Friday, July 15, 2011

Gladeis' story...from Brendan's eyes

This was written by Brendan, one of the med students on our last medical trip a couple weeks ago.  It's a snapshot into some of the tough situations these medical teams deal with.
                             
From across the diagnostics/treatment tent I see Dr. Josh gesturing for me to come over.  It is a rudimentary establishment, some blue tarp extending from the side of a clapboard-and-t in building, propped up by metal poles on the far end.  A plank laid across two wicker chairs serves as
a backless bench for waiting patients.  It is only late morning and already the temperature is climbing into the 90s.  Although the tarp offers a modicum of shade, the sun's heat combined with the moisture emanating from roughly two dozen bodies crammed into a tight space make for a tropical microclimate.  As I make my way over the treacherously uneven ground I realize there is no classy way to wipe away sweat as it pours down the bridge of your nose.


"Put your stethoscope right there," Dr. Josh says quietly.  Gladeis Jeanly, a slender girl of seventeen, sits quietly on one of the wicker chairs borrowed from the adjacent shop.  Her face remains expressionless, but the sidelong glance she is giving me speaks of trust, tempered with wariness.  "May I?" I ask, gesturing to the bell of my stethoscope.  She nods silently before Jaques the translator even says anything.  As the earpieces nestle snugly within my ear canals, I hear the background noise fade to a muffled hum.  Nearly all of my sensory input now comes from that device.  As I slide the bell into place on her left chest, my eyes barely recognize the satiny red fabric of her dress.  My brain is disregarding their input as superfluous; what matters is the sound that is being channeled from within her chest to my ears, and that sound is unsettling.  "Rheumatic fever," Dr. Josh says "or at least, that's what we expect happened.  We weren't here." He explains the auto-immune disorder that occurs with a certain strain of untreated strep - the body begins to dissolve the valves of its own heart in a woefully misguided attempt at attacking the infection.  For whatever reason, rheumatic fever is incredibly rare in the U.S., but it seems to be disturbingly common in Haiti.  


A healthy heart makes the familiar lub-dub noise when you listen to it. A heart with a "murmur," as a leak is referred to, sounds more like lub-swish as blood escapes the heart chambers through a faulty valve.  The only sound coming from this heart is an agonizingly long, unpunctuated  whoosh.  "We've been following this case for about two years now," Dr. Josh says. "We had an echo-cardiogram done. We suspect that she got over the strep years ago, but now all of her valves are completely gone."  I stare in silence for a second at her chest wall, imagining that heart pumping in vain, raggedy valves flapping uselessly.  "So. what do we do?"  Dr. Josh's jaw sets.  He says nothing for a while, and then, quietly: "This is why it would have been nice to see her when it was just strep."  

He sits back down in his chair across from Gladeis.  They look at each other for a few moments wordlessly, Josh sweating beneath his weathered Hawkeyes baseball cap, Gladeis in her red dress, hands folded in her lap.  The sun filters through the tarp above and washes the entire area in a faded pastel blue.  Josh shifts in his seat, not looking away from her, but obviously grasping for words.  He makes a glance at Jacques the translator sitting next to him, who nods in acknowledgement.  Turning back to Gladeis, he says: "What you have is something rare in the
United States."  The translator quickly iterates the Creole version.  Gladeis remains stone-faced. Dr. Josh continues: "These doctors here, they don't see this disease that you have.  You are teaching them."  A blink from Gladeis.  "Because of you, other people will be better."  Blink.  "You should be proud."  Maybe a slight nod, maybe just a tiny bow of resignation.  


I've had the stethoscope out of my ears for several minutes now, but the background noise seems to have completely stopped.  Assessments are occurring behind me, procedures and conversations and research inquiries, but none of it registers.  Right now the entire world revolves around this one moment, between doctor and slowly-dying patient.  "May I pray for you?" Gladeis nods.  Her slender hands disappear almost completely in his has he leans forward, hunching over in thought. He gently caresses her fingers with his, his veins bulging in the heat and rolling with the movement of his tendons.  They sit like that for a few moments, Gladeis serene and melancholy as Josh's hands articulate the frustration and anguish his face refuses to express.  "God, please help this poor girl-" I hear him begin.  Jacques dutifully interprets.  The prayer becomes a mumble to me as the scene sears itself into my memory forever - the serenity of Gladeis' face and weary-yet-resilient posture, the blue tint in the air under the tarp reminiscent of light through a cathedral's stained glass, the physical connection between hands communicating intent far before language refines the details.  I step out into the blazing afternoon sun and make a bee-line up the road.  No way in hell my eyes are going to stay dry for much longer.  My task for the moment is to find a quiet place to lose it while thinking about the difference that a few cents worth of penicillin could have made some years ago in the life of Gladeis Jeanly.

Gladeis' case is all too familiar.  I think about how often my kids have had strep throat, and how if not treated, their heart could become like Gladeis'.  These medical teams see some very tough cases.  In the same day the docs saw Gladeis, they also saw a 30 year old, single mother of 4, with late stage breast cancer.  There was nothing they could do for her medically.  They prayed with her, held her hand, and talked with her about the need to find someone to take care of her children soon.

