Friday, October 29, 2010

Weird Kid(s) Entry #642

We've been at this great conference hearing wise speakers that work in development. We've really enjoyed the last couple of days of learning. 

I left Troy at the conference and snuck out at 3pm today to meet Kim, a fabulous lady that helps us with the youngest two occasionally.

Once Lydia and Phoebe were in the truck we headed to pick up the other four kids.  Lydia wanted to sit in the third row and then proceeded to taunt me because I could not reach her or do anything about her plans to strip down to her birthday suit.  I was pretty sure Paige did not want us pulling up to her school with her three year old sister nude so I did my best to talk Lydia out of her wicked plan. It sort of worked.

The younger kids get out of school first. We got to Isaac, Hope and Noah ten minutes late.  Their school charges $6 per kid per 15 minute period.  The kids got in the truck and started lecturing me about what that just cost. "MOM - Do you know how expensive that is?!?"  I assured them that I'd pay the $18 fine and life would probably go on - maybe only one night without dinner. Some days you hit every single red light in Waco in one day.  Like today.  Isaac shook his head disapprovingly. I actually felt a little ashamed as we pulled out of the school.  I'll do better next week...but only because Troy will be in charge of school pick up again next week.

We went over to Paige's campus to wait on her school to let out 15 minutes later.  In the area where cars line up to wait on kids we rolled down our windows and enjoyed a gorgeous Texas afternoon.

After a while a kid in the car behind us hung his head out and yelled to Hope, "Hi Hope!" Hope returned the greeting.  Isaac stuck his head out to say hello.  Noah stuck his head out to say hello. 

The kids said, "Why are you all in that car?"
Isaac said "We're waiting for my sister."
The kid said, "Yeah but why are you all in THAT car?"
Hope said, "We're with our mom waiting for our sister."
The kids said, "Yeah but why are you all in that car?" 
It was like listening to a broken record and the conversation was getting them nowhere.

Finally I said, "You guys - he doesn't know that Noah is your brother and he is having trouble putting together why you would have Noah in your car." 

Noah took charge.  Noah stuck his head out the back window as far as he could and yelled to the kid, "We are adopted that is why we are in this car."   (?)  The boy said nothing in reply.

I looked in the rear view mirror just in time to see Noah's smug celebration over setting the boy straight and Hope rolling her eyes. Isaac shrugged his shoulders and said, "I guess that was it."


The kids have their eclectic assortment of costumes all ready to go. We're planning a 58 hour all-weekend-long sugar binge with skyrocketing highs ...  all ending in a dark and very deep depression Monday morning. We kicked it off with candy and cupcakes and orange icing tonight.  Tomorrow there will be numerous opportunities to consume even more sugar in multiple forms followed by Sunday where we will resort to placing fun-dip* IV's in each child's arm.

Happy Halloween er, I mean Fall Harvest.

*Disgusting American candy popular with hyperactive six year olds. Sugar, citric acid, and food coloring reduced to a powder substance

addressing faulty assumptions about poverty

We're enjoying our second day of a three day conference focused on working in impoverished communities.

A few weeks ago we made mention of this book. "When Helping Hurts" - How to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor and yourself.

Today we get to hear one of the authors, Stever Corbett, speak.  This book is filled with a lot of hard truths about the way our "help" is often times very damaging to the people we're working with and among.  We've learned a lot in our time in Haiti (still learning) and are nodding in agreement while reading this, if you're considering any sort of work with the poor we highly recommend this book.

Here is a link to their site if you would like to check it out.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


If there is righteousness in the heart,
there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character,
there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home,
there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.
So let it be.
- Scottish Blessing

May your hand be outstretched to all you meet.
And may all men say 'Brother' when they speak of you.
May the land be fertile beneath your feet.
May your days be gentle as the sun-kissed dew.
- Polish Blessing

Father, I have learned
that one strong in calculation
is called a mathematician.
You are the greatest mathematician
because You can count all the people
yet still see each one of us.

From: God is no Stranger - Baptist Haiti Mission

Praying today for all those ill with Cholera and all those working to treat the sick.
 God give them strength.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Barber Shop

(Written by Troy)
Tonight things almost got ugly at the Livesay House. Actually, we did experience some full-on ugly for a short period. Fortunately, things have calmed down now and all the little ones are tucked into their beds - including Isaac and his beautiful new nearly bald shaved head.

Let me back up - this afternoon Tara reminded me that Isaac has been in desperate need of a haircut for a while now. I think subconsciously I had been avoiding the topic because of an acute awareness that the cutting of the hair on said head always seems to be a stressful experience.

Each time Isaac is due for a haircut, there is mounting pressure and increased awareness that:

  1.  This hair is much different from my own
  2. I do not really know how to properly care for/cut/manage it yet myself
  3. Caring properly for this hair is culturally important in ways I do not fully understand
  4. Isaac thinks he wants an afro but only when he forgets that it means we have to pick/comb through it and he hates having that done. The tears of keeping it tangle free are too hard.
  5. Not only are there cultural ramifications to take into consideration - also a great deal of the wedded bliss I generally experience is at stake -- AND --
  6. I make some really bad decisions under duress

We have a lot of things happening over the next few days, some of which include visits to the kids' school and many moments where I can almost hear people saying - “What are those white people doing with those brown kids?” Knowing how important one’s personal appearance can be in such situations, I reluctantly agreed to take Isaac out to get the job done.

I hesitated for a while - then Oprah was on the television and I was happy to have any excuse to get out of the house.

I set out with my two sons in tow and resolved to make this a positive experience. I have had a few failures in the past regarding the realm of Isaac’s coiffure, and really wanted this time to be different...

I began having visions of a powerful bonding experience with the boys - hanging out in the barbershop - crossing differing beliefs and boundaries with ease - laughing at stereotypes - teaching my sons  and others important lessons about our shared brotherhood with all peoples - scoffing at cultural mores........
What I was really picturing was me, Noah, and Isaac kicking it with some dudes like Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer a la ‘Barbershop’ the movie.  I wanted it to be a really great afternoon.

