Sunday, September 28, 2014

a woman and her pies.

A little over a month ago, a dear friend sent me a message on Facebook. She wrote: "Did you see what I wrote about the pies?" I thought maybe she had written me by accident, but I went to check it out. I found a post commenting on the amazing, mouth-watering pie she had baked for her daughter (I mean--doesn't just looking at this picture make you drool??). :)

As I went to comment that it looked very delicious, I saw this friend had typed: "Fresh peach pie to highest bidder next. Cash goes to Texas for Rey and Liz Sanchez and their little baby girl soon to be born. Peaches coming Aug. 21. Let the bidding begin. P.S. let's make it the top two bidders and you can bid until Aug. 20th. Let's have fun!."  Tears sprang to my eyes-- what??! How sweet was that? 

I thanked her, and then Rey and I just marveled together at this gesture of love and kindness. You see, that's all this friend (and her lovely family) have shown us. Back even before there was an "us", a "Rey and Liz Incorporated", she believed in us. She encouraged Rey to pursue me, and giggled with me over "Rey tidbits" at her kitchen table during our long-distance dating. She prayed for us and often served as a conduit of information for us. She would vouch for Rey's character when I was unsure... and pass along to Rey whatever giddiness I may have "happened" to share with her. She insisted we call her "Grandma" and invited us to many family functions; they even let Rey live with them on 2 separate occasions.

For our wedding that took place in the U.S... she and her husband stood in for Rey's parents, since they couldn't make it. I don't just mean they stood up at the wedding. Nope. She went with me to check out the wedding venue and give her perspective on it. They also found the perfect spot for our rehearsal dinner and footed the bill.

When we lived in Mexico, she didn't forget to send us birthday cards and holiday greetings. She even sent gifts for the kids. They often supported us when we were on the mission field. One Christmas, she actually told her family that she and her husband had all they needed, so to send whatever they would've spend on gifts to us! Who does that??

All these memories and more came flooding back to Rey and I as we shook our heads at how she--yet again--had thought of another way to bless us.

A month or so went by, and I had pretty much forgotten about the pie comment, since we had heard no further details. One day, an unexpected bill arrived in the mail. By this point, we were living off of what Rey could earn working part time at a car wash, and the bill was much larger than we could afford. I walked to the mail box the next day, hoping no more surprise bills were waiting and wondering what we should do about the one that had arrived. 

What I instead found was a note from a person who I didn't know... with a check for a little more than what the bill had been... stating they had ordered some delicious pies from our friend and this financial gift was because of those pies. The sender included some sweet words of encouragement as well. Can you say amazing??

I called our friend first thing the next morning, and we exclaimed together over this amazing event-- she said she called things like that "pennies from heaven" and was just as ecstatic over it as I was. I thought this check was from the "winner of the auction"--as detailed on the Facebook comment. But, then... our friend told us that news of her pies was spreading like wildfire and orders were pouring in.

I asked, "What??! I thought it was just the one pie! How many pies have you sent out so far?"

She counted them up. Twelve. "And, with each pie, I send an enveloped pre-addressed to you guys with a note saying they can send however much they like." We were dumbfounded. 12 pies? And, she had more orders coming in.

She made so many pies, she ran out of peaches and had to switch to apples. I think she made 23 pies total. And, more checks kept arriving in our mailbox. Most from people we'd never met. Many with sweet notes of encouragement. Each check caused me to envision those dear hands preparing the fruit, slicing it, rolling out the dough, watching to make sure the pie was baked to perfection. Bringing more tears to our eyes. A true, complete labor of love.

In the end, our friend's pies (along with their own generosity) brought us over $1300. Overwhelming. And, honestly. When we needed it most. The last check arrived September 8. Rey was hired September 19. How fun it was to share the joy with her!

There are many things about our friend that are note-worthy. That are imitable. In this particular instance, I loved that she didn't just see a need and try to fill it herself. She found a way to pull in her community around her to help us also--and I think that is extra special. God has placed amazing people in our lives like this one. I always try to absorb as much from them as I can, pass on what they have been to us to others. To learn how to truly give and love as they do. It is truly humbling. Our people are our biggest blessing.

Why do I share this woman with you all? I don't share her name because I know she didn't do it for fame. Those who know her already know all that I am writing... and more! I write it because each of us are daily confronted with needs around us. It can seem so hard to know what to do. Maybe we don't feel we have anything that could help.

Maybe we don't. But, maybe. Just maybe, we could bake a pie. Or... 23. And be just what it takes to get a family through a rough spot.


"Love you, grandma & grandpa!" 

**Several photos used with permission from Everyday Charming. She snapped these pictures of our friend-- because our "pie lady" happens to be her grandma! Check her out--she's super talented!**

Saturday, September 13, 2014

thoughts on birth

Been thinking lately about the obvious: birth! But, more specifically in the words Jesus said to Nicodemus: "You must be born again."

