Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dusting off the Ashes

I go to the next project. The paintings and knick knacks hanging on the wall.

We have been cleaning and organizing for days with supplies sent over for the earthquake relief that have yet to find a proper home after the depot was destroyed in the shaking.

Now....before I leave....I want to give my parents, especially my mom, some semblance of warmth in her home, in spite of the cracks in the wall. So I remove the wooden eagles from the living room wall.

As I do, I have flashbacks from my childhood from the vantage point of these eagles - dancing to the credits of movies, teasing my sister, reading & watching TV at the same time, eating meals with my family, singing songs, dreaming, loving, living.....

I look at the eagle.

It is covered in ashes.

I pause.

These eagles have seen a side of the island that I have not.

They have seen it shaken, torn apart, devastated in a way that the people living on it today have never experienced before.

They have felt the building sway, the floor beneath them tremble, the walls crack and crack.

They bear the scars.

They wear the dust.

And yet, there they have hung....on this wall.

Standing firm.

"Kembe fem" - that's what the Haitians say.

Hold fast. Be strong. Stand firm.

And I choke back the tears.

My parents, my family, my island, my people have been through a horror so desperate to the core that many are often heard saying that they would rather face 3 hurricanes back-to-back over 1 earthquake.

And yet..... these eagles....are still here.

Moving forward.





Defeated....NO! Definitely....NO!

As I type, I remember.....

Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:31

Wow! I have so much still to learn. In my own sorrow, grief, sense of loss, and journey of faith, my waiting has becoming tiring, and I have TOO often become weary.

But I remember the eagles.

The wooden ones.

The real ones.

I remember my parents, the people, this nation with strength from the eagles.

So, I carry on....

I move forward.

One step at a time.

I dust off the ashes.

To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
Isaiah 61:3

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: My Little Island

One of the views from my parents' balcony at their mission compound in Haiti

Linked up with...

Live and Love...Out Loud

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rooftops are for Dreamers

I think I was 9 years old the first time. Maybe even a little younger.

I must have seen my dad do it or some of the masons around the property do it, and I wanted to do it too.

The first time was kind of scary. The step ladder was only 6 feet tall with a 2 foot gap to get to the top of the roof. And my dad would help pull me up to the top by pulling me up from the top of the ladder. But eventually I learned how to climb the ladder alone. I would turn my back to the corner of the roof, and with both hands palms down on the edge of the roof, I would push myself up, spin around and I was there, in my favorite childhood & adolescent place - the rooftop of our home on Delmas.

This rooftop was the place for dreamers. Especially for this little girl.

I'm not sure if being a missionary kid without lots of extra-curricular activities was the reason for my aggressive imagination, or maybe just being an "Anne-girl" by nature, but the roof was the place where that imagination and dreams and desires for the future came to life.

I dreamed of romance.

Sometimes it was imaginary. Sometimes it was a boy across the waters. Other times it was the boy on the mountain whose house lights I "thought" I could see at night. Many nights, he didn't have a name, but I would dream of him looking at the same stars as I was, no matter where he was {Little did I know that since he was growing up in Africa, we NEVER saw the same stars at the same time...hahahahaha...!!}.

I dreamed of the future.

Sometimes I was in college. Sometimes I was married. Usually, I was always in America. Sometimes I was famous. Sometimes I just lived near my family and friends.

I dreamed of becoming the woman God had called me to be.

Sometimes the dreams were simple - travel to America, live close to my family & friends, get married, have children. Sometimes I wanted to be somebody, something -- to make a difference in the world.
Sometimes I just wanted to learn to be more like Jesus.

I learned to pray on that roof.
I learned to seek His face there.
I learned to find His will for my life.

The rooftop of Delmas was the place where I moved from childhood into girlhood, and on summer breaks from college, moved from girlhood to womanhood.

Whenever I come back here, a barrage of emotions and memories flood my mind, but most of all, I am encouraged to be a dreamer again. To let my imagination and creativity flow.

On the rooftop, I can be anything I want to be, travel anywhere that I want to, imagine anything the way it "should" be.

I can dream.

Psalm 126:1
When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream.

What are some of your "rooftop" dreams?
Do you still let yourself dream today?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Multitude Monday - #246-260 - Haitian Edition

Every day is hot.

We wake with the sun high, and temperatures well above 80 degrees as the morning breaks open.

Without air conditioning to break the cycle, the body heat rises warming the skin to a sometimes oppressive climate.

With daily summer temperatures in the 90's or 100's with a hundred percent humidity, the people march on - selling their wares, building new buildings, teaching the next generation, cooking their meals, loving, living, moving forward....

The earthquake has changed so much in Haiti, but the resilience of the people is just astounding. God is still so amazing, still on the throne, still in charge.

Oh, why did I ever doubt?

This past week as we, in a practical sense, make order in the chaos, I find myself wanting to count my gifts....

Gratitude - a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as for gifts or favours;
the state of feeling grateful


~Surprising my parents by bringing my sister along with me to Haiti
~Being in Haiti with my sister for the first time in 9 years

~Showing my friend, Chloe, Haiti for the first time

~Painting NEW-ly built shelves in the NEW-ly built depot

~Moving boxes and supplies from ALL OVER my parents house into an organized NEW home

~Making new memories

~Laughing over old ones
~Screaming over the surprise of bugs and rodents in "unexpected" places
~Taking pictures of new experiences, new moments, new memories

~Tasting one of my favorite Haitian drinks - fruit champagne {not really champagne, of course!}
~Eating one of my favorite meals - Haitian rice & beans
~Helping fellow missionary with my parents, Carole, move back into her NEW apartment

~Eating a mango "Haitian style"

~Seeing "my" tree - the beautiful flamboyant tree

~Playing with Carole's new kitty, Tia

I have joined The Gratitude Community -- a place to be inspired by others and what God is doing in their lives, a chance to share my own journey of gratitude, and an opportunity to REMEMBER to be grateful in ALL things. So on Mondays, I will add to my list of 1000 gifts of all the graces God has provided in my life. Would you consider joining me? Even if you don't blog, you can join the gratitude community by starting a gratitude journal, mentionning your gifts on Facebook, or sending e-mails to your friends. Let's work together to help in creating a more thankful, joyous world!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Eyes Look to the Mountains

Everyone has a favorite "something" in nature, besides humans & animals, of course -- beaches, stars, trees, sunsets, etc.

Well, my favorite thing is mountains, with a close second being a sky filled with stars. The reason I love mountains, and stars for that matter, are because I realize every time I seem them just how AWESOME and POWERFUL God is and just HOW small I am.

And I NEED that....

I need to know that I am not here -- on this earth -- by some random chance or freak of nature. I want to know that everything...and I mean EVERYTHING....has a purpose, even when I cannot comprehend "WHY?".

This is the view that I grew up seeing every day on "my" little island of Haiti, about the size of Maryland, my home state, and whenever I come home to visit, this view never gets old and NEVER ceases to remind me of his BIGness and Strength in my life and in the lives of the people around me. I mean, just look at this picture. There is a lot that needs "fixing" in the foreground. And, there are sometimes more questions than answers, more problems than solutions.

But then this verse came to me again today. The one that always does when I see mountains....and remember WHO HE IS and who I am in the scope of that

HIS -- unequivocably.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

So I am lifting them above what I SEE with my own eyes and looking beyond circumstances into His eyes, His plan, His heart.

I heard a quote one time that I really like that says, "When you can't trace His hand, trust His heart."

I am trusting in what I do not know and what I cannot see today.

Trusting His heart is FOR me....always!

And by the way....that promise is for YOU, too! Won't you look up today and see His face, His love, His heart moving on your behalf??

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The More Things Change....

It is the same every time.

From the moment you step off of the plane, the humid Caribbean air hits you and takes your breath away.


And you KNOW that you are in Haiti.

Some things have changed -- walking onto a jet bridge to the newly built glass walkway down escalators versus the previous stairway onto the tarmac with the walk outside into the awaiting immigration officers, but it many ways it is still the same - the warm Haitian sun, the swell of humanity, the tug-of-war dance with the airport porters, the fight over baggage to find your own.

It is overwhelming to first time visitors, and even in many ways to those of us returning, but it makes me smile as I think of it because, well, this unique greeting, lets me know that I am "home."

The joy of seeing & hugging Mom & Dad as well as the relief of finding all of your luggage AND FINALLY making it through customs unscathed is only eclipsed by the elation of eventually arriving at your awaiting vehicle to make the bumpy, backroads ride through my country to my childhood house.

I look out the window as we bounce along, and while much has changed from my girlhood days -- earthquake ravaged homes still in shambles, buildings in new locations, streets restructured -- many things are still the same.

The street vendors, "marchans" selling their wares on the street corners - candy, goat, biscuits, cookies, toothbrushes, soap. You name it and they will try and sell it to you.

The masses walking to and fro, some hurried, some leisurely, all making their way to their work or home or school.

The children in uniforms that color the streets with organized beauty amidst the every day chaos. Every color that you can imagine is represented in the uniforms that you will find here in Haiti.

The men and women chatting and talking to their friends on the streets - holding hands, laughing, shouting - nothing is EVER quiet in Haiti.

In spite of everything, the way the people live their lives to the fullest hits me all over again, and I am challenged, astounded, and amazed.

And then we are home. The 3-story compound housing a church, a school, a clinic, a carpentry shop, an internet cafe, and our home at the top.

Things here are different too. The yard I once played in is filled with tarps, benches, tin roofs and wooden structures to house make shift classrooms during the long post-earthquake rebuilding process. Classrooms now are temporary storage shelters for the supplies needed to help sustain the many who lost so much in the wake of the quakes. New structures have been and continue to be built -- a depot, new apartment space for Mom & Dad to open up the old one for groups coming to help rebuild, classrooms being rebuilt, and so much more.

And yet so many things are still the same.....

....the way the school children light up at a smile or a greeting

....the way the people are happy yet again for their pastors, my parents, to be with "their" children, even if just for a visit

....the way they want to know when I am going to have children

....the way they faithfully pray for me, even now, when arriving at "pregnancy" has been so hard

....the way their faces light up with they recognize that we - my sister & I - are here

....the way they feel important when I remember Creole

....the way they praise me and tell me that I speak better than them

And 100 more things....

This is my home.

This is my homeland.

I was born here.

I was birthed here, and in more than just the natural sense.

I am WHO I am today because of this nation, this people, this world that God transplanted my family to almost 40 years ago.

And I realize that it is so funny how the circle of life moves....

....and how the more things change, the more they actually stay the same.

And I think THAT is just about PERFECT for this little missionary girl....

....all grown up....

....or well, trying to be anyway.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Walking with His Stride

It was that time again.

Time to pack our bags and travel to "foreign" soil, except it wasn't so foreign to me. My skin might be different from "the locals," like if I stayed in the sun too long, my freckles would throw a party that couldn't help but turn into a rager with a pink glow left as a memorial, but I was still a native.

It was NEVER easy though....

Packing up, choosing what to take and what to leave behind, and most of all saying good bye....

I remember walking through the airport with a huge lump in my throat, trying desperately not to cry, not to upset everyone else. It is funny what you learn as a little girl. I would make it to the airplane, buckle my seat belt, and then the floods would come. And finally after comfort and hugs from my mom, I would settle in, read my newest book, look out the window, and maybe take a nap.

And wait.


Wait for my favorite part of the trip....

Making the connection in the "stop over" airport.

For us, that was usually always Miami. So, I would gather up my belongings, strap on my backpack or purse or rolling suitcase, and I was on a mission. A mission to keep up with my dad in the airport.

And my dad was fast.

I think it started when I was about 8 years old.

It was an adventure to see if my little legs could keep up with his long ones.

We would leave Mom and my little sis, Kasi, in the dust, and I would rejoice in my success. Our success.

It's funny how much little girls look up to their daddies. I wanted to be tall and proud and well...let's be real...I was 8....I wanted to be FAST...QUICK...AHEAD of everyone else! It was a game for me, but that game helped me with my least for a little while.

I think I did this so much that as a teenager, I had a friend tell me, "You walk like your dad." And she didn't mean it as an insult or that I walked manly. She said, "You walk with confidence, like you know where you are going."

Yeah. I learned that from my dad.

"Don't let anyone walk all over you."

"You can be anything that you want to be -- don't let ANYONE tell you any different."

"Be aware of your surroundings."

And this one that he didn't so much say in words...but he exuded this in WHO he was...


It is amazing how when the strides you are following are GOOD....the person you become in the process is one who "knows where she is going."

I mean, yeah, life is still scary and making decisions is STILL never easy for me, but I had a dad who can be WHATEVER you want to be...but BE YOU!

And then as a GOOD DAD, there comes the moment when you have to let go, which was never easy for my dad, and probably STILL isn't, but because He was always working to follow in the strides of HIS Heavenly Father, and teaching me the same....he has...slowly but surely given me room and space to BE the girl, the woman, the individual that he believed in for so many years.

Today, on Father's Day, I am thankful for the strides I had to follow.

The strides of strength, character, confidence, and purpose.

The strides of my dad....

The strides of Our FATHER.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Home to Haiti

It's Friday, and it's time for a quick 5 minute post. Why? Well, because, weekends are busy, and sometimes you only have 5 minutes. Plus it is kinda fun to just write without a lot of excessive editing or fussing. At least that is how we do it with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama. She picks a topic. We write a post about it on our blog, and then we just link up and love on the fellow Five MInute Friday-ers! :) It DOES sound pretty fun, right? Cool...when you should link up OR just go and visit some other peeps there. There is some cool stuff that comes out in 5 minutes of unfiltered writing.

Okay...enough already, right?

Here we go....

Today's Topic: Home


Tuesday, I am going home. Well, one of my homes, anyway.

The place of my birth.

The home of my first breath.

To the place where mangoes and avocados are ripe on the trees and where laughter and hand-holding, even among men, is just the way friends greet on the streets.

I am heading back to the place and to the people whose lives were ravaged a year and a half ago....

And yet they stand.

The earth quaked. Floods swept the land. Chlorea continues to plague the nation.

And yet, the people remain...strong.

Affected - yes.
Heart-broken - yes.
Scared - of course.

RESILIENT - you better believe it.

It might seem funny to some to see this freckle-faced, green-eyed, Irish-blooded girl call this place home.

But every time I go......

...I SEE....I HEAR....I UNDERSTAND....His heartbeat...just a little more.

How He loves us....oh HOW he loves us!

Oh yeah....I'm going home!



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

You Are Not Forgotten

Your worth is beyond measure.

Your heart is supremely valued.

You are a treasure.

You are chosen.

You are His.

You are not forgotten.

I just needed a reminder this week....
and I thought maybe YOU could use one too...

He loves you with an everlasting love....

What a joy to be honored with a love such as His!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Backwards

So on Fridays I link up with The Gypsy Mama, but I'm a little behind this week? Backwards maybe....hahaa....that will make sense in a minute! LOL

Here is what Lisa-Jo says about the linky party....

Take a deep breath. You made it. It’s Friday.

Got five minutes? Let’s write. Let’s write in shades of real and brave and unscripted.
Let’s just write and not worry if it’s just right or not.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Get a little crazy with encouragement for the five minuter who linked up before you.

This week's prompt: BACKWARDS


I had a hard time with this prompt this week. Usually a shape of an idea will come to me, and then as I ponder on it, it will develop into something else, but this week, I could only think of Benjamin Button -- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, that is.

He was born as a small old man, with geriatic types of issues...he grew backwards. He fell in love and eventually he and his love were the same age in mind and body somewhere in the middle.

So this made me think, "What if we lived our lives backwards?" or at the very least, "What if we knew from the end up until now?"

How much differently would we live our lives? "Live with the end in mind," people always say. But what if we made our decisions truly thinking of the outcome? What if my every day life was lived with the desire to BE the person who could live up to the obituary that I would want read. How differently would I live my life if I could live it backwards...see it backwards....know it backwards....

I wonder....

I wonder....

Or would it be too much...too revealing...too scary....?

Yeah, I think God has something going with the way He ordered things....

But I am be somewhat backwards....being intentional to live the life He planned for me.


So would you like to join me?


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Finding "The One"

Today, I am reprising a post I wrote on Valentine's Day for a prompt by Bonnie at Faith Barista on Finding "The One."
The Love Bandit: My Favorite Valentine's Day Story

6 years ago, I walked into the office of the church where I was working. It was Valentine's Day, and I was STILL single.

Now, I was never one of those single girls to "sit around and feel sorry for myself."

What was the point?

What would THAT accomplish?

In college, I would get together with a couple of other girls, and we would plan elaborate schemes for our entire dorm floor -- balloons in the hallway, bags of chocolates by each door, and personalized heart-felt notes tucked inside, so that when our dorm mates woke up in the morning, before they walked into a lobby filled with candies & flowers WITHOUT their names on any of the gifts, they would know they were loved.

Those were beautiful memories that I cherish always.....

