Thursday, December 30, 2010

this Circus is hitting the road again ...

Most of the kids were awake to say Thank-You!

We don't know if there is such a thing as to thank an entire state ...  but we're going to anyway.  It's a thing now.

T H A N K  Y O U  T E X A S!!!

Huge Thanks specifically to:

Columbus Avenue Baptist Church - for housing so many lards.  AMAZING.  Thank you.

Church Under the Bridge - for acting as our "home" church away from "home".  Loving the world's "freaks" is your specialty - very lucky for us.

Paige says "thanks"
Crossroads Fellowship - for welcoming our kids into your family/youth group. They will never forget the fun they had.

Harris Creek Baptist Church - for hosting Lydia (sometimes) and Phoebe at Mother's Day Out. Phoebe so enjoyed it and Lydia is clearly not aware of how awesome you are -  but we are.

The teachers and staff at Rapoport Academy - for blessing our children with your love for them and interest in them.

The YMCA for allowing us to use your facilities. ~ UBC for the gift that covered tutoring for the kids when we got here.

Britt and Chris - for preparing the way for us, for helping us figure out Waco's Bermuda triangle and for sharing your lives and your car.

Kim Jackson and Regina White for fabulous babysitting help.

And last but not least ....

The Dorrells, Iveys, Norvells, Kings, Bushes, Ingrams, Ellises, Seays & Moers -  for being a solid support system to us in Texas.  Silly to think we came to TX thinking we didn't know anyone. Thanks for listening, understanding, showing up, and just being so much fun. Lastly, thanks for introducing us to Chuy's - we will clearly never ever be the same again.

Lydia says "thanks"
Our gratitude is not only extended to Texans. We are touched by the love we've been shown this year. There were so many times that we felt frustrated and guilty and hated not "doing".  It was maddening wanting to be in Haiti working but unable to make the adoption paperwork process move faster.  We found ourselves wondering why our support-team was sticking with us when we weren't doing what they support us to do. Being on the receiving end of so much grace made us squirmy and uncomfortable- but it also showed us Jesus. Thank you to all of you that supported and walked with us patiently during the time of waiting.

A former MK (missionary kid) wrote this note to us earlier this year: 

"When I was a little girl growing up in Haiti, I remember feeling bad that I had so much food to eat or toys to play with when my Haitian friends didn't have much or anything.  When in America, people felt sorry for us "missionary kids" because next to them we were "poor". 
They didn't know how rich we were. But I did."

Like Lyndsey we are acutely aware of how rich we are. It's not been a life wrapped up tight or packaged beautifully. It's messy and discombobulated, but it is full of blessing and beauty and joy even in the midst of sorrow and challenge.  Truthfully, it is made so much more beautiful because of you.

Thank you to each and every one!

We're hitting the road! 

Next cities on the tour:

Ft. Lauderdale
Port au Prince

HAPPY NEW YEAR ~ We'll find you from Port au Prince once we get there.
One tight connection must be conquered... hoping we can make it. 
Mil Mesi ~ Many Thanks
T& T & Tribe

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

au revoir 2010

Most people tend to be introspective at this time of year.  As we wrap up 2010 and look forward to the year ahead we find ourselves trying to figure out what we learned.  We think we learned something, we're just not certain how well.  We think we learned about patience and grace and God's faithfulness. We think we learned about trusting Him in times of pain and uncertainty. We seem to have learned that Jesus is enough.  (But we're not terribly intelligent so we'll probably forget all of this.)

2010 began with Britt and Chris arriving in Haiti to visit us for the first time as a married couple. We spent six days enjoying them and showing them what life is like in Port au Prince.  After they left Paige and I headed to Florida to run the Disney Marathon with friends and ministry partners.  I returned to Haiti on January 11th; Paige returned after me at noon on the 12th.  As you know, things took an unexpected turn late on the afternoon of the 12th of January. 

The rest of the month of January is forever a vivid, colorful, heart-pounding memory.

Most of what was written in January and February was unedited and without a lot of worrying about offending someone. It was written from places of fatigue and grief. It was off the cuff and honest, and sometimes pretty dark. 

Seeing hundreds of thousands of people dying, hurting, grieving, lost, confused, and afraid in the horrible aftermath will always be difficult to reflect upon and remember.  

We can only imagine what those that waited on loved ones trapped in rubble must wrestle with and reconcile.  We can only imagine the depth of grief of those that lost a close loved one. 

In the months that followed we watched God weave His love and truth into our pain. We felt His healing hands at work as we examined our anger and hurts. We experienced His provision when hard things happened. We saw Him in unique ways as we drove long hours across the mid-west. He is the giver of hope. There was nothing simple about the 2010 but looking back His fingerprints are everywhere. Even in the last four weeks as Troy has been working through the grief of his brother's death  -  God had been faithful and steady and trustworthy. He has shown Himself to be enough.

As we leave this ordered country/state/city and return to the chaos of Port au Prince we continue to learn that He is enough. We have hope for healing - for Haiti and in our own messy lives.

We are believing our Father will mend this.

photo credit: Beth McHoul

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Attn: Middle Texans

EDIT - Bag found a ride. Thank you!
If I am calling the center part of your great state by a disrespectful name, I apologize. I am aware of your  state pride and I hope I got it right.

We are in looking for a person that might be traveling from Austin to Waco between this very moment and 5pm on Friday.

There is one 50 pound bag of supplies for the Heartline sewing program that is needed in Haiti. It was left behind by a traveler due to issues at the airport yesterday.  We are unable to get to Austin and back without losing what is left of our minds.

