July 4, 2014

The Road

I rounded the bend and caught my breath.  I heard it before I saw it - the sweet bubbling sound of the creek.  Many rains had brought the creek bed to life.  It thrills me!  A gift of grace that sweet, still morning.



My mind wandered to think about how I had no idea what lay ahead of me just around the bend in the road, like that happy creek.  Grace around every turn.  Where I live, sometimes you can see a long way, but you can't see it all.   There is always more beyond what you can see or around the bend. 

The creek bed had been a dry place. Coming down the hill and to that curve, I was fully aware of its existence, but not the transformation that had taken place.  It went through some fierce storms and torrential rains.  The result?  Life.  Beauty. Joy. Grace.

I had plenty to ponder that morning as I walked. The life filled creek and it's journey reflect  the dry times, the storms that waged, the heavy rains that have fallen in my life and I found myself overwhelmed to the point of tears of gratitude - thankful for the gift the dry days, the storms, and rains were.  I couldn't see them as such at the time. Looking back, it is all grace.

I am so thankful He saw fit to bring sorrow to my days and not leave my heart as ugly as it was.  I am so thankful that He took me through valleys so I could meet and engage in the lives of beautiful people who are traveling there as well.

What do the storms and rain bring to a dry life?

 Life. Beauty. Joy. Grace.


Sometimes I may think I can see a long way down the road of life, sometimes I may be at a bend and know I have no idea what is coming.  Either way, the reality is I don't know, and I am thankful.  I am thankful that around every bend is grace because of the One who is sovereign over all of it. 

April 19, 2014

Scars







There it is, scrawled on the inside of the cover. Even when the book is not open, I can see the words in my mind.  “Let the scars show, “ he said.  Those words have reverberated through my mind for the last eight years.  We had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Steve Saint just a little bit over the next couple of years.  We shared stories, the kind no one ever wants to share of children buried long before their parents.  We connected at the heart level over loss – over scars.

Though the words have run through my mind a thousand times as I have said “yes” to speak here or there, or “yes” to talk to so and so, or “yes” to send a message to yet another parent who has faced loss, or “yes” in my own head to write another blog post about what God is teaching me, there is always some fear and trembling.  The scars are scars for a reason, you see.  They represent pain inflicted and sometimes they are still oh so tender.  I also look at the scars and wonder at times, “What is the point?”  “What do I know?”  Yes, I have scars, but that does not make me an expert on their source. 

I recently battled those thoughts as I held my finger in the air over the buttons.  Delete or post?  What would I do with what I had poured out onto the screen?  How is this helpful to anyone at all?  Do I really want to display the scars yet again? 

Fear and trepidation ensue.  I very nearly delete.  Then I remember the words scrawled in the book and I post.

I wrestled through that morning, the morning of the day that we celebrate the birth of our son who is never there to celebrate with us.  I wrestle over whether or not I should have posted.  I know it’s silly.  I know I over think, but it is reality for me.  I grappled until I received a message that hit me upside the head.  Sometimes I am so very slow and God is graciously patient with me. The message was from a friend saying she had shared my morning’s blog post with a hurting friend.  The pain the friend was experiencing transformed into peace and hope upon reading it. 

Why?  I can guarantee it was not because of any profound thing that I had to say!  I was reminded that morning, as I read those sweet words, it isn’t about me.  The scars I bear aren’t about me.  Every time I sit back down to the computer and pour my heart out in the form of words on the screen, or each time I stand up again to speak, or I pick up a pen and write a note, or I step through the door into the world of a hurting friend or stranger and bear my scars I am pointing to something far greater, deeper, and more profound than my scars or the words I share about them. 

There is no hope in the scars I bear. There is no hope in my words.

None.

