On Longfoot Sandwiches and Love

“They look sad. We should give them something.”

My daughter voiced the exact words that were going through my head in that moment. We were sitting in a long line of cars waiting to turn left, having just left our favorite coffee shop.

The lady was standing near the curb, shoulders hunched dejectedly, head hanging low. The man stood a few feet away, looking lost in the middle of an empty lot. They both wore dirty, worn out clothes and it was obvious they had not had a shower or slept in a bed in a long time.

They looked haunted. Defeated. And terribly, terribly sad.

Make America Love Again heart sticker on post

They weren’t panhandling. They weren’t holding signs or looking for handouts.

They were just there, standing in the middle of an abandoned lot near a Subway.

And as Cara put voice to my thoughts, I suspected that God was speaking to my daughter in that moment.

I turned left and drove through the parking lot to where they were sitting on the curb in front of an abandoned strip mall. I asked if I could buy them sandwiches from Subway.

After a minute of silence, without making eye contact, the lady said quietly “I like the Italian. He likes the Turkey.” I asked if they’d like me to go and get the sandwiches and bring them to them or if they wanted to come in with me.

The man said he’d come in.

We parked the car behind Subway and as we got out, the man walked up slowly. With tears in his eyes he said “Thank you. This is the nicest thing someone has done for us in a long, long time. Most people don’t notice us.”

I told him my daughter noticed him and said we should stop. He looked at her straight in the eye, stuck out his hand and said, “Hi. I’m Danny.”

And this is when I knew, without a doubt, that God was speaking.

My daughter, who never shakes anyone’s hand and never talks to people she doesn’t know, shook his hand and smiled shyly up at him.

As we were waiting in line, I asked him how long he’d lived in the Springs and where he was from. When he mentioned he was homeless, I told him about the new facilities at Springs Rescue Mission and that our church had helped fund it. I invited him to come to Pulpit Rock.

While Danny politely ordered two sandwiches, Cara had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on her face. She held the heavy bag as he filled two cups at the soda machine.

I had never seen God as clearly as I did in that moment in my daughter’s shining eyes.

Me and Cara smiling

The post-Danny-and-Linda smiles we’re still wearing later on our bike ride/run.

In the car after we said goodbye and left, we said a short prayer for Danny and Linda and asked God to take care of them. When I finished praying, Cara said excitedly, “Mom! When we bought those longfoot sandwiches, we just did the Most Important Thing!”

Every night when I’m putting the kids to bed, I ask them “What’s the most important thing?”

They say “To love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and to love other people.”

I’ve often wondered if they’re just repeating the words or if it’s sinking in.

Now I know.

Valentine’s Day

Facebook has officially made Valentines Day my least favorite day of the year.

Before I was married, I always assumed I disliked the day because I was single. I assumed when I was no longer single, I’d like it.

I was so, so wrong.

As a married woman, it now is a day full of unmet, impossibly high expectations (on my part) and inevitable feelings of failure (on his part).

If it was a struggle that stayed just between us, I could handle it. Chris and I regularly have the conversation about unrealistic expectations and unattainable standards. It’s a common theme in our marriage. I’ve accepted that it’s part of the Giovagnoni Marriage Deal.

bombBut take this conversation and put it into the context of Facebrag and it blows it up into an emotional atomic bomb.

We had the worst Valentines Day “date” last night. If I were to describe it, you’d laugh because it is so preposterously opposite of everything Valentines Day is “supposed to” represent.

I’m not telling you this to evoke your pity or to throw my husband under the bus.

I am fully to blame for the Disaster Date from Hell.
He was just a victim.

We’ll work through it. We’ll come out stronger on the other side.

That’s how God-centered marriage works … He takes our shit storms and makes them into something beautiful.

But it takes time. And forgiveness and grace and a lot of hard work.

And this morning,  as we are trying to start the healing and recovery process, my Facebook newsfeed is doing what it does best – being a constant source of posts highlighting all the ways we are broken.

The flowers.
The thoughtful gifts.
The family dinners.
The cards.
The surprises.
The updated profile photos, framed in hearts.

Stop looking at Facebook. That seems like it would be a healthy way of dealing with this, right?

