Monday, June 2, 2008

Dear Someone Somewhere,

A while back I put parentheses around the word (Haiti) in the blog title. There was a reason for that. Because we reside and work in Haiti the majority of readers come looking for Haiti news. We don't only write about Haiti. We write about our kids about half the time ... they are more than half of our day to day life.

We'll keep telling Haiti stories, the good the bad and everything in between. There are some stories that are hard to tell and time needs to pass before they're told, there are others that are hard to explain without causing offense and therefore feel wrong to tell. But no matter what, those stories will always appear here whenever possible.

In October of 2006 I said this:
Blogs are on-line journals. Everything is editorial. It is just our opinion, we recognize you will either take it or leave it. We're not a news organization, we're a stupid blog.

Contrary to one person's criticism, we do not think Haiti is hopeless, why would we be here if we thought that? Sure, sometimes it feels that way when surrounded by so much poverty, so little infrastructure, and many years of poor government management. We're human. We get discouraged. But there is always hope. Without Christ, our lives would be without hope. With Him all things are given an element of hope. We believe that with every fiber of our being.

And, while many of our Haiti experiences have reshaped our thoughts about faith, and Haiti and ministry, (and about blogging on the interweb) the words above are still true. 

We also share the random, inconsequential, mundane and unusual things that happen in our lives. We love that you're here. We love that you're reading. We know some days you're like, "Say something would you?!??!!?" Because things can get pretty fluffy at times. Many times you probably wish we would shut up about our kids. We get that too. We're so fond of them though!

Truth be told, we keep this blog for many reasons. Some selfish, some not.  This is my journal. This is a history I can leave my children and their children.

When we left the USA I left behind things that I called "recreation." I miss long weekend runs along quiet Minnesota roads, breathing in crisp fall air. I no longer have the luxury of meeting a friend for a day of chatting and encouragement. We don't double date with our friends anymore. There are not sporting event outings or concerts. Not complaining, just explaining. (Okay, maybe I am complaining a little.) Writing has replaced those hobbies that are not available to me here. For whatever reason there are days when writing is cathartic. Because I cannot always easily talk it out on the phone with my sister or a friend, well then ... by golly ... I will write it down for dozens of strangers to read. ;) That makes total sense (?)

In reality, the MAIN point of writing this stuff out (outside of - and more important than - the ones already listed) ... is to hopefully encourage someone somewhere. Troy and I believe that God is the author of every good story, and without any prideful tone, we think we are one of those good God stories. Here is why: No less than 11 years ago we were broken, hurting, lost, twenty-somethings in search of God. Troy would tell you he was leading a double life, and I was pretty trapped in my own deceit. We'd both done things we were terribly ashamed of and we were both running hard from anything and everything that smelled like, looked like, or even hinted of God, or faith.

The fact is, we hope that we are a living, breathing example of the way God writes redemption stories.

If you've ever said "God cannot use me" or if heaven forbid- some holy-roller person told you that you were not usable because of X Y or Z in your past - you must know those are lies.

God can and does use anyone willing to be forgiven and forgive themselves. We had to do that in order to allow Him to work. We've seen and experienced rejection from those who believe falsely that God is only performance based ... and we venture to guess you have too. Throw off those opinions, they are very small things.

What is true about you, what is true about us-  is what God sees. And if we believed today - that God cannot use us - because TODAY we struggle with the hard facts of life and we grapple with deep questions of faith --- we'd have to close up shop. There is a way in which God can use anyone and everyone seeking Him. Having every little answer packaged up nice in a fancy box is not necessary or possible.

Not. Necessary. Not. Possible.

There is a misconception about what it looks like to be used. I don't think it only looks like going to Africa to hold AIDS babies.  I don't think it only looks like pulling up stakes and going somewhere far from where you live today.