I am pointing people to His scars and that is why this friend's pain turned to peace and hope.  The very reason I can wake up each morning and bear my scars with true joy and certain hope is because of the scars He bears – Jesus Christ.  He showed his scars too.  John tells us all about it.  The disciples were afraid, hiding, doors locked.  Then there He was in the midst of them!  Standing in the flesh He showed the scars of his hands, feet, and side. (John 20:20)  One was missing and doubted, so again He appeared and demonstrated the scars. (John 20:27)  He displayed them with confidence knowing they represented the hope of the world.  They represent our hope.

How can scars represent hope?  Because Isaiah 53:5 tells us that it is by the wounds that caused those scars that we are healed – healed from our sin, given hope, promised eternal life through belief in Him.  Hallelujah! 

Steve was right all those years ago.  I must let the scars show.  I let them show not so anyone will think I am anything great.  Not so anyone will think I have some incredible strength or profound wisdom to share.  None of those things are true.  To be honest, I NEVER want my scars to point to me at all.  I bear them daily, I show them with confidence because they point to the One who rose triumphantly from the grave and shows His scars to say to us there is HOPE

“But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” Isaiah 53:5

He was beaten and died.  He can show the scars and offer hope because He rose again!


Happy Easter 

March 1, 2014

Tell Them Again

"Tell us again!" they say.

"Tell us about when we were born," my twins plead.  Tell us the story of this brother and that brother.  With a giggle she says it sweetly and I always love to hear it,

"Tell us about when Micah was born.  I love the part where you say let's go to the store."

She's right.  When we got to town, I didn't want to arrive at the hospital too early and have to spend a lot of time there waiting.  Why not Walmart?  I paced the aisles and occasionally leaned on a rack to get through the pressing down of life coming.  I laugh thinking of the ridiculousness of it all and how close we cut it!

The girls beg for the stories of the beginning of their lives and those of their brothers.  They all love to hear of those joy filled, albeit goofy days.  Who doesn't want to hear the stories of blessing?  I retell the stories often.  They hang on every word, ask the same questions every time, and we all laugh at the same parts each time.

We tell another story in our home too.

A story that you may not think sounds as sweet.  A story of heartbreak and learning to surrender all to God and trust Him.  This story and the stories of the arrivals of each of our children have something in common.  They both describe God's blessing.

Sometimes they say it, but without the giggles and the big smiles.  They say it with the same pleading.  "Tell us again."  How did he die?  What happened?  Why did you and Dad do this or that?  Why didn't you do this or that?

The answers do not always flow from the tongue as easily as telling the silly details of the arrival of babies.

  This story is not as simple to tell.  It is important to tell though.  They must always hear over and over that, "both good and adversity come from the hand of the Most High." (Lamentations 3:38)  It needs to echo through our home that the poor in spirit are blessed (Matt 5:3).  What brings you to a place of brokenness and recognizing your total dependence on God is a blessing.  There is no better place to find yourself and I want my kids to know this lesson well.

 So I tell the story over and again.

I want them to know God's faithfulness is great and His mercies are new every morning even in the midst of the deepest valleys (Lamentations 3:22).  I want them to know that God promises to be with them in deep waters and raging fires (Isaiah 43:2).  He is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) needs to be written on their hearts.  They will know God in a way they never have before when they come broken before Him, needing Him like we really do every day but do not always recognize.  There is no other blessing that compares.

So I tell them of our loss.

Of their loss, because it is their story too.

In telling them, I am teaching them that God's blessings do not always look the way we would expect them to but they all have something in common.  They are all for the glory of God, and they are all working for the good of making us more like Christ (Romans 8:28-29).

They will say it this weekend in one way or another, "Tell us again."

Birthdays bring questions like that when the birthday boy is not there to hug and play with.  Ten years has gone by and they will ask the questions of what, and why, and what is to come.

We will do what we always do, we will tell them again and we will pray that it will be more than a story but it will be part of their story.  We will pray that as God writes the story of each of their lives He will imprint their hearts with the lessons of His faithfulness, and goodness, and what blessings look like.

Our children need to hear the fun and silly stories.  They also need to hear the stories that are hard to tell but illustrate the richness of deep relationship with God no matter the pain.