But the reality is, Facebook has woven itself into my life in a way that’s difficult to undo. My mother-in-law, who lives in Virginia, keeps up with us and our kids through my posts. If it weren’t for Facebook, she’d know very little about our day-to-day lives. Because of her phone plan, my sister uses Facebook messenger instead of text. My job involves regular posting and sharing Facebook content. I’d have to quit my job in order to delete my Facebook account.

And maybe someday I will make these changes. But not today.

Today I go on using Facebook, trying to fight the lie that we’re broken beyond repair. Fighting the lie that something is wrong with us. Posting our crap for the world to see.

I suspect that underneath the unending flow of flowers and hearts and mushy posts hides a whole lot of pain and hurt and disappointment.

I guess we just wear ours on display.

Glennon Doyle Melton, I Forgive You

I was wondering what it was going to take to get me to post again. It seems like lately it takes something big to prompt a post.

Like my husband getting hit by a car.

Or, apparently, someone I don’t know very publicly divorcing her husband after 14 years.

divorce-separation-marriage-breakup-split-39483I read the news about Glennon on my way out the door to go the gym. The whole drive, I couldn’t think about anything else. All I knew was that I felt devastated. I spent most of the class trying to figure out why I was so distraught.

When I got home and was explaining it to my husband, I literally sobbed for 15 minutes.

You guys, I am torn up about this and I’ve never even met Glennon.

In fact, I haven’t even read much of her blog. Just a few posts. (Which I loved.) And I heard her interviewed on a podcast once.

But this is what I do know about her. She’s been very vocal about her marriage. She’s shared a lot of the mess, and also told the beautiful, unbelievable story of reconciliation. She’s fought – publicly and openly – for her marriage when it was in shambles.

She talked about the messiness of marriage in a way that I deeply connected with. She never shied away from the hard stuff. But she always did that in the context of why her marriage – and marriage in general – is worth the fight.

Or maybe that’s just what I took away from it.

Anyway, always until now.
(Well apparently this happened three months ago but I missed it, so for me, it’s happening now.)

She stopped fighting. And I feel utterly betrayed. She left us – those of us who are still fighting for our marriages.

She was like the leader of the Broken But Still Fighting. But now she’s abandoned us.

Glennon is writing about being in love and says she’s happy, but I am extremely sad.

I feel betrayed because she was such an outspoken fighter for her marriage. She was the person that I looked at and thought if she can experience all that mess and still be in the fight, then I can do it too.

My heart is broken for her children whose understanding of a marriage vow is now forever warped. My heart is broken for the thousands of women who read her blog, many of which are in the middle of a messy, painful marriages, and are now considering whether they should leave their husbands to find this “true love” Glennon claims to have found.

She has a very powerful platform. She has a huge influence. And she has a responsibility to her readers to point them to the Truth. Unfortunately she’s chosen to prioritize her own happiness over that awesome responsibility. And that makes me really, really sad.

chrismeI have written before about fighting for my own marriage. We’re only seven years in and sometimes I feel I’ve been in the fight a lot longer. And the longer I’m in it, the more I know that it’s something outrageously precious … something worth fighting for.

No one said marriage was going to be easy.

Or for that matter, that it would make you happy. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve cried more in the seven years I’ve been married than I did for my entire life before.

The thing about marriage, though – and I think maybe this is where Glennon went off the rails – is that it is NOT actually about our happiness at all. Happiness may be involved, but the truth is that the point of marriage is not to make us happy. It is – just like every other experience is life – to make us holier. (This is an idea suggested beautifully by Gary Chapman in his book Sacred Marriage: Celebrating Marriage as a Spiritual Discipline.)

As I was blubbering through my sense of betrayal to my husband, he asked if I could forgive her. When he first asked that, I blew it off. Why would I need to forgive someone I’ve never met? But later I realized that I feel betrayed by that someone I’ve never met. So maybe I do need to forgive her.

So here we go…


I’m so sorry for the pain you’ve experienced. I’m sorry for the hurt and the judgment that you’ve likely gotten from many. I’m sorry for a marriage that was so broken that you couldn’t see a way forward .

I was moved and inspired by your grit and your commitment and your faithfulness to your husband in the midst of the mess. I had never heard someone talk so candidly about the hard in marriage. Reading your blog made me feel like I wasn’t alone.

