Wednesday, August 29, 2012

does love heal?

On a busy Friday, women coming in and out, she slips into the exam room.

"Bon jou. Write your name here for me please."

She shakes her head no.

"Can you write your name?"

Quietly she says, "M pa ka ekri."

She cannot write.

"Okay. What is your name honey?"

She replies so quietly that it cannot even be heard.  I look to Paige who is standing nearby.  "What'd she say?"  Paige questioningly repeats her name.

She nods.  We've guessed correctly.

"Ki laj ou cheri?"



"Eske'w ansent?"

Barely audible,  eyes to the ground, "wi"

We say, "Please come back; our class meets on Thursdays".

Before she leaves she tells Paige, "There were a lot of people coming in and out of my house. He came there and he forced me."

She arrived  again early this week for her full intake appointment.

Her chart is filled out.

Things are noted.

90 pounds.
very short in stature.
emotionally flat.
states forced twice by same 22 year old man. no longer sees him in her neighborhood.
states maybe sister can care for baby.
states sister is 17. ultra sound says baby is due december 24.

What is not stated is what screams inside our hearts, reverberates off the walls.

She is 16.
She doesn't seem 16.
She seems like a little girl.

I think of my daughter Hope.  This girl is a frail version of Hope.  Not much taller.  Not much heavier. Probably going to give birth on or around Hope's eleventh birthday. She may as well be eleven.

Does love heal?

Maybe we'll find out.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Baby Book Entry 6: mid-2012 edition

June 11, 2012
(Posterity, this is for your sake. Written slowly in the month of August of 2012) 

My dear children,
I last wrote specifically to update you on your growth, change, and ever-so-interesting personalities all in one place back in December of 2011.  According to my own dumb goals, I hoped to pull off about two or three of these posts a year. Yet, here we are at the end of August and I'm willing to admit this year we may only have this one post on record.There is no room for legalism with what we're juggling so I won't even bother to fake regret. I have been living life with you and have shared your goony quotes and adorable observations other places as we go along, and now I will try to recall as much as I can about the last eight months and especially about the summer of 2012.

I've never wanted to lump you together as one unit of kids  -  I really TRULY want to notice and celebrate the ways you're all wired differently and have unique characteristics and gifts you bring to our family.

In the middle of 2012, this is what I have to say to you about you:

In no particular order ....

Phoebe Joy - 5.75 y.o. right now
When I write about you, it strikes me how difficult you are to describe.  You're quiet, but not without things to say. You're silly, but in a coy, back-door sort of way. You're all four seasons in one day. Sometimes when you're angry at us you let us know with crayons on walls.  There is a part of us that thinks because you're so quiet, maybe you color on walls to be heard.  Really, it isn't even that you're quiet -- it is more that you don't waste words. You're not going to chit chat non stop without saying anything (like a certain big brother) but you'll say what you need to say in a succinct less wordy way. As I typed this I asked you, "What do you like to do most right now?"  You replied, "I like playing cars and dolls with Lydia, 'cept when she annoys me and 'bes' rude, but I still love her."  Compared to 9 months ago, you and Lydia get along much more frequently. Sometimes you make it entire days without fighting. We like the sweet days where you are buddies and you walk around pretending to be pregnant together.  In less than two weeks you will officially be a kindergartner. My guess is that you'll be able to do the work of Kindergarten and some of 1st grade this year because you seem like a quick study to me. You know your letters and how to write your name. You'll go to school five days a week. That's a big change after so many years at home. I feel like your personality puts you in the background sometimes, that makes me sad. I am glad you get to go to school and shine. Maybe we won't forget this particular fact when we are old, but I will note it just in case: The worst day you can imagine is a day having your hair braided. You truly hate having your hair done.
What makes you different: mysterious and coy personality

Britt and Chris - 22 and 26 y.o.-
Again, how do adults get a "baby"-book entry?
Like this -when I include them. That's how.
I watch you from a thousand plus miles away and I see that you're all self sufficient and I am super proud and not really even a tiny bit surprised. Oldest children you are. (textbook!) Waco, TX is constantly in my thoughts and by Waco, TX  -I mean both of you.  I am excited that this calendar year I will get to be on your turf two times. Britt, I loved following your training and seeing you accomplish your goal of running 26.2 miles. In less than a year you'll both hold graduate school degrees and you'll take your fancy selves onto the next big adventure. We eagerly watch from here and pray for you both. Thank you for letting us try to get out of our thirties before you give us a new title that starts with the letter G.  -  Praying for that little person in advance of his or her existence and always cheering you on from a distance.
What makes you different: driven, perfectionist, planners