Tell them again.

January 15, 2014

Reflections On a Decade


I have anticipated 2014 for a long time. 
 
2014 marks a decade. 
 
 In just over a month, it will be my second sons 10th birthday, only he isnt here to hit that decade mark and celebrate double digits with us.  My husband and I lost our 4 month old son 10 years ago this year in a tragic accident.  We were thrust into a journey we never saw coming and found ourselves floundering through the world of grief. Losing a child is a long journey and forces parents to travel through dark, stormy waters. There are no short cuts or free passes to get out and get a new life.  I have talked to many grieving parents since that fateful day and they have all said something similar.  They wish this wasn't their life.  They wake up hoping it was all a dream...but it isn't and they have to figure out how to navigate the tumultuous waters of grief and loss.  Ten years later, I can remember all too well waking up with those exact feelings.

They all say something else similar, and I too felt the same way.  They say it is like they can't breathe. 
Deep grief literally takes your breath away. 
 Grief is ugly, long, and there are no rules.  The thing about grief is, it affects more than just the immediate family who lost, but also all those who love them.  Over the last ten years I have had countless people contact my husband and me asking how they can reach out to their loved ones who lost a child.  What can they say to the parents?  How can they help?  These requests deeply touch my heart because I know that deep down, many people want to help and encourage but do not know how.  If you have found yourself in those shoes, I hope this post will be an encouragement to you today.  Yes, grief leaves parents feeling unable to breathe some days, but I only know One who can give the breath of life (Genesis 2:7, Psalm 119:25).  There is one true God and the only real hope, joy, and peace these breathless parents will ever find is in a relationship with Jesus Christ the one and only Son of God(Romans 5:1-4, 1 Peter 1:3, Romans 15:13).  God, who also knows the deep pain of losing a child, is the only one who gives breath and heals broken hearts (Isaiah 61:1).  You don't have to; however, that does not mean there is no room for you to help or be an encouragement to the broken hearted. As I think back on the last ten years, I wanted to share a few thoughts from the perspective of a mom who has recently held her lifeless son.  So from that perspective, here are 10 things I would say to someone who wants to reach out to grieving parents:

 

1.    It's okay. 
 
     It is okay that you dont know what to do or say.  I understand because I was once you.  I hadn't lost a child and I didn't know what to say to someone who had.  I was afraid of saying the wrong thing or not having answers.  I get it.  I know how you feel because I have been there too. 

 

2.  I know sometimes it would be easier to avoid me, but please don't.  It means the world to me to have you step out of your comfort zone and just be there, showing you care, you remember.  I know it won't be easy (because remember, I was once in your shoes) but it will deeply touch my heart.  It will encourage in ways you can't imagine.  However, if you do avoid, it's okay.  I forgive you because I was once an avoider and it took time and unfortunately incredible grief for me to learn how to reach out in those circumstances (2 Corinthians 1:4).  I will extend you grace and ask God to help you overcome that fear without the rough experiences it took me to learn to reach out.

 

3.  There is nothing you can say that will fix it ...really.  You can stop fearing what to say and just plan to say little and listen instead.  Words will never fix it.  You know that and I know it too.  I am not looking for words that will take away the pain or bring back my child, nothing can.  To be honest, I dont even know what to say about it most days!  I am just looking for someone led by the Spirit to come alongside and say, "You are not alone in these dark waters.  I don't understand it all or know what to say, but I am in it with you.  I really just need someone to hold out hope in front of me as a reminder it is there and I can choose it.  You hold out hope in your presence, in the example of your faith, in a hug, in a listening ear, and down the road, occasionally, in a well-timed verse pointing me back to the One who truly understands it all and can heal the wounds.  But even if you don't come, and aren't sure how to hold out hope, it's okay because I will be even more forced to look to the only One who can offer hope, to the One who will not only be with me in the fire (Isaiah 43:2) but can bring me out of it without even the scent of smoke on me (Daniel 3:27) . 
 
