Eleven and Twelve

And nearly a hundred more….

November 11 – A game of golf I’m actually good at….

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November 12 – Candles burning and the quiet calm of a fall Monday….

And continuing to list and count the gifts He gives daily, relentlessly, out of His over-flowing love for us….


I didn’t realize I haven’t listed the gifts here in nearly a month(?!), so the list is long, long, long…. 

2175.  last long run finished

2176. kind words that encourage, build up

2177.  a quiet night with my girls

2178.  another rainy Saturday

2179.  husband who spends his Saturday doing a project I could do, but just don’t have time for

2180.  painted bathroom

2181.  so many deadlines closing in

2182.  grace for each hectic moment

2183.  a God who is present and close by

2184.  the energy and motivation to just keep going

2185.  just a few more days of crazy-busy

2186.  iron to strengthen tired blood cells

2187.  Thursday

2188. crazy wind

2189.  swirling leaves

2190.  all this beauty of fall

2191.  a school week finished strong

2192.  warm soup

2193.  fresh bread

2194.  a “rest” day

2195.  fifth half marathon completed

2196.  dear friends who train with me and a dear friend to run it with

2197.  eyes open to the hurt in our kids

2198.  seeking how to make it right

2199.  girls’ surprise, coming home to a yard raked clean

2200.  productive late nights

2201.  foggy mornings and time in His word

2202.  cool rain

2203.  temperatures dropping

2204.  leaves falling

2205. race weekend here!

2206.  the thrill of watching countless hours of work come to fruition

2207.  smiles on muddy faces as they crossed the finish line

2208.  new friends

2209.  lots of laughter

2210.  really good sleep

2211.  race bags unpacked

2212.  loaves of bread lining the counter

2213.  a day spent working alongside my girls

2214.  forty loaves of bread baked in two days

2215.  husband and oldest girl nearly ready to fly

2216.  learning daily the value of prayer, the power in talking to God

2217.  husband and first born in the air toward Haiti

2218.  photos from Haiti – braids and just-met sisters

2219.  sleep

2220.  leaves scattered all across floors – remnants of fall’s beauty brought inside

2221.  continually learning to release my own agenda

2222.  laughter of little girls

2223.  incredible music at church

2224.  worshipping the Lamb

2225.  a meal to benefit the homeless; girls’ eyes opened to their neighbors in need

2226.  battles worth fighting

2227.  restored fellowship

2228.  election day and freedom to choose

2229.  hope for the future because my hope is not of this world

2230.  trust in God’s plan, even though it may bring discomfort

2231.  a massage – gift of a sweet sister-in-law

2232.  adoption talk and a voice of balance and reason

2233.  missing my people

2234.  fluids for my very sick dad

2235.  only one more day

2236.  chatting with my oldest last night

2237.  beautiful pictures of love shown in Haiti

2238.  a husband I am beyond proud to call my own

2239.  feeling caught up on a Friday morning

2240.  my people home, my heart happy

2241.  tales from Haiti – laughter, tears

2242.  encouraging words for my oldest child – how she did so well

2243.  family time on the weekend 

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Seven and Eight

I couldn’t make myself to post yesterday.  My heart was heavy.  I was missing my people in Haiti.  I was disappointed in the Christian community’s response to the election.  And I was so darn emotionally tired.  I did go to bed thankful….but I don’t have a picture for this one….

November 7 – My Husband’s Family….

….And the incredible people each and every one of them are.  It’s a large family, so I won’t be specific, but I have been overwhelmed lately at how generous and loving and wonderful they all are.  And last night I was particularly thankful for my mother-in-law’s weekly family dinner that provided me a reprieve from cooking and some much-needed adult conversation and laughter.

November 8 – My Parents’ courage….

