Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Salute

We spend a good portion of our day to day lives mocking John McHoul - because - duh - he is such an easy target. Who can resist? It's like shooting fish in a barrel....I'm guessing here.... I've never shot fish in a barrel - or otherwise.

It pains me (greatly) to switch to saying nice things, but, every once in a while we give the teasing a rest and get serious.  His post here was encouraging to read. I think you'll want to check it out. John came to faith through Teen Challenge and shares the story as he reflects on the impact of David Wilkerson's life. (David Wilkerson died in a car accident this week.)

Coincidentally today we attended a celebration event of the new Haiti Teen Challenge program. As is usually the case we were late and missed most of the formal program but it was encouraging to see a lot of the old-timers there. They may not appreciate being called "old-timers". I'm referring to people that have lived and worked here for decades.

Truthfully, they encourage us just by standing upright. 

In our opinion the generation that started here in Haiti long before (Al Gore invented) the interweb and long before they could even think about calling around the island with a cell phone are the real missionaries. 

They probably laugh at blogs and the ridiculous ideas of the social media generation. They come from an era in which the word "tweet" simply referred to a sound a bird makes.They are likely pretty sick of listening to the young punks "expressing themselves" every time life gets a little hard in Haiti. I'm sure they sit shaking their heads at our wimpy ignorance.

This group of old timers remember needing to drive across town uphill both ways in the middle of the night in rain up to their knees neck to warn a friend of a coming coup d'etat. They recall writing newsletters that took four to six weeks to reach their support base. The word evacuation is not only in reference to needing to run for a toilet, these people KNOW evacuation. They've got more patience in their little pinkies than we've ever imagined possessing...
All that to say - we love this group of people.  We think they should find us ridiculous ... because we are kind of ridiculous.

To the Smiths, Brumbleys, Vervloets, deGiers, McHouls, Ackermans, Deblaeijs and more ... we salute you.  Remain upright.  It inspires us.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fun Prenatal Day Photos (our favorite day of the week)

Thursday Prenatal Ladies

John and Beth (and Dolly)


Jonna & Ylna

Heather & Agathe & Anna



Classroom time


Heather & Nocelia
Tara & Nathalie

It is safe to say that for most of us Thursday is our favorite day of the week.  We love time with this fun bunch of courageous women.  Our prenatal program currently has 24 women in it. Our space in this building limits us to this number. As women deliver new women are allowed to enter. Our desire is to know each woman well, we keep the program smaller in order to build relationships and in order to offer great care. 

Some day in the future we hope to grow this program to the new land Heartline purchased, basically twinning the program at another location.

Heather & Mirlene
If you live near Franklin, TN and have an interest in learning more - there is an event going on May 9th to benefit Heartline - and specifically our dream of a new (2nd) maternity center - please see this link. 

To preemptively answer your burning questions:  Yes, John always looks that well dressed and amazing. And no, he is not allowed to speak inside of the Maternity Center House.

Anticipation building ...

Since 2002 we have never had the youngest  family member in our house hit three and a half years of age  ... always another family member was added before the three year mark.  Noah came before Isaac and Hope were three.  Phoebe came before Noah was three.  Lydia came within 11 months of Phoebe.

Lydie slowed us down. Of course we've always held to the promise that Lydia is the child sent to stop us, to humble us, to complete our family ... to be the grand challenging finale.

But, wouldn't you know it - She turned 3.5 in April and we've got an itch.

Announcement: We're expecting a new family member soon!

Below is Annie, a very pregnant Mastiff due to deliver in early May. One of her puppies will become a little Livesay. We're adopting again!

Did you seriously think we were pregnant?  Come on. Only the dogs around here have time and energy for that sort of funny business.

Thursday Linkage

  • A common belief Heartline works to educate women in our programs about ... 
New York Times article: Without His Mother's Milk a Haitian Boy is Lost

  • A need for the ladies that has become clear ...  (And it appears the funds have come in already!)
If Only They Could Stay

  • Our close friends the Iveys had a docu mentary created about their adoption. It is even more special to us because we got their son ready to leave here along with Annie and Phoebe. They were all on the same military flight on the crazy day they received Humanitarian Parole and left Haiti.
You can watch it on Jamie's blog here. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Dalonne & Job April 26
Enisse (and baby Sophia) departed in late March and Djenie (and little Kenny) in April from the Harbor House. Neither of them have shown a real desire to come back and live within the structure of the house. We've seen them and continue to reach out to them.