Only One. 
 
Whether you come or not, speak or not, I need to choose to cling to Him, believe Him, grab hold of the hope, peace, and joy He offers even in the valley (1 Peter 1:3-9).  Does that take the pressure off you?  It should.  You don't have to do any of that.  I can guarantee though, should you choose to come and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15), you get to be a part of what God is doing and there is great blessing in that which I would love for you to experience.  Come on over, we can be speechless together.

 

4.  Fear not.  You will not be the cause of me suddenly thinking about the child I lost in those first few tender years post loss.  I am always thinking of him.  You do not have to fret that your bringing up the subject will send me into a tailspin.  I live in a tailspin and only God can stop the spin and calm the storm (Luka 8:24b). 
 
So, just jump on the merry-go-round.  I will be thankful for the company.

 

5.  I will always have a hole in my heart.  Eventually, the edges will heal and it won't be so excruciating.  Eventually I will feel like I can breathe again and will be able to talk about it without breaking down.  There is no timetable for how long that will take me though.  Losing a child isn't something I will get over.  It becomes a part of who I am.  It is all part of the story that God is writing with my life and I have to learn to accept this new normal and that this is part of who I am now.  All of that will take me time, and nothing can rush it no matter how much I wish something could.  I know you will be tempted and maybe even try to "fix it" with what you say.  You won't be able to, so you can free yourself up from that pressure. No Bob the Builder needed here, just a friend.

 

6.  I am sorry.
 
 I am sorry for the careless words I will sometimes utter and the harsh things I will let fly from my lips from time to time.  Grief is an ugly thing.  There is no way to walk through it "right" or "pretty."  I will feel like I am failing at it, like I never say or do what is right.  I will feel like my emotions are raging out of control like a hurricane!  It is not an excuse for my behavior or words, but it is an explanation.  Would you grant grace during the first couple of years or longer? I hope and pray I too will extend grace to you as we all figure this thing called grief out together. 

 

7.  I know the road seems extremely long. 
 
I don't even understand why. 
 
Matters of the heart are deep and it takes a great deal of time to put broken pieces back together again in a new and better way.  I know many of you won't be able to walk the long road with me and that is okay too.  I understand not everyone can and not everyone knows how.  The truth is, maybe no one will.  Maybe God is asking me to walk it alone and it will give me all the more reason to cling to
 
 "My grace is sufficient for you." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

8.  Please pray for me and don't think prayer is "all you can do."  It is one of the most important ways to help.  People praying makes a profound difference on the lives of those hurting.  I know when you are praying because I see God answering and because it leads you to keep checking in. If prayer is the only way you know to help in the loss, that is wonderful! Thank you for believing God with me to work good and to bring healing.
 
THANK YOU!

 

9.  For quite some time, it will be gut wrenching hard for me to watch you move forward with life.  It will feel like everyone is moving on as if nothing happened and I can't.  I will struggle with "fun" situations and even feel guilt when I catch myself having fun or laughing. It is almost like I feel like I am not grieving my son correctly if I am ever caught enjoying myself.  It feels like I am turning my back on him.  Hopefully I will know those are lies and be able to slowly work through them. 

 

10.  The anniversaries are important to me forever.  I think part of the reason is because it is all I have.  I will always remember his birthday, and the day he went to be with Jesus will always have a sting to it.  I don't expect everyone to remember and think about those days.  He wasn't their son.  I will be honest with you though, it means the world to me when you do!  I will never be expecting it because I realize that is unfair of me, and I will count it as pure grace when someone remembers and does something to show they do. 
 
It is all grace, all a gift. 
 
On the years when no one says anything at all, I am thankful as well that I serve a God who knows my heart and hurts and always cares.