Paige - 17 and constantly reminding me of how few weeks there are until you are 18 -
2012 is the year of health challenges for you. We spent April feeling afraid and figuring it out with lots of appointments and specialists. Thankfully things are under control and you're attitude is so upbeat that you've weathered the storm well. We managed 7 weeks of separation this summer.  We did just fine all things considered.  I think this means we're doing okay at preparing for our future lives in different countries. You spent your summer riding horses, making deep friendships, and proving you know how to drive a car in America. Not gonna lie, that driving part surprised me. People wrote me to tell me how you blessed them over the summer. Now, that didn't surprise me. I nodded and smiled as I read the words about you. One person said: "She has only begun to bless our planet.".  I agree. You've been digging on the same boy for a year now. We approve and adore him almost as much as you do. As we watch your relationship grow we worry about protecting you from the judgment you'll face and feel as an interracial couple, but you've assured us that you're up for that battle - because we know you are an overcomer, we know that you are indeed up for it. You'll begin your senior year of high school in just a few days. (tears flowing) You'll be applying to college(s) in the coming months. (don't go!) Things happening now are "lasts" in Haiti for you and us. The grieving happening now isn't even considered "early" grieving anymore. This stuff just got real. You are a source of the light in our household. We're glad we get this last year with you before we launch you into your next exciting adventure.
What makes you different: funny, compassionate, wise beyond your years

Isaac - "I am going to be a palindrome in less than a month Mom!" (soon 11)
My first son. You are a trip.  Oh my goodness you make us laugh. This summer you took questions and wrote answers to publish on your own personal blog. We think it will be very fun to read those to your kids some day. We keep waiting for the world to teach you that happy, bouncy, peace-filled, loving optimism isn't the way to go - and hoping you won't believe it. We're grateful you refuse to care about any other expectation or reality - but to just be who God made you and nothing less or more. Someone said, "I don't think he'd fight or stand up to someone that came against him."  We agreed. You're more likely to say something like, "Hey, I know you hate me but can't we just enjoy this beautiful wonderful day together?" We love seeing the unique spirit of peace you've been given and we celebrate it. You love learning. You ask us questions like, "What is the difference between schism and chasm?" You're entering the fifth grade. Last year I noticed that as you left school you said, "Thank you Mr. Jimmy and Miss Becky for teaching me today." You help us all be more thankful. You bring joy to every moment of our days.
What makes you different: everything - but mainly your joy and curiosity :)

bike riding in June

Noah 8

Exactly one year ago you could not read.  Not one word. We were about to start first grade and you had very little confidence. As I type this your puffy curly-haired head is lying next to me reading Harry Potter and asking "what does reverberating mean?". The rumor is that you'll sort of of skip second grade (zip through it) and be called a third grader this year.  As your Mama I kind of like the idea of calling you a second grader for four or five years, but your teachers say they think you're up for the challenge. You're still our chattiest child and sometimes Dad and I wonder if we've ever met a boy that likes to talk as much as you do. Sometimes you stop yourself and say, "Do you need a break from this?" We almost always say, "Yes!" Your current favorite things to do: play with the dogs, be with your Daddy, play video games, and go swimming. You truly love and admire your big brother. The other night Paige walked by your room and heard you crying. When she went in to check on you, you told her that you were so sad that Isaac is going to leave for college and you'll be without him. We didn't know you were an early griever, but it seems that you are. Way to get started eight years early, son. The only new thing since the last update is that you seem to be emerging as the comedian of the family. If you think it will make someone laugh, you're willing to sacrifice your body with some random act of dancing, flailing, or falling.
What makes you different: most talkative, comedic talent

