The ONLY first day of school

Can I get an amen!? No, I’m not being over dramatic (please refer to “Bye, Felicia” & “My 3rd first day of school” blog posts from last year). Seriously, read them to appreciate my happiness and deep relief!

It’s going to be a long one. Grab whatever it is you need to settle in.

Months and months ago at the Bible Study we have in town for missionary women we were all talking about the kids, school, how we were all stressed out about HOW we were going to do it all….my sweet friend, Rachael, decided we should get a missionary kids teacher. WHAT A GREAT (crazy, never going to happen) IDEA!

Fast forward a few months, one long, meeting where everyone was talking all at once, reference letters, requests for finger prints, 1 million side conversations and a very shell shocked, dear woman whose family was about to pack up and move to Mexico, later and BAM! We have a missionary teacher!!

She. Is. Amazing. She has homeschooled her three kids (two grown and a 16 year old) from the get go. Experience. Check. I’ve met two of the three kids and love, love, love them. Functional adult children. Check. Now, (the second week into school) I’ve seen this woman wrangle 8 kids from 4 years old to a Junior in high school, at one time, across multiple subjects and (at times) the same subjects like a pro. She is calm, patient, quiet…someone the very opposite of me. Check. It all equals perfection, really.

My kids love her and her family. They come home and WANT to do the homework she assigns them. What is this witchcraft?? They love her. I love her. Every missionary parent in this group loves her!

You guys, prayer works! The start of this school year has been so drastically BETTER than last that I’m counting it as a win! (Even with the looming days that promise bad attitudes and all the other normal stuff!) And every mom said, “Amen.”

Thank you so much for praying for us and for the boys!


I have a confession…

We have been in Mexico for one year, one month and 13 days. Today, my heart hurts. I finally let it hurt.

When we moved from the US to Mexico, we left a lot. Kids, parents, ministry…everything. For the last year, I've been (in my heart) preoccupied with leaving my older kids. You guys, that's hard. Yes, they are adults. But, I'm not there. I wasn't there when my son totaled his car. I wasn't there when the grand girls needed a sitter. I wasn't there when one our older kiddos just needed an ear (up until recently, I would have been the last person who would have been a ear). I missed it.

I chose to not be there. I chose to leave. And today, that's heart wrenching. Today, I see pictures of our first ministry family on Facebook going to the beach…and I'm sad. I'm sad I'm not there. I'm sad I missed it. I'm sad.

The choice was not easy. Maybe I made it look easy b/c that's who I am. A strong front, normally. But it wasn't easy. It isn't easy. I miss: my son, my daughters Life gave me, my grand girlies, my mom, my friends, the home we all lived in, our ministry in Visalia. I miss it. I miss them. All of them. All of it.

Finally, I let it hurt. It's not a convenient time: one of our only days off, no kids in the house, BBQ going & I have tears in my eyes. Thinking about what I left. Every face, experience, birthday, milestone…everything.

So, this is the ugly. Every picture of the beach cannot make this hurt less. Every good thing that happens here doesn't erase the loss. The mission field isn't all smiling faces and beautiful sunsets. Sometimes, today, it's memories, time that's been missed and tears.

It’s been a year…

June 10th, 2016 was our 16th wedding anniversary. It was also the day the packed up what we hadn’t gotten rid of, our two youngest children and headed to the mission field.

We left a lot behind. The only home we had lived in as a married couple, the one all of our kids were raised and being raised in, our parents, our three oldest kids, our two small granddaughters, almost every friend we had…the list of loss is long. We didn’t really feel it at the time.

In the moment it was pure adrenaline. The excitement of our dreams coming true combined with having friends and family with us, helping us move was fun! Two days after settling into our apartment, our family and friends left and then the mission teams came and we were so busy there wasn’t time to think about anything other than what was happening on a given day and who was in charge of making sure our kids were fed, alive and still on the property. Busy was an understatement.

We all survived summer, mostly. Little did we know God was about to shake us up to the very core. Shortly after summer the hard reality of leaving it all behind, living in a place that’s not our home, having new jobs and roles and a slew of other things (including the kids melting down because reality was hitting them too) and it was ugly. It came out in different ways for all of us. Crying, silence, withdrawal, rebellion, anger…almost in every way you can imagine it came pouring out of at least one of us – usually all of us in different ways all at the same time.

