Thursday, December 17, 2009

Aunt Annie

We got the news yesterday that Aunt Annie passed away. She's been fighting cancer for years now.
I only met Annie once. Amos told me later that she was weak from the chemo. I found her fun, charming, energetic... but I hadn't known her before.

We stopped at the house and walked up to the front door. Amos knocked once, twice. I was looking out over the beautiful flowers surrounding the walk. My gaze swung back to the door as the knob turned. I heard a yelp before the door completely opened and for some reason I knew to look down. I reached out and caught the little white furball before it slid between our feet.
I stood up, holding the puppy in my arms and met the gaze of Aunt Annie.
Thin, smiling, sweet. "Oh, thank you." She exclaimed, taking the puppy from my arms. "I just got him and he's not quite trained yet."

Just the fact that she got a new puppy while going through chemo, tells you something about her.

We sat in her living room. It was decorated warmly. It matched her.
We talked. We laughed. We didn't stay too long, she needed to rest.
She kissed my cheek when we left. Thanked us for coming.

A few weeks later we got a gift. A little wooden chair. It sits in my office, next to the children's books.

Someday I'm going to have a little girl and name her Annie. When she's big enough, I'll let her sit in the chair and tell her about when her Daddy was a little boy and went to visit his Aunt Annie and sat on that very same chair.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tales of Christmas Ornaments Past...

I put up my tree the other night... I love all my ornaments. They all have stories. So, this year, I decided that I'm going to start a little book with the stories and a picture of each ornament- that way, I have the memories preserved for generations.

Like... The little miniature wrench that Amos used to play with when he was a boy. He kept it in his desk and created all sorts of little play things. Hay wagons, balers, etc... (we still have a few of them!) This specific wrench was bought for $2.00 of his own money. He still loves it as much now as he did then.
Or...The Mountain Dew ornament made for me by my husband our first Christmas. He claims that I must secretly like Mountain Dew (hardly) but either way, the back says that he likes me even more than he does his soda. That's awfully hefty praise.
Or...the Bride ornament that I received from Brianna the year I got married. It was a crazy year, full of adventures and questions and it all came to an end when I married the man of my dreams. Literally.
And, of course... the little red baby pajamas that Brianna gave me the year Eric was born. I was at college when he was born and when I got the news that he had arrived, I was so excited that I was shaking. I couldn't eat for at least a day and when I called home he cooed into the phone. He must have known that I loved him to pieces... even from hundreds of miles away.
The list could go on, of course. All my lovely ornaments. It'll be a great book.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

a few of my favorite things...

A Few of My Favorite Things:

-~- My niece, who is a foster-child, looking up at me with sparkling eyes and saying, “Are you in my family?” Then responding to my nod of affirmation, “I’m glad.”

-~- Cooking beans in the crock pot. One cup to two and a half cups of water, turn it on high and leave it overnight. Never again will I try to do them on the stove! (Unless, of course, I get my wood cook stove that I want so badly. Then I’ll let a pot of beans sit there all day…)

-~- Memories. I was thinking this morning about my husband and the Pringle can. I’m sure some of you have heard this story but for those who haven’t: When we were in Haiti the only kind of chips we could find were Pringles. I would often be working in the kitchen and Amos would come through and grab a handful of chips. I say grab, more like pour. Every day I would watch him dump the chips out into his hand, then put them away. Finally, after seeing this for months on end, I questioned him. “Why in the world do you dump the chips out instead of just taking a little stack? Every time you dump them, the ones on the bottom break.” He looked at me from behind the freezer door (we kept them in the freezer to avoid having houseguests) then lifted up the can of Pringles and without saying a word jammed his hand into the top a few times. I just about died laughing. It never occurred to me that his hand wouldn’t fit inside the little tube!

-~- An empty sink! About once a month I get WAY behind on dishes and they stack up and it takes me about a week to catch up. But, oh, when I have- I feel like dancing when I see that empty sink!

-~- My niece, Lydia, spending the night, talking to me from the bathtub… “Would you like a slushie? Would you like it microwaved? Don’t worry it won’t melt the ice. It’s a special microwave. Would you like peppermint pattis on the top? Lemon on the side?”

-~- After Lydia’s bath and after her hair was braided but before she ate her ice cream- she decided that she needed to be weighed. So, while Amos and Justin and TJ sat at the table, she and I wandered off to the bathroom to check her weight. “53 pounds!” She exclaimed as we walked back out to the kitchen. Amos said, “I weighed that 160 pounds ago.” Lydia replied, “I don’t weigh 160 pounds! But I think Tasha probably does.” The guys all looked at me, waiting for me to start laughing before they dared to start.

-~- TJ calling me “Mom”.

-~- A good dose of Irish whiskey before bed. (Don’t panic, I only take it when I have a cough that racks my chest and makes it hard for me to breath. I’d rather suffer through the horrible burning and awful taste than force down the disgustingly sweetened cough syrup stuff. I think it should be outlawed, there is NO way it’s any good for you.)

-~- Hadassah Grace Siegrist. (She’s just the newest. Aurora, Giselle, Elyse, Lydia, Heidi, Grace, Anna, Ramsey, Lulu, Kaitlyn and Eliza are also favorites.)

-~- The bookshelves that my husband built me in the office. Have I ever mentioned that I love him to pieces?

-~- Seeing the copper teapot that we got at an antique shop on our honeymoon steaming on the woodstove.

-~- Chocolate Chip Cookies in all kinds of strange shapes because a five year old helped make them.

-~- Children’s books for 4 cents a piece at a thrift store in Watertown. I love children’s books all most as much as I love biographies of missionaries.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

So lovely.

My sister-in-law just had her baby girl. Hadassah Grace. She's so beautiful.
Jesus, may this little girl grow up to follow you with as much devotion as Queen Esther... For such a time as this, she was placed upon the earth...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Link to my post.

All my latest thoughts are on the Women of Promise blog (go here).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009


My husband and I have finally hit that crux in a relationship where one goes from knowing some parts of a person to knowing most of that person. I've decided that it just takes about 2 years, no matter how long you knew each other before hand (unless, perhaps, you disagree with me and think that it's fine to have exceptionally close [emotionally] relationships with the opposite sex before marriage). And I can't begin to tell you how fun it is!

Amos and I were talking the other morning about different dreams and I mentioned the book that I'm writing. Not the one that is almost finished (I read a few chic lit books a couple years ago and said, unfortunately, outloud, "I could write this." and then my friends insisted that I prove it. So, after rolling my eyes for a couple years, I finally buckled down and started "The Reasons" which needs about 20 thousand more words to be finished.) but the other one... I've always been fascinated by the girl I was named after, Natasha Zhanova from the book The Persecutor. And for years I've had this story swirling in my mind that involves her and that time period...

Regardless, I was telling Amos about it and he really encouraged me to finish it. In fact, he offered to help me and to make sure that I had all the time I needed. And, he said that if I finished it, he'd sell a piece of equipment so I had money in case I needed to buy copies of the book to get it published.
Now, I don't have stars in my eyes about becoming an author... but it did make me realize that I can do this. I can finish it. Not to get a book on the market but just because I love writing. And I love this story.

It makes me excited. So, my resolution for 2010 (getting an early start!) is to get a rough draft written. 100,000 words at least.

Jesus, you know that I want this because I think you've placed all of these things inside me. You inspired my name. You gave me a love for Russia and the persecuted church. If this story can bring you glory in anyway, that's all I want. Lead and guide me. I don't want to get so set on this that I miss what you're doing but I kind of feel like this is what you're doing. I love you. Help me follow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Day In My Life.

