I wanna hold your hand

When you want to fight 
When you refuse to get up from the bed
Hands clench blanket tight 
When your thoughts are jumbled
Run! Hit! Freeze!
When it’s too early
The dark of the morning scares away the future of promise
When "leave me alone"
Is what you think you want
When everyone else is asleep
It’s only you and I, me and you, with our bedroom lights on
When it’s too early to be hungry and 
You’re too hungry to move
When tangled insides scream NO!
Can’t do this any more

I wanna hold your hand
Squeeze it tight
Make little circles on the top of your palm
While you cry
While you breathe
In and out

I want to hold your hand but
Can't make it go away
Bring in the morning sun
Believe it can be done
Give you the strength to wake up
Take the covers off

I wanna hold your hand

So lay your head back down
Listen to the words I say
Tell me what you need
I’ll listen to the words you say

Do you wanna hold my hand?

Four years ago today, I walked up to my new room at Casa Hogar Douglas. It smelled of fresh green paint. On the big blank wall were welcoming posters made by the 9 girls who I was to care for.
That evening we played together laughed together and prayed together for the first time. All the while I kept thinking and hoping my face wasn’t showing how scared I was.
I grew to love those 9 girls. And today I celebrate 4 years of Mexican faces, colors, sounds, smells, loves, cries, and music.

My memories circle around the experiences I’ve had here:

1. Caring for a total 17 teen girls (I will never forget this number).

2. 3 dorms or apartments where I have laughed at funny movies, baked brownies, and eaten spaghetti with my girls.

3.  Singing melodies of hope after night time prayers.

4. Being huddled by a team of supporters and friends who cover me in prayer and watch as Jesus performs his miraculous healing right in front of my eyes.

5. Training over 500 people, including volunteers, mission guests, staff, and caregivers on what it means to be a healing presence in the life of a child from a difficult past.

This journey has been much more than I ever dreamed or imagined. He has taken me to countries I never thought I’d go. I have cared for girls, I never thought I ‘d know. And I have loved children, I never knew existed.

So today I celebrate! I celebrate that Jesus has been faithful to never leave me every step of the way.  When the day seemed never ending he sang over me as I fell to sleep. And when it seems like all was lost, he helped me see how his promises are still at work.

I’m thankful for graduations, quinceñeras, relationships with sponsors, late night conversations, praying before bed every night, relationships with biological families, times when they hurt and I was able to hold them, and because when I hurt Jesus held me.


I’ve heard it a hundred times in every recent publication, and I’m sure you have too: 2015 is over and a new year has begun. I wish I could sit and write about everything that happened the past year, but I’m not that disciplined or that good a writer. I wouldn’t do it justice. So I just stare at my journal, then at my keyboard and can only produce a little list:

1. Lili moved in and taught me that love means doing all the little things that sometimes seem easy but are so difficult to faithfully do with a good heart everyday.
She showed me the picture of resiliency everyday.

2. I began training caregivers and house parents what it means to be a healing presence in the life of a child, while everything I said during the day was constantly tested at home at night.

3. Years of my writing were erased due to a computer malfunction, and I learned that sometimes we only are left with the lessons we learned from our experiences. I might forget the colors of things, and the places, but I remember what he etched in my heart.

4. Magali moved into our home and taught me that different people need different things and that in the end honesty is always better. She made me grateful that miracles still happen, and even right in front of our eyes like in Bible times.

5. Friends make everything better. They can make you laugh at stressful situations, make a random trip to a market a life event,  and even open their door at midnight when you don't know what to do with your teenager.

6. Change is always coming. I will always be challenged to change. A living thing cannot stay the same.  So when I think I got this, I don’t really got anything. My past experiences will not determine my success. Jesus always needs to change my heart.

Scanning over the experiences of the year past, I try to guess what will happen next in my life, my home and with my girls. What challenge will make me want to relent? What will make me hurt or angry? What will cause me to cry right before bed? What will make me sing in the shower? I slowly try to figure God out…and after this journey I realize my year has never turned out the way I thought it would.

The more I try to put God in a box, the more I realized there’s not a box bog enough, square enough, or perfect enough for him. He never seems to fit my preconceived notions of what it is he is doing or should do. My brain can never reason with him, figure him our or even predict what he will do next, no matter how many quiet times I have. So as I try to walk the balance beam of life I can only trust that when I take my next step there will be a wide enough beam to step on. Through every tip-toe and doubt, the one thing that doesn’t change is his walking right beside me. He keeps telling me that’s all I need.


I get a little scared while having conversations around the dinner table.  When we are eating a hearty meal of lasagna or tostadas or enchiladas, that's when their belief system speaks. Many times my heart is pumping fast when I hear what they really think about their future..."I think I'm just going to fail that class... I'm gonna marry him..."and I try so hard to hide it. I don't want her to end up wth that guy who is definitely not doing well or for her to fail Spanish class because she is too scared to stand in front of the class to present. What they are certain of, makes me doubt. I think I doubt myself--doubt that I am making a difference at all, but in reality I am doubting in the goodness of Jesus. 