Any of you Austinites headed north soon? We can have the bag brought to you in Austin if you will meet us in Waco before we bail out on Friday afternoon.

Please contact us if you are!

T. & T.

Twitter: troylivesay

P.S. Isaac and Hope addressed prayer-cards and sent them  ... still have a few left but you should see ginormous handwriting in your mail box soon. Thanks!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Hope !!!

The beginning of the story of Hope can be found HERE

Hope is the singing angel in the video below ...

The rest of Hope's story is being written day by day. We love getting to be a part of it and we're  grateful for the miracle of her life.

We love you Hopie Louis !  
Happy, happy Birthday to you honey!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Countdowns, Christmas, & Cards

Graduation was so fun. We thoroughly enjoyed the joining of the families to celebrate Britt and Chris. After graduation the two youngest girls went to south Texas to be with Grandma and Grandpa Porter for a week. We're not saying it was for their own protection, but it was.

Tina and Matt and kids (ANNIE!!!) all get here any minute to spend a week with us. Hyper is not nearly strong enough a word. The kids are so excited to be with their cousins and Isaac and Annie reunited is one of our favorite things to see.

We will be home in 10 days. That is exhilarating and terrifying all at once. Not sure whether to dance or vomit.  Both seem appropriate.

Jon Acuff mocks missionaries fairly frequently. We don't embrace that title because the word missionary means things to us that don't match up so well with this family of regular schmoes - but these posts are funny - Here and Here   ...  All that to say, we have  family photo "prayer cards" in excess and while it is an odd Christian cultural thing (because who needs a photo card in order to pray?) if you want one please email us your address at - Isaac is in charge of this project and will send you one promptly. {You won't be added to mailing lists and we won't sell your information to bad-guys or advertisers ;) }

Merry Christmas!

(Photo from Christmas 2009)

The Hay-uh Cut

Thanks to Theresa Reichert for putting the video together!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fantastical Productions vs. Amateur Hour

These two fun social media Christmas scenes were shared with us recently. It appears they were both published after ours. One can only guess where they got their inspiration.  ;)  Or not.

Amateur Hour with the Livesays.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Déjà vu all over again

Countdown to Haiti 2010. Here we go again.

5 years ago right now we were doing exactly what we're doing now, in the same month, with almost the exact same crazy roller-coaster emotions. We moved out of our MN house on December 19th 2005. The high drama of that frigid winter night won't soon be forgotten. (It turns out you cannot die from sadness over leaving a house. So noted.)
the 2005 version of us

There was also an election scheduled in Haiti and flights being canceled by American Airlines due to the political climate and relative uncertainty.

It truly feels like dejavu all up in here right now.

The only difference is that we were in MN with five kids that time around. This time around we're in TX with more kids, decaying patience, diminishing stamina, and we know less than ever.

Staying put in one country is much less complicated. This moving kids across international borders stuff is crazy-makingGod should recognize that childless couples and empty nesters are way better choices for ... Telling God what He should recognize seems risky. Scratch that.

We seem to have a history of ridiculous behaviors, nagging doubts, and arduous adjustments in the months of Dec. and Jan.  One would think this would get easier each time. One would be so wrong.

We're inside the three week mark. Something switched about three days ago in all of us and suddenly we're nervous pacing, nervous eating, nervous acting, freaks.  

The intake of junk food and the size of some of our butts is directly related and mostly proportional to the amount of stress and nervousness in our lives. Canker sores the size of this great state of Texas are popping up all over the place. This response to stress is quite fortunate for Lay's Potato Chip Company and Anbesol, but terribly bad for us.

Death by BBQ chips is imminent.

Lydia seems very tuned into the increased tension in the house and refused to go to her weekly pre-school thing Tuesday. She pitched a fit and her weary mother couldn't muster up the mental strength to fight her. We've yet to meet anyone more persistent than Lydia. We're not sure if she doesn't want to be separated from us, or the chips. 

Isaac was lamenting on the ride home from school that all his friends are really going to miss him and that he only has three more days of school with these kids. I listened intently and finally said, "Wherever we leave people seem to miss you Isaac."  He was quiet as he thought for a moment and said, "Yes, well, I guess I am popular and have many friends all over the world. They are just going to miss me."  Friends, yes. Humility, not as much.

Troy and I had our first stress-related fight Sunday night. It was about the dishes and the dishwasher but really it was not about that at all. When does the day come where you are so refined that stress does not cause you to let it out on people you love? What if this is all a big test to see if we ever get it right?  What if passing the test means moving this tribe without ever fighting or eating ginormous quantities of potato chips or experiencing fear?

We're doomed. We'll surely be repeating this drill again in 2014.

We found old posts to prove what we already know ... We're not getting any better at this.(January 2006 (first move to Haiti) and January 2008 (going home after being in the USA for three months to move Britt to college and give birth to Lydia) and then getting re-settled.)

We'll be frequently absent on-line in the coming weeks as we pack and celebrate this joyous season with visiting family while making an attempt to love each other in the middle of the vortex of chaos and stress.

In the meantime, maybe you could entertain us with your smart quips and best stress-relief advice or de-lurk to acknowledge your deep and abiding friendship with Isaac while also distracting us from the potato chips.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Graduation Announcement(s)

The President, The Faculty and The Graduating Class
Baylor University

Announce the Graduation of
Brittany Rachelle Bernard
Saturday, the Eighteenth of December
Two Thousand Ten
with a
Bachelor of Arts and Science Degree in
International Studies


The President, The Faculty and The Graduating Class
Baylor University

Announce the Graduation of
  Christopher David Bernard
Saturday, the Eighteenth of December
Two Thousand Ten
with a
Bachelor of Arts and Science Degree in

It really does not seem possible that this is taking place so soon. (To me) it feels as though this girl was born approximately four and a half minutes ago.  She moved to Waco like 90 seconds ago.