Hope 10.5 y.o.
You'll be a fourth grader this fall.  Socially you seem much more 10th grade than you do 4th grade. You love to sit and chat with (listen to) adults. You fly under the radar enough that we figure you pretty much know every single thing we ever say and are aware of every ministry, life, financial and other concern we have. The good news is, you're loyal and can keep a secret. Your brothers always try to include you in their activities and plans but you're most often found somewhere on your own doing your own thing. You spend a lot of your time drawing faces and you're getting very good at it.  You still love singing and have just started piano lessons.  You enjoy reading but never choose the same books as your brothers. Dad let you sing with him on a few Sundays at church this summer and you look and sound like a natural.  You're still showing frequent interest in is cooking.  For obvious reasons this pursuit cannot happen under my tutelage, but Geronne enjoys cooking amazing salty Haitian feasts with you by her side.
What makes you different: sweet, servant heart, artistic
Melissa Alberts and your first lesson

Lydia 4.75 y.o. 
I recently wrote about some of your quotes. Each one tops the next. Like Noah, you really seem to like the sound of your own voice. Today Phoebe was singing and you said, "I don't like that song Phoebe, it is not about me." A new phrase you've added lately is, "I'm gonna need" so you might say, "I'm gonna need some ice in my water." or "I'm gonna need the air conditioning vent to blow on me." The rest of us all accept that you are a force to be reckoned with and we trade knowing looks when you tell us what you're "gonna need". We laugh at your narcissism but sure hope it is a passing phase. You are white rice and chocolate fortified and pretty much pull your nose up at most other foods. "I hate pizza" is one of the more peculiar of your recent pronouncements. You always ask for "silly sauce" for your rice. Nobody has the heart to tell you it is called Soy Sauce. Just now you came up and said, "Mama, what day is this?"  I said, "Wednesday". You said, "No I mean what day is it before it is tomorrow.  Is Tuesday before tomorrow? Or is it yesterday after Wednesday?" You didn't wait for me to answer.  Thank-you. You are going to go to Pre-School/Kindergarten two days a week this year. You LOVE to cuddle and are very affectionate. You give hugs and kisses freely. We're amazed by how quickly you have an answer to everything. We've decided four and three quarter years old must be when we know everything.  You're the baby of a big family, everyone plays their role and understands you command a certain level of control. It's good to be you, Lydia!
What makes you different: contrary, passionate, confident

April 2012
May 2012

May 2012 when you were all in one place
singing and dancing with daddy Aug 2012

The thing about parenting, nobody tells you how difficult it is to be consistent.  Everyone talks about being tired, being stretched, being in love with their little people ... but nobody says, "One day you will have all sorts of rules and schedules and plans -  and the very next day you will just barely get yourself to make your children bathe and brush their teeth. Oh, and then they won't bathe." Maybe consistancy is for young, new parents? I think back to the days when I made Britt and Paige finish their food and once (to Paige's utter horror, which caused life-long scarring) made Paige eat an entire piece of vegetable lasagna.  I used to have so many rules and really took pride in my ability to force compliance.  Now I fairly regularly agree that a single bite of real/healthy food equals enough compliance to have chocolate dessert. Compliance? Ha!!  That's SOO hilarious. I don't know if I was a good parent then or if I am a good one now ... or if neither is true... I only know that we pray for grace and wisdom - try not to sweat the small stuff - and make it up as we go.
You all make each day very interesting and fun.
We love you so stinkin much it hurts.
We're excited for you as you begin the new year: finishing grad school, and entering 12th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, Kindergarten and Pre-K in just one week.

This concludes installment 6.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

of tropical storms and birth

Friday night we laid quietly in our beds wondering what to expect.  

The power left early in the night as wind took down poles. City power is a privilege, not a right, so nobody will be too worked up if that isn't fixed for many days or weeks. 

Somehow in the years we've lived here we have never experienced a storm like that. (Although I do think as far as natural disasters go there have been quite enough. We're not complaining!) 

movie & post tropical storm larding & cuddling
Where we live we mainly had high winds all night long, the rain was soft and steady but never torrential downpours.  There was more pacing and checking than there was sleeping on Friday night.  It is interesting how much something like that activates the fearful feelings we had during aftershocks - I'm no ptsd expert but Troy and I kept comparing our heart rates in the night as the wind whipped and we heard lots of unknown loud bangs.  There must be a correlation just based on the feeling of no control. As the wind violently whipped I wondered how mothers and babies were faring if they had no cement walls to protect them.  A number of the ladies in Heartline's programs live in tents and I think we'll all be anxious to see them on Tuesday and hear that they are hanging in there and made it through the long night of high wind and T.S. Isaac.

During the height of the winds, around 2:30am Ketia called to say she was having what she thought were contractions.  I talked to her mom and said that I needed to call back. I wasn't thinking a ride would be very easy in pitch dark and 70 mile an hour winds.  Troy called them back for me because he is more skilled with telephone Kreyol and we all agreed that it was early labor and we'd talk after daybreak.  In the morning they called again and headed to the Maternity Center.   

Ketia, a first-time momma, labored all day Saturday and finally delivered a baby girl that she named Juliana at 11:45pm Saturday night. Her mother and aunt were with her all day supporting and encouraging.  Lydia had met Ketia when we gave her a ride a number of weeks ago and felt like she should stop in to say hello.  It made me laugh when I said to Jen, "Yeah, Lydia thinks she knows Ketia and needed to come for minute."  Lydia emphatically stated, "I DO know her!"   Lydie rolled with Ketia's crying and yelling in pain and said hello and then quickly gathered her lollipop treats and headed back home.  

Different areas of the country had more rain and flooding that our area of Port au Prince. It definitely feels like adding insult to injury when so many have not even resolved and replaced what they lost in 2010,  we're grateful in that we know it could have been so much worse. The last we heard seven people died as a result of the storm.

The main internet provider  and the power are still out.  In Haiti a lot of people have their regular plan and then their 'degaje' backup plan. I am currently using Jen's back-up plan to post this. It might be quiet this week with limited internet access, just wanted to quickly say thanks for your continued prayers for Haiti.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Medika Mamba Update

Because of the generosity of many, in late 2009 and late 2010 $65,000 and $7,130 was given specifically for the purchase of Medika Mamba peanut butter for malnourished kids.  If you gave to those two efforts we thought you might like to see that at this time 350 kids have been treated and cared for by the folks at RHFH.

Thanks to you and the funds you gave, they can treat many more.  

See this post for before and after photos from Real Hope for Haiti.

One example:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday is Prenatal Day @ Heartline Ministries

These two yahoos came asking me for delivery services yesterday.  Once their first babies were delivered they made an afternoon of delivering bizarre stuffed-non-human beings. Hope acted as the triage nurse and receptionist, sometimes sending them home to rest and telling them the midwife wouldn't see them.

These pregnant ladies are here now, along with 40 others waiting to get their vitals taken before class starts in an hour.  There is some chatter happening amongst them about the coming storm. Please pray for these ladies. If the storm ends up hitting Port au Prince more than a handful of them are still living under tarps and sticks. Three inches of rain causes havoc  -  to think of 10 inches + and high winds is beyond frightening.  

on driving and unsurpassable worth

I'm under the impression that most reading here have some sort of interest in Haiti.  It is safe to guess that maybe many of you have been here before.

Since I don't know for certain, I'll write this as if you've never experienced the driving here in Port au Prince first-hand.

  • While in sitting-still-traffic, cars and trucks will jam up against you on every side, creating "lanes" where a lane-never-once-existed or even thought about existing. 
  • Three inches between cars all headed the same direction is not seen as worrisome to most drivers in Port au Prince. 
  • Brushing driver-side mirrors with oncoming traffic is not uncommon or worth talking about.
  • While you wait to turn left, in what is theoretically the only left turn lane, someone will come up on the left (technically in the lane of oncoming traffic) to turn left to the left of you. (That is not to say that someone won't also turn left from the right side of you.) 
  • As you approach a line up of traffic and cars not moving, cars from behind you will come around you on either side of you and try to get into the standing still line before you.  
  • Slow down to be polite to someone turning into your lane or direction of traffic, the car behind you will honk and be annoyed with you for not jamming up against the next car ASAP like the rest of the insane world. 
  • When the intersection is complete grid lock and there is literally ZERO movement in any direction, save the wind, a giant blaring MAC truck horn will blow unceasingly. (Because that's helpful.) 
  • None of this is forbidden. There aren't really "rules" per se. There are a few intersections in the city that are notoriously ridiculous. 

Between that sort of non-sensical driving, too many cars on very rough insufficient roads, and many hours spent in those conditions on certain days, it can sometimes cause a person to feel enraged. I'm telling you, it is challenging.

Perhaps this does not resonate with some expats or Haitians, but we have found one of the very hardest places to keep Jesus in our mind and actions and words - is from behind the wheel on the roads of Port au Prince.

A patient person becomes impatient. A mellow and happy person becomes quite irritable.

Troy starts out as a more cool-headed driver than I do; no news flash there. Driving makes me agitated. I try not to go far very often. My over-developed sense of justice just cannot take it. I am very much a "lets take turns and be fair" kind of person and the lack of polite turn taking pushes every hideous button in my soul.

When I do drive I have to talk to myself about it first. I need to say things like, "It doesn't matter that it is not fair.  It doesn't matter if someone is rude. Your job is to be polite and calm." Some days are really okay and I might not even get annoyed.  On a really good day it is all funny and entertaining. On a bad day it feels like everyone is trying to crash into my precious children and it is harder to keep from muttering curse words at the idiocy of it all while employing the "if I cannot beat em, I'll join em strategy". It's madness I tell you.

Recently Troy and I were together at an intersection that was meeting every single qualification for high level annoyance. It was the type of annoyance that can quickly morph into anger. Troy was driving. I was the passenger. As the less refined driver, I was watching him closely.

It was truly everything I described in the list above. Troy kept making sweeping arm motions toward other drivers while saying out loud, "unsurpassable worth" -  "unsurpassable worth" "see there? unsurpassable worth!"  - as jack-asses plowed into the intersection from every which way causing the already difficult situation in that intersection to become more chaotic, more ridiculous.

I was impressed that the statement itself seemed to calm my annoyance from the passenger seat. I accused him of showing off and being uber-spiritual but he said, no, it is important for him to actually think those words. He needs to literally remind himself of that in order to keep from getting very angry at times.

I think I'll try this the next few times I come up against insanity on the roads to find out if it works. I also think I'll try it when I read the news, or see friends fighting about politics or whatever-thing on Facebook, or when someone lies to me, or steals or cheats.

Annoyed with someone?  Repeat after me: Unsurpassable worth, unsurpassable worth... Unsurpassable worth. Fine, be annoyed ... but if keeping the annoyance from turning to rage or bad behavior is a sub-goal of yours, just try it with me. Jesus told us each and every one has unsurpassable worth; that all alone they are worth the price He paid.

Yes, even drivers in Haiti. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

the great outdoors

Fresh air, babbling brooks, wide open space, luscious greenery, thick forest, winding trails, placid lakes, breathtaking views.These are the hallmarks of an amazing outdoor camping adventure. When I think camping, I think of the smell of the earth, fishing, cool dewy morning air ...

A couple weeks ago Troy told the kids they could "camp" in a tent.
The crowd went wild.
That was the most amazing thing those three fools had ever heard!

When we got home Troy realized that he had given the tent away sometime after the earthquake.  Doh!  We had some disappointed little faces staring at us that night.

Ever the resourceful one, Troy quickly ordered a tent and sent it to our friend that came in for a short visit this week.

Tuesday night Troy set the tent up inside the little porch house on our driveway, inside the four walls of our yard, inside the four walls that surround our neighborhood.  Cement, enclosed by cement, enclosed by more cement.

It is camping - Russian Nesting doll (babushka) style.
{And they LOVE it.}

into the great wide open

under the skies so blue (?)

Everything went fairly well with the great camping caper of 2012. Only one injury reported when the two Mastiffs were wrestling and fell onto the tent, crushing Hope's head for a moment. Wednesday night Hope wised up and went back to her bed and room with a fan at her feet.  The boys aren't quite as quick and once again they are roughing it in the great cement wilderness.

In other news ...

Jimmy and Becky and Abigail returned from summer break in Texas. The kids made a mad dash to greet them and hug them and tell them how stinkin excited we are that they came back to teach and lead this tribe to greater educational heights again this year. 10 days till school starts.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

by Noah (8) - love letter to CeCe

This week Heartline Ministries welcomed a new Mastiff  (CeCe) to the existing team of Mastiffs that are mainly adored and appreciated as our pets, and as our security. (The cost to feed them is not all that adorable.)

Heartline lost a giant 3.5 year old male (Larry the Guesthouse Mastiff) two weeks ago. This new female will eventually take over the security post that was left open. Larry was gettin busy with his lady-friend pretty much right up until he died. We're all eagerly waiting to find out if Larry left any little Larrys behind to help us remember him.