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….I am overwhelmed with thankfulness and admiration for all of the people I know and love in Haiti tonight, but I’m so proud of my parents for making this trek to Haiti to see this orphanage that has become such a wonderfully all-consuming part of our lives.  It’s hard and it’s hot and it’s exhausting and it’s outside their comfort zone.  And they’ve been sick and uncomfortable and, no doubt, stretched.  But I can’t wait until they get back to hear what they thought, and even if they never want to go back again, the sacrifices they made to go to this beautiful place mean the world to me.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

When Joy is Found in the Dirt

Home a week now and half my heart, it stays in Haiti.  Those kids, their joy, it’s infectious and it gets into your blood and you never want to be cured of it all.

Two weeks ago in Haiti was wonderful and hard and beautiful.  Where a shy, pensive girl was led to me in February a joy-filled, excited child awaited me when the truck pulled in, her arms lifted high, saying “Mami!”.  Her smile, caught by a friend on camera, revealed pure joy, satisfaction that her “white mama” had finally come to see her again.  All week she followed me, held my hand, touched me, leaned in hard on me, slept with me, ate with me, worked with me.  Her happiness to simply be near me was humbling and beautiful.

Our little team worked hard on finishing the nursery, just built of concrete.  We sanded and painted and painted and painted some more.  We worked in close quarters and laughed and shared stories and made new friends.  And my dear friend and I, we left early, our families and our responsibilities needing us stateside sooner and she and I talked long of orphans and help and hope.  Now our families, long-time friends but long separated by so many countless miles, are rejoined in heart by this new shared love.

I come home, not exhausted this time, but filled with joy and anticipation of where God is going to take us next.  Once again I fall asleep and wake up to the image of beautiful, brown-skinned faces in my mind and I wonder when I can get back there, when can we get our girls there, and how can we better serve these people.  I give thanks for my family and for this life we have here and for allowing us to be a part of this wonderful thing He’s doing in a tiny land off the coast of Florida.

As we start a new week, my heart overflows at the goodness of God.  The trials and fiery arrows endured leading up to our trip, they all seem so small compared to the joy of being with those kids.   And my heart, it overflows at His faithfulness, mercy, and grace.

1846.  robin on the fence

1847.  sky torn open, rain pouring down

1848. playing stuffed animals with the littlest at home

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1849.  feeling hope, choosing hope

1850.  seeing places we need to simplify life

1851.   national donut day

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1852.  reconnecting

1853.  a good Sunday

1854.  one more day until I see our littlest girl

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1855.  exploring NYC at night on foot

1856.  time with an old friend

1857.  sweet littlest one so excited to see me

1858.  her joy, her smile

1859.  the Haiti trip I was longing for

1860.  pink paint

1861.  sanding concrete

1862.  loving these kids

1863.  her obedience when she really didn’t want to

1864.  asking to sleep with me

1865.  this glorious time with her

1866.  this Haiti trip

1867.  US soil

1868.  a bench to sleep on in O’Hare airport

1869.  reuniting with my favorite people

1870.  an evening with friends – those rare friends you can go a year without talking to and pick up like it was yesterday

1871.  sleeping in for everyone

1872.  first pool day of the season

1873.  thirty sponsorships in six hours

1874.  seeking His plan for each day

1875.  deep cleaning

1876.  a nap on the front porch

1877.  morning snuggles from the third born

1878.  sleeping until 9

1879.  second floor well-cleaned with the girls’ help

1880. waking up  to youngest two singing, playing Monopoly

1881.  cool sheets

1882.  oscillating fan

1883.  primer for the bathroom

1884.  a beautiful couple

1885.  a lovely wedding

1886.  words not meant to be funny, but they make us roll anyway

1887.  my dad

1888. his dad

1889.  the father of our girls who…

1890.  provides through his hard work

1891.  reminds me to laugh

1892.  is taking time to build relationships

1893.  loves His Lord

1894.  a perfect heavenly Father who fills in our gaps

 

“I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us.” ~ Isaiah 63:7a

 

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Gathering Grace, Gathering Manna

God gives grace like manna – daily and always enough to meet our need.  Why do we not go and gather the grace He freely gives?  Why do we choose to limp through our days on our own strength rather than choosing to be carried by the grace of God?  Last week I attempted to walk in my own strength as I carried the heavy, heavy burden of all we had seen and experienced in Haiti.  This week I start fresh, listing the gifts and falling hard on the grace He gives, thankful for mercies that are new every morning.  Counting the gifts is a way of listing the graces, how moment by moment He shows Himself faithful.  And He is always faithful.