In case you don’t want to read about the rest of this train-wreck I will cut to the chase right now: I failed on all fronts.

We regularly pass a real old-school barber shop down the street - it’s got a real barber pole and looks totally legit. I have fantasized about my cross-cultural experiences in there many times and knew it was the place to take Isaac for this round of beautifying. The sign by the road boasts “OPEN SIX DAYS A WEEK”, but Tuesday is apparently not one of them...even though the sign in the window was flipped to “Open” and the plaque on the door proved we were there during regular business hours.

Next best idea - stop in and see J.B. - the beautiful, patient, amazing, sweet, talented woman that has helped us with Hope and Phoebe’s hair during our time in Waco. I needed her advice. (Part of the reason I was so looking forward to rocking it Barbershop-the-movie-style was because of my positive experiences sitting around for hours in her salon as the only white boy in a female beauty salon that specializes in braids - I know you’re jealous.) J.B. recommended a place called “Nappy Roots” and gave me a loose idea of its whereabouts. Sounds perfect, right?

Too bad I couldn’t find it.

I cruised through town for a while in search of barber poles and life-changing experiences. I found ‘The Jockey Club’ - sitting empty and locked up during normal business hours. I considered the Baylor University Barber Shop but something told me that wasn’t going to be quite what I was looking for. Next up were the ‘Star’ and ‘Solutions’ Shops - one closed...and one I could not locate. I got on the phone and talked to Britt who was driving home in another part of town - I briefly explained my predicament and she did a drive-by check on a real dive of a place called ‘Cuttin’ Up’ or something similar....closed. Britt reminded me that I had technology in my hand that could help me search for what I needed. I had been searching for a while and finding the right place was important.

I used some fancy phone app that tells you what businesses are near you - search terms - “MEN’S BARBER” - response - did you mean BARBERS - clicked - YES - saw - TITO’S DOWNTOWN BARBERSHOP - got excited - drove to Tito’s - expected great things.

Seriously - Tito’s Downtown Barbershop? How perfect does that sound?

Well, it wasn’t.

Here’s where the bad decisions really start. I walked in and had a bad feeling. This was not the experience I had desired.... I was looking for urban and instead I got Old West, like cacti and tumbleweeds. I knew I was risking it because Tara had specifically stated that no one even remotely whiteish was allowed to touch Isaac's head. I was trying to turn around and leave but then got pressured by the two desperate barbers in the empty shop to “get a haircut man - no problem - we can do it”.

I explained to ‘Tito’ that the handsome young man with me was in need of a nice haircut and politely asked if he was familiar with cutting the particular type of hair that he has. Then I asked a couple more times more loudly and with less words - as Tito does not hear too well these days. Later, I learned that he apparently does not see all that well either.

He was very convincing and reassuring. Noah was very distracting. I really wanted this to work out. Oprah was also on the television in the men's barber shop and that really troubled me. These are my excuses.

I had to leave and get cash around the corner because Tito’s establishment is in every way exactly the same as it was fifty years ago. The chairs. The smell. The decorations. The brooms. The combs. The straight-edge razors. The liquid antiseptic. The warm shaving cream. The cash register. The no credit/debit/any sort of plastic card machine. Normally, I would have really enjoyed that. As I walked out I noticed some of the wall decorations indicated that Tito was probably Native American. I naively trusted that he had a better shot at handling Isaac’s hair than the blonde lady up at Supercuts. Boy was I wrong.

When I returned from the cash machine I found Isaac standing in the dusty waiting area - Tito’s attention now turned to the next victim in his chair - and the sight of quite possibly the worst haircut I have ever seen in my life on my son’s head.

To sum it up briefly - there were clumpy and chunky parts on top ‘faded’ down into swirls on the sides and a large C-shaped swoop carved into the back of his head. It looked like someone threw a weedeater at his head while I was gone.

I was horrified. I felt really bad for Isaac for enduring the pain and stress of it so tried to maintain a brave and complimentary face. I stammered a kind of a questioning ‘you’re done?’ to Tito even though it was clear he had started on the next guy already. Tito, of course did not hear me. I was at a total loss and after watching him work over the buttons on the cash register fumbling to see each one - I decided that any attempt he made to fix this disaster would most likely just make it worse.

I knew one thing at this point: I could not go home.

I discussed the situation with Isaac - he wanted me to fix it at home. There was NO WAY I was going home with him looking like that. Noah, on the other hand, thought it looked awesome and wanted ‘designs’ on his head, too.

Noah is not generally helpful in any sort of stressful situation of any kind. Consider yourself warned.

I really wish now that I had taken a picture to document this monstrosity but I was far too stressed out to consider that at the time. I wanted no proof whatsoever of what had just occurred.

I recalled seeing a salon inside of the Waco Wal-Mart store that was staffed by women that looked like they knew what to do with pretty much anything - and decided to see if they could save me. (And Isaac.)

We walked in, the lovely young brown woman at the register did her best not to shake her head at me as I explained our predicament. She did crack a smile, however, and I was encouraged that we had found our solution. There was some consultation among her colleagues and looks over shoulders at us...then she sent us back to the chair of a slightly less lovely and less young woman that could not have been more disapproving of the whole affair. She did not like my jokes. She did not sympathize with me on any level. I thought she might kill me before this was through. (Ok, it wasn’t that bad but I was definitely scared of her.) Over the next fifteen minutes, she managed to salvage the disaster and turn it into a very nice closely-shorn well trimmed head and my handsome son looked beautiful again.

Once she had finished saving my life and was taking my money (for the second haircut on the same head that I had paid for on the same day) - she lightened up and really enjoyed making me tell her again how exactly I had managed to get his hair so messed up in the first place.

Tito’s Downtown Barbershop - zero.

Smartsyle Salon in Wal-Mart - a million

Thank you Smartstyle ladies - without you I could very well have ended up sleeping outside tonight...because I could NOT have gone home to let Tara see what I had done to her son.
Lesson learned - no one. NO. ONE. EVER. Who is not brown... Will ever. Ever. Touch my boy’s head again.