We're so very grateful for these two and especially in awe of the things God has done in their lives.

2010 started with an invasion of their younger siblings as they cared for them for three weeks after the earthquake. It ends with fancy gold-embossed papers that will be handed to them from Baylor President,  Ken Starr. They worked hard, studied hard, juggled multiple responsibilities and are ready to move on to the next phase. We're praying and rooting for them both as they move forward with plans for further education. 

We love you Britt and Chris - CONGRATULATIONS on this fabulous accomplishment. 

Sic Em Bears! 

looking forward

May the light of God surround you.
May the love of God enfold you.
May the grace of God heal you.
May the peace of God sustain you.
May the character of God shine through you.


Our first two and a half years in Haiti were spent in a small village that sits three miles from the Caribbean sea at the base of the Mathieux mountain chain.
(Photo of Noah was taken there.)

Our time in the village was a lot of things.  Good and bad.  Amazing and horrible. Rewarding and challenging.  At the time I was not allowed to write too much about the hard stuff.  The leadership wanted me painting a picture of uber-holy-perfectly sanctified soldiers of Jesus serving without acknowledging the hard stuff publicly.  They also did not want their supporters to think Haiti was a hard place.  (As if you don't know it is a difficult place already.) They figured if we shared that poverty can bring out some unbecoming things that the donor might not give.  I guess they forgot that wealth can bring out some unbecoming things too.  I stink at fake  - so that was a hard assignment for us.

Suffice it to say, we left there ready to be the unedited version of us and ready to work on projects that were more relational.  We totally recognize there are many schools of thought when it comes to working in a developing country.  We just decided when we moved from the village into the city that at the very minimum development (of something - anything!) should be a goal. The move into PAP has proven to be the right move for us. Our time in Port has been a blessings to us and we love the work we get to do.

All of that to say ... 
We're excited (and slightly nervous) about this brand new Heartline program for teenage moms. Please click here to learn more about the vision for this program. Pray with us in the coming months as we develop and structure the program and trust God to restore the broken.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2010 Christmas Extravaganza

We had fun mocking ourselves and our culture as we thought about how the technology available in 2010 might have changed the Advent story. 

Jesus was sent to set us free, to redeem us. Living in our brokenness, amidst such turmoil, hardship, death, and disease sometimes overwhelms  ... But we are not without hope.

The gift God sent the world means that there is still perfect peace and promise available to us all. As we celebrate Advent and anticipate Christmas may we all find the hope, peace, love and joy in our hearts that only He can provide.

Lastly, for more serious (less irreverent) looks at the Christmas story, see past extravaganzi (plural for extravaganza ?)here:

 2009,   2008,   2007

Merry Christmas to All,

Troy, Tara, Britt, Chris, Paige, Isaac, Hope, Noah, Phoebe, Lydia

Many thanks to Ross King for the use of his song.

Friday, December 10, 2010

For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord; “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jer. 29:11

Praying for good ... For a future, and for hope in Haiti.

photo: troy livesay

Thursday, December 09, 2010

nou la

We're here. We're watching the place we love fall into further chaos. We're sad. We're hopeful. And we're praying. 

Thanks for praying with us.

As we told the Waco paper yesterday, we understand the frustration of the Haitian people. They have no voice and democracy has not been achieved.  Rioting is hard to see ... but from a more empathic point of view .... we're all watching millions of people that went through incredible, unimaginable trauma. They did not get to bury their loved ones. They had no counseling. They have had very little time to grieve because one crisis after the next does not allow for that. They've lived in mostly inhumane conditions for close to a year. Cholera is now moving all throughout the country and killing people daily. This election appears to be corrupt. 

Truthfully, the earthquake alone was enough to create an entire city of of PTSD.  Without hope in a fair election process and a brighter future, this was bound to boil over.
Every human has a breaking point. I am afraid we may have found theirs.

The vast majority of Haitian people are not violent or involved in rioting and are scared right now.

I only know to pray.

My favorite blog for photos and updates is here. Check it out from time to time for updates on the unrest. Pray for peace and for justice.

We are moving forward with our plans to go home after Christmas. We're praying that will be possible.

More when time allows,

T & T

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Hear the Angels Sing (By Request)

By Rick Porter

Hear the Angels Sing ( Dickinson County News, December 12, 2006)
Perhaps it’s just the Ebenezer Scrooge in me, but I’m not much of a caroler. When pressed into participation I sing, but rarely with the gusto of those around me. And too often I sing in a rote way, not giving full attention to the words. There is however, one line of one verse of one carol that always captures my attention.
A story is told of a man seasonally employed to bring the presence of Santa to Christmas gatherings for businesses and schools. He was on his way to a gig, an office party, but had been asked to stop by the nursing home to make a quick visit to the residents. This was pro bono work, but if Santa won’t do it who will?
He quickly made his rounds with a “ho, ho, ho” to each room. Just before departing, he peeked into a darkened cubicle where an elderly man lay apparently asleep, curled on his bony side. Santa prepared to leave in a flash. But the man made a feeble beckoning gesture visible in the dim light of a tiny Christmas tree. The volunteer Santa approached. The man whispered something so faintly as to be inaudible. Santa moved his jolly old ear very close to the man’s dry mouth. “Forms are bending low,” the man said. Santa did not connect the phrase, assumed confusion, gave a patronizing pat, and hurried off to his paying job.
As he arrived at the office party, holiday music was filling the room. The words of an old carol floated from the ceiling speakers:
O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