1541.  feeling the Enemy’s attacks again

1542.  sorting truth from lies

1543.  God’s wild, obvious protection

1544.  clean sink

1545.  clean floors

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1546.  friends home from Haiti

1547.  wonderful reports about our sweet girl

1548.  images of Godly men loving on orphans

1549.  a long, slow Saturday at home

1550.projects completed

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1551.  five days

1552.  seventy degree days

1553.  details coming together

1554.  preparations coming to an end

1555.  laundry not folded

1556.  house not clean

1557.  piles not put away

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1558.  team packed and ready to go

1559.  New York City skyline at night – modern beauty

1560.  a  long-awaited day – finally here

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1561.  Lifeline

1562.  meeting her

1563.  first hugs

1564.  a big smile when she sees me

1565.  meeting all of these children

1566.  hearing “Mama”, “Papa”, “mi Mami, mi Papi”

1567.  all of our paperwork for our embassy appointment!

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1568.  Misterline

1569.  Gretchen

1570.  Miliane

1571.  wrestling emotions

1572.  feeling connected

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1573.  no power, no a/c

1574.  church in Haiti

1575.  roosters crowing all night long

1576.  praising God together

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1577.  beautiful Shela

1578.  praying and singing with all the girls

1579.  missing home

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1580.  I-600 filed!

1581.  Titi the driver

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1582.  food distribution

1583.  beautiful, hungry people

1584.  joy and hope amidst poverty, extreme poverty

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1585.  seeing her smile again

1586.  that bottom lip

1587.  working in the dirt

1588.  Nicole’s story

1589.  opening the floodgate of tears

1590.  unpacking a lot of emotion

1591.  going home soon

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1592.  Haiti beach

1593.  watching the older kids “swim”

1594.  roommates

1595.  Aicha

1596.  braided hair

1597.  last night here

1598.  girls singing

1599.  sharing, reflecting, praying

1600.  hard, hard good byes

1601.  home

1602.  beautiful basket from a friend, food for  the whole weekend

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1603.  Haiti smells, Haiti memories

1604.  daily seeing their faces in my mind

1605.  knowing God holds them even when we cannot

1606.  school year that drags on difficult

1607.  a day set aside to show love

1608.  mental, heart fog that hangs heavy

1609.  wandering, feeling lost, directionless

1610.  broken washer, thermostat, all these earthly things

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1611.  music – a soothing balm that flows from my phone, with me everywhere I go

1612.  Psalm upon Psalm that directs me in the way

1613.  a long nap with a snuggly six year old

1614.  arms that feel so empty

1615.  friend that lets me invade her house and use her washing machine while mine sits useless

1616.  days that feel like I’m banging my head on a wall

1617.  weeks that feel that way too

1618.  beginning to see truth amidst the confusion, to see God’s purpose

1619.  dinner with friends that understand, encourage, challenge

1620.  a working washing machine!

1621. a Saturday at home

1622.  still processing our Haiti experience

1623.  seeing His grace in all these past ten days

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We are able to have as much of God as we want.  Christ puts the key to His treasure chest in our hands and invites us to take all we desire.  If someone is allowed into a bank vault, told to help himself to the money, and leaves without one cent, whose fault is it if he remains poor?  And whose fault is it that Christians usually have such meager portions of the free riches of God?  ~ Alexander MacLaren (Streams in the Desert, February 20)

May you drink deeply of God’s great riches in grace and mercy this week and may your eyes be opened to the manna that is always before you, the daily, moment-by-moment renewing of His grace.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Unpacking

I’ve sat here for nearly an hour, trying to figure out what to say.  I sort through this past ten days and don’t know what to think.  I sit here, my emotions a strange combination of protective numb and completely raw.  I don’t know if I should sleep or cry.  I only know I don’t feel like I expected to feel.

