Friday, November 30, 2012

Emancipation Day

Senior photo of the Birthday Girl



(a year old video - Troy making up a song about Paige leaving us - aaaaaand -this just got real!)


Happy 18th Birthday Paige! 

Welcome to adulthood. 

From here on out you will join the majority of people that walk around wishing they could go back to a time when other people (ahem: parents!) made decisions for them.

Paige, we love you so much. We're amazed at your good attitude and zeal for life. This last year you've taught us all about perseverance in the face of lots of challenge.  


The things you've done in your short 18 years have touched us and many others in ways we cannot easily express. We are so anxious/excited with you to find out what the next chapter will bring.  

No matter which school you end up at, we know you'll bring a ton of joy, a little bit of sass, a little bit of Haiti, and a lot of passion and love with you.  There is no doubt in our minds that you'll take on the next big steps with the inspirational moxie that you daily exhibit. 

We're behind you, we're watching, we're cheering, we're praying and we've all got your back. 

Kenbe fo.
XOXO
all of us  


(a very old post written about Paige and her birth here)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Troy and Young MC collaboration & other news





Lyrics to song:
This here's a tale for you ladies and fellas - Tryin to do what our culture tells us ~ Go out and shop like you're super zealous - But don't forget our God is jealous

Ok smartie go to a party - It's Christmas time have you been nice or naughty? ~ Have we forgotten the reason for the season? - It's about our God, not time for self-pleasin

Next day's function, turkey luncheon - Will you thank God for this food you're munchin? ~ People in the world never have that chance - So don't eat so much you nearly split your pants

This world is needin, hearts are bleedin - We need help to solve this pain we're feelin ~ When you have a chance don't forget to tell - God sent His Son - Emmanuel

Ooooh Yeah, Ooooh Yeah, Mmmm, Yeah, Oh, Yeah (Emmanuel)
We need Him, God sent Him - We need Him, Our God sent Him (Emmanuel)

You're on a mission and you're wishin someone could cure this sinful condition ~ Lookin for joy in all the wrong places - All these toys but still sad faces?

From frustration, first inclination is to forget God in your situation
But every dark tunnel has a lighter hope, don't give up on Him - He can help you cope

Don't be bummin, sad song hummin - God hears your cries and your Savior's comin.. He made a way so many years ago - He sent His Son - and now you know:

We need Him, God sent Him - We need Him, Our God sent Him (Emmanuel)

Country or city, things ain't pretty - Sin abounds, we're dirty and gritty

But God sees clear, He came down here - Thank Him for that this time of year (Thank Him for that this time of year)

Chorus - Ooooh Yeah Mmmmm Yeah ...

~     ~     ~  


2011 was filmed in Port au Prince (stating the obvious). This cement city of nearly 3 million people is not exactly the vortex of Christmas-y sounds or sights  - but a place where the message of God's son, sent for us, is known and important just the same. 

Young MC 's claim to fame? collaborated with 

Tone Lōc  Troy Livesay. Bust a Move (circa 1989) desperately needed a little depth of meaning. 



In other news ...
  • After seven babies in four days we've had a nice break from birth. The last baby at Heartline was born last Friday to Suze.  
  • Fedna was the one out of seven that needed transport from last week, she is doing great too. 
  • Noah is sick for the second day today. Malaria test was negative. Oddly enough sometimes positive tests are more reassuring because it means you can "fix" it. Not sure what is going on with the thin man.
  • On occasion women in labor that are not in the prenatal program arrive asking to deliver with us. Because we are a relationship based, prenatal-care program we don't deliver walk-ins. On Sunday a lady not in the program showed up. She was early enough into her labor that we knew she wasn't going to deliver quickly. After we drove her home and gave her other suggestions of places to try to deliver, I was flustered enough with how bad/uncomfortable that feels that I drove our truck into a small tree while parking it at home. I waited four hours to break the news to Troy that I wrecked the corner of the truck that he had just repaired.  Oops. 
  • Lydia just found out from Jimmy and Becky that she is ready to go to school FOUR days a week after the Christmas break.  She is very proud and reminds us of this a few times a week.
  • Phoebe recently said "Well of course I don't want to go to heaven!" When asked WHY, she said, "Because there are no stuffed animals in heaven."
  • The road between us and the Maternity Center is and has been horrible for a long time. It constantly floods. Last week I watched a poor lady fall hip deep in water while trying to pass on the road on foot. Today it is blocked in protest. We're hoping the ladies can still make it to Prenatal day. 
  • Bedline (sister of our girls) and her baby girl (now named Judnah) were readmitted Tuesday and needed to stay in for IV anti-biotics. Please pray for Bedline to heal well. 
  • Lydia said to Troy "I am petting Tipper (photo) because God is not going to bring him up (to heaven) but don't worry, it is not like *I* don't want to go to heaven or anything."  (Lydia and Phoebe have an impressive level of sibling rivalry.)
  • One day, loooong ago, a fifth grade student stood scanning the lunch room of the brand new school. She had just started attending mid-year. Bad hair, buck teeth, lack of fashion sense, less than a stellar self image all working against her, she stood frozen in time trying to decide where to sit for lunch on her first day at Park Brook Elementary School.  Another fifth grader stood up and motioned for her to sit down, "Do you want to eat lunch with us?" she asked.  Ever since that day in 1983 the two girls have been friends. I am giddy excited because that friend that invited me to sit with her is heading to Haiti early next week with her husband and son (our godson) and I'll get to spend five days with my childhood friend that has remained my close friend for three decades. 
Suze & her new son born Friday 11/23
Fedna & Fritznel with their first child, Caleb born 11/22
Lydia and Tipper sleeping
Lisa and I - friends since 5th grade 
Thankful for my oldest friend, er, I mean longest-time friend. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