But for all the frustrations of what the medical teams can't help with, there are just as many success stories.  Pre-ecclamptic pregnant women who get IV meds and taken to hospital.  Men & women with blood pressures that could stroke at any minute that are given meds to get their hypertension under control.  Babies delivered safely in a sterile environment.  Children receive meds whose bellies are infested with parasites.  Sometimes it's just being willing to sit with an old lady and listen to her story.  But at every medical clinic we do, I know this...Lives are saved.  Hope is given freely.  Love is administered to every single patient.

If you are interested in being part of one of our medical teams, please email me at brian@harvestfieldhaiti.org

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Meet Joseph

I want to introduce you to my new friend, Joseph.  I'm a lucky man to have met him yesterday afternoon.  Hyppolite and I are in Les Anglais trying to scout out some potential existing buildings in which to move 20 children in Pastor Ezena's orphanage.  For now Pastor Ezena has the children in an abandoned church sanctuary but conditions are horrible - space is not adequate; no toilet facilities; no bathing facilities; it's low lying with standing water so the mosquitoes (and hence malaria & typhoid) are horrible.  There is no place  for the kids to play; and if the land owner ever shows up they could evict them.  Lots of reasons to get these children somewhere safe as soon as we can.  These children have no other place to go.

So yesterday we toured the vacant home we'd like to rent - a nice 2 story home with 5 bedrooms, dining room/big kitchen, 3 toilets with sufficient septic space, a fenced in back yard for the children to play in, very close to a public well (that pastor Ezena actually had installed for the community), and...only $1,900 per year to rent it!

As I'm looking around I see lots of children there, and I asked the property owner "Whose kids are these and will they have a place to stay if we rent this house?"  The landlord responded that they were all his kids or friends of his kids and he was just letting them play here sometimes because the house was empty and they liked the back yard.  "Except this one" he said, "that's Joseph," pointing to Joseph who was busy playing by himself, kicking a piece of gravel around like a soccer ball, with all the intensity as if he was in the final game of the world cup.  I said "What's Joseph's story?  Where are his parents?"  The man began to explain to Pastor Ezena and I that he had found Joseph sleeping on the street in front of his house a couple months ago. He felt bad for him so he was permitting him to sleep in a vacant shack behind the home we'd like to rent for the orphanage.  I asked if he had eaten today and he responded "poco" (not yet).  It was 6:00 PM.  "He never know who his daddy is and his momma went to port-au-prince 6 month ago and just leave him in the street with nobody" the man explained.  I asked "How old are you Joseph?" he just shrugged his shoulders.  "He don't know how old he is; he don't even know for sure how many months since his momma go away.   But I think he got about 8 years" the landlord shared matter-of-factly.

I looked across at Pastor Ezena, who had knelt down to the child.  He looked at him and said, "Joseph, would you like to stay with me until we can find your family?"  Staring down at the ground, never making eye contact, Joseph just grinned and nodded yes.

Ok, at this point the big, strong blanc (me) had been reduced to a blubbering heap.  The ironic thing is Pastor Ezena and I had just had a conversation about how we didn't have funds to properly care for the 20 boys and girls, so we definitely do not need to add anymore children.  Then we met Joseph. 

I felt like such a hypocrite. So many times I've expressed frustration about orphanages in Haiti who accept too many kids and allow them to live in awful conditions.  So many times I've condemned men like Pastor Ezena for taking a child in, when he doesn't have the ability to provide for him.  But in this situation I couldn't say anything except for "good job" to Pastor Ezena.

Some of the kids at pastor Ezena's orphanage have parents.  We are working with them to learn a skill or trade so they can provide for their children and we can place them back into their family.   But for several others, whose parents are dead or who have been abandoned, like Joseph, it is a different story.  Unless their family can be found, they will be with Pastor Ezena until adulthood.   Pastor Ezena is their daddy now, and he is a good one.

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy...

If you would like to help with support or renting the home for these 20... or 21 children, you can contact me at Brian@harvestfieldhaiti.org.  If you can't help financially, please pray for those who can, and please pray for Joseph for a couple minutes today.

Blessings,
Brian

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Confession Time - I'm Gross (Brian's 1st Blog)

Rachel has asked me to blog on here but most of the time I’m more of a tweet & facebook kind of guy.  Spare time seems pretty rare for me, so I usually don’t want to use it to sit in front of a keyboard.  But I had a revelation the other day so I thought I’d use my inaugural guest blog  to confess & share…I’m gross.
Spiritually gross, that is.  This is no big surprise to those of you that know me well.  I could tell you lots of ways my heart is black and sinful but for today I want to just share a little bit about ugly pride.  You may (or may not) have noticed, I’ve been a little leaner on the tweets & facebook posts the last few weeks.  That has been intentional and here is why – Pride.  A few weeks ago I’m reading through Leviticus and I found myself thinking “there is nothing good in here to tweet”.  I know, yuck.  The sad thing is, it wasn’t until later in the day that it hit me how disgusting the thought was.  I’m sitting at my desk and it hits me.  “Did I actually say that?”  “Did I actually take the Holy, Perfect Scripture; the Living, Breathing Word of God, perfect in all ways, and have a negative thought about it because I couldn’t find a neat little verse that is 140 characters or less?!”  I had made Scripture more about me wanting to tweet something than about me learning something that could make me more like Jesus.  I had made it all about me.

