Sonidos Serranos

Sonidos Serranos: Sounds of the Sierras...
Reflecting some of my family's interests: God's wonderful creation (especially mountains and hills!), music, and language...

Psalm 121:1-2 (NASB)

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

25 December 2011

Saviour of the World

This is my new favorite Christmas hymn:

I cannot tell why He whom angels worship
Should set His love upon the sons of men
Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wanderers
To bring them back, they know not how or when.

But this I know: That He was born of Mary,
When Bethlehem's manger was His only home,
And that He lived at Nazareth and laboured,
And so the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is come.

I cannot tell how silently He suffered,
As with His peace He graced this place of tears,
Or how upon the cross His heart was broken,
The crown of pain to three and thirty years.

But this I know: He heals the broken-hearted
And stays our sin and calms our lurking fear
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
For yet the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is here.

I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship
When, at His bidding, every storm is stilled,
Or who can say how great the jubilation
When all the hearts of men with love are filled.

But this I know: The skies will thrill with gladness
And myriad, myriad human voices sing
And earth to heaven and heaven to earth will answer:
At last the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is King!

Text: W.Y. Fullerton
Music: Londonderry Air

Listen to most of the second stanza  from Stephen Eager's CD: Breath of Life, an album inspired by the Lewis Revival of 1949.

24 December 2011

Christmas Thoughts

Cherishing precious memories of Christmases past – especially 2009 and 2010. We sang with extended family via Skype in 2010.

Meditating on Truth:

“The darkness of Christmas, whether the first one or the one this 2011, serves as a reminder of why Jesus had to come . . . and why He will come again...”

The darkness of this season is an occasion for worshipful gratitude and a catalyst for the eager expectation that Emmanuel will soon be with us face to face again . . . in light stronger than the brightest stars can muster.

Click here to read the rest of the post...

20 December 2011

God dealt gently...

Tonight marks eight months since Jona’s Home-going. Ten days ago, I had opportunity to tell how God answered prayer during the past year. I told the ladies at our churchs Missionary Prayer Group that it was difficult to decide what to share; I finally settled on the event that had the greatest impact on our extended family. Because it was hard to fit “everything” into the allotted five or so minutes, I wrote out and read my thoughts. I now share what I wrote for that evening...

Many of you know that our Good Shepherd led our extended family through the valley of the shadow of death this past spring. My nephew, Jonatan Torres, had been diagnosed with cancer right before his fifteenth birthday in August of 2009; twenty months later, in April of this year, God took him Home.

In late March of this year, John Mark and I returned from an afternoon walk with the children to find a message from my sister on our answering machine. She told us that Jona was not doing well, and she asked us to come. As we prepared to pull out of our driveway, John Mark prayed. My mind was numb, but I remember his asking the Lord to deal gently with our extended family; I was struck by his choice of words. Tonight, I would like to tell you some of the many ways that God specifically answered that prayer.

God dealt gently with us!

The hospice nurse on call that evening arrived shortly after we did. As the evening progressed and she assessed the situation, the tell-tale signs were there: That evening should have been Jona’s last one with us. But his ministry here was not yet done, and our gracious Shepherd gave us almost four “bonus” weeks with him.

In that time, He allowed all Jona’s grandparents to come from Uruguay and spend time with him.

While the US Embassy in Uruguay had been denying visas, God provided a visa for Jona’s Aunt Julia from Uruguay to come as well.

And on a Saturday in mid-April, as a friend of the family was trying to “buy” a ticket with airline miles for Jona’s Uncle Daniel, God opened up a seat on a flight leaving Uruguay that very next Monday (just two days later) – something that in this man’s experience as an international business man “just does not happen!”

Our loving Shepherd also dealt gently with me, arranging our travel schedule so that we as extended family could participate in Jona’s care during those last weeks – and be eye-witnesses of God’s grace to him.

During his middle-school years, Jona had taken his struggles (specifically peer pressure and consequent lying) to his father. Esteban had taken Jona to the truths of Romans 6 and 7: “If you belong to Christ, you no longer are a slave to sin.” Over and over Esteban emphasized these truths of the believer’s identity in Christ to his son – and, by God’s grace, Jona embraced them. In retrospect we can see that God was preparing him for what was yet to come.

Every one of us who participated in Jona’s hospice care can give the same testimony: “Jona never complained!” A friend recently wrote:
One comment that keeps coming to me about Jona is that he never complained. That’s impossible! These cancer kids go through so much...
I was able to respond:
God’s grace is amazing! Jona truly never complained. Only Christ can enable one who is suffering so much to follow His own example...
Our Good Shepherd dealt gently with us in allowing us to observe that reality first-hand in Jona’s life.

Because he wanted to remain alert, Jona asked that he not be over-medicated. God gave Esteban great wisdom in the administration of the pain meds in order to honor that desire. The result was that we were more clearly able to see God’s grace through the valley of the shadow of death.

Jona would often request two favorite hymns: Be Still my Soul and Bow the Knee. We could see him mouthing the words and sometimes hear him singing even though every breath came only through extreme effort.

We were able to enjoy his amazing (and sometimes crazy!) sense of humor, teasing or telling jokes even when he could hardly breathe.

We were witnesses of God’s grace to Esteban, encouraging Jona when his pain was greatest to pray for other believers who were also suffering but who, unlike him, were suffering in the shadows, unknown, without a whole support network to pray for and encourage them.

Because he was not in a medically-induced coma, Jona was able to tell us what he saw as his Shepherd led him through the valley: the angels, the second step he needed help to climb, the door he could not open. At one point he told his mom: “We’re all dressed in white – and Jesus is coming for us!”

In August of 2009 when we first learned of Jona’s cancer, we prayed for complete healing. Before the definite diagnosis was given, Esteban’s research had convinced us that we were asking for a miracle. So, we continued to pray for healing up until the very end. During the nights of hospice care when Daniel James would wake me, I would also go and check on Jona. “Will this be the night? Will God heal him tonight?”

When God chose to take Jona, He gave us grace to accept His answer as the best. Certainly it was the best for Jona. But more importantly, it was best for the glory of God.

Our pastor recently drew our attention to an incident in the life of Elisabeth Elliot:

Life Magazine photographer, Cornell Capa, told of an interview he had with Elisabeth Elliot: “I wondered how Betty could reconcile Jim’s death at the hands of the Aucas and the Lord’s apparent failure to protect him from them. Her answer came back without hesitation:
I prayed for the protection of Jim, that is, physical protection. The answer the Lord gave transcended what I had in mind. He gave protection from disobedience and through Jim’s death accomplished results the magnitude of which only eternity can show.~ from The Savage My Kinsman(New York, NY: Harper, 1961), 9
Paraphrasing what Elisabeth Elliot affirmed, we can say:
We prayed for healing for Jona, that is, physical healing. But the answer the Lord gave transcended what we had in mind. He gave ultimate  healing and protection from disobedience – and through Jona’s death accomplished results the magnitude of which only eternity can show.
Yes, our Loving Shepherd answered abundantly. And He continues to deal gently with us. He is giving us grace. And He is reminding us that He is causing all things to work together for good, conforming us to His perfect image – so that ultimately He, the preeminent one, will receive the glory He so richly deserves!

Christmas is (almost) here!

“Christmas Is Here!” was the title of the K-5 program on Friday. Elizabeth was so excited – and she did a great job saying her lines and singing:

“A Baby was born in a manger over two thousand years ago for you and me!”

Unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

She was funny... You wouldn’t have guessed it from how distractible she could be at times, but she had most (if not all) of the twenty-minute program memorized. For days leading up to the event, she would say: “So-and-So and So-and-So say... And then So-and-So says...”

She was a lot of fun to watch – especially when she flashed us a big smile upon finding us in the audience!

[Unfortunately, we didn’t get seats very near the front, so I’m very thankful that my pictures turned out as well as they did. The little Canon zooms quite nicely! And, as usual, editing in Picasa is a lot of fun!]

08 December 2011

“You!” (at 13M)

Inspired by a good friend (who’s a great blogger and writer!), I’ve decided to at least occasionally write letters to my little ones along these lines. (Thanks, Julie!)

“You!” (at 13M)

Actually today (12/08/11) is the one-year, one-month, and one-day milestone! (Cool, huh? Although, by the time you read this, you probably won’t say that something is cool.)

You weigh 22 pounds and are almost 32 inches tall. That puts you in the 50 percentile for weight and 90 percentile for height.

You’ve outgrown most 12M clothes and are wearing more and more 18M clothes. (And your current pajamas are size 2T and are only slightly long for your arms and legs.)

Most of the time, you’re a very happy Little Man; you love to flash your charming smile at anybody and everybody – especially your immediate family.

You seem to have a sense of humor. You often crinkle up your nose and show your teeth when you smile; you seem to understand that doing so will make others laugh.

You love your family. (And I, Mamá, am still your very favorite person – just as your Daddy predicted I would be!)

Most days, you still take two short naps. Either Daddy or I rock you to sleep – “en la silla de mimos” – singing Jesus Loves Me or Mi Mi Sol.

You already demonstrate a very tender heart, specifically by making concerned little sounds when you hear your sister crying and hurrying to her to offer a smile and hugs! (It’s very sweet to watch you hug your sister!)

You look like a miniature version of your Daddy. (I’m so happy!)

You still nurse three times a day: morning, mid-afternoon, and night. You fall asleep in my arms while you nurse at night – and I cherish those moments!

You love to clap your hands – and your feet! (I was glad that you cooperated and allowed me to capture that on video.)

You race around on all fours, often “stepping” with one foot as you’ve been doing for several months now.

You haven’t tried to walk on your own yet, but we’re expecting that any day now you’ll let go of the furniture and launch out. You sometimes hold out your hand, asking one of us to help you walk. You like to walk holding our hands and more and more often holding only one hand.

You seem to have a very keen visual memory and are not easily distractible. You remember where forbidden objects are (e.g. electrical outlets or the tube of toddler toothpaste you recently discovered when you managed to pry a bathroom drawer open as far as the safety latch allowed).

You love to point at objects.

You enjoy playing with the Fisher Price farmhouse and animals, often inviting me – through sounds and gestures – to play, too.

You amaze us with how expressive you are – making very eloquent sounds when you don’t have the words.

Best I can tell, you consistently say ten words:

Nena [often sounds like Deda] – referring to your sister
Ta – OK! (Uruguayan style)
[la lu] – la luz
[lo] and often [lo lo] – flor (your general term for all flora: flowers, leaves, trees, bushes)
[nana] and more and more often now [nanana] – manzana (your favorite fruit!)
[tata] – pelota
The first time I heard you say it, you were standing by your favorite bookshelf, pointing to one of Daddy’s thickest commentaries. The second time was at the Christmas Lighting when I tried to give you to Daddy because my arms were giving out…
[ba] – bye (your first English word)
When your sister was getting ready to leave for school just two days ago, you waved and said: [ba] and then [ba ba]

You love music; you often “bounce” up and down in time to music, and you already seem to have an amazing sense of rhythm!

You seem to think the birthday song is your song, smiling broadly when you hear it. (Having other birthdays recently in the family has certainly contributed…)

You loved “getting into” your b-day cakes! And we suspect that [tota] (torta) might be your newest word.

You have ten teeth: eight in front (top and bottom) and two molars (top and bottom right), and you’re working on getting another molar on the bottom left.

Apples, bananas, and olives (black, green, and kalamata – like your sister!) are your favorite foods.

You eat very well! If you keep up your current pace, we wonder how we’ll keep up with your appetite as a teenager!

You seem to remember your cousin Jona – and I’m especially grateful. I pray that you will grow to love and follow Christ like he did...

You are our precious Miniature Man – and we love you!

06 December 2011

Jesus Loves Me!

I often sing this hymn to DJM as I rock him to sleep; I typically sing the first and second stanzas in English. Part of the third stanza recently came to mind, reminding me of Jona. A quick search told that the hymn text first ap­peared in a novel by the author’s sister; she want­ed a song for a Sun­day School teach­er to sing to a boy who was dying.

You can read more about the hymn’s history and impact at

Now I can sing these simple, vital truths with even more understanding and conviction!

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

Jesus loves me! Loves me still,
Though I’m very weak and ill,
That I might from sin be free
Bled and died upon the tree.

Jesus loves me – He will stay
Close beside me all the way,
Then His little child will take
Up to Heaven for His dear sake.

Words by Anna Warner, 1860
Refrain and music by William Bradbury, 1862

03 December 2011

Christmas Lighting & Carol Sing!

The Christmas Lighting and Carol Sing Event at BJU is an almost-yearly family tradition. We enjoyed it once again this year.

DJM was especially excited about all the little lights!

Seeing Marcos was another highlight!

And running into dear friends is always a treat!