I should have listened to Tara in the first place. I had to add this or else I know she would tack it on at the end anyway. ;)

The next barbershop experience will happen in Haiti and I fully expect to fulfill my dreams of hanging with dudes just like Cedric and Ice Cube - but we’ll be speaking Kreyol and pulling electricity off of car batteries for the shavers and it will be awesome. I can’t wait.

Looking back, Looking forward : Medika Mamba Program

So many things in Haiti provide us opportunity to check our motives, learn about our hearts, face our failings ... and hopefully grow.

The cruddy part of that learning and growth seems to be that the the greatest growth is born out of hard situations and painful things. You just don't seem to learn all that much from having a perfectly easy rainbows, leprechauns and unicorns type of life.

Renald is just one of the people that have deeply impacted us in Haiti. It was a year ago this week that he returned to his family. The smiling photo posted to the right is a recent photo from a visit to the RHFH clinic. He is not really steadily gaining weight, but he appears healthy and has not lost any weight. In Haiti, that is basically a victory. And we'll take it.

Renald was almost four years old and weighed only 13 pounds. He was filled with worms and very sick when his mom brought him to RHFH in Cazale, Haiti. Licia and Lori allowed him to come live with us during his recovery. Because of Medika Mamba and lots of love he went back to his mom very healthy and 25 pounds.  He touched many visitors and readers with his joyful spirit and his will to survive. He is a beautiful picture of God's healing power.

The day Renald returned to his family, we wrote about the experience here.

Paige spoke about Renald at the WorldWideVillage Banquet last year. See it here.   (Password: Renald)

Licia and Lori at RHFH are the hands of Jesus as He works healing miracles in the lives of hundreds of kids each year. They help nurse children back to health and return them to their families month after month. They are a part of what God is doing to restore these precious little ones. Here and here are a few of the kids they helped last year. There are dozens more posts like this if you wish to plug in the key words "Medika Mamba". If you go to their blogs you will see posts like these every month.

To learn why malnourished kids can sometimes appear puffy rather than skinny, read this post.

Just yesterday RHFH posted this beautiful progression of healing:

Week One

Week Two

Week Three
All of these girls are receiving Medika Mamba (click to learn more about the product) thanks to the generosity of so many of you that gave the summer of 2009 when we raised money for M.Mamba.

Licia and Lori pour their lives out to help these kids, the only thing they need from us is prayers and financial backing.

The average treatment lasts about 10 to 12 weeks. The cost to treat one child using the Medika Mamba product is $100.   These girls look THAT MUCH BETTER after only three weeks on the product.

In twenty days Brittany and I are going to run a half marathon in SanAntonio, TX - we have spent a lot of our training runs talking about and praying for Haiti.  On one of our last runs we spoke only Kreyol for a long portion of our run in order to help clean the cob-webs off of my dusty and limited language skills.  It is not news to you that we are emotionally invested in Haiti.  We decided last minute that we should use this opportunity to ask you to sponsor all or a portion of treatment for a malnourished child by sponsoring one or both of us for our November 14 race. We want to run for these girls pictured above and dozens like them.

This is a relatively short fund-raising effort. We have 20 days.

We would like to ask you to take the next 20 days to pray specifically for the suffering children in Haiti. Before this most recent crisis dealing with Cholera, Licia said that she was seeing a higher volume of severely malnourished children coming through her doors.

In addition to that prayer request we respectfully ask that you consider whether you might be able to help treat a child by giving a financial gift.

For every $100 that comes in, another child admitted to the RHFH Rescue Center can be treated with this fabulous, miraculous, life-saving product. 

Let's see if we can raise enough money to treat 40 kids in the next 20 days. 
Ready, set, go!

* All donations given through the chip-in meter will be designated to purchase and provide Medika Mamba at the RHFH Rescue Center.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dear Someone Somewhere,

Originally written/posted June '08

{I am without deep or humorous thoughts tonight. Re-posting an old post until I can come up with an original thought. ~tara}

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. Every so often we get an email that says, "more Haiti please." We get that.

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 possible. We believe that with every fiber of our being.

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

We also will 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. Many times you probably wish we would shut up about our kids. We get that too. We're so fond of them though!

Unfortunately, this is the closest thing to a baby book my kids will ever have. I bought all the stuff to do books for them. Yet - only Isaac has a finished product. That leaves six kids that have very little in the way of history recorded for them. I would spend time feeling like a failure over that, but let me be honest -- there are so many other things to beat myself up about, who has time to bother with something I have neither memory or energy to reproduce. I could probably come up with something for the five youngest. But to document anything about the two oldest when they were little tikes - that is ancient history. Thank goodness I took lots of photos.

Truth be told, we keep this blog for many reasons. Some selfish, some not. I would never ever journal in the traditional sense of the word. I cannot read my own handwriting and I just wouldn't do it. 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 mom 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 blogging (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, "religion" 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)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gwo Cheve Update

extreme makeover scheduled
The Gwo Cheve Challenge turned out to be no challenge for you all - THANK YOU to every donor.

The land is being cleared and plans are being made and prayed over.  As you all know it will take a lot more than this initial 50K to get a hospital built but this money certainly gets us going and encourages us that we are on the right path.

A Heartline board meeting is scheduled for November, please be praying for the board, the volunteers/staff in the U.S., and the missionaries that work in Haiti as we gather to plan and pray about the future.

I have recently learned that I will have the dubious task of making John hay-uh free.  Because I won't be seeing him until the board meeting his hay-uh cut will take place November 18.

I truly hate that I feel a little bit sorry for him.  He has a Yankees hat to wear after he becomes bald but the combination of that giant head and a losing team's hat, stirs in me some sort of sympathy.  I need to let go of any sensitivity toward him by November 18.  Troy will be filming the event as promised, it will be posted here shortly thereafter.

The Chip-In meter will remain open until November 12 when the 100 day challenge ends. All gifts received there will be applied to the hospital project. Thank you all!

Port au Prince Fears the Worst As Cholera Spreads In Haiti

"The UN is so top-heavy with bureaucracy that they can’t effectively react..."

Written by Ansel Herz

PORT-AU-PRINCE – Days after an outbreak of cholera began in Haiti’s rural Artibonite region, killing at least 200 people, there are now five confirmed cases of cholera in the busy capital city.
The cases “do not represent spread of the epidemic” because they originated in central Haiti, according to a bulletin circulated by Haiti’s UN peacekeeping mission with the heading “Key Messaging,” obtained by IPS.

The fact that these cases were picked up and responded to so fast demonstrates that the reporting systems for epidemic management we have put in place are functioning,” it concludes.
Residents of the capital city are not so confident. “It’s killing people – of course, I’m scared. We’re in the mouth of death,” 25-year-old Boudou Lunis, one of 1.3 million made homeless by the quake living in temporary settlements, told the Miami Herald.
Radio Boukman lies at the heart of Cite Soleil, an impoverished slum crisscrossed by foul trash-filled canals where cholera could be devastating. The station has received no public health messages for broadcast from authorities, producer Edwine Adrien told IPS on Saturday, four days after reports of cholera-related deaths first emerged.
At a small, desolate camp of torn tents nearby, a gleaming water tank is propped up on bricks. Camp-dwellers said it was installed by the International Organization for Migration last week, more than nine months after the January earthquake damaged their homes.
But it’s empty because no organization has filled it with water. “We need treated water to drink,” a young man named Charlot told IPS matter-of-factly.

Cholera, transmissible by contaminated water and food, could be reaching far beyond the capital city. There are suspected cases of the disease in Haiti’s North and South departments, according to the Pan-American Health Organization, as well as confirmed cases in Gonaives, the country’s third largest city.
In Lafiteau, a thirty-minute drive from Port-au-Prince, Dr. Pierre Duval said he had stabilized two cholera-infected men in the town’s single hospital, but could not handle more than six more patients. One died yesterday. All of them came from St. Marc, near the epicenter of the epidemic.

The main hospital in St. Marc is crowded with the infected. Supplies of oral rehydration salts were spotty when he arrived Friday after rushing from Port-au-Prince, American medic Riaan Roberts told IPS.

“We first talked to some lady from the UN who told us, ‘Oh I have to go to a meeting, I’ll mention your names, but just come back tomorrow,’” he said. “These microcosms of operational logistics are just beyond them.”

Roberts said a Doctors Without Borders team quickly put his skills to use, adding, “[The UN] is so top-heavy with bureaucracy that they can’t effectively react to these small outbreaks which quickly snowball and spread across an area.”

Buses and tap-taps filled with people speed in both directions on the dusty highway connecting the Haiti’s stricken central region to Port-au-Prince. There are no signs of travel restrictions or checkpoints near the city.

At a Friday meeting convened by the Haitian government’s Ministry of Water and Sanitation, “there were conversations around shutting down schools and transportation routes,” said Nick Preneta, Deputy Director of SOIL, a group that installs composting toilets in displacement camps.

“But if that’s the conversation now, however many hours after the first confirmed case, it’s already too late,” he continued. “One of the recommendations was to concentrate public health education at traffic centers. . .there were a lot of no-brainers at the meeting.”
Cholera bacteria can cause fatal diarrhea and vomiting after incubating for up to five days, allowing people who appear healthy to travel and infect others. The medical organization Partners In Health calls it “a disease of poverty” caused by lack of access to clean water.
The Artibonite river, running through an area of central Haiti known as “the breadbasket” for its rice farmers, is considered the likely source of the epidemic after recent heavy rains and flooding.
Source: Media Hacker -

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sic' em Bears

We went with the whole crew to campus tonight to celebrate with Britt and Chris and the Baylor Bears as they prepare for Homecoming tomorrow.  They had a giant (and sometimes scary with wind gusts) bonfire and pep rally with rides and entertainment.  Saturday there is a parade in the morning.  The football team is going to have to get it done without our support because we cannot stomach the $230 it would cost to bring these lards to the game. Plus, this tribe would have a twelve minute attention span for the game and I would be furious about the money spent on twelve minutes of entertainment.  As a result everyone would say how crabby Mom is and the day would be ruined.  Staying home seems so much easier on our relationships.

see -  thrilled
Lydia thought it was very odd to be going out of the house during the night. We basically pull this kid thing off only because of our strict adherence to a 7:30 bedtime. That right there is the secret to our sanity ...  (and I am giving you the secret free of charge) So tonight when we left the driveway at 7:45 she was a bit bewildered. Her comment as we drove, "It is weally dawk out here. Scary cockroach."  When we asked her what that meant she just said, "Scary cockroach, I don't like it. I cover my ears."

Phoebe refused to meet the big mascot bear, she hates that part of American culture as proven by a melt down over the Easter bunny last spring. She's no dummy. Why trust giant stuffed animals when you have no previous experience telling you that is a safe move? Both girls were tired eighteen minutes after we got there. Good times.

We laughed at how we often find cultural practices in Haiti to be "different" (not necessarily different better) and then realized that a few thousand people dressed in green and yellow were gathered around to watch a giant pile of wood pallets burning and putting their hands in the air in the shape of a bear claw while yelling "sic em" in unison.  Who is weird now?

While our physical selves were standing on one the most beautiful and manicured campuses in Texas, our heads and hearts are with our friends and families in Haiti. Not to be Debbie Downer (okay, that is a lie - I am going to be Debbie Downer) but it is pretty uncomfortable to stand on that immaculate campus and realize that not very far away people are dying for lack of clean water.  The day brought a confusing combination of prayers, tears, frustration and  feelings of helplessness. We asked a Haitian friend to be sure and talk to Hope/Phoebe and Isaac's moms (Isaac immediately expressed concern for them when he heard) and we basically begged Geronne to leave the village and go hide out at our house.

We don't know that anything except fervent prayer makes sense from Texas ...   

God, we need a miracle to stop the spread of this contagious disease/bacteria. Be with all those working to help the sick, increase their energy and give them endurance and protection from illness. Please Lord, spare the beautiful souls in Haiti from more pain and loss and misery. Lift them out of this darkness. Amen.