The song was “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” written as a poem in 1849 and put to music 10 years later. The essence of the song is that angels did not just appear and sing at the birth of Christ. They show up and serenade regularly and often.
Just when we are so burdened as to not hear, at the most difficult of times, when life’s loads crush and our forms bend, they minister most. Immanuel, meaning “God-with-us,” attends us as His invisible person, the Holy Spirit, and He is attended by angels. The heart of God is to meet us at life’s darkest intersections with comfort, encouragement, a touch of heaven, and a breath of hope. The old man in the nursing home wasn’t just complaining to Santa about his lot in life. He was acknowledging that in Santa’s visit, no matter how hurried, there was an angelic grace.
Whether or not you sing the carols this year, be encouraged to live the carols. For you, this season may not be one of happiness, good memories, or togetherness. You may be grieving, regretful, or lonely. Life’s road seems crushing and your form is bending low. That does not disqualify you from the true Christmas message. While others scurry in apparent happiness, the invitation to the crushed and the bent still stands:
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Merry Christmas to All

words and music by ross king ©2010 ross king

Can you hear the baby crying?
that’s the sound of God denying himself
Taking on the form of man in flesh
Can you see the virgin weeping?
That’s the pain required for keeping God’s great promise
to deliver us from death
Merry Christmas to all mankind
The King is coming just in time
Into the dark, His light will shine so bright and beautiful
Merry Christmas to all
Can you hear the angels singing?
Oh that’s the sound of freedom reigning and ringing
Like a bell declaring peace, the war has ended
Can you see the shepherds coming?
Like a prophecy, a symbol of His prodigal, returning
to the father who, so humbly, condescended
Merry Christmas to all mankind
The King is coming just in time
Into the dark, His light will shine so bright and beautiful
Merry Christmas to all
Can we hear the nations crying?
Or have we closed our ears? Somehow justifying
how we celebrate the humble birth of Jesus
Do we see the poor and hungry?
Will we meet their needs? Or close our eyes and spend our money
on things we know will never satisfy us

Merry Christmas to all mankind
The King is coming just in time
Into the dark, His light will shine so bright and beautiful
Merry Christmas to all

2010 Christmas Extravaganza coming to a blog near you on Monday


Thursday, December 02, 2010


We are blessed with a very solid circle of close friends.  They are known to show up right when we need them. We're utterly and totally in awe of the love they exhibit.

In that group of close friends are Amie and Tim Sexton.  You know Amie as the author of this frequently linked to piece about seeing color - to quote Amie,  "Love that overlooks is belittling. Love that acknowledges is accepting."

Amie and I met and became friends in 2002 but we finally introduced our husbands in 2009.  Now they are B-F-F (and ever) all because of us.

You are very welcome Tim and Troy. 

Tim and Amie are friends we can cry with, pray with, and sit in silence with if need be. We've done all of that in the past and will probably do all of that this weekend again. We're so excited for them to get here Saturday. Because they work in urban ministry in NC they are coming to see Mission Waco and Church Under the Bridge and to meet the fabulous Dorrells.


We also count Licia and Lori and Zach as treasured friends. Today they are in Cazale, Haiti fighting Cholera. They have hired tons of extra staff to deal with the Cholera (employing more Haitians  - awesome!) They continue to oversee their medical clinic and help severely malnourished kids recover and return to their families. They work tirelessly.

Today I read that the average American couple spends approximately $5 a day on soda, bottled water, and/or coffee. That does not seem far-fetched to me. I have had one soda and two cups of coffee (lets not talk about caffeine addictions today) already this morning and it is only 11am. Today I challenge everyone reading to go donate their $5 of beverage money (or way more) to our friends at Real Hope for Haiti.  Encouragement comes in many forms and even $5 will serve to make them feel loved, cared for, and supported.  GO HERE, click on the right side where it says "donate paypal". It is fast and easy to give.

Thank you God for friends.

Speaking of friends, Paige's best-friend that she met when she was only 6 years old is here. They have their days together planned out by the minute with just a few minutes set aside to sleep. We are so happy they stayed friends even after we moved away and by having her come to TX, we are "helping" Julia overcome her fear of flying so that one day soon she will come visit Paige in Haiti.  :)  (Also - Paige is a licensed driver in the state of TX ... passed her test!!)

The 4th annual Christmas extravaganza is very near completion. Every year I totally stress Troy out with my ideas; I need his skills in order to turn the ideas into something. This year was no different but I think he is forgiving me faster with each passing year. :) At the very least we think you'll be mildly entertained by this year's attempt.

We did not get Troy and Hope's song from last year recorded. Thanks for asking about it but we never pulled off a recording session that would allow us to get it on i-tunes.

The upcoming weeks are packed full as we have visitors coming and tons of packing and cleaning and planning and praying to do. There is also the fast approaching college graduation of two young adults that we love and one last birthday girl to celebrate.

We are bogged down a bit in processing grief and working on some other stuff ...  all that to say the stress levels are moderately elevated as we're getting ready to move back to Port au Prince ...
As always, prayers for courage, patience, calm nerves, unspazzy kids, clear minds, and all things along those lines are greatly appreciated.

