Matthew 18:5

“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”

I liked this verse the first time I read it. The words are Jesus’ and they come amidst a conversation Jesus had with His disciples about who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus tells them that they will not even enter the kingdom of God unless they “become like little children”. Then, with the little child He used as an example still sitting with them, He adds the above verse. Along with a charge to become like little children in faith and humility, Jesus also encouraged us to care for the little children.

God had put it on my heart to love and “welcome” children before I read this verse, and my heart leapt when I found this verse; written confirmation of the calling I already felt. Sweet.

Right now, the children I love have families (some are even in my family). In the future, I would love to care for and welcome children that do not have families. But either way, I feel called by God to do something, I love doing it, and with God’s help I plan to continue loving and welcoming the little ones I come across.

~Natalia

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Waxing Poetic About Soggy Tortilla Chips

More and more in the past weeks, bits of Mexico have been coming to my mind- little things that made our time there special, made it home. These memories are vivid, almost as if someone had shown me a photograph. One motionless image of a tiny slice of my life there. But I suppose if you have enough slices, they make a pie.

This evening’s little slice occurred sometime in between work and dinner, when it suddenly occurred to me how much I miss Mexican fine dining, specifically, sopa azteca. The red broth of sopa azteca is usually served up with several little bowls containing dried peppers, chopped avocado, and strips of tortilla chips, among other things, which can be stirred into the broth until soggy, then eaten. I never loved it when I could have it any time I wanted, but I’m feeling pretty fond of it now that I don’t have it.

~Natalia

Real Love

One of the biggest lessons that I am learning is how to really love. I already know how to love when people are doing what I want them to, and when I am in a good mood; that’s the easy part of love. Real love doesn’t pack up and leave the moment people start acting like… normal people. Real love sticks around, and real love is open. It’s open to pain and uncooperation and rejection and other such sucky things- real love is kind and patient, but also strong and devoted.
But no matter how hard I try to love with real love, I can’t do it. Epic fail, every time. God is love and God gives love, and the only way for me to really love anyone is to depend on Him to help me, to give me that love. So I ask him. And He gives it. And when I fail to show real love, which is frighteningly often, it’s not because He left me high and dry, but because I screwed up. So I repent, He helps me back up, and we do it all again.
I want to love with real love because I have seen it. I see it in the way God loves me, and loves the world. I see it in the lives of people around me. And I want to be like them, and I want to be like Him.

~Natalia

Bananas and Gatorade and God’s Will

They had me surrounded. I couldn’t have escaped even if I had wanted to. It was 3pm and we were waiting in the school’s huge gymnasium as the meet dragged on. The girls that I was in charge of were off in a less-populated corner, practicing cartwheels and decorating the bananas their mothers had packed for them with the sharpies the same women had so kindly packed as well. It was the boys that needed supervision. CONSTANT supervision. In between giving them permission to go to the bathroom (they were not to leave my sight without express permission) and telling them to please get off of him and unwrap that towel from around his head, I sat down for a moment at one of the cafeteria tables scattered throughout the gym.

They were there in an instant. Three of them clambered nimbly onto the white table and parked themselves in front of me. One of them laid widthwise across the table, stomach down, head and feet hanging over each edge of the table. The other several meandered in slow laps around the table, stopping every couple of rounds to make sure I knew they still existed.

None of them were racing for at least an hour, and since none were exchanging blows or running sprints across the busy gym, I settled into my chair to relax for a moment. A small nine-year-old with dark eyes was crouching on the ground on the other side of the table; he had spent the better part of an hour collecting the orange rings from mini Gatorade bottles and he was now laying them out on the floor. Another nine-year-old, having spent the $5 from his father on pizza and pretzels, was sitting on the table, drawing extensive and incoherent messages to himself on his left forearm. I thought for a moment how thankful his parents would be that his art was done in a dying bic pen, not the red sharpie his sister had used on the banana. Another boy, recently turned ten, sidled up to my chair, arms clasped earnesly behind his back, “I’m going to annoy you,” he annouced solemnly. “Not possible,” I told him, which I realized seconds afterward must have sounded very much like a challenge to his young ears. I was distracted from his repetitive- and harmless- questioning by the appearance of yet another young boy, this one a solid 11 years old. He reminded me again how much he disliked me, and I reminded him yet again how I knew this was false, simply due to how much time he spent following me around, telling me how much he disliked me.

I ducked briefly under the table, where mr. upside-down smiled passively at me, nodding emphatically when I asked if he was alright. When I resurfaced, three boys knocked heads in an effort to occupy the space directly in front of me. As I listened intently to three different tales of 4th grade humor, a sudden sense of rightness blossomed inside of me. Surrounded by small people, all clamboring in one way or another for my attention, I felt just right. As if God was saying, “this is where you belong- this is how you can glorify me”. I knew in that moment that I was doing what God wanted me to do, and it felt good.

~Natalia

First Step to a Good Anything is the Purpose Statement

I am a firm believer in having a stated purpose in mind when writing. It might be along the lines of, “the purpose of this paper is to pretend I have a grasp of the material we just covered”, or “the purpose of this shopping list is to know what to buy when I enter the store, so I don’t come out with half of the ingredients for four different meals”, and that is okay. A purpose statement in writing, in learning, in life, serves as an easily-accesible reminder of why we do what we do.

For this blog, my purpose is simple. I want to show Jesus. This is the story of God helping me to follow Him. It’s not about such and such rockin’ awesome thing that I did yesterday, or this and that sweet plan I have for the future, although those are things I will probably talk about. Rather, as I talk about those things (and various other related and non-related issues), I want the underlying plot to be God doing great things that He is kind enough to let me be a part of.

However, it is rarely apparent in the moment how God is working in and through a person, and so this blog has a secondary purpose as well; to serve as a record of things past. In five weeks, five months, five years, I want to be able to look back on what I said, what I did, what I thought, and see how God has changed me, and how God’s plan has unfolded over that time.

I hope this blog fulfills its purpose(s), and I’m pretty psyched about it, too.

~Natalia