This orphanage has been a part of our lives for a few years and a huge part of our life for the past twelve months.  I have lived it in other peoples stories and pictures and in my own mind I have dreamed of the day I would get to go.  And now I’ve lived it for myself for eight days.  Eight wonderful, hard, dirty, beautiful days.  And I guess I just expected to feel differently today.  But I honestly don’t know how I feel yet.  Just that numb rawness.  How do those two even co-exist?

I sort laundry and I sort memories.  I wash out Haitian dirt and pray to never wash out Haiti memories.  Those kids.  Their laughs.  The singing.  The cheers every time our truck pulled into the compound.  The food distribution.  Two hundred people with nothing, showing us around their village, showing us their homes.  Two hundred voices lifted in praise to God so thankful we have come.  We leave rice and beans to fill their stomachs for a few days, maybe a week?  They have filled our hearts for a lifetime.  The crazy trips into town. The traffic.  The wild driving.  The stories of Matt driving the Isuzu.     Pterodactyl.  The dirt that you can never get off your skin for very long.  The three minute cold showers that felt better than my ten minute hot showers at home.  Taking some of the kids up to the beach.  Water like I’ve never seen before – green-blue wonder.  Haiti is so beautiful….why do they not develop that?  That old woman on the side of the road.  What becomes of someone like that in a country like that?  The beauty of this people amidst all this poverty.  Knowing that it is their poverty that makes them love Jesus all the more.

I think of meals with the team and laughing and new friendships formed and all of the strange references I’ve heard that finally make sense, have context.  I think of Stan’s message on Sunday and Daniel’s passionate translation and the looks on the faces of those Haitians as they heard bagpipes probably for the first time ever.  I think of Nicole’s testimony and how it tapped some deep well of emotion.  I think of crying on the porch of the medical clinic with Matt as I try to process all of these feelings amidst all of the fatigue.

I think of all those little companions I had for eight days.  A dozen shadows everywhere I went.  I think of Liknay and how he nearly drove me crazy, but somehow I miss his ornery face.  I think of Misterline and Camberry and Adline and Miliane and Stella.  Those sweet girls and how they cried when it was time for us to go and I wonder do they still hope for a family or do they believe they have run out of time, that this is their life?  I think of beautiful Shela and the mama she is to my girl and how I know it tears her heart out that one day Amania won’t be there anymore and yet she loves her well.

I think of meeting my girl for the first time.  Shyness.  Tentative love.  How she warmed up to me but stayed cool toward Matt.  I think of yesterday morning and how she cried so hard before school Nicole let her stay with us until we had to leave.  I think of sitting there at the table, her on my lap, just counting down the minutes, wanting to get this band-aid ripped off, so to speak, get the leaving over with because I know it’s going to be hard, but I have no idea how hard.  I think of her starting to say softly “kay” in Creole and pointing outside.  We ask the social worker there what does this mean.  And he tells us “kay” means house, home.  And I feel my heart break into a million pieces.  I think of going outside and her pointing to that truck, begging through her tears for us to put her on it, to take her with us and having to tell her no, that she must stay and praying to God she trusts us when we say we will come back for her.  I think of literally peeling her off of me and getting on that truck with my head low so I can’t see her, thankful that the loud motor of the Isuzu helps drown the sound of her tears.  I think of Matt weeping as he has to leave his little girl there, unable to do what men are made to do – protect, provide.