 
   I have had nearly ten years to gain some clarity and look back on what it was like to walk the hard road of losing my son.  Every grieving parent’s story is not the same.  Everyone walks through grief differently.  However, in my conversations with countless grieving parents over the years, I have found much of this to be universal.  Here is a summary.  You don't have to know the "right" answers because the truth is, there aren't any.  You don't have to worry about doing the right thing or coming with perfect Bible verses ready to share.  If you just come, hug, cry with the hurting, and listen then that is what your grieving loved one really needs.  They are in an extremely raw place that even they don’t understand.  Their emotions swing rapidly and all of life even down to doing the dishes is overwhelming for quite a long time.  They need you to help them hold on to hope in the way that you are willing to walk with them.  They need you to remind them when they are floundering to keep believing what they know to be true about God no matter what their feelings are telling them and you can do that by praying and being His hands and feet to them in the little things and needs.  You don't have to be perfect, or smart, or even have walked the road.  Some of the people that helped me the most were not those who had walked this road before me.  They were those who called me all the time, stopped in to see me and just be with me, sent notes of encouragement for months, and prayed and prayed.

 So will you throw the fears aside and step out of your comfort zone?

You know what?  

I am out of mine too and I will be forever grateful.

December 14, 2012

God with Us

Almost exactly two years ago, I posted this and today it seems fitting to revisit it:

Christmas. Even the word "Christmas" makes us think of cheer, of wonder, of festivities and fun. Yet, for so many it will carry such sorrow, and heavy hearts will sit under lit up trees. There are many reasons that hearts will be heavy each year, but this year I think of the two families I know that between Thanksgiving time and now have each lost a son. One was 12, one just a baby. I can feel the shattering of their hearts into so many little pieces. And, my heart is broken...again.

Sorrow, pain, death, imperfection: our world is so full of it. I sit at a funeral watching a mom look at her 12 year old son's casket, and I remember. I watch the scene that should never be, dad and mom following their lifeless child out of the sanctuary and I know what it is like to go home. It all seems so wrong. The email that the baby won't make it through the night, and he doesn't. And hopes, dreams, lives crumble. These pictures of death happen all over the world, every day. Because our world is fallen, imperfect, not as God intended it to be.

As I sat at that funeral, and watched mom and dad follow their son's casket out, reaching up high behind them were risers in the shape of a giant Christmas tree and it was all lit up. This scene is etched clearly in my mind because as I watched this family and their shattered world, I was reminded. That tree in all its shining wonder reminded me what this season represents. Even as so many will wade through dark waters this Christmas, they do not have to do it without HOPE. God did not turn His back on our imperfect world. He left perfection and entered into our hurt with us. He came to us and brought hope all wrapped up in the form of a tiny baby. "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us." He came to us and offers a way to be with him forever, promising that one day he will dry all the tears and heal all the broken hearts. We are not alone, and this life is not all there is. God with us. Hope.

Please pray for these two families and that they could experience the hope of Christ during these difficult times.

Since that Christmas of 2010, we went through another Christmas surrounded by hurting people and now in 2012 this one is no different. Today another unthinkable tragedy has struck out East and everyone is left wondering "Who could do such a thing to children?" And, "How will these familes move forward?" And, "Why did it happen?" And the truth is, there are no easy answers to those difficult questions. And THIS is why we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate to remember - God with us.

If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ, then all the terrible things taking place should not leave is in fear or disheartened. God tells us over and over and over in His Word not to fear. John 16:33 tells us to take heart because He has overcome the world (and that includes all the evil in it). The hard things should drive us deeper into His Word so we can know more of Him. They should also lead us to tell others of the hope that we have because God not only came to be with us, but make a way for us to be with Him. I Peter 3:15 says to always be ready to give an answer to others about the hope you have.

If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ there is no better time than now. He is the only one in whom you will ever find real hope and peace. Check out this link and it will walk you through what Jesus did for you and how you can respond. http://www.cefonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=19&Itemid=100033

December 12, 2012

And They Went With Haste...

"And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger." Luke 2:16

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedinly with great joy.  And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him." Matthew 2:10-11

The shepherds got it, the wise men got it, and my kids get it, so why don't I?

