Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.

"Oceans", Hillsong United

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

All in a Day

Ahhh. I feel a million times better right now. I just washed off a green clay face mask and I feel like I washed all my cares away, too. (okay, not really. but it sounds like a great commercial.)

It's amazing what some food, some quiet rest time, some praise and worship, and a clay mask can do for my outlook.

It's been a long day. Two miscarriages, a new baby, a new pregnancy, ultrasound training, piles of paperwork, piles of emotions. And to top it all off, personally I've been charting again. I know it's for my health, but it's also a glaring reminder that my body doesn't work right...and as I see these precious babies, I can't help but wonder if my body will carry one beneath my heart someday. Someday.

And so after staying late at work, buying some groceries for a camping trip this weekend, and then finally getting home this evening with a full heart and an empty stomach...I cried.

I walked through my house putting away clothes and groceries as sniffles and mini-sobs escaped.

I'm a little hesitant to tell you guys that. I've been posting all these Haiti reflections and quotes on poverty and justice...and here I blubber because of transient hunger and fear of the future.

I'm aware of the first-world status of my problems.

But you know...I still think God cares. Actually, I know He does.

Because I felt His caress as I unpacked those groceries. He wasn't criticizing me for being weak. He was reminding me He wants to be my strength. No matter what our struggle is, He wants to be in the thick of it with us. Whether it's something big like third-world hunger, or something small like a long day at work...or something universal like loneliness, fear, guilt, or heartache...He's there. A loving Father who either gently points our focus in a new direction, or generously provides for our needs and desires, or sometimes just holds us tight and cries with us.

The groceries are put away. The camping food is packed. I even found some time to load up the tent and all that. And despite the challenges, it was a beautiful, graced day at the pregnancy center. It feels great to look back on the crazy day and know that most of the to-do list got done anyway; I don't know why I worry about it.

But the moment I treasure most from tonight is when I felt His presence in the midst of my humanness. When I lifted my hands spontaneously in worship as Spotify played my favorite songs, and the God of the broken reached down and loved me in all my first-world selfishness and weakness. And reminded me that He doesn't want me to complete a to-do list for Him.

He just wants me.

He wants you, too.

Throw away the to-do list with me. He's reaching down. Lift up your hands. It feels a million times better.

Wisdom for Wednesdays

“I'm going to bed tonight grateful for warmth, an advantage so expected it barely registers. May my privileges continue to drive me downward to my brothers and sisters without. Greater yet, I'm tired of calling the suffering "brothers and sisters" when I'd never allow my biological siblings to suffer likewise. That's just hypocrisy veiled in altruism. I won't defile my blessings by imagining that I deserve them. Until every human receives the dignity I casually enjoy, I pray my heart aches with tension and my belly rumbles for injustice.”

― Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

(Wow. Just wow. Anyone else feel the intensity of that paragraph? Just started this book...I think it's going to turn my world upside-down again...great follow-up to my Haiti trip!)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Haiti, Part II

Thirty of us are packed into the truck bed as we drive to our destination. (Words fail me when it comes to Haitian driving. There are next to no stoplights or stop signs. The drivers simply honk or swerve or speed up or put on the brakes--and somehow it all works.)

We pull into the Tent City.

It shouldn't really be a city at all. But it is. The earthquake in Haiti was three years ago, yet these people are still living in makeshift shacks and tents packed more tightly together than we are in the truck.

No running water, no sewage, no electricity.

For thirty thousand people.

This is their town. This is their home. These people just like us.

The kids swarm around, smiling and laughing and teasing. They know our mission t-shirts from the past missions that come down every two months. They trust those t-shirts, and they are hoping for good things. Candy, toys, clothing, crafts, hugs, and hope.

Even the young ones reach up with their arms, hungry for food and love. We chatter away in our different languages, and I begin to realize the lesson that will become so deeply embedded in my heart throughout the week.

Love transcends language. The Haitians become my friends in a way I could never have imagined. We communicated in ways beyond the broken phrases we spoke in each others' languages.

