Sunday, March 17, 2019

Filling the Ocean

Gracie

Fòse moun fè sa yo pa vle fè se tankou esye plen lanmè ak wòch


Translation: 
Forcing people to do what they do not want to do is like trying to fill the ocean with rocks.
Meaning : You can not force people to act against their will. 
(Source:Creole-Haiti.com)





On Saturday we readmitted a baby girl that had been discharged earlier in the week. She was born March 8, 2019.

Saturday the baby arrived to the Maternity Center 102.6 degrees, dressed in heavy layers of warm clothing. When weighed, we found she was down from her discharge weight of Tuesday. She appeared to be dehydrated. All other vitals were normal. 

Dr. Jen  (the Pediatrician that advises us on all sick babies) was available and we talked about getting IV antibiotics started and keeping them in house for seven to ten days. 

We got the baby out of all her clothes and asked that she nurse so we could see how she was doing with breastfeeding. She seemed desperately hungry as we watched her eat. 

In the time I was preparing the medicine and talking to Jen the baby ate voraciously. When she was done we supplemented her with additional milk. The change in her was immediate and I began to wonder if perhaps she was not sick, but simply hungry.  We talked with Gracie's mom about how the nursing was going and when the fever had started.  By the time I took Gracie back from her Mom, she was back to a normal 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another hour later, all vitals remained totally normal. We asked Gracie's mom if we could please re-admit them for several days to help get the breastfeeding back on track. We've seen that sometimes young mothers get home and don't end up nursing enough due to other people in the house not realizing that every two hours is very necessary for a small new baby. She agreed and we wrote up our plan for pumping and feedings and gaining weight. Midwives Nadia and Frèdelyne were on board and the plan was set. 

After everything was calm and stable I posted an Instagram picture on my personal account with an update on baby Gracie and a thank-you to all the donors that donate and make the Maternity Center run.  

About three hours later the young Dad of Gracie and his mother (Gracie's Paternal Grandmother) came to visit at the MC.  They were upset that Gracie was down to her diaper and asked why we did not have the baby dressed. The two midwives on duty explained everything about too much clothing causing fevers and shared our concerns about the weight Gracie had lost and the need for some additional feedings to be added in for the next several days.

Long story short, the Grandmother and Father of baby Gracie talked Gracie's Mom into leaving AMA (against medical advice) with Gracie.  They believe that Gracie has a curse on her and that it is something that can be handled without us. 

We explained that we strongly believe that more than anything, she was not eating enough and was dressed in too many layers. They would not hear those concerns and packed up their things and left the Maternity Center. 

The director/fundraiser in me knows that this is not a success story.  
Yes, I'm that BRIGHT.  

As much as we do to work on education in our classes, there are times when the power of superstition or culture or family dynamics cannot be overcome.  Many, even most perhaps, women that come for prenatal care end up believing in what is shared and taught - but not all. 

I suppose it is a weird time to ask you to consider becoming a monthly donor of Heartline Ministries. Rather than do that, I want to share our values with you. While it is not specifically noted, I would add that we also value being truthful and open with our donors.

Values

At The Maternity Center we value:
  • Compassion: we treat all of our clients with respect, love, and kindness.
  • Joy and celebration: we make room for joy, laughter, and singing as a form of spiritual care.
  • Excellence of care: we deliver the best possible care and maintain the highest standards of midwifery.
  • Honesty and integrity: we are truthful and open with our clients and with one another.
  • Affordability and access: we are committed to serving women who would not otherwise have access to high quality midwifery care.
  • Empowerment through education: we educate women because we believe that their empowerment will change the world.
  • Personal relationship: we work to connect with each woman by name and by story in order to best serve their diverse needs.


We are discouraged by what happened with baby Gracie yesterday, we hope and pray that she will be okay and that she will grow up to be loved and honored. We fight to remain hopeful because we know hopelessness is the enemy of justice.

"...With hope because hopelessness is the enemy of justice.
With courage because peace requires bravery.
With persistence because justice is a constant struggle..."
(Source: The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Why Am I Here Again?

Sister visit!!!


The weight of (my) responsibility is something that I handle quite well-ish 82% of the time.  

That is to say, I am upright and can speak to you about it with some level of professionalism. You may not even know that I sometimes find it a bit suffocating. 

