Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
October 28th, 2007
Some time ago during one of my kids’ elementary school events I was walking the halls observing the latest student created art and literary projects displayed on the walls. One was by some third graders who were given the assignment to write about what they thought their future would look like. All were entertaining to read, yet a boy named Ryan penciled one that grabbed my attention.
“When I grow up I am going to be the world’s greatest hockey player. Then I will be a famous scientist, marry a perfect wife and have 5 kids. In the end, I will die.”
Being a strong believer in the value of a liberal arts education, I appreciated his understanding that he can indeed excel in both hockey and science. With the right approach he can transition his career from slap shots and body checks to titrations and electron microscopes. And I loved his innocent naiveté in believing that there exists such a creature as a “perfect wife” (or husband). A precocious kid like Ryan may be well on his way to accomplishing everything on his list, though someday that “have 5 kids” thing will require some serious co-operation from his perfect wife.
However it turns out for him, he nailed one truth to the wall.
“In the end, I will die.”
I can’t help but think if Ryan keeps that fresh in his head, everything that comes before the end will be rich for him.
When we acknowledge each day that there is an end to life on earth, it helps us live with a sense of purpose.
According to the actuarial table used by the United States Social Security Administration, my life expectancy extends another 33.28 years.
I can probably add several years for not being a smoker, a drinker or recreational drug user. And the family genetics indicate that 80 plus years is a good possibility. But my cholesterol and blood pressure are a little on the high side, I tend to worry too much and wherever I go I seem to be surrounded by crazy drivers. So it’s probably a wash. All things considered, if I escaped city traffic and moved to North Dakota, I could probably fire up a Cohiba, start drinking Guinness and still come out ahead. But I’m an average guy and the average 44-year old guy lives another 33.28 years.
I’ve never been good at math. But I can see the obvious. Statistically speaking, my life is more than half over. That in itself is sobering. Not that 44 is old. But it isn’t 34. Or 24. Or 12. It’s 44. I’m closer to the end than I am the beginning.
We’ve all heard or been posed the hypothetical question, “If you knew you only had a year to live, what would you do?” Such a question sends us rushing to prioritize. What’s worth my time? What’s not? What would I do more of? What would I do less of? What would I not do at all?
Of course, the follow up question is, “If there’s things you’d do more and less of if you knew you only had a year to live, why aren’t you living that way now?” Junk mail is junk mail, right? Opening it is a waste of time whether we have terminal cancer or have another 50 years on the planet. That the people in your life know you care about them is important all the time. So why wait for a tragedy to say “I love you”? Especially when telling them now will enrich the relationship for whatever time you have left?
The “what would you do if you knew you had a year to live” question is a healthy exercise if it reminds us to live with purpose. The danger lies in thinking the question is hypothetical. Because whatever the Social Security Administration’s actuarial table says about our life expectancy, there’s a more important statistic to keep in front of us.
1 out of 1…dies.
It’s just a matter of when.
There’s a difference between living with a sense of panic and living with a sense of urgency. The former is based in fear. The latter flows from confident purpose. God desires that we live with a sense of urgency because He created us for a purpose.
In Psalm 139 God tells us that He “had all our days written down in His book before there was yet one of them.” And in Ephesians 2:10 God says that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He has prepared in advance that we should walk in them.” Simply put, we can live out each day knowing that God has our life in His hand. He has a plan for us. A life of good works that He has prepared for us to do. If we live fully each day, how much time we have left becomes irrelevant. Because all we can do is make the most of the time God grants us.
And He grants us one day at a time.
So whatever you’d do more of and less of, start doing it and not doing it. Live with a sense of urgency.
Thank God for writing all your days down in His book.
Then ask Him to help you make the most of this one called “today”.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” - Psalm 90:12
It is still one of the most surreal days of our lives. The same time that we landed in Miami and made the kids official, a boat of Haitians arrived on shore illegally. When we got to our hotel room, emotionally high (and drained,) we turned on our TV to see the live coverage. It was so sad to see the desperation of all the people running to hide to try and stay in the USA, and knowing that Hope and Isaac had just escaped ever feeling that desperate.
Tonight we're going out for pizza to celebrate the wonderful, exciting, and never boring five years with them. God is good.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
I was regretting the past and fearing the future. Suddenly my God was speaking, My name is I AM. He paused. I waited. He continued. When you live in the past, with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not I WAS. When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not I WILL BE. When you live in this moment, it is not hard. I am here. My name is I AM.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
For the first time in more than 20 months, we took our kids (6 of them) to a kid-type event. Shocking? Daring? Impressive? All of the above! There are not a lot of ECFE Community type parties in LaDigue. So, we mustered up all of our energy, bravery and might and headed into town. The decision was sealed once we saw that they did not charge a per person fee, but just $10 per family. They lost money on us. You know a Dutch person loves that.
It was called a "very un-scary Halloween party" and the costumes had to be "friendly." We happened to have the same costumes that Paige, Ike, Hope, and Noah wore in 2004 ... SCORE, everybody moved up to the next costume and we were in business. (Photo from 2004 below.) Lydia got nothing out of it. She was totally bored and unimpressed. But the other kids had fun, even Paige. Pounding golf tees into pumpkins is very very fun to three year old boys.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Troy has a Barry White voice, alternating with NO voice. It is very sexy.
We have nothing much to report today. Troy and Phoebe got in early this morning from Michigan. They went right to bed and are still sleeping. Thank you to all of you who helped him with Phoebe, welcomed them both, and showed them such amazing hospitality. He said he thought he had been properly exposed to a Dutch community now. He thought he had seen as many windmills as he could see when visiting my relatives; but that was proven to be untrue. He might change our last name to VanderLivesay just to fit in better next time. He was also really happy to meet a lot of spouses of many of the people we've met in Haiti. All spouses received high marks from him. :-)
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Our experience with this topic:
Many, maybe most Haitians, don't find this to be a problem. Some of our employees grew up with a Restavek in their home. A few even have one now. When we suggest that this is a form of abuse and slavery they look at us like we're nuts. Changing a cultural mind-set is not easy ... and maybe not possible???????
I know there are a few Haitian readers, I would love to know what you think.
John Robert Cadet, mentioned in this story, wrote a memoir worth reading if you're interested in this topic. It is both heartbreaking and eye opening.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
October 19, 2007
Staff Writer – B.True
SUPER-BRAVE DAD DOES IT AGAIN
Just three weeks after conquering multiple airports, countless security check-points, and Customs at Miami International; Super-Dad Troy Livesay, temporarily of Ham Lake, re-packed his bags and his daughter Phoebe and headed to Minneapolis St. Paul International to fly the friendly skies again today.
Passengers on the flight from MSP to GRR all smiled sweetly as they tried not to stare slack-jawed in amazement at how well Troy handled his 11 and a half month old daughter.
Lois Smith was quoted as saying, “That man is a machine. He seems to be totally unfazed by the large eleven month old strapped to his back. He handles his child, carry-on and coat as if he is built of steel.”
We caught up with Troy as he boarded the plane. When asked what motivates him, he said “I love my wife and I want her to stay as sane as she can be. A 2 week old nursing baby and a teething 11 month old baby just don’t mix.”
When asked what flying with his daughter had taught him, Troy said, “Well two things really. One, Sky Mall Magazine is not just for shopping, it is edible too. Phoebe loves the taste. And two; people who really liked you and even found you and your child cute prior to boarding the plane, can turn on you like that (snaps fingers for emphasis.)
To see Livesay in action, visit the Grand Rapids airport Friday or Monday. Troy also specializes in tiny little airplane bathroom diaper changes and ridiculously cramped seating entertainment of toddlers.
They will be in the Grand Rapids area visiting a couple of churches. One of the churches is Lighthouse Community Church, a church that sends two or three teams to Haiti each year. We've been blessed by their visits. Troy is anxious to visit them on their turf this time.
Isaac, Hope and Noah are going to go spend Saturday with G & G Livesay ... leaving Britt, Paige, Lydia and I to have some time to do some college (& Haiti) shopping. I am planning to pretend the things we are buying are not really for Britt to take and move away with; denial is a wonderful and powerful tool that can be used for coping. I cannot leave a tool like that to sit unused.
Happy 34th Anniversary Mom and Dad Livesay!
(A photo of Troy and his younger brother Paul with their new baby girls.)
Tipap (one of the greatest guys in LaDigue) called us to check in yesterday. He said everything is going well at the mission. It was great to hear from him, he is such a good guy, we all miss him and Haiti.
We actually accomplished a few things on the list this week. Our house is advertised, Lydia has health insurance, the dock is out of the water, the front bushes are trimmed, some thank-yous were written ... all the kids still received three meals a day and are bathed and clothed.
Everybody (except Lydia and Paige) has a cold now, but that is a MN fall tradition and cannot be avoided. Lydia eats every two or two and a half hours around the clock, but she is a very mellow baby and easily goes back to sleep after her night-time feedings.
It's a slow news day. Nothing else to report. Have a great weekend!
~Tara for all of us
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I can get through an entire day, do the cleaning, laundry, diapers, playing, managing life sort of things ... I basically keep track of everyone and sort of know what is going on ... I make a great PB and J sandwich at lunch time.
Dinnertime is not so easy.
Tonight Isaac and Troy and I all wanted left-overs from some of the yummy meals people have made for us. Hope and Noah wanted eggs. Fine. Not a problem. Eggs are easy. Are eggs not easy? Yes. Of course eggs are easy.
The problem occurred when the stove (which by the way is easy to forget about when it is in a bedroom) was left and forgotten with eggs scrambling. The eggs were not so much scrambled as they were charred. I peeled off the black parts and tried to convince H and N that they were still edible. They disagreed and Peanut won the prize. She likes burned eggs.
We stuck with the breakfast theme and had cereal instead. It would be hard for me to wreck that. (And, for the record ... Phoebe has not yet tried to cook anything from her crib. If she did, I might promote her to dinner cook.)
Tomorrow Lydia is two weeks old and has her first check-up. If things go well Phoebe will get immunized for a few things and Hope, Isaac and Noah will all cooperate and act like angels while that happens. In the late afternoon we're all looking forward to introducing Lydia to her Papa Porter ... who is safely home and is no longer sitting in that Crane.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
We're all sensing that God has us in a holding pattern of sorts. The number of unknowns and the variables seem only to increase. As in, He WANTS us to learn more about trusting - and wait on Him a bit.
We had Hope and Isaac's Kindergarten conference today. Their teacher adores them and is a bit sad thinking about them leaving in a couple of months. They are total opposites, she seems to have a grasp on each of their personality quirks. She said, "Isaac really wants to be a big brother and take care of Hope == but she is not having that." :) She also told us that she asked him if when he got back to Haiti, he might write her a letter. He said, "Sure, what letter?" I only cried once during the conferences, which I think is very respectable.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The weekend was USA full. We're pooped. Britt swam and swam and worked. Paige went horseback riding and hung out with friends and Grandma. Troy worked in our yard with his friend John at the house. Our renter ended up being home so I was off the hook and did not go through the storage room ... I did go stare at the room for a half hour ... wept for a few minutes, then picked out two big toys to take over to a garage sale to sell. Not so productive really.
Troy and I managed to get the five little kids to church this morning. We were only 17 minutes late. Nothing to be ashamed of for the first try at it.
We treated Tara, Hope, Ike, Noah, and Phoebe with preventative Scabies treatment. Paige and Britt have had almost zero exposure and are in chlorine everyday anyway. Lydia is too little. Poor Troy is still struggling, but the Dr. told him it would take time to officially go away even after the treatment with the oral medication. Friends from church took a risk on Troy and had us over for lunch today. THANK YOU Chamberlains!!! Even if they're Canadians, we love them. ;-)
I think now that she is a whopping 10 days old, I can go out on a limb and say that Lydia is going to be an easy baby. Phoebe is checking her out a little bit here and there. Today she threw a stuffed animal right on her face. It was a loving sisterly gesture.
The coming week is full of school, swimming, Dr appts for many, and Troy's trip to MI. We'll write if anything newsworthy happens.
Tara for all
Friday, October 12, 2007
Until there is time, I am sending you elsewhere for new blog reading.
Hope and Phoebe are back with Tess for two days. You might remember Tess is coming to Haiti in January to live with us and be a missionary to us AND to Haiti. To help you keep it all straight, Tess is Marcia's daughter.
I laughed at her descriptions of her time with Hope and Phoebe last night. Here is the link to her blog.
Back to my list. We'll find you Monday or Tuesday.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Rusty wrote to Troy tonight to share some bad news about a flood in Cabaret. Go here to see their story and photos.
For those of you who have been to Haiti and stayed with us, Cabaret is the last "bigger" town you go through on your way North on 1 before you get to the turn to LaDigue. When you go throught that crowded market right on 1, you are in Cabaret. It is about half way between Port and the LaDigue turnoff.
Terribly sad to see. We're praying for you and Cabaret, Rusty and Cheryl!
If there are none like that, well then, these two photos are by far my favorites ... and we'll just go with this ... These were the first few taken just to figure out coloring and if we would want to go out in the sunlight.