Amos and I have been married for just under 2 years. We recently returned from a 7 month trip to LaColline, Haiti and are now re-adjusting to life in the States. Amos works on farm tractors and I work (on-call) as a secretary for a local business. I try to keep my week mostly free to be at home since my husband works from home. This doesn't always work out the best... as you will see!

I wake up to my phone beeping. My usual waking time is closer to 6:30 but I haven't been feeling quite like myself lately. My mind goes over the days work... Then, I remember the phone call the night before. My dear friend, Delite, cares for five young children. Usually they are in school during the day and she is free to work at her second job, which she agreed to do this week, however, two of them are now home sick.

I decide that I had better get up and get dressed so I can see her for a few minutes before she leaves to take the other children to school. It doesn't work out quite that well because my husband pulls me back into bed with him when I go to kiss him goodbye. I giggle and promise that I will see him later as I disentangle myself and head out the door. I love my husband.

It is a long standing joke between us because I am an early bird and he is a night-owl. He'll stay up until all hours of the night working (he makes half our income after 9pm!) and I fall asleep long before he comes in. Sometimes I wake up when he gets there and other times I just snuggle into his arms and keep sleeping.

However, in the mornings, I'm up and about and he misses the warm body in the bed next to him. I'll usually be up for hours, cleaning and working in the house when I hear his pitiful call from the bedroom, "hhhhoooonnneeeyyy..." And when I come, he immediately pulls me back into bed to snuggle. Such a goof.

I arrive at Melvie's just in time to say goodbye to the other kids and hear Kimmy say to Delite, "Pleeeeeaasseee, can I stay home with Tasha? I was sick yesterday!" Delite laughed and kissed her forehead. "No. Now get in the car." I smile at Delite as I drop my bag on the kitchen table. It's easy to see there is no mother in this home. There are clothes everywhere and dishes piled in the sink. Well, no matter, I'm here now. Kimmy gives me a hug and kiss as she goes and the boys even manage to wave and say, "Hey, Tasha." (which is a great accomplishment for a 15 year old.) They can act pretty tough but one day they broke down and told me how nice it is when the house is clean and there is a snack ready when they get home from school. I know that I can't do it, but it made me want to go back in time and be a mother to him for the past ten years. My heart aches for these children. Don't get me wrong, though, their dad works hard and does his best by them. I'm proud of him.

My two sick, sleeping girls soon wake up and beg me to give them medicine. It takes a little bit to figure out when they had their last dose and I am soon measuring out 2 t. of grape flavored Tylenol. It looks disgusting. But, thankfully, it works. Jocelyn's fever breaks and I breath a sigh of relief. It had been rather high for a five year old. I take time to lay my hand on each of their heads and pray that God will bring them healing. They smile at me.

Four loads of laundry and two dishwasher loads later, the house is smelling and looking cleaner. The floors get swept. There is chicken and rice soup cooking and the girls are feeling well enough to watch a movie.

The girl's dad arrives home a bit early. He was worried about them. Once he sees they are doing better, he asks if I mind if he runs a couple errands. I tell him that's fine and he's soon gone again. I sit on the couch with Jocelyn and rub her feet. She sighs and looks at me, "I love you, Tashie." I smile back. "I love you too, Jocelyn."

Melvie is back and I'm packing up my stuff. He thanks me and asks if I'll be available on Wednesday if either of them are still sick. I tell him yes and head out.

I settle in the car and turn up the Bible CD that is playing. Hebrews. I love Hebrews. I smile as I listen...
I make a quick stop at the gas station, cringing as I turn over $25.02 for gasoline. The cringe because that didn't even fill my tank. Oh, well. I stop at the library to pick up a book I had ordered. They were having a sale on books, a grocery bag full for two dollars.

Needless to say, I filled a bag. There were several books on Russia that I wanted because I am in the middle of working on a book that takes place in Communist Russia.

I stop at my mother's to pick up the book, "The Persecutor." This is the auto-biography that inspired my name (Natasha) as well as the book I am working on.

I finally make it home. Amos is carrying in a half gallon of raw milk that his brother brought for us. I've been working at eating only certain foods because of PCOS and one this that has helped tremendously has been drinking raw milk. I also make yogurt and ice cream out of it. I think about making some yogurt today but then change my mind. My throat is feeling quite scratchy so instead, I opt for a long hot bath.

My husband comes in and tells me that he needs to go get some things at Jeremy's. I think about going then change my mind. They have 3 children and I don't want to get any of them sick.

Instead, I do a load of laundry and then curl up on the couch with a book.

Amos doesn't get home until late but it's okay with me. With waking up late in the morning, I suddenly remember that I haven't spent any time in the Word. I pull out my journal and smile at the last thing that is written... You, Jesus, are most important. Only you.

I spend some time thinking about and praying for the people in my life. Melvie and his five children. Brianna, my sister-in-law. Oh, how I miss her. Delite and her fiance. Danielle, who is living in Dubai. Elizabeth. Marsha, my other sister-in-law who is expecting her second child. I stop there and add, "Please, Jesus, don't let her go into labor until I am better! I really want to be there." Then I think that's a bit selfish. Then I decide that it's true! I was at the birth of all my nieces and I would hate to miss one.

I read some of Hebrews, reiterating when I heard on the Bible CD today.

I fall asleep thinking about how good it feels to be serving our God. He is so faithful. So wonderful. I am blessed beyond measure.

YLCF Blog Carnival

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Everday miracles.

Today I am sitting at another's house, watching two motherless children who are home sick from school. I realized, as I was doing the laundry, cleaning the very yucky kitchen and making the girls breakfast... that my heart comes alive when I care for children.

This isn't a great revelation or anything, I've known it for years. But it's been awhile since I've had a chance to work with any kids so it struck me again today.

The second thing that I realized is how much I long to write when life is beautiful. I was hurrying from doing the laundry to take the chicken out to defrost when I was caught up with a sudden desire to write. Unfortunately, I forgot my laptop at home. But the stories go swirling through my mind like crazy. My fingers itch to type them...
So, to keep me busy, I decided to write this entry instead.

These little facts may not seem like much to you who read this... but to me, they are miracles. It has been so long since I've been happy. Don't get me wrong, I've found joy in the midst of a lot of pain. But it's been a long while since I could sit and think about all the painful things I am dealing with right now and still feel this fluttering happiness.
Happiness is not necessary for contentment. Joy is. So, my life has not been lacking. It is simply that the deep things within me... like watching children and writing books... have been pushed away and ignored while I have focused on surviving and praising my Savior in the midst of frustrating circumstances.

And our God, is a god who brings peace into frustration. I've learned to surrender. Why do I wait so long? Why do I fight my Savior? My life is so full of sin at times that I am shocked at God's patience and love. But he continues being patient. He continues loving. He speaks light into my darkness and bring life to my death.

What a faithful God, have I!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

daybook entry. - October

Outside my window: A very windy, cold day!

I am thinking: About what I could possibly get for Anna Sliz for her bachelorette party tonight. I'm thinking a bar of organic dark chocolate. That's a good thing to say goodbye to singleness with...

From the learning rooms: Still studying Acts. On chapter 4.

I am thankful for: my amazing wonderful husband.

From the kitchen: Turkey soup and pumpkin biscotti.

I am wearing: work-out clothes because I'm planning to do Pilates in just a few moments.

