Tuesday, December 31

Rebecca's Joyful Update

Recently Rebecca (purposefully cropped out for the sake of her privacy) came to show Beth McHoul her first semester report card and proudly shared that she is using all of her gifts and is at the top of her class. Read about Rebecca's story of courage, healing, and grace below. Congratulations to Rebecca and thanks to each of you that support Heartline Ministries and allow these beautiful stories to unfold.







Hope Realized
As we meet with women, some young and some not so young, we often hear stories that leave us speechless. The women of Haiti that we serve have often experienced pain, suffering, and trauma that we cannot easily imagine. One such young woman, "Rebecca" came to us early in her pregnancy.  As Rebecca opened up about her situation we grieved with her over what she had lost and what she still needed to face.  At the tender age of 15, Rebecca had been hurt.  An older man forced himself on Rebecca and assaulted her right in her neighborhood.

The community was upset, the police were notified, and in a rather unusual turn of events in Haiti, the assailant ended up fleeing Haiti to hide in the Bahamas in order to avoid the consequences of the rape. Soon after, Rebecca learned she was pregnant.  The day we heard her story we sat quietly listening to her resolve and her strength and her plan of action.  "It is not the baby's fault that I was forced. I will love this baby," said the incredibly mature young woman sitting with us.

Rebecca came to our program at the Maternity Center faithfully all throughout her pregnancy.  She missed only twice, but both times she let us know she had a counseling appointment and would be absent due to that important prior engagement.  We had the honor of helping Rebecca through hours of labor and eventually welcoming a baby boy into the world.

Instantly Rebecca proved that teen-mothers often have the ability to bond, love, and serve their children every bit as well as an older, more mature mother.  Rebecca's baby grew fast and became a very sturdy little guy. He looked even larger in his Momma's thin arms.

When Rebecca's son reached six months of age we hugged, talked and said our temporary goodbyes on the day she graduated from the program. Rebecca graduated in January of 2013 and asked about going back to school in the future.  We encouraged Rebecca to spend the next six months focusing on parenting her son.  We told her that if she would come back after his first birthday in July, we would discuss school for the 2013-2014 school year.

Just as expected, in July Rebecca came to see us. She held her giant one-year-old baby boy on her hip.  In October of this year she returned to school. Her mother is caring for her son while she presses on toward the goal of finishing high school.  This is no small task in Haiti.  The testing process is difficult and the work load heavy.  From the first day we met Rebecca, we knew she had a unique spirit, one that would allow her to fight the most difficult battles and not give up.  It was clear to us that sending her back to school was the right thing to do.

Heartline doesn't budget for these situations.  When we meet a pregnant woman we are thinking about the immediate health-related needs.  We are thinking about nutrition and vitamins and blood work. We are thinking about education throughout pregnancy and building relationships.  Later we are thinking about emotional support during the difficult hours of labor and delivery.  We are focused on breastfeeding and helping make the immediate connections between mom and baby.  Those things are the core of our program. They are the core of what we do. 

When we enter into these stories with women, we often end up knowing that our commitment to encourage, advocate, love, and serve does not end on graduation day.  

While we don't technically have a "send teen moms to high school" program and therefore had not budgeted for the more than $1,000 in fees to make it happen, we knew that Rebecca needed to be given this opportunity.  We will continue to ask God for direction in the unique situations that He brings to our Maternity Center, and we will continue to ask God to provide for the needs of the women through your generosity and love.


Monday, December 30

excelling in whimsicality and ALL the feels

The Randy & Carolyn Porter Family

In late July when we first landed in the USA for our 5.5 months here I wrote this:

"Yesterday someone was chatting with me and said, "When I was thinking about what I would do for my career, I chose to have a stable life for my kids." I listened carefully as he went on and described his path. I heard him and I knew that he was saying, "Dang woman - your life is unstable!" It is true. By comparison to some lifestyles, this is instability. 

I decided not to take his comment personally. It isn't personal. It is a choice. We made it and we recognize it can been seen as unconventional. I don't love the pain of transition for myself or my kids but I don't know that I want stability to be my most important value, either. 

I think there must be a nicer word for instability. Maybe we are unstable, but also, maybe we are just "excelling in whimsicality". 