There have been times I’ve thought facebook is “of the debul” (that’s “of the devil” to anyone who is not a Adam Sandler/Waterboy fan) so I just had to ask myself why I started doing the whole tweet/facebook thing anyway?  It started as a way to let folks know about what was going on with Harvest Field & our family and hopefully to provide some encouragement & truth in people’s day.  And none of those are bad reasons; but I think I have to be careful or it can become very PRIDEFUL. 

Rachel calls Pride the ‘gateway sin’ like marijuana is a gateway drug.  Sure, smoke a little of the devil’s lettuce and it’s no big deal; but then a year later you find yourself downtown in an abandoned building sitting on a dirty floor sharing needles to shoot heroin.  You get a little pride, sure it’s no big deal; but then it leads to gossip, envy, vanity, lust, arrogance, anger, etc.  Okay, maybe the analogy is a little bit of a stretch, but hopefully you get the picture.  We can all get a little prideful about who we think we are or what we think we’ve accomplished; then we find ourselves being envious because we think we should get the same deal our neighbor got; or we find ourselves gossiping and using our words to tear people down; or we grow a short fuse and easily become angry with others.  It’s a really gross cycle that pride can get kickstarted.

So my commitment is this – I plan to keep doing the twitter and facebook thing, and maybe an occasional blog (if Rachel allows me after this one) but I need to often do what I call the “spiritual arm pit self sniff”.  You know how when you’ve been in haiti for a while and you catch a whiff of someone with bad body odor and the thought enters your head “Oh no, I wonder if that is me that smells like a 6th grade boys locker room?”  So you wait until (you think) no one is looking and discreetly lift your arm and crane your neck over towards your own arm pit to sniff and see if it is you that is so rank.  Well I need to this same thing, but in a Spiritual way.  It looks different though…it is more a picture of getting on my knees and saying “Lord, please shine a spotlight on the darkest area of my heart. Show me where the sin is, that I’m not even recognizing as sin.  Make me aware of my grossness, then burden me with a desire to confess and repent that sin and have true heart change.” 

We all have a lot of sin in our life.  I am just very grateful that no matter how gross I am, my God will always provide more GRACE than I have sin.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Joy!!

When we walk the valleys it's hard to see the beauty of what is right in front of your face...  I'm thankful for the hugeness (not even sure that's a word) of God and the joy He gives me every day.

Here's a little taste of my Joy...

My Sweet Funny Girls!!!
These three crazy girls are hilarious!  They each have their own flavor of comedy.  They are quirkiest, silliest
girls I have ever known.  God could not have picked a more perfect addition to our girls than Merline.  She is so a combination of Emmie and Molly it's funny.  They're all quite full of themselves...  
Molly, well just look at the picture, she's just Molly!!
Merline LOVES to take pics of herself!
Don't be fooled, she may look sweet, but she will leave you bleeding on the side of the road with her quick wit and sharp tongue!

My Little Boy (who's not so little anymore)

Riley and Coach Dooley
 The joy this kid gets from any form of sports is crazy.  He gets more out of sports than I knew was possible.  He has a crazy amount of stats in his head, and not just about current players.  He soaks it all up.  His first UT football game it poured the rain from the beginning to the end, but Riley wouldn't leave the game until the last player left the field after it was over. 

And as much as he tries to hide it, he seriously loves his sisters.  All 3 of them...












My Brian (I know, GAG, right??)

Daddy and Merline at bedtime
This guy amazes me..  I cannot imagine walking through this life without him.  Honestly, being married to him has not been easy...  He takes chances and is willing to risk it all.  But the beauty is that he risks it all for God.  We have been burned many, many times, but Brian always reminds me that if He leads us to the fire, He will not withdraw His hand.  He stretches me and it hurts beyond hurt and he helps me grow.  He loves all his babies like a madman and is always willing to act a fool to make them laugh.  He puts up with my insanity and does it with grace.  It's impressive since I can be a bit of a handful. : )  He's nowhere near perfect, but he's ours and we count ourselves blessed...



Sweet, Sweet Friends

Carol and her little girl, Islande
Hyppolite and his little girl,  Lightdine
In this world we live in good friends are hard to come by.  I don't mean just friends, I mean the kind of friends that you can count on to love you even when you're at your worst and can't find a good thing to say about anything.  People that, when you're in the pit, are willing to get dirty and stick their hand down and help lift you out.  Sometimes they're even willing to crawl down in the pit with you and sit with you in the mud and muck.  I can't even begin to imagine our lives without these people...

Jesus
This is for Brian : )


Cannot even imagine what this place would look like with out Jesus...  Most days I can't even work up the energy to suck wind without him.  The truth of His word is how I want to live my life.  I fail most days, but because of His willingness to die, it's okay that I fail.  He picks me back up, pats me on the back, and sets back on the path.  Thankful for His sweet grace. 




 
The Path
Joy is knowing you're on the path you're supposed to be on.  Joy is knowing that even if the path is hidden by debris sometimes the one that is always holding your hand knows the way...  Trying to enjoy the journey is hard sometimes and looking too far ahead is inevitable, but leaning on our provider, protector will keep us centered and on the path...  Joy is knowing that even when you feel like your all alone, you never really are.