turning Christmas upside-down & Nativity 2.0





Filmed in Waco, TX  - We posted the 4th annual video on December1, 2010. 

The video (below) was put on the internet exactly 12 days later. 

Our amazing idea felt less amazing right about then, but for 12 whole days we thought we were pretty darn clever.  Theirs went viral. Ours got mean comments. "You suck at Christmas digital story-telling" did not stick on the good-natured possessor of a healthy self-image, one Troy Livesay. Our version is not quite so fancy, we concur. 

But - our video has an awesome Ross King song, and he'd be the first to tell you that he is famous among dozens. So.there.








Turning Christmas Upside-Down ... You are free to conspire.





For the last few years we've participated in 'the conspiracy' by changing how we do Christmas. We have been blessed.  Our extended family has been blessed. None of us "need" anything for Christmas. When we "need" something, we almost always have the ability to just go get it.  When we "want" something we rarely wait very long. Technically we're all pretty aware that delayed gratification could do us some good. 

The great needs of the world are not at our house.
Just outside our front gate, the needs are vast, overwhelming, shocking, abhorrent, and so.very.real.

Of course there are many times when a gift is an act of sacrificial love, and is given from the heart - we have received that from others and we hope we do that FOR others whenever possible.

Our kids get little treats from visitors all throughout the year, they've been blessed abundantly by friends and strangers showing up with goodies and fun gifts. While we don't buy Christmas gifts, we're not talking about never giving gifts. We're talking about the gifts that we all buy because we are "supposed to" and because a consumer driven and materialistic culture might tell us we have to do it in order to be happy. We're talking about buying into the messages being sent by advertisers that we need the newest everything.

I figure I watched two entire season of Mad Men and that qualifies me to emphatically state that advertising is a tool of the enemy meant to make you feel unsatisfied with your life and your belongings.
Oh, fine, that is hyperbole, but not by much. 

A friend said, "That is sad that your kids don't get a lot of gifts on Christmas morning." It's not actually sad if something changes at a core level and it is not the expectation.  We're done with commercialism-Christmas-as-usual.  We are planning to continue on in the spirit of giving by giving to those with great needs and giving our time to one another again this year.  

A few years back when we started cutting out gifts we took our kids to a hotel for one night and they loved it. We enjoyed family time and enjoyed the gift of each others company. We had a blast. We did the same hotel the next year. Last year we went to the Dominican Republic together. That week was one of my favorite weeks ever. This year we'll take time away from our home and work and spend family time at the beach and going hiking together.  We so want Christmas at our house to be focused on the gift of His birth and the gift of one another. Time spent together in intentional ways is the main objective.  There is no pressure to shop on-line and find the perfect thing for anyone.

I bought my Dad a necktie every Christmas for about thirteen years in a row ... I've officially given that up. His life seems to be quite the same - sans that enthralling gift every December 25. 

Advent Conspiracy challenges us all to take a look at our habits and to "do Christmas" in a way that is personal. One way to make it personal is to support an organization or missionary that you feel God is placing on your heart.  The Advent Conspiracy video spotlights International Justice Mission. IJM does such important and difficult work.  They tried to work in Haiti but found the judicial system too fractured. They are worthy of support as are the many organizations and people working toward emancipation along-side the Haitian people.  Heartline Ministries and Real Hope for Haiti are two of our very favorite ministries working to love and serve in this country. There are so many others to choose from and consider in Haiti and around the world. 

Maybe the Advent conspiracy is just a way to begin thinking through our choices. Maybe it is not an all or nothing thing, maybe it is a decision to be more aware of wants vs. needs. Maybe it is a decision to draw names instead of being pressured to buy something for everyone. Maybe it is a decision to choose a "family gift" and pick a ministry or non-profit to give to together. Maybe some purchases this time of year are only out of habit and obligation. Maybe it is simply something to give further consideration. 

"Christmas was meant to change the world. 
It still can. 
Worship more. Spend less. 
Give more. Love all." 

-advent conspiracy

www.runforlifehaiti.org

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

One Has Come


 


Bonus track featuring the three wise ladies:


This 2009 edition was filmed in our "yard" about a month before the 2010 earthquake. The innocence of the kids and the calm time before that storm makes this Tara's favorite year.
(Song by Troy Livesay) 

Monday, November 26, 2012

christmas traditions

In the month of December we usually re-post all our favorite Advent/Christmas posts. 

We recorded the song and filmed this year's (sixth annual) Christmas production this past weekend.  It isn't going to beat some of the past years in our opinion, but Troy did get to co-write a song with a dead guy without express written permission, so that was pretty cool. 

We admit that for year six it was suddenly kind of hard to think of new ways to talk about and present (the true meaning of) Christmas. The covering on Lydia's head (below in the year one video) is still in the costume rotation and we realized our props have grown a bit weary and maybe even boring over the years. 

We re-watch these as a family every year and laugh at the precious speech impediments and remembrances of each year's quirks.  Year one was the least edited and least produced ...  But that will probably become painfully obvious to you if you watch it. 

This was December 2007, in Zimmerman, MN. We were there (not in Haiti that Christmas) having Lydia, putting our house on the market after the renter left, and moving Britt to Baylor to start college in January. The idea of the production wasn't well received by the older girls on this first year, but they have since submitted to tradition sort of kind of almost willingly.



Below is year two, filmed November/December 2008 in Port au Prince (at the house we currently live in) with video sent to us from Texas by Britt (our oldest daughter) and Chris (at the time her fiancée). This was the year that Noah spoke English but needed sub-titles anyway. This was also one of the two years that our niece Annie was living with us and got in on the tradition. 




We'll post years three through five later this week. 


~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Quickly, one last thing today. We'd really love if those of you that are willing and able to pray for us would pray that we find a suitable living situation in the coming six months. We have loved our very nice home that we've been in for a little over four years. We have been uber blessed to live in such a lovely, new, clean, rental-house. 

With Paige moving out for college in mid 2013, we would like to find something MUCH less expensive, and smaller. (The earthquake drove our rent up when large NGOs with large budgets came into our neighborhood and had the ability to easily pay higher rent.) Our landlord isn't willing to come down on his increased rent price so we're actively looking and asking God to provide a place that is more affordable by July 1st.  That probably sounds like  a ridiculous amount of time from an American viewpoint, but we need to stay close to the Maternity Center and our options are very slim so we're starting the search and the praying for a new place nice and early.  :)  Thanks for praying! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black Friday Festivities




'Black Friday' in our area of the world was dedicated to the first family (no, not the Obamas).  

Hope came to the Maternity Center to visit Bedline (her big sister) and the new baby (her new niece) that had been born on Thanksgiving day.  Hope (as if you cannot tell in the photos) was beaming with pride and was so full of joy and excitement about this new little person. Tonight when we prayed together she thanked God for Bedline's safe delivery. 

Isaac came to the Maternity Center a little later in the day because in a typical unplanned Haiti-type-fashion his first father showed up at the Maternity Center in need of some blood pressure help and we've had a sense for a while that his health is sketchy enough that a stroke and/or death is not only possible, but maybe even likely in the near future. 

We wanted Isaac to at least have the choice to talk to his first dad. Isaac has known his first mom for 7 years. It is a long story and it is Isaac's story, (not mine) but it was precious and painful and good and bad and joy-filled and confusing for Isaac to meet his biological Papa. 

As somewhat mature adults we struggle with the paradoxical thoughts and feelings, so as you can imagine it is a lot for kids to process this stuff.  (Although I still believe it is better talked about and faced very early on and not saved for when they are teenagers or young adults.) Sometimes just the "what if" scenario stuff is a lot for Isaac. His personality is very literal and needs to label things as right or wrong without much gray area. That makes things tough for him sometimes. Adoption has areas of good and of bad, of loss and of gain. We are guessing we will be talking things through a lot in the coming days and weeks.    

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Maternal Health ~ Haiti



Heartline is empowering, educating, and investing in women and their children.  Your donation makes a lasting impact.  Please visit www.runforlifehaiti.org to help build a large maternity center.