(Below last year's addendum video spotlighting three notsowisewomen.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

hear their cries

I read this post written by a respected friend late last night.  Please read it. Yes, it is uncomfortable to read and see. Yes, it is easier not to know of such of pain, of such suffering.

hear their cries

The World Health organization (WHO) Tuesday said that 1,648 persons have died as a result of the cholera outbreak in Haiti and that more than 72,000 others have been treated for the water borne disease which first surfaced in late October. Health organizations now predict that as many as 400,000 people will be affected in the next three months.

hear their cries

Regarding the living situation, Paul Farmer said this:  "Today, some 1.3 million Haitians live in tent camps amid often squalid conditions -- yet no one has been able to convince them to resettle. Why don't they want to leave? Because there is nothing to draw them back. Many of these displaced men and women didn't own the houses that collapsed around then; they rented them -- often under very unfavorable conditions. They were in debt to bad landlords. They had no schools or clinics. Enticing them to return home will mean providing exactly what they lacked before: housing, education, and health care."

hear their cries

Franklin Graham wrote that the suffering of the Haitian people (specifically in contrast to the prosperity of their neighbors to the north) "... Is beyond my understanding and one of the mysteries of this life."

hear their cries
I know we are not alone in longing for justice and better days for the Haitian people. The hardship they have faced in 2010 alone is astounding and horrible. 

These thoughts from this post (and the comments and discussion that followed) came to mind today.  

Hear their cries Lord. 
Hear our cries.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Suh-weeet Sixteen

Happy 16th Birthday to our beautiful, amazing Paige!

You always bless us with your upbeat attitude and love for people around you. Sometimes we wonder how you roll with changes so well and when we want to throw a tantrum over uncertainty we have to stop and look at our kid; setting the bar high by always taking it one day at a time and living in each moment so beautifully. Thanks for teaching us
We are proud of you and love you so very much.

In quick review, the crazy events of your year:

January 9-11 trip to Orlando
January 12 massive earthquake hours after you got back
January 15 a dramatic C-130 escort out of Haiti to New Jersey
January 28 return to Haiti to get your stuff and properly say goodbye
February 3 leave Haiti again - this time on a 12 seat airplane
Feb thru June - training/running, tutoring, drivers training, counseling, and more
June 6 - ran your first (and last?) Half Marathon to raise money for the people and place you love
July- church camp and much mischief making - trip to Tampa
August- Trip to Okoboji and Minnesota and your baptism
August 13 - start 10th grade in Tejas
Sept thru Nov- school, youth group, friends, family, driving... and getting ready for another transition. 
November 30 - Turn 16 - all year - inspired us with your faith and strength  

Wishing you a very very happy birthday today honey, and praying for you and the year to come.


Monday, November 29, 2010

circus tour complete

Long before the sad circumstances and events of last week we had planned a three night trip with all the kids over Thanksgiving weekend. We've never pulled off a trip away together because we're all going so many different directions all the time. Britt and Chris got some time off of work in order to join us for a few nights. 

Noah & Isaac braving 60 degree temps
At one point we considered going to a coastal Texas city to enjoy the beach but later decided that Lydie and Phoebe would take away from any ability to relax at the beach and the November weather could be too cold to enjoy the beach anyway. We decided to use the Sea World passes one last time and headed to San Antonio instead.

Packing this crew to go away for a night or more is quite a bit less fabulous/enjoyable than you might think. I have a system in place but like most systems it lacks provision for the unknown and unexpected. (such as multiple pant-wetting, fevers, drastic weather changes, etc.)

When a cold front came in at about 5pm and Sea World went from 80+ and humid to 54 and windy in a nano-second all the people looked to me for warmth.  I told them that the truck was their best option.  As we ran (what seemed like) 7 miles barefoot uphill through the whipping wind back to the truck, more than a few children wondered aloud if they might actually perish from the extremely low temps.  They call themselves Minnesota natives. Not impressed.  

All our "kids" on the River Walk

the girls

the boys

Besides Sea World we spent time on the River Walk and hours and hours at a Children's Museum. We ate lots of delicious meals. We swam in hotel swimming pools. Troy attempted to go toe to toe with a man on the River Walk that would not let us walk past his restaurant with our stroller and tribe because he wanted to set up chairs, but we quickly reigned surly Troy in and cut through a bar instead. All of our children were scandalized by their short-cut through Coyote Ugly, enough so that their commentary provided much entertainment.

Saturday and Sunday we went to Sugar Land, TX and had a great day with the Bridge Fellowship Church. On the last leg of driving Noah complained "Hooowww much loooonger?" I said, "Only 30 minutes left to go buddy."  Isaac, always the encourager said, "Thirty minutes is way better than a half an hour Noah!"  We drove 10 hours total between the three cities with no car-vomits and only one person peeing their pants.  That is how we spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S.

All things considered we had a really fun three days away together.  In our minds it was going to be more epic than it was but as it turns out 3 and 4 year old children are not totally awesome at staying up late and partying into the night.  What we had imagined as competitive games playing and many laughs late into the evening turned out to be turning the lights out and sitting in silence in our hotel rooms while praying the tired little monsters would sleep.  :)


The day has finally come where I can no longer put off making lists of things that need to be purchased before we return home and going through the items we've accumulated and placing them into categories of donating, purging or packing.  The amount of useless crap we've acquired disturbs me greatly.