Friday, October 22, 2010


We've seen mothers bury sons ~And we're begging You to come ~
The broken fill our towns ~And the hopeless shout aloud ~ 
We cannot wait ~We cannot wait ~ Oh, we cannot wait ~
When the poor are thrown aside ~The sick are left to die ~
We need Your grace, oh, God ~ Your grace, oh, God ~
We need Your grace ~ We cannot wait, oh, God ~
Your grace, oh, God ~We need Your grace ~
You are here ~Your Kingdom come ~
Rescue us from all we've done ~ 
Help us move and be the love ~ 
Save us now from all we've done~

Lament, Robbie Seay Band

Info from Dokte Jen

Please read Jen's post here, it will be especially helpful to those working in Haiti currently and in the coming weeks/months.

And pray.

**EDIT -
Not sure what the cross over is from Twitter to blog  - so this may be repetitive for some.  If you know people in Haiti and have their cell numbers, please take time to call or text them today to make sure they know to be very careful with food, water, and hand washing. When we spoke with friends yesterday they had already heard incorrect rumors about how it was spreading.  The best thing (along with praying for mercy and a quick stop to this) we can do is to try to help educate everyone about protecting themselves. They all need to know that this could be something that will spread for the next few months. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I know not everyone reading is interested in following the news alerts for Haiti - but it has been confirmed that there is an outbreak of cholera in the Artibonite Valley, Saint Marc, and Gonaives, Haiti. I have seen some conflicting numbers but a few sources are quoting 135 dead already. Estimated 1500 more affected so far ...

Earthquakes, homelessness, hunger, tropical storms, and now cholera .. Beyond heartbreaking and horrible.

Dokte Jen said this via Twitter:
I just wanted to ask everyone who is able and willing to say a prayer over this situation. Please.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Miss Independent

Lydia "I don't need you" Livesay continues her malicious quest to defeat her parents.

New tactics:
  • After using bathroom if I pull her underwear up she pulls them back down - and then back up.
  • After using bathroom if I flush toilet (on accident) she screams bloody murder that I did it for her and re-flushes causing toilet troubles.
  • I attempt to get her something on a high shelf in the bathroom. She insists on getting out of the tub, going to the kitchen, getting a chair, pushing it the full length of the house to the bathroom, getting it herself, getting back in tub.
  • I try to help her find the hole for her head in her shirt, she insists on trying to shove her head into the arm hole. Correction not accepted. 
If we cannot stop her I foresee:
  • Her spouse goes to the store to grab milk.  She takes it, returns it, buys it again herself.
  • He pays the bills.  She stops payment on all the checks/cancels all the transactions on line, and does it again herself.
  • Artificial insemination. She is not letting someone else get her pregnant. Not happening. Troy will be okay with this.
In other weird kid news-
Noah now does his homework in the truck in the driveway.  He thinks by not coming in the house he gets "more play time".  Not sure about that reasoning, but it certainly allows him a quieter environment to do his homework.

Phoebe and Lydia ate 6 packets of stale instant oatmeal today. 
SO ... the eat down -  still on.  

    Lessons of the "eat down"

    After the Sunday night post Troy declared that he was officially on board and not only was he on board but we would be legalistic and even barbaric in our eat-down rules moving forward.

    Apparently if I want to mock his preferred methods, I had better be prepared to prove I am loyal to mine.

    The photo above represents the last of the food in the pantry as of this morning.  There are also 12 stale instant oatmeal packets remaining.  The freezer has one half bag of frozen veggies and two hamburger patties.  The refrigerator has condiments, two eggs, four sticks of butter, and 1/4 gallon of milk.

    Last Wednesday the people living in this home began to whine and complain. They even declared there was "NO food in the house" - yes, a full week ago.  Yet, we've eaten at home every night since then and no one has been forced to go hungry. Have we had some weird meals?  Sure. But we ate.

    The livesay family is blessed beyond measure. We are in the portion of the worlds population that live with the privilege of declaring there is "no food"  -  when in fact we have six to seven more days of food in our house. We learned a valuable lesson.  We don't know what NO food is like.  We only know that we get whiny when we're out of fruit and our favorite snacks. 

    The point is not to feel guilty about what we have access to and resources for, not at all. I'm not teaching my children anything of the sort. The point is to consider that what is "no food" to us and what is "no food" to most of the world cannot even be compared. The problem of hunger and poverty in just one tiny country alone is mind boggling; we know that many face a daily struggle to feed their families.  This is the grievous reality that I pray I live to see changed.

    The food that remains in our pantry, the amount we refer to as having "no food",  may exceed the amount of food this Haitian family will consume this week.

    ... And that has us thinking.

    “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
    -Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    love empowers II

     expectant teen moms

     These girls pictured above are all pregnant.

    These girls are all going to become first-time mothers soon.

    These girls are all teenagers.


    The girls pictured below are already moms.

    They all have one child.

    They are also all teenagers.  

    with their babies

    What does that leave you thinking? What are you feeling toward them right now?

    I learned I was pregnant when I was 16 years old. In one fell swoop I lost my virginity and got pregnant. (Join me in disbelief.) Every day of my senior year I got on a yellow school bus to ride to my 12th grade classes pregnant. My daughter Britt was born in March of my senior year of high school.

    Four years after Britt's birth, single again, I got pregnant with Paige.  I wanted to find a way out of the shame of my second unplanned pregnancy as a single woman. I scheduled an abortion.  I canceled the abortion. I went to an adoption agency and met a family. I canceled the adoption plan. I felt crazy and afraid and ashamed. 

    I'll pause here to ask the same questions.

    What does that leave you thinking? What are your feelings toward me right now?

    I believe our natural tendency is to fairly quickly choose one of two responses.

    I'm not here to condemn anyone or their natural responses, I'm here to challenge our natural tendencies.

    Do you feel pity? (That poor girl! Oh how horrible for her. What a shame! Her poor parents.)

    Do you feel Judgment? (How could she be pregnant again? She is a slow learner. She is promiscuous. How could she consider abortion? She is messed up!)