Want to hear more about it?  Watch THIS short VIDEO:

Friday, November 23, 2012

whirlwind

After the three Tuesday babies and lots of joy and celebration ...

Three  Four new labors/deliveries/prayer needs -

Fedna (first time mom) arrived at the Maternity Center dilated to 2cm. 24 hours later she was 3cm and the position of the baby seemed worrisome.  At times we use pitocin but we decided against that with Fedna and instead she was transported to the nearby (relative term) Doctors Without Borders hospital early Thursday morning. She has since delivered a healthy baby.

Bedline called to say she was heading toward the Maternity Center Thursday morning. She arrived at 9am and delivered a baby girl at 12:45.  Bedline is big sister to Hope and Phoebe. They will get to go meet their niece today.  Bedline's little girl was almost 8lbs. There were a few complications after birth but everyone is doing well now.

Kerline arrived at noon Thursday.  She is 16 years old. Many of you have prayed for her in recent months.  Her baby had no heartbeat upon her arrival.  She does not know how long ago the baby stopped moving.  She delivered her stillborn baby girl at 9pm last night. Her dad took the baby home in a tiny coffin. Kerline is so obviously being abused by someone. It is not uncommon for us to never fully understand the story, this is no different. Kerline could use love and prayers in the coming days and weeks.

Suze just arrived at the Maternity Center and is already 7cm.  Baby number 7 of the week should be here before noon.

The team this week has been: Jenn G., Winifred L., Beth & Tara ... we need some endurance and then we'd love a weekend off.  Pray with us for that :)  (with many thanks to advisors Melissa and Sarah O.)

Ginnette & her son returning home Thursday morning 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hat Trick

Three baby boys born in 12 hours on November 20th, 2012

Moms L to R:  Ginette -  Francesca - Venise 

everyday rape in haiti

A story about rape in Haiti.

Incredibly difficult to read - probably in part because it is so very true to form. That is the system - that is not exaggeration. This isn't fun to read or think about, but it is reality for these women. 

Tradition & Expectation

The annual (Livesay) Christmas Extravaganza** tradition (year six) is officially underway. 

In Haiti, Santa's little helpers are frequently doing their helper work topless. What with all the issues with the economy, Santa rather appreciates this reduction in wardrobe expenditure.

The North Pole this is not.

**(If this is confusing to you - the fifteen second explanation is this:  Moving away from family and friends and Christmas in Minnesota meant leaving most of our holiday season traditions. We started a new tradition shortly after we moved to Haiti and each year we have fun making some sort of Christmas "show" (video) with our kids.)


~     ~     ~     ~     ~

On Tuesday, November 20, three brave mommas and Heartline Ministries welcomed three baby boys into the world. We've been waiting on the November baby rush. Wave one is now complete. The first was born at 4:25 am, the second at 6:56am, and the third baby arrived not breathing with a very low heart-rate at 4:35pm. He was quickly resuscitated.  Thanks for your prayers yesterday. We'll post photos of the proud moms and their new sons soon. In the meantime please pray for healing and protection from infection(s) for Venise, Francesca, and Ginnette. 

We see over and over again that God shows up and provides in unique ways for some of the most intense births.  He did again yesterday.  Your prayers matter. 


(This is the second time in Heartline history that three babies were born on the same date. This time they were all born in just over 12 hours, that had never happened before yesterday.The last time three babies were born in one day was January 27 of this year.) 

(There are still four more babies due before December 1st with a possibility of a fifth baby due in early December. If you'd like to pray for the ladies that are due next please click the tab at the top called 'Prayers for Pregos')



~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Waiting in Expectation - Henri Nouwen

Waiting patiently for God always includes joyful expectation.  Without expectation our waiting can get bogged down in the present.  When we wait in expectation our whole beings are open to be surprised by joy.

All through the Gospels Jesus  tells us to keep awake and stay alert.  And Paul says, "Brothers and sisters ... the moment is here for you to stop sleeping and wake up, because by now our salvation is nearer than when we first began to believe.  The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light" (Romans 13:11-12).   It is this joyful expectation of God's coming that offers vitality to our lives. The expectation of the fulfillment of God's promises to us is what allows us to pay full attention to the road on which we are walking.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

afflicted



Over the years we have tried with patchy success to create a habit of frequently asking ourselves whether the things we are doing make sense and if it seems like 'God is in it?'

We hope to avoid getting trapped into routines or habits without truly examining what we're doing. We desire to be purposeful about the choices we make. It is helpful to examine ourselves to assure that our motivations and attitudes are pure. 

For Troy and I it is important to step back and look at what stress or fatigue is causing in us and in our reactions to things.If we are driving around and going about our days with an undercurrent of anger or an attitude of superiority toward people we're here to love and work with then we don't really belong here. Those of us living here can think of a few crotchety old missionaries that are mean and negative and angry toward this country and all of us can easily become that crotchety old missionary if we're not careful. 

In the last several months we've had an epiphany of sorts. We've discovered that most of us that are here in Haiti working with "the poor" can and do unwittingly find ourselves in a bit of a distressing position of superiority. It is not a position we knowingly choose nor is it what we want. It just kind of happens when we stop paying attention to our heart attitudes.

We don’t know very much, but we do know that Jesus calls us to become incarnate. In order to live that way we need to see ourselves as we really are. 


We are the poor and needy. We are the afflicted.

When I see myself in the women Heartline is serving, when I see my own manipulation and excuses, my own poverty, my own pride  - I am suddenly able to serve and work together with the women with an attitude of humility and grace rather than superiority and judgment. It is the difference between serving from a position of eminence and authority in a top-down sort of way, to serving like Jesus served with a meek 'power under' approach. 

The only way to remain genuinely humble when doing this work is to be perpetually aware that we too are the afflicted ones. There is vulnerability in that, but it is a necessary thing.We are every bit as miserable; our passports and perceived wealth simply mean our misery is better disguised. 

God is not made known in our ability to fix or heal "the poor people". We are all weak and wounded,after-all.


Jesus calls us to stop trusting in our own capacity to do good or make change. If we trust in His ability rather than our own we'll avoid acting superior. God is made manifest in our ability to recognize that we have nothing to offer apart from Him and that we are every bit as much in need of love, healing, and restoration as the people with whom we work.   

...Pray for all of us to entirely give up believing in ourselves and our own abilities. Pray for healing, freedom, and restoration for every. single. afflicted. inhabitant of this little island and this big world


photo credit: ellen joy photography 

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Newsletter

If you'd like a copy of our year-end newsletter please let us know.
We can send it snail mail or email if you're interested.
livesayfamily@gmail.com 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

help our hearts to hear Your sound




Song: Slow Me Down
By Robbie Seay

 Slow us down Lord, slow us down. 
 Help our hearts to hear your sound.
Speak into our lives - Lord speak now.
Slow us down oh Lord, slow us down.
Clear our minds. Bring us peace that we cannot find.
Take our worried thoughts, break our pride.
Clear our minds, oh Lord, clear our minds.
Wake our souls oh Lord, wake our souls...




Thursday (as you likely know) is Prenatal day at 
Heartline Ministries.  

On a typical Thursday we all gather to pray before we begin. We pray about personal stuff and for the ladies. We pray that our interactions with each person will be loving and respectful. 45 women come each week. Today there seemed to be extra sad things going on in their lives. Crying is often times seen as weakness here. It is not uncommon for people to scold one another for tears. (As opposed to some of us expats that cry a time or two every day and see it as cheaper than Visine and therapy.) This Thursday both Haitians and Americans were teary. It was a heavy day. 

  • Met with new gal in the program  - 13 years old. (turns 14 at Christmas) She is brave and strong. She has no toes and only a few fingers, she was born without them. She was raped a few months ago and is going to have a baby in early April. She has decided to travel a very far distance to come to the program.
  • Did the intake tests and physical exam on a 20(?) year old with significant cognitive disabilities. Emotionally she responds at a level similar to that of six year old. She is able to answer a few questions, but not most. She says when her mom is not home, a man forces her.  She is due in May.
  • Prenatal visit with a 16 year old (was written about here) that is clearly so abused she has trouble engaging well. She had preterm labor last week (but is much better now thanks to treatment) due to multiple infections that are likely caused by the abuse we think is probably still happening to her. She is due in December.
  • Talked with a 42 year old woman pregnant with her 8th child. We grieved with her as she explained that her husband has left them and was treating her terribly. The whole family lives in one of the remaining "tent cities". She has children ranging in age from 5 to 20. She has a complicated medical history. She has very high blood pressure but only took the medicine for a time and stopped when the blood pressure got better. :(  Her pregnancy and delivery are high risk. She'll need to deliver at a hospital. 
  • Mom of six week old baby came to talk to us. She hid her face behind her baby while she cried and said she needs a job and a way to make money. She doesn't know how to keep going the way it is now. 
That's 5 complicated lives out of 45 complicated lives.  When listening to story after story it sometimes causes a feeling of despair. I confess that I perceive a distant God after a few of these stories in a row. The desperation feels suffocating. 

The need to grasp tightly to hope is apparent. 
The ability to grasp tightly to hope varies. 

It also occurs to me that I am depressed by all of this and I am not the one daily living that horror.  I cannot imagine how it would feel to be the one being raped, being left by my husband, and desperately needing work.

