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Broken Things


Julie Miller is one of those Texas songwriters whose name few people have heard.  Born in Waxahachie, Texas, she migrated to Austin and was part of that music community from an early age, writing and performing her songs and backing other performers.

I heard her song “Broken Things” for the first time about 30 years ago.  It tells of a heart that is broken and surrendered for Jesus to make new.


You can have my heart, though it isn’t new 

It’s been used and broken, and only comes in blue 

It’s been down a long road, and it got dirty along the way 

If I give it to you, will you make it clean And wash the shame away?


Like many who came to follow Christ after some years of wandering, those words accurately described my life.  As I came to understand what God was offering through Jesus, I was able to give up my heart for cleaning and repair by Jesus.

When volunteers come to serve with MDS there is often a sense of surrendering previous preferences and ideas for new ones.  In the colonias of the Rio Grande Valley, (RGV) our conventional wisdom is confronted with a new understanding of what poverty and community look like. MDS volunteers become the channel God uses to repair the damage inflicted on our clients’ homes and neighborhoods.  It is often with considerable fear that our clients allow MDS to come into their lives and repair or rebuild the broken things.


You can have my heart, if you don’t mind broken things 

You can have my life; you don’t mind these tears 

Well, I heard that you make old things new 

So I give these pieces all to you 

If you want it, you can have my heart.


In the RGV, the results of decades of neglect and prejudice are shown in broad daylight.  MDS was invited to help rebuild.  The volunteers have come and work is being done on the three new houses started before the break for Christmas.  This week we have weekly volunteers from southern Indiana and Pennsylvania, and long term volunteers from Nebraska, Michigan, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  Great progress was made on all three houses.

House No.1 is in one of the more difficult phases of every house building project, drywall mudding and finishing.  Some rain and high humidity slowed the drying process, but the crews made excellent progress this week. Most joints are ready for sanding and final touch-up.

At House No.2, the week was a balancing act between the electrical and plumbing rough-in work versus getting insulation and drywall installed. The electrical rough-in was tested, a couple of missing wires were pulled, and insulation in the outer walls went in quickly.  The remaining plumbing rough-in was resumed on Thursday, while ceiling insulation and drywall hanging proceeded with lots of enthusiasm by the young women from southern Indiana.  Final testing of the plumbing was completed and almost all of the drywall was hung.

At house No.3, the volunteers exceeded all expectations for the week.  Beginning on the back end of the house, the crew of young women learned how to install exterior trim and siding.  The learning curve moved quickly upward and by Thursday, all of the exterior was covered.  Caulking of seams and painting progressed well, and the front porch occupied the carpenters of the crew once the siding was completed.  By the end of Friday workday, the entire house was painted a wonderful blue with grey trim.

At the end of the week, one generous crew leader rewarded all the volunteers with a stop at the Texas Stop Sign, aka Dairy Queen.

After having a heart attack and by-pass surgery to repair my heart in March of 2020, the words of this song gained another meaning for me.


So beyond repair, nothing I could do 

I tried to fix it myself, but it only was worse when I got through 

Then you walk right into my darkness,  and you speak words so sweet 

And you hold me like a child ’til my frozen tears fall down at your feet 

You can have my heart, if you don’t mind broken things….

So I give these pieces up to you 

If you want it, you can have my heart


As we come to the end of our first week of 2022 at the McAllen MDS project, we can understand that the surrender, cleaning and repair of our hearts is a constant process for followers of Christ.  As He puts us into new situations and blesses us with new understandings, our hearts break for the sorrow, poverty and injustice we see.  The healing of our hearts occurs when we offer ourselves as the Hands and Feet of Jesus to respond to what we’ve seen.  

Entering this week, we had two of our volunteers testing positive for Covid. This was added to the challenges of resuming MDS work in 2022.  As we complete this week, we look back on successful quarantining followed by negative tests, lots of good food, great discussions over border issues, and excellent work on the houses.  As we look ahead to the coming weeks, we are humbled to be trusted with this work.


From Weslaco, Texas

Reba, Ellen, Cody, Andrew, Leroy, Doreen, Mike, Edith and Carl

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