I feel abandoned and betrayed by you. I don’t understand your choice and your apparent change of heart, but I forgive you for it. I have to so that I can let go of my idea that we were in this fight together. I will continue fighting even though you’ve chosen to step out.

May you find the Peace that you seek.



The Anniversary Gift

Today I’m celebrating my seventh anniversary instead of planning a funeral. Chris survived an accident four days ago that should’ve killed him. I can still barely wrap my mind around it.

He wasn’t even planning to ride on Saturday. According to the cycle training plan that he’s following, it was supposed to be a rest day for him.

But I’m new to group riding and so I asked if he wanted to ride with me on the Lifetime Cycle Club ride. They were riding in Monument so he decided he’d ride the 16 miles to the start and then do the ride with me.


The exclamation mark.

He always rides with the Road ID app. It has a feature called eCrumb tracking, which texts a GPS tracker link to my phone each time he rides. It also includes a text alert after five minutes of no movement. On the drive up, I had checked the tracker to see where he was and saw that Chris was a couple miles away from the meeting spot.

I arrived at 7:50 AM. After setting up my bike and talking briefly with the ride leader, I checked my phone again and saw that Chris hadn’t moved. And a minute later, the stationary alert went off.

It’s been triggered before, usually when he ends his ride but forgets to turn it off. Or occasionally when he gets off his bike for any reason or stops for a bathroom break. So I didn’t give it much thought more than, “Weird … I wonder why he stopped when he’s so close.” I sent him a quick text to ask if he was okay.

A couple minutes later, another cyclist rolled up to the group and said “I just saw a guy who was hit on 105!”

And I knew. All of my wife-instinct told me it was Chris.

Here are how things happened…

  • Chris was going downhill at 30 mph.
  • An SUV, driving into the sun, turned left directly in front of him.
  • From what I understand from the police, he hit the right passenger fender around the headlight, then hit the windshield.
  • He landed about 25 feet away, unconscious. The passenger side view mirror was also no longer attached to the car.
  • As I pulled up, the paramedics were pulling away and told me to go to the hospital.

At the hospital I learned that Chris had actually woken up briefly at the scene and tried to comfort the driver. AND he told the paramedics to tell me I should go ahead and go on the ride.

As if he’d just get checked out and then ride home from the E.R.

You guys, he practically did.

He was discharged less than six hours after he was admitted.

No broken bones. No head injury.
Just a black eye, a few scrapes, some deep bruises, a gnarly laceration on his leg.

And a massive dose of perspective.

When a crisis like this happens, things get very clear. All the stuff you thought was important suddenly is unimportant and your world gets very, very small.

Here are a few things I feel:

Grateful I still have a husband and our kids still have a daddy.

Loved by an amazing community who immediately surrounded us with prayer and offers to help. (Even cheesecake delivery!)

Undeserving that we get to be those people who live through an experience like this.

Awestruck that we are dealing with physical therapy and not funeral arrangements.

Hopeful that this experience will lead to true, lasting change in our relationships with God, with each other, and with other people.


Flying is exhausting.

Throughout the whole day, as things unfolded, my reoccurring thought was that he shouldn’t be alive. Or at the very least, he shouldn’t be walking.

The State Trooper said over and over again Chris is very, very lucky. He told us about another man who had just been discharged. This man had an almost identical accident two weeks before. Only the outcome was very different. He was leaving the hospital after two weeks. He has a broken neck and back and extensive head injuries.

I don’t know why God spared Chris.

I’m not a charismatic person, but I have a vision of angels holding him as he was flying through the air. Guiding him around the trees, cushioning his landing, rotating him so he didn’t land on his head or neck.

He could’ve died on impact. He could’ve been paralyzed. He could’ve had a head injury.

But instead he has a black eye, 35 staples and a pair of crutches.


A broken carbon fork but no broken bones.

The road of What Could’ve Happened is a long and scary one. And there’s not much point in going down it.

But I can’t stop thinking about all the little things about this accident that affected the outcome.

  • Chris could have been going faster. He likes to descend. If he had been going faster, he would’ve been slightly ahead and been hit head on.
  • It happened so fast he didn’t have any time to react. If he had, he would’ve tensed up. Instead he was loose and floppy, like a rag doll.
  • The accident happened in between two fire stations. It was a shift change and a firefighter was driving from one station to the other and was driving past. She stopped so she was on the scene almost instantaneously.
  • His helmet shows where his head hit the windshield. Had he not been wearing it, he would’ve shattered his cheekbone. Or worse.
  • The driver’s insurance is with the same company ours is. This makes the insurance process much simpler.

I’m sure there are more bullet points that would be added to this list that I’ll not ever know. What I do know is that God wanted him alive.

“Is dad gonna die in a few days?”

My son whispered the question tentatively, sitting on the bed staring at the staples, trying to process the day in his four-year-old brain.

“No, baby.” I whispered back. “We still get to have him for a while. Let’s tell God thank you again.”

The Zombie Apocalypse Has Arrived

We were downtown tonight for dinner and afterwards decided to enjoy the beautiful summer evening with a stroll downtown. We left the restaurant and started walking …


Look closely at the people. Do you see what they’re doing? They are on their phones. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.

A block further down, we headed to the playground and I took another picture…

FullSizeRender 7

There were hordes of zombie-ish people all walking together in clumps, not talking, but staring at their phones. You guys, this was straight out of Hollywood.

(Side note: Two of the Pokemon Go zombies had big black guns strapped to their belts. Not even any attempt to conceal them. Just strapped there proudly for all to see. Standing a few feet away from the playground. Welcome to Colorado, folks, where the pot flows like wine and preppie looking suburban kids pack heat.)

It was surreal.

Speaking of surreal, I’m starting to dread my Facebook news feed.

This morning between services at church, I opened Facebook to post something on our church page and glancing at the news feed, saw that the top item was a breaking news report from Baton Rouge of a shooting. Not the one from the other day. Another one.


CNN can’t even keep the Breaking News story at the top of their page because more bad news keeps breaking.

THIS MADNESS NEEDS TO STOP. But it’s not stopping. It’s happening faster and faster. I feel like we’re stuck on a runaway train speeding toward the Grand Canyon.

When we got home tonight, my husband and I tried to talk about raising our two littles in this world. We quickly had to stop the conversation because it got too painful. We were both at a loss. We had so many questions and no answers.

How do we teach our kids about things like authentic community and soul care and loving other people when the world walks around ignoring each other to look at their phones?

How do we teach them to love and have compassion in the midst of a terror filled world? 

How do we protect them and yet allow them to experience the world little by little – at their level –  and guide them through this mess we’ve made for them?

This is a brain dump post, so I really don’t have a good way to wrap this up.

It’s almost midnight and I’m awake because I’m burdened by the state of the world and anxious about raising my kids in it and stressed about when and how to address the big things with them. Like racism. And gun control. And terrorism. And technology. And. And. And.

Praying is the Sunday school answer, but it feels really really ineffective right now. (Sorry, God, but since you’re God you already know my heart about this.)

All I can do is stop reading the news for a while and hug my kids tight and take a break from the world and breathe a few deep breaths and then go back out in it and model love and try my best to help them understand where God is in all this.

I first saw him at the library…


East Library. Here’s where it all began.

The first place I remember randomly running into him outside of our workplace was at the library. He was walking out with a stack of books and I recognized him as the new guy I’d met at work a few days prior. He was brand new to town and I was impressed that he was already at the public library.

We said hello and made some small talk, and I remember walking away from that conversation thinking two things …

  1. Okay. He’s attractive.
  2. He is a reader. So even more attractive.

And I made a mental note to pay a bit closer attention to him.


Let the fun begin!

Nearly eight years later, we’re married.

We had a long adjustment period to married life. We’ve struggled to meld our very different lives and interests while maintaining our individual identities. It’s a delicate balance.

We have vastly different backgrounds, experiences, personalities and dreams. On paper, our marriage shouldn’t work. I mean, here’s a him|me list…

Years of dating | Very little relationship experience
Only child | Oldest child
Contrarian | People pleaser
Analytical | Emotional
Deliberate | Spontaneous
Organized | Messy
Literal | Prone to exaggeration
East Coast | Rocky Mountains

The long list of differences are recipe for disaster.

But God seems to like to defy the odds. So here we are, seven years in.

This past December we embarked on a new adventure of sorts. A shared literary journey. Or maybe its more like a lifelong cocktail tour. Or a boozy book club. Or DIY marriage therapy. It’s kinda hard to describe, actually.