Last week I shared (on FaceBook) at a vulnerable moment that everything feels heavy right now and that we're struggling in a few different areas of our lives and we are feeling it in our home and relationships. As soon as I posted it I felt my pride telling me to take it down and not to put that information out there.

This space has always been the place we honestly process Haiti stuff and life as a large family in a second culture ... And the ups and downs of almost everything. I don't know why we're in a slump, we just are. I don't know why our coping mechanisms are not in their best form, they just aren't. 

My friend reminded me that this song was our supposed anthem for 2012; seems like we kinda forgot about it.  And so we pray together ...  Slow us down, Lord. Help our hearts to hear your sound.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

National Adoption Month 2012

November is National Adoption Month in the USA. It is also the month of a little presidential election and all sorts of scandals. I'm going to go way out on a limb and presuppose that the election and the various drama squashes all the other things happening in the world in November.

If you cannot bring yourself to read a single word or link below, here is our fifteen second National Adoption month message:
  • If you feel called to adopt, be strong, be courageous. Teach us all about perseverance. Be informed. Do your research. Be ready to work your buns off. Get ready to grow. 
  • If you don't feel called to adoption: Find a family that is currently in the process or has already adopted and ask them this question, "How can we support you?" Then, respond with love and grace and the desired support.
  • Consider that adoption is just one of many ways that you can help alleviate the problem of parentless or institutionalized children. 
Troy visiting our Haitian family - Hope/Phoebe's first mom and sister 
For this post, let it be stated, the word "orphan" does not necessarily mean a child without living birth parents. The word is used frequently but no longer means what it originally meant.

We don't write very frequently about adoption. It's not because we don't have any thoughts or feelings about it. When it comes to adoption our thoughts, experiences, feelings, opinions, etc, are all incredibly complex. Sometimes they even seem incongruent or opposing. To be brutally honest, in some areas we're still deciding how we feel about the larger issues that are at play. We're in turmoil over the abuses we've seen in the international adoption system.

(TED piece on orphanages here.)

We're that guy - the one that won't be excited when you tell us you're coming to Haiti or __________ (insert any country name) to "start an orphanage!!!" I write that knowing full well it invites a lot of people to feel defensive and angry.  It is okay, I can take it. Be defensive and angry for a bit - but when you're done with that try listening to the multifarious problems of building new orphanages in materially poor countries.  They are not immediately evident. They are complex. Let us be ever aware of the consequences of our choices. Let us not create more orphans, please.

The month of November is important because the conversations about "orphans" and adoption are all important ones. We can learn from one another. We are just another voice in the cacophony of voices. There are lots of resources available. The vast number of resources might be overwhelming. The best way to start - is to start ... all that to say, we've rounded up some links for those considering adoption.

Links to first mom thoughts:
I personally have a heart and a burden for first mothers. I think open adoption is something that everyone should at least consider if possible. (Within reason of course! I'm not suggesting it happen at the risk of a child - but I am suggesting it is okay if an adoptive parent has to feel a little uncomfortable.) I say that as a person formerly closed to the idea but now in active relationships with the first mothers of our three Haitian children. If it is a possibility for your child, please consider it.

Transracial Adoption links/thoughts:
Adoption is an amazing and challenging adventure, but it isn't all that romantic. It's hard work. Some adoptive parents will even tell you it is the hardest thing they've ever done. It can be a beautiful solution for a child that needs a family but it doesn't take away the pain that most everyone involved will walk through. God certainly takes ashes and destruction and turns them into healing and redemption ... I've seen Him do that numerous times, for that I am thankful.

Adoption is not easy. I hate that it such a giant pain in the butt and there is plenty I'd like to change about the process and the system, but in the end I have come to believe it shouldn't be easy. If we cannot muster the patience to get through the heartache and unpredictability of the actual legal process we probably won't very easily cope with the life-altering heartache that often comes with helping a child heal from such a big loss. Think of the adoption process as preparation for the real work. If you want to adopt be ready to grow, be ready to rumble.
This page (see permanent tab 'adoption' on top of this blog) has many other links for those researching and thinking about caring for children either via adoption or other avenues of orphan care.

The "after-care" piece is so important, especially for families that are adopting kids that are coming from traumatic backgrounds and that have experienced more loss than we can easily imagine. Families that willingly enter into "special needs" adoptions need our support times ten. Let's be supportive!  They are brave and need to be backed with love and prayers and babysitters.

a few ideas:
  • Give to an adoption fund for families that choose to adopt - adoption is financially challenging. 
  • Give a teen mom a place to stay for a time or rides to and from school/work/doctor appointments; tangibly support her efforts to parent her child.
  • Pray for adoptive families! The first couple of years + more can cause strain on marriages and relationships. Be the person that loves and cheers and helps. 
  • Pray for young/new mothers (love and support  - avoid judgment and condemnation)
  • Ask adoptive families how you can help?
  • Support work that seeks to keep children with their first moms and tries to keep families together - reduce the huge need for adoption by going to the core issue (Heartline!  - and a thousand others)
Our kids have taught us a lot of things, most importantly - We all have a need to be loved, healed and restored.  Happy National Adoption Month 2012.

celebrating the vocation of marriage


Marriage is foremost a vocation. Two people are called together to fulfill a mission that God has given them. Marriage is a spiritual reality. That is to say, [people] come together for life, not just because they experience deep love for each other, but because they believe that God loves each of them with an infinite love and has called them to each other to be living witnesses of that love. To love is to embody God’s infinite love in a faithful communion with another human being." -Henri Nouwen

Exactly fourteen years ago today, this new family was made.

We are thankful to Jesus for the learning, loving, growing, brokenness, and healing that has happened in our lives, and for all those things that continue on today. The four of us made big commitments on November 14, 1998. We had no idea we would add five more members to our family or that we'd find ourselves all upside-down and challenged in another land. To say that it has been all sunshine and roses (or rainbows and ponies) would be a giant stretch (read: lie) - but God has faithfully walked us through each trial and He has given us so many reasons to rejoice.

All of that to say, Happy Anniversary TROY  - I am grateful to celebrate life, love, and His faithfulness today.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby Sister, Best Friend

1977
2005

One of the hardest things about the last seven years has been fading friendships, changed relationships, and knowing that moving to Haiti has caused some hurt for people we love. (I wrote about it here a year ago.) 

{I have one sibling. I am three and a half years older than her. We used to fight like wild cats and dogs when we were teenagers. We still can't laugh about some of our physical fights. Think scissors and running. Thankfully, we lived to tell about it.}

I cannot identify exactly what is different with Tina and I,  but somehow we've managed to remain close over the years we've been far away and in fact we've grown to be closer friends in recent years. We're good at trusting one another's love and when we get busy and don't interact for a week or two neither of us is quick to jump to being hurt or mad ... for some reason God has given us a lot of grace for each other. I'm grateful for that. We have managed to enter into the rare chances we get to be together with anticipation (expectancy) but not huge expectation. That means our time together is not stressful and we don't let each other down - we're simply excited for the opportunity to be together.

Happy Birthday Tina. Thank you for being a great friend. I don't know when we get to be together again but I hold you in my heart every day and I love you very much! 
~tara

1999

"Let's use the example of friendship and how removing the element of life from a noun can drastically alter a relationship. If you and I are friends, there is an expectancy that exists within our relationship. When we see each other or are apart, there is expectancy of being together, of laughing and talking. That expectancy has no concrete definition; it is alive and dynamic and everything that emerges from our being together is a unique gift shared by no one else. But what happens if I change that 'expectancy' to an 'expectation' -spoken or unspoken? Suddenly, law has entered into our relationship. You are now expected to perform in a way that meets my expectations. Our living friendship rapidly deteriorates into a dead thing with rules and requirements. It is no longer about you and me, but about what friendship is supposed to do, or the responsibilities of a good friend." 
-Excerpt from The Shack-

2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

oh nothing, just reading a memoir, like you do

Hope - doing some early morning reading at the breakfast table.

~When I stumbled toward the coffee Sunday morning, I found this one ^ doing some light reading.She filled me in on Mrs. Bush's early childhood and is very excited to keep reading.

~Dada, a brave and shy teen mom, delivered a 7lb baby boy this morning. She named him Givenson.

~Lots of babies due in the next couple of weeks. We're always asking (begging?) God for safe, easy, daytime deliveries.

~It is the middle of November this week. How? in.the.world??? Fall 2012, we hardly knew thee. 