I am creating: Been going through all my Bible-files... Book by book. Organizing notes/studies etc...

I am reading: Just finished "The Shadow Women" by Angela Hunt

I am hoping: To make it to the bank before three.

I am hearing: Mya giggling and Delite working out.

Around the house: Laundry is caught up. Kitchen is clean. Dishes are done. Dinner is cooking. It's a good day!

One of my favorite things: Mya saying, "Tashhha." And pointing to my lap. Why, yes, I would love to snuggle you... little sugarplum!

A few plans for the week: Getting ready for Anna's wedding! Yay!

A picture thought I am sharing: It's me and the sugarplum herself!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Oh, the joys of life...

This morning my in-laws came for breakfast. We had a lovely time eating eggs and toast and drinking coffee while we chatted about things. I want to get a copy of "HeartBridge" a book about Nathaniel Christian Orphanage in Romania, for my mother-in-law. I told her a couple stories from it and she just loved them.

Then, just as we were finishing breakfast my niece and nephew arrived to spend the day with us! We packed them up and went to church which was so much fun with them. I'm sure when I have my own kids it will be hard to have them in church every Sunday- but for now, I enjoyed it... a lot!

We took them back to the house afterwards and we all napped (although Lulu woke up first and I was half-awake listening to her then suddenly jerked awake because I didn't hear her and couldn't see her. Talk about panicking! She was just around the corner, standing still to fill her diaper. *laughs* But I was wide awake after that!) then the kids played and played...

They left at six and we drove around looking at the pretty leaves. Then we went to my parents to watch "EE-TAOW" (a documentary movie by New Tribes Missions... SO good. I cried. Just like I have every other time I've seen it.) and enjoyed root beer floats. Now we are playing amish dice and I have been instructed to close the computer.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Enjoying Life.

I've been having the best time interviewing women for the Women of Promise website!
It gives me a great excuse to say, "What is God teaching you?" And to hear all about him working in different people's hearts... So beautiful!
If I haven't contacted you about an interview and you'd be willing to do one, let me know!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


In January of 2007 I flew several thousand miles away from my home and lived in a tiny one-room building while working five days a week for a missionary family.

When I arrived home I began dating and consequently married my boyfriend five months after my plane landed. A month after our marriage I found myself fighting depression. I can remember, trying, through tears, to tell people that I loved being married… it wasn’t that. I was just… depressed. I felt lost and confused. I tried in vain to convince my husband that it didn’t have anything to do with him. I knew it didn’t. But I didn’t know what the problem was. So, he felt like he had ruined my life. He hadn’t. It wasn’t him…

Then came the doctors visits. Now I had my answer! I was depressed and confused and lost because of a medical condition! It was hormones! I was almost excited when I found out… finally an answer! My husband began to understand that it really wasn’t him! It was just, well, being a woman. I tried drugs. They made it worse. So, I immersed myself in trying all different types of non-medical remedies. Some helped. Some didn’t.

Then in January of 2009 my husband and I flew to Haiti. We spent seven months there. Working. Crying. Talking. Learning Creole. Becoming best friends.

It was hard. Horribly hard. Harder than any other cross-cultural trip I’ve ever taken. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Mainly because, after three months… praying, fasting, praying some more… I felt better. I felt like God touched me. I felt…whole. It was so wonderful. So beautiful to wake up in the morning loving it. I felt like I had found my real self again.

We had planned on staying for a year, but the work was finished so we started packing our things to go home. I can remember this horrible dread that began when I pulled out the first suitcase. I wanted to go home. Didn’t I? Home was where my family was. Home was where my friends were. Home was… Why did it scare me?

Then I realized that the last time I was home, I was still waking up in the mornings with headaches and tears. The last time I was home, I felt lost and confused. Some of the time, I just wanted to die. The realization hit me that home was scary. I had found my healing in La Colline, Haiti. So, the prospect of going back to the place where the last thing I had tasted was pain… seemed terrifying.

I pushed the disturbing thoughts away. I was excited to go home! To kiss my nieces and nephews. To hug my sister-in-laws. To be swallowed in my brother’s bear hugs. To hear my Mama and Papa sing together again. To see Amos’s family. Maybe church still seemed scary. Maybe the fear of my depression returning seemed taunting. But STILL I was going to love. I decided. It was a fact.

The first two weeks flew by so fast I couldn’t even function. There was so much to do. So many people I wanted to see. Then it happened. My worst fears were coming true. I began to feel lost. I began to feel lonely. I would sit in the middle of our church full of hundreds of people who spoke my language… and feel more alone than I did in La Colline with just my husband.

I crawled to the foot of the throne and cried out my frustrations: “Why? Why, God? I had so many hopes. I was GOING to be fine. I was going to fit in this church. I was going to LOVE every minute of life. I was going to embrace all the things that scared me. But instead I am spiraling back into the same place… depressed. Lost. Confused.”

And God said: “Are you depressed?”
And I said, “Well, no. Not depressed. Just lost and confused.”
And God said, “What about Amos?”
And I said, “Well, actually… he’s been having a hard time too.”
Then it hit me. The depression was from my medical condition. That was hormones. The rest of it… was all re-entry.

I’ve known all about the struggles of re-entering a society that one used to belong to. But I never thought of it pertaining to my situation. But as I looked back over the past two years… it all made perfect sense. I never truly “re-entered” after being gone to Brazil. I just got married. Which can cause some adjustments in itself.

All the lost-ness… feeling like I didn’t have friends- didn’t fit in anymore- wasn’t really loved…. Was simply the repercussions of spending time away. Of course everyone loves you. Of course you are dear to them. But their lives go on without you there. They learn to find new people to spend time with. They figure out ways to get along without you and when you come home- you have to find a new place. You can’t ever just jump back into the old one because that one has disappeared. It’s been engulfed by other people or things.

The good part? Amos and I get to find our place together. The two of us. A family. I don’t have to do it alone. I don’t have to be left sitting at home by myself when friends forget to call me… I have a husband I can snuggle up with (or go visit in the shop!) How greatly God has blessed me!

When I think over the past week since God revealed this to me… I am amazed at his grace! I have made some new friends- rekindled some old friendships. And I think I’m starting to find a place again. No, not as the person I was before… after all, I am different. I’ve experienced pieces of life that will forever alter my world-view… my idea of a nice evening (If you get a chance to talk, why would you watch a movie or TV?)… my opinion on making a quick dinner (rice and beans, anyone?)… and my best friend (who is now my husband!) …my idea of a big house (I don’t care what anyone says, ours is HUGE!)… so on and so forth.

So, my encouragement to others? If you know someone who is “re-entering”… invite them over. Spend some time with them. If you know someone who just got married (or just moved to the area)- don’t worry about “giving them space” invite them over anyway! They can always say no. But if it so happens that they are feeling lost… without a place… lonely- you just might help bridge the gap for them.

Monday, September 21, 2009


This morning started in the usual way. Woke up when the alarm went off (my cell phone alarm, that is, which plays, "Hey, there Delilah..." because it's the only song that's on my phone that doesn't make me angry in the morning.)

I worked at paying the bills, which was a great joy. (that was sarcasm)

Eventually Mya showed up. She's such a little doll. We snuggled on the couch and she slept for a while and I read a bit of Israel, My Beloved. I have really enjoyed this book so far, although, I will warn anyone that it is long and at some points a bit dry. Still, since reading through the Bible this past summer- the book has come more alive.

After a bit, Mya and I ran to the bank. They all love seeing here there. We were standing at the window and I said, "This is Amy." Pointing to the teller. She looked at her, cocked her head a little then pointed at the customer at the next window, "Who's that?" She asked. I laughed and said, "Well, that I don't know." The man was gracious though and told me his name so that Mya could be satisfied. Too cute.

Saturday night I went with several people (including my darling husband) to see Julie & Julia. Note to others: Do not go to this movie hungry. My poor husband hadn't had dinner yet and was starving by the end. Other than that; excellent movie. Not for kids, of course, but very good nonetheless.

Now, I'm busy looking up the recipe for beef bourguignon. I think I'll make it next week.

We've finally started the series of interviews on Women of Promise. Which is exciting. There's another book giveaway there too. Fun stuff.

I've been doing a study on the book of Acts. I love it. I love it so bad. (as Brianna would say) I want... so desperately to slip back in time and ask the apostles a few questions. Like, "How did you do it!?" But instead, I do what is probably better, and keep crawling to Jesus saying, "What am I suppose to do with the mandate to go into all the world? How can I bring you glory? How can I help show them that you live!?"

I don't have all the answers yet. But since God is faithful, I reckon he'll either show me the answers or help me see a better question.

To Him Alone...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

little bits and pieces.

Today I was reminded about all the little parts of living. The bits and pieces that make life... life.

-coffee with my husband. doing our Bible reading. talking about what it means to follow the King.

-arranging the bouquets in our produce/flower stand. all those beautiful sweet smelling blossoms.

-visiting a friend I haven't seen since getting home. sharing about my experiences. hearing about hers. seeing her precious baby. feeling encouraged and loved.

-getting a few groceries (what I could afford on my new 'budget'.)

-talking to my mama about all the pain she's feeling and the joy that's building inspite the pain.

-crying about things at church. again. thought I was over that. then laughing's just there, part of life.

-rejoicing in a savior that loves me. that is changing me. inch by inch. moment by moment. day by day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Frugal Friday: Homemade Laundry Soap

Homemade Laundry Soap for .14 a load!

The last time I went to buy laundry soap, I cringed at the price. With a mechanic-husband, who goes through 2 sets of clothing a day, laundry was getting expensive. So, I did a bit of research and made my own detergent! I absolutely love it so far. It gets out all the grease and still leaves my clothes smelling and feeling nice.

Per Load:
1/3 cup baking soda (to clean)
¼ cup vinegar (to soften)
3-4 drops essential oil (for scent)
I usually use lavender or some other “flower” scent but the last time I went to buy oils there was an orange spice on sale- and I actually like it a lot! My mother uses peppermint… so, anything, really, will work.

I also have a lavender sachet {look here} that I throw in the dryer when I use that instead of hanging out the clothes. It just adds a little extra scent and keeps the static down.

Just a little breakdown in the price for you…
Baking soda (bought at .48 a pound at Sam’s Club) .09 a load
Vinegar (bought at 2.00 a gallon at Sam’s Club) .03 a load
Essential Oil (usual is about 9.00 a bottle although I found some on sale for 2.50 a bottle which would have lowered the total price a lot!) .02 a load
That makes detergent/softener at .14 a load!

Compared to commercial detergents: Detergent (using an average of $9 for a 32 load bottle, although I don’t usually get as many loads as they say!) .28 per load
Softener (using $9 for 40 loads) .22 a load

This makes $.50 per load for commercial detergent/softener and $.14 a load for homemade!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An ever-glowing life...

We've been home for two weeks. Has it really be that long? Has it only been that long? Time seems to have drifted all together. One moment I turn, expecting to see James peeking in my kitchen window, only to be met by the looming red tractor parked in front of the house. Other times I feel as if I never really left home. Weren't the towering mountains of LaColline just a dream?

Today was Anna Mae's funeral. How is it that death steals upon us so suddenly? We all know that it is coming, yet, still, we are shocked when it arrives. Yes, she was old. Yes, she was sick. But did we really expect her to die? No. Not yet. But... yes. Yes, here is the end. Am I ready for mine?

We built a vegetable stand at our place to sell Ez and Brianna's produce. Are the prices okay? Do the vegetables look good? We still need signs. My posterboard signs are being lost to the wind. I hope someone stops! Oh, a bouquet is sold. Lovely.

Meeting about VBS tonight. Christmas in August. I can't believe it's really happening. To think that a dream I had while in Haiti is actually turning into a production! The story of our salvation. Jesus comes to earth. What did Isaiah do? What did the shepherds do? What did the wise men do? What did Simeon do? They sought the baby Jesus. They sought him until they found him. And now, years and years later, we can find him too...

I need to stop eating processed foods! Why, oh, why, do we all eat things that are so bad for us? Since being home I keep finding myself feeling SO hungry and the only option is pasty white storebought bread or potato chips or pizza.... No! I want to eat brown rice and steamed vegetables! I want to snack on fruit and carrots. I don't even mind the hamburgers. Just NOT pizza! ah!

Danielle is leaving in just a few days. I love that she's having an adventure. I pray that God will use each day to draw her closer to him. But, oh, how I hope that she comes home when she is finished! (I just like all my friends to stay put so they will be here when I return home!)

God is faithful. Still. I know, obvious. But true, nonetheless. I love dwelling in his greatness. His holiness. His faithfulness. Jesus, you are my light. My strength. My song. May every aspect of my life reflect you. Make me "glow" with your goodness, your faithfulness, your joy, YOU.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Here We Are

And once again, the wanderer has returned home...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Thoughts on life from a hotel room in Port au Prince, Haiti, West Indies

So, I am sitting here in Port au Prince. We just went to the market. I was stunned that what had once been horribly confusing and overwhelming when we first arrived, was actually quite fun today. The reason for the difference? I understood about 90% of what was being said as opposed to the .5% that I comprehended six months ago.

Isn't that just the way life is at times?

When the man who decided to help us wanted money, Amos said, "I don't have any." We asked around and someone had 10 gouds. Okay, 2 dollars. Not much. But it was all we had. Amos gave it to him and the man said, "This is nothing." So Amos took it back and said, "If that is nothing then I will keep it." Finished. End of story.

Six months ago, that conversation would have been impossible. We would have had to find an interpreter (who would have then wanted money as well.) We would have fussed around and I would have been thinking, "Let me get out of here!"

So, what is the lesson to be learned from this adventure? When things in life are overwhelming me, perhaps I should stop and pray for a minute... saying, "God, I know you speak this 'language' and what seems to be a huge problem to me, is actually just a lack of communication. Help me see this situation with your eyes."

The scriptures says, "If people who are evil give good gifts to their children, how much more your Father who loves you!"

If we need help, will he not "transalate" for us? When I am overwhelmed, is it a case of "you have not because you ask not"?

Today, there were 6 people with us who were experiencing the overwhelming confusion that I did when we first arrived. After trying for several minutes to handle things themselves, they came looking for Amos and I and said, "Please, help us!"

Amos is no relation to them but he willingly dropped what he was doing to go and dicker prices for them. Actually, he had quite a lot of fun doing it.


Just minutes ago, I was stressing because my seat on the airplane tomorrow is not confirmed. The flight is overbooked and I haven't been assigned a seat. For several moments I let myself stress out because a million thoughts came flying at me... "What if we can't fly with everyone else? What if someone has to drive down to New York City just for us? What if... what if..." And then I remembered the market.

