Sunday, June 28, 2009

Guatemala-Part Dos

I sort of laughed last summer when Dwayne told me the first day in Guatemala, "Shannon, you are brown on the inside." And as the trip unfolded I realized, God had been preparing me for such a place. I loved the diversity of growing up in South Texas. I loved the smells and European style of my time in Argentina one summer. It is special to me that Phil and I really met at Mexican orphanage, while on a mission trip in college. I love bright colors and hearing prayers in Spanish. And since coming back, I have felt a tug on my own heart to return.
It's a hard thing to explain really...It's not the sandy beaches or the great spa (usual lures for me), rather a longing to be a part of something transforming, see my friends and remember the lessons I learned last July. I am so thankful to Phil for nudging me on to go, though I managed to think of every reason why I should not. I'm grateful for the freedom he has given me. The truth is, he knows my heart (though sometimes out of stubbornness I hate to admit it). Through his own journeys this past year to see John Eldredge, baseball in Omaha, etc...He realizes that time like this is precious and refreshing. So, he will be watching kids while I'm away and I'm sure they will have great fun with him playing Mr. Mom. After all, Addie did learn to eat chicken off the bone and give greasy fives while I was away on a trip! I never think of stuff that fun!!
I remember last year having terrible anxiety about leaving Ryan and Addie. It was hard, but we talked everyday on the phone and that made it much easier. Also, after loving on so many kids (Dulce, the "lost boys" and others) I realized...God sent me there to be a mom for kids that don't get love from their own. Also, God used it to remind me that my own children need my love more than anything else this world and WE ARE BLESSED!
Last year, we were privileged to help Tita (the woman who started the only school in La Limonada) open another school deeper within the ghetto on "the other side." It had been a prayer and a dream of hers for years. I can tell you, as a mom, there is nothing more exciting that seeing bellies fed and little brown eyes opened through education. Anyway, we will continue to help with that school this trip, facilitate a dentistry clinic and visit the soup kitchen (where I met 'sweet' Dulce). We will also be encouraging others in a wonderful ministry called Celebrate Recovery (CR). It is a faith based 12 step program that is just plain amazing and has taken off like wildfire since the March team visited.
If you are the prayin' kind...Will you please pray for me, my trip and the wonderful team going?
-For Phil, that God would give him energy, strength & wisdom to care for Ryan & Addie.

-Safety for Phil, Ryan and Addie

-Peace for my heart while I'm away from my precious family

-Physical safety & protection for our team

-That our team could be God's loving hands...building, feeding, hugging the poor & forgotten

-That the team would work well together

-That my heart would be open to ALL the lessons God has for me on this trip

THANK YOU and Lots of Love!

My sweet Phil with 2 of the 3 boys abandoned by their mother 'the lost boys' When he saw their house with Tita, he said, "We have to do something to help."

Dulce means "sweet" in Spanish and I couldn't think of a better name for this precious girl. She was at the soup kitchen with her mom and brother. I would have taken her home in a heartbeat! Her mom was very high when they were there and she was just starved for love and attention. I pray for her often and am taking a little bag for her in case I see her this trip. My friend Becky said she was there at the kitchen in March.

*more pictures from last year's trip....

Thursday, October 23, 2008


When we were in Guatemala Tita would do this snap thing when something was really great or she was excited. She would hold her elbow up, hand close to her ear, and snap back and forth with her fourth finger and thumb very quickly, all the while shaking her hand. It was so fun to watch and well, impossible to do. If I could have done that Guatemalan snap thing, I would have ast Saturday night.
About a month ago David had this wonderful idea to raise money for our friends down south. It began there and with the love and support so many, we were able to raise close to $3000. That is a lot of money in Guatemala. A small family there can eat for $1 per day and a good day's wage is $10 per day.
Phil and I have talked so much about our experience in La Limonada this past summer. How well we all worked together...How each of us had something wonderful to contribute...How that can only be from God. It is the true picture of the body of Christ. This last Saturday night was just the same. A lot of the Gutemalan crew was there. Other friends that weren't on the trip, barely took a break from their hard work! People gave money, food, time and wonderful items for the silent auction. I feel really proud and thankful to know such amazing people!
Thank you, Lord!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Application Station

My friends, Dawn and Bob, giving food to a man eating from the trash. Two very giving people.

My sophomore year of college, Sara and I led a freshman girls bible study. Since she was an education major, we were forever doing fun, creative crafts....One of which was the infamous "Application Station" on a wall of our Holcombe dorm room. It was a space (complete with a little train and rick rack trim) to write out something we would do related to what we had learned that week. Oh, how I wish sometimes I had a wall like that in our home to remind me to live out the things I have learned! I mentioned earlier that we have really tried to apply lessons learned in Guatemala. Here is how...

-I recycle. I have for a long time, but try to recycle much more. So much more, that I have actually been cited by the recycle Nazi in the form of notes in my bin for trying to recycle too much. Grumpy!:O) When I recycle it reminds me of our friends in Guatemala, digging through the dump for things to recycle for to live.

-If I can't recycle it, I try to reuse it again (which I never did before). Take yogurt containers (#5), for example... They can't be recycled here (so says my note) so I reuse them as Tupperware. I think of the 3 abandoned boys, how they used those types of things as cups.

-We try not to waste food at home, in restaurants, etc. It reminds me of people that don't have food to eat in Guatemala and here in my own town. This only fuels my constant discussion with Phil about a deep freeze. We don't need one! We live 3 miles from Sam's for goodness sakes. We have stuff in our freezer from 1945, we don't need more of that! Maybe one day he will concede. Perhaps it is part of the hunter/gather DNA

-I try to turn off the lights more, not waste water....etc. This brings me to a big idea swirling around in my little head....That is, if we all just help other people, we become thankful and thoughtful about our own resources, THUS we become more green. It doesn't take perching in a tree for weeks, walking naked in the streets, running your car on old french fry oil...just being kind to our bro or sis. What an idea...GO KIND, that is what I say! The rest will follow.

-I've tried to buy the kids less stuff. I admit, I have used toys in the form of bribery for a sane grocery trip. And I'm not judging, Moms gotta do what they gotta do. It is just that I grew up with lots of stuff and am so bad about thinking I always need to buy something for the kids when we go to the zoo, aquarium, or wherever. Phil has helped me realize that the trip is the fun part. Time and attention is more important that stuff. I think of the kids in Guatemala that didn't have much at all and they were happy, just playing and being loved.

-We are slowly going through our things...decluttering. We feel heavy with all the stuff we have. More to keep up with, clean, etc. We are considering selling our house too. Maybe for something smaller. Now, we have 2 rooms we barely use. It just feels wasteful.

-This last one, it's the hardest for me... surrendering my schedule. It is what I long for, but a constant fight with my type-A, spreadsheet loving self. Today I had plans to work and catch up on things. This morning, I prayed, "God, let this day be for you." Well, maybe I should have said, "after my stuff...okay?" Because when Phil told me of a homeless woman that needed help, I knew that I had the day open for a reason. I felt God saying, "This is my day. Do you mean what you pray?" And so I got nothing I had planned done, but was blessed to spend time with this woman. I learned from her. A wife, mother and accomplished woman that just needed a little love. Don't we all sometimes, just need a little love?
Guatemala, was no doubt transforming. The people are what made it that way. My great friends David and Becky were serving this woman too. David devoting much more time than I and Becky hopping on line, getting information. These friends inspire me! The whole reason Phil knew of her was because they were all 3 at a breakfast, discussing plans for continuing our work in Guatemala.

1 Corinthians 4:2 says: "Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." I believe this...To whom much is given, much is required. It is our blessing to have. My challenge, and I pray yours, is to live bigger than you, your house, your stuff, your life. Let God use you, your gifts, your talents, your resources, your time. It is our blessing to have.


The feeds my soul. We booked this trip before we went to Guatemala, so I wasn't sure how it would be traveling some place luxurious after spending week in the ghetto. It was great, really. I found myself thinking so much about the people working at our resort....taking time to know them and visit. I loved talking to guests from Spain and Italy and seeing Addie play with their children (even though they couldn't communicate well with words). I'm super sensory, so I love the sounds of Spanish being spoken, the palm trees blowing and the waves crashing. I love the smells of the ocean, Mexican spices and limes. I love the bright colors of the water, the buildings, the the tropical plants. I love the breeze on my face, while reading a book and wiggling my toes in the sand. I've been to this part of the world many times and I never get tired of it...It feels like a real heaven on earth! It made think of Psalm 84:10..."Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere..." I think the real heaven will be wonderful!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


People have been so sweet to ask about our trip. It is hard to sum up a whole week of life changing experiences in one word..."Great" hardly does it justice. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, overwhelming, hopeful and so many other things. I have taken trips like this before, but never as a mother and wife. I dare not say my perspective is more mature, just different. Perhaps I was just more open to God and the experience? I feel like God taught me a lot about Him, myself and others. Like...

-People, at their core, are not so different. They all have basic needs and really just want to be loved.
-We are spoiled rotten here in America and don't appreciate it!
-I do have a passion for Latin cultures. I can see the tread of it all through my life.
-Guatemala never got the "Don't mix water and electricity" memo!
-God can use you in ways you never expected and it can be so fun! You just have to have an open heart.
-A slight variation on the Spanish word for "cool" means diarreah....Yikes!
-A person can live on the average household trash of an American family. How embarrassing!
-God cares for us! Protects us! I really experienced this on our trip.
-God Is always working pieces of life together to make something beautiful, even if we only see a bit of the work.
-I'm thankful for hot showers and that we can flush our toilet paper in the U.S.
-$1 US dollar can feed a family for a day in Guatemala. A good day's wage is $10 US dollars.
-I'm brown on the inside...or so Dwayne and Phil say.:O)
-There are LOTS of kids that need love!
-Prayer is really powerful! I had sort of forgotten that.
-I have a new respect for our friends serving in our military. We are blessed to live where we do and have people who will fight for our freedoms and to help those who are oppressed.
-A shotgun or automatic weapon doesn't have to appear awkward or threatening. Thanks to different colors and loose handling, it can be carried with the ease and style of a large handbag.
-Guatemalan people must like "good wings" because we saw a Hooter's franchise next to where we ate one night!?
-I'm really thankful to be married to Phil. For lots of reasons, but mostly because of his heart for God, us and helping others. I'm super proud of the work he did in Guatemala!

A few things I didn't expect....
I was so excited to see so many different people in our group working together for one purpose. A microbiologist, students, a coach, an engineer, a landscaper, a counselor, a graphic designer, and electrician, a personal assistant to a millionaire and the list goes on...each person on the trip had a unique and wonderful contribution. It was a true picture of the body of Christ. Phil and I have talked to much about how we are better for knowing each person on the trip and the people we met there in Guatemala. I feel like I learned something and really appreciate some quality from each person. It is just a huge blessing I never expected. We have all missed each other terribly...called and sent emails since we have been home and already have plans to meet as a group for dinner. Phil and I had a hard time adjusting home. We ate Mexican food for two days and spent the whole first day in just a haze, hugging our babies.

We also were so thankful to meet the people living there, in Guatemala...Tita, Ingrid, Edgar, Eulalia, the Castros, Mama Carmen, David, Juan Carlos and many more. They live their faith out each day and make personal sacrifices to do that! Ingrid sharing the gospel with a man while directing/translating a big construction job, Tita writing the plan of salvation on her leg when she didn't have paper. It was so inspiring to see our Guatemalan friends caring for people others have forgotten and giving God all the credit. I learned so much from them!

I'm so glad I was able to have this experience with Phil. It has been a long year with so many things keeping our attention. This trip made us both realize what we love about one another and
gave us a renewed perspective on God, family and life. Since we have been back, we have reevaluated lots about our lives and have tried to apply some of the lessons learned in practical ways. I'll post more about that later.

We were one of 3 groups that went down to that area this summer. They are hoping to put a water purification plant in La Limonada. We are praying this happens. If so, Phil wants to do what he can to help with that project. Either way, we are hoping to go back again. God willing. We really just are praying that our businesses will be profitable and will run well on their own, so we can do this sort of thing a lot. Then, take the kids when they get older.

And thanks friends....the Burghart kids, the Gano boys, Cristie, Colleen and Grams for sending wonderful things with us (for the kids) on the trip. Since Tita has to pay such huge taxes on packages received, taking things down via suitcase is really the only way to get extra supplies from the U.S. to her. We were able to take more than 1000 lbs. of medicine, toys, clothes, personal products, baby items, school supplies, etc...
And thanks to all of you who have prayed for us and our trip. It wasn't the safest place, but I never once felt in danger. We could feel God's protection over us!

Here is the link to pics...

*not pictured are all the guns we saw being wielded around by "officials." For some reason, my group would not allow me to photograph these people.:O)

Like A Shoe In A Dryer....

That has been me for the last year or so, clunking around in the world of small business...not quite sure of my place. I have recently realized (with Phil's help and a great book called Cure for the Common Life) that maybe my spot is really more HR (people) related and not small business operations. I should have recognized this when I first met with one of my professional mentors (a CFO) and explained my definition of cost at the store as "actual cost with a splash of overhead." Don't get me wrong...I don't regret working for free, nursing a baby while learning quickbooks and most importantly supporting Phil. It has been a journey. Some people say if your marriage can survive building a house, a marriage can survive anything. I'd like to change that to say, "working with your spouse". All components of small business are more complicated when you have to snuggle with your coworker/boss at night. Phil and I have grown closer than ever though, shared dreams, and have a greater appreciation for one another....and for that I'm so thankful! My time at the store has given me a new perspective on business profitability, management, and marketing...things I never learned in any of my business classes. So, with an AMAZING hire to run the store and increase services, I am free to pursue my HR passions. Upon Phil's urging (okay, constant nagging), I emailed the bank (my former employer of 8 years) one morning and by lunch I was talking with my old boss about projects and when I could start. This time around I feel much more free...I will be working on less time sensitive projects (that sound inspiring and impactful). No blackberry, no minimum hours for benefits. I'll be able to help people and keep my skills sharp in the meantime. I will work 9-4 two days a week there and 9-4 one day a week at the store. Helping customers at the store (my favorite job there) and serving as Catbert for our 9 employees. And, of course, still have lots of good time with my babies. I feel blessed. So blessed to have a husband that loves me and cares about my dreams. Blessed to be able to work a bit and be home with my little ones.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So Long My Favorie Yoga Pants

Addie has been on a real rhyming spree so I decided to make a rhythm of my own....

So long my FAVORITE yoga pants.
You used to help me bend like a willow with ease,
Now I mostly wear you while cooking mac and cheese.
How I loved your stretchy material.
Your flared bottoms made my legs look imperial.
Now you have holes and that isn't good.
I will look trashy when I'm walking in the hood.
So long, boo hoo!
I'm off to target to replace you.