The goal today is to go through Isaac, Hope, and Noah's things and determine who needs what and get rid of things that won't be needed in Haiti. While they are gone I will dispose of their odd collections of random things they stash all over the place. For example, Isaac saves toothpicks in his 'treasure' drawer, along with broken 'silly bands' and used chopsticks. Noah has been saving the 'special treasure' of hundreds of unpopped corn kernels. The high-drama of having the plastic checker set from Wendy's tossed out is anticipated, but I will not waver. 

Making a couple shopping trips will be inevitable and totally dreaded but if Isaac is going to have shoes on his ginormous man-sized feet we are going to have to suck it up and head to the stores. This week will be mainly dedicated to those tasks.

So much more importantly though -  we will be celebrating Paige's passage from the mundane age of 15 to the thrilling and fabulous age of 16.  Paige's good friend Julia from MN is flying down to spend a few days with us. That was the best gift we could think to give Paige. We wanted to keep it a secret but that became impossible. The tears of happiness when she found out Julia was coming confirmed we'd picked exactly the right gift.  In addition, a very important test involving four wheels and parallel parking is set to happen. Britt left Haiti at 16 to go test in Minnesota. Because Britt failed the first time around, the natural laws of sibling rivalry mean that Paige really wants to pass on her first try.  The advantage that Paige has had spending these months prior to her test in a place she was allowed to practice often are being downplayed. As you can imagine, bragging rights are of the utmost importance.  But either way - Texas drivers beware.

More on our beloved Birthday girl tomorrow.  Now it is time to sort and toss.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving we're thankful for Jesus, family, great friends,and the unconditional love they've shown us.

We wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.  We think of those so much less fortunate than ourselves and ask God to help us be His love to a thirsty and hurting world.Our hearts are with our friends in Haiti and the serious situation they are facing this holiday season.

Our family counts each one of you that has prayed, encouraged, given, followed along, and loved a blessing and gift from God.  

On-line 'relationships' often feel empty and fake. That is not really what we've experienced here and we thank you for walking this journey of faith, struggle, pain, and joy with us. 

Seriously -

May you know His provision, experience His healing love, and rest in His mercy and grace this Thanksgiving. 


The FOURTH ANNUAL Livesay CHRISTMAS extravaganza entered production phase in late October. All of the filming took place weeks ago, we're editing and getting it ready now. What started as a last minute "horrible idea" in 2007 has turned into a family tradition. Members of this family have varying opinions on exactly how fun the tradition is, but most family traditions come with some rolling of the eyes and a smidge of consternation, right?

We hope to have the 2010 production finished and posted by mid-December.

To see the last three years go here/2007 (the year Silent Night took on new meaning and no one was able to remember lines) and here/2008 (the year we used a Mastiff as a donkey and Britt and Chris mailed footage from Waco) and 2009 (the year Troy declared Tara certifiable but still agreed to write a Christmas song) is posted above.

Last year included lifting a donkey in and out of a large truck. This year we had zero access to live stable animals. Our beards and costume stash sit in a dusty closet in Haiti. All that to say, now is the time to lower your expectations because we're going in a totally new direction this year.

We're taking off for a few days of family time. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mil Mesi ~ Many Thanks

Troy and I wish we could thank each of you that took time to write a note of encouragement in a much more personal way than this. Please accept our apology for this broad and impersonal thank-you. We want you to know now that your thoughts, encouragement, and sharing of experiences have touched us.

We are incredibly grateful for your prayers. 

We are so sorry for the pain Paul was suffering. It hurts to face the depth of Paul's affliction. Thankfully we had lunch with him two weeks ago today and had a chance to speak to one another very honestly and to tell him we (and many others) cared for and loved him and longed to see him well.  Laura and Bob and Karen had all shared those thoughts with him too.

Grief is so tricky and unpredictable. Prayers can only help, thank-you so much for that and for the notes of love and support for our entire family.

We came to MN for Heartline board meetings and then the path took this unexpected turn.  The meetings we were able to attend were encouraging - we're excited to get home. 

We extended our stay in MN by 24 hours and because of that we will also be able to attend the celebration of the life of Alyn Shannon on Tuesday morning. Alyn is a friend we made in Haiti.  If you have ever heard Troy tell the 'water truck story' Alyn is the wife of Jeff Gacek - the 'water truck angel' from the days after the earthquake.  Jeff is grieving this Thanksgiving too.

After the two funerals we'll head south to rejoin our tribe.  We're excited to hug them all and have our first-ever (all ten of us) going away trip planned for the long weekend.  {Beware hotels, things are about to get circus-ish.} We'll go to San Antonio first and end in Sugar Land, TX for church services at The Bridge Fellowship next Sunday. (Times and link to church on left.)

With grateful hearts,
T & T

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Paul Charles Livesay

Age 32, of Bloomington, MN
Passed away unexpectedly on November 18th, 2010. Preceded in death by Russell L. Campbell, Father-in-law; He will be deeply missed by his Wife, Laura; Son, Joshua; and Daughter, Stella. Mother, Karen E. and Father, Robert C. Livesay; Brother and Sister-in-law Troy R. and Tara Livesay; Mother-in-law, Rebecca Campbell; Brother-in-law, Matthew Campbell; Grandparents, Joann and Charles L. Wood Sr., and many uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and cousins.
Paul worked at Quality Bicycle Products in Bloomington, MN as a Digital Imaging Specialist. Family and friends cared deeply about Paul and will miss him greatly.
Memorial Services will be at the Honsa Family Funeral Home, 2460 East County Road E, White Bear Lake, MN Monday at 7:30 P.M. with gathering of family and friends from 5:30-7:30 P.M. In lieu of flowers, Memorials preferred for Josh (age 6) and Stella (age 3).