I think one of the things that shocked me the most about birth the first time around was how brutal it was. I don't mean the pain--I knew to expect that to be awful. But, I guess I imagined the moment the baby left my body would be one of exhilaration and an overwhelming sense of life... When, really... it felt like a shock, a severance, a loss, a lightening... The separation of the child's body from my own literally caused my body to jolt from the parting. I didn't imagine that.

So, I've been thinking about Jesus' use of the analogy of being born when talking about being a part of God's kingdom. I think in reading that passage before, I would think about it in reference to "new life"... but not the actual process of birth. I thought of other analogies Jesus could have chosen: "Think of it as joining a club" or "You must apply yourself, like at school, if you want to get good grades" or "There is a member's fee". But, no. He chose birth.

I think it is because... not only does entering God's kingdom mean you are entering  into a new life.... but also, entering God's kingdom--being born again--is often, to us, a brutal process.

When I truly am in God's kingdom, there will be times that it feels brutal. That I feel the shock of separation from my old way of thinking, a lightening from what used to matter to me, a severance from the things that used to control my decisions and my outlook.

Birth is a one-time thing... but living as one born-again is an on-going one. This is where physical and spiritual birth are different. As those born to God, we have the choice to return to how we were. To re-assume the old identities, to return to being owned by the earthly. Being born into God's kingdom is one-time... and it is also daily. A birth that requires dying... new life that bids farewell to the old. Kingdom-living gets its rhythm from the nudges of sanctification, truth and sacrifice.

I think about the process it takes for a woman to get to the point of birth-- the gradual building of anticipation, the aches the pains, the swelling... until, all that woman longs for is birth. I think it's the same for us... That getting to the place where we actually desire to be reborn, to be alive in God, to let go, is often a process. A gradual intensifying of need and desperation, until... finally... we can't do anything more than bow our knee to God and say: "I am ready. Have your way in me."

Birth is brutal. It is full of the unknown and of risk. But, it is also beautiful and unlike anything else on earth. It is life-changing, life-beginning, and life-renewing. Birth creates families, unites communities and inspires joy.  So let us choose to yield to that which God desires to birth in us, and release into His hands that which must not remain... true life comes only through this!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

weary and worn?

I clicked on this song to listen to this morning while getting ready for the morning... and soon found I could do nothing more than sit and weep as the words soaked in. So, so beautiful. At His feet, drinking from His portion-- it's where I long to be, it's all I need to sustain me. His peace envelops; He restores, pursues, loves! Leaning into Him... I think I will be replaying this song every day this week as I learn to lean on Him, surrender to Him, seek Him, more and more.

Friday, September 5, 2014


So! It was Friday! The last day of Noe's 2nd week of school. And, I was officially 35 weeks preggers and wasn't feeling too bad. AND, Rey had the day off work... So, I thought: "Let's pick Noe up from school a little early, and go over to Six Flags for the afternoon... maybe the last time I will be up for going there before baby girl comes!" 

So, we got all ready to go. I packed up the stuff we needed plus snacks... and we went over to surprise Noe. 

Ahem. The real surprise was when we got to Six Flags and read the sign stating that, starting in September, it would only be open on the weekends. Whaaatttt?????? Waaaahhhhh!!! So much for that idea! 

So, I might've gotten all sulky and annoyed. It was SUCH a fun plan! Wah, wah!! 

But, then I decided to just suck it up... take a photo log of my expansion... and get over it!! (By cooking an insane amount of food. Woohoo.) ;)

Thursday, September 4, 2014


 Noe saw about a month ago that the library would be hosting a Lego Day on this date... and he has been anxiously counting down the days until it came!!

With the way I've been forgetting things lately... I'm so glad we could make it to this! :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Let us not forget the glamorous parts about the 3rd trimester of pregnancy... living in south Texas... 


Chalk art by Aleni on our balcony.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Labor Day!
Nice to have a 3-day weekend after such a busy week full of firsts!

The kids are dying to have a pet, but we are not doing that in an apartment! So, we said they could each pick a Beta fish. We also stopped by the Dollar Tree to pick up the "fishees homes"... and there Noe found this 2-pack "gangster" necklaces (dice with a $ sign) and HAD to have it. (He is seriously into anything golden or silver these days, it's so funny). It was also so funny how appalled Rey was at the necklaces. ;)

Again--with Aleni's knee pop? I don't even know.

Noe decided it was a Yahtzee afternoon... and THIS crazy girl rolled a full house on her first and only round. 

Fun times...

They truly love their fish--especially Noe. He talks to his fish, tells him "goodbye" or "hope you're having a great day". It's cute. He picked out a red Beta... and named him... "Red". ;)

Aleni picked out a blue fish... and named it Deedee. But, has since changed the name to "Blue". ;)

 Letting Red watch him play the tablet:

We took chalks to the pool, and Aleni colored the different stones around the edge. It looked really beautiful; the colors don't show up that well here.

Fun with a neighbor friend: