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Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Different Kind of Christmas…

A Different Kind Of Christmas

“The lights around the Christmas tree don’t burn as bright
And all around the world it isn’t a silent night
Outside I hear the voices sing the sweetest sounds of caroling
But somehow there’s a sadness in the song
In our hearts we know that something’s wrong

It’s a different kind of Christmas
In a different kind of world
Even though it looks the same

Everything has changed
It’s a different kind of Christmas…”


I love Christmas.  It is hands down my favorite time of the year.  As I type this, it is the 27th of October, and by the end of this week at least one of my Christmas trees will be up, the mantel will be decorated and Christmas music will be playing all day (at least until the Sweet Hubby gets home.  He’s Scroogey.)  I love the lights and the decorations and the music, and the sense of wonder and awe at a Savior who was willing to leave Heaven and come to Earth for someone like me.  Christmas makes me feel like maybe there’s hope for our world…at least for a little while.

I get to do all of these things.  I can decorate my house.  Play Christmas music until the SH runs screaming from the room.  Dress my dachshund up in his Christmas sweater and boots and watch him glare at me from behind the couch.  There will be feasting and fun.

Less than five miles from where I live sits the El Inca women’s prison.  Originally designed to hold about 300 women, it is full to bursting with almost 800 inmates.  It is a grim place.  Most of the women are there because of drugs.  They were used as “mules” by some unscrupulous “boyfriend” who promised them the moon, and then disappeared when they got caught.

We’ve all seen the TV shows where prison inmates have clean cells, bedding, food, privileges…in El Inca when they push you through the door and lock it behind you, you don’t even have a toothbrush.  You want a bed?  Find a way to buy a mattress.  Need soap?  Find something to trade for it.  Hungry?  Too bad.  You’re going to get one meal a day, if you’re lucky.   You spend Christmas in the prison.  Your birthday in the prison.  Watching through the barred windows as life goes on without you.  Anything you need you have a find a way to get.  Women do whatever they can to get a little money.

Alma Libre (Free Soul) is a women’s ministry working here in Quito with the women of the prison.  The goal is to help women accept responsibility for their actions, and make changes on the inside that will allow them to get a fresh start on life when they are released.  Last year for Christmas, Alma Libre was able to give each woman in the prison a gallon bucket filled with soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, washcloths, lotion…things that allow the women to keep themselves clean and maintain some of their dignity.  This year, they would like to be able to provide each of the women with a set of dishes, a set of silverware, a mug and something pretty such as a bottle of lotion.  The total cost for this project is $10/woman.  For a gift of $10, you can give a woman in prison a plate and silverware so that she doesn’t have to eat with her hands.  A mug that will allow her to have a cup of coffee.  Something pretty to remind her that she is loved.

These women are not all from here…in fact many of them come from other countries.  They grew up in good homes.  They spent Christmas with families who loved them.  They listened to carols.  Ice-skated under the stars.  Drank hot chocolate by a roaring fire.  And they remember doing these things.  When Christmas comes, they remember their “other life”.  The one where they were free.

We cannot shorten their sentence for them.  We cannot get them out and bring them home with us to celebrate Christmas.  There will be no decorated tree in their cell, no special turkey dinner to enjoy…no presents, no family, no nothing.  They will spend Christmas as they have since they arrived–alone.  It is our hope that this year maybe they will realize that they are loved–that the baby came for all of us, including them.  $10 is all it takes to bring Christmas to one of these women.  $10 to let them know that someone, somewhere, cares.

If you would like to help with this outreach, donations may be sent to

Extreme Response International

PO Box 345

Snellville, GA.  30078

Please mark your gift “Alma Libre–Christmas 2013”.


“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.” ~Emily Dickinson





Back in the game.

Yesterday, for the first time in probably 7 years, I attended the weekly kid’s club at the dump.  One of the drawbacks (among the MANY blessings) of working at the Alliance Academy was that it kept me out of the ministry loop, other than the yearly Christmas parties.  During the last several party weeks, I have found myself very disturbed at the fact that I was essentially just like most of our team members–coming in for the week of the parties but not having much involvement throughout the rest of the year.  Working full-time drained what little energy that my fibromyalgia consented to give me, and left me too exhausted for much else.

At the start of the 2012-2013 school year, Dan and I did a lot of talking and praying about whether or not it was time for me to resign from the school and become more actively involved with Extreme Response.  It was not an easy decision.  I have worked very hard to get my degree in Special Education, and last year I was moved from the library to the classroom.  I was beyond excited and yet I knew in my heart of hearts that it would only be for the one year.  Kristina was graduating, and Patrick’s educational needs were becoming more intense.  In October I talked to my supervisor and essentially turned in a 7 month notice.  There was an immediate peace.  At the end of the year I cleaned out my much-loved classroom, turned in my key, withdrew Patrick and walked out the door into the unknown.

Patrick is being home-schooled now, and so far things are going well for the most part.  I home-schooled my other children when they were small, but even so I found myself very nervous at the prospect of starting over.  I now have three children in college, and the identity crisis that has resulted from this development has left me reeling.  I have no specific job assignment with Extreme Response, which is unnerving for me.  We joined ER in December of 2006, and I went to work at the school in February of 2007.  For the last seven years, Dan and I have had separate identities.  Now all of a sudden he still has his, and I am floating out here without mine.  I now have one child at home instead of four, I’m not working for the first time in years, and the things that I think I want to do don’t seem to be on anyone else’s agenda, including Gods.  He is being conspicuously silent on just exactly what it is He would like for me to throw myself into next.

I mentioned before that I had complete peace about resigning–I still have that.  I know that my time at the school had ended, and so this isn’t really meant to be a “Gee, I really wish I hadn’t done that” post.  It’s more of a “what now?” post.  Going to the dump yesterday felt good, and right, and I enjoyed it.  I told Dan that I would help with it this year, and I am looking forward to that, but it can’t be all that I do.  For one thing, it’s an established ministry…someone else’s passion.

I guess all of this is to ask you to pray for me.  I’m feeling anxious and panicky right now without a defined role anywhere.  I am not a very good “waiter”–I need answers and organization and direction in order to function.  I need a purpose.  A passion.  A hill to die on.  I need to find me.

“Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland