Friday, December 23, 2016

Isaac's Update

my sisters and their babies
Texas Trip:

As you may or may not have heard, I am leaving for Texas on December 26th with my Mom. I was told about this trip just the 16th of Decmember, so it was a big surprise. My biggest job for when I arrive will be taking car of my vigorous nephew, Graham.

Anyway, when we fly into Austin my brother in law, Michael, will be there to pick my mom and I up from the airport. We will not be staying at Paige's house at first. We are staying at an AirBnB place that some friends of friends are letting us use to give Paige and Michael some space without company since Michael is not home very much right now and he heads back to work on January 2nd. By this time, Paige will have had her new born baby boy. For the next seven days Mom will be with me helping me take care of things with Graham and the dogs while Paige is very busy with the baby. On the ninth of January my Mom is going to head back to Haiti. A lot of what we did together to help Paige out will be shifted over to me since Paige will be profoundly engrossed to taking care of her new baby. So I'll be hanging out with Graham and taking him to the park and on walks and playing with him. I'll also be in charge of things around the house, like doing the dishes and cleaning and folding some laundry and whatever else Paige says she needs help with.

Over all I am psyched for this trip it will be awesome.

But wait, it doesn't end there.

On January 19th I will fly home to Haiti with my Grandpa and Grandma Porter. A few days later we will start back to school.  I am thankful for the few days I have between the day I get back and the day I start school. It will be good to be with my Grandparents in Haiti. Noah will be leaving with my Grandparents to go to Texas to help Paige out and take a turn too.  It is very fun that we are able to help our sister.

By late February we will be all done with traveling to Texas and we will all be home.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

O Holy Night

beautiful-christmas-holiday
Every direction you turn, images of Christmas..You need not look far to find beautiful and thoughtful displays, tastefully decorated homes with glowing trees, and rows and rows of symmetrical twinkling lights. Step into one of these homes and the warm fire will greet you as you breathe in fresh scents of pine and cinnamon. It is beautiful and clean and so.very.pristine. 
Looking upon these exquisite arrangements one senses order and peace.
O Holy Night

I’m reflecting on the untidy disorder and chaos in the lives of so many celebrating Christmas around the world this year. They experience vastly different surroundings and a much more simplified version of the annual celebration of the Christ child. 

It looks nothing like the photos in the magazines and has not even the tiniest hint of Martha Stewart. There are no smells of fresh-baked cookies or hot apple cider to entice them. They don’t string lights around a tree, pile colorfully wrapped gifts high, or build gingerbread houses; yet meek and mild – they celebrate.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,’Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth

How did our celebration of this day become so clean and crisp and utterly tidy? Where are the smells and  sweat and tears that were most certainly a part of Mary and Joseph’s journey?
It begs the question:  Do ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ scenes with sparkling lights and gorgeous perfectly placed decorations reflect the Christmas story best? Are the experiences of a frightened and ashamed teenage mother-to-be anything like that?

Do the marginalized and suffering in our world experience Christmas more like Mary and Joseph did – or do we?
A thrill of hope – the weary world rejoices

I’m reflecting on these two extremes.  I LOVE the exquisitely ordered and the beautifully arranged. 
While yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
I long for a day when disparity and injustice ends. I dream of a Christmas were no child is enslaved, abused, and sold. Where no refugee is left to sleep another night without clothing and food or a place to lie down. I pray for the glorious morn, where the oppressed are free. I long to wake up to learn that no child is suffering or slowly starving to death. I dream of a day when people from every continent and every nation can freely celebrate Jesus and His birth surrounded by love, joy, dancing, singing and immeasurable peace and beauty and justice.

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace

Truthfully I also find great inspiration in the simple, dingy, gritty, humble celebrations of those who struggle and toil without access to our unstained images of Christmas. I long for their stripped down total dependence on God. I pray for spiritual wealth like that of the materially poor. I want their depth. I want their undying hope. I want a Christmas less like Oprah’s or the magazines and more like theirs.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease

Our youngest daughter Lydia has been struggling with choices. When offered a choice of two things she’ll often reply, “I want two ones.”  When she says that, she means I want them both.

As I soak in Christmas this year I find myself wanting two ones.  I want the perfect looking, delicious smelling, pain-free and unpolluted Christmas and I want the dirty, stinky, humble, difficult, but miraculous Christmas that Mary and Joseph and the rich in faith experience.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name

While I attempt to reconcile two very different Christmases, the celebrations only make sense to me in the context of good overcoming evil. God coming to earth in the form of a baby, to live a sinless life, to clear our debts for us, to teach us how to love one another … In His resurrection the promise that one day there will be beauty and justice for all.

The end of death. 

The end of suffering.
O Holy Night

(originally written December 2010 - republished at A Life Overseas)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I See You

I was in a fluffy white robe sipping high-end-fancy-people flavored coffee and looking out over a beautifully decorated and manicured neighborhood in Dallas when Beth M. and KJ texted and said, "There is a dead man in the street in front of the house, he stole something and was stoned  by a crowd of people right outside earlier this morning. The body is just lying there in the street."  

They went on to tell me that they would guard our kids from seeing him and take a long back road to avoid driving right past his body.

In Haiti, crime increases around Christmas. 
Every year it is the same. 
Reports of theft and mayhem rise as the 25th of December approaches.

Perhaps it is the encouragement of active waiting at Advent, but December always feels more difficult.  We are following the directive and actively waiting and purposefully hoping and it seems to magnify the brokenness all around us. 

A man is stoned to death, a pregnant 20 year old with HIV is homeless and hungry and crying in front of us, a 13 year old across the street is due to deliver a baby in a few weeks, a devastated mother who has already lost one child goes into premature labor with her second pregnancy, a large portion of the country sleeps without a roof two and a half months after a hurricane wipes out their homes. 

Existential anguish is not strong enough a descriptor. It doesn't begin to cover the confusion of the season.  The disorder of our world and the incongruity of drinking a $5 beverage while someone is stoned to death for a petty theft of approximately the value of my cup of coffee is more than impossible to reconcile.

Yesterday we (we, the Maternity Center) drove yet another emergency situation the 35 miles over the mountains because in Port au Prince we must ignore 6 hospitals that are closer in order to arrive at a hospital that gives consistent and kind quality care.  Without advocates, most folks don't get the care they need and don't arrive at the hospital far far outside the city.

Bryan A. Stevenson is an American lawyer, social justice activist, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and the author of Just Mercy.   Bryan says the broken, materially poor, and marginalized desperately need us to see them and to be hopeful. He says there is a need for us to choose to be in their hopeless places and situations and be a witness.

I wonder if he is right.  I wonder if bearing witness and fighting against hopelessness is of value. Is it acceptable to fake hope until it actually comes again? It must be. 

In South Africa, there is reportedly a Zulu greeting where upon greeting one says,


"I see you."

When you want someone to know you have taken the time to notice them, that you honor their position, presence, and uniqueness in this world ... And you even celebrate it, you say, "I see you."

Jan Richardson says, "This seeing, this recognition, is the stuff that joy is made of. And heartbreak, too, for seeing comes with a cost. But that place of seeing -- that place where we know, where we refuse to be content with appearances, where we resist the impulse to take things for granted: this is where God lives, and where Christ is born anew.



~           ~~          ~           ~~          ~



To those of you that read the stories and keep up with the work of Heartline Ministries  (sometimes filled with hope, other times filled with lament and pain)  - we understand that you see Haiti, that you see Heartline, that you see  -- and your seeing and giving and praying is what sustains the work and propels it forward.  

This update was from Troy yesterday ... 


Monday at Heartline: 
Nadia transported to hospital for pre-term labor, a beautiful baby girl born to Jolina at the Maternity Center, Discipleship class men leading a worship service, sewing and cooking classes overflowing into the yard at the Womens Education Center, thousands of pieces of bread made by the Beltis Bakery, and Mirana picked up from the hospital for continued care at the MC after her C-Section. 

All of this made possible by your love, prayers, and participation in this Kingdom work in Haiti. Thank you...it is a joy to behold and participate.

We are at 60% of our year-end giving goal to sustain this work in 2017, and generous donors have offered to match your gifts through the end of the year!

Please consider joining and supporting the Heartline Family with a gift and double your impact in Haiti.


www.heartlineministries.org/give 

Monday, December 19, 2016

let us find our rest in thee




Come, Thou long expected Jesus 
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us, 
Let us find our rest in Thee. 
Israel’s Strength and Consolation, 
Hope of all the earth Thou art; 
Dear Desire of every nation, 
Joy of every longing heart. 
Born Thy people to deliver, 
Born a child and yet a King, 
Born to reign in us forever, 
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring. 
By Thine own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone; 
By Thine all sufficient merit, 
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

December Anxiety Report - Part I

The tree lights are on, several candles are lit. The city power just came back on, meaning automatic and instantaneous joy - BECAUSE - Electricity is life, people! The kids have all gone to pizza with Troy.