We've had struggles with understanding Dalonne and Job and a couple of the other new moms in the program. Yesterday Job looked to have lost ground again and was admitted into a Port au Prince hospital. 

We pray for wisdom in building trust in the relationships and for help in building community.  We hope that simple teachings about labor and delivery and breast-feeding will sink in, be accepted, and applied. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn't. We don't know why one woman grabs onto the teaching while the next mistrusts it.  We don't know why one teen mom can accept correction and structure and remain in community while the next one, whom is just as loved, packs her bags to leave.

If you could sit on our porch in the evenings you'd occasionally hear me wondering aloud to Troy "What if this is a colossal waste of time and energy?"  There are times when we all stink at remembering the multiple good and positive things and our focus lands and rests on the difficult situations. There are times when we forget to trust God with our unanswered questions.

I was teary one afternoon a few weeks ago when Agathe, a Haitian woman who is an integral part of the Women's Program, said "Tara - You need to remember this is the beginning of the Harbor House. You are forgetting that when Beth started the pre-natal program there were many problems. We learned and things got better as we went.  You can't see the end yet."  

The post below was sent to me last week. With the authors permission I reprinted the portions of it that most apply. I may read it daily to remind myself that investing in people is never a bad decision, regardless of return on investment.

(Emphasis added by me. All of the excerpts below written by Arthur Burk and taken from here.)

* * *
 ... pouring into people.  At the end of the day, the deposit of God in each human spirit is an incomparable treasure waiting to be unpacked by someone who has eyes to see.

However, humans are also the most fickle and undependable commodity on planet earth

In our American culture, talk is cheap and relationships are easily shattered.  This is a riddle I simply have never been able to solve.  I watch hard-charging, ideologically driven people commit to a community, whether it is a mentoring relationship or a business or ministry.  So often in just a few months or years there is a grand announcement of how flawed the others are and an explanation of the utter imperative of parting ways.

On the other hand, I watch the incredible durability of dysfunctional communities.  People routinely remain in toxic relationships for decades, no matter how they are counseled to leave.

I think of Solomon’s summary of romance in Proverbs 30:19.  The wisest man in the whole world just shrugged and said it is an insoluble mystery.  The man with 1,000 women had no clue what made the male/female relationship tick.

Likewise, I know a whole lot about what makes individuals tick, but I shrug and admit total powerlessness when it comes to handicapping the trait of loyalty in community.  I have no idea who will be there for you or for me three years from now, in any of our three scenarios.

So it is a paradox for me.  On the one hand, people are an enormously good investment.  There is no other investment that can give you a higher return.  And there is no other investment so high risk and prone to failure.

It can be quite crazy making at times, because the most natural context for investment is through community.  God designed the community of family to be the tightest community, with numbers of other community structures around that.  We invest the most when mutual love is involved.

Look at these four data points on a line.  Imagine investing in your own child whom you love, in a close friend, in a casual acquaintance, and in a total stranger.  The further away we go from the love-based community, the less sparkle there is in the idea of sacrificial investment.

Yet, the deeper the love is in community, the greater the pain when you do not get a return on investment.  When you consider the four people in the previous paragraph, and all of them turning away from both your spiritual resources and from their relationship with you, the ones you loved the most will hurt you the most.

Into this picture, we need to bring a larger world view and revert to focusing on THE King and His Kingdom, not our little world.  We must invest in others because of the Kingdom.

If there is a massive God-explosion, will that investment in them benefit the King?  It is quite possible that it will.  It is possible (especially if they listened to it!) that they will be in a better place to serve the King because of that investment from me that did not generate community.

I am not complaining, nor do I teach people to be loyal to me.  I am simply stating that when hard times come, I know I can only bank 100% on the King.  I don’t invest in people in order to buy security for myself in the future, although investment is so much more fun when it is in the context of a loving community.

Once that issue is settled, then I am emotionally free to invest for the King, not simply to invest because I love someone.  Do I invest more in my love-based community.  Of course.  It is more fun.  But I am prepared to look at all sorts of people, to identify those who are possibly open to change, and to invest in them quite apart from any personal return on investment.

When things go really bad or really good, I think there will be some people out there who are of value to the King because I sowed something into their lives.  And there will probably be a lot of people who have been massively unchanged by anything I said or did for them.

