Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday's child works hard for his living ...

29 days since our last labor and delivery, Walnise appeared this morning at 6:00 am in active labor. If she delivers before midnight we'll end June with two births.  July should be an adventure. :)
Walnise is 24 years old. This is her first baby.  She has been healthy and has had an uneventful pregnancy. We're expecting a drama-free delivery too. She has a fabulous sense of humor and we're really excited to be part of this important day in her life.  Pray for her today as she comes to mind.  Thank you!

EDIT: 11am Update - Jeronie is on her way to the Maternity Center with contractions too!  Perhaps we'll end up with two before midnight? Prayers appreicated for Jeronie, and the delivery team of Wini, Beth and Tara.
Jeronie and Walnise - DUALING labors @ 1:15pm Saturday

Friday, June 29, 2012

big kids' summer activities

The veggies ran into my cousin(s) at Coldplay concert

Most days we celebrate the fact that Britt and Paige are in the middle of their own amazing adventures. On occasion we (okay, maybe not WE) thrash around on the floor lamenting how much our hearts miss their faces and the joy they bring. I cannot necessarily predict which days I'll thrash and which days I'll celebrate; the sad days happen without my permission.  In the past few weeks the pity parties I've thrown have been so poorly attended that I've tried to make major cut backs.

Paige is riding and helping train in new ponies.  She is working with kids with horrendously difficult pasts and sad stories. She is trying her hand at surfing. She is enjoying the company of inspiring women. Her messages say things like "this is amazing!" and "best day ever!" -  so we're gathering that California is treating her well.

Britt and Chris have 14 full time jobs and 7 hobbies and apparently know how to juggle better than people named Barnum or Bailey. They keep all those balls in the air and they still find time to look adorable and dress like vegetables in order to gain free tickets to a Coldplay concert.

Troy and I knew it would one day seem like we had two families; the big kids and the little kids ... We just didn't know that being parents of big kids would be so fun and entertaining.

We miss you our sweet big girls. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012


On Monday Noah came to the airport with me for a pick-up. 

The airport is good people watching if you can find a nice shady spot from which to observe. I especially enjoy watching the fancy clothing and insanely high heels. It's fun watching the bling of Miami making its way to Port au Prince. 

We stood waiting in the shade and chit chatting. Noah LOVES to talk and he loves one on one undivided attention. We were chatting about pretty inconsequential things when Noah said, "Ma, I keep wondering if God still has plans for me ... Nothing is really happening."

He thinks his 8 years of living haven't been too exciting or focused and he's looking for the path, he's wondering what direction he is heading.

It doesn't surprise me when I feel confused about my own direction or unsure of what path to take. When Troy and I talk about our future it isn't uncommon for us to wonder exactly what Noah wondered on Monday. 

We all want to know what the future will hold and what the point is and what the point will be and we want to understand what God is doing in us. We get so uncomfortable living in the not knowing. It starts young and most of us still feel some level of discomfort with uncertainty well into our adult lives.  

I didn't know exactly how to assure Noah that in this very moment things are happening and that we don't have to know exactly where we're headed as long as we're on the path ... (and that knowing would probably jack us up) I assured him that I am with him in the uncertainty, and that it's okay.

(From Love Does by Bob Goff)

Photo: Britt and Paige 2007 with island of La Gonave  (Haiti) behind them

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

of friends, fun, and paint

Kids saying goodbye to new friends
Kids working ...


This week we had the pleasure of meeting the amazing people that will one day welcome Moses into their family officially.  He is definitely already in their hearts, but on paper there is some work to be done. 

Today after we brought them  (Moses' adoptive parents) to the airport (see photo at top) we went to the soccer field in our neighborhood to run free for a bit. Sometimes this goes really well and is great fun.  Other times kids or teenagers come mock and tease and try to walk off with our soccer ball.  Today was a good day at the soccer field.  We ran and ran until we were soaked in sweat and ready to walk home.

Once home we had lunch and decided that painting a wall together would be fun. (?)   

Everyone had a paint brush. Everyone had a small dish of their own paint.  Everyone had a section of wall that was to be their responsibility.  We use that word loosely in these parts.

The first to drop out was Noah, at about the twenty minute mark.  About five minutes after Noah bailed, Isaac left us too.  This left the girls to smack-talk and gloat about our superior work ethic for a little while.  

Geronne explained that painting is not something women would get to do where she is from and she liked that the system we have allows women to do painting work.  She joined us right away. I pondered that for a bit.  I'm all for gender equity, but what if I could get out of painting (or worse jobs) based on a cultural rule of that sort? The more I thought about it the more I realized we already have some pretty great rules in place.  Women (named Tara) don't do the work of catching rodents at my house.  I'd vote for inequality over and over again long before I'd be a part of moving a refrigerator and watching the mouse or rat scurry out from underneath it. That's man work for sure.

Lydia and Phoebe stuck with it for a lot longer than I would have ever guessed they would. They headed to the bath tub to get cleaned off after about 45 minutes of "work".  Hope and Geronne and I worked our magic until the portion we planned to paint was covered well. 

Having the kids (and Geronne) paint was partially about allowing them to be part of a group project and partially to learn exactly how patient  I can be.  I'm just gonna go ahead and congratulate myself here and now. I inspired me today.  

Noah spent more time choosing his painting shirt and making his demands to create a painting utopia  for himself than he did painting. I laughed at such folly.  Isaac stepped back into the paint tray when he came down off a ladder. I chuckled.  Lydia poured her paint on the driveway as she walked away with her container in her hand. I chortled. Geronne basically swung her paint brush like a baseball bat. If you were to come to my driveway and run random circles around the entire width of my yard I could probably spill less paint trying to paint you than Geronne spills while painting an inanimate object.  I didn't get annoyed or tell anyone I did not want help. I simply watched and marveled at what I was seeing.  I also thought, "My Dad could literally not be here right now. This.would.kill.him."

You know what? I never got witchy with anyone.  I let them paint and didn't correct any of their crappy techniques.  

At the end of the day we all felt pretty good about our uber white cement wall.  We showed Troy which parts belonged to which worker and waited on his affirmation.  He sort of delivered. He was a bit distracted by all the paint on the ground.

In other news:

  • Tomorrow we will say goodbye to Dr. Jen for a bit as she heads back to her other field of practice.  

  • It has been almost a month since a baby has been delivered at Heartline.  We're looking at a possibility of some craziness in July.  If someone comes tonight, we're all feeling ready to roll.  :) 

  • The day by day and hour by hour countdown that Isaac is overseeing and announcing randomly tells me that Tina (my sister) and Matt (my brother in law) and Aidan (my nephew) will be here in approximately 70 hours.  Never a more highly anticipated event in Isaac's life.  We are all very excited, Isaac is just MORE excited. 

Monday, June 25, 2012


By Henri Nouwen
Jesus Is Merciful 

Jesus is merciful.  Showing mercy is different from  having pity.  Pity connotes distance, even looking down upon.  When a beggar asks for money and you give him something out of pity, you are not showing mercy.   Mercy comes from a compassionate heart; it comes from a desire to be an equal.  Jesus didn't want to look down on us.  He wanted to become one of us and feel deeply with us.  Let us look at Jesus when we want to know how to show mercy to our brothers and sisters.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There is much truth in that short little blurb by Henri.  

There is something very uncomfortable about being helped. I hate when I need help because it makes me feel powerless.  Oftentimes I'd rather struggle than ask for help. That should (and does) speak volumes to me about how those that need help in Haiti might feel.  

Living with an attitude of mercy rather than one of pity is somewhat difficult.

I've come to believe the attitude with which we help is more important than the help itself.  The nicest program in the world doesn't reflect Jesus' compassion if it is administered without mercy, love, and humility.