Because my head is filled with so.much.snot and aching - and - the last four days 100% kicked my butt, I opted out of pizza or socializing.   I am supposedly attempting to "process" and "integrate" the insanity of the last week. I am attempting "quiet" and "solitude".

I am alone on the front porch with the next door neighbor's music blaring,  in Kreyol the singer says, "This country is sick, Haiti, what is going on? Haiti, Haiti how do you feel?" - That along with Sarah Mclachlan singing "Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright",  on the speaker next to me...  It's really quite something.  Appropriate incongruity. You should be here to experience it with me.

I got back from a 9 day trip to Texas on Tuesday. I arrived in Haiti with a GoldenDoodle puppy and I am VERY famous with my kids and well loved because of it.

I shared this on Instagram  - but the short version if you missed it is this: After Peanut died I was sad and acting like a weirdo and I started begging Troy to get another little dog.  (Big dogs are SO SO expensive to feed  - even when weird and emotional, I am frugal.)  Troy thought I was emotional and dumb (because true) and he said no to another little Chestnut type dog.  (Our 6 pound ShihTzu is Chestnut.)  Troy said he liked Golden Retrievers or  medium dogs.  I quickly wrote my friend in Missouri about her GoldenDoodle to ask about the breeder she used and in like six minutes she was informing us that she was going to buy us a GoldenDoodle.  She took care of our new puppy for us for two weeks and I flew from Austin to St.Louis and picked up our new dog on the first day I was back in the USA. It was a lot of crazy making and fun.  People in airports love Goldendoodles. He was very popular. One lady took a selfie with him.

My trip to TX had been booked months and months ago when Britt told me she would be due to have a baby and ALSO be graduating from UT Southwestern - all at the same time in early December.  

Britt and Chris lost that first baby in May.  It was rough.  Mercifully a lot of grief and pain turned into joy in July when they learned they were pregnant again.

I decided not to cancel my trip because I wanted to see her tummy and I wanted to see her graduate after so SO much hard work. (She is a PA-C now!)

While in TX I managed to get my CPR and NRP stuff updated (required for Midwifery licensing) and it was a trip filled with much joy.  The new puppy, the graduation, the time with my family and with Britt's Dad's family was all so wonderful.  Troy came  to TX for three nights. We got to see Graham and Paige too.  It was so beautiful and encouraging and fun.

The dog needed paperwork to be able to fly to Haiti. (Or SO THE PEOPLE SAID.) Britt and I pretended to be totally fluent in French  -- and pulled it off  -- at the Vet office. We were laughing our buns off at the rules and just decided that we would prefer to claim French fluency over paying someone to translate the dog paperwork.  We were given the Vet Office computer and some time and we translated a French document into English like total b.s.ing bosses.

Stupid and totally predictable thing????  No human person ever ever ever ever asked to see any of the paperwork we paid for to "legally" import the dang dog.  Not JetBlue - not anyone in Haiti. Flushing money down the toilet is our new hobby.

After we left Texas Britt got in a car accident.  That is something my pregnant daughter girls seem to do.  It's a thing I guess.  Thankfully she and baby boy are okay.

Paige is super duper pregnant.  She needs to wait to deliver until December 22 if she wants Michael there and December 27 if she wants me (Tara) there.  I have high high high anxiety over the thought of missing this event, but it is pretty likely I will, in fact, miss the event.  If it seems appropriate, I will film the nervous break-down when it happens.

I have a billion more things to write that are spinning in my head. It needs to wait until my spaz level calms a bit.

Tomorrow is our Maternity Center Staff Christmas party.  It is so so much fun every year and while I tend to be annoyed at the long Christmas parties we have for the ladies in the programs, I truly LOVE the staff Christmas party.  More when sanity levels allow.


Three nuts and their five humans.






Friday, December 16, 2016

Hear the Angels Sing

I don't even need to wonder. I know that lots and lots of us need this word this Advent Season.  

It seems to me that many are at a dark intersection... Like most of the entire planet.

Enjoy our annual posting of Hear the Angels Sing ...


By Rick Porter (Uncle Rick)


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, December 3, 2016

Midwives of another world ...

Advent, which means “the coming,” is the season before Christmas when we wait expectantly. Christians began to celebrate it during the fourth and fifth centuries. 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 the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. As we wait, we also work, cry, pray, ache; we are the midwives of another world. 
-Shane Claiborne




Link to 2016 Birth Story - Jesus Born under the watchful eye of Midwives.