~      ~       ~ 

Here we are, late December, packing up our Legos to head home. Once again excelling in whimsicality and the other less popular 'ity'  ... Insanity. 

We have a large room that looks like post-apocalyptic Shanghai right now. There are piles that mean different things.  One such pile is "the kids won't be okay with this not being packed so hide it under a sheet and pretend it is packed until a time you can smuggle it the heck out of this house" pile.

Praise the Lawd, my back is to it all for the moment. The longer I write the longer I can pretend it is not there. 

We are in full swing saying goodbye, see-ya-later-don't-know-when, etc. etc. We just spent 10 nights in the South Padre area with my (Tara's) family. It was made even more special because our (new to us) niece, Whitney, joined us for a few days.  (Back story here for those that don't know it.) It was really special for my parents to have everyone in one place for the first time in ever ever. 

The goodbyes are always weird for me because I have things I want to express but I am a shoddy verbal communicator. In my mind I know what I want to say. It would be something like this:  "Mom, Dad, Sister, Daughter, Friend: I wish you knew how much your friendship and love means to me every day. Sometimes, I feel like we're together even when we are apart because I carry you so close to my heart at all times. I am grateful for you and I loved being with you these X amount of days/months. I enjoyed knowing you were just a few miles or hours away. I dread the distance that will come between us again now and I fear things too. I fear losing you or not seeing you again here on this earth. I want us to be together again because together is so good.  Is it not grace that God gave us such a beautiful and loving group of friends and family? Thank you for having our backs and walking with us in the trench; we are bolstered by that."   

Problem is, this is what came out of my mouth: "I love you. Please don't die. Please don't wait too long to come visit."  Moving, huh?  I know everyone felt my deep feels with that stirring 14 word address. 

We think we kind of kicked they ay-uss of this America thing.  We accomplished things the way you all do. Lists, appointments, vaccinations, education, bill-paying, insurance, meetings, the whole gamut of big-people activities.  Even today I made some important calls to try to get Paige's life in order a little bit more before we bail on her. You've got to be proud. Or something. 

That stuff is all really good, but late this afternoon I went into the library to give them every book I found while cleaning and packing and said, "I need to know what we lost. Can you look at our fines and what books are still missing?"  The librarian said, "This is all of it and you owe me $1.80 in fines."  I'm not gonna lie.  As she turned her back to get us our change from the fine, Troy and I chest bumped right there in the library to celebrate. That's right people, we lost zero books.  Big moment indeed. I feel like we could be trusted with children or pets now.  

Speaking of pets, Chestnut (NutDog 3.0) is still all the rage at our house. I think we waited long enough to add him to our family that we might actually succeed with this one.  Our small dog record is quite dismal. It seems that a Cocker Spaniel named Farley (Chris Farley's namesake) was too mean and then later became the three legged dog of Troy's parents. The Pomeranian named Benny was possessed by evil spirits and had to go on to greener pastures to perform his weird shock-collar back flips. The big dogs have always done fine and have fit well. Small dogs haven't been our specialty -- until now.  I think this little dude is gonna make it as a Livesay. It wil be much easier for him to make it if we get the papers back in our hands in time to allow him on the dumb airplane. Time will tell, as per usual we cut it very close and they "think" they can do it in time. I am thinking there is wisdom in waiting to claim victory over the Chestnut situation at this point. When a letter is neeed from a government agency during a holiday week, don't count your ShihTzu 'till it is hatched. That has not made it onto any official idiom lists, but I am thinking it will eventually be there. Feel free to use. 

video


What else?  Well ... We got a two page hand-written note from Isaac with $41 taped inside. He left it in Troy's drawer when he went with my Dad early for the Christmas getaway.  Troy found it a few days after Isaac left.  We don't do very much for gifts at Christmas - Isaac knows this of course.  That did not stop him from writing a convincing plea.   (Don't bother feeling judged or condemned - we don't make rules about things for you and we don't think your life is our business -- please - have your gifts and open them too!)