Christmas time comes and my kids can't wait to get the nativities out!  It is literally one of their absolute favorite things about decorating for Christmas.  The big man wants to help place each piece carefully on the mantel this year and can't quit talking about how much he loves getting this out every year.  He has all sorts of ideas about how it should be arranged.

Then come the Veggie Tale ones made for play and every kid, no matter the age is down on hands and knees in wonder of those little characters even though they could play with them at any time of the year.

Then there is the box filled with tiny boxes each containing a different part of the scene and I am saving it...for what?  I don't know.  For that one great night when we will sit down and read the story and pull out the pieces as the book tells us to.  Only the night doesn't come, and doesn't come and they beg and plead to break into that box...to see the baby.  And what do I do?  I tell them no again and again...wait...we'll do it later...  Wait for what?  Should we ever wait to get on our hands and knees and wonder at what God did?  Should we ever wait to see the baby again?

They find the box, and are thrilled with the contents, and have it all set up just so.  I discover this, and scold, and miss what the shepherds, and wise men, and my children all know. 

We should ALWAYS go with haste to see the baby again and rejoice with GREAT JOY when we find Him and the hope that He holds.

They do it so well, every year.  They hurry to find Him.  They rejoice at the discovery and they linger long at the scene.  I hurry...but not to find Him.  I rejoice at a great find...but it isn't Him.  I linger long...but on tasks that someday won't matter. 

Tomorrow is a new day and it will start with the opening of a very special box...and there will be great joy...and we will linger long.

November 22, 2012

4 x 2 = Happy Birthday!

I am sure it was yesterday that I was sitting in the rocker recliner in my living room holding two babies and thinking how fast the time would go and I just wanted to soak in every minute!  Suddenly, here I am, 4 years later and they've grown tall, and the blonde hair gets darker, and they talk much, and laugh often.






And I know that the next time I blink, they will be beautiful young women, grown and starting out in life on their own.  But, for today, they are 4 and I will try to soak in every minute of this time.

Their many giggles and big grins

Their goofiness and fun loving nature




Their love to sing, and dance, and read books, and learn new things

Their sweet natures expressed COMPLETELY differently one from the other

Their love of the outdoors and all things active from the trampoline, to roller blading, to wrestling with Dad and their brothers


Their friendship with each other


These two are one tight pair, yet so uniquely different.  One is so feminine, sweet and sappy, loves to hug everyone, loves all things girly, is a social butterfly, tender through and through, but full of strong will when she wants to be, loves to talk about God.  The other shows her love through teasing and giving you a punch on the arm, she sings constantly, laughs often about everything, loves to talk about God, is a little more reserved when it comes to others but once she warms up will be your best friend, surprises you with random hugs, is independent and can do anything she sets her mind to.  

They are each a gift to our family and how appropriate that today on the day of thanks, we get to remember and be thankful for when they were graciously given to us as a part of our family.

October 4, 2012

Decade

A decade has passed since I looked into this sweet little face for the first time.


 A decade since I saw this smile for the first time.
A decade since I was given one of the greatest gifts, the gift of being a mom.  I am so thankful that God chose to give me this boy. He has such a tender heart toward the Lord and the lost. He is helpful and considerate of his siblings and others.  We have always called him our 100% kid.  You never have to wonder how he is feeling or what he is thinking.  He is always 100% of whatever he is...and I love that about him!

 A dear friend wrote today that she hoped he would be brave like David, forgiving as Joseph, and ambitious as Paul.  I would add to that, I pray he will have the integrity of Daniel, the faith of Abraham, the loyalty of Caleb, and the heart of Jesus.
 I don't know how we went so quickly from that tiny, little guy to this active, responsible young man.
 I don't know what the next decade will bring for him or me as his mom.  I don't know where God is going to lead him in life.
 I do know that I want to cherish the gift of every day the Lord gives me with him.
 I do know that when I look into his face, it makes me want to be a better mom.
 I do know that he has extended me so much grace as I have figured this mom thing out.  I know he and I are learning and growing together. 
 I do know that whatever happens, and wherever life leads him, I pray he will always choose to look up and keep his focus on the one who holds the answers.
So another decade from now, I pray that his gaze will still be fixed above.