Beth wrote about Larry here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

love a weekend

Paige & new baby David (Loveandstar's son)

  • last night we had small drama with dogs freaking out at someone pounding the gate a few times. i overreacted and brought everyone to our room at midnight while troy checked out the sitch. our room was 93 degrees at that time. noah's comment this morning, "it seemed like you purposefully wanted us to be even hotter last night." they only vaguely recall being carried to our room and then back to their own rooms. the mastiffs earned hot-dog treats for their good work. 
  • paige is riding horses this morning
  • hope is getting her hair braided 
  • isaac is requesting cupcakes  
  • who doesn't love to bake in august in a sweltering kitchen? 
  • me
  • lydie and phoebe went with troy and paige to horses  - not troy's idea 
  • wishing and scheming for a quasi-date with troy-boy before Monday
  • last bag of school books being carried in by an adoptive parent tomorrow - thanks to all that responded to those requests
  • I need to run (as in one foot than the other, moving the butt forward) - 
  • happy weekend to you - hope it's great

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pat Robertson vs. the Spirit of Adoption

Pat Robertson vs. the Spirit of Adoption  (click for link to full article)

"I say to my non-Christian friends and neighbors, if you want to see the gospel of Christ, the gospel that has energized this church for two thousand years, turn off the television. The grinning cartoon characters who claim to speak for Christ don’t speak for him. Find the followers who do what Jesus did. Find the people who risk their lives to carry a beaten stranger to safety. Find the houses opened to unwed mothers and their babies in crisis. Find the men who are man enough to be a father to troubled children of multiple ethnicity and backgrounds."

 "We’re all just dead and damaged and, well, “weird.” But Jesus loved us anyway."


tèt koupe

There is phrase in Haiti {tèt koupe} that literally means "cut head" - As in, you could cut off your heads and switch them - you look that much alike.  There are many ways to tell someone that you think they look like their sister, mother, cousin, son ... but the quickest way is just "tet koupe".

In the first photo Troy is standing with Hope and Phoebe's First Mom and their much older sister, Bedline. In the bottom photo Hope is sharing some recent art work.

Bedline is in the Heartline Prenatal Program; expecting her little one in late October. Every week I watch the way she moves and sounds and looks and am dumbfounded by genetics.

Tèt koupe, wi? 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

least uplifting school name (?)

When choosing where to send my children, the joint school of the complete and final destruction of the world was not near the top of the list.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

L & (hopefully soon) D

17 year old Loveandstar is in labor tonight at the Heartline Maternity Center ... Been working at it since this morning and is moving slowly along; she is getting pretty tired tonight.

We're praying she can finish strong and give us zero reasons to transport her.

YES.  The D ...
**Edit/Addition 8/16/2012 @ 9:30am
Loveandstar delivered a 6 pound 8 ounce baby boy at 10:37pm.  He wasn't breathing right away and is struggling to get the whole breathing outside of Momma thing figured out - but is going to be okay.  Paige came to this delivery and it was so helpful to have her excellent Kreyol and it was precious to see the two 17 year olds together. The birth got a little scary; we're all very thankful for this outcome.  Lovandstar (& Paige) named her son David.

Thursday (today) is Prenatal day.  Ketia (23 first time mom) is due any moment. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

summer winding down

new little ones, new hope ...

Friday night Melissa, Paige and I transported Guerda to the hospital. Her water broke and this precious little guy was transverse, so Guerda needed a C/S.  Today we picked them up after they were discharged.  Meet Woodley, he joined us late Friday night. He weighs 7pounds 1 ounce and is absolutely perfect.  Woodley is Guerda and her husband's third child.

Guerda & Woodley

Edna arrived this morning around 8am and delivered her yet to be named baby girl about 90 minutes after arriving. She weighed 6 pounds 3 ounces and everything is good with both of them, they're resting in the post-partum area tonight. Edna and her husband have one son, he is eleven and was so eager to meet his little sister this afternoon.

We (& they) are grateful for your continued prayers for these precious little ones.

Monday, August 13, 2012

lessons from my little people

"That really scared me when you said that, Mom", he said.

Troy and I were tense and having a day of unusually poor communication.

Troy was frustrated with things he was trying to fix, nothing was working for him, he was fed up with all of the tasks and people he was managing.

I am a person that frequently fails at not being co-dependent, when he is stressed out, I almost always join him - even when his stress has nothing to do with me.