Thursday night shortly after 9pm we learned that Troy's little brother took his own life.  Thankfully we had arrived in the Twin Cities on Wednesday night and could quickly join Troy's parents. Paul had long struggled with depression and had battled chemical dependency.  He was loved and will be missed by many. We ask that you please pray for Laura and their children Josh and Stella and for Troy's parents Bob and Karen. 

If you attend on Monday night please know that Laura respectfully asks that you not speak to the children about the cause of Paul's death, she would like to protect them from that right now, they know they lost their daddy and that is enough to process. As many of you know the grief process is more complicated when suicide is the cause of death.  We encourage anyone that wishes to help to give memorial gifts directly to Laura and the kids. 

Thank you,

Troy and Tara and tribe

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hay-uh less

We are unable to get to the real video of the hay-uh cut (need some time to edit and post) but until we can get that finished you can go here to Troy's twitter page to see the tweets with photos and short video attached.  He learned something new about himself through your giving.  He does not have a big head. He only has a giant face. :)

John was very gracious and took the fun away by not being the ornery jerk he usually is. ;)  He is mostly bothered by how good he looks. He prides himself on looking scraggly and unkempt.  If you'd like to annoy him just tell him how good this look is for him.!/troylivesay

More later - thanks to every single donor that chipped in! We're doubting there has ever been a 56K haircut in history ... mark it in the books.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

the hour is drawing near

In a few short hours a small group of on-lookers will be gathering to witness an event of epic proportions.

The build up to this day rivals that of the anticipation of the coming of Y2K.  The tilt of the earth may shift slightly, satellites may need realignment, clocks may mysteriously re-set to midnight.

This is a warning:  be prepared for anything and everything. What lies beneath that hair has never been seen with the bare human eye before. 

The fact is, no one else garners quite so much interest as this long haired hippie from Boston turned peculiar and ineffable missionary to Haiti.

He is loved. He is feared. He is cared for and revered. He has been merciless to visitors, as many can attest.  If you have been party to this glorious pay-back, you certainly are blessed.

It all began HERE approximately 100 days ago when he foolishly snorted and flippantly said, "Raise 50K for the Hospital and I'll let you cut it off."  He then proceeded to taunt, mock, and disrespect for many weeks.  He does not know the heart or the soul of the people of the blogosphere.  Clearly he has underestimated you.  The people have spoken and the hay-uh must go.

As difficult as it was, John has accepted his fate as proven by his recent post. 

We have no idea what we might find in those matted tresses. Perhaps our missing keys, ipods and small children. We do know this much - a formidable task lies before us this day. May God grant us the strength to rise to the endeavor.

And so, it is with much pomp and circumstance that the hair will be removed on Thursday, November 18, Two-thousand and ten at approximately nineteen hundred hours.  

Lest you not be caught off guard, please take this warning with the seriousness in which it is delivered.

Fare thee well hair.

respectfully submitted,

tara & troy

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

beauty & strength

photos troylivesay 2010


Our kids have been attending a really great charter school here in Waco.  Overall we have been very impressed by the academics and the teachers are all great.  There are a few teachers that have taken special interest in the Livesay kids and have made a point of encouraging and guiding. We are thankful for them. The kids have learned a lot and all four have advanced quickly in the short time they've been there.

Troy leaves with a truck full of kids each day and on the ten minute drive to school they always pray together.  The prayers are heartwarming and adorable to listen to. Yesterday I got to bring them (in order to avoid being home with the electrician) and Noah ended his prayer, "God we love you but we know you love us so much mow gweatow - thank you."

The school pushes their 'six core values' almost as hard as Stephen Covey pushes his seven principles.  The six core values at Rapoport Academy have some overlap with Covey and are all great things.  We have been highly entertained at how well our kids parrot these values back and what a part of their vernacular they have become.

Fotunately, the school isn't pushing getting ahead at any cost, stepping on whomever you need to step on to achieve, no respect for the weak, take advantage of the oppressed, look down on anyone less fabulous than yourself, and cheat if necessary - or we would have a real problem on our hands because our kids are totally indoctrinated, sold out, bought-in believers in all the values they have been taught.

(It is kind of scary, actually. They excel in the area of teach-ability and seem to be quite pliable ... And are likely just a few passionate lectures shy of joining fellow Wacoan D. Koresh and the Branch Davidians or maybe bringing back the 70's and becoming members of the Hare Krishna cult.) ;)

Their morning and bedtime prayers almost always include three or four of the six core values.  Isaac often prays "God help me be respectful and help other respect me and give me responsibility while I work hard and do hard work."  Noah has his little Elmer Fudd speech issue and prays each day "fow integwity, cweativity, cuwiosity and wespect."