I think it looks like something different for each person. That is an issue for each of us to work out with God. I think for some it is reaching out to the guy next door whose wife just left him, inviting him over for dinner. I think for others it means coming along side a 16 year old that is pregnant and afraid. Maybe it means baby-sitting for a struggling single mom down the street. Maybe it is as simple as being kind to a real geek/dork that you work with. Maybe it is finding out how to interact with the homeless in your community and going way outside your comfort zone to do it.  It mainly means allowing God to take us to uncomfortable places where we're loving people that we don't find all that lovable. The location in which it happens is irrelevant.

The people that showed me unconditional love when I was a pregnant unwed mother (twice) are the people that changed the course of my life. The people that showed Troy compassion during a time of searching and running and lying are the people that laid the ground work for him to be doing that for others today.

We hope there is something here for you. Whether it be a story about Haiti that moves you, a goofy kid moment, a confession that helps you know you're not alone in your struggles or a chance to see God's amazing creativity and ingenuity by working with ordinary people that are not missions trained, ordained, perfect, or even all that together ... Be encouraged.

tara (& troy)


Holly said...

You will never find me criticising your blog... love coming here to read, be encouraged, and pray for all of you... love the bits of sarcasam and hilarity as well as the pics and stories... and well, all of it! ;)When I was in the twin cities area this weekend I found myself thinking of you guys -- complete "strangers" - remembering I was driving about your previous 'stomping grounds'.

amanda said...

God bless you and your family all the more abundantly. Thank you for the encouragement. That is why I come here. I always leave this blog with a smile on my face, regardless of what y'all have put up for us to read/view. Maybe it's partly the pictures of the kids that scroll down the left as I read. I don't know. All I do know is that this blog is ministering to this not-so-hickish stay-at-home mom in the middle of Hicksville, Texas. Thank you for submitting to Him.

stephanie garcia said...

How I appreciate such real and encouraging reminders. GOD bless you in your life, family and work for Him in Haiti!

Candis said...

"Be encouraged."

I am. That is why I follow your blog (ahem) religiously. That and the fact we adopted our little boy from "Ayiti."
And I've learned from your and Lori's blogs that the call to serve others doesn't mean big 'ol ginormous projects that will result in entire cultures being revived and achieving democracy and human rights in one fell swoop. Serving others just might mean giving a guy a sandwich, or holding someone's hand as they are dying. It is such a relief to realize all that is really asked of us is just a series of tiny gifts-- a pattern of giving of the self without the expectation of sociopolitically-acceptable success.
Now, if I could just shed my doubts about...

Thank you

Amy said...

this is why we love you and your blog! love your honesty- its gives us hope! Sure do hope the internet is cooperating soon and you are up and running from home!! hugs Amy

Malia'sMama said...

My blog is my journal for my daughter, too. Every few days, I print out the pages. Btw, Tara, you left a comment on the blogspot blog I keep just to have an address to post comments from. (and thank you for the sweet words)However, (just fyi)my TRUE blog is

Anonymous said...

Hey! I am one of those dozens of random strangers who read your blog, which I LOVE! It is a great encouragement to me and I thoroughly enjoy keeping up with y'all. Keep it up!!

Tom Vanderwell said...

Tara (and Troy),

Though I've only met Troy and Phoebe, my wife and daughter have stayed with you. I can honestly say that I feel like I know you very well. Why? Because your online journal does such a wonderful job of sharing what life is like mixing the frustrating, the God moments and everything in between.

You guys rock. Keep on telling it like it is. There's not a day that goes by where at least one person in our family is "sharing" what you guys are talking about.


Judy said...

I have been encouraged, over and over, by your blog. I am one of the "none of these reasons" in your poll because none of your reasons was "for encouragement on my Christian journey." The other reason I read is because I love reading about your family. I have become very attached to you all...reading blogs sometimes causes us to develop true feelings for people we don't know in person...a strange but wonderful thing! Thanks for sharing!


BIll Moseley said...

Well said.

Dominique and I love all of the stories -- Kids, Haiti, your reflections on Christinaity, and the humor. (And the Stuff Christians Like link - the man is a genius.)

Thanks for letting us be a part of your journey.

