Monday, October 8, 2012

a reflection on two years

[This post was written in July 2012]

A little over two years ago, I was commuting from JoCo to KCMO everyday for work.  Through my job, I had the privilege of getting to know many wonderful Latino families on both sides of the state line.  I remember a conversation I had with one Latina mom that would end up becoming a turning point for me.  I asked her how long her family had lived in Kansas City.  She answered and asked me if I lived in KCK or KCMO...I hesitated before admitting that I lived in JoCo.  I could feel a wall begin to form between us.  Despite my Mexican heritage and years of studying Spanish, I could not relate to her.  We lived in different worlds.

Around the same time,  I began volunteering at LIT (Leaders in Training, Mission Adelante's after-school program).  It didn't take long for my heart to grow fond of the children and community.  On February 15th, 2010, I wrote:
I am a passionate person. If I commit to doing something, I will do it whole-heartedly. I will give every ounce of energy I have to do the best that I can do with the given situation.
I have recently committed to spending 2.5 hours a week with a great group of kids. Just 2.5 hours. During these 2.5 hours, I try to make myself completely available. But when the time is up, I struggle to walk out the door and leave the neighborhood behind. 
These kids have my heart and they don't even know it.
Within days of writing this, I had coffee with Megan, the director of children's ministry at Mission Adelante, and I shared my heart and some tears with her.  She told me about a great place to live and promised she would try to find me a roommate.  A few months later, I had moved to KCK with Molly, my new roommate and friend!

Today--just two years later--I live, work, go to church, and volunteer all within a one mile radius.  This community is no longer a volunteer opportunity or work assignment.  It is my home.  These are my people.  I may still lead a very different life from that Latina mom, but now I'm just down the street. :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

“We see in the homies what they don’t see in themselves, until they do.”

This quote by Mark Torres, S.J., could sum up the book Tattoos on the Heart. I believe that God has blessed me with a similar opportunity to be involved in the lives of youth who are full of creativity and potential and insight. They usually dismiss my compliments, but I hope that they are allowing truth to take root in their hearts, the truth of who God has created them to be and how He looks upon them with so much affection.

Although I don’t agree with all the theology of the book, I would definitely recommend Tattoos on the Heart. The stories are a testament to the transformative power of God’s love. I laughed and cried through each chapter, and I am challenged by the longevity Gregory Boyle’s commitment to the people of East L.A.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Jesus was not a man for others. He was one with others. There is a world of difference in that. Jesus didn’t seek the rights of lepers. He touched the leper even before he got around to curing him. He didn’t champion the cause of the outcast. He was the outcast. He didn’t fight for improved conditions for the prisoner. He simply said, 'I was in prison.'"

Gregory Boyle (p. 72, Tattoos on the Heart)
"Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it."

Gregory Boyle (p. 67, Tattoos on the Heart)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

panza llena, corazón contento

Several years ago, I spent a summer in Mexico living with my aunt and uncle. I was trying to master the Spanish language and to get to know my Mexican family better. After every meal, my Tío Toño would always say, "Panza llena; corazón contento." This roughly translates to: "full stomach, happy heart." Tonight I realized that it isn't just the eating that makes his heart happy; it's the act of bringing la familia (more than just relatives) together and conviviendo (sharing life).

Tonight, Mission Adelante launched three different house churches. My group had the privilege of meeting in the home of one of the Latina moms who is relatively new in her faith. Her 11 year old son has a sweet and joyful heart and is one of my favorite kids to hang out with at LIT (Leaders in Training, Mission Adelante's after-school program).

This evening, for the first time since that summer I spent with my tío, I tasted the sweetness of what sharing life could look like in my neighborhood, in my life. My senses were awakened; the room was full of laughter, spices, color, and warmth. Everyone who came had a chance to speak and contribute; everyone brought something to the table (literally). We worshipped together and dug into the Word together. I felt alive again. We were doing church, being the church, and it had nothing to do with a program or a building.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sometimes I get frustrated with my life, feeling like I've settled for an existence that is rather boring. I struggle to get out of bed in the morning to go do work that should be meaningful. I delay going to sleep at night because it feels like I can momentarily forget the inevitability of repeating the cycle again in the morning.