Thank you God for covering us always, and being gentle with us when we fight against you.  May our feet never leave your path...    

Monday, March 28, 2011

This Life...

It's been quite some time since I've taken moment to gather my thoughts for a blog post.  There's been quite a bit going on and I'm not sure anyone really wants to know the craziness that has been our life.  To be honest, I have been lying low just trying to take it all in and make sense of things I now know will never make any sense at all.  If there's anyone out there looking for something to pray for here ya go!  Please, please, please have at it!!!     

I'll start with a few truths about being in ministry.  It.  Is.  Hard.  There are lots of times that I look around and really don't recognize what our life has become.  I remember saying yes to God and am aware that saying yes to God does not mean a life full of blessings recognizable to the world.  I am aware that being obedient to God makes us very attractive to Satan(and this is true for anyone being obedient to God).  What I wasn't prepared for was the ease with which he (the enemy) could use people in our lives to tear us down, people we never imagined.  The power of the words people speak cannot be taken lightly.  Silence can be deafening.  Never knowing who to trust is difficult.  Ministries can be damaged and people hurt.  This kind of hurt is not something I ever thought we would face in this walk.  I have learned that everyone has an agenda.  Everyone.  Here's the thing... We cannot be moved.  As for our agenda...  Our agenda is to follow God, regardless of the rocks (or boulders) the enemy puts in our path.

I know that God's plan is not to harm us and that all the difficulties we face will create character in us.  I know that God is sovereign and although I ache to the core because of the words and actions of a few, God is still in control.  In the words of my sweet husband (who is wise as well) "in the scope of our eternity, none of this matters, it doesn't even register on the radar.  All this is just a vapor when compared to eternity."  I so wish it was as easy for me to see through Kingdom Eyes as it is for him.  Until I can grow into that I will rest in this...

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 

You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”     ~Psalm 91


Thank you sweet Jesus for loving me through my struggles and for not leaving my side as I wrestle with the hard stuff...  I love you...  Amen
      

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Belloc


I'm jealous...  Brian's in Haiti now and he's getting to spend some time with some great people that I miss so much.  He and the group with him, from Indiana, are spending the week in the community of Belloc.  The people of Belloc have endured quite a bit in last few years.  I am so excited that there are so many groups of people wanting to form relationships with these crazy-beautiful people.


Belloc

The community of Belloc used to be the main place Pastor Nicholas took people who came to Haiti on mission trips.  The people of Belloc became used to people coming and getting the things they brought with them.  Just like we do here in the U.S. they started to expect it.  After Pastor Nicholas became sick and people stopped sending money to his ministry the boy's orphanage had to close it's doors and people stopped coming like they had before.  Tensions grew and a pastor left the church.  The beauty of this is that the people grew in this time and remembered that God is their provider, not a pastor or a group of blancs.  Leaders have risen up in the church and they are working to care for each other.  This time as people start coming in and helping it's different.  The goal is relationship, long-term.  Through relationships spiritual growth can happen.  Through relationships skills can be taught for self sufficiency.  Through relationships there is change, in us and in them.  This is beautiful. 

So excited that this week the people of Belloc are breaking ground on a new church along with some partners from Indiana.  The church was destroyed in the earthquake and they have been worshipping in a tent since that time.  The faith of these people is amazing and we have much to learn from them.
 

Church
"I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened.  He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud.  He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip.  He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God.  More and more people are seeing this:  they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God."   ~Psalms 40:1-3

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This and That

Time goes by so fast and so slow.  Weird.  Riley, Merline, Emmie, and Molly are growing so fast and changing so much.  One of the reasons I've decided to blog about our journey is to document, for our kids and for us, what we miss when we get caught up in the everyday chaos.  It can be so hard to see the massive blessings that are being poured out onto our family when homework has to be done, fingers get smashed, or when the kids are missing Daddy or Merline.  These are just a few tidbits of life that I don't want to miss...

Riley
Riley is getting so big and he's starting to change.  He's starting to get a little quieter and really watches things that are going on around him.  He's very aware.  He's always been aware of people and their feelings, their needs.  He loves hard and feels deeply.  All of these things worry me because, as a mom, I want him to feel as little pain as possible.  Given how God has created him, this will not be possible.  I am thankful that he already understands that God is in his corner and will never leave him.  Still, the mommy in me wants to shield him from the bumps and bruises of life.  On the flip side, I still see bits of my little boy and the silliness of a child.  He told me that I was his valentine on Valentine's Day and that he was a Mama's boy.  I know these things will change and he will grow into a sometimes surly, angst-ridden teen-age boy soon, but for now I will gather up all the sweet moments I can and tuck them away for the day that little boy turns into a man.      

Emmie
My little Emersen is also starting to change a little.  She no longer likes pink or Dora the Explorer.  As Emmie has grown we have seen that she has a quirky sense of humor and she is happy being her own person.  She doesn't need a lot of people around to have fun, in fact, just give her a book and cozy spot to curl up in and she's content.  In the past year Emmie has made the decision to accept Jesus into her heart and she did it in typical Emmie fashion.  She told me on the way home from school one day that she prayed by herself at school and asked Jesus into her heart.  I asked her a ton of questions, including why she didn't wait until she was with me and Daddy, and she just said "Mama, I asked God if it was time and he said yes, so I prayed."  I wish I was that confident in what I hear God saying to me.