Bil Moseley

Anonymous said...

Tara and Troy, You have no Idea what your blog has meant to me in this last few months. God is working here as well as haiti through you. dont stop telling it like it is and being real, you encourage me with your lives
Thanks lance (from mich);)

Amy said...

I have been reading your blog every day for about 2 or 3 wks, so guess I'm considered a newbie. I have been so inspired and encouraged by your writing. We love that you share the family stories. I guess I just really wanted to "Thank you" for doing God's work in Haiti, and for encouraging us back home (MN). Be blessed!

kerid said...

ahh... being kind to a real dork (i'm at the end of the process of that one).....and there was redemption!!! at 35 i am finding your post so 20 i thought saving the world meant a passport and traveler cheques...for some that is true but it is the small un-noticed grace to others that changes is easy to get caught up in and have sweet jealousy for your wonderfully crazy and awesome family but then i forget to live my own story.......vicarious is not a way to live....thanks for encouraging us to step out our own door!!!


Anonymous said...

maybe the best post I've ever read here or anywhere else. you have been a part of changing my life guys. as I have visited Haiti and made friends, and made a habit of visiting my favorite blog's to learn about not just Haiti but people, including myself, I have changed. changed in ways I could not have imagined even just 4 years ago. I have given up the need to control things in my life, at least some things. I have been taken out of my comfort zone in very uncomfortable ways. And thru it all, I have grown in ways I NEVER, EVER imagined. I will be in Haiti this fall, for at least 9 months and hopefully full time. my trust in God has grown in such a way that quitting my job and leaving to do something that I know I just have to do makes more sense than just staying for a paycheck. and a significant part of that growth in learning to trust God comes from this blog. So count yourself successful, at least for this one. the honesty I have seen here has brought me in touch with myself in ways I didnt' know about before. that is your gift Tara/Troy. you are so honest about yourself that it makes it easy to see myself in the mirror you put up. thanks for everything you do and suffer thru and post about. you DO make a difference. or at least you have in me.

dan j

Heather said...

I for one, come for the Haiti stuff and the kid stuff, the mission stuff, the faith stuff and everything in between. I LOVE reading your take on things and I LOVE how my understanding of Haiti and mission work in general is broadened because of reading about your experiences. Thanks for continuing to share!!!!

ange said...

I am encouraged by yall!

Anonymous said...

Oh man! Thanks for making me cry at work...again. :) I love you guys! Sharon O.

kayder1996 said...

Wow! Those are such encouraging thoughts and truly a testament to God's work in your lives as well as in the lives of others. To me, that post would speak to every person on this planet, those running from God, those trying to find Him, those who think they've arrived in their faith, etc.. God surely connects us to people and circumstances in ways we can never understand.

Bill and Christina said...

I have been reading your blog for a little while now. I got it off of another blog roll. I love to read it and for this post I feel compelled to comment. You are totally correct in you thoughts and what you have written. I feel the very same things you have written. I come to your blog because I love the things you write about, the pictures your son takes,you have a beautiul family, and I love, love , love Haiti, my hear truly resides in two places here in the U.S. and there in Haiti. Thank you for sharing.

Val said...

Thank you.

Thank you for being irreverent, than you for being honest, thank you for sharing your life with us.

I pretty much disagree, I'd guess, with 80% of your political views, but I'm a schmuck, so whose to say either of us have a clue about that?

I know that somehow, most of the time, you resonate with me, and I thank you for that.

I do feel a little odd knowing so many stories about children I've never met. But if they weren't here, I don't think we readers would have any hope of believing that you aren't super-heroes doing work no one else could do...Well, perhaps no one else COULD do the work that you do, but most of us can do amazing things of our own if we stay out of God's way & let him work. I don't think, without you bloggin about it all - kids & frustrations included, that I'd really believe you're human.

So thank you for not being cnn. I already get that channel!

(but I don't watch very often)


kenzsethia said...

Tara -

You don't know me. I stumbled on your blog months ago and I love reading your posts. You are so real and so me, really. These are great words of usual.