I admit that I do crave excitement which is harder and harder to find in this culture of overstimulation. But somewhere deep inside me, there is a longing for the simple, the most basic elements of life. I want to be satisfied with less. To find more value in the relational (Jesus & others) and less in the material (everything else).

How can I return to that simple life?

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

Philippians 4:12, 13

Friday, June 17, 2011

small victories

Little Sis proudly holding up her "Future E.R. Nurse" award after completing Nurse Academy

M & G holding up the library's summer reading program books & bags

These last six months have been draining and disappointing. I had to let go of my expectations and place everything--and everyone--in God's hands. I so badly want to be following God's will for my life but in my own way. I have been so focused on seeing big results that I almost missed the small victories that are evidence of God's great story and plan at work.

So let me pause to celebrate a couple moments that remind me of how good God has been and how far we have all come.

I may been disappointed that my Little Sis did not work as hard as I worked in high school, but I am so grateful that she had the opportunity to be one of only 45 students accepted at KUMed's Nurse Academy. Furthermore, she was one of the only high school students present as well as one of the only Latina students!

It is possible that M & G did not pass sixth grade (still waiting to find out), but they did get excited about reading and about getting their own library cards!

I am so proud of these girls and blessed to be allowed to be a part of their lives.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


When I was a child, I remember asking my mom why I kept walking around the kitchen aimlessly—I wasn’t hungry or thirsty, yet I kept opening and closing the refrigerator and the pantry. My mom told me that it was a spiritual hunger and thirst; my soul was longing for nourishment.

Tonight, probabably 15 years later, I remember my mom’s words.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"There is one mission, and it's God's mission. God's mission is God's glory. He has chosen to reveal his glory through the church. Everyone who is a part of God's church is called to spread God's glory. Our mission is the same as God's: his glory in the earth. The question is not 'Are you called?' but 'Where are you called?'"

--Floyd McClung, You See Bones, I See An Army

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

--Galatians 6:9

Monday, March 7, 2011

delighted to share my life

"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."

--1 Thessalonians 2:8

M, G, and I posing in front of the fashion show sign on Friday

Little Sis and me being silly and indulging in gelato & coffee, respectively

Spending time with these girls is so much more than a commitment, a program, or even an activity. It's sharing my life with them: taking them to watch my brother model in a fashion show, showing her where I worked my first job, buying Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos every time I go to Price Chopper, looking up college scholarships in my free time...

It's time-consuming, unstructured, and messy. It's learning to put them before myself while remembering that they are still kids. It's taking comfort in the fact that I can only do so much because God can do so much more.

Thank You, Jesus, for the sweet privilege that it is to have a role in these girls' lives. May I not take this responsibility lightly.

Monday, February 21, 2011

“Yet if we are to preach that God is not only involved in the big matters of salvation, redemption and justice, but is also in the routine circumstances of daily life, then we need to show an interest in the ordinary events of people’s lives. People will watch what we do before they listen to what we say.

-Adam S. McHugh

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What a weekend so full of love. Heart-shaped cookies, homework parties, girl time, Bible games about Love, snow melting, carne asada, hablando con mi primo en messenger, feeling more Mexicana than ever.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Today was hard. Working on a Sunday is not something that I would like to continue doing on a regular basis. The office was quiet and lonely and I felt the weight of my families’ burdens. So many people who are hurting!

I do not pray for them nearly enough. It seems so overwhelming to mention each one by name and too impersonal to pray for them as a group. So pray with me for a few of them?

Lord, please be with L as she and her daughter seek refuge from the violence in their own home. I also lift up L2 who seems beyond saving, but nothing is beyond Your reach, O Lord. Please lift up V’s head while she’s going through the most difficult month in her life.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

“When, because of your faith, your life too becomes perceptibly different; when your reactions are quite opposite to what the situation seems to call for and your activities can no longer be explained in terms of your personality; that is when your neighborhood will sit up and take notice. In the eyes of the world, it is not our relationship with Jesus Christ that counts; it is our resemblance to Him!

—Ray Steadman, The Queen and I
(quoted by Beth Moore in my Esther study)