Molly
Little Molly...  Molly is beautiful and sweet.  I watch her as she follows behind Emmie wanting to be bigger.  She lost the second of her two front teeth last night and she was so happy.  She finds it fascinating that she can fit her whole tongue in the hole.  She's funny.  She is so excited about getting to go to Haiti with Brian and I when we go to get Merline to bring her home.  She thinks that is so cool and she wants to see her sister more than anything.  There's a lot of anxiety around the unknown for Molly and we are excited to be able to put some of those fears to rest for her.  We can't wait until then too.

Merline
We are lucky that Brian gets to visit with Merline so often, and that we can call her, but we are ready to bring her home.  We pray everyday that she will feel our love for her all the way in Haiti and that, even more, she will know how God loves her and has a plan for her.       
 
I think we all, as mamas and daddies, have times when our babies are little and we're tired, lost in a sea of diapers and are unsure if we can speak coherently or when they are older and they challenge us at every turn that we wonder what God was thinking trusting me with these little people.  I have had that thought so many times in so many different situations, but I have to say, I am so glad He has allowed Brian and I to be Mommy and Daddy for these little ones.  I can't imagine my life without them.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Faith Is Not My Own...

It's been a few days since I've been here and it's been quite hectic around our house.  Brian came home and the kids are off the wall excited that he will be home for at least another good week.  We are close to having the house finished and we will be ready to bring Merline home.  Just hoping things will get moving so we can get her home.  I miss her so much.  

This has definitely been a walk of faith to where we are in the adoption of our daughter, and to be honest, it's not done.  Here's a recap...  We no longer have a retirement nest-egg that we had from Brian's stint in the "corporate" world.  We now pray that one of our kids will do well financially and have mercy on us when we're old. : )  We have put our trust in people far away from us (who don't love our little girl like we do) to follow our paperwork and make sure it gets through the appropriate channels in a government that can't even hold an election without massive chaos and widespread fraud.  We have added onto our house to make room for her to be here because according to the U.S. government, our house was just not big enough for another person, even though no one would have had a problem if I popped one out the "normal" way.  Here's the kicker - even after all of that - we could still be told no.  Nothing is written in stone.  Nothing is final until we go and get her and she plants her feet on U.S. soil.  

It's okay, and here's why...  Because God started this process, we didn't.  He started it many years ago when He planted the seed of adoption in Brian's heart.  Regardless of whether or not Merline ever gets to lay her head down to sleep on a soft pillow in her new purple room, she's still my little girl and I will be a part of her life for as long as God allows.  Of course this would be very ugly and I know that only God would be able to get me through.  

All of this is tough.  Leaving my child after spending a week with her in Haiti is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  It is no different for me than leaving Riley, Emersen, or Molly there while I come back here and do life.  It's harder than I ever could have imagined.  I am so grateful that the faith Brian and I walk in is not our own.  If faith were something I had to conjure up every day, I would be a mess and would have jumped off this crazy train long ago.  Instead God gives it to me every day.  I know that He has started us on this path and regardless of the outcome he will be made more and we will be made less.  And in the end I pray my little girl will get to come home...
 
"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you."   Romans12:3 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Adventures

So Brian has gone back to Haiti again and it seems like the kids have been re-energized by having their Daddy at home, even if just for a few days.  I am thankful because the less drama this week the better!

We are close to being finished with construction on the addition to our house.  We started the addition before Christmas to make room for a new addition to our family.  When we moved into this house we knew that someday we would be adopting a child from Haiti because God had already revealed that to us.  What we didn't know was when it would happen and we just didn't think about trying to fit 4 growing children, 2 adults, and a 80 pound hairy dog into a 1500 sq. ft. house.  No, our thoughts were focused on getting into a position, financially, for Brian to walk away from his career to follow where God was leading.  (I still kind of freak at this a little.)  Just like many parents all over the world, God gave us a little surprise.  Only this surprise isn't in the form of a 7 pound baby girl.  Nope.  It's in the form of a 12 year old, prepubescent girl with a wicked sense of humor and some mad dance moves!  Oh my goodness...  I can honestly tell you between Merline's dance moves, Riley's indoor basketball, Molly's constant game of chase with the dog, and Emmie's strong desire to have a quiet place to disappear to,  this house was too small.  : )

So, as we reach the end of this most recent adventure of adding onto our house, I am getting excited about the start of the next adventure...  Bringing our baby girl home!  I can't wait to bring her home and watch her experience all kinds of firsts that the other three kids have already experienced.  I can't wait to see the world through her eyes and recognize the blessings we have in our life.  We take so much for granted.  My little girl cannot even fathom a refrigerator with food inside right now.  I wish we could save her from the depravity of having much.  Where is the balance?  Where she is now, she has so little and those around her have even less.  I don't want her to think that how we do it here in America is the right way.  It's not.  I don't want her to think that living with nothing, eating only enough to keep your body from shutting down is the right thing.  It's not.  Somewhere in the middle is where I pray we land.

