I was recently listening on the radio and they were talking about lucky pennies. If the penny is heads up, then it will bring you good luck. If it is tails up, then you should flip it over so that it will bring good luck to the next person who comes along.
We don’t really believe in all of those superstitions or old wives tales, but we did want to share with you a little bit of the “tails up” version of our lives for the past few months…to truly be vulnerable.
Whenever we shared last month that we were able to go to Ohio and celebrate New Years (Heads up!), we weren’t lying when we said that we had an incredible time. But at the same time, we were dealing with a very complicated and strained relationship with one of our teenage kids (Tails up.).
We have raised one teenager before and dealt with drama, but we were there face-to-face, walking through it together. It didn’t make it easy, but “long-distance parenting” brings things to a whole new level. Our specific teenager this time (we don’t want to list a name to protect him/her) was deciding to throw everything away for a dating relationship and keeping everyone at a distance. We spent New Years trying to talk to him/her unsuccessfully and it actually got to the point that Ximena was considering flying to Ecuador to speak truth into his/her life. Thankfully, after about 3 weeks, our child was finally willing to have a long 2-hour conversation, involving lots of crying and forgiveness. Honestly, the hardest part throughout it all was not being able to be there physically, to give hugs, to not allow our kid to run away…but distance was hard.
In January, while we are still separate from our kids, Gustavo, our oldest, had to go through another event by himself (Tails up.). As many of you know, he grew up with a single mother (since his dad had died when he was a baby). It was his step dad who was abusive that drove Gus to living on the streets for a few years before he ended up in the orphanage and then in our home. The past few months, he has been looking for his grandparents or aunts/uncles to meet that side of his family. Two weeks ago, he went to Guadalajara to try to find them and he ended up finding an uncle. That uncle told him that his dad was still alive and that he could meet him. Whenever he called, again we felt the pain of long-distance parenting…not being able to hug him, to be there with him. It is really difficult for us to not just hop on a flight and be there.
Then, we can add on two cases of the flu (Tails up.) and juggling ministry, time at the office, and sick kids for over a week. And while they had the flu, why not just add on lice??? Oh…they did! (Definitely tails up!) Add on ridiculously cold weather, constant rain or snow, and just depressing days. Ximena truly felt the brunt of the emotional pain, as she is the “crazy mom” at heart who just wants to have all 7 of our kids in one place. (Lots of Tails Up!) We have even tried to see the way to have all of our kids go to Mexico to have a family vacation, but the visa situation for our Ecuadorian kids was too hard. Constantly feeling like we are separated from our kids when they need us is truly heart-breaking. It has been a hard few months…
And throughout that time, continuing to do what we love to do…receiving missionaries into our home, building deep relationships, ministering to kids, mentoring our boys here in Memphis…life. We feel like sometimes we are not vulnerable enough and only share the “good” stuff, but we really wanted to put the focus back on you guys…
Each of you are responsible for the “good” stuff. You are the ones that have reached down and picked up that “tails-side-up penny” and flipped it around for us. We wanted to share with you about a few of these “Heroes” for us during these past two months:
These people decided that they would be our go-to people when we were traveling. They took care of our house and our dog any time that we had to be out of town. And they did it without expecting anything in return! They seriously even washed sheets, vacuumed, and left us a sparkling house.
These people decided that they would run a half-marathon to be able to raise money for our ministry. This means that they trained for months, ran hundreds of hours and miles, and beat their bodies into submission. Just to be able to help us to continue to be able to do our ministry!
These people (two different families) gave us two, almost new vehicles that were truly in mint condition. They didn’t give us something that was old or falling apart, but gave us the best of the best. These cars have allowed us to travel all over the US and make it back and forth to places like Ohio.
These are people that sent us random gifts out of the blue when we were struggling the most. Or even a Valentine’s gift for Ximena. These are people that send us messages or notes, letting us know that they care for us and are praying for us.
These people came together to give us ever piece of furniture in our home and great things. This includes our bed…the bed that we miss when we are gone! This includes the furniture that is in God’s bedroom, the furniture that we have family meals around, even the mattresses that we pull out from under the kid’s beds when they have sleepovers.
These people are you!
So this is a medley of pictures of you guys…our heroes…the ones that continue to flip over the penny and allow us to share all of the amazing things that God is doing and not get stuck on the difficult side of life...and this doesn't even include all of our amazing supporters as well! We decided not to release your names, as some people want to stay anonymous. (if you are mentioned and we didn't get your picture, then it means that we didn't have a picture of you!)
There is the phrase that says, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, there is truth to that, but you have to have sugar, a pitcher, a spoon, and ice to make epic lemonade. Thank you for giving us all of those things on a daily basis and for your constant encouragement and prayers. If you could please continue praying for Ximena (Aka: "Crazy Momma") as this has been a hard few months and we really want to have all of our kids together soon. Thanks!