March 23, 2011

Lessons From Haiti, Part 2

Have you ever found your self going through an experience and thinking that what you are learning is not spiritual enough? 

Maybe I am missing it, God. 

Maybe I didn't pay enough attention.

Or maybe someimtes it is the simple lessons that we need the most.

Haiti is an extremely poor country.  It is sad to see how people live and the terrible things they have to face on a regular basis.  Despite being beautiful, it is also a very dirty country with garbage everywhere.  There is nothing easy about the lives of the people there.  It is also a dark country spiritually.  People are lost and many are mixed up in evil practices and bound by fear.

However, none of this is what struck me while I was there.  It isn't that i didn't see it, feel sad about it, or care about it...I did.  It is heart wrenching to take it all in.  It is just that I wasn't walking around with this heaviness as a result of it and with a new found desire to help.  The thing is, I think God broke much of that in me long before I got there.  I knew I was visiting a place with many different needs and I had seen some similar needs in other places.  I just thought that was why I was going and something God would have me take away from my time there. 

God impressed something so different on my heart.  He is there.  Big, I know.  You are probably thinking, "Are you kidding me?!"  No, I'm not.  I felt like He kept showing me that He is there...and everywhere.  I mean I knew that.  I have been told that my whole life.  God is everywhere, I get it.  But I didn't, not in the right way.  I went to Haiti focusing on what many told me I would experience and feel.  I focused on the bad, the dark, the sad.  Growing up, this was my default mode.  It was easy for me to focus on the scary, the bad, the sad and I have spent years changing that pattern.  Here I was slipping back into it though.  So, God needed to show me that yes, there is spiritual darkness in Haiti but His light is there as well and even more powerful.  Yes, there is evil there but God is visibly at work as well.  Yes, there are sad things but the joy of the Lord is visibly present in people as well.  He is there, and His presence can be felt not just by me but the people that live there, and His joy is eveident in them.  Though darkness exists there, God's presence does as well and He is much bigger.  So I felt darkness, and saw hurt, and saw terrible living conditions, and heard of living in fear, but I also saw Him.  I saw believers filled with His joy and saw Him working in their lives and doing amazing things!

Some of the ladies arriving at the conference
The ladeis holding up their new Bibles
Our cargo arriving, PTL!

One of the breakout sessions
Playing a game the ladies taught us
 My friend Johanne


Another game the ladies taught us.  The sweet thing about this picture is you can see the joy written on their faces and they never do things like this where they just have fun together as women.

March 21, 2011

Lessons From Haiti, Part 1

God in all His sovereignty has better plans

...and truly aren't we glad He does.  Even when they don't seem as good as ours, even when we have spent much time planning, even when it hurts, His plans are always so much better.  This lesson was one our team was quickly confronted with on our trip.

Early morning wake-up to catch a shuttle to the airport on the 12th and...no shuttle.  What we didn't know at the time was that this was only the beginning of absolutely nothing going as planned for the rest of the trip.  Once we arrived in Haiti every detail of the conference began to unravel until the only thing that seemed for sure was that the people who were going to speak were still going to speak...though when, to who, and where were a little sketchy. :)  Not to mention, our cargo with all the conference supplies including blankets for the women to sleep on, goody bags we were going to hand out at the beginning, conference programs for them and much, much more did not show up until Monday afternoon.  Most of the ladies came in on Sunday and the conference started Monday morning.

When your best laid plans fall apart what do you do?  Pray.  Trust God in His sovereignty.  Wait on Him.  Roll with it!  20 women being flexible and rolling with whatever the day brought?  That's right!  I was blessed to be a part of the most amazing team of women who were so flexible and patient.  We really never knew how each day would look from one day to the next, but God knew and His plans were better right from the start.