To Dad From Ike - 
What I would like for Christmas is a lego set called Craggers command ship. It has 609 pieces and comes with 6 minifigures (lego people). It is a "lego legends of Chima " themed lego. The ship that it comes with has two red cockpits which are supposed to be Croc eyes and then it has a big croc jaw at the front. Oh, the ship has lots of olive green. It also has 2 yellow jetskis. animal warriors are 3 crocs named Cragger, Crominus, and Crooler. Two lions named Leonidas and Lennox and last but not least a raven named rawzom. It is lego set 70006. The ages recommended for it is 8-14. If you are wondering about how we would bring it back to Haiti, here is how: I'd throw away the box and only bring the bags that the pieces are packaged in - if you don't want me to start building it right away which I would totally be fine with. Besides, I'd love to have a lego to build especially one with crocs in it, oh and would totally share with Noah. After all, he did use some money of his on my J.D.C.C. short for Jedi Defender Class Cruiser. Love you and may God be with you in whatever it is you will do next. 

P.S. You know the bags that will have a big black number on it and they are see through? For example my Spidey set had 5 of them inside and they are not too big. PPS If I have to leave any legos behind, I know which ones I'll leave. Here some money to boost you on that gift I'd like. PPPS- The minifigures are just like human legos but with animal stuff added. For example my croc stands up like a human but it looks like a croc. like these two things" ... 
(there was an arrow pointing down to two cut out pictures from a lego catalog showing us what standing up animals look like). 




So, of course another 609 pieces (including Cragger, Crominus, and Crooler) are headed to an island in the Caribbean very soon.

~      ~      ~   

People always ask us how long we'll stay in Haiti.  We always say, "Don't know. Ask us again in a year." Some really cool things have happened in the last several days. We have a real sense of peace that we're on the right path heading mapless into God's vast goodness and grace. Five years ago I might have said something much more confident or pompy sounding than that. I have lost some of my "this is God's plan" kind of talk because I don't usually feel that I know God's plan and I feel a little lot bit squirmy claiming that.  What I am trying to say is, there have been beautiful confirmations for us that our time in Haiti is not finished and that our family can return feeling quite certain it is where we need to be right now. The future is unknowable and we don't pretend otherwise. 

I am now stalling. It's becoming obvious to Troy. I am thinking of all the things I'd like to write out for posterity's sake.  I'd like to gripe about the things little kids think you should put in a bag and bring to Haiti. (Shells, rocks, rotten pumpkins)  I'd like to (lovingly) mock the hilarious things they said today as we packed. The thing is, a luggage scale and mounds of crap await me. I'll have to mock my children later. Back to the piles.

The best way to wrap this up, a pearl of wisdom from Lydia as we drove through the dark Texas night...


"I am sad and I am happy... I don't know what I should more feel."



Lydia, Annie, and Phoebe together again last week 




Next posts: 1. An awesome update on Rebecca, the teen Mama from Heartline and 2. The two very WEIRDEST days of 2013 and all the insulin, vomit, and drama that went with them. Isaac wrote too, will try to publish it soon. 

Wednesday, December 11

Christmas Extravaganza '13 is Here ...






Special Thanks to the Douglass Family and the Bernards for use of your lovely homes. Thanks to Sara and Troy Groves for a beautiful song.

Peace. Peace. 

Our love and gratitude for your kindness,

Troy, Tara, and Tribe


*There are no esoteric statements about Santa or Jesus here.  It's meant to be entertaining, not necessarily historically or biblically correct, or educational.  Jesus doesn't really like to play Jenga.  Everybody knows that.

Enjoy the Advent season, we'll find you in a few weeks.

Tuesday, December 10

Trailer for 7th Annual Livesay Family Christmas Extravaganza






Coming Wednesday night to an 
internet service provider near you.

This year's extravaganza was  filmed in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and at Britt & Chris's house. 

more incarnation thoughts



If the incarnation teaches us anything, it’s that God can be found everywhere: in a cattle trough, on a throne, among the poor, with the sick, on a donkey, in a fishing boat, with the junkie, with the prostitute, with the hypocrite, with the forgotten, in places of power, in places of oppression, in poverty, in wealth, where God’s name is known, where it is unknown, with our friends, with our enemies, in our convictions, in our doubts, in life, in death, at the table, on the cross, and in every kindergarten classroom from Sandy Hook to Shanghai. -Rachel Held Evans 


Photo: Heartline Maternity Center, Port-au-Prince, Haiti ~ December 2013
More information and an opportunity to give can be found here.

