He molded turn hard against Him and their fellow man.



I have begun to understand the phrases in the Bible where it speaks of all creation moaning to be free of its corruption...or the longing for Jesus return. I'd never really understood when the Psalmist would write things like this:
"O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs—
O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!

Rise up, O Judge of the earth;
Render punishment to the proud. Lord, how long will the wicked,
How long will the wicked triumph?" (Ps. 94)

...Until I began to glimpse the evil being done day after day to innocent, helpless people.






We are called to love the poor, to show mercy, to love justice, to make peace. The least among you is the greatest. To show our love by our deeds.

Noonday is a drop in the bucket. It is a small step. But, it is something, and it is a step in the right direction.

At the end of the day, we can only be responsible for the decisions we ourselves made. How we did with the time and resources God gifted us with. If we passed on the countless blessings we have received from the fullness of His love?

----

If you are at all interested in knowing more about the plight of millions around the world... I would urge starting with these 2 movies (they also are both on Netflix).  
Half the Sky (it is actually a 3-video series)
58: The Film 
Warning: Not for viewing with small children nearby... and not for viewing if you don't want your life to be changed!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

noé's riddle

We were doing some evening bonding time with this deep and thought-provoking movie:


About 30 minutes into it, Noé turned to me and said, "Mom... do you remember yesterday when I played that race car game?" Now, for Noé.... "yesterday" can be literal yesterday--or 2 years ago. So, that makes the guessing game that much more challenging!

We've had a very full week with a lot of outings to friends' houses and different events... So, I began naming off the places we'd been: "Was it the amigos house? Was it Mrs. Joyce's house? Was it church...?" No, no, no.

I remembered we'd been at a friend's house several weeks ago that the older boy had been playing some video games there. I asked him if it was there?

"Noooo! There was soooo many people!" he explained, showing with his hands that he meant a lot of people.

Hmmm... are you sure it wasn't at that friend's house? There were a lot of people there. For the birthday party... you remember??

"Nooo. It wasn't there! There were numbers on the door. Remember??"

Noé loves reading the house numbers on every house we visit... so that didn't narrow it down too much.

Ok, so it was a place with loooooots of people and a car video game? Was it a store? Was it Chuckie Cheese? 

"Nooo! It wasn't a video game, it was a movie!"

Hmmm. Now, I really have no idea!

"Mom! Come on, remember! It was the place with lots and lots of doors with lots and lots of numbers and sooo many people!"

It sounded like an apartment building to me... but, as far as I could remember, I hadn't taken him to an apartment building.

We decided to go consult daddy. Daddy was just as stumped as I was. This was one hard riddle to crack.

"Mom! Remember... it was brown on the inside and we slept there and there was a movie and looooots of people."

Oh, wait! Do you mean when we went far away to a hotel and saw Uncle Jake and Aunt Hannah and Uncle Ben and Uncle George and they played in the pool with you??

"YES!!"

People.... that trip was last year. Over 6 months ago.... And, he was pulling all that information out of his memory banks because he couldn't remember the word "hotel". He wanted to tell me that just like the dogs in the movie, he had been to a hotel before.

Talk about the long way around the mountain! I love this kid. I wish I could see the rows and stacks of information stored away in his amazing brain! 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

growing pains...

The day has been absolutely filled... from start to finish... with God's calls--yet again--on my heart. Filling my heart with what can only be the tiniest glimpse into the pain that must fill his as he sees the suffering of his creations on this earth.

So many thoughts have run through my mind this day. So many tears have been shed. So much to be done. So few hours in the day. So many things to distract us from what is important.

But, for now. As my mind struggles to understand the enormity of it all... I cling to this verse:
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

And, to this simple application of this verse, that lofty word: "justice":

Understanding that "justice" means "to make right".

It is seeing things that aren't right... Realizing that if it wouldn't ever be right for me, wouldn't ever be right for my children, my family--then it isn't right for anyone else. And to ask God to be part of the righting of that wrong. To see the injustice, and to act out justice.

I sense God calling me to small obediences. Small against the extreme suffering and pain I see, but perhaps costly to my comfort and convenience. I resist the obeying, knowing that it will bring "disorder" into my schedule, upheaval to my routine...

But, I sense I can do nothing less than say "yes", and... "yes".

Thursday, February 28, 2013

What do you do when....

... the biggest snowfall of the year is forecasted and you are warned to be ready??

Well, Noah figured it out.

He had been happily playing in another room, when he came running to me with "that" twinkle in his eye: "Mom! Mom! We got to get the little blue pool in here and make a beach!"

Noah was busily telling me how we all needed to get our swimsuits on and he was grabbing "beach towels" out of the bathroom and stretching them out on the floor... "For when we want to lay in the sun and get warm..."

When I saw that making "pretend water" with balls wasn't going to fly... I thought: "You know. When will it ever again happen that we can make a beach inside while blizzard-like weather swirls around outside??"

So, I yet again won my title of "Craziest Mom of the Century" (and many eye-rolls from daddy-o) and we made a beach in the kitchen--complete with a space heater. :)

It.was.so.fun!   (Oh, and prepare yourself for a wee bit of indecency...) ;)







See?? :)