I so desire for all my children to know that we are only blessed with "things" because God chose to give them to us.  The "stuff" we fill our lives with can often be distractions from the life we need to live.  Distraction from what we should spend our life doing, loving people.  We only have a short time here on this earth and it's easy to spend that time thinking about how things aren't going our way and how we need more.  Brian and I want more than that for our kids.  I read a blog post a while back that just nailed it for me.  It was titled "I don't want my children to be happy."  It spoke to what I want from my own life as much as what I want for my children's lives.  For the time we have here on this Earth, I just want to be in the fat middle of God's will.  Wherever and whatever that looks like...
 

And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, "Today, at the latest, tomorrow—we're off to such and such a city for the year. We're going to start a business and make a lot of money."  You don't know the first thing about tomorrow.  You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.  Instead, make it a habit to say, "If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that."   ~James 4:13-15,  The Message

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Where We Are...

Brian's been in Haiti for a while and he came home today.  I cannot put into words how nice it is to have him here for a few days.  There is so much to do and so very little time to do it, but I'm trying to shut that out for just a bit so we can just focus on being a family, even if it's just for a few days.

The kids have struggled with Brian being gone much more this time.   I'm struggling with how to teach them to trust that God has us where He wants us.  It's tough and I do a really stinky job at it.

Riley still seems to be okay, but I know he tries to be tough.  He seems to know when his little sisters are close to the edge and that if he loses it, they lose it.  I don't like that he feels the need to hold it together for his sisters.  Responsibility will come, I just want him to be able to be little for a while longer. 

While Emmie seems to deal with Brian being gone well most of the time, she has reached her limit.  a few nights ago we were discussing two birthday parties she had been invited to and I reminded her that Brian would be leaving early Saturday morning before she woke up (in hopes that she would see the Friday party was a better choice than the mid-week party).  Her eyes welled up and she said she didn't want to go to any birthday parties, she just wanted to stay with Daddy.  After lots of conversation and hugs and kisses, she and I finally made a decision together that she would go to her friend, Maddie's party since Daddy would be leaving before she woke up on Saturday anyway.  I have no idea how to manage all these little feelings.  I hate the hurt she feels and I hate that there's no easy fix.  So hard.

And little Molly has really just struggled from the get-go this time.  She just has a strong need for all of us to be together in the same place as often as possible.  Molly is a home-body.  She is most comfortable at home with her doggie and her peeps (in that order).  Take her out of that for more than a few days and the melt down starts.  It's very difficult to keep her in a good place so she can find her "happy" and do well in school.  She doesn't get this Haiti stuff, she's never been where we we've been.  She doesn't understand getting a new sister, she's never played with her and never hugged her.  It's hard to expect her to understand these things when even we have a hard time getting it.  I pray for peace for my little girl and for words that will build her up, not tear her down.

We walk with one foot in one world and the other foot in another world and it's so hard.  I know that God has our family where he wants us, and that we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing.  Making sure our family, our first ministry, is safe is hard.  Exposing ourselves to the hits that come with walking in ministry is something Brian and I can handle, maybe not well, but we do handle it.  Exposing our children to those hits...  not good at that.  Can't seem to find the balance between letting them understand that things aren't always easy and this stuff is just too much.  Praying for God to pour out wisdom.  Until then I'm just gonna crawl into Psalm 91 and rest...

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you... 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Saw What I Saw...

I Saw What I Saw is a beautiful song by Sara Groves that captures the feelings of amazement, hurt, and joy all evoked by the strength of these people...



 

 I saw what I saw and I can't forget it,  I heard what I heard and I can't go back, I know what I know and I can't deny it...

Something on the road 
Cut me to the soul...





Your pain has changed me,
Your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
And what I know of love...




We've done what we've done 
and we can't erase it...
We are what we are 

and it's more than enough...
We have what we have 

but it's no substitution...






Your pain has changed me,
Your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
And what I know of love... 


And what I know of God... 


 All photos were taken by a sweet friend, Shannon Kelley.  Thanks Shannon for capturing such beautiful images and for letting me share...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gleaning Wisdom

I have opened up the invitation to Brian to blog on here from time to time, but he hasn't taken me up on it yet.  But this morning he shared something on twitter/facebook that I just thought was worthy of sharing.  So, I'm doing it for him...  : )  

From Brian:
I met with a gentleman named Walt Baker a couple days ago.  Walt was called to full-time service in Haiti in 1958.  What an amazing guy and a wealth of knowledge.  In the few hours we were together he shared much advice that I enjoyed, but one piece of advice I particularly appreciated was for me to grasp the idea that my role is not to have a ministry that is succeeding (in the worlds eyes) but instead to just be obedient to whatever God asks of me. This is the exact advice I received from another  80+ yr old veteran of international missions a couple months ago.  These are two Godly men in the waning stages of their earthly life who have lived and learned much and they are now sharing their heart with younger guys so I think I'd be a fool to not listen. And as I've thought about their wise council I've realized it isn't just foreign missions work that we should apply that to - it's everything our lives.

God doesn't lose sleep over the success or failure (in earthly measurements) of our efforts - He is concerned about our obedience and the attitude of our heart in that obedience.