It is just 18% of the time that I need to consider a half an Ativan, deep breathing exercises, sobbing hysterically on my bed, or getting on an airplane.  (Vodka is no longer on the list of options.) 

I am always aware that there are things that the infrastructure of this country literally won't allow for; certain injuries that cannot be dealt with quickly enough  - or at all. I am always aware that my phone can ring any time day or night and something medically intense is happening and staff will be looking to me to come make the call about what to do. I am always aware that if nurses or midwives quit or don't show up, those shifts are going to need to be covered. I am always aware that while birth can be made safer, it is never ever risk free and until a Mom and baby are about 24 to 48 hours out, things can turn south without warnings or signs in advance. When that happens, the decisions fall to just one or two of us. I am always aware that situations here can change on a dime. (Or a gourde for that matter) One minute you might be sitting in your truck totally in control and thinking the day is going to be normal, and the next some huge thing is unfolding before your very eyes in traffic. (Recently KJ and I drove up upon some sort of weird situation - it equalled two guys being killed by the cops. The dead men were laid across one another in an X shape in the intersection to make a statement.  The statement to me was, "Holy Cow, this place is unpredictable and sometimes freaky!" I think to others it maybe meant something else.  Anyway, we managed to be there at the wrong time and saw the human X display.)

So, on the days where I am operating out of the insanely overwhelmed 18% I really do need to talk to myself about calming the heck down and just taking things one at a time as much as that is possible.  (And also, just realizing most of this is not within my control in the first place so I try to remember I don't have the option to fix most things.) 

Yesterday was crazy. Nothing terrible, just one situation after the next. I got into it with our security guard and from there it just continued to be conflict and challenge. By the time 4:30 arrived and it was time to go pick up my sister from the airport I was fried.

Troy came with me to the airport, because he is a wonderful human and he has a sixth sense about when I might snap. Perhaps he wanted to be the driver, in order to protect us all??? 

On the way home I asked him to stop at the store. I wanted to run in and buy apples and bleach.  I planned to get the gross yellow stains in the armpits out of a few of my white t-shirts.  The apples have nothing to do with that. 

I got in the store, saw that the only apples they had were the gross kind.  I kept walking and realized I did not know what the other thing I wanted was anymore.  I went up and down a few aisles to see if my old-lady brain would kick it up a notch and maybe I'd remember.  Finally I had to admit I was going to wander around aimlessly unless I asked Troy.  I called Troy from inside the store.  He answered from the parking lot and reminded me, "You are there to buy bleach, Tara."

When I came out of the store Troy and my sister waved obnoxiously at me from the truck, told me their names and treated me like an Alzheimer's patient.  

It's the new shtick, mocking my non-functioning short term memory.  

Unfortunately, I always give them more material.  

We pulled out of the parking lot and I couldn't find my phone.  We pulled over and I searched my purse. Troy called my phone. No ring in my purse. I went back in the store and talked to the cashier of the line I was in. She said she had not seen it. I asked at the service-desk of the store. Everyone was helping the forgetful old lady find her phone.  

I put my hand in my purse again to grab a pen to write down my information if it was found ... and VOILA,  turns out it was found. 

Why am I here again?




Saturday, March 09, 2019

Bacon or Sex: One of life's most important questions!





I recognize that I am a fairly laid back parent.  

I think some would even call me, "permissive". 

I was not always this way.

Call it what you will, I've been at this for 29 years and I've lost my will to fight. 

I tried rigid and conservative.  I tried medium chill.  Now I am trying "you're an adult soon, so this is how it it is".

All that to say,  I had no issue allowing my teenagers to see A Star Is Born, which is rated R.   They watched it with another 18 year old friend and their teacher.

(Sidebar: I am still a strict freak about Internet hours - they don't get more than a few hours a day until they live somewhere else on their own.) 

I know some of you gasp at that.  It's okay. They are okay.  We live in a very thin place in the world, they see the effects of injustice and they understand sexual assault and manipulation and abuse of power within relationships. They know about consent and equality too. An R rated movie is tame compared to real life. I have always wanted my kids to know what is real. I cannot help them navigate life if they only know rainbows and puffy clouds. 

My 29-year research project has led me to the conclusion that parenting styles and the outcomes a particular style might produce is less consistent than a roulette wheel. 

That to say, one LITERALLY has nothing to do with the other.  Good parents have hard kids. Bad parents have easy kids. Etc. Etc. Vice Versa. Everyone is just rolling the dice.

A parent that is strict may end up with two sons in jail.  Another parent that is medium chill ends up with one drug addict, one mini Mother Teresa (Saint Teresa of Calcutta), and one honest hard worker making $20 bucks an hour in middle management while being a good Dad to his kids. Some permissive parents have one off the rails and one solving world hunger. 

All that to say, I neither take the credit nor the blame for my kids. 

I love them unconditionally and attempt deep relationship with each of them as individuals - (that feels key to me, they are so different) -and that's my priority - but if my style of discipline and guidelines and/or support end up creating a problematic adult, I say, "Yeah. I rolled the dice just like you guys."

NONE of that is my point.  

My point is to tell a hilarious story.

Isaac and Hope watched A Star is Born with their teacher Stefanie. Stef told me that when the scene came where a beautiful breakfast was being served to Handsome Brad and Gaga the Lady the kids were thrilled with the sight of the fancy breakfast with thick strips of Bacon.  

When Brad and Gaga got up to leave the table to make love, having not eaten the Bacon yet, the kids lost their minds in utter disbelief.   


"WHAT WHAT THIS IS NOT REAL!!"  

They exclaimed to Stef, "Nobody would leave bacon like that, would they???"

Faced with a difficult decision, Stef told them the truth, a couple in love might actually choose to make love over eating breakfast. 


Isaac and Hope Livesay  (but especially Isaac) wish to go on record with this:  

Bacon is their priority. 


Kids with Scott Salvant last week :)


They hope it is yours as well.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Working Women - Working For Women


I wrote about an inspirational working 
woman in celebration of
Friday, March 8, 2019.

Please go read about her HERE

#BALANCEforBETTER




Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Discover Humanity






We live in a fearful world.  

I suppose my opinion could be dismissed by many, but I'd like to share it none the less.  That's what blogs were created for, yes? 

People are awfully fearful of one another.  We tend to make decisions quickly about folks we feel are unlike us. There is a lot of them vs. us stuff going on in this day and age. 

There are legitimate things to be concerned about, don't get me wrong. I just don't think we are generally worried about the truly frightening things.

The fear of people that are different than us seems to have irreversible momentum.  

I read Twitter and listen to the way things are portrayed in the news and I see a whole lot of fear and even more hype.

I don't want to be afraid of people that believe or relate or experience life differently than I do.  

More importantly, I don't want to raise children that are fearful of differences.  

I'm sharing this new film to show you that people in Haiti are just people. We all want the same things. The media shows mainly the negative things, they don't necessarily work too hard to see the nuanced picture.  

There is always more than meets the eye.



Dear Livesay Family-
As the first destination on our newly-launched global project Discover Humanity (www.discoverhumanity.online), we came to Haiti in December and created a short film about the life and culture we experienced there. 


The goal of the Humanity project is to create cultural, human-focused short films that capture a real look at life in every country of the world. These films also offer local people the chance to share a message with the rest of the world. 

Creators of the Humanity project
+1 323 617 2928 (WhatsApp)
YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2V2NgKF

Monday, February 11, 2019

Life Marches On

**
In the middle of a political and economic crisis, while the stones are being thrown, the tires burned, and the protests organized, life goes on. While emotions and deep hurts are on raw display, women continue to put their heads down and care for their children. When the U.S. Embassy warns its employees to "shelter in place" and while stores close down and schools are cancelled, women continue to have babies.

I can no more explain what is happening Haiti than I can explain what is happening in Washington D.C.  It's all a shit show. I only know this: It makes life so much more difficult for the materially poor, especially women.

We ask that you keep our staff and Midwives and the 125+ women they care for in your thoughts and prayers. Each day we ask that they come to work if at all possible. The excellent and committed caregivers that they are; they always seem to find a way to arrive to work. 

In the coming two weeks Christella, Martine, Judith, Clercina, Cedilia, and MarieFrancelene are all due to deliver their little ones.  Last week six new little people joined the chaos on the outside.  

Life marches on, birth and care giving continue. 

(To support the work of Heartline Ministries & The Heartline Maternity Center, go here, click give.)

Thursday Kenneth was born a few weeks premature and is with his mom in postpartum recovery right now.


**Photo Credit- GettyImages - No copyright infringement is intended**

* * * * * * * *

ANNOUNCEMENT - ALL INFORMATION AT THIS LINK

WHEN AND WHERE WILL CLASSES TAKE PLACE?

  • Port au Prince, Haiti
July 16-19, 2019  (This class will be in English only)
  • Port au Prince, Haiti
November 5-8, 2019 (This class will be in English with Creole translators)
  • Online and in Port au Prince, Haiti
February 2020 (Additional details to come)

WHAT IS THE STARTING PLACE?

In the class and manual, we go over everything from meeting a newly pregnant woman at the door for the very first time, to offering her an effective and culturally appropriate method of family planning after her child is born. Our manual includes very specific outlines of all facets of care, setting up the structures necessary, help with budgeting, staffing, forms, charting, supply lists, sourcing ideas, and protocols. 
After years of trial and error, the class and manual share what we know works. This class and our manual can potentially save your organization thousands of dollars as well as energy spent re-creating the wheel.

WHAT IS IT NOT?

This class does not teach Midwifery. This is not a medical training class, although the manual includes dozens of medical protocols. The assumption is that a medically trained and legally licensed medical professional will be present at your clinic/birth center/prenatal program. We expect that clinic administrators will want to take this class, and that your medical staff is trained and prepared for prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum care of the mother and baby. If you are seeking training to become a Nurse Midwife or Midwife, please know this class is not your first stop.

WHO CAN ATTEND?

Administrators, Directors, Midwives, Nurses, and Medical Professionals desiring to work in any under-resourced area in the world.  Please note that our Maternity Center model is donor-funded and is essentially a free program for clients that live below the poverty line.
Please visit this link for information about applying. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

9 years ago - Nou pap janm bliye

Phoebe, Hope, Isaac Livesay - photo taken 3 Days before the Palace fell - 2010


Link to First Post after EQ

Link to Google Doc of the memories we took time to write out.



Collette as she waited on a helicopter to the ship
She had a broken pelvis and was 9 months pregnant
Collette gave birth to Esther on the US Comfort Ship
Esther was the first baby born for their Haiti EQ deployment


We saw news people everywhere we went 


Jean lost his foot in the EQ - he had surgery days later to finish the amputation and prevent infection.
After surgery he worked with Physical Therapists to learn to walk again.

Dokte Jen worked with dozens of kids that lost limbs and fingers.

Troy described the airport as the Wild West in those early days after the EQ

A photo we took a few days after the EQ, life must go on.


Life Does Go On.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Dad to Five Daughters: A Newly Discovered Passage


 1 My children, these things write I unto ye, that ye be wise and endangereth not your life with cluelessness. 

And hereby I do proclaimeth until the end of days that we do not fully know what your earthy father doeseth for us. 

3She that dare sayeth, “Mom, I know that!”, and, “No, you are wrong”, keepeth not their cool, is a liar, and the truth is not in her/him.

I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye should have heard from the beginning. 

5 Geteth this and geteth it now, for ye hath heard not what I already dun said.

Again, I write unto you, be grateful for your good Dad because the darkness is past, and the light now shineth. 

7He endureth for the ages to picketh up your boyfriends and he comlaineth not and he keepeth his cool even though he be quite afraid you will geteth hurt. 

Fathers be good to your daughters ...
Daughters be good to your father too.



Troy Livesay married me many moons ago. He instantly became a dad to two daughters, they were eight and four years old at the time. 

He rocked the protector Dad role from day one. He made the oldest daughter's first boyfriend come to our house for apple pie with his parents before he would consider any other dating. We moved to Haiti when she was 15 years old. He watched as she fell in love at age 16 (with a boy on a short term mission trip to Haiti, no less!) and went off with her Prince Charming by 18.  (Totally working out - year ten anniversary trip happening right now.) 

He drove Paige to and from dates in Haiti before she graduated from High School. One time he drove her to break-up with a boy and witnessed an awkward teary scene. Once Paige was in college he invited her new boyfriend to spend six weeks with us in Haiti because it was the right thing to do and time was of the essence.  (Thank the Lord, that one worked out too! Year four anniversary was this week.) 

Troy is now on to daughter number three (of five) that is entering the "Daaaaddddddy, will you please allow my boyfriend to come visit" stage.  This (our norm) is not the regular way it happens in developed nations.  

Here in Haiti we have limited vehicles, limited time, and unlimited traffic jams. If a boy is to come see our girl, they must travel far - & for infinite amounts of time in order to reach a meeting spot where Troy has also traveled for an infinite amount of time. There has never been a boyfriend date in Haiti where a young man showed up in his own car and took our daughter for dinner and returned her in a few hours to our door. 

Dates in Haiti require Troy's participation and mercy. 

Hope was excited to see her male friend this afternoon. Troy made it happen.

Paige wrote me today and said, "The number of boys that Dad has had to awkwardly pick up for his gals, bless it. He has a special place in Heaven." 

Amen. I think so. 

Friday, January 04, 2019

People are Not Statistics - But Statistics Help

Sandra gave birth to her baby December 26, 2018
Baby Isaac was the last baby of 2018 for HMC
Let us look back on 2018 at the Heartline Maternity Center.

The tendency in doing any work is to look at the outcomes from a purely statistical approach.

How many? What categories? What cost per person? Was it "effective"?

At the Heartline Maternity Center we transparently report statistics and share our outcomes. Please always feel free to ask questions!

We also believe that some of the best things that happen, cannot and do not show up in a statistics report.

These numbers will never tell you how many hours were spent massaging backs, how many tears were shed over abuse, loss, or betrayal, or how many words of encouragement or prayers were offered.

The day to day work is incredibly relational. Because of the environment created by decades of material poverty combined with corrupt governments, the relational needs are intense. They are also  vital to the work of Midwifery.  It is not possible to work with a woman in child-bearing years (in Haiti) that has not had trauma.  That person does not exist here.


To know that the mother in labor has lost one baby to what she believes was a curse, and another to entrapment of the head during a breech delivery because of inadequate care, is to approach prenatal care and the birth with a unique empathy and tenderness that cannot be quantified with statistics.

The statistics do tell a story, they just don't tell the whole story.

Hopefully we have done a decent job of sharing a few of the stories this last year.  It is with the weight of responsibility that we share anything. Our hope and prayer is that we honor the women we work with, telling their stories is something we do with caution and intentional forethought and discussion.

The stats below will possibly mean more to people that work in the area of Maternal Health, and especially to those that work within a developing world setting.  We are so pleased with some of these findings and excited to continue to gather data in the years to come.

One note on our culture of care. Because our organization values Haitian medical professionals, we want to invest in, and employ as many as possible. We don't take students or medical volunteers from North America to get or have an experience here. We cannot help students get their clinical numbers. We need and want to be sure we are investing in the local workforce, doing career development and further training. They will always be in Haiti and their skills being fine-tuned to serve and help their neighbors is our first priority. Our goal is not to disappoint potential volunteers, our goal is to invest in the women that can make a difference in Maternal Health in Haiti for the long-haul. 

We welcome tours 6 days a week when an appointment is made and are happy to show you the Maternity Center and the work happening here. Email KJ or tara.livesay@heartlineministries.org to set up a tour!

The only rare exception is for coverage when we have two or more staff members gone on vacation or an emergency situation. In that case we ask for CNMs or CPMs with Haiti experience and ideally some (Kreyol or French) language skills. If you are that person, and are interested in helping sometime in the future, please contact us to be added to our list.

We love what we do at the HMC and we hope to share our model with anyone that wants to copy it. Our next Starting Place class will likely be held in May of 2019. Details to come.

THE STATS - IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

118 Babies were born to Moms that were in the Heartline Prenatal Program in 2018

(We made a mistake and counted wrong, we apologize for putting out a number that was not correct in late December.)


116 Babies lived
1 baby died due to prematurity at a hospital,
1 baby died due to a cord prolapse at the hospital
(we are working on meeting with that hospital)

53boys (2 passed away) 65 girls

0 Maternal Death 

Two years ago we started something new. We began giving any G1 or higher risk for Pre-E woman  calcium and aspirin every day for the duration of the pregnancy.  We needed to give it time in order to report the findings, but we now have three-year stats to compare and see how well it is working.

