Good-byes are hard for me. That is probably an understatement. I dread that last hug before a dear friend leaves my life for an undefined period of time. There will be tears, probably many more unseen when I am alone than when I am actually saying goodbye. I will dwell on the separation months in advance and may choke up even years later remembering the pain of losing contact with a friend. I am an extrovert so I draw a lot of energy and encouragement from the people around me. I enjoy deep relationships with many people. However the deeper level of connection makes it harder to separate in the end. I tend to worry about my friends. If they leave (or I leave) will our relationship continue? Will they encounter troubles I won’t know about, won’t be able to help with, or won’t understand because we aren’t in the same place anymore? Will they continue on the right track in their relationship with God? Will there be someone else to play the role that I did for them and vice versa?

Other random trivia about me: I am a nerd about linguistics. I love the subtle differences in meaning between words. I am fascinated by word origins and how culture has shaped language. I have always enjoyed dissecting English and hunting for root words and wondering how phrases or words came to be. Now, as I become more comfortable in the language, I am starting to do this more in Spanish as well. Something I discovered recently has been a huge source of comfort to me. If you break apart the word “adiós” (Spanish for good-bye), you’ll have the phrase “a dios”. “A dios” is translated “to God”. I looked it up to confirm my guess and the term “adiós” is in fact an abbreviated form of the phrase “a dios vos acomiendo” which translates into English as “to God I commend you.” In summary, saying “adiós” to someone is a declaration that you are entrusting them to God’s care. You cannot imagine how freeing that is to commit someone you love to God and not have to worry about what will happen to them or you before you meet again because God loves each of you deeply and he is working things out for the good. The words we say are ultimately unimportant if our feelings or beliefs behind them are not in agreement. However, saying the right words potentially has the power to mold our thinking. I am thankful that, in this season, instead of saying “good bye”, I’ll be saying “adiós” and giving myself a reminder each time that God is guarding my dear friends.


Las despedidas son muy difíciles para mí. Bueno, ¿cómo puedo decirlo más fuerte? Yo siento mucha aprehensión del último abrazo ante que un gran amigo se va de mi vida. Sí, habrá lágrimas, probablemente muchas que nadie puede ver.  Yo pienso y me preocupo mucho ante la separación.  Años después todavía me desanima pensar en los amigos por despedir.  Soy extrovertida y siento la necesidad de las personas por la energía y ánimo que traen a mi vida. Tengo conexiones muy profundas con mis amigos. Porque de eso, la separación de ellos es más difícil para mí en fin. Si mis amigos se van (o yo me voy) ¿seguirá nuestra amistad? ¿Encontrarán problemas que no voy a saber, que no voy a ser capaz de entender, o con que pudiera ayudar? ¿Seguirán en su relación con Dios? ¿Habrá alguien que va a tomar mi papel con ellos o viceversa?

Otro característico de mí: me encanta la ciencia de idiomas. Me gustan las diferencias pequeñas entre palabras. Me fascinan los orígenes de palabras y como la cultura ha cultivado el idioma. Yo disfruto disecar el inglés e investigar las raíces de palabras e imaginar cómo nacían las frases. Ahora, que estoy más cómoda en el idioma, estoy empezando a hacer lo mismo con el español.  Recientemente, descubrí algo que me ha animado tanto. La palabra “adiós”. Ya les dije que las despedidas son muy difíciles, pero me doy cuenta que para decir “adiós” es diferente. La palabra “adiós” puede ser divido en “a dios”. Yo busqué en un diccionario y confirmé mi idea. “Adiós” es de “a dios vos acomiendo” (a dios te encomiendo). ¡Qué hermoso! Cuando se dice “adiós” a alguien es una declaración que se está encargando a su amigo a Dios. Que libertad que podemos dejar nuestros amigos al bondadoso Dios quien puede cuidarlos de todo. Claro que las palabras que decimos no importan, si el sentido en que las damos es el contrario. Pero, a veces, las palabras tienen la potencia de convertir nuestros pensamientos. Estoy agradecida que ésta vez, no voy a decir “good bye”, pero “adiós” y mientras tanto voy a darme un recordatorio que Dios esta guardándolos.


Photo is mine of a mural in Guadalajara.


The Beginning of my Travels

Yes, I have already traveled a lot and am currently living in a foreign country, but in some ways, I still feel like I have not really traveled. Most of my traveling has been in large groups for ministry. I, of course, enjoyed the ministry and that was my main purpose for those trips, but there is also something special about traveling somewhere and doing exactly what you want to just so that you can experience it. Traveling should really be a freedom to just soak everything in. I have not done much of that yet. The other week I was thinking again about the fact that I had not been a night away from Guadalajara yet and I have been here almost a year. I have been enjoying my time in Guadalajara and seeing things around the city, but I also know there is much more to see in the surrounding towns and states. Why have I not been to those places yet? Well, for a few reasons. I had not been able to find anyone to travel with me and it seems scary and kind of boring to travel alone. Not to mention how stressful it is to figure out travel details and how expensive it can be. Honestly, I am a little jealous of the married couples who have a guaranteed traveling companion and can plan together. My mom came to visit me this past week. For part of her time here, we took a two day trip to Guanajuato City in Guanajuato, Mexico. I might not have planned the trip at all if it had not started out as tagging along on someone else’s trip. They suggested I go with them, but because they were also being hosted, I was not going to be able to stay with them and then later realized that it was not practical to travel with them. So there I was, nudged into planning a trip for myself and I am so glad I did. I had never stayed at a hostel or taken a long distance bus or planned a trip without loved ones waiting on the other end to offer their hospitality. But I am grateful that I have been pushed into gaining that confidence.