I was stressed because I didn't know the "language" of overbooked flights. But God does. He knows. If we are supposed to stay in Haiti another night, will that be the end of the world? Certainly not. We will just stay. We will enjoy the time alone. We will get home eventually. And maybe God wants us to stay. Maybe he has someone that Amos needs to talk to. Maybe there is someone I need to talk to. Whatever the case, God speaks this language and he will interpret the meaning if I just ask him to...

God, teach me this language. And teach me to call on you- even for things that seem "unspiritual". Show me, again, how you watch over every detail.

Monday, July 20, 2009

2 weeks.

Can I explain how excited I am about going home in two weeks? Probably not.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Women of Promise Website!

The Women of Promise website is finally up and running!

I am so excited about what God is doing... He just seems to be confirming this vision on every side. We serve a faithful God!

Also, to all you women out there: I'll be looking for people to write posts. The basic question that I want answered is, "What is God saying to you today?"

If you think you'd like to write a post for the website, email me at

Guess that's about all!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dancing Heart Part 2

Ruth 2:12“May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully.”
Under his wings. Protection. Covering. How marvelous the knowledge that anyone can take refuge in Him!
He sees, he hears, he knows your heart’s cry. He is the one truly safe place to take refuge and he’s more than willing to spread his covering over you. Imagine protected by the Most High.

I Samuel 12:20“Don’t be afraid.” Samuel reassured them, “You have certainly done wrong but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart and that you don’t turn your back on him in anyway.”
Of course we’ve done wrong! All of us! God knows we’re not perfect… he just says, “Worship me.” and “Don’t turn away.” He can heal any sin- but not if we don’t turn to him. Not if we’re worshiping other gods. He is so gracious!

2 Samuel 22:18“He delivered me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me.”
Looking back at my bout with depression, this verse takes special meaning. He delivered me! I wasn’t strong enough. But he didn’t require me to be strong. How thankful I am for a God who uses weakness to display his strength.

1 Kings 8:55“He stood there and shouted this blessing over the community…”
I love the idea of “shouting blessings”. Is that not what most of the scripture is? Blessings- shouted across the pages through the winds of time: “I will save you and raise you up! I will heal you! Be mine!” God’s precious, priceless Blessings!

2 Kings 19:22“Whom do you think you have been insulting and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look in such proud condescension? It was the Holy One of Israel!”
I love it when God rears his head back and says, “Okay, your ignorance has gone too far- Do you know who you’re talking to?” It reminds me that the scorn against him (that seems to be growing in our nation rapidly!) will not last forever. He is waiting patiently, giving men a chance to repent- and then He will rise, with glory and splendor and power to say, “It is I!”

I Chronicles 12:38“All these men came in battle array to Hebron with the single purpose of making David King of Israel…”
Something about this verse (and the lists of mighty men preceding it) makes me feel excited. God’s anointing when David was just a shepherd boy- the years in the wilderness- they all led to this- David’s crowning glory. Can’t God also create a beautiful masterpiece with my life? Can I be a “mighty woman of God” who sets forth with the “single purpose” of giving Christ the honor he deserves?

2 Chronicles 33:13“And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request for help…”
This was Manasseh. Remember anything about him? He was one of the most evil Kings of Judah. Scripture says he “filled the land with innocent blood” and he sacrificed his own son in the fire. In fact, it was his reign that made God say that Judah’s time was finished- the evil had grown too great (although, his grandson Josiah humbled himself before God and that generation was spared- it was the next one that was exiled.) and punishment was unavoidable. But because Manasseh himself was so evil, God had him captured.
And that’s when this happened… in his captivity- he turned to God. How marvelous the grace of our Lord! Manasseh humbled himself and God heard him. Isn’t God’s love incredible? Doesn’t it make your heart dance?

Ezra 6:10“Then they will be able to offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for me and my sons.”
This is Darius speaking, the King of Babylon. Darius the Mede… Daniel and the Lion’s Den- that Darius.
Do you know what he’s doing? He’s issuing a decree to have the temple rebuilt in Jerusalem. Isn’t it marvelous how the Lord works? Here, Ezra and the workers are at a stand-still- unable to finish the temple and praying for a miracle. And there, in Babylon, is Daniel- facing a pit full of Lions. But then! Darius learns to honor the true God! And he issues the decree that finishes the temple. The answer to so many prayers… and, if I don’t miss my guess- the answer to Daniel’s prayers that Darius would find God. I love how the Lord works!

Nehemiah 7:1“After the wall was finished and I had hung the doors in the gates, the gatekeepers, singers & Levites were appointed.”
The gatekeepers were those who controlled what went out and what came in to the city. The singers were those who went daily to the temple to praise God. The Levites were the priests who were in charge of the temple and could go into the Lord’s presence. The “dancing heart” part? With Jesus, I can be all of these things! He stands and watches with me at the gate of my mind… he goes with me to sing praises…and he ushers me into the presence of the Holy One!

Esther 9:4“For Mordecai had been promoted in the King’s palace, and his fame spread throughout the provinces as he became more and more powerful.”
I love this because at one point Mordecai was alone in standing for what was right (not bowing to Haman) and then the next thing-- all the Jews, including him, were condemned to die! It must have seemed like God had abandoned him. But that was not the end! God’s stories never end there! God shall not be mocked- Men reap what they sow.

Job 42:17“Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, good life.”
I know…this doesn’t seem very “dancing heartish”… except, there is something touching about this sentence. After you read all through Job’s trials- His tears. His depression. His heartache. His sorrow. Then God speaking and Job sees God. He has said over and over how much he longs to see God & then he does! Then we hit the conclusion- his life was long and good. After all, seeing God is the point- the thing that makes living worth-while. Oh, that realization makes my heart dance!

Psalms 145:16“When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.”
I love this because there have been times (especially over the last two years) when I have been “dying of thirst”. It felt like I was lost forever in the desert. Stuck seeing mirages that kept my heart aching with desires but left my soul parched… and God finally spoke- and when he opened his hand- living water flowed. And now, here I stand, drinking deeply of the well that will never run dry! How I love Him!

Proverbs 30:5"Every word of God proves true. He defends all who come to him for protection."
Isn’t this lovely? I find it breathtakingly beautiful. That we can trust every word that God speaks. That we can seek shelter in him. The Redeemer who willingly defends all who ask -- “Seek me and Live!”

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dancing Heart Part 1

Dancing Heart Verses 2009
Verses from each book of the Bible that remind me of God’s unfailing love for me, his child. The verses that make my heart dance.

Genesis 18:19“I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord and to do what is right and just.”
This was said of Abraham- but it is for me as well! He singled me out, that I might (teach) others the Way. Oh! How it makes my heart sing to know that God chooses me, as he chooses each of us, for follow hard after Him! Can’t you hear him calling?

Exodus 27:21“The lamp stand will be placed outside the inner curtain of the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle. Aaron and his sons will keep the lamps burning in the Lord’s presence day and night. This is a permanent law for the people of Israel, and it must be kept by all future generations.”
We, as children of Abraham- with Jesus, our priest- should keep our lamps burning day and night. This means, He, the God of Heaven, desires us to come DAILY into his presence, to fan the flame of his love and affection!

Leviticus 26:12“I will walk among you. I will be your God and you will be my people.”
Here, in this book of laws, we find the reason for it all. God is saying, “I am a Holy God- I want to be with you. You have to do all these things and then I will walk among you! I will be yours! You will be mine! “Then, as you know, when it became clear (to us!) that there was no way we could live by this- He said, “I will come. I will live by this and I will take your punishment. THEN- I will be yours! You will be mine!”