If they're going to be indoctrinated I guess it could be worse. The world certainly needs mow integwity. :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

mid-month updates

  • Thank you for making it possible for 71 kids to be treated for the most severe types of malnutrition and for giving generously to our 20 day fund-raising project. More than $7,000 was raised thanks to your munificent gestures and concern. 
  • Our half-marathon went well. It was a very fun day.  Hope asked me on the way out the door on Saturday if I was "going to win it?"  I assured her that not only would I not win, I would not even finish in the top third.  She seemed totally unimpressed with me. :) We had a fun race and ran the entire 13.1 steady ... slow and steady may not win the race but it finishes the race. We got to see the female winner of the full marathon cross the finish line. It was moving to see a winner finish.  We will tell Hope that at least we watched someone else "win it."
  • Thank you to each of you that have inquired about trips to Haiti.  Rather than be repetitive in this post we would like to direct you HERE for more information about teams/visitors. 
  • We're excited to share more about the Heartline home and residential program for teen moms that is being planned and developed right now. Please pray for this program and the girls that will soon be joining it and especially for the Heartline board of directors meeting this week.
  • Phoebe's court date is Wednesday. We're putting on our fanciest duds and hugging that judge (against his will if need be) and thanking him for bringing this season to a close.
  • John McHoul is arriving in the Twin Cities the same day Troy and I do. We are removing his locks on Thursday evening. Watch for the YouTube of that bizarre event. 
  • We are asking for continual prayer for the Cholera situation in Haiti. Please pray for those ill and those treating the ill and for a miracle to stop the spread of this disease.
  • I spent some time in the last weeks finally going back and reading the hundreds of comments and emails from around the world from after the earthquake. I sat reading and crying and grieving for those that wrote with missing and dead loved ones. To read those notes was difficult and cathartic all at once. So much of January 2010 feels like yesterday. So much of January 2010 feels like a dream nightmare that happened a really long long time ago.  Some of the memories are crystal clear; some things I read had already been forgotten.  I am very thankful that when I arrived in the USA half crazy with grief and still processing trauma that I did not know we would not all go home for eleven months. I am glad we only figured out how long we'd be here in increments that we could better accept. Leaving our home and work and friends at a time of so much need felt disloyal and terribly wrong to me. I totally believe this time has been good and necessary. The season of limbo has ended for now, and that feels really good.

(written March 2010) Home is Everywhere & Nowhere

I knew for certain from the day we got to the Texas home that I needed to come back to my Haiti home to reconcile a few things and try to get myself right in the head. (No easy or short task for the hard-headed.) Troy must have known it too or he would not have signed up for two weeks as a single dad of six. It was important for me to come back home. I am thankful Troy knows me so well.

Home is everywhere and home is nowhere.

Being "home" has been good. I have so loved the past ten days and have been quite thankful to be here. John McHoul always says what a privilege it is to live here ... In the past I sometimes wondered if I agreed with him on that ... But I think I finally get it in a real way. I feel it. I know it to be true. It is an incredible privilege.

Haiti does not need me - or my family. We're lucky to live and serve and learn here - and more than anything that has been where the blessings have been found - in the learning and in the experiences and that is why we long to be here. I don't think any of us inflate our importance, we just know that God has worked on us - and - in us - so much these last four years. We love this country and we love our friends here and we love waking up to a new adventure each morning.

I spent those three weeks in Texas fighting hard against being there. I made a lot of people a bit miserable by being miserable myself. It felt like three years to me - I bet I made it feel even longer to my family. :(

I think coming back to Haiti has helped me realize that living in this tension is part of what it feels like to always long for something more, something like Heaven.

I was reading a blog someone linked me to and I agreed with much of what was written.You can read what Eugene Chu said in a recent post, "maybe it is not supposed to feel right."

When I go back to Texas to join my family on Thursday I am going to try to turn over a new leaf.

While I cannot completely remove the tension I feel surrounding all of this stuff - the fact is, I cannot change this situation.. Until Phoebe has U.S. Citizenship we need to be in the U.S. - and our family needs to stay together whenever possible. I think Troy and I thought we could just pass the baton off and take turns - wave to each other in the sky or something - but we did not think that through. We need each other and we need to stay together as often as we can. After-all, raising our children is a very large part of what God has called us to do.
When we first got to the U.S. having fun felt very wrong ... I kept thinking how unfair it is that I get to have fun, that I get to have a cushy life, that I get to have so many choices. I'd be lying if I said I can just turn off those thoughts ... but I do need to find a way to just "be" and accept the way things are with more grace. (I'll start by just trying not to be mad all the time.)
For whatever reason we're being given this "break" from our Haiti life. I can choose to fight it every day (like I did for 3 weeks) or I can let that go and try to have some fun and enjoy the rare and unusual treats of time with family and friends, a park, a restaurant, and a date night. I should soak up my kids and their utter joy over all the new and special things they can do in America and not just let it pass me by while I am busy being sad/mad/unsettled/confused.

The unknowns are hard. Paige has said "Mom and Dad - I count on you to have a plan and when you don't have one, I feel scared." I understand that. I feel scared too. I am so proud of Paige and the way she is healing and growing ... I think we are all learning to trust God in the unknown.
Haiti will be here when it is time to return. If that is six more weeks or six more months (we have no idea how long the process for Phoebe will take) I am going to try to be present in the place God has me. Moping around is not helping my kids and it is not helping my husband and it is certainly not helping me. My friends that I leave behind will know I love them even if I am not constantly sad and sulking.
My Uncle wrote me this note earlier this week, I am saving it to read a few times each day in the coming weeks -

"Tara- Glad you are starting over. And incidentally, “fighting this” isn’t just going to make you miserable, you will be contagious because everybody loves you and they only want you happy and healthy. Yeah… have your grief, have your anger, have all the ugliness, disillusionment, cynicism, etc. Have it until you and everybody around you is sick of it, and then give it to Jesus. He will take it so you can go on and bloom wherever you are planted for this season. End of sermonette. -R."

I don't want to become toxic to the people that love me. Home is everywhere and home is nowhere... but most importantly - wherever I am, God loves me and wants me to trust Him as best I can and love Him with my whole heart.

I'll keep working at that.