Mom and I had a lovely time. We explored, took pictures, ate some great meals, and listened to wonderful music. We stayed at a hostel in a good location where we could easily walk to everything of interest in the little city.


The highlight of the Guanajuato trip was the Bard Tour in the evening. A group of singing minstrels led us all through the lovely back alleys of Guanajuato, telling legends and sharing lots of songs. I am so glad Mom got to listen to some well-done authentic Mexican music (we also got a little bit of Mariachi and Banda in restaurants). The bus back was surprisingly pleasant and we got a great view of the country between here and there. It was also nice to spend the rest of the week showing Mom more of my daily life. We went to my church, the market, my salsa dancing venue on the street, and also just walked around the neighborhood. I really liked the balance of being able to do something totally new for both of us and also to show her what my “normal” is right now.


Next weekend, I will be taking a beach trip with my housemates and get to explore another new place with good friends. I have already booked the hotel and am trying to make plans from what I learned from my Guanajuato experience (it is possible to travel without a car, now let’s see if I can travel without a car and without eating out every meal). I cannot wait to travel some more!

Photo credits to Laura Barnwell

Darkness Hides more than Defects

This year, I have had the opportunity to experience many new things culturally. Last week, I had my most stretching cultural experience yet, and I probably didn’t need to come all the way to Mexico to experience it. I went to a bar with some friends with whom I had just eaten dinner. Feel free to ask me about that, it is actually quite funny now looking back on it because I just held an empty cup the whole time so I didn’t look too out of place.

After we left, we had to go into an Oxxo convenience store to withdraw some money for the taxi home. The bright fluorescent lighting was quite the contrast to the dark bar with pulsing colored lights. I was with three other teachers and two Mexican men from one of their churches. One of the guys looked at us and said, “Wow, you girls are a lot more attractive in this light!” He had been sarcastic and joking most of the night, but now he defended himself and insisted he was not teasing. Aside from the girl who goes to his church, he had just met us that evening and we’d eaten our dinner outside so he actually had not seen us in the light.

It made me think about how while darkness can hide defects, which offers some security, it cannot make something beautiful. In fact, the darkness does not just obscure blemishes, but also true beauty where it is present. Hiding in the darkness will nullify the beauty of appearance and character. Light and truth reveals beauty, not just gives a poor illusion of it like darkness does. Children of light, let your light shine before men. (Matthew 5:16) When a lamp is lit, you do not cover it. You put it on a stand and it reveals and illuminates everything, the good and the bad (Luke 11:33). The light of the gospel will reveal hidden sin which is embarrassing to reveal, but it will also reveal the beauty of the gospel and the wonderful splendor of Christ in us.

Photo from

How the Hobbit Got Back Again

I have been fortunate enough to have a nice amount of free time recently and have been looking for some good books to fill my quiet evenings, so it seemed appropriate to choose a dependable book I could trust for enjoyment. I was not disappointed by The Hobbit. While reading and relishing, I noticed a theme I had not paid much attention to before. Perhaps circumstances have given me a keener insight into this particular theme.

After going home for Christmas break and then returning to Guadalajara, I again began thinking about the balance of the beauty and wonder of the world contrasted by the pleasure and familiarity of home. Or perhaps they really complement each other after all.

Either way, Bilbo’s character represents this tension well. He does not want an adventure, resents the adventure much of the way, and happily returns from the adventure. Yet he does accept the adventure of his own will and completes his purpose in it admirably, and even goes beyond his duty. His Tookish side leads him to accept the appeal of the adventure and when all is done, he is weary, but not regretful. He has friends among the race of dwarves, has been named elf friend by the Elvenking, and been hosted in plenty by many good and wonderful people of various kinds. He has also suffered much, feared much, and sorrowed much for his trouble.

The alternate title is There and Back Again. The “back again” section of the story takes up only one short chapter and an additional couple of pages, yet it seems quite important that Bilbo came back again. The whole story points to his return as he constantly thinks of his comfortable chair, his sitting room, his tea, etc. “not for the last time.” The part of him that thirsted for adventure has been satisfied, well, for 60 years anyway. He is satisfied with home and indeed “the sound of the kettle on his hearth was ever after more musical than it had been even in the quiet days before the Unexpected Party.” Yet the adventure has left a strong mark. He began writing poetry and he would visit elves and be visited by them and other “foreign” people. He also loved to share about his times abroad, though most of his stories were discounted by the skepticism of hobbits.

I love to travel. I love to experience new things and talk with people who have different perspectives and backgrounds. I like to see beautiful and unique things in person and not just through a picture on Pinterest. I am enjoying my overseas experience now and hope I will be able to travel to many more places in my lifetime. However, something about my little city makes my heart happy and contented. I hope that I will also get much more time there and that it will be said of me, she “remained very happy to the end of [her] days, and those were extraordinarily long.”

Photo from