Numbers 16:48“He stood between the living and the dead and the plague stopped.”
God’s anger, that fearsome righteous anger, was destroying the Israelites. They had sinned again. But Aaron, knowing God’s mercy as well as his anger, ran into the midst of the people and made atonement.
Is that not what Christ did for us? Is that not what we are called to do? To run into the midst of the people- stand between the living and the dead and cry out to God! His mercy is as vast as his judgment. His love encompasses all.

Deuteronomy 7:6“For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.”
I love those words, “Special Treasure”. They bring to mind… priceless beauty, unfathomable value, tender love… all things that make one’s heart squeeze in affection. And that’s how God thinks of His people!

Joshua 23:14“Deep in your hearts you know that every promise from the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!”
Our faith isn’t in “idols” without ears or words or hearts. Our faith is in a god who speaks. Who hears. Who never fails. Every promise comes true. We can count on it. Doesn’t that truth make your heart dance?

Judges 6:15“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh and I am the least in my entire family.”
I serve a God who chooses the least. The weakest. Perhaps, then, He will use me… with all my scars, my still healing wounds, my pains, my stumbling blocks, my desperate thirst… my need for Him. And somehow, perhaps, I will be used to rescue a part of God’s Israel. Maybe, somewhere out there in the vastness of this world, there is a person who is scarred, wounded, in pain, stumbling around, dying of thirst… and, not despite my weakness- but through it, another child of the King will be carried into the kingdom- where they can finally quench their thirst by the side of the fountain of living water.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On Healing.

I know that I have been terribly negligent on writing. My apologizes.

As of now, there are roughly six weeks left for us here in Haiti. Two weeks of that will be with a group that is coming the end of July. We are very excited about their coming! In the meantime, I am trying to move myself into the “going home” mode. Which, basically, means that one must start putting all the little things to memory. All those parts of life here that have become “matter a fact” but will not always be here to enjoy.

Now, as for other things. I have been meaning for some time to write out this “documentary” of my physical/spiritual journey from this time of my life. And yes, the physical and spiritual are connected. Strongly.

Since being here I have gone on three different fasts and the results of all have been very encouraging. The first was a vegetable only fast (when our garden was in high production) and I immediately began feeling better than I have in over a year. I dropped a couple pounds but more than that, my temperature (that I’ve been keeping for some time- to record my non-existent cycles and also to keep track of how my thyroid is functioning) went from the terribly low number of 96.5 or 6 to 96.7 or 8. Yes, still low, but going the right direction!

I also, at that point, began taking regularly- three different supplements. The first was “Female” by Dr. . Tastes like licorice, which I hate, but when it’s in a bit of juice, it’s not the end of the world. The second was vitamin B tablets and the third, about 5 kelp tablets. Before this, I had taken 1 a day- but suddenly realized: The bottle says one a day because that’s what most people need- I am extremely deficient in iodine. I should probably take more!

That fast lasted about 1 week. At which time, we made a trip to Les Cayes, where we stopped at a restaurant. At that point, I was still very shy in this society- and ended up ordering the only thing in English on the menu. A sandwich and French fries. A Haitian with us didn’t eat the rice and beans that came with his meal and I would have given anything to just have that. Mostly because just a little bit of all the grease on my plate (my husband finished everything for me) made my stomach cramp awfully. After that I tried to add in rice and beans on a semi-regular basis. Eventually, all gardens ceased producing and I could barely get enough vegetables to eat some once a day, let alone only vegetables. (There hadn’t been rain in about three months at that point)

About then I began feeling poorly again. I got cranky and depressed. So, after talking to my husband, I went on a cleansing fast. Which meant, I had tea, one smoothie a day (He didn’t want me getting too weak, so I made a banana smoothie with milk each morning) and a bowl of potassium broth (made with potato peelings, carrot peelings, onion, hot pepper and a bit of salt- then strained). I did this for three days. I felt wonderful. My temperature sky-rocketed to 97.5! And, of all things… I had a period. Spotty and abnormal, but the first one that my body had done without any medication in a year!

Something else happened during that fast: See, when you replace food with God’s word and with prayer…He usually meets you there. He’s not a god to be commanded about at will- but he IS a God that comes to help us in our weakness. I should also explain- before I began the fast, I was reading a book called “The Real Faith for Healing” and, honestly, I was having a hard time understanding it. The author talks some about the woman with the issue of blood, who touched Jesus’ robe and was healed. So, in my prayer journal, I wrote:

Jesus, my Jesus. I cannot go on without a touch from you. I cannot be the woman you created me to be without a touch. I need you, Jesus. Don’t pass me by. I am reaching out- stretching my fingers to touch even the hem of your robe. I will not eat food- I will cry out for you instead. Be my strength, be my nourishment- for you are what I desire above all. Nothing else is even worth looking at- all my dreams are but burned out ashes without you. Jesus, I say it again- please do not pass me by! Touch me!

And so began the fast! It only lasted for three days because by the third day- I understood. My biggest struggle was with the places in God’s word where he talks about healing. By my stripes you are healed. Yet, here I was, with this broken, un-functioning body! And I was asking for healing. Why do some receive and others don’t? Then came the revelation.

During my quiet time I tried to take extra time to just listen to God, as part of the fast. And the third day, he asked me a question. He said, “What do you think healing looks like to me?” And for awhile, I didn’t answer. I just meditated. If I was to stand before God- completely healed- what would it look like?

Now, this was a interesting twist! Not stand before a mirror. Not stand before another person. Stand before God. What would I look like?

That same day, I was down at the hospital and a lady came in with her twin babies. When we first came they were terribly mal-nourished, but good food had picked up their weight and their skin was returning to the nice soft baby skin that it should be. I sat for awhile on the hospital steps, just holding them. I didn’t have energy for a lot else! Now, mind you, every time we see these people, they offer us their kids. “Take to New York.” They tell us. We shake our heads and say, “Pa kabob.” (Can’t.) And, somehow, when I was there- holding babies whose parents would gladly give them away- and thinking about the fact that I might never have my own… it came to me.

If I was to stand before God, completely healed, what I look like? I would look whole.

I wouldn’t be staring down at empty arms, desperate for a child. I wouldn’t be depressed. I wouldn’t be confused. I wouldn’t feel like there was a part of me missing.

No, I would be standing straight, with my eyes, not on myself, but on the Christ. My heart would be overflowing with joy. My mind would be filled with thoughts of Him. I would be whole.

When God promised healing, he didn’t promise a perfectly functioning body. He didn’t! He promised wholeness. He was beaten and nailed upon a cross so that we didn’t have to live incomplete. This includes our spiritual bodies- that were dead and in him are alive. And also, our physical- that are so dependant on our surroundings for comfort and happiness, but in him can be joy-filled and whole DESPITE our surroundings.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe that God still does miraculous healings- just like he did in the Bible. He is the same God- yesterday, today and forever. But I think that our “wholeness” doesn’t come from those miracles. For some, it does! For others- like, say, Joni Erickson Tada, wholeness came in the form of a ministry and passion. Our wholeness can come in many different ways. For some- with my physical trouble- wholeness may come in a job that uses their gifts and abilities to help others… or in a miraculous conception… or through adoption… or through a ministry. Our wholeness will look as different as we are from each other. Each person unique. Each person a separate entity in God’s eyes.