We truly desire to attempt to the best of our abilities to be an equal and we desire never to look down on the people we work with or interact with. We desire to feel deeply and show mercy. We want to be aware of any feelings of superiority. We want to act out of mercy rather than pity.

                           ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Lord, please squash our tendency to operate with pride. Kill any attitude of superiority. Jesus please show us what Your mercy & Your compassion look like, and help us do exactly that. Amen.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mid Year Statistics and Stories

We're compiling mid-year statistics and finding that the second half of 2012 will bring the majority of our births. Between today and the end of the year we have 43 ladies due to deliver.  Both July and September/October have a lot of ladies due and will be bigger months.

January through today:
Born in January: 8 boys, 4 girls (12)
Born in February: 3 boys, 2 girls (5)
Born in March: 7 girls, twin boys, one loss of a very premature baby boy (10 total)
Born in April: 3 boys, 5 girls (8)
Born in May: 3 boys, 1 girl (4)
Born in June: 1 boy (1)

40 births to date in 2012
of the 40:
1 loss due to preeclampsia at week 25
6 transports during labor

Longest time period without a birth - 21 days (we have been waiting for the next birth since June 1st)
Most births in one 24 hour period - 3 babies were born on January 27th

Graduation Day for Revia

A few weeks ago we were preparing to graduate a couple of ladies.  I was hurriedly pulling files of ladies that gave birth last December. Once the babies are six months we present the mother with a certificate and a gift. We pray with them and thank them for their participation and they graduate and complete our program.  For most women they have been in our programs since early pregnancy, meaning they've been coming weekly for over a year.

On that day I called the names of the ladies graduating.  The others came to the front. Revia, the woman pictured above, stood in her spot. She was crying a little bit.  She told Wini that she was not supposed to graduate for two more weeks. Her baby had been born in late December, therefore she should not graduate until late June.  I apologized and teased her about forgiving me and claimed it was a tet chaje mistake (tired/loaded head). We waited until the two weeks passed before attempting to graduate Revia and her daughter again this week.  After class on Tuesday Revia sought us all out in different areas of the building to hug us and say goodbye. We asked her to please come to Friday Bible Study and visit us whenever she wants.  It is always surprising which ladies end up loving the program. Revia has a fairly serious and quiet personality; we wouldn't have ever guessed she enjoyed coming so much. We were touched by her gratitude and love of the program and thankful for the ways God showed up to use Heartline to help her feel His love and care.

Vitana has been named "Pwofese Marasa" - Professor of Twins!

We told her Tuesday that she'll need to encourage Dani, the newest mama that is carrying twins.   The boys are round, healthy, breastfed, chubby-cheek-machines.
Vitana is proud.  She should be!

We love the unique opportunities we have to get to know these ladies during one of the most important and challenging times of their lives.  We're blessed to interact with them and encourage them wherever and whenever possible.

The role that those of you that PRAY and GIVE play is equally, and possibly even *more* important.  THANK-YOU for standing with us to love and serve these inspiring women and their babies.
Please continue to PRAY and GIVE.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

get to work kids

Our kids love to hear stories about our past.  They love to hear them and then retell them to us.

"Mom, dad totally did NOT like you the first time he met you.  Do you remember that he hated your big hair and thought you were rude?"

Yes. Yes. Of course I remember because I told you that story in the first place, little fools.

A few days ago we spend a considerable amount of our chit chat time discussing jobs.  It seems that we live in a country where teenagers don't get jobs like we did growing up back in the "olden days".  They honestly live in such an alternate reality that when I told them I started my first paying job at fourteen and that Troy was fifteen, they looked at me with the "you're such a liar" face.

I asked Isaac, "Well, what will your first job be?!?"
He said, "Hmm, I am going to be a vet. So something in a lower level vet office."
I had no idea what that meant.
Lower level as in downstairs office or lower level as in they don't yet care for real live animals.

Upon clarification Isaac said it means he is low-level and maybe just "holds the Guinea pig on the table for the first year".  He said "no dogs, cats, or turtles in the first year". (Turtles are high level??)

As I recounted the jobs I have had I tried to come up with brilliant little anecdotes about what each job taught me. Quickly I realized that 1. I have no brilliant little anecdotes 2. I have had a lot of weird jobs 3. Our kids don't think they'll work for real until they are 30ish and something needs to be scrambled in their brains (right quick!) to fix that.

My first job: Waitress at a private retirement community in a restaurant that was open just a couple hours each evening. It was there that I delivered dinner to elderly people a few nights a week.  It was a very fun and easy job as long as you didn't get one particular blind man in your section. His name was Stanley, he so disliked me. When it came time to tell him where his food was on his plate (beans at 9 o'clock) he always got impatient and angrily snapped at me before the words were all out and the explanation was finished, I was always nervous when it came time to put the food down in front of Stanley. I fantasized about spinning his plate and putting his beans in a place he'd never find them. I had that job for a couple of years before I moved "up" to a different restaurant job that required wearing a full Dutch costume. :-( Yeah, hat and everything.  Suffice it to say, I missed crabby Stanley pretty quickly.

Isaac would like to pose a question to all readers willing to comment.  He'd like to know how old you were when you got your first job and what job it was?  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Paige's news (with her photos)

"So far my summer in California has been wonderful! Although I've been missing home a bit here and there, the Sarahs are fabulous and have been making me feel so at home in California. I've also been keeping very busy! I've been working with Kim and the horses at the ranch, which has been wonderful. She is a great person. I've been eating lots and lots of delicious berries and other America foods. I attended a Portland vs. LA soccer game. I've learned what "geocaching" is, and participated too! I've borrowed many books from the library. I've been using the fast internet and learning about Netflix. I've gone to the beach. I've been working at the farmers market and babysitting. I went to visit a cool ministry called, "Homeboy" and made some homeboy friends. That's what I have been up to during week one of my time here; the time is going so fast! I'm loving California" -Paige

Paige is staying with the two Sarahs and being allowed great opportunities working with Kim. Tomorrow they are going down to San Juan Capistrano to meet with the therapy director at another therapeutic riding center and observe a couple of sessions. It is a very large and reputable center that works primarily with clients with physical disabilities. Kim also applied for and received a scholarship for Paige to attend a professional conference in Nevada this weekend (road trip!) and wanted Paige to be able to see some of the different techniques prior to the conference so she has a better frame of reference for what will be discussed at the conference. Paige will get to see Kim looking at a horse she is considering for her program while they are in San Juan tomorrow morning; she'll see how they assess horses to determine if they will be a good fit for a therapy program.  

We recognize what an awesome gift all of this is to Paige. Not many 17 year olds get to have such an intimate and well-rounded look into the career path they are considering  -  we're grateful! 

a few of Paige's photos from early June:

Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons; but they are helpless against our prayers. 

~J. Sidlow Baxter~


I wish I could look the other way and pretend this doesn't happen.  It gets pretty difficult when we see evidence in our neighborhood.

It is overwhelming, but we can all pray and give and promote justice and help put a stop to this.

Monday, June 18, 2012

we're all weird, but life is sometimes even weirder

Multiple times a year we lose all track of what month it is.  The other day I was running and wondered, "How many more weeks till Easter?"  For some reason I was suddenly transported into March and forgot that Easter came and went quite recently.  Occasionally someone will bring up something about sports and we'll think "Huh, it is football/baseball/basketball season?"  With weather that doesn't change much and nobody decorating things to remind us of the season changes, we just sort of get lost in time warps.

All of that was the long introduction into the bad news that Father's Day kind of snuck up on us.

Because we thought of it for the first time on Saturday night we needed to degaje a bit.  (Degaje means  make it work in any way possible including but not limited to sketchy and unconventional ways.)

Sunday morning we made signs moments before leaving for church. Troy was leading worship and we figured a Father's Day greeting from our row would be way better than any dumb $5 Hallmark card.

When we returned home we had lunch with visiting friends. Later in the day, all at once, ten weak little hands gave Troy a back, foot, leg, hand, arm, shoulder, and head massage that was everything you can hope a massage will be ...  except relaxing.

Here is Noah's giant gift card for the aforementioned massage:

You get a free musuch all ofer you'r bady
Translation: You get a free massage all over your body
(You also get to laugh so hard you cry and your sides hurt. Still free!)

In other current (weird) events ...

Heartline is in the middle of an unusual month of non-stop teams. The leader of the current team is someone I met when I was 15 or 16 when he was my youth Pastor in Brooklyn Park, MN.  He and his wife were at the church for about a year or so when I went through the drama and shame and yada yada yada of pregnancy at age 17. He was incredibly kind to me back then and helped make me feel supported/loved in the middle of a cruddy and difficult time.

This a photo of me (Tara) (the one with big hair and the scary expression) and Todd (Britt's Dad) dedicating Brittany in June 1990.

The Pastor on the right is Brent Bromstrup. The guy that officiated my (1st) wedding and dedicated Britt is currently down the block from our house in Haiti. Seven billion people on the planet, and someone that significant in my life (that I have not seen in 22 years) shows up in our neighborhood. That's just a special kind of weird. 

Following up and other things ...
  • Nadege (Friday's post) was treated for Malaria and brought home by Dr. Jen.
  • Jeronie's labor stopped. She went home Saturday too. Beth put in a sleepless night before convincing Jeronie that this wasn't the real thing.
  • We have found a couple options for our kids' school books to get to Haiti -Thank you! 
  • Sergline and Joanne at the Harbor House both graduated in the large class that graduated from sewing school on Friday - Congratulations to all the graduates! 
  • Dr. Jen took part of the team to donate blood today.  For travelers to Haiti: Please consider donating blood while you are here.  It is a huge gift you can give. Most people that need blood in Haiti cannot get it and they literally have to barter and beg. Anytime we've needed it we've also needed to repay it by donating to give back what we used. That is how it works here. In the USA the Red Cross does not allow people that have traveled to Haiti to donate for one year after travel. All that to say, you may as well leave some blood here. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

1 through 7 salute you: Happy Father's Day !

with #1 on her wedding day

with #2 on St. Patrick's Day

with # 3 and 5 recording a rap for Christmas

with #4 on Christmas Eve

with # 6 and #7 at Baylor homecoming

Thank you for being the kind of Dad that puts the needs of your children above the zillion other things vying for your time and attention.  We sure do love you.  Happy Father's Day.

Britt, Paige, Isaac, Hope, Noah, Phoebe & Lydia

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dear Texans,

If any Texans are coming to Haiti between tomorrow and September and you are flying out of DFW  - we are trying to get a lot of school books to Haiti.

We'd happily pay $40 to have the extra fifty pound bag checked by you - and we'd happily meet you at the airport to pick up the bag of books.

If this is an option for you please email and we'll figure out how to get the books in your hands.

mil mesi


Friday, June 15, 2012

Bulletpoints for Friday

  • Jeronie is in early, somewhat unproductive, labor.
  • Nadege is ill, not in labor but needing prayers.
  • The Heartline Sewing School is graduating this year's class today. This is a major event with choreographed dancing, a lot of singing, and fanfare. Troy is playing guitar and singing with the ladies. He said the practice was one of the most entertaining events of 2012. Two of the Harbor House women went through the sewing program and will graduate today.
  • Paige is sending happy reports from CA about her first few days there.
  • The turtle named Crush has survived a fabulous week under the direction and care of Isaac and Noah Livesay.