After several attempts at pleasant or productive verbal exchanges and several subsequent fails, I said to Troy, "Maybe we should not be near each other. Maybe I should go off on my own for a bit. I think it is better to be apart than to be together and be rude to each other."  

I knew that I meant be apart for a few hours. I knew that I meant just temporary separation. I knew that the core issue was small and would quickly pass and we'd be back to good communication.

The next thing Isaac said, "We'll always be together, you and Dad, me, all of us .... right Mom?"


"Oh buddy, of course. I didn't mean to scare you. Yes, we'll always be a family, we'll always be together. I didn't mean that I would leave honey, I meant I would go run an errand or something or that Dad and I would just take a tiny break from talking while we're both stressed out, that's all I meant." 

I commended him for telling me he was scared. I thanked him for not holding onto worry or fear. I shared my appreciation over the fact that he dealt with it right in the moment and didn't spend anytime dwelling on it, making it bigger or more frightening. I told him I was proud of him for not being embarrassed to tell me I'd scared him.

Vulnerability with one another and with God can be so difficult.  If we could be more like Isaac and immediately confess our fears to one another, wouldn't fear have much less power over us?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

church (outside the box)

Church Under the Bridge, Waco, TX
(guest post)
By Jimmy Dorrell
Marriage Counseling at the Gas Station

With a church congregation like Church Under the Bridge (Waco), there are plenty of issues and challenges that seminary never could have prepared me for. 

Besides our wide range of constituents who worship with us who come from addictions, prison, unemployment, homelessness and mental illness, there are also the challenges of being a multi-cultural, mixed-class, and outdoor congregation, any of which could cause a new pastor to return to his former job as a real estate broker. With weekly set up in the dirt and gravel,  18-wheel truckers roaring overhead and inclement weather that swings from very hot to very cold, it was clear my theology classes never addressed the unconventional “ecclesial” logistics where other kingdom stuff happens.

For example, several in our worship services talk while I preach, dance when we sing, and smoke during the service. (Why would I ever want go back to my boring middle-class piety when so much is going on that I don’t want to miss?) Not so long ago, one of our new Christian musicians who grew up outside the church, sang a Beatles song for his special music. I never got that in my home church. As a kid growing up in the 60’s this seemed to have some resonance with us left-over hippies. After all, “Lean on Me” is pretty good hermeneutics! (Not so much “Stairway to Heaven”).

Interruptions in traditional church happen when someone sneezes loudly. Not so under a bridge. With sirens blaring, more than once we’ve had an ambulance rush into the middle of the service when one particular woman laying on the ground was sure she was having her end-of-life heart attack. By the third time it happened, no one even looked back as they sang and worshipped. She is still with us these many years later.

Even the living metaphors during our worship services are ironic. Two weeks ago, while I spoke about non-violence, the children in our church were hammering away on a piñata a few feet away. I honestly think I would have been with them instead of listening to my own boring sermon, especially since there’s candy at the end. 

A couple in our church, planning their wedding, asked me to counsel them so I would perform the wedding. (We’ve had over forty weddings under the bridge, but that’s another story!) Like others, this counseling session had a few hurdles to overcome. He only speaks Spanish and she only speaks English...(don’t start asking me for details!). And since he works from 7:00-7:00 every day of the week, just finding a time to meet with them created difficulty. So this morning, bright and early at 6:15a.m., with a translator alongside, we met on W. Waco Drive and stood in the parking lot of the Fina gas station to do marital counseling. It was a powerful moment as we talked about God’s transforming love and how necessary it is for healthy marriages. 

And as I stood there in the dawning sun with mosquitoes eating me alive, between translations, I silently laughed at the whole experience. I never imagined that saying “yes” to God  many years ago would include so many out-of-the-box adventures of loving people who seem so different in many ways, yet really so much the same as me. 

Far from the padded pews and steeples I grew up around, I have found joy in parking lots and under bridges which have become the intersections of life among so many who desperately want the same love and respect we all do. I have discovered sacred places in bars and housing projects. I have watched the Spirit reconcile relationships, convict of sin, and bring tears of joy in places I never imagined. Whether jail cells or strip joints and in dark places, Jesus seems to show up... even in gas stations early in the morning. What a God!

You are welcome to attend the wedding. It’s under the bridge after the worship service.

(The Dorrells are the real deal. To learn more about this work or to encourage them with your prayers or a financial gift, go here.)