A few years later, at the age of 25, I found myself single AGAIN on Valentine's Day having experienced a heart-breaking break up 6 months before from an almost-3-year relationship.

There again, I had a decision to make.

Will I wallow?

If anyone had a reason to wallow on THIS Valentine's Day, it was me right? I mean, I thought I was going to marry the guy. I wasn't in it for 3 years for NOTHING!

But again, what would that really accomplish?

Sorry. Angst. Feeling-sorry-for-myself.


I called up my girlfriends and cooked up some plans. We decided to book a table at a fancy restaurant, dress up real classy & elegant, and celebrate love in friendship. We did that for a couple of years, and I think we often had MORE fun than lots of couples seated around us!

So 6 years ago, I walked into my office with my girlfriend plans in place AGAIN, but with a longing that had grown that year. In fact, that morning, I had wrestled with God, "Have you forgotten about ME? Some of my 21-year-old girlfriends are finding the love of their lives, and here I am, serving you, being obedient, and NO PROSPECTS IN SIGHT!!"

And then just the quietest of whispers.

That still small voice.

He's coming soon....

No qualifications. No details. No timeline.

So of course, I say, "What does THAT mean? 1000 years are like a day to you! THAT could mean anything!"

I tried to squash hope, but I could feel it growing in my spirit in spite of my heart & mind's attempt to suffocate it.




So I walked into that office with hope that day.

Hope in what I could not/did not/would not see with my natural eyes.

Hope had FAITH eyes.

My pastor's wife/aunt walked into the office that day and handed me a stuffed raccoon, with a Zorro type mask in the shade of red over his face, called The Love Bandit, and she said to me half-joking, half-serious, "The Love Bandit is coming to get you soon."And much to MY surprise these are the words that popped out of my mouth.

"Yeah, by this time next year, I will be engaged or married!"

What? Did I just say that out loud? Oh, no! I am not one of those CRAZY RADICAL FAITH people! Why did I say that OUT LOUD??

Knowing ME, she looked surprised, but then HER faith kicked into FULL GEAR and she said, "Okay, then. I am going to stand in faith with you."

2 months later, the man who was to be the love of my life flew from Africa to fill the children's pastor position at our church.

A little over a month after that, he asked me to marry him.

And 6 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days from the MEMORABLE Valentine's Day, I said, "I DO!" to that beautiful man.

When God says to trust HIM, to believe in HIM, to have faith in HIM, why would I doubt? I wish I could say that because of this radical work that God did in my life that I NEVER doubted Him again, but that would not be true.

All I can say is "His grace is sufficient for me, and His power is (and continues to be) made perfect in my weakness."

Today, I want to say THANK YOU to my GREAT BIG AMAZING HEAVENLY DAD for bringing me the MOST AMAZING MAN.

It is MY pleasure to KEEP saying "I DO" to him each day for the rest of our lives.

You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because
reality is finally better than your dreams
~ Dr Seuss

I was 3 weeks shy of 27 when I got married. Almost ALL of my high school friends were married at that point, so I "hung out" with a whole new group of friends. The story is SO AWESOME, but the waiting was NOT EASY. People always want to know HOW to find or know he is "The One." Well, I don't have all the answers, but when I gave my heart FULLY and WHOLLY to the Master to let Him write my love story, He brought "The PERFECT One" for me from the other side of the world. And as to the "how", this is the best advice that I can give you. I knew that Arno was the One because loving him made me love Jesus more. And THAT is a love worth waiting for....I PROMISE!! Even when the waiting feels like TOO MUCH!

I am THRILLED for you to hear how The Father weaves His master plan to have that special someone win your heart! His stories are ALWAYS the best! And I encourage you...wait for His best...I did. And my love wasn't the first potential partner along the way...but he was God's choice...and I thank God every day that He preserved me from "jumping the gun" and being with anything other than HIS BEST for me!

Won't you join me at Faith Barista today and share your story on The One or read some other stories to encourage you in your journey?


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

WW: A Weekend on the Gulf of Mexico

Sometimes it is nice to get away.... spend time with family and friends.... spend lazy days on the beach.... stroll leisurely around new neighborhoods.... take pics of the world around us.... was QUITE the relaxing weekend!

But it is nice to be home too.....with the one I love!

Linked up with Wordless Wednesday and Communal Global....

The Paper Mama
and then, she {snapped}

Better in Bulk

Live and Love...Out Loud


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