When a Mother Bleeds to Death, a Nation Bleeds

Why You Matter So Much

Cross-posting Ask Isaac -
Hi, Isaac! You're doing a great job on your blog. I've really enjoyed reading it. I have a question for you: Your parents talk a lot about your sister Paige and how awesome she is as a daughter. Would you please describe what it is that makes her an awesome sister? (Maybe your siblings would like to weigh in on this with you.) I'm sure you're all missing Paige very much, now that she has gone to California for the summer. Thanks (in advance) for answering! ~Angia
(Translation: The reason Paige is an awesome sister is because she is very energetic and kind. She loves to play with her younger siblings. Brittany is a pretty awesome sister too but we haven't lived with her for almost about 5 years. Paige is very exuberant and loves to throw parties not only with friends but with us. Most older sisters would be like "go play somewhere else" or they would just always be talking to their boyfriend. Not Paige. No Way!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday is Prenatal Day at Heartline

As is the business of tailors to make clothes, and cobblers to make shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray. 

-Martin Luther 

New ladies added to pray for here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Hello Daddy!
We want to know you.
And be close to you.
Please show us how.
Make everything in the world right again.
And in our hearts, too.
Do what is best - just like you do in heaven,
And please do it down here, too.
Please give us everything we need today.
Forgive us just as we forgive other people
when they hurt us.
Rescue us! We need you.
We don't want to keep running away 
and hiding from you.
Keep us safe from our enemies.
You're strong, God.
You can do whatever you want.
You are in charge.
Now and forever and for always!
We think you're great!
Yes we do!

(The Lord's Prayer from Matthew 6 
as paraphrased on page 226 of the JesusStorybookBible)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


The woman pictured above is one of the toughest, hardest working, most intelligent ladies you'll ever meet.  

She is a lot like many women in Haiti. 

She is strength. She is beauty. 

She works hard, loves well, does her best to keep her chin up and keep feeding and educating her kids. Her day to day life looks very different from ours. We cannot easily imagine what it is like to walk in her shoes.

She and her husband have seen a lot of life.  They have walked through horrors and injustice and come out the other side still smiling and relying on their faith in Christ to carry them through the next thing.  We're blessed to know them and observe the gracious and courageous way they face adversity.  

These are people we can all learn from.  If you're ever in Haiti, look around and observe, you'll see strength in every direction you look. The Haitian people have much to teach us. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

happy birthday troy

Troy and Paige 1998

Troy and Isaac 2002
Troy, Phoebe, Lydia 2008
Troy & Noah June 2012

When I married this wonderful baby-faced guy, three years my junior, I just figured that within ten to fifteen years people would start asking me if I was his mom or his much older sister.  I steeled myself for that day, knowing it would likely come.  I expected questions like, "How's the old lady?" to become commonplace for Troy.  ;-)

The first year or two after we were married were pretty calm; Troy gained zero wrinkles in his baby face. By year five the two kids we started out with became five kids. Troy still gained zero wrinkles in his baby face. A few years later we moved to a new country and two more kids came along. For a couple of years some really challenging stuff went down; including but not limited to a massive earthquake. All of a sudden we looked at the baby-face and saw that it showed signs of aging maturing. Troy earned a few creases; worked very hard for a few of those lines. 

I know that my mushy posts make people roll their eyes out of their ever-livin heads and I don't want that for any of you so I'll just keep it brief and limited to semi-sappy.

Happy 37th Birthday honey ...
No matter what is happening in our lives, whether we are skipping through high points or dragging our feet through terribly heavy and difficult days, the assurance of your deep desire to follow Christ and the evidence of your love, care, and concern for all of us makes every day seem full of joy and promise. I am so very thankful to be experiencing all of the wrinkle-making events by your side. I cannot believe how incredibly blessed I am to get to be your wife. Happy birthday to you my love and very best friend.

In the words of Josh Garrels,  "It's a million miles from, where we began, and I, I still love you."