(SIDE NOTE - in 2015 we did NO Calcium and Aspirin and we had a 26% Pre-E rate)

The 3 year Pre-E rate for 2016-2017-2018 is 10.3%

2016 Pre-E  11%
2017 Pre-E  6.3%
2018 Pre-E 13.5%

For the last 3 years - The transfer (to another hospital due to complication) rate is 25.7%

Last 3 years rate for C/Section is 13.2%

In 2018 only we had a  - 2.5% PPH rate - due mainly to active management of the third stage

First time Moms made up  52.5.% of our clients

1,725 - Prenatal Visits in 2018
4,050 - Vitals Signs on Thursdays in 2018
Oldest Mom to Deliver  42 years old (in 2018)
Youngest  15 years old (2018)

The last three years: 3.3% Preterm labor (prior to 37 weeks)

10 people lost their spot in the program due to poor attendance. For us attendance is key. We don't allow anyone in the Prenatal program to miss a Thursday without contacting us first and having their consult rescheduled. When there is "buy-in" outcomes are so much better.  Coming weekly creates buy in!

In 2018 2 babies born at home (because Mom could not get out fast enough) and 1 baby born in the street in front of the MC.

830 Women received Family Planning (Depo Provera mostly) (just 2018)

2018 - 2.5% miscarriage rate

Average woman begins the program at 9 weeks gestation

3 year miscarriage total 16-17-18 - 3.4 miscarriage (loss of baby up to 20 weeks gestation)

0 - IUFD in last three years (baby that dies 20 weeks to term)

Biggest success story of the year, Baby Ruth born at 32 weeks and is thriving.

Biggest challenge of the year, Baby Wisler born at term in November - still hospitalized and undiagnosed .  (January 2019 update - he was released with a G-tube for feeding. He will have his surgery to close his palate when he is six months hold.)

2018 -  Two shoulder dystocia -- with resuscitation  - the more difficult one was 5 minutes long with a 4.5 min resuscitation

85% of the babies born at HMC were delivered by Haitian Midwives !!

We have increased the number of women we serve by 31% over the last two years - we will hold at these numbers for 2019.

LASTLY ...
Here is to another great year.  We ARE INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL FOR YOUR INVESTMENT AND PRAYERS!!! THANK YOU.

2019 Births were kicked off last night:

Midwife Mica with Guetly in early labor

Guetly and her daughter right after she was born,
pictured with her sister

Monday, December 31, 2018

Your Mourning Will Turn Into Dancing





There are three needs of the griever: 
To find the words for the loss, 
to say the words aloud 
and 
to know that the words have been heard.

 -Victoria Alexander 




I don't know how many hundred photos we take in a year. 
Too many hundred.  

This is the one photo that defines this year we are about to usher outI remember what we were crying about and I know what we feared. The months ahead proved to be disorienting and painful.We are all grateful to bring a year of confusion and disappointment to an end.
(I recognize that this reference to the troubling events is vague and it is intentionally so. I apologize for that.) 
I have previously shared here that during this challenging year I became a daily evening cocktail person. 

In October when Troy and I went to Alberta for our 20th wedding anniversary I had the space and time to examine the way my habits had grown more and more unhealthy. 

I was pushing away anger, sadness, and grief by having a drink or two every night. Occasionally I waited until the kitchen was empty to go have a third drink. It happened so gradually without me really steping back or seeing myself and how often I was choosing to numb out. I believed and told myself, "You deserve this. Your life is stressful."  

On our trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth (HI CANDADA!) I had a lot of time to sit in the beauty of creation and talk with God. I had time to listen. I chose to allow myself to not be ALWAYS busy so that I could hear. I think staying busy and never sitting in silence is another way I numb out. I decided while we were in Canada to work on feeling all the terrible feelings and to attempt to not numb anything. I stopped drinking 61 days ago. I am still uncomfortable with the clarity it provides and the extra time it gives me to feel and think, but I am trying to be less numb and less busy in order to intentionally meet with God. 