Thursday, December 5

Kid stuff: volume ? - Christmas Vids Past


  • Sitting at a donut shop with my two little girls, Phoebe said- at the top of her voice, "WHOA, A LOT of people that got SILVER TEETH come here."  Yes, yes, thanks for noticing so boisterously, Phoebe.
  • Same donut shop, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Who did her hair?" It was a woman from the Senegalese braiding shop we walked out of in October because they were so rough. Oddly enough, I felt like I was caught doing something wrong and hesitated before I answered.  Phoebe jumped in and said, "A nice lady did it!"  Ha. That's not awkward at all.  (And yes, the lady asking had silver teeth.) 
  • The doctor was giving me advice about what Lydia is old enough to do. She suggested Lydia could be trusted with some chores. I just politely nodded and listened.  When the doctor left the room Hope went off about it. "MOM, that doctor is giving you advice??? She knows you have seven children! What in the world?!?!"  It was super patronizing but I can fake nice for a few minutes of patronizing behavior; Hope apparently cannot.  
  • Sunday we were gone for a few hours and the five kids were home.  This is a new thing and not something we had done in Haiti.  Isaac and Hope are supposedly in charge and there are lectures given. No wrestling, no playing with matches, no using scissors, knives, or ice picks. No cooking on the stove, no using the Internet, no playing on scooters or bikes.  Basically they are to read, do math, watch Netflix cartoons, or stare at a wall while we are away.  When we got home Isaac said, "Oh, did I tell you I found $200 dollars today?"  We had been home a while.  I said, "Wait, you found $200 and you are just now telling us? Do you know that $200 is a ton of money?"  He went on to tell the story of how he was walking on the sidewalk at the house next door he looked in a pile of leaves and saw two one-hundred dollar bills on the ground.  He picked them up and came home.  We fussed and informed him that $200 is no small find and marveled at his good luck. The next day Troy looked at his back-pack he carries almost everywhere and saw that there was plastic toy food sitting in the pocket where he had shoved $200 a friend generously gave him on Saturday. Troy went to Lydia who confessed she took the 2 $100 bills and went outside with it in her pocket. When she checked her pocket later it wasn't there. When she heard Isaac found $200 she never thought to mention that small coincidence that she was missing the exact same amount.
  • Lydia also played with $20 of Hope's money. We have some sort of serial thief on our hands. Shocker, that money is also lost.  When my voice got loud and demanding and I asked her to find it right now. She said, "I don't want to look for it. I just want to pay Hope back with Dad's money."  She went to her bed with crossed arms over the injustice of my veto of that ridiculous idea. Guard your wallets from this kid, people.
  • Paige and Troy had a class together this semester at the local community college. The stories from this have been so fun to hear. Students have made commentary to Paige "Your Dad" this and your dad that. Troy delivers food to her in class when she is dumb and forgets to plan ahead. This is Troy's post from their second to last class period together .... "Thankful for the semester I've been able to spend in school with this amazing girl. Blessed to be with her on the hard days...and will never let her forget the ones like today where I provided her Kleenex, granola bars, a phone charger, cough drops, and laughs to get her through."  Troy just shook his head at her two hours of sleep and no breakfast and said, "What happens when we leave her?"  In four weeks we will all find out. 
    bad day photo documentation
  • When Chestnut (the greatest puppy ever) pooped I asked Lydia to clean it up. "I don't want to - I have a smelling issue", she said.  I mocked, "Oh, a smelling issue, huh?"  She got serious and said, "YES! I do! When I smell something yucky it makes me not be able to smell other things good anymore."  So, I cleaned up the poop  - because I have zero smelling issues.
  • As I am known to do when I feel like I might lose it, I sent the five kids on a walk the other day. When they came home they said, "Oh my gosh Mom, we met another homeschooling Mom. She said she wants your phone number because she has kids our age. They are named Audra, Luke, and Taylor and we are going to be their friends.  I said, "Oh, okay, did you mention that you are leaving Waco, TX in four weeks?"  Isaac, said, "No, because I could tell she liked us and I didn't want to wreck it." So, it appears we have new besties nearby until January 5. 
  • We were driving to the library and talking about marriage and future spouses.  I asked Isaac what type of person he's searching for. He thought a minute and said, "I'd like a girl JUST like you except less temper and sarcasm maybe."  touche.
The last three years Christmas Extravaganzas ... 2013 coming next week.