(Thank You so much Marcia!!!!! We love you! And if I were guessing, I bet you said "Phoebe" 568 times in one hour, you probably need to find a way to take a nap now.)
Choice One - Noah picking nose, Britt looking annoyed, Mom looking distraught, Phoebe on the move.
Choice Two - Phoebe's butt
They have no idea what they are asking "Just take your kids to the Doctor" means a heck of a lot of rigmarole to people who - A. Have annoying high deductibles B. Have no doctor that they regularly see & C. Have a boat load of kids D. Have kids who have not been seen by USA Doctors in a few years, therefore USA Doctors won't do anything without doing a physical first ... they are essentially asking that we spend about $500 to get some scabies cream. We are of course trying to buck the system and find a way around it by getting one of our Doctor friends to call in a Rx for the cream for us.
The total chaos of Monday and Tuesday melted into something more manageable yesterday ... maybe we can handle this after all - time will tell I suppose. I am tempted to tell Hope and Isaac's teacher not to send them home with things that we will lose ... the parents are not organized enough to be trusted with the school districts library books, please don't send them with the children!!!!
Troy and I decided that our avoidance of things we need to do is going to come back and bite us in the rear. We sat down and made our 'To-Do' list yesterday. The problem with the list is that all things are four and five day projects. It is not a list that says:
- go to post office
- return at Target
- pay bills
- Figure out Lydia's insurance
- Get Phoebe to immunization clinic
- Get photos and write Advertisement for house rental
- Go through and clean out storage room and shed at house
- Decide what to sell
- Mow, rake, fertilize, weed, trim trees and bushes ... make yard in Zimmerman look like someone cares a tiny bit about the place
- Take the dock out (on a day that it is not 40 degrees)
- Finish planning Britt's graduation party (food, program, etc, etc)
- Write Thank-You's
- Start writing letter to Supporters to be mailed in November
- Get Troy's presentation ready for Michigan trip
- pay bills, write to USF for Britt, sleep and eat and oh yeah ... try to pay attention to the seven children
So, we have the list. Does it make you feel as nauseous as it does us? Lydia should have been born three weeks ago so I would have the energy to tackle this now.
Graciously, friends from church provided us with meals for this whole week. Thank you Bogles, Foys, and Verwegs! You've saved us from a lot of peanut butter.
On top of this, we decided to torture ourselves with a family photo today. Our old photo that we used for a prayer card is two kids short. We ran out a few months ago. Since Troy is going to share about the mission and the work Lifeline does he needs to have one. Marcia Erickson is coming today to do family photos for us ... seven days after giving birth I am putting myself in front of a camera. Thankfully I have kids to put on my lap. Anyone who has gone for a family photo knows this is a few hours where you all try with all of your might, not to kill each other. You beg your children to hold still and not fall in the grass or mud until after the photos are done. You grit your teeth and try to be nice while you profusely sweat and try to hide your wet pits. It is a great time of making happy family memories.
Troy spoke with Peter yesterday. Things seem to be going fairly well at the mission. They worked out the food order for next month and caught up a bit. Peter is like the grown up Isaac. He is a glass half full guy, and like Amie Sexton said, the glass is not only half full -- it is BEAUTIFUL too. He is the kind of guy you look forward to talking to whenever you can.
Much Love from the Land of the List-
Tara for all of us
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
We have access to all our old photos now. It has been fun to see how much Hope used to look like Phoebe (just a lot smaller). These photos are all B.N. (before Noah) -- then Noah arrived in 2004 and started some sort of ball rolling that led to a larger family then we planned. We all agree that in some way Noah is the permanent baby of this family. He requires BY FAR the most attention...the boy is high maintenance.
Today Hope and Ike are at school, Troy went to the Infectious Disease people to have a follow up appointment. He is still scratching like a mad-man and the rash issue has not gotten better. Hopefully they can figure that out today. He took Noah with him to lighten the load (read: removed the high maintenance child.)
Phoebe plays nicely on the floor and Lydia is doing the eat and sleep newborn routine. Our first night at home was much more eating then sleeping; as expected.
The nursing thing has caused quite interesting conversations between the boys. I am just hoping they are not discussing the finer points of breast feeding when they are out and about today. I'm betting Isaac has informed the entire Kindergarten class by now.
I am devoting all my energy to moving slowly to minimize incision pain and to producing the right amount of milk. This is proving to be no small task. Not to be outdone by the new baby, Peanut has been sick for two days ... meaning Britt started her day off with a bang by cleaning up dog-mess. Why did we bring the dog here????????