It all began with an unassuming little book we stumbled upon called Tequila Mockingbird.
As we thumbed through it, Chris said “What if we bought this and read through all the books? And made all the drinks?”

And so we did.

Over the next few days, we formed our plan…

We’d use this book as a guide. We’d read each book it lists. Then we’d each write something about the book. Then we’d make the corresponding drink. And we’d each write something about the drink. And we’d record it all in a shared blog.

So without further ado, I give you:

Through a Book and Glass

You guys, we have a blog. The Giovagnonis are blogging! If you’re interested – in literature, or liquor, or writing, or us – you’re invited to follow our blog. We’re using the blog as kind of a travel journal – a place to record where we’ve been and our experiences, but as it’s out there in the blogosphere, I thought I’d share it with you.

This will likely take us years. There are hundreds of books. And some are … not the quickest reads. [cough] War and Peace [cough] But since we have the rest of our lives, it’s not a problem.

Oh and there are a few rules:

  1. We have to finish each book. It might take a long time. But we finish it.
  2. We have to write something about the book. What this looks like is completely up to the writer. It can be a book review, a piece of creative writing, one sentence or phrase. It just has to be something.
  3. We cannot have the drink until we’ve finished the book.
  4. We cannot start the next book until we’ve completed the process for the last book.

That’s it. We’re three books in. And loving it. Tonight we make our third drink so new posts coming soon.

Alla prossima volta … ciao!

America … You’re Fired

Donald TrumpAfter reading the results of the Nevada caucus this morning, I’ve been trying all day to sort through my feelings about the whole thing. I’m not making much progress. I get too worked up about it every time I try.

I keep posting things about Trump on my Facebook account. And then two minutes later I delete them because I don’t want to be “that person” who posts political things, devoid of any context. I wish I could just not care and go on with my life without having to feel like I have to speak my mind.

I am a Christian. My one job is to love people. I should respect them even when they have a different opinion than me. And I’m trying hard to learn to accept people regardless of whether I agree with choices they make and the way they live their lives. But how do I respect someone’s “different choice” when I fear it would mean disaster for our country?

I have identified three people in my world who are voting for Trump. And I cannot – for the life of me – understand how anyone who loves Jesus Christ and all that he stood for, can want a leader like Trump. Nothing about the man resembles Jesus. Take an inventory of the character traits of Jesus and the character traits of Donald Trump … do they have anything in common?

I cannot wrap my brain around it.

Here’s a comment I left on a friend’s post today, which pretty much sums up my feelings:

I’m completely paralyzed with the dilemma of how to navigate this political mess. I’m distraught about the idea of Trump becoming president. I’m dumbstruck at how he continues to win. But I have NO idea what to do about it. I feel like I’m standing in front of a runaway train.

On the whole, I dislike Matt Walsh. I think he undermines his perfectly valid points (many of which I agree with) with his derisive, divisive and vitriolic way of expressing himself.

However, I think in this case, he got it right in addressing Trump supporters…

…you want a spectacle, not a solution. A celebrity, not a statesman. A circus performer, not a leader …  you’ve accepted authoritarianism as a stand-in for strength.

Every state that Trump wins puts us that much closer to what CNN is already saying is the inevitable outcome: President Trump.

It’s absurd.

He is the complete opposite of a servant leader. He wants to build walls, not relationships. He is erratic and reactive. As president he would have the power to start a world war. He would hold the keys to our nuclear arsenal. We would literally be giving him the power to kill people. As a friend recently put it, Trump is just a crazy person. It would be like giving a monkey an assault rifle.

The thought terrifies me.

If Cruz and Rubio don’t get together NOW and decide which one of them’s going to drop out, Trump will win the nomination. Someone (whoever the bigger man is, I submit) is going to have to sacrifice his presidential bid for the greater good. But I suspect their egos won’t let them.

In 2003 Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor of California with 20% of the vote. That means 80% of voters were against him, but because they couldn’t all get on the same page, he won.

That seems to be what is happening here.

Recently I’ve been reading a book about joy …  about changing my thought patterns. I’ve been trying to focus daily on being positive and thinking positive thoughts and not dwelling on the negative. This presidential race is challenging my resolve to focus on the positive because I’m having an extremely hard time finding the good in the thought of Donald Trump becoming our president.

Here’s where I take comfort…

There is a bigger story playing out. This is just a page in it.

I believe God is sovereign. He allows us to choose our leaders, and yet he is ultimately in control of who gets put in office.


He doesn’t always swoop in and protect us from ourselves. Like the Israelites who insisted on a king despite God’s advice not to, God sometimes allows us to choose something that isn’t necessarily in our best interest.

And that’s my take on Trump.

Wearing In the Shoes (Or a 2015 Wrap-up)

It’s the last day of the year, so it’s time for the yearly Giovagnoni family wrap up. (Doing it three years in a row makes it a “thing” right?)

First the notable events…

Cara started kindergarten.

And piano.

Tyce started gymnastics. (He’s in the green shirt, flipping over the bar.)

We took road trips to South Dakota and Breckenridge.

After years of dreaming about it (and lots of pinning things) I made a pallet headboard. Which lead to making a lot of other things out of pallets.

I tried out (and found I liked) road biking. So Chris and I had a little mountain adventure to celebrate six years together.

I started as a tour guide with Rocky Mountain Food Tours.

Chris and I traveled to El Salvador for his anniversary trip.

Then we spent Christmas in DC.

So that’s our year in a few neat sentences.

Now’s the part of the letter where I get real and share all the mess behind those pretty pictures. (Remember this? And this?) But guess what?

I am happy to tell you there’s no exposé this time!

I’m not gonna say our year has been easy. In fact, I’m not quite ready to even say it was “good.” But it feels like after six years, we have finally turned a corner. Something clicked this year. We weren’t aware of when it happened (or more likely it was a gradual thing) but looking back on this year, here’s what 2015 was about:

Less fighting. More laughing.
Less depression. More hugs.
Less anxiety. More trust.
Less anger. More joy.
Less chaos. More peace.

Marriage for us has been like a new pair of shoes that have been too stiff and very uncomfortable, but you can’t get rid of them because they’re the only shoes you have, so after several years of painful blisters they are finally starting to get worn in to the point where you can easily slip them on and they feel right … comfortable even. And you can even see a day coming where they’ll be your most favorite pair of shoes you’ve ever worn.

For the first time in a long time, I’m looking forward with hope to what the next year holds.

I cannot end this post without acknowledging the One who has sustained us through the storms. Without God as our anchor, we surely would have given up on us by now. He alone gets all the credit for where we’ve come and how we’ve grown.

To Him be the glory.

And So I Cry…


El Salvador, sometimes known as the “Ireland of Central America.” Also known for being so overrun with violent gangs you cannot go out showing tattoos, body piercings or wearing the numbers 13, 18 or the letter S.

The things I saw today will be seared in my memory for the rest of my life. It happened in a home in San Martin, El Salvador.

To get there, we drove through a narrow dirt alley, parking at the end of two long, tin walls. The entrance to the home was a door-sized opening in the tin a few yards down.

We stepped over the threshold into a dark room. It wasn’t the humidity or the heat that was oppressive, so much as the overwhelming intensity of the situation. Everything in me screamed DESPAIR.

As we entered, immediately to the right were two 55 gallon drums filled with water. All around them were small piles of clothes soaking in small tubs of water on the dirt floor.

A small cookstove stood against the back wall, the top piled with mismatched dented pots. A few plastic dishes balanced precariously next to the pots.

A table with a dirty vinyl tablecloth with a faint Spiderman print, worn almost beyond recognition, stood in the center of the room, a few plastic chairs scattered around it. Pieces of the chairs were broken or missing. A small stained mattress stood up along one wall.

As our eyes acclimated to the dark, we saw a small child in a rocking chair. His emaciated arms and legs stood in stark contrast to his distended belly, swollen large from malnutrition. He looked at us with hollow eyes. He was tiny, roughly the size of our three-year-old.

His mom, Ana Luz, quietly introduced him – Kennedy – and said today was his ninth birthday.

And with that, extreme poverty came and slapped me hard in the face.

She told us, through her tears, that he was born missing part of his brain, which explained his erratic arm movements.  Upon learning of his condition when we was born, his father disappeared, running away from the burden of caring for a severely disabled boy, and abandoning his four boys and their mother.