Lord, let our actions be obedient to all you ask of us today, and let our hearts be pure in those moments of obedient action.  Amen.

PS - Will you please pray for Walt's wife, Dottie, today? She is finishing up chemotherapy in the States now as they prepare to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Drama...

This world is full of drama.  It's everywhere and I get so weary.  Why is it necessary to beat each other up?   Why do we feel the need to have people on "our side?"  When did it become okay to be ugly to people and say hurtful things in the vein of being honest?  None of this sounds like scripture to me.  To be honest, none of this sounds like basic kindness to me.  Make no mistake, this is not meant to be "preachy", I have found myself  involved in this stuff too.  I don't know many people, or really anyone who hasn't found themselves in the middle of a he said/she said mess.  I'm finally understanding why there always seems to be some kind of drama. 

Drama is no more than a smokescreen used by the enemy to take our eye off God and to distort our view of each other.  

Taking the focus off God and placing it on chaotic situations around us causes us to lose sight of what should be the most important thing...  God's will and His call on each of our lives.  If we focus our time and attention on stuff like "why does he/she not like me" or what one person says about another, what time do we have to give to listening to God or hearing where He wants us to walk next.  Oh my gosh, how unbelievably lost we'll be.  I have been that person.  I'm a people-pleaser, I want everybody to like me.  I have spent unknown hours obsessing about what someone has said or is saying about me.  Sounds stupid, is stupid, but it's true.

When people talk and talk things get crazy, stories grow, people form opinions.  Many of those opinions are unhealthy and based on nothing close to truth.  This is what Satan uses to separate us from each other and the will of God.  What I have learned though, is that Satan can't use this stuff unless he's given a foot-hold.  We open ourselves up by being insecure or by being prideful and thinking "I've got this thing figured out."  Truth is, none of us have it figured out.  Once all this happens our view of each other has been changed.  We don't trust each other.  When we allow this to happen how can we possibly achieve what God has called us, as a people, to do in this world.  We can't, it's that simple.
        
Knowing these things, my prayer for me and my family is that we can keep it simple and keep our focus.  It's not easy, we are a family of messy and sinful people who are sucking air on this earth only because God decided we could.  We will try to love people like God and treat people the way Jesus did.  We Will Fail.  And when we fail, we know that God will place His hands under our arms, much like a Daddy with his toddler, and lift us back up to continue on.  It is my hope and desire that we as a family can keep it together enough to shine His light and bring HIS name more fame and more glory, not ours.  That's what it's all about.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

God Is So Great!

I guess another name for this post could be God's Answers to "My Moment."  Funny.  Here is how God answered my pity-party issues last night...

~First and foremost, athlete's foot does not cause death, which was kinda what it was looking like last night, poor guy.  We didn't have anything last night so I ended up squeezing a ton of hydro-cortisone cream on it and told him it would help.  Don't know if it actually did help or if the idea that it might help did the trick, but he finally got to sleep.  We treated it today with the real stuff and he should be good to go soon.  Interesting note, my brother called me and told me today that honey can be used as an anti-fungal.  "Next time put it on the affected area and stick footies on him."  (Thank you Randy, you have the oddest things locked in that mind!)  Looked it up on the internet and not only can it be used as an anti-fungal, it can also be used as an anti-bacterial and anti-viral.  Crazy!!  Oh, and guess what?  I have a jar of local raw honey in the cabinet.  Oh well, live and learn.

~As for getting my little girl home, God will bring her home in His timing.  Oh, that's a hard pill to swallow.  I want to tuck her into her bed at night, pray with her, and kiss her sweet head.  It's okay though, I know that God's got this.  Even if I'm crying again tomorrow, and odds are I will be.  Regardless of fixed elections, cholera, Baby Doc, or other hindrances, God's plan will be accomplished by His power alone.  It's how we've gotten this far and I take comfort in that.   

~When it comes to spending the night in the living room with 2 adults, 3 kids, 1 big hairy dog, and three rooms of furniture (4 counting the furniture already in the living room), it'll be crazy but short-lived and maybe fun.  Honestly, I think God stayed quiet on this one, just like when I was growing up and would whine about something that just wasn't that big a deal and my Mom would give me that "really?" look.  You know the look, head cocked to the side, one eyebrow up, hand on the hip.  Had I been able to visibly see God, I'm pretty sure He would have had the "really?" look.

~The whole Brian getting home and leaving again thing...  we'll deal with it.  It'll be difficult, and I'll miss my friend, but it's part of the deal.  Thinking we could be a little more realistic in the planning stages next time, but it'll be okay.  When I feel the moment coming when I know I'm going to fall apart, I have to trust.  Trust in God enough to know that He will bring me through the fire...    

"I love you, God— you make me strong.  God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight.  My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout.  I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty, and find myself safe and saved."  
                                                                                                                   ~Psalm 18:1-3, The Message

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Having a Moment

This is going to be one of those purely selfish, basic brain-dump kind of posts.  If you don't want to be hit with the gratuitous verbal eruption please go to the top right hand corner and click that little "x."

That was your chance...

~I have a kid with athlete's foot.  I know how to treat it, but it's 11pm and the other kids are in the bed and I can't go get the "magic cream" until tomorrow.  I've never had athlete's foot, but based on his reaction to the news that I can't get the stuff tonight, athlete's foot is one step below having your foot amputated without anesthesia.  Either that or we have some drama...

