A Beautiful Mess


Surrounded by Rebecca Ruybalid Stone

Summer is here! The prompt for this new season is “Embodying Love.” We have an amazing line-up for the next few months, but there is room, so if you would like to contribute a piece on Embodying Love, click here and we’ll be in touch.  And to kick us off is a wonderful woman and writer, Rebecca Ruybalid Stone, who has been one of ABM’s biggest supporters since the beginning!  Thank you for sharing your beautiful voice with us Becca.

Rebecca Stone likes the color red, independent movies, and turtle cheesecake. When not talking about theology with her husband or art journaling with her two sweet little girls, Rebecca can be found reading a good book, writing curriculum for churches, or talking with friends. Rebecca would love to run her own publishing company one day. Until then, she blogs about life and faith at With Pen in Hand.


I move around the garage with ease, fulfilling drink orders and collecting money. The smell of fresh trout fills the air. Talking and laughing all around me. Someone tells a joke in Spanish but can’t exactly figure out how to translate it for the rest of us.

It doesn’t matter. We are family.

As a child, I spend a lot of time in a valley on the southern border of Colorado, the place where my grandfather was raised. There are nine siblings in his family. I don’t have to go far to find a cousin or someone else who knows my family.

“Oh, yes. You’re Ruben’s granddaughter,” they say with a smile. At the drugstore. At the grocery. At the local church where grandma plays the piano for services and sometimes the accordion for Bible studies.

In the valley, I experience belonging and acceptance without having to be anything other than me. I bear the last name of my grandfather and that is enough to be delighted in and cherished by many.

On one particular occasion, the cousins and uncles and aunts gather at Aunt Susie’s house for a fish fry. We open up the garage door to create a makeshift patio area. Tables and chairs spill out toward the road, a major highway just a few feet away.

Uncle Jim turns on the grills and the electric skillets, and we pull out paper plates. Streamers are strung because it’s Aunt Lee’s birthday. Mine is tomorrow. Do we have enough napkins? It doesn’t matter. Aunt Lee lives next door. I’ll just skip past the hollyhocks to ask her to bring some. To her own party.

One by one the trucks and cars pull up with more rainbow trout caught that day and drinks and birthday cards. Some are for me. I’m enjoying every minute.

“My, how you’ve grown,” more than one cousin says. “How old are you going to be now?”

Let’s be honest. I am doted on that day.

Cars honk as they drive past the white stucco house. At one point I run across the highway to invite a friend named Randy and his family to come eat. They own the fish and tackle shop there in Mogote.

Next step: put on an apron. It’s time to take drink orders and serve Uncle Louie in his cowboy hat and my own dad, who is busy talking to cousin Butch. Aunt Susie teaches me to be a really good waitress that day. I earn $32 in tips. I am rich!

Truly, I am rich. For, as I move around the crowd of family members, I feel safe and received. Known. It doesn’t matter that I am barely seven years old or that the apron is nearly down to my feet. I am loved in that place. I matter.

I live on the plains now. Far from the Sangre De Cristo mountains and the Mogote Peaks, that portion of land where love spilled out of a garage and surrounded me in the valley.

And so many of my relatives are gone, buried in the cemetery down the road from Aunt Susie’s and Aunt Lee’s. Slowly, I am learning something new—to receive love and belonging from Someone beyond my family. The One who loved me on that day in August so long ago and loves me still.

His acceptance is never ending, because I bear His name. And He delights in me. Not just in the summertime. Not just the day before my birthday. I am surrounded by love each day.

Photo courtesy of Robert J. Ruybalid


  1. Hello Rebecca. I enjoyed your story of the time you spent in Mogote as a child. I lived in Mogote as a child also, age 3 to 8. In fact, I lived in the house you described as your Aunt Susie’s, next door to your Grandma Deluvinia, Grandpa Francisco, and some of their children. My dad, John Adonais Montoya, built that house and together with my mother, Priscilla, they opened a grocery store. As a young child, I had the experience of selling candy, pop, other foods, even pumping gas and sometimes selling worms for my brother, Fred. I remember your father, Ruben, in particular because on Saturdays my mother would bathe my sister, Lydia and me and put our hair in rag curls. Sometimes when we walked to the mailbox across the road from your grandma’s, Ruben was collecting his mail also and he just couldn’t pass up the temptation of pulling our rag curls. I still remember that and I’m sure he does too. The last time I saw Ruben was at McCurdy but I haven’t seen him or your mom for a few years now, so please give them my regards. I hope they’re both well. Like yourself, I have many, many fond memories of the years I lived in Mogote and I still go back occasionally. Most of the people I knew there are gone now, however, the church and cemetery are still places I love to visit.

    I also have a family connection to the Ruybalid family. My gr-grandfather, Juan Francisco Montoya, was a brother to Maria de los Angeles Montoya who married Antonio German Ruybalid.

  2. So beautiful! Thank you for helping me appreciate the love that surrounds us in family. All the times we break bread together with our families and celebrate milestones together, do we ever really stop and consider how we are loved by each of them? Such beauty in familiarity. Wonderful post. Thank you!

  3. Juanita – Thanks for your comment. How amazing to learn that your dad built the white stucco house! I just recently found out that it was a store/gas station first, which makes sense given the location and layout. I will be sure to say HI to Grandpa and Grandma for you. I’ll have to ask Grandpa about the rag curls. 😉

    Heather – Blessings to you as you continue to break bread with your loved ones and celebrate milestones too. May you feel His presence nearby when you are together and when you are apart.

  4. becca, great story of how it used to be. i have my dad’s cowboy hats and boots. i just can’t fill his shoes as a fisherman. i go to the same places we used to fish, but can’t seem to catch anything. i’m going out to taos and then on to mogote for the headstone ceremony.i remember the baseball games and family reunions and camping trips with all the cousins and aunts and uncles, it doesn’t get any better then that.
    as always, david stanley ruybalid

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