I’m sure our friends here, the ones I wasn’t crying to for hours a day (you know who you are!) saw it too. The struggle was clear: our family was breaking down from the inside out. Our marriage was a wreck, we were struggling in our new roles, the kids just wanted to go home and it was a mess.

But. But God. But God has a way. A way of working after all you guards are down, all your dreams are in a pile of tears and you feel lost. He just knows exactly what’s needed and it always seems that we take the hardest route to get to it. He stepped in when we sat down in defeat and saved. Saved our dreams, saved our marriage, saved our family.

A year later we have finally hit our stride. I am doing what I love, what I’m good at, being stretched to do the things that God wants me to do & loving Him more than I ever have. I can’t speak for the rest of my family but what I see is good. Jeremy is leading & loving us like never before, Jace is growing into his new life with new ideas and dreams and Ryan is stepping into the leadership qualities God has given him. It is good.

God is good. Life is good. Mexico is good. We have all made friendships that are growing stronger every day. We are closer as a family than we have ever been and most importantly, loving and learning more about God than we ever have! If you have prayed for us, thank you. If you haven’t, please start! There are still lots of things pending: I’m teaching a Women’s Bible Study at our church, we aren’t sure what the boys will do for school in the fall, Jeremy is feeling a tug in ministry and our general health & safety is always on our prayer list!

If you don’t receive our updates and would like to, let us know!

From Fire to Gold {Job 23:10}

This is by far the most personal blog post I have written. I have had so much to say for so long but the thoughts were jumbled, the words were a mess and every time I started to type I became blank. Now that I’ve saturated the thoughts in the Word and processed the words first with the Lord, my fingers are free to type…so type I will. 

The last three months have been hard. And humbling. I’ve literally cried until tears wouldn’t come and wept until the sobs turned silent. Yes, things happened that cause the pain, but ultimately it was the God peeling off layers of me that I didn’t know existed. Parts of myself I had embraced so tightly that they melted into who I was and disappeared into “me”, making up who I had become. 

Outwardly, this was fine. I could have lived my whole life as I was, but God. BUT GOD. In all of His mercy wouldn’t leave it at that. Instead, He used a life changing, fiercely private pain to reveal, drastically change and restore almost everything. Literally. That pain I have let go into His loving hands…it’s not to share. It’s not the focus. The focus is so much bigger!

In the midst of great turmoil, I was listening to a podcast (of a pastor & friend) and he told a story of a man who was an unbeliever who asked a believer to show Him Gods mercy in the story of Job, the man in the Bible who basically lost everything (sons, daughters, livelihood) in one day. The believer answered, “God could have left him just as he was.” Uh, ya. That would have been a lot less painful, but it would not have been more beneficial. (Read it for yourself, interpret it however the Spirit moves your heart – this is how God moved in my heart.) 

He could have left me just as I was too. But He didn’t. He broke me. Every single part of me. Even the parts I deemed unbreakable. All of it in a heap of a mess. I looked at myself and I looked all around me and all I saw was devastation. So I ran. I ran (with the help of a great woman of God & hours and hours of wise counsel) right into my Father’s arms. I could have turned and ran toward myself and what I wanted and thought was “right”, but I didn’t. I chose Him, His ways and His plan. 

I let go of me, my plans, my (hard fought for) defense mechanisms and my fear of love. I chose to embrace Him & His plans (no matter how painful). Job 23:10…He knows. He knew. He knew what it would take to change everything. And as hard as it has been, it has been the best thing for me. Jeremy said it perfectly the other day in a conversation (with the above mentions woman of God and her husband the podcast pastor) when he said, “You know, I could look at 2016 and curse it but when I stop & think about it, I will probably look back on this year and say it was the best year we have had spiritually. It changed everything.” He’s right. It was hard, it was painful but it was beneficial and I am coming out as gold.

We have so many plans as a couple and a family for this year! Pray for us: strength for our marriage, guidance in ministry and the leading of the Holy Spirit in every area.

My 3rd “First Day” of School

You guys. I’m serious. In less than a month I’ve had 3 “first days of school”. THREE. Let me break it down: first day of homeschool, first day of Ryan in local Mexican school and now, the boys’ first day of bilingual school. THREE FIRST DAYS. 


As you can tell from the picture, homeschool was a bust. It’s just not a good fit here. For the kids, for me…it just wasn’t the best thing. Then Ryan went to the local Mexican school. This was basically just language emersion and he understood nothing – there was a kid who did all of his homework for him before he came home. And we still had to do reading instruction and math after school. It was draining and while he was picking up Spanish he was picking up some not so stellar things too. And that has led us to our 3rd first day of school in as many weeks.

After Ryan went to school, Jace became very secluded. He builds relationships through communication (Ryan through play) and he was spending a lot of time alone and at home because he is unable to express himself in Spanish. He came to me one day and shared how he felt and we started to pray. I asked a few of my friends here what options are available. (The most popular bilingual school is like $350/month per child…ain’t no body got money for that!) One of my friends suggested a bilingual school that her sisters kids go to. It’s 25 minutes one way, 8a to 2p and is taught in English and Spanish with a bilingual staff. After visiting and taking Jace we decided to go for it!

During the discussion of how we would make this work for Jace (how we would pay the $100/month and gas for back and forth)…some of Ryans insecurities surfaced. For his privacy I’m not going to share but I will say, I know without a doubt that we couldn’t send Jace to the bilingual school and leave Ryan in Mexican public school. Hence…our third “first day” of school.

The bilingual Mexican school is a great fit for our family. Almost everyone speaks English so it allows Jeremy to be fully involved. The boys are being taught to read and write in Spanish in addition to communicating. They have made friends! (This has been a huge issue for Jace. And a source of heartbreak, quite frankly, for me.) There are only 8 kids in Jace’s class and 10 in Ryan’s. So that’s GREAT!

The not so great (if I can just be real): the homework I don’t understand and they can’t explain, the fits that are thrown because they are not used to being in school all day and  coming home to do homework, the 40 minutes twice a day of driving and the mental stress of hoping we are doing the right thing. Are you thinking that you wish you could help in some way? YOU CAN!!!

📌 It’s $200/month plus gas for the boys. We have raised $80/month toward this. We still need help with the rest of the monthly fee: $120. Can you comitt to help  educate the boys monthly?

📌 Pray for us. During the day as the boys are in school, while we are making the drive to and from the school and around 5p when they are doing homework.

📌 Pray for me: as I wrote this I have two boys with homework who are crying and having total meltdowns and I want to cry too.

On a side note my new phrase of the week is, ” Animo!” It menas “cheer up!”. God help me. 

Bye Felicia.

At first I thought I would be saying this today, but it turns out I’m on the receiving end of this phrase. Let me go back to explain…

Before homeschool started this year Jeremy and I talked {at great length} about our options for school now that we are in Mexico. We talked about the bilingual school in Rosarito (too expensive), continuing homeschool and the boys going to a public Mexican school. Jace was happy to go with the flow and continue homeschooling. Ryan begged to go to Mexican school. Looking back I’m not actually sure why we just went ahead with homeschooling- I faintly remember phrases like “keeping them together” and “learning more Spanish first” being part of the conversation. 

Fast forward to two days ago. The first day of school for everyone in our parts. (Home) School itself was great, Ryan was rough. Day #2: Jeremy witnesses the full assault of a homeschool day gone bad in every way. Bad on my part for reacting like a wild person & bad on Ryan’s part for being less than outstanding {confrontational, mouthy and flat out rude}! Jeremy, bless his heart, was like, “I don’t know how you do this. Maybe Mexican school would be better.” I’m instantly reminded of the conversations we had before starting school. Ryan’s response, “Yes! This is what I want!!”

We went to the Bodega, sized him for a uniform and called to meet with the school Director. This morning, Jeremy, Panchita (the Open Arms Psychologist – who deals with the schools daily) and I went to the school with Ryan (in full Mexican school uniform). The smile on his face was beaming! His eyes were saying, “Bye, Felicia!” {I might or might not have sent a few memes to very close, non-judgmental friends with this exact phrase!}

Within 10 minutes, Ryan was in his class, sitting front row and smiling from ear to ear! It was surreal: there was no long list of forms to be completed, no waivers to be signed and it was basically the opposite of every school in the U.S. For example, we needed to get him a desk. Yes, a desk. A school desk, for him to sit in…because they didn’t have one. And the fact that, you know, they only speak Spanish. (Although his teacher speaks a little English and one other boy in his class speaks a lot!) He goes to school Monday through Friday (if the teacher shows up and it’s not raining…yes, seriously!) from 8am to Noon. He will ride the bus from school to the daycare in the mornings and afternoons. The school is 5 minutes from the daycare, all the friends he has at the daycare go to this school  and that’s good – for me! 

At home, we will continue reading and math instruction. Jace will have full homeschool for now. Although he did come up to the office to tell me he is considering attending the Mexivan school too. Lord, help me! 

Jace’s face says it all (he was upset all morning that Ryan left for school!

As I write this, Ryan has finished his “Mexican homework”, told anyone who will listen that he’s going to the Mexican school and asked to wear his uniform everywhere (dinner, the store, back to the daycare…every.where.) Can I be honest? I do not know if this is THE best thing for him, I don’t know if it will cause problems for him mentally or physically and I don’t know if it’s forever. I do know that I wish I had been as brave as he is for my whole life. I know that not all kids get this experience. I know that God made him {every part of him} and He has a plan for His life. 

Panchita and Ryan (ABOVE) after his first day:)

With that said, I pray every day I don’t mess it up. Can you pray with me?

Greetings From Baja!!!

We are spending a month in Mexico! We have been here since March 17th and plan to leave back to Visalia on the 20th of April. So far it has been an adventure:

– Jeremy went to Camalu (prepping for the dedication of the second campus on April 2nd)! They are working early mornings and late nights (like painting by cell phone lights late nights!) The boys and I have been praying like crazy for him, the other workers and the event! We miss him and will be joining him tomorrow!


– I made my first “states run” (going to the US to run errands). It sounded much simpler than it turned out to be! De (Heidi’s mom) assures me that one day I will be able to do it without phoning or texting every half hour with questions! Oh, and I left he boys at the daycare while I went and with Jeremy not being anywhere close it was their first time spending the day without one of us here! They lived!! Woohoo!!


– My mom and Garrett visited for a week so we tried to do some fun things, like the beach and Garretts 18th birthday celebration. It was one of many birthdays he has spent in Mexico but harder for me now that he’s an “adult”. They left by train (I managed to get them there 6 whole minutes before the train left!)


– We had our first holiday in Mexico… Easter! We cooked a full Easter meal with one 9×12 baking dish and a toaster oven! And we had guests…Nemi & Mary (the American Missionary Interns) joined us! 

– Tomorrow the boys and I venture 3 hours south to join Jeremy and the rest of the Open Arms team at our second campus in Camalu. We dedicate the facility Saturday with the OA staff and family, community, guests and future OA kiddos! This is a huge testament to God working in His people to provide, build and serve here in Mexico!

– Our days have a rhythm we have drifted into. It’s definitely a different kind of life. Simple & lovely despite the hardships and poverty. One of the moms tried to take her life last week with her children at home. I got the job of picking them up to bring them to that care while she recovered physically and mentally. Their resilience astonishes me. They smile, laugh and go on. One of the girls told me she prayed with her mom and told her God will help her. I almost asked if she would pray for me: her faith was a light! 
– One of the boys in the daycare is harassing my boys. They have been turning the other cheek and trying to be sensitive to him acting out, but they are almost fed up. Pray for the little boy: his home life is so bad it shows through his relationships and aggression. Pray for my boys that Gods love would be bigger than their natural reactions.
– We have done everything from construction, office work, working with groups and taking trash to the dump to cleaning the dorms, painting and electrical work! And sometimes we hold sweet little babies!!!

Thank you for your prayers! With God they get us through the trying moments and days. 
Our Hope Is In Him!