One of the days I get to visit the medical clinic that comes to the tent city. A Haitian nurse practitioner takes me under her wing. She shares her story (oh, how I love to hear one's story...every Haitian has a story...every soul has a story). Her childhood in Haiti, her education in America, her desire to come back to Haiti and serve.

The medical supplies are so limited. I watch 125 people wait in and around a one-room schoolhouse. They take a number. And they wait. Hours. For the most basic of medical care. And here in America, we complain if we are 20 minutes late getting to a room in the doctor's office. These people are waiting hours for an antibiotic. Or a pregnancy test. Or a thermometer.

I watch the young Haitian momma hold her baby close as her child is pricked for a malaria test. My own eyes are blurred with tears as I hear the infant cry.

I hold a toddler wandering around. She snuggles close. I keep watching for her mother and asking those around me, "Tu bebe?" but no one answers. Finally I find her mom but she gestures for me to keep holding the baby. I don't know her story. Maybe she has five others at home she can barely feed. But we smile at each other and that bridges the gap.

It's hot and crowded in here. I see so many faces, so many beautiful dark faces with so many emotions...fear, pride, hope, resignation, gratitude.

I can't stop contrasting it to our healthcare system in America. How unequal things are...yet the people, we're all so equal in dignity as God's creation...

A teen boy is tested for HIV and AIDS. I watch the nurse's face fall. She looks at me with sadness in her eyes as she tells me it's positive. She takes him aside and talks with him in Creole. I watch him strut through the schoolhouse, a lanky teenage boy with the cocky confidence that covers their insecurities at that age, that covers the truth he's just learned. The other men laugh and tease jovially with him, not knowing anything. But I know. I know his world has been turned upside down.

And my heart just keeps breaking. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

(It's back. You know you missed it.)

"A feminine woman has a royal demeanor but is never, ever a snob. No self-respecting woman would ever treat another person with distaste merely to make herself feel better...Get over yourself already. Learn to deal with your issues. Turn them over to the Lord in your prayer time so that when you leave your house in the morning, you have dealt with yourself and can move on to helping others. You never know what a pleasant smile from you can do to help another person make it another day. You may never realize the impact you can make on someone just by saying thank you. Femininity is not about self-absorption, but about using your feminine gift of nurturing to care for others whether you know them or not."

-Dr. Stacia Pierce, The Feminine Factor

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Haiti, Part I

I'm so excited to share my experiences from Haiti with you, not only because it's a blessing to be able to allow the stories to travel from person to person as God desires...but also because it's a powerful gift to myself to be able to re-live the moments as I ponder and type them. Come along for the journey?

We arrive at the airport in Port au Prince, Haiti, after the usual exhaustion of travel. My makeup has worn off (good prep for the week!), my skin is melting in the heat and humidity, and I can't understand a word people are saying.

It's exciting and it's chaotic.

It's chaotic.

What is this place? This can't be the airport of the capital city of a country. The capital would be much more organized and well-ordered, right? Not like this crazy madhouse.

Some clever Haitian just convinced all of us women to give our baggage claim tags to him...he seemed friendly enough but now we realize he doesn't work for the airport. Oh, dear.

I can't get to my bag on the conveyor belt from all the pushing and shoving and loud noise. Finally someone from our group finds it, with the front pocket unzipped. There went all my money for the trip, forgotten in the haste of last-minute baggage checking and happily carried away by someone somewhere between MIA and PAP.

I'm now poor. Hot. Irritable. Crowded on all sides.

Welcome to Haiti.

Day one and I'm already being taken to the end of myself.

I know this is not a vacation, but it's got to get better than this.

Open hands, Lord. Open hands. (I pray this through gritted teeth)

Here we go.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Starting Small

Why, hello, blog world.

It's good to see you again.

I've missed you so.

Will you let me come in again, share a cup of tea, a smile, and our heart-thoughts?

It's been awhile. My fingers tread gently across the keyboard tonight.

My heart is hesitant yet eager to speak.

Tonight we start small.

With just a timid "hello." An "I've missed you, my friends."

And how are you?