Now, if you were counting- you’ll see that only accounts for two of the fasts. The third I am doing right now. The reason: with all the gifts from back home of candy and snack foods… my body started acting strange again! I think I really am “allergic” (per say) to anything artificial. Flavorings. Sweeteners. Whatever. So, I decided to do another cleansing fast. This time, to hopefully set my body into a regulated diet that cuts out the things that are hurting it. The good part- it should be different this time. Because this time I’m NOT trying to eat certain foods to bring myself wholeness! I’m already whole. This is just because my body is a temple of the Lord, and I want to treat it right.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Crying Savior.

I’ve been reading through the Bible and there is something startling that happens when you read the scriptures all together. I’ve always said that the Old Testament shows us the heart of God and it has proven true again. There, in the words of the prophets, you hear God’s desperate plea. His constant war with his justice and his mercy and in the midst of them, his cry of pain. And there, in the pages, you can find- our broken hearted Savior. One so desperate for the salvation of His people, that he was willing to come to earth and bear their sin upon himself.

All of Jeremiah, I think, could be condensed to three words, “Return to me.” Except that, even then, perhaps you wouldn’t hear the anguished cry that comes pouring out of the pages… He wavers between saying, “You are unfaithful. You must be destroyed.” and saying, “You are my loved ones! You were made for me! Come back!” As I read through chapter upon chapter, I could see why Jeremiah is called the “weeping prophet”, it is simply because he prophesied the words of a weeping God. In my mind I could see the King of all kneeling before the blood stained Israel saying, “Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me; I cannot keep silent.” (ch. 4:19) “Why? Why have you left me? Why have you done this? Why won’t you turn back to me? I have to destroy you but if you would just come back then I could redeem you! I would forgive everything. But you keep on going, you keep searching for other gods. Why?”

Yet, even there, amidst his crying and declaration of judgment- he proclaims that he will still save them. At the end of every tyrant of anger and frustration the tone changes. His words soften and a promise to bring them back screams the name of Jesus through the dripping of his tears.

The mighty nation that God built up from one man, falls into a heap. Yet, still, he loves them. In fact, if you listen through the anger, through the tears, through the pain- you can hear the song of love that reigns supreme through all of scripture. “I love you. I chose you. You turned from me. You mocked me. You hated me. You became everything that I can never be. But I love you. I love you still. I want you. Return to me.”

In the past I have heard people judge the Old Testament severely. They can’t understand the wars and the battles; the fierce God that you find leading the Israelites to “totally destroy” towns and villages, women and children, every living thing. But I somehow doubt that they’ve read the words while looking for the heart of God. If we just had the New Testament- there would be so much that we wouldn’t understand! The beauty of Jesus is magnified by the Old Testament. The relief of a new covenant is only there because of the pressing burden of the old. And the Justice of God is just as present in his heart as the Mercy of God. In fact, without the justice- the mercy isn’t nearly as breathtakingly beautiful.

God knows each of us. He sees into our hearts. He understands the incredible pain that life can bring. If you are dealing with heart-wrenching pain, then I hope you’ll go search out the God of the Old Testament… the one that battled horrifying rejection and came out saying, “I have to punish you because I am just but because I love you, I will bear your punishment.”

And when there is nothing you can do but cry, go read the book of Jeremiah and let God cry with you. For all the pain on this earth is here because of our rejection of Him and he too has wept at the pain we will face because of it. And then, when you’re finished crying together- go read the story of the crucifixion and then as Jesus conquers death to bring us life- allow your heart to bury the death that caused your pain and look with joy into the face of the Savior who brings you new life.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Way of the Father

Yesterday was quite the day in La Colline, Haiti. It started off quiet enough. I woke up around six o’clock and by six thirty was serving my parents (who are visiting!) French toast and my husband- eggs (he’s not fond of French toast.). At 7:30 Melen came and said she needed to go to Fondeneg.
Amos and I spent an hour at the hospital, then left for Fondeneg with a truckload of people. Sara, Melen’s 2 year old daughter, was sleeping when we got there so we sent my parents off through the market with Melen and Amos and I stayed with the truck and the baby. She woke up promptly enough so we decided to go out wandering with her. We bought some little lime muffins, a container of dry milk (we were running low) and a package of chicken bullion cubes (a staple in the Haitian diet). Amos told me at one point that Sara could probably walk if I didn’t want to carry her but I told him that it had been so long since I’d just carried a little kid around… He just smiled at me and told me I was cute.
We were getting thirsty so we decided to try one of the bagged juices (they sell water and juice in little sealed plastic bags here) that we assumed was like Kool-Aid. It was more like syrup. And the orange tasted suspiciously like banana. So, being the kind people we are… we gave it to Sara and went in search of a nice normal not-so-sugary Sprite.
Not too long after that, everyone made it back from the market, Mom with a big smile and a, “Wow, there’s a lot of people.” And Papa with a shake of his head and a, “Well, there’s no shortage of food in this part of the country for sure.”
It was around noon when we arrived back at the mission. We took a nice quiet couple of hours to get lunch on (rice and beans and spicy meat sauce). I finished reading “God’s Smuggler” to everyone. Afterwards we decided to go work at Anna’s house. She is a widow who has six children, whose house burned a while ago. The mission built her a new house but she’s been having trouble with rats coming in- so we are putting up screen to keep the rats out.
The men went down first and Mom and I followed a little later (she had to practice violin and I hadn’t finished my Bible study for that day yet.). It’s a pretty walk to her house anyway. We were there probably an hour when Selina showed up. I greeted him and he greeted me back, but he didn’t smile. In fact, he seemed agitated.
“Kote Amos?” (Where’s Amos?) He asked. I told him that Amos was there, just on the other side of the house. We started around when he suddenly turned to me and in broken chopped sentences that were half Creole and half English (I think I would have understood a lot faster if he had just stuck to Creole) he told me that there were tons of people at our house and someone had Amos’s cell phone.
Oh! Did I tell you that a couple weeks ago Amos’s cell phone was stolen? Well, regardless, it was. It was frustrating mostly because we have a lot of numbers on it that we needed and also because Amos has bad hearing and the borrowed phone we have now is much quieter.
I turned to tell Mom what was up and Selina went on to talk to Amos. By the time I made it over there- Selina and run through his Creole/English explanation and Amos looked as confused as I had been at the beginning. Finally I broke in and told him to go back to the house because someone was there with his cell phone. They left and Mom and I stood there with the tools. After a bit we decided that I would walk up and see what was going on and would come back it a few minutes to let her know.
On my way up I passed a couple ladies. I had to laugh when they began talking about me. They said,
“There is the white girl.”
“She walks very fast.”
“Talk to her.”
“She doesn’t understand Creole.”
At which point, I spun around and smile at them and said, “I understand a little Creole!” They laughed and laughed.
I came around the corner of the hospital and could hear a lot of talking. There was a group on young guys standing by the gate, looking up toward our house. As I came up behind them, one of them spun around- seeming surprised to see me. He rattled off something in Creole and everyone stopped talking. All I caught from his rapid speech was “understands Creole”. (obviously that was a little exaggeration.)
I went through the crowd and up to the other crowd that was inside the compound. There, in the middle was Amos, looking at his cell phone. He handed it to someone else and went inside to get the box to compare the UPS code. I walked with him and he informed me that it was definitely our phone but they had changed the S.I.M. card and filled it with trashy pictures.
He went back out with the box and I stood there for a second and prayed.
When I came back out everyone was down by the gate. Later I found out what had happened. Antipa, the kid that was helping Amos prove the phone was his (although I’m pretty sure that his is the only phone like that in the La Colline valley) was comparing the number from the paper to the number scratched into the gate (never did figure out how that all conspired) and when he said, “Yes, this is Amos’s phone.” And went to hand it to Amos- several of the guys from the other side of the gate reached over and forced the phone away.
Amos, bewildered at this response, back away. The guys went after Antipa, who was still holding the battery (you have to take the battery out to get to the codes on the inside of the phone). He back away from them and then dropped the battery in Amos’s hands as he went by.
A guy came through the gate and demanded the battery from Amos. Now, Amos didn’t know what exactly had taken place- everyone was speaking so fast and all at once- but he did know that whoever had the phone wasn’t using it for anything good. So, he made a decision right then that he wouldn’t give them the battery. He said later that if it was just a case of someone wanting a classier cell phone- then, well, whatever. Let them have it. But if they’re using our phone to take pictures like the ones he caught a glimpse of, then, no, he wouldn’t give them the battery. (in Haiti, it almost impossible to get a replacement battery)
Well, I was standing right there and Amos handed me the box that was in his hands. The guy demanded the battery, again, and Amos said, again, “No.” So the guy went after it. Immediately, three or four hands closed over his. His friends, who were helping him. The guy tried desperately to pry the hands apart but Amos said that he couldn’t have let go if he wanted to- the others were holding his hand closed. He pulled everyone over to a tree where he could get leverage, then he twisted his arm up and out of the group. He walked away from the crowd, up to the house and then turned the battery over to someone else. He told him, “I can’t understand enough to figure out what’s happening. You hold on to this.” Then he went back out.