Carsen said...

Thank you! Consider me encouraged.

angela said...

tara, thank you so much for continuing to blog! i do come for haiti stories because i miss it so much and because it is nice to hear a familiar perspective on it. i also come for the humor, the wit. and i come to see troy's pictures!
but also, you have been kind and encouraging to me and i am grateful for that. i hope, someday not too far off, to return home to haiti, and i hope to see you there!

Anonymous said...


I am encouraged many times have I felt discouraged and "un-usable" by God in my walk with Him. But never more before than now. At this very moment, my boyfriend is in Haiti, I'm in Canada... with our baby girl. I have cried tears of story is a long one......But I'll save you....I just wanna say THANKS......once again.....for the encouragment.

Your Faithful Reader,

Salzwedel Family said...

I think any of us can do AMAZING God things when we are open to what He is asking us to do. It isn't always comfortable, but if we want to be more like Him you just have to go for it!

Thanks for this encouragement.

Isabel Ward said...

Amen! and Amen!

kelly in MN.

Erin Crisp said...

Your story inspires and encourages me daily- the fluff, the ministry and otherwise. You are real people and I 've learned as much from our struggles as from anything else you write. So keep it up.. write...journal... scrapbook... share... but know that those of us who benefit are usually quieter than those who want something more.

I Hope... said...

Thank you so much for who you are. I get so excited and remember to believe in something bigger when I read your blog. Thank you for reaching out.

bartandsusan said...

My family thinks that my 16 year old daughter and I stalk your family. I will begin to tell what is going on with you and my sister will ask if this is my pretend friend again. I tell her that we are really tight, it's just that you don't know me. My daughter and I really enjoy and are encouraged much by your writing. She is hoping to travel to Haiti next summer after graduation. You have had an influence on that plan. Thank you.

A Momma in Waiting... said...

Tara, I love all your storys. Be they about Haiti, or family, or whatever. Thanks for letting us take a peek at your heart for God everyday. I'm encouraged...Terry

WWJDJOHN said...

Hello T&T I have been reading your Blog for several months now and have gone back and read, I guess all of the old post also to try and get the whole picture from the first post to the last "today" I try and check up on your goings on ever day. And I would like to say thank you and God bless you for all that you have done in Haiti and in our lives to encourage and make us laugh and cry yes cry and most importantly PRAY for you and for Haiti's Children and the countless others that might be eating dirt as we speak or blog. I know that God is Good and HIS mercy endureth to the end. and I know his Love reaches down to all of fallen man and I am amazed that he Loved me. Please pray for us we need God's direction for the direction that he wants me to go.
a friend John

Signe said...

You are accomplishing your goals. God has given you a gift in telling your story well. Thank you for sharing your story with the rest of us strangers.

God Bless and Keep You.

ElizabethR said...

Thank you both!


Chris said...

Tara, I was looking for an email for you but couldn't find one - so I'll just comment here... :)
Thanks for stopping by my blog - it was great to read a comment from you! And thanks for the link - I'm getting tons of traffic from your site. It's weird. Only 2 people read my blog before LOL!
Your videos below are hilarious, love your sense of humor.
I look forward to following your return to Haiti, and reading your blog helps me to remember to pray for you!

Jennifer Chappell Deckert said...

Thank you for this. I feel the same way, in so many respects, as a Mom parenting abroad, in a life of service as well. It is sometimes easy to think about all that our children are missing, when in fact, they are gaining so much more. I also write a strange mix of posts regarding family and work and culture and faith, and that is just the way it is.

Kelly said...

Thank you for this simple post of encouragement; it meant a lot to me as I am figuring out what I am supposed to be doing in my life now.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say this post made me cry in a good way. I am a single mom with a 2 and 4 grader and while I have a loving church community I often feel what I do is NOT enough. You remind me with your words...that's between me and God. I know that I am testing myself by being with him..on where he wants me to go. Thank you, I feel God is with you in your words ...Linda M.