~Geronne is highly entertained that people across the usa are using her diri ak pwa recipe - she thinks that is craziness. If you try to make rice and beans at your house please leave a comment with what you changed or thought at this post.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Zoo

(A Deeper Storyby DL Mayfield
If you wait until you got time to write a novel, or time to write a story, or time to read the hundred thousands of books you should have already read – if you wait for the time, you will never do it. ‘Cause there ain’t no time; world don’t want you to do that. World wants you to go to the zoo and eat cotton candy, preferably seven days a week.
–Harry Crews
It’s true: world wants you to be distracted as all get-out, to flitter and flutter until we are too tired to do much use. World wants you to bounce around social media, gracing everyone with your thoughts on every little thing. World wants you to watch stupid shows about inane people experiencing one trivial problem after another, wants us to think it hilarious when people consistently fail to engage each other on a deep level. World wants you to buy more, on trend, on sale, because the faster you buy the less you care about the hands that make. World wants you to be a consumer, preferably seven days a week.
Church can be much the same too. There isn’t any time for contemplation, for shades of discourse, for prayers without words or answers that don’t match ours. Church wants you to have a happy family, the job that you want, the things you need to feel blessed and secure. Church wants you to be political, but only once every four years. Church wants you to evangelize, to make sure everybody believes just like you do, the only plain way to read it. Church wants you to go out and do some good, but keep it light and happy and fixable, worthy of a picture or two. Church wants to bus you in for one week year, to work with the poor and powerless. Church wants you involved in studies and retreats, ESL classes and outreaches, preferably seven days a week.
World wants us to be busy, because then we can’t get into any real trouble.
World wants us to be spectators, congregants, hearers of the word; because then the Church can’t write the story she was born to tell.
But kingdoms built on love take time; time we don’t have to spend anymore. Relationships only grow when there is mutuality, where no one is the benefactor, no one is the needy. Engagement only comes when everyone else is more interesting than you, where you are blessed to learn. Jesus wants us to be prophesiers, truth-tellers, teachers, helpers, people who speak in holy languages; Jesus wants us to be servants, merciful souls, givers, and healers.
Jesus wants us. May your kingdom come.
Post by D.L. Mayfield
Image from Getty Images.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

the feed the horse face







Paige has been bringing Lydia with her to her horseback riding  -  we try to keep it light(er) when we discuss the ferocious personality that is Lydia Beth Livesay - we're madly in love with this complicated little person, and we feel protective of her.  Her capacity to love (and hate) is really quite a spectacle.

In truth some of her behavior the last two months has been pretty upsetting and difficult for the whole family.  "Therapy" with animals is a proven way of helping kids so it is one thing we've been trying.

Paige took these fun photos of her yesterday. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

haitian rice & beans ~ diri ak pwa



INGREDIENTS:
Dry red beans
1 - 12 to 15 ounce can coconut milk
(Geronne uses FRESH coconut shredded then wrings out the juice by hand)
Parsley bunch
2 garlic clove
1 green onion stalk (using only bottom 4 inches of the white root)
Oil - (use more than suggested below for moister rice)
1 cube of chicken or veggie bouillon  (in Haiti they use more than 1 cube)
2.5 cups white rice
salt




(Depending on what bean you choose you might need to presoak your beans or add to the cooking time. **Read comments on this post - most people are finding more water/liquid is needed and more time to cook beans.)

Take a bundle of curly parsley and tie it together with a string so that the bunch is tied together.  this will enventually go into the pot of water for flavor.

Boil 4 cups of water in a large medium size soup pot
After boiling, add 1 very heaping cup of washed uncooked red beans
Continue boiling for 45+ minutes (until all beans are almost soft)

When beans are almost tender 1 can of coconut milk
And bundle of tied parsley
Finish boiling until tender

Strain the beans, but make sure to keep both the water/cocunut mixture as well as beans

in a mortar & pestal, crush garlic & green onion (bottom 4inches of green onion stalk with root removed)

In the original pot (which should now be empty of beans and water/cocunut mixture), bring heat back up to Medium High.
Add 2 or 3 tbs of oil.  When hot, add the garlic/onion mixture
Cool until browned.
Add beans & parsley bunch back to pot. Stir once.
Add water/cocunut mixture to pot.

Add 1 ts salt and bouillon cube.

Turn to high heat, cover, and bring to a boil.
When boils take lid off.
Only stir once. Then continue boiling while adding 2.5 cups of rice.

Keep stirring while heating up. 
Take out parsley.
Keep boiling on high so water boils down

After 15 minutes, move rice around a bit to take water to the bottom of pan, around the rice.

When most water seems gone, stir again, put on lid, and turn heat to Low.
Leave untouched 20 minutes

Done.

This recipe brought to you compliments of Geronne A., the maker of the very best batch of rice and beans available on this beautiful island - and possibly in the whole world.

See comments on this post for feedback from those that have tried it.
Geronne & Isaac

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

election day (blues)



No, not really election day blues ... 
This is Lydia every time something is less than 110% perfect. 
So, like always. 

Happy voting day America - 50ish% of you may feel like Lydia soon.

A man may have to die for our country:
but no man must, in any exclusive sense, live for his country.
He who surrenders himself without reservation
to the temporal claims of a nation, a party, or a class
is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things,
most emphatically belongs to God: himself."
~CS Lewis~