2012

2011

2010 

Tuesday, December 3

Year End Giving: Why you want to consider Heartline Maternity Center












This December it is possible that dozens or even hundreds of non-profit organizations have asked you to consider donating to their cause.  I need more than my fingers and toes to count the number of appeals we have received. 

When so many are asking for our dollars, it begs the question, "WHY, should I choose your organization?" 

I want to answer that question.

Heartline Maternity Center and our programs are unique. Yes, we offer a incredibly needed and valuable (life-saving) services. More than that though, we offer love, relationship, friendship, and time. 

We meet women early in their pregnancies. We meet women that are living in a country with the highest maternal mortality rate in the western hemisphere, where 2 out of 3 of their friends deliver at home without a skilled birth attendant. Because of that, we meet women in a country where the risk of dying during child-bearing years is unusually high and the chances of losing the baby are just as daunting. 

We are able to spend 7 to 9 months of a woman's pregnancy getting to know her story, her needs, her unique situation. Prenatal care is rare for Haitian women, we are thankful to offer the same quality prenatal care in Haiti that our friends and relatives in North America are receiving. By the time a woman delivers her baby with us we know the details of her biggest challenges in life, and we know how to support her in a personal way as she delivers a new life into what oftentimes amounts to hardship and chaos. 

During labor and delivery a woman is able to do the miraculous work of bringing her baby into the world in a calm environment where people offer nurture, gentleness, kindness, and love. If you have visited a Haitian hospital or walked through a crowded neighborhood in Port au Prince, you understand the vast difference our birth-center environment offers a woman.

After delivery we are able to walk with her as she does the work of bonding.  In cultures of poverty this doesn't come as naturally as it does for those of us living with material blessings galore. We love, encourage, and stand with the new mother while she begins to nurse her baby and bond to him or her in the process. We encourage mothers that God has given them the skills and heart they need to love, serve, and raise their children. 

We offer education and ongoing support for the first six months of her baby's life.  We teach about child-spacing and safe and effective methods of birth-control, in order to empower each woman to take the lead in their own health and future.

We are human and we make mistakes, we are not perfect, but we try hard to get it right when we're walking along side our Haitian friends. We work diligently to withhold any judgment and simply offer a place of safety and love and grace to a woman that is coming to us from a life of difficulties we will never fully understand. 

It's awesome and we are so grateful to have never lost a mother in our delivery room - but we are even more proud to share that the women that enter our doors feel valued and honored and loved --- and that is the reason you want to consider supporting Heartline Maternity Center when you give this season.

Thank-you! 

To donate on line:
https://heartlineministries.org/getinvolved/donationspage.php

To donate by mail:
Heartline Ministries, a 501(c)(3) organization,
PO Box 898, Sunnyside WA  98944.   

(Tax Identification Number 91-2072330)

*If you have questions about Heartline that you would like to ask before giving, please contact us at livesayfamily@gmail.com

on advent, hardship, hope, and waiting ..,


ad·vent
ˈadˌvent/
noun
  1. 1.
    the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.


    ~            ~            ~

    In the order of how I most experience and filter it - life is: messy, confusing, and hopeful.  

    I love the Advent season because it is hope focused, whereas in my day to day dealings I tend to be confusion and mess focused. 

    The unknown meanings in every journey mostly make me want to punch things. 

    This past year seemed to serve up more than normal sized helpings of unknown meaning, disappointment, and sorrow. 

    We watched with dismay as people did unjust and dishonest things in Haiti. We have a friend that lost her young husband. Our friends that have worked tirelessly for ethics, integrity, and justice in adoptions don't have their son(s) in their home(s) today. We have friends that have watched their parents begin to fail and pass away.  In the last several weeks dearly loved couples, close friends, have quickly lost their very first pregnancies after more than a decade of infertility. Joy turned to devastation in the blink of an eye. These things weigh heavily on our hearts and minds.

    It gets tough to continue to feel hopeful. Doesn't it?  

    If we could only understand the why and the timing of seemingly senseless things, wouldn't we be happier and more hopeful?  
    Maybe.  Maybe not. I'm not really sure. 