That irony is immense.  People are the best possible investment you could make at any time.  And they are the worst.

Expecting people to be there for you as a result of your investment is an iffy proposition.  Investing in people in order to position them for the King, while you have no expectations for yourself, is a much better framework...

Copyright April 2011 by Arthur Burk

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Life ...

While we were double dating last night, Beth and Jonna were welcoming Chrismene's baby into the world. We got a text at dinner from Beth telling us of this happy news!
(Red text edit to add Wednesday morning)
In other news:
  • Because of preeclampsia Joanne J. had to have an emergency c-section over the weekend.  She is 18 and will be living at Harbor House for a few weeks while nursing is established. She then plans to move to Jacmel to be near her mom. Please be praying for her and her new baby boy.(Found out today he is named - Ricardo)
  • Djenie and Kenny are living in Cite Soleil and doing okay there. We've seen them a few times.
  • Joanne O., another teenage mom that gave birth about ten days ago, is at the Medishare hospital with her son. He became ill over the weekend. His name is Joseph if you want to pray for them.
  • Enisse and Sophia are doing okay too. They have been coming to see us on Tuesdays for ECD Class and have also come to church with us a couple of times.
  • Dalonne and Job are back in Port au Prince. We hope to see them today and confirm that he continues to gain weight. (Job is hospitalized again - this time at Medishare.)
  • The Harbor House is a very calm place right now. The personalities in the house work well together and everyone is getting along beautifully. We're still searching for the perfect older Haitian house mom. If you think you know of someone please write us! (We think we hired someone! More soon.)
(Photos courtesy of Jonna Howard)

double date

Hors d'oeuvres on double date night

There are a number of things that rarely happen for parents of many that are raising their children in the developing world.

In an effort to keep this short, I'll only name four. 

(A random sampling.)

1. grabbing fast food for the kids in a pinch
2. romantic situations that might lead to uninterrupted "business time"
3. date night
4. making a date plan and executing exact date plan

Some of the above have to do with multiple children, some have to do with the developing world. I'm guessing you can deduce which category each of the four things fall under. (Clue: #2 has been a problem since the third child came along, no matter what country we are dwelling.)

Truly, you cannot be a lazy parent very easily.  There is no ordering pizza to be delivered when Mom had a bad day.  Forget about Dad swinging through the drive through for chicken nuggets for the kids so he can take Mom out for a movie and dessert. That fact is you actually have to feed your kids food you prepare. Lard parenting not allowed.

Last night we made a plan to meet up with Heather and Aaron by 4:30 so we could go have an early dinner date and get our kids home to bed at a decent time.  Paige, master of all baby-sitting, was set to watch the kids while we went out.  She is saving money to buy a phone and has been begging for money making opportunities. We were happy to oblige.

Early into the gig she texted to assure us of how awesome and capable she is :
We got to the restaurant shortly after 5pm.  They didn't open till 6.  Not to be deterred by a crook in our plan, we went shopping for produce on the street.

Romance filled the air as the produce ladies swarmed to sell the guys their goods. Aaron bought Heather some lovely cantaloupes.  Troy bought me four avocados.

Next we went to the big fancy grocery store. I was the only one who had never been there. We walked the aisles unencumbered and joy-filled as we chatted about the choices the store has to offer and enjoyed the moments where no child was asking for water, juice, a snack, or a butt wiping.

We had all planned on early dinner and were definitely hungry. We enjoyed our appetizers in the grocery store. Heather and Aaron chose Scooby Doo graham crackers. Troy and I went with a handful of Pringles.  (Check out the guy on the left in the top photo that hates the dumb white people for taking photos in the grocery store. I don't blame him.  What a disgrace.)

After an hour was eaten up by the always romantic florescently lit grocery shopping experience, we headed to our original destination to engage in adult conversation in a tranquil environment where delicious food was being served.

If this photo had turned out you would see four incredibly chill and delighted people. We were so relaxed that others observing our carefree, jovial conversation over dinner would never guess 10 children awaited our return.  That is double date night success!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday 2011

"Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but is RISEN" 
Luke 24 v5.
Livesay kids on Easter Sunday morning
Harbor House Mamas on Easter Sunday Morning

Coloring Eggs Saturday

Jobens 1st Birthday Celebration Sunday night

Weekend Report:
The weekend is not technically over because the kids don't go back to school until Tuesday. We're excited about that and love the extra time together. We have fun plans with the Hendricks tomorrow night.

Today we went to church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  After church we went to John and Beth's for an amazing dinner and the kids got to have an egg hunt. Right before dark we went to celebrate Sergline and Jobens and his 1st Birthday.

Jonna shared the story of his birth and we all got to tell Sergline how happy we are that she was strong and brave and endured the pain of her earthquake (arm) injury until Jobens was born and she could have surgery without risking his health.  He is walking now and is a truck of a boy. He is such a happy kid and she is a great mom.  These milestones are special to all of us.

2006 Easter
A little while ago I went back to the archives to see what we did on our very first Easter in Haiti.  I couldn't come up with the answer on my own.  I needed to cheat.  Because we moved here in January that Easter was our first holiday away from family and the traditions of "home".  It felt weird to us. We were a lot smaller family then.  (Britt and Paige were gone. Phoebe and Lydia were but a mere twinkle(s) in their daddy's eye.) 

It is not at all that we don't miss the opportunities to see our families and spend a special day with them, of course we do! But this year there wasn't an ache like there was that first year.  This has become what feels like a "normal" Easter to us.

Super sweaty, dusty, bumpy, humid Easter - is where it's at. 

Phoebe & Lydia high on sugar
Hayden H. and Hope
Beautiful and precious memories are being made here. Where empty places were, His good gifts and so much grace has filled them. We're blessed with a community of people willing to redefine and broaden the definition of family and help us create special days like today. We're headed to bed tonight with full tummies and even fuller hearts.  Happy Easter.

He is Risen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sunday is Coming

Noah explains the significance of the bread and wine:

We are enjoying a down day at home with our kids and loving that we have no plan to leave home all day.  Last night we went to the Hendrick's house for dinner and Heather led the kids as they made the tomb craft in the photos above. Tomorrow our stick man Jesus will disappear from the tomb.

After dinner we went to a Good Friday service at church and watched the video posted here.  The service was a sweet time of worship and remembering.  Haiti (and so many other places) often times feels like a "Friday place" - it is difficult to remember and trust that Sunday is coming.  We were grateful to be reminded of this promise.

Sunday is coming.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beautiful Scandalous Night

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified
Follow Christ to the holy mountain
Sinner sorry and wrecked by the fall
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flowed
For you and for me and for all

At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night
On the hillside, you will be delivered
At the foot of the cross justified
And your spirit restored
By the river that pours
From our blessed Savior's side


Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bèl kabann ~ Beautiful beds

Rick and Barry staining beds

Jonna's Dad, Rick Howard, came to build beds with drawers under them for the Harbor House gals.  

We're all very impressed with what he made for them and are hoping the girls will get to sleep on brand new mattresses and beds on Saturday night. They're all heading out tomorrow for a few days with family. They will come home to these beautiful new beds with a lot of storage underneath. 

Thank you Rick for these beautiful gifts.  Thanks to those that have donated to the Harbor House to help fund the supplies for this fabulous upgrade.

the birds ...

Backyard View of the neighbors to the left

Alfred Hitchcock never dreamed of such horrors.

Please. Die.
It used to be that the bird noises came only from one side of our lot/house.

Now we are 'lucky enough' to have a much more balanced surround sound bird choir.

There are times in the day where you must raise your voice to talk over the sounds of the birds in order to hear one another.

If we want to fudge the truth and tell someone "I'm on my way - just left" as we are walking to your car ... they will instantly bust us for being home because they will hear the obnoxious background birds on the phone.

It's really sad we can't lie to our friends anymore.

Sometimes the ridiculous volume and quantity of birds is comical.

Other times nobody is laughing.

Front yard view. Hundreds of dirty fowl live here. HUNDREDS.
In the night we occasionally get to listen to the sounds of a rat and multiple birds in a literal "cage match".  The rat runs along the metal roof of the above photo but something goes terribly wrong and he loses his footing, then drops down on top of the birds. This is no silly WWF style fake staged fight. There is no show-business in a Port au Prince cage fight. They fight to the death.  Judging from the sound of it, the rat most often finds himself on the losing end.

Therein lies the only positive attribute I'll ever recognize about our feathered neighbors. They kill rats occasionally. Way to go! Good on you gaggle of hens.  

Windows of our house, Pigeons
The Pigeons are a newer post-earthquake addition. We never once had Pigeon poop on our hanging laundry prior to 2010. They belong to the neighbors on our left. They pass their time crapping in our yard and like to sit on the roof and stare into our window at us when we shower. It's quite creepy.  Make eye-contact with a Pigeon, you'll learn they don't even have the manners to look away.

These manner-less pigeons are also bound and determined to build nests and lay eggs in our windowsills.  Recently we gave up on ruining their nests and forcing them to go elsewhere.  We figured they've seen us naked, what dignity do we have left to preserve? We let them build.

One day an egg appeared.  The three musketeers (Isaac Hope and Noah) were all thrilled to see the egg.  They checked on it frequently.  Last week they came home to find the egg and nest missing from Hope's window.  They came running to me asking where it was.  I shrugged and said, "I don't know. Ask Geronne."   Geronne acted like it was a dumb question and in Kreyol said, "I smashed the egg."  I translated.  Isaac looked like he might cry.  "You what?!?!"  He said.  "Sorry Isaac". Geronne said in English.  He walked away slumped shoulders and said, "Mama, ask her where she smashed it, because I really don't want to see a dead egg."

Ironically I was making eggs at the stove during this conversation.

Pigeons on roof craning necks trying to see Troy in shower.  Can you blame them?

The Turkey is probably the most curious of all the fowl neighbors.  He makes the gobble gobble noise most mornings while we eat our toast. He sometimes gets caught in the "democracy wire" atop our property line. We keep waiting and watching for the day he is no longer standing on top of our generator house. We don't know a lot about birds.  We only know that of all the sick, scrawny, nasty foul around us the Turkey appears to be the only bird worth the time and effort.  He actually looks like he might feed some people.

The neighbors that own the Turkey invited us for lunch on Sunday afternoon in a couple of weeks.

We're expecting fowl of some sort.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Proverbs 18:21

In this slightly discouraging season THIS post and problem came to mind again last night when I caught myself about to generalize in front of Isaac.  We want to be careful to love people, but also to speak with love even when the loving part itself is not going so well.  I so want my words to give life to my children.

“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” 
(Proverbs 18:21, The Message)

By Rick Porter- 

Haunting Echoes 

Have your words ever come back to haunt you? You threw out a random opinion or vented an emotion at some time in the murky past. Later, like an echo across a valley, the words returned. You did not remember you said it. But the hearer remembered.

Paige & Rick
The experience can be painful. The Bible letter from James says “the tongue is a fire.” Words get released, they spread, sometimes wildly, and they can do real damage.

In our image-driven culture, words still abound. One assumes that over-supply will decrease their relative value. But over-supply also increases fuel for a “tongue-flagration.” Contemporary communication is instant. We lose float time, the delay necessary to get the brain engaged before the tongue. The odds are good that we’ll say something bad and then wish for a say-over.

Texters and Tweeters and Facebook friends engage one another far more regularly and superficially than ever before. Although telephone conversations are declining, words still pour in from many sources. Marshall McCluhan observed that we do not have “ear-lids.” We cannot close our ears as we close our eyes. We hear and are heard.

The other day some of my words bounced back. Thankfully they were constructive. My niece and family serve in Haiti in a Christian ministry of compassion. They reminded me of something I wrote as they prepared to return to Haiti after time in the States post-earthquake. At that time they shared their unsettledness about returning. In my response I threw out this paragraph, intended as an encouraging summation to my email: “So smack a mosquito for me. Dodge the cholera. Love grandly and having counted the cost of going back, now discount it. This is the adventure that you are living. There is heaven in it all.”

I remembered neither the words nor the sending of them. There is some good advice there. But that’s not really my point. The point is this: We never know what a little encouragement will mean. Similarly, we cannot comprehend the reverberating damage of critical and discouraging words. My niece says she recalls this encouragement often, and always with a smile.

Plainly I’ve shared a positive example rather than recounting my shame at the pains inflicted by my fiery tongue. I needn’t make this my confessional. There is too much to confess. The Bible’s book of wise sound-bites called Proverbs says this: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” (Proverbs 18:21, The Message)

We choose words continually, often in the heat of moment and certainly in a flood of communication. Choose life-giving words. Offer fruit. Hide the poison. Life-giving words will never haunt and the echoes are beautiful.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ragged Endings & Nagging Hope

If there is one thing I detest, it is our tendency as pride-filled humans to "fake" with one another.

While it is somewhat frequently stated, "You guys are so real",  it must be noted that sometimes confusion and pride can squash down, and even trample our ability to "be real".

I am in no way obligated to report our every failure on the interweb. I know this. I know God  hears our groans and intimately knows our hurts whether I tell the blog-reading audience of them or not. Even when I'm not real with you, I've got no choice but to be real with Him.

That said, I value telling the truth and I don't like secrets. For those reasons I want to share this.

For the last week we've been struggling with a loss.  
  • perceived Loss of hope for redemption (in our allotted time frame.)
  • Loss of a dream. (at least in the way we dreamed it.)
  • Loss of a good story we liked telling. (No happy ending for now.)
  • Loss of understanding of what God is doing. 
All of this loss because of our...

If you don't know Djenie and Kenny's story and how their lives became intertwined with ours  - please stop and read this post before you read further.  It is important.

Slowly over the last month Djenie began to sabotage a lot of her progress.  She stopped working with her tutor on school work. She decided making beads in jewelery class was not fun. She got up and walked out of devotion-time frequently. She was moodier than normal. She pushed her housemates a lot. She seemed less patient with Kenny. The structure made her uncomfortable and even angry at times.  There was fighting within the house. She wants (needs?) to be the top-dog. She wants (needs?) control.  She resents routine and time-schedules.

As structure went into place and rules became more than things written on paper she began to grow restless and impatient with everything and everyone at Harbor House. We tried to work through things with her. We tried to give her enough rope to wander without giving her enough to hang herself.

Finally, totally frustrated, she said last Wednesday "I cannot live here anymore."  We talked and prayed and expressed love for three days. We attempted to slow down her decision by intentionally dragging out our conversations with her.  She was angry with our unwillingness to let her live by different rules. She manipulated us with threats of giving Kenny away. She used him to gain leverage. With heavy and grieved hearts it became clear that for now, letting Djenie and sweet innocent Kenny go is is in fact the only choice. Allowing a 16 year old to run the house in order to keep her there is not an option.

This decision set many of us off balance. Everyone at Heartline has made some sort of investment in Djenie and Kenny. Their story touched many. Dozens of volunteers spent time with her after the earthquake and will find this news painful. Believing that God loves her and that this story is unfinished is where we must rest.

A story with a ragged ending ...yet we have nagging hope.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Honoring my request, my Uncle Rick wrote a piece for the blog for Easter week. (Read him, he is gifted with words and creates brilliant poetic prose.)

His piece came to my in-box earlier today. As I read it and it met me right where I am, I cried and agreed wholeheartedly with his words, "Hope won't let go and neither should we. Hope ... Keep us alive!!"

By Rick Porter -

Ragged Endings and Nagging Hope

There is a strange raggedness in it all. Dear friends have recently lost a granddaughter at birth. Conceived in love and hope, this little one grew in the security of the womb, albeit bearing impairments that diminished, even threatened hope for health and life. All did their best to keep the faith but instead faith now keeps them. The tiny life seed came to shattering death and loss and grief. The sure hope of life beyond is the only hope now. Thankfully it is enough. It has to be.

In a much less troublesome development, I prayed that a bare area on the campgrounds where I work might have some mature trees. It was admittedly a whiny prayer, “O God, why do I have to settle for saplings? I want shade now!” Within seconds of the prayer God answered with a phone call from local arborist friend inquiring as to whether I could use three 12-foot firs. I tingled. Immediate answered prayer and a whiny prayer at that! PTL!! God is good! I feel the Spirit!

The trees, now one year transplanted, are struggling for life. “Winter burn” the man calls it. We’ve watered, fertilized, and prayed (God gave us trees, He should heal them…right?). The trees hang in the balance, more everbrown than evergreen. I’m embarrassed that I shared the “miracle” in the first place. I’m a hope-a-dope…but I just can’t stop hoping.  

Stories with ragged endings and smashed dreams attract me. Not because they feel good. They don’t. In fact, I feel anger. They fascinate because they make life life. An adventure without risk or surprise endings or dead-ends would be no adventure at all. So I grudgingly accept the disappointments and the pains as something unfinished, awaiting a tidy ending somewhere, sometime. Redemption will come and just maybe the thorns will become a crown. While splitting the firs into firewood someone will deliver an entire nursery. “We were closing down and thought you could use a bazillion trees!” Or maybe it will be less spectacular, like needing the firewood more than trees anyhow.

The lifeless baby will be quickened, toddling with open arms up to her family in the age to come. My friend will hear “Papa” from that voice for the first time. Meanwhile, who knows how many siblings will grace the parental home to make it alive, loving, and crazy busy until the unbroken circle is restored.  The pain will never go away, but it will be bandaged with lots of happiness. Or, maybe this family will just have much deeper resources to help other families face terrible loss. I don’t have answers. I just have hope. No matter how many times the endings are ragged, I cannot stop hoping.

I lay much of the blame for this challenged but unflagging hope on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the story that keeps on giving in literature, film and life. One human breaks the pattern of death and destruction as the inevitable sad ending - and all humans ever since keep hope alive. Celebration gave way to accusation and crucifixion. The Palm Sunday parade terminated at a tomb. The song of the children became a dirge. The throngs went home. Friends scattered. But…

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb…” “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!’” (Luke 24:1,2,5, 6)

An unfaithful friend of Jesus was later an eyewitness to the empty tomb, and then hung out with the resurrected Christ. Peter wrote something that explains our nagging hope:

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all—life healed and whole. (1 Peter 1:1-3, The Message)

Hope won’t let go and neither should we. There’s good reason that “hope springs eternal.” I don’t think we really need to “keep hope alive.” It’s like Jesus. It won’t die. Let’s twist the phrase to its proper shape: “HOPE…keep us alive!!”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

After the earthquake sales of the beautiful work of the women of Haiti skyrocketed.  People responded in love by donating and by buying products.  The love and concern was felt and we reflect on those days with a grateful heart and certainty of God's provision for the ladies in so many ways.

The "Sewing Ladies" as we affectionately call them are all hard working ladies wanting to earn an income and provide for their families.  No one feels good receiving hand-outs.  All of these ladies want to earn their income and feel the dignity that comes with earning.

There are five ways you can support their desire to provide for themselves and their families ...
  1. Shop here at Haitian Creations on-line store.
  2. Spread the word about Haitian to friends and family and coworkers.
  3. Host a "Purse Party" at your home and share the work of these ladies and the larger work of Heartline Ministries.  Your advocacy for these women makes a tremendous difference!
  4. When in Haiti stop by one of the two stores selling these products. Buy! 
  5. Email to get a code ~ Add a button to your blog to promote through social media.

In other news ...
Yesterday Sterline, one of the sewing ladies, gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

 (Last two photos - Jonna Howard )

The Heartline Women's Program consists of these branches:

-Literacy Classes-
-Sewing School-
-Jewelry making classes-
-Contract sewing of products for website-
-Harbor House-
-Prenatal Care/Class-
-Labor and Delivery-
-Early Childhood Development Class-

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

act your age

If I wasn't so wise I'd attempt to tell a joke about Troy getting angry after one too many nights of unimpressive dinner food ... but domestic violence is probably a bit of a comedy killer. Plus you know Troy.  So no.

Instead -  The real story.

Noah is double jointed and feather-light. He is always showing off by hanging above the swimming pool by one limb and by doing amazing cirque du soliel freak boy moves and maneuvers.  He thinks he is really quite something.

Also.  He is. Really quite something.

Additional fact: Noah is  7 years old.

I did not let the facts stop me from thinking I was equally awesome and capable.

There is a rope hanging above the pool. It is attached to a metal pole that runs all the way across the width of the pool.  Saturday I climbed (read: clawed) my way out to the rope. I put my feet on it and was holding the metal pole above me.  I was smack talking my boy and acting like a real butt. (Some people claim I have issues with being a good sport.)  I said "Watch this Noah" and I swung a little bit for added finesse, exhibiting my proficient skillz as I jumped down.  Gravity took me  - most of me - all except my left arm which became grossly entangled in the rope, until my massive weight forced its delayed release.

The absolute horror on Troy's face when I came up out of the water made me wonder if my arm was hanging above the pool still attached to the rope. 

Noah was a little bit less impressed than I planned for him to be.  Troy was traumatized.

On the bright side Lydia is very impressed with the colors of my arm.  She said Tuesday, "Mama, where you purple owie?" I flashed it. She squealed with delight  "OH it not purple! It brown and yellow now!"  

So.  There.
A happy ending. 
Someone was impressed.