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.