    This Advent piece was lovely in that it acknowledged that the waiting thing is hard work. We're doing some heavy lifting, friends. 

    "Like Mary, we celebrate the coming of the Christ child, what God has already done. And we wait in expectation of the full coming of God's reign on earth and for the return of Christ, what God will yet do. But this waiting is not a passive waiting. It is an active waiting. As any expectant mother knows, this waiting also involves preparation, exercise, nutrition, care, prayer, work; and birth involves pain, blood, tears, joy, release, community. It is called labor for a reason. Likewise, we are in a world pregnant with hope, and we live in the expectation of God's kingdom on earth. As we wait, we also work, cry, pray, ache; we are the midwives of another world."  
    -This "note on Advent" from Common Prayer (p. 50) 

    Like you, I am waiting. 

    As we wait we also work, cry, pray, ache - and hope.

    ~           ~           ~

    By Rick Porter (Uncle Rick)
    Hear the Angels Sing 

    Perhaps it’s just the Ebenezer Scrooge in me, but I’m not much of a caroler. When pressed into participation I sing, but rarely with the gusto of those around me. And too often I sing in a rote way, not giving full attention to the words. There is however, one line of one verse of one carol that always captures my attention.

    A story is told of a man seasonally employed to bring the presence of Santa to Christmas gatherings for businesses and schools. He was on his way to a gig, an office party, but had been asked to stop by the nursing home to make a quick visit to the residents. This was pro bono work, but if Santa won’t do it who will?

    He quickly made his rounds with a “ho, ho, ho” to each room. Just before departing, he peeked into a darkened cubicle where an elderly man lay apparently asleep, curled on his bony side. Santa prepared to leave in a flash. But the man made a feeble beckoning gesture visible in the dim light of a tiny Christmas tree. The volunteer Santa approached. The man whispered something so faintly as to be inaudible. Santa moved his jolly old ear very close to the man’s dry mouth. “Forms are bending low,” the man said. Santa did not connect the phrase, assumed confusion, gave a patronizing pat, and hurried off to his paying job.

    As he arrived at the office party, holiday music was filling the room. The words of an old carol floated from the ceiling speakers:

    O ye beneath life's crushing load,
    Whose forms are bending low,
    Who toil along the climbing way
    With painful steps and slow;
    Look now, for glad and golden hours
    Come swiftly on the wing;
    Oh rest beside the weary road
    And hear the angels sing.

    The song was “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” written as a poem in 1849 and put to music 10 years later. The essence of the song is that angels did not just appear and sing at the birth of Christ. They show up and serenade regularly and often. 

    Just when we are so burdened as to not hear, at the most difficult of times, when life’s loads crush and our forms bend, they minister most. Immanuel, meaning “God-with-us,” attends us as His invisible person, the Holy Spirit, and He is attended by angels. The heart of God is to meet us at life’s darkest intersections with comfort, encouragement, a touch of heaven, and a breath of hope. The old man in the nursing home wasn’t just complaining to Santa about his lot in life. He was acknowledging that in Santa’s visit, no matter how hurried, there was an angelic grace.

    Whether or not you sing the carols this year, be encouraged to live the carols. For you, this season may not be one of happiness, good memories, or togetherness. You may be grieving, regretful, or lonely. Life’s road seems crushing and your form is bending low. That does not disqualify you from the true Christmas message. While others scurry in apparent happiness, the invitation to the crushed and the bent still stands:

    Oh rest beside the weary road
    And hear the angels sing.

Saturday, November 30

celebrations & thanksgiving

Happy Birthday PAIGE!
Congrats BRITT!
We're celebrating Thanksgiving along with the birth of one Paige Noelle. She entered the scene 19 years ago this morning, in Minnesota. Our lives are all the richer for it.

We are also celebrating Britt's acceptance into a really great PA (Physician's Assistant) program. I am pretty thrilled that my old-age health care plan will involve my kid coming to do personal house calls and fix everything free of charge. She is learning of my plan with you.

Adult children  ...  Such and odd thing. We're wondering if it ever feels normal?  Two grown up kids living in their own spots all awesome and responsible. I wish they would teach us how it is done.

We have much to be grateful for, and on that list are those of you that stop here to read and comment and encourage and wrestle with the tough stuff with us. 