As she spoke, the tiny child started whimpering and making animal-like sounds in the chair. She gave him a bottle of milk, which he drank desperately, emptying it in less than a minute.

As a starving child does.

Shortly after, a young boy came through the door. He was dressed in a white button down shirt, partially untucked, dark blue dress pants, and black shoes, obviously a school uniform.

A slim boy, he carried himself as though he carried a heavy burden and had a look on his face far older than his 12 years.

Ana Luz introduced her fourth son, Diego, with obvious pride. She explained that he attends the Compassion project when he’s able to. (On the days when she can find work he has to stay home to care for his brother.) He plays on the soccer team and the thing he most enjoys at the project is reading the Bible.

Within a few minutes of being home, as his mother talked, Diego began to cry.  And then his crying turned into quiet sobbing.

As he cried, I started to cry.

I cried because there was nothing I could do. Nothing.
I cried from the utter helplessness I felt.
I cried from anger at a world so broken that it had put him in this horrific situation.
I cried from the enormous injustice of the moment.
I cried because I couldn’t take his burden, even just a small part of it, even just for a minute.

Why should such a small, not-yet-grown boy be asked to carry a burden so heavy it would crush most grown men?

A 12-year-old boy. Responsible for caring for his severely handicapped brother. Responsible for calming him when he is crying from hunger and there is nothing to eat. Living in literal darkness, surrounded by filth and oppression.

My heart was completely and utterly broken in those moments.

And five days later, I sit here wondering what in the world to do with all of this.

I feel the immense weight of the things I saw and heard and a burden of responsibility to do something because of it. I cannot go back. I cannot erase my memories or un-see what I saw.

The scene with Ana Luz and Kennedy and Diego replays over and over again in my mind.

So what do I do? What do I do? If I don’t change in some significant way, what is the point of an experience like that? What is God’s purpose in showing me something I can do nothing to change?

All I have is a bunch of questions without answers.

Also, one other thing. I don’t think I’m supposed to despise my own country, but it’s really, really hard to come home and not be repulsed at the affluence and ignorance of people in the US.

I mean, seriously. It’s embarrassing.

When we landed in Miami and I opened Facebook, my feed was filled – literally every post – with almost everyone I know getting all bent out of shape about some video from a dumb-ass the media has decided speaks for every Christian about a Starbucks design decision.

All the while a few hundred miles south a little 12 year old boy struggles to take care of his starving family.

So how about a little perspective, America?

And So I Pray On…

alone-279080_640After my dad died, following three straight months of desperate prayers pleading for his healing, I had a crisis of faith. I felt like I had run full speed into a brick wall.

Prayer seemed like a joke. Seriously. I was left with a bunch of questions and no real answers.

Five years later, I’m still just as lost. I’m still in crisis.

Why didn’t God heal him?
Why does God heal at random?
Why does God say “anything you pray in faith, you shall receive” and then not act like the vending machine he’s prescribed himself as?
Is God even real?
What is the point of prayer?
Does my attitude matter when I pray or is it just the “doing it” that’s important?

Chris and I are off to El Salvador tomorrow.

Everything about me – about my legalistic, rule-follower personality – says I “should” be praying about the trip. I should be asking God to prepare my heart for what he might do. I should pray for our safety. I should ask him to meet me there.

Blah, blah, blah.

So I’m praying. But the truth is, it still feels pointless. I’m only doing it because I’m supposed to. … because that’s what a Christian does.

If I pray simply because I’m “supposed to” does that take away from the prayer? Or affect God’s answer?

If prayer is a “conversation with God,” then mine is completely one-sided conversation. I’m a petulant, needy child, taking God’s love for me for granted, and continually asking things from him.

But then my Christian-trained brain interrupts me and says Beckyyou’re supposed to be like a child.

So I’m stuck. Either I pray because I’m supposed to. Or I don’t pray because it feels pointless. So I feel guilty.

And then there’s the another issue.

My kids.

How in the world do I teach them to believe in the power of prayer when I have a hard time believing it myself? They’re smart … they’ll see right through the flimsiness of my prayers. They’ll see that it’s all words and no substance.

And yet, despite all my questions and confusion, I go on praying. I go on saying empty words and hoping, somehow, that they mean something to God.

Because I don’t know what else to do.