And here I still sit…raw and somewhat numb.  A good tired.  A good overwhelmed.  One cannot have these experiences and not be changed.  The effects of the fall are so obvious in a place like Haiti.  Here we gloss over them.  We make our sin shiny and clean looking.  There man’s brokenness is undeniable, in your face, unavoidable.  Even though I feel somewhat numb, I do not want to become numb to what I saw, heard, smelled, felt.  God is at work.  He is on the move.  I want to be part of whatever He is up to, even if it means having my heart shattered time and again because that is what He has done for us.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

What’s Going On Here

Husband comes home from Haiti.  Both of us have hearts heavy for these children.  We leave the airport and drive south to breakfast.  We sit long in a booth at Mimi’s Cafe and talk over all he has seen and thought and felt in ten short days.

We discuss options, what both our hearts have felt, and agree to pray.  He sleeps hard.  I finally rest, no longer alone.  The next day my heart still burns, anxious for what I feel the Lord saying. I never expect him to agree, so it seems not-as-scary to think these things.  We talk over the sound of his shower, while I do my hair for church.  My heart stops – he’s on the same page!  Now it beats hard at the possibilities and how this will change everything.

There lives in Haiti a little girl, who from the first picture Matt sent back, my heart said that’s my daughter.  I do not know what will come from this, we continue to wait for phone calls, but I know how my heart aches and I know how my husband looked at her in the photos taken by other team members.  And I think of the vision Matt had once, years ago, of five daughters and how we have never had another one naturally….  She is ours in our hearts, and I can only pray that one day she will be ours in reality, if that is the Lord’s will.

There is also a little boy, whom my heart loves, but he has a sister there at the orphanage, and we will not separate siblings, and we do not feel called to adopt three, so we feel God is telling us no about the beautiful boy we wanted to bring home.  And there are two other boys that we asked about, and both are in the process of adoption.  And my heart is wildly happy for both of them and I laugh that perhaps God really doesn’t want us to have a son as He continues to close that door.

We do not know what the future holds.  We are excited to see what God has in store.  This could be a long, slow ride to bring our fifth daughter home.  Or this could be a very fast trip toward a closed door.  Or it could be something in between.  We covet your prayers and promise to keep you posted.

Holding to His Wild Grace ~

~ Sara

Multitude Monday….

After a sleepless Sunday night and a Monday morning of four very distracted students, I reflect on quotes that have carried me through the past few days…..

  • Sorrows come to stretch out spaces in the heart for joy. ~ Streams in the Desert, January 18
  • The moment we receive anything from the Lord worth fighting for, the Devil comes seeking to destroy us. ~ Streams in the Desert, January 21
  • We often wish that God would do some great thing in the world, and we look far and wide for just the right places and people.  We must not forget to ask the Lord to make use of us, and to believe that our home might become the central point from which streams of blessing would flow forth. ~ C.H. Spurgeon

I reflect, and I give thanks. The reflection centers me, draws me back to truth. The thanks-giving takes my tired eyes off me and allows me to look up to the One who gives all gifts. He is good.

1046.  three days to go nowhere

1047.  fine arts competition


1048.  first place

1049.  second place

1050.  best of show!

1051.  Sunday school after-Christmas party

1052.  lost camera


1053.  found camera!

1054.  sacrificially generous five year old

1055.  real pointe shoes

1056.  more snow


1057.  the quiet stillness the follows the snowfall

1058.  borrowed four wheel drive

1059.  him all packed and ready

1060.  safe travels


1061.  texts and photos from Haiti

1062.  days and evenings that do not go as planned


1063.  being flexible

1064.  child’s very first game basket


1065.  “best offense” award

1066.  her confidence building

1067.  family night courtesy of Daddy


1068.  knowing that we worship together before the throne, even though we are separated by 2000 plus miles

1069. hearing his voice

1070.  knowing God holds it all in His hands


May every moment be filled with thanks….for His glory ~

~ Sara

 

* there are still so many photos that sit, waiting to be edited and shared….perhaps this week that will happen….for now, photos from my husband’s phone as he serves in Haiti.