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you, and our prayers for a beautiful Advent Season. 

T & T & Tribe



Link: Yesterday we answered two questions at Matt Hansen's blog, find it here. 

P.S.
We are working on this year's (7th annual) Christmas extravaganza. 
Until the task is complete, here are a few years of history ...

First ever Extravaganza ...


 -Second year can be found at this link.

 2009 (Third annual)
 ... the add-on to 2009 to give the wise women their due

Tuesday, November 26

a beautiful soul




Paige wrote this after a day serving as a translator more than a year ago, she finally broke down (read: under intense pressure) to allow us to post it.



4

a beautiful soul, written by paige 

Sometimes life gets so busy that I forget to see the good in people. 

Admitting that is embarrassing, because I sometimes allow things that do not matter at all to hinder my ability to truly see beautiful people. 

Today, I met a beautiful person; I met a woman with a beautiful soul.

She was sitting and waiting for her turn to enter into the dentists office...Waiting and waiting, as we often do in this country. 

As I was standing next to her, she looked up and said that she had been there since morning, and needed to get home to her children. This woman seemed to be at least 60, it was clear she had a few years of hard life under her belt. Curious, I asked her about her children. She told me she had seven children. We shared a little moment over the fact that she has seven children, and that I am one of seven kids. I asked her how old they were. She mentioned four older children, and three younger children. Because of my non-stop questions, she went on to explain that the last three were adopted. 

The oldest of her three adopted children is named Moses. Again, we shared a moment when we realized we both have a little boy named Moses near to our hearts. She explained that this little boy was abandoned in a toilet, and she went and pulled him out. We again shared a moment over our connection through abandonment. Moses has lived with her as her son since the moment she pulled him out. I asked her if Moses knows that he was abandoned. She said no, that he was too young and didn’t yet need to know the cruelty of this world. I admired her wisdom. Her second adopted child is the son of  her husband's mistress. The biological mother of this boy abandoned this little boy on the street as well. Knowing the connection her husband had to the child, people nearby brought the little boy to her; it seems many know of her beautiful heart. She willingly took him in as her son. The third adoption was that of a little girl who lost her mother in child birth. My new friend, with the beautiful heart, took her in as her daughter as well.

I admired her so much for the stories of adoption and pain and loss turned into service and love. I admired her also for seeing her children as equals. If I wouldn’t have kept the conversation going, and sought out information- I would have never known that three of her children were adopted. 

To so many people adoption seems to be a synonym for  “not real children/siblings,” or “charity cases”. None of those things were true for her though. These children were her children. They were just as much her children as her older four. She was so beautiful. 

Shortly after my exchange with the brave mother of seven, a woman on a short term mission team started asking me about myself and my family.  This is a confusing conversation for most people. I usually take a deep breath prior to answering. After asking how long I’ve lived in Haiti, how old I am, etc, the next question I often get is, “How many siblings do you have?” I answer, and say that I am one of seven. Each time, I get the same look. The "Wow!” look. It gets old after the first few times, because this is my family you’re “oh wowing” at, people. I get that we are weird, and different than most families, but still, come on, don’t act like I just told you that each of my siblings has extra limbs. Next, they ask how old my siblings are. I say, “23, 11,11,9,6,5” , without fail they ask if the 11 year-old siblings are twins. I answer and explain that no, they were adopted along with the six year old. Then, they get this “oh that makes sense” look and then comes the so you don’t really have seven siblings, because three are adopted comment. At times people have even verbally respond with something like — "oh so you have three real siblings?"  Also, "Do your adopted siblings travel with your family, or stay in Haiti?" 

Each of the questions seemed to aim at separating out my family by the adopted kids, and the non adopted kids. To them, there is some important difference to be noted. I don’t know the difference. I have six siblings, and each sibling is the same to me. I love each sibling with all of my heart, and would do just about anything for each of them. They also all each equally annoy me.. so clearly there is no difference between them.

I want to see beauty. I don't like that I don’t open my eyes up and see beautiful people every day. They are all around us. I met a beautiful soul today, and I’m so thankful that I did. She reminded me that it is more than possible to love and care for people that join our families by a less traditional route.  She reminded me of unconditional love. I hope people look at my siblings (all of them!) and see beauty too. I don’t appreciate people separating out my family, because really, nothing can separate us.

Wednesday, November 20

~ (weird) kid things ~


  • 16 hours in the van with the kids and the puppy getting back to TX from TN...The first hour was touch and go, Lydia was mad at everything and disagreeing with every positive sentiment being shared. The other 15 hours felt miraculous. Good road trip. 
  • When someone does Lydia's hair and she likes it, she says, "What a great saloner!"  Salon as a verb.  You're welcome.
  • We got to see a huge black bear in the Smoky Mountains. It ran across the road in front of us. It was the highlight of Isaac's 12 year life. Lydia said, "If that thing came near me I would scream out my blood."  (Screaming bloody murder is something entirely different.) 
  • In the homeschooling curriculum we use they have a "tin whistle" unit.  I believe that falls under "fine arts" - which, let us be honest, is a total misnomer.  Also, tin whistle is a new way of saying recorder and we all know that the recorder was added to fourth grade curriculum back in 1981 as a way of driving families apart. Giving it a new name changes nothing. I digress. So, Isaac, Hope, and Noah love their tin whistles. Lucky us, right? The other day they came to tell me that they would be going for a walk and practicing. Being utterly selfish I only heard "Tin whistles will be played away from your ears, Tara" and I said, "Great idea - GO!" The three of them walked in a line, playing tin whistles as they went all around the neighborhood. When people stopped them to ask why they were not in school they said, "We don't go to school." I assume the police will be here any minute.
  • Lydia and Phoebe had a real argument about what names they "call" for their future children. They both want Julianna.  Lydia got ticked when Phoebe insisted she'd be taking Julianna first and told Phoebe, "You need to name your daughter Dolphiny because you love dolphins."
  • At the doctor's office the doctor asked Lydia, "Do you read?" Lydia said, "Yeah, I read. I read, like, the letters of the alphabet, you know? I read ABCDEFG and the rest of them too." 
  • All five "little kids" - which just doesn't work anymore as a descriptor but is what we call them - are getting all caught up on exams and immunizations. We are perpetually behind on all that well child stuff. Some of my favorite moments are watching how people react to their funny innocence. Isaac's jaw dropped to the floor when he was asked about depression, drugs, gangs, and sex. The shock on his face when those questions were posed was really kind of precious. "What do you mean a gang?" he said.  Turns out he is in the 'vocab gang'.  Initiation is 5 quality adjectives, 3 strong verbs, and the use of both in grammatically correct sentences. 
  • The church that is allowing us to use their house is a historic and large institution in this town. We have been blessed twice with the use of their 3 bedroom brick rambler and have loved staying here. We remove all their fancy decor on day one and box it up until the kids are buckled in and headed to the airport. They came by to do a bit of an inventory on the house, see if anything needed fixing or upgrading.  Isaac was the only child home with Troy. In true Isaac fashion he schmoozed the two visitors including getting their names down and telling them how nice it was to meet them and they chatted about their common love of Tennessee. Troy said he went in for a hug at the time of the introductions, which seemed to surprise them a bit. Should this church decide to support the work of Heartline Ministries we will know it was due to our good will ambassador. 
  • "Do you think Sea World will still be going when I have kids?" -Noah 
  • "I hate covers. You wanna know why?"  (uh. OK.) "They give me a tummy ache." -Lydia
  • We went to Gatlinburg one night on our TN trip. We planned to walk around and see the Christmas lights. We ended up having pizza while we were there. The two youngest girls are big on having bowel movements in public restrooms. It's their thing or something. So, I took Lydia to the bathroom as per usual. The music was blaring in the bathroom and Rod Stewart was singing Hot Legs (circa 1977) at a high volume. The stall was locked so we waited by the sink. Lydia started dancing crazy to Hot Legs and mocking a hard rock head-banger. An older woman exited the stall to see  Lydia dancing and said, "Do you know Rod Stewart little girl?" Lydia said, "NO, but I.am.dancing!" The old lady started dancing with her in the tiny bathroom sink area. Lydia and a 70 year old stranger dancing to Hot Legs in Gatlinburg. That's not weird.
  • We started working on the 7th Annual Christmas Extravaganza. We all think that family tradition is more fun in Haiti than it is stateside.