Holding Butterflies

Not too tight, not too loose

Creative Accounting, 10/20

I seem to always have a bunch of projects in the pipeline, and I thought it would be fun to periodically share what I’m working on. Both of my grandmothers did tons of sewing or quilting, and I find myself coming full circle to that since I just finished my first quilt last month. And since I am a self-avowed “bad finisher” this might be a good place to ‘fess up to all the projects that sit around! Plus I’m a dork and can’t resist a bad pun. Sometimes actuaries have to explain what they do, and a pretty pithy explanation is that we are exceptionally creative accountants. (We even get to predict the future!) So this title is kind of a groaner, you know? Anyway, when I’m not writing jokes, here are a few things I’ve got in the pipeline right now: Pillows for the couch. I’ve got some lime and turquoise ones right now but they are KILLING me because they look too summery. The rich blues, greens.. Read More

An ordinary blog.

I read this today: What if Having an Extraordinary Life Isn’t the Point? (via Maggie’s Farm, a source of endless great articles for me!). Go read it. I’ll wait. So here’s the deal:  I enjoy writing, like to write a blog, and I’m glad I’m doing it again. But we are just ordinary. So ordinary. And I always felt like I needed to say something earth-shaking, make an IMPACT for goodness’ sake. Or I was just wasting my time. But frankly, I don’t have time to shake the earth while I am raising my four sweet kids, keeping up with my husband and farm and the endless laundry.  I don’t think that I’m called to do something more earth-shaking, more extraordinary, than just these few things right now. My ego wishes it weren’t so. I love talking in front of people. But I don’t really have anything extraordinary to say. Wouldn’t it be cool to have some awesome insight, a great message to take to people? But that’s not who.. Read More

HOPE Summary

Here are links to all the posts I wrote about our trip to Dominican Republic with HOPE International. I thought I’d put them all together to make them easier to find! Sharing HOPE Still in Dominican Republic! One HOPEful weekend Every loan has a story. The Landlady Final thoughts on HOPE

Final thoughts on HOPE

I feel like I need to wrap up my trip. I’ve shared many stories and pictures, but there are a couple of little gaps. The HOW:  Microloans work because people who don’t have financial capital have social capital. The group microlending I shared earlier works with groups of five borrowers. While each person decides what loan they need, the GROUP is responsible for the GROUP’S loan. So there is a lot of pressure from the community–and a lot of help, too–to make good on the loans. We saw the lady whose clothing business failed. Her group helped her come up with another idea. It was in their interest because they would have been on the hook for her loan if she couldn’t have paid! The loan usually has to be paid back in six months.  This keeps the amounts manageable. Associates can take another loan at the end of the six month cycle, and many do. Most of the people we met are multi-year clients of Esperanza. Our group:  One.. Read More

The Landlady

Now that I have pictures, I’d like to share the story of one Esperanza client. Meet Nancy, pictured here with her loan officer (and friend, mentor and pastor), Ycedro. Fifteen years ago, Nancy didn’t have a business. She did have a daughter-in-law, though, who suggested she at least start selling juices to earn a little extra money. So she took a loan from Esperanza for equipment, and that juice stand has grown and grown and grown… To a colmado (corner store)… And a nice home… And a four-plex that she rents out (It’s the orange building behind Nancy down there)! There is even room to grow plantains. Two of her children are still in school. One is finishing high school and another is headed to college. Esperanza helps with school loans! These are two of her sweet grandchildren. Nancy has changed their lives by participating in Esperanza. And if you ask Nancy if this is all, she laughs. She says NO! Her first priority is a second location for another.. Read More

Is it beautiful?

Today around lunchtime I had a thought I’m pretty sure I’ve never thought before: “I want to make something beautiful.” It had been a perfectly nice day but this week has been a little short on creativity. My off-track thoroughbred (OTTB) Finn had given me a terrific lesson this morning, but there’s been more than the normal crush of laundry this week, plus getting back in the groove of home life after even a short time away. But I don’t think I’d ever thought THAT. The desire to make beauty. Well.  Honestly, I think I know what I was thinking about. I’m making pillows for the family room that are a mix of hot and cool Anna Maria Horner prints. The combination is just delicious to me. I am dying to finish them and can’t seem to get them done! I went to my sewing room and started putting pieces together. I thought that this indeed is beautiful. I really love these prints. But then my sewing machine refused to.. Read More

Every loan has a story.

Oh, friends, I am having such stupid blogging troubles. I have so many pictures that I want to share, but WordPress is not feeling cooperative. So I’m stuck between telling a story with words only, or no post at all.  I’m choosing to tell the story… Imagine that you are one of the billion or so people in the world who live on less than $1.25 a day. Every day is a balancing act–things that middle-class Americans take for granted simply don’t exist. If you have an idea that requires some capital, your only choice is to save. Your savings is in cash, so it’s easy to steal. If it’s paper, it can be destroyed by flood or flame or animals. You probably live in a culture that demands you support your family–whatever you have is theirs, and if they have a need and you have the means, well, you simply must share. The only kind of loan you can get is from a loan shark–you’re too small to deal.. Read More

Sunshine turns Eleven

***I’m having technical difficulties getting my pictures up. Ugh. I’m posting this in the knowledge that I’ll be editing it tomorrow, I hope, to add pictures.*** Ever since she was born, we’ve thought of Darcy as our sunshine. Something about that wide-eyed, open smile. Plus she can be hilarious so we are always laughing. Our baby girl turned 11 today. What a precious gift. We had dinner with all the grands tonight. Nothing fancy but a fun time around the table. And we laughed. A lot. I’m still trying to remember what Matthew said that started us just rolling at the dinner table. Isn’t it funny? The memories of the laughter last a lot longer than the joke itself. Updated: Here are the pictures I wanted to post the other night…  


We left town for four days, but I swear the kids are two years older. How does that happen? I wanted to take a little break from telling about my trip. I still have so many thoughts just swimming around and I want to do a good job of telling the stories we heard. Not much processing went on today, though, because the kids had the day off and we needed to get caught up! So today was back-and-forth to football practice, a visit to the orthodontist, a shopping trip to buy homecoming dance clothes, and time for a ride. In other words, right back into real life, where nothing that was on your list gets done but all of it is good. We ended our day with Chinese food and a lot of conversation. It’s homecoming week this week and somehow we will need to pack ten days of crazy into a four-day week. Plus a super-sweet certain someone is celebrating her 11th birthday this week and cakes need.. Read More

One HOPEful weekend

Bill and I just returned from a crash course in microfinance in the Dominican Republic. Somehow we were invited on the HOPE International President’s Trip, somehow we decided to go, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are amazed at the people we met, from the HOPE and Esperanza employees, to the associates, to the fellow President’s Trip attendees. We are just grateful for the opportunity. In a nutshell, Esperanza provides Christian-based microfinance services in the Dominican Republic. When HOPE decided to work in DR, they discovered that the better mission would be to support Esperanza’s efforts that were already in place. It seems to be a terrific partnership. (And as a donor, you have to love an organization that doesn’t feel the need to recreate the wheel!) Honestly, we just got back this afternoon and we are still kind of reeling from so many great things that we saw this weekend. But let me leave you with three thoughts for tonight: About the HOPE and Esperanza employees: total commitment.. Read More