I am so shocked by the number of people (women especially) that shared that they feel they are also in an unhealthy relationship with food or alcohol or internet or or or any number of things. To each of you that wrote and said, "me too", thank you for choosing to be vulnerable with me. You made me feel less alone in my struggle. 

There are so many great resources out there for "gray area" drinking habits. I found these two articles especially helpful:


1. https://medium.com/@caylavidmar/the-dangerous-gray-area-of-casual-drinker-9-ways-i-stopped-drinking-7c8db1137aa7

An excerpt that explains my motivation for sharing from the link above: 

It’s one thing to want to stop drinking in private, it’s another thing entirely to tell the people in your life that you’re actively cutting back. This makes a massive difference in your success.
When you privately want to stop drinking, you’re still living within the same relationships and environments that are leading you to drinking in the first place.
It’s easy to justify drinking when no one is holding you accountable, when you haven’t changed the dynamics of stating you’re no longer drinking.
This was a hurdle for me, because if I told people about wanting to be sober, I actually had to do it.
If you don’t tell people, you’re basically planning to fail. So tell someone, tell your friends you’re cutting back, you’re only drinking 1 night a week, or whatever goal you have set. Make sure it’s a concrete goal (ie. I’m not drinking during the work week) instead of vague (ie. I’m cutting back on my drinking). That way it’s discernable and measurable for you and everyone else around you."
** ** ** **

I don't have a lot of advice to offer at day 61, but I do know that a lot of folks are dealing with wounds and you are not alone.




In spite of the challenges we faced, God faithfully and generously provided. He worked with our wound. Heartline Ministries had a really good year.  




If you are interested in reading a brief year-end summary, please visit HERE .

If you are interested in giving a year-end gift before midnight brings us to 2019, go here.

If you are interested in seeing the 12 Days of Christmas featuring all things Haiti, see this:




Happy New Opportunities for wholeness in 2019.

T & T & Crew 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Dog Angel


On a hot June afternoon in 1989, the summer between my Junior and Senior year of high school, my little sister somehow convinced my parents that I needed a dog for my seventeenth birthday. I am not sure why she was working this idea so hard when my birthday was still five weeks away. I had not ever been given a dog for a gift, I was not some sort of dog fanatic, I wasn't asking for a puppy. 

I cannot say I understand what motivated her to begin this crusade on my behalf, but she is nothing if not persistent. You don't know the number of dogs that have joined my family as a result of my sister's fierce passion and perseverance.  

You don't know, because I can't tell you.  It is that many.

The guy I had been dating for almost two years had a Samoyed. Even though we didn't herd reindeer, or even regular deer, my sister begged my parents for the same breed.

My sister is the youngest and we know now that youngest children have magical super powers. The youngest can make parents do things those same parents would otherwise label as utter nonsense.

Lydia suggests things and confetti falls from the sky in celebration of her wonderful ideas.  Ask our oldest, Britt, this was not her childhood experience.

My little sister Tina, at age 14, knew that she had a window of opportunity.  She broke their will and got my parents to see a Samoyed puppy right away, even though it was not time to give me a gift.

When Tina is involved, seeing a Samoyed puppy is buying a Samoyed puppy; and that is exactly what happened.

On that particular Saturday in June, I was with my boyfriend. I was 16 and he was 18.  We both had July birthdays, so we were nearing the wiser older ages of 17 and 19.
Saturday 24 June 1989
The US president was George H. W. Bush (Republican). Famous people born on this day include Teklemariam Medhin . In that special week of June people in US were listening to Satisfied by Richard Marx.
{Go ahead and google Teklemariam Medhin.  I don't know him. He's not that famous.}

It turns out that teenagers without fully developed frontal lobes make choices and decisions that are totally and completely hormone driven.   

This is how, on the same day my boyfriend and I lost our virginity (and ALSO MANAGED TO make a baby),  I also received a Samoyed puppy. 

Now you may be wondering what the point of this story is, and why I chose to share it.  

Me too.

That puppy was named Angel. She was not that.  

My family has laughing fits remembering the winters of 1989 to 1995. 

The most vivid Angel memories involve my Dad running through deep snow in his rose colored bathrobe trying to catch that defiant dog and get her to come back in the house.

The baby came 40 weeks later. 
She was named Brittany.
She is a dog lover.