Sometimes I don't believe that he is working on their behalf, restoring nor renewing anything. And I sit on our purple dining table chair and calmly try to present a better life choice. But inside I am screaming and arguing with God, asking him to show me hope. And until He does, I wake up early every morning, send one off to school, make the other lunch for school and giver her ride, await for them to return, make lunch for them, and then dinner, help with homework, and even go to the gym with them. Every. Day. 

Then Sunday comes around, and I get to wake up at 9 so the tiredness of the weak is relieved a bit. And as the lights dim at church, I begin to hear voices singing. I am able to drown out the other unknown thousand voices and focus on two. Soon, I realize...

This is what Hope looks like: my girls, standing next to me, singing worship songs to Him.

While trying not to making it obvious, I sneak peaks of their song to Him. They might not know where they are heading, but He does. I begin to believe in His promises to them all over again. They don't notice, not even I notice, but He is already drawing them to Him and His perfect plan.

And I choose to believe that. 
That's faith after all, isn't it?
When you’re on the brink of doing something hard, you feel so small. I usually go silent. It’s hard to keep casual conversation going when your mind is focused on one thing… on one person…on small glimmers of hope. It's like if I have to squeeze a tight fist, hold my breath, and jump.

In a few hours I will welcome a second teen into my home. She will be part of the Hope Program here at Back2Back, together we are going to face High School, work, chores, boys and the ghosts of her past. I feel like I should be totally comfortable with her coming, I’ve known her for almost four years and lived with her for almost three years at Casa Hogar Douglas. But a year apart can bring all types of uncertainties and doubt.

It doesn't matter how much training or preparation I have, I still have to stand in front on the one I love and see a broken heart. But I want to remember that I have tasted and seen Him bring mercy day by day. He has overcome loneliness and the fight for control before with His healing.

So, as I await the unknown I will lay it down. I will open my mouth and offer Jesus my song in hopes that he will sit right by me and enjoy my praise. And all at the same time I will remember what He has called her and pray she will be know her true name.

Inspired by this playlist:
Besamé by Marcos Brunet
Holy Spirit by Francesca Barastelli
Say Something by A Great Big World
Ever Be by Bethel Music

Touch the Sky by Hillsong United

We were walking to worship down by the big palapa on the Back2Back campus. We settled into a  spot where we could be comfortable and not distract so much just in case I had to translate for Lili. Soon she spotted an intern sitting by herself on a picnic table. And she told me "someone should go sit with her." I wan't sure if she was challenging me. I glanced at her and said feel free to sit wherever you'd like. She giggled and looked at Alex the intern again, "I'm going to sit with her because she is lonely." And although Lili doesn't speak to Alex ,much and doesn't know the life of an intern, she got up, walk over, said hi, and sat right next to Alex.

Lili didn't know that many interns struggle with homesickness when they move to another country for a month. She doesn't know how much work they do in one day and how exhausted they are at the end of the day. Lili didn't know that interns come to Mexico by themsleves to serve God, and that is sometimes makes you feel a little lonely. She had no idea what she was doing by sitting next to Alex. But Lili saw Alex, and knew what Alex might need, what we all need...someone who just sits next to us so we won' t be alone.

This is only one Lili lesson. There are many lessons that Lili is teaching me. I like to chronicle them using a hashtag, #lililessons. These little life lessons encourage me and sometimes even convict me. She has taught me that it's always more fun reading a book together, that you can make the honor roll after some hard work, that when we admit that we need glasses we can see the beauty God created in full color, and that Jesus wants to be involved in all parts of our life.

I have to pay attention to the glimpses of His glory in our life. The little parts where his goodness shines through and I catch him right in our midst. I  believe he is around when we are trying something new for dinner, when we dance and laugh, and even when we read a book upside down for hours. When I invite him every night , I truly believe His light fills our home and He is everywhere. I want to be aware of him, don't you? Where has he shown up in your life?

Genesis 28:16 
 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

Follow me on Facebook and twitter to see other #lililessons .

I am part of a team here in Monterrey. Our mission is to be a support system for caregivers in the homes we serve. We train them on how to be caregivers that can help a child from hard places heal from their past.

It’s incredible how no matter how much I’ve heard, it continues to be true “God has provided the healing balm for their hearts” (Dr. K. Purvis).  I learn when I study the material, when I teach it, but also when I listen to it again and again.  When it’s not my turn to teach I sit in the back and focus on the other teachers, my friends and co-laborers, who also have experience being caregivers in a children’s home.

One morning while I focused, I heard my petite friend say “Puedes dejar tus armas.”
“You can lay down your weapons,"she implored us to tell our kids. As the Spanish r’s rolled off her tongue I stopped breathing for 5 seconds.

She continued explaining how children from difficult pasts use manipulation, control, triangulation, aggression and sometimes violence as weapons to protect themselves. But when we care for them in a healing way, we are giving them new tools to deal with the world around them.

I could not keep it together. It was something that I have seen time and time again and have even become frustrated by it, but it was so real at that moment that these were their weapons. They were scared. They were only trying to save themselves. I wanted to look them in the eye and whisper, “Lay them down. I will help you. Jesus will protect you.”

I wish it was so easy to help them understand that the survival techniques they have used since they were infants do not have to be their way of life.

I hope that as we continue to train other caregivers how to help children heal , they can cry out, “The war is over! Lay down your weapons!”