    It is very easy to choose to pity or judge someone.  It is entirely more difficult to choose to love them enough to work hard to meet them where they are and understand them. This is what is required to enter into relationship with people who are different from us. This is what is required in order to be love to those people we have very little in common with and to reach out to the hurting and lost among us. I am using pregnant teens as my example, but it could be anyone.

    A song-writer/musician named Jason Gray said this:

    "Both pity and judgment are too easy and are therefore the enemies of genuine understanding, which to some degree, requires that we enter into at least a portion of the struggle of those we would genuinely understand. But because that might be painful, and because we are allergic to pain, we flee to the less costly emotions of pity and judgment."

    If you have ever experienced the judgment of a friend, relative, or acquaintance you know first-hand that judgment is both painful and counter-productive. Knowing that someone else thinks you are a loser doesn't do a lot to restore you.

    If you have ever experienced the pity of a friend, relative, or acquaintance, you know first-hand that pity - while often rooted in genuine compassion - can also be counter-productive and rarely offers more than a pat on the back or a tender look.

    In order to love and empower a Haitian woman  (or anyone stuck in despair/hurt) you've got to set aside your pity and set aside your judgment.  Pity won't do anything to help and judgment is not our place. (Matthew 7:1-3)

    When it comes to Haiti I/we probably don't fully understand the cultural norms that put women at great risk for teen pregnancies. We do know women in Haiti daily face injustice at levels we cannot easily comprehend. When it comes to our own culture we often only see the symptoms of the hurting people among us. We rarely take the time to get beyond symptoms. Standing back and labeling the sin as the judge and jury does nothing to bring redemption.

    God writes redemption stories. He writes them with the help of people. He used people like Mary Lakner who counseled me and helped me search past the symptom of promiscuity to get to the root causes. He used people like Merrill Porter who told me he loved me and thought no less of me. He used people at Crown College that said, "Yes" we welcome you to attend our private Christian college even though you are a divorced single mother of two. He used my parents who welcomed me back into their home.

    For the Haitian teenage girls pictured above He uses people like Beth who offer hugs or new matching t-shirts or a cake on a birthday.  He uses people like Agathe and Winifred who spend time each week patiently teaching them how to care for their unborn babies even though they themselves are babies and don't listen very well.  He uses people like you, eager to love and serve - to give, to pray, to support, to encourage.

    He is all about writing redemption stories.

    Every person trapped into systems of injustice or cycles of desperation needs someone to believe in them - someone that won't give up.

    For those of us that genuinely wish to help bring healing and restoration and redemption to the hurting among us, we're going to have to accept that it will require sacrifice.  It could be painful and disappointing. It will almost certainly be painful and disappointing. We need to be ready for a slow and laborious process. We may need to struggle alongside the people whom we don't really understand and then struggle some more until we finally come to a place of understanding and even empathy.

    Truthfully, if we all stop to think about it, our closest relationships on earth are people who took the time to understand us.  The time they took did not necessarily lead to them approving of our choices or condoning what they saw.

    The time they took just led to authentic relationship.  The authentic relationships led to feelings of being unconditionally loved and accepted.  Sometimes being unconditionally loved and accepted can lead us to Christ.  Once you've found Christ you've found a love that empowers like no other love.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    weekend update

    Sarcasm alert level (SAL) :  orange (moderate risk for sarcasm)

    You know, I am really super-duper thankful for our extended stay in America.  Had I not had this time here I never would have known who Justin Bieber or Katie Perry were or been able to reconfirm my hatred of every reality show on television (and television in general) except The Biggest Loser.  I am back on top with my finger on the pulse of pop culture and my life is awesome again because of it.

    Honestly, TV is kind of hard to watch after not watching it for a long time.  I am not being that gross smug lady with a superiority complex that looks at you with disdain and says, "Oh, we don't watch T.V."  - but I am getting dangerously close to being her.

    On Friday the kids were off of school for parent-teacher conferences.  For fear of sounding like an inappropriately proud bragging mother I won't go into detail  ... but we learned that our kids are not afraid to represent J.C. at their school.  We told the school that the kids are headed back to Haiti after Christmas.  One teacher cried.  All four school kids earned high fives and 59 cent McDonalds ice cream cones.  We're like that - always way over the top with our rewards.

    This weekend we put off going to the grocery store no less than five times. This forced us to the point of serving a different meal for every person on Sunday.  I knew it was bad when Isaac came into our room Saturday morning and said, "Can you put syrup on those sandwich buns?" Then on Sunday he returned asking, "If I have that leftover taco meat for breakfast would that okay?"  Taco meat for breakfast?  Sure. Why not?  I get really weird when there is no food in the house; like I get some twisted enjoyment out of proving that it is possible to make a meal out of a can of refried beans, some mayo, one sleeve of saltines and three nearly rotten apples. 

    It is called an "eat-down" and it is a thing, a real thing.  It means that you take inventory of your gluttonous ways and truly look at the food you still have in your pantry.  Who says a can of corn is not a meal? Throw a pickle and a black olive on top and it is a colorful culinary vegan masterpiece.

    The real trouble occurs when Troy starts to feel he is not properly providing for his family because the cupboards and refrigerator are bare.  He feels safest when there is a two month supply of the staple items.  Oddly enough it caused issues when we first got married because I prefer to scrounge for food and feel superior over not needing to have a big stash and he prefers to have a freezer full and feels smart, safe, and ready for anything. (Earthquakes!)  He used to grocery shop occasionally in those early years and I would be annoyed at his massive stock-piling.  I did not even know why I was mad. Meanwhile, he thought I was an idiot for going to the store and only getting enough for five or six days. We finally figured it out about five years in, so now we enjoy mocking each other like all loving married people do.

    When Troy is not working hard to stock the home with copious amounts of food in an effort to love and protect his family, he is teaching his sons the finer points of Russian all good fathers do.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    love empowers

    When working in a place like Haiti, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the needs. This is especially true when so many of the women we meet share a similar story and a similar large need.

    It has been our goal to truly get to know each woman in our program and to glean a little bit of her story - to take the time to understand specific details about her life and her situation. We want to know more about them than, "they are poor". Whether we can help in each situation or not - we truly desire to know about the ladies and their lives and to enter into relationship with them. We believe that love transforms, redeems, and empowers.