~I have a sweet little girl that is living in Haiti that I want to bring home.  Found out that her paperwork is sitting at the Presidential Palace waiting to be signed by the "ahem" President and it just ain't happening!  Nothing is moving through the office right now.  This is really one of the last steps to her paperwork being handed off to the U.S. Embassy.  So a big fat "thank you" to Baby Doc for coming around and making an already jacked-up situation just that much more insane.

**Did I mention this might be selfish??

~Our house is in the middle of construction to make room for Merline and it's about to get crazy.  Don't get me wrong, it's a huge blessing to be able to do it , and it's been fairly unobtrusive to this point, but we are getting ready to put new flooring in every bedroom and the new part of the house at the same time.  Which means we all have to sleep in the living room with three bedrooms worth of furniture for a couple of days.  Yea for slumber parties...

~Brian's in Haiti right now and when he comes home he'll be here for a whopping 4 days before he heads out again.  This is getting to be a trend.  When are we going to have time to have some much needed conversation, make the kids feel loved, and prepare for him being gone another week?

Seriously, struggling to find my joy.  But I do feel better now...

Some of the Reasons We Love Haiti

 There are so many reasons we love Haiti.  It's hard to explain in words what it is that reaches in and grabs hold of your heart.  Here are a few of Brian's pictures that express the beauty of Haiti and her people...         

These eyes saw more in their lifetime than I could ever imagine...
These feet walked more miles than I could ever count...
Carrying water from the well at Ti Marche



At school in Petionville before the school had to close...  It was built into the side of a mountain and wasn't safe.
Petionville
House in the Batay
Lake Azuei, on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Here We Go!!

Brian left this morning heading back to Haiti taking a group of 22 to serve in Ti Marche.  So excited because no one has ever gone there and focused on them before.  Sweet, sweet people.

Molly being Molly
As for the chaos...  It has started.  Molly struggled last night knowing Daddy was leaving.  There were lots of hugs, kisses, and tears.  This morning as she got up and started getting ready for school her first question was "is Daddy already in Haiti?"  I told her he was on his way and she, very dramatically, rolled her eyes, sighed, and said "oookayy."  She then turned around and walked out and was fine for the rest of the morning.  It's kinda funny to me that Brian always wonders if Molly really even likes him.  She misses him so much when he's gone and gets so excited when he comes home.  I just don't think she can possibly understand what Daddy does over there.  And what is Haiti?  She just cannot wrap her 6 year old brain around it.  That's okay, there are moments I can't wrap my 35 year old brain around it.

I'm hoping that we'll be able to take her with us when we go get Merline, whenever that will be, so she can visualize Haiti and know the people we love so much.  It certainly helped Riley to go down and Emmie as well.  Both of them really seem to "get it" since going and spending some time.

Riley and Jean - total buds!
I will never forget what Riley said after he came home, "I understand why Daddy has to go.  I really just thought he was going down there and hanging out with friends."  Wow.  All we said to him just didn't matter until he went there himself.  Riley is our tender-hearted, intuitive kid.  He loves hard and hurts deep.  I fully expect him to be working in Haiti someday.  The picture to the left is of him and his friend, Jean.  Jean is actually a part of the Haitian National Police.  Major tough guy.  Every time I'm in Haiti Jean asks if we can talk to Riley so we call and the light on Jean's face is so cool.  Brian says Riley's face is the same.  I love that!  Jean looks tough, he is actually a mule of a man, but he is really just a big ole softie!

In the truck in PaP
When Emmie went to Haiti she was supposed to stay a week.  That ended up changing.  We had to change plane tickets and she stayed for 2 weeks and still didn't want to come home.  She said she missed those of us left here, but I'm really not sure.  I just recently found a music video, and I use that term loosely, that she and Merline made.  An entire Taylor swift song with moments of "Yo, who's at da do?"  It was quite obvious language wasn't really an issue for those two!  During those 2 weeks she spent a crazy amount of time with her sister and her Daddy in a truck driving around Haiti running errands.  Here it would have been 2-3 hours probably, but Haiti traffic is a different animal so time in the truck was a major chunk of time.  Emmie loved every smelly, bumpy minute of it!  Don't really get it, she gets car sick when we drive 8 minutes to the grocery store here.

Merline at the beach in Jacmel
What can I tell you about Merline?  She is the sweetest kid!  Since we have started the adoption process of Merline she has changed.  Merline was so needy just a year ago.  She was sometimes even hard to deal with because she was clingy and whiney when I loved on other kids at the orphanage.  She didn't ask for anything.  She just wanted to be held.  She's changed.  She now goes and gets other kids and puts them on my lap and then sits next to me, perfectly content.  She asks for new sandals and then when we take them she puts them on another girl who needs them, then she walks around in broken flip flops.  She loves Froot Loops, which is good since we have cereal night here at least once a week. : )  I can't wait to get her here and watch her personality come out!

Four kids, whether they're all here or not, are sometimes a handful.  The ones here are physically challenging and the one not here is emotionally challenging and they are all mentally challenging!  I'm just praying we can have fun in the midst of all the chaos.