Everything worked so much batter than we could have imagined.  We ended up having 167 ladies instead of 150 so we couldn't have handed out bags at the beginning anyway.  We didn't have enough so we needed to make a few and then rearrange what was in them to make sure everyone got some things.  We had breakout sessions and main sessions planned but circumstances forced us to only ever have two different sessions going.   God knew.  We were supposed to have 5 translators and ended up with 2 so we could only do two session at a time anyway.  When the speakers all got rearranged they ended being lumped together perfectly by topic...only God can do such amazing things!  We were humbled and grateful.

Can we trust God with our plans?  I think the better question is, can we let go of our plans and trust God with His?  Can we accept that whateve happens is in the sovereign hands of God and choose to have a good attitude anyway, choose to trust God anyway, choose joy anyway? 

I opened my backpack today looking for my glasses...they weren't there.  I am pretty sure they are somewhere in Haiti.  At the moment I discovered it I could feel the tug on my heart saying how are you going to respond?  How?  It wil cost hundreds of dollars to get a new pair.  It was totally a God thing the way I got the last pair.  There is such a temptation to be negative.  Good attitude anway, trust God anyway, joy anyway...  I am sure someone can use those glasses and I am sure God can provide new ones.  He is sovereign in the big and the little.


Team prayer the night before we left for Haiti


My college friend and me

The old well at the Open Door Church compound
where we stayed

The mission house on the right and church on left




The school within the compound


The clinic in the compound

View from the roof of the mission house


March 14, 2011

What have I experienced in Haiti?

warm sunsine

perfect temps (not the sweltering heat expected)

beautiful brown faces of women

adorable children who love to laugh and giggle at us

dirty streets with much garbage

lush vegitation

very dark nights

spicy, yummy, unique food

a cold, short on sleep night

a comfortable restfull night

 praising God with sisters in Christ from Haiti

much laughter, singing and dancing

times of sharing with tears of brokeness and joy

the need for MUCH flexibility

new Haitian and American friends

prayer and more prayer

poverty and great needs

poorly cared for animals

crisp clean clothes of Haitian people who know how to work hard

the presence of God

March 12, 2011

Haiti

I made it to Haiti and it is beautiful here, life is not easy but beautiful people and countryside!  We are staying in Open Door Church's compound.  It really is very nice and we have been so blessed by the people here.  We landed late morning and spent the day just getting to know the place and the people.  We got to take a walk outside the compound to see the orphanage they are building and along the way got to spend time with the sweetest kids ever!  Tomorrow we will have church and then begin prepping for the conference which starts Monday morning.  Our cargo with many things for the conference did not make it and may not till Monday well after the conference starts.  Please pray for a miracle here as part of that was blankets for the women who be staying here at the compound for the conference.  They will have nothing to sleep on but cement.  It is such an amazing opportunity to be a part of this conference as these women have never experienced anything like this where they are pampered, taught, given gifts and even get to make a trip to the beach which is unheard of.  Please pray that these women will experience the incredible love God has for them personally.

February 23, 2011

Randomness


Sadly, this blog a has been a little neglected.  I figured the best way to get back at it was some randomness to show you what we have been up to.  So what have we been doing?


Trying to get good picture of everyone.  Getting a good picture of all 5 has become quite the challenge!  We are making good memories though :)

Snuggling with bears better known as "puppies" to these two

Visiting with good friends

Accomplishing a decent picture of everyone
 Thinking we are hiding with the grapes we took :)
 Having fun in the snow with family
 Playing with cousins (I loved this one because unintentionally they both posed exactly the same way!)
 Turning new snow shoes into stunt skies on hardened drifts (Middle Man)
 Swimming with friends

 Yelling...just for the pure fun of it! (Don't you love that the word "noise" is in the background?!)
 Being pure sweetness