    Today I want to share Angena's story of strength and perseverance.

    Angena is 29 years old and has four children. They are Angelo, 7 years old, Erna, 6 years old, Woodson, almost 3, and Rose Gerlande, 17 months.

    We first met Angena when she came to us pregnant in late 2007. At that time our programs were still very young and in development stage. She attended class and was given prenatal vitamins for a couple of months and her baby boy was born healthy at home in early 2008.

    Angena had attempted to benefit from our sewing school but unfortunately she was unable to keep up with the requirements. It was very difficult for the sewing school director to make a decision to remove her from that class. After that, the sewing director took a special interest in looking out for Angena and attempting to find ways to support her. Angena continued coming to the Early Childhood development classes with her new son, Woodson.

    In our program we cover many topics. Some of the topics we teach about are: parenting, bonding, public health, hygiene, breastfeeding, STDs, birth control, and first aid. Some of the teaching is fairly basic and aimed at changing long-held cultural beliefs, and misconceptions due to rumor and superstition or lack of education. (For instance, most Haitians believe if the mother has a cold, she can pass it to the baby through nursing and she will not nurse her baby while she has a common cold.)

    Many (if not most) women do not have any power when it comes to choosing to say no to intercourse. This problem is systemic and endemic and grievous. Because of this lack of power women find themselves pregnant over and over at a young age. Often times by the time the baby is born the father of the baby has moved on to a new relationship - leaving the woman to fend for herself and her baby without help. This story is told thousands of times over and over all across the island.

    For this very reason, teaching about birth control is very important. We hope to empower the women by giving them at least a few options to try to reduce unplanned multiple pregnancies. Being forced into sex is incredibly unfair and horrible; becoming pregnant and trying to provide for a baby all alone as a result is far more difficult.  In our program we cover the health benefits for spacing children and we offer them a couple of family planning/birth control methods.

    Despite our best efforts and Angena's plan to use birthcontrol, she found herself pregnant again just 8 months after Woodson was born. Angena was devastated. She told us that her husband lives and works in Santo Domingo and just comes home occasionally. He sends money from his job when he can. She is left in Port au Prince to handle the children alone. She is left unprotected from the advances of other men. The situation is overwhelming.

    At times Angena was very depressed, and understandably so. During those low times we were careful to pray for her even more and to remind her that we care and will continue to help her whenever possible. Angena desperately needed our encouragement and support. We asked her to start coming to prenatal class again, she re-entered the prenatal program. For the next 27 weeks we were able to see her on Thursdays. Each week were able to remind her that she was not alone and that we cared for her. Angena was able to receive prenatal vitamins that allowed her better health throughout the pregnancy.

    In the summer of 2009 Angena delivered a healthy baby girl and named her Rose Gerlande. The father of the baby was still out of the country, as he was for the entire pregnancy.

    After delivering Rose Gerlande she moved into the Tuesday Early Childhood Development Class. The benefit for her is to meet other Moms and to learn tools and skills to help her bond with and raise her kids. She is supported by people who love her. She is able to have her kids looked at by a missionary nurse when they are sick. This saves her a lot of money that the "village doctor" might charge to guess at what is wrong with her child.

    It is easy to fall into thinking, "Why did she get pregnant again? Doesn't she learn?" Some might even think, "Well she got pregnant - it is her fault she is so poor." While a very small portion of her situation *might* be a direct result of her own choices, the fact is MOST of her life circumstances have much more to do with the culture and country she was born into. Her culture allows her very few choices and opportunities.  She needs a hand-up. She needs love and empowerment.

    Our program does not exist to fix Haiti or change Haiti's culture. That is a battle we won't likely win no matter how hard we try. We can change a few misconceptions. We can make a dent here and a dent there in long-held incorrect beliefs. WE can empower the women we serve, but we won't always succeed in convincing our Moms to use birth control or to plan ahead or to breastfeed their newborn. Sadly, we won't be able to protect our women from forced sexual intercourse. (Rape) While it is easy to get stuck being frustrated with what cannot be changed, our challenge is to focus on what can be done.

    Our program exists to show mercy and grace and love to the forgotten and to be to them a little bit of Heaven on Earth. We hope that by feeling unconditional love, they might desire to know the unconditional love of the Father. We pray to that end. We are here to love and serve ladies that "don't learn" and that have incredibly hard challenges with very little hope for an improved living/financial situation.

    Jesus came not only for me and for you, but for Angena. He loved the prostitute, the unclean, and the serial mistake-makers. He did not give up on them or turn away. It is for this reason that we won't ever turn Angena away. We hope and pray she does not have another unplanned pregnancy  - we're doing everything we can to educate her about that - but if she returns to us, we will love her and serve her and see her through another pregnancy - because love empowers.

    Looking for an opportunity to partner with us to serve the women of Haiti? Chip-In here: 



    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Prayer is the Plug

    Shortly after we bought our first (and only) house together on a tiny little lake in Minnesota, we started shopping for a boat. We had set aside a little less than two thousand dollars to make this purchase.  The shopping wasn't too terribly difficult because we had a small budget to work with meaning that about 98% of the boats on the market were out of our price range.

    Within a few weeks we settled on an enormously heavy sky blue 1972 tri-hull monstrosity of a speed boat.  It was quite an eye-sore.  We were giddy with anticipation as we hauled it north toward our little house on the little lake. We couldn't wait to get it in the water.

    We arrived home and checked the oil, checked the gas, checked out the torn vinyl seats and moldy padding.  We didn't care.  We saw the boat through lenses of love.  We had always wanted a boat. We finally had one. It did not matter that the boat was older than Troy and incredibly hideous.

    We grabbed the four life jackets and even though it was dusk we made our way to the other side of the lake where the launch was located.  We put the old beast into the water and celebrated when it started right up on the first try.  For the next couple of hours we went around and around in circles. We were thrilled!

    Finally it was too dark to be out on the water and we brought the boat in to tie it onto the dock.  We went in for the night, smiling at the fabulous purchase that we were certain would transform our lives into something far more exciting than it had ever been before.

    A couple of hours later we were in bed chatting when I said, "what is that noise?"  Troy said, "What? I don't hear anything."  We laid still quietly listening.  A few minutes later Troy said, "I think it is coming from the lake. I am going to check."  The next thing I heard was Troy yelling to bring buckets and come fast.  Our boat was full of water and sinking.  For the next two hours we bailed water out of the boat trying to keep it afloat.

    We had been so excited and so focused on the brand new boat that we had overlooked the number one, most important stay-afloat measure - we forgot to put in the drain plug.

    And now you are thinking, "Yeah, okay, mildly interesting story ... aaaand - What's your point?!?"

    The more I think about what we did with forgetting to plug our boat, the more I realize it is a metaphor for the way we forget the most important thing in our day-to-day lives.

    I don't know if this is true for everyone, but I know it is sometimes true for me.  While I want something; I talk to God frequently. When things are bad I don't neglect that time with Him.  When I am worried about one of my kids or any other large problem comes up in a friend's life or my own, I pray all throughout a day. I don't forget.

    Inevitably it seems that once I've found a little success and my prayers are answered and once the excitement or drama passes, I get forgetful.  I become focused on other things. I get self-sufficient and I neglect prayer and its importance in my life. I jet around and around the lake without a plug in the boat. I am careless and oblivious. I do that long enough, all of a sudden I'm sinking and in need of buckets to bail the water out.

    Prayer is not a habit created only for our times of great need. We're not supposed to use it on an as-needed basis like ibuprofen. Prayer is an important piece of staying in relationship with God.  Prayer is a daily admission of our need for His constant grace and guidance. It acts as a shield and keeps us from beginning to sink even in those moments where we think we're floating safe and free.

    I wouldn't knowingly forget to put a plug in my boat. 

    Prayer is the plug.

    "Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life "
    ~ Johnathan Edwards

    "To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing."
    ~Martin Luther King Jr. 

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Memories & History

    Our first "date": Oct 13, 1996

    My head holds dates and history well.  Want to know the date of any event, ask me. Don't ask me about Bible verses or Kreyol words or midwifery terminology or anything of any consequence. If you want to know what date I brought Britt to an emergency room as a five year old because she had not pooped in two weeks,  seriously, just ask, I am happy to tell you.

    Even though our first date happened in 1996, Troy had met me four years earlier in 1992 and hated me. He recalls returning to the people we worked for and telling them, "Never make me work with that girl again." The four years that passed between 1992 and 1996 must have softened me (and reduced the size of my bangs) and he found me attractive in October of 1996. He had no idea I was the same girl he loathed in '92.   The confusing thing was, in those four years I had Paige and became a single mom of two.  When Troy asked me out he was only aware of one of my two girls. We were 21 and 24 years old.

    Sunday afternoon, October 13, Troy came out to my parents house where I was living at the time and we left to go roller-blade around a nearby lake.  I remember wondering why he wanted to be my friend. That seemed fishy to me. Because I am three years older and was a mom of two, on that first date I hadn't yet figured out that he had an interest deeper than friendship.  Call me stupid.

    After we talked and skated around the lake a while we came back to my parents house and hung out for a couple of hours.  That evening we took Britt and my sister Tina and went to a pumpkin farm to go on a haunted hay-ride.  The only thing either of us vividly remember about that night is that Britt, age 6, was freaked out by the scary guys along the path that kept jumping out at us and at one point when we were walking she got really scared and exclaimed - "Tell them I'm a lesbian!!"   We laughed so hard at her choice of words and confirmed that she had no idea what a lesbian was.

    Later that month I had planned a trip to Omaha to see my grandparents.  I asked Troy if he wanted to come with me.  We both laugh at the ridiculous flirting and romance that developed on that road trip to Nebraska. It was on that trip that Troy first told me he loved me.  I remember being so afraid to hope that Troy might be the one.

    My Granddad was a surly old guy with a soft heart toward his granddaughters and when I told him Troy was just my friend, he said some grumbly response about "what a bunch of horse-hockey" that was.  One night we went to get the best pizza in the world from Big Fred's Pizza. Troy drove; my grandpa sat in the front seat.  I sat in back.  Troy was making eyes at me in the rear-view mirror and missed a turn. My grandpa jumped on him, "Gee-horse-criminy, quit watching the girl and watch the road!"

    My granddad died a few months after that, I am so thankful Troy got to meet him and we have those fun memories.

    Troy and I were both pretty screwed up when we met. It is interesting to have the hindsight now to see the ways God used me to help Troy with his issues  - and Troy to help me with mine.  We had a rough road ahead of us; getting honest, receiving forgiveness, facing shame, and finally healing.  Those things happened slowly over the course of the next five years.  We've experienced the faithfulness of our Father over and over again. It has been a wild ride.

    Dear Troy,
    Happy 14 years since our first date. Can you believe all that has happened since October 13, 1996?  Cuh- razy! I am daily blessed by our deep friendship and your tenderness and love for me and my girls. You took on a ton as a 21 year old guy and I'm so grateful that you did 
    I am more in love with you every day. I am proud of you and amazed by your love and integrity.
    Should we go on a haunted hay ride tonight? I'll call Britt to see if she is available.  :) I love traveling through life with you by my side; I can't wait to see what happens next.

    We went dancing in the minefields
    We went sailing in the storm
    And it was harder than we dreamed
    But I believe that’s what the promise was for

    Well ‘I do’ are the two most famous last words
    The beginning of the end
    But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin
    Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
    And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found

    And we’re dancing in the minefields
    We’re went sailing in the storm
    And it was harder than we dreamed
    But I believe that’s what the promise was for
    That’s what the promise is for

    So when I lose my way, find me
    When I lose loves chains, bind me
    At the end of all my faith
    to the end of all my days
    when I forget my name, remind me

    Cause we bear the light of the son of man
    So there’s nothing left to fear
    So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands
    Till the shadows disappear
    Cause he promised not to leave us
    And his promises are true
    So in the face of this chaos baby
    I can dance with you ...