Right about then Melen came over and said she was calling the police. We were a little flabbergasted. But as soon as word got out that she was on the phone with the police (actually, the police weren’t there- she was just talking to Frisno, the hospital administrator) all the young guys dispersed.

Then it happened. Amos was sitting there talking to the guys who had helped him (who were now arguing with each other because they both thought it was the other’s fault that the phone got away) and one of them was holding a glass bottle- which he smashed. I’m pretty sure that if Amos had said, okay, they would have gone after the phone and fought until blood-shed. But he turned to each of them and said, “Okay, listen to me.” Then, carefully, in halting Creole, he said, “Do you know what I’m here? I’m here because Jesus loves me and Jesus loves you and Jesus loves everyone. I want my phone. I don’t want it used for the bad things it was used for. But it has no eternal value. People have eternal value.” Then he asked for the jagged edged bottle. The boy nodded and surrendered it.
Then, over and over- person after person- he got to say the same thing… “Jesus loves people. He died for us so that we can have eternal life.”
One man came up (news travels fast) and told Amos, “You are my friend. All the time you drive by my house and you smile and wave. You have joy. I know it is because of Jesus.” As far as we know- we’d never met him before. I remember seeing him but never meeting him.
One guy said, “I know that you do not give give give like we ask you to. But if someone needs then you give. You are our friend.”

Over and over. Person after person. “You are my friend, Amos.” And Amos saying, “Do you know why I’m here? I’m here because of Jesus….”

As we lay in bed last night, Amos turned to me and said, “Tasha, do you realize that since we got here I have tried and tried to tell people what I said today and they haven’t ever stopped to listen. There were a dozen times when I would have gladly given $200 American dollars (the cost of the phone) just to tell them about Jesus without forcing them to listen.”

And I thought, “Isn’t that just the way of the Father?”

Thursday, May 21, 2009

more Haiti memories.

Quote of the Month: Every sin begins with a thought and every spiritual battle is won or lost at the threshold of the mind. - Sharon Jaynes

On my mind: We haven't had internet for awhile... hopefully we will have it regularly again soon. As of now, I'm online at a hotel. My parent's are coming in today! They were supposed to be here yesterday but their plane was cancelled. I am so excited to see them!
We have our tickets home now. We're going back in August instead of November. We've finished most of our work already... so, we didn't feel like it would be good stewardship to just sit around at the mission.

A few Memories:
People here are constantly telling Amos that he has "gwo vant" (big belly) because most guys are very skinny (not girls, really, just the guys. it's weird.) and one morning I brought cookies out to all the workers. They just loved them. Amos said to Rouskou, "Ou remmen?" (You like?) and Rouskou said, "Wi, wi, anpil." (Yes, a lot.) and Amos said, "sa reason mwen gen gwo vant." (that's the reason I have a big belly.) They laughed and laughed!

Little James was standing next to me, staring at the last Pati in the dish. His round eyes were hungrily thinking about the tasty fried dough with meat inside.
They say he can't speak English but when I said, "Do you want that?" He nodded eagerly. I pulled the plate over and offered it gently to him. In a flash the pati was gone and a brilliant smile was my reward.
The rest of the family might be sharing three pati's between them but for once this middle child got his very own.

I was talking on the phone to my family back home (I was on speaker phone) and informed them that our internet wasn't working. Little Giselle piped up, "Well, my dad can fix it!"

Guess that's all for now.

We are going to go eat some breakfast (although, I think I'll pass on the pumpkin soup that the Haitian's love to serve for breakfast) and then get ready to go pick up my parents!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

over and over like a trumpet underground... the earth seems to pound, He is Risen!

I have a confession to make. Last night I was really depressed. Thinking about Easter and all the wonders of it... and being so far from my family and friends and, well, anyone who speaks my language... I really was having a hard time focusing on the resurrection of my Lord.

My wonderful husband spent quite a while praying for me and listening to me.

God is faithful. I don't think I say that nearly enough. He is.

This morning was beautiful. I woke up and fixed two cups of coffee. Amos and I sat and talked about what Easter means, while drinking rich flavorful cups of Haitian coffee. After a bit we began to sing Easter carols. Then, I remembered that when his cousin was down visiting us we had uploaded all the music off their ipod, which included the Easter choir that she was practicing for.
How I treasured those songs this morning! How thankful I am for a God who cares about little things like the need to hear worship in my own language.

Then we were told that we needed to do an ambulance run this morning. The lady we had brought in yesterday afternoon was in need of a ride home. Well, her and her newborn baby girl.

It was so fun to spend the morning driving through the backwoods of LaColline with a newborn baby and a pleased and excited family.

How fitting for an Easter morning! The celebration of new life!

The church service was long and filled with many things that I didn't understand. Unlike our usual joyful Easter carols, they seemed to sing mostly slow sorrowful sounding songs. But, then, at the end of the service, they all stood with shouts of "Allellulia!" And sang a lively song, that, I assume, spoke of Christ's resurrection.

How grateful I am for a risen Savior!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Musings on a Word...

I think I noticed it the first time I ever read the whole Bible through. It’s there, over and over again. Somehow it captured me and since then every time I see it in a passage- I underline it and cherish it.

I mentioned it one time, in passing, to a group of people and some laughed. They didn’t understand the joy I claimed at that single word.


The technical meaning is a small part of something that remains after the rest has gone. I had one person tell me, "it just brings to mind a scrap of material that isn’t useful for anything."
The word is spattered here and there throughout the Old Testament and then, in the New it emerges again.

It's there at the beginning. In Genesis. "But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance."

It's mentioned in Kings and Chronicles.

Then you get to Ezra. The Israelites are nothing like the great nation that God made them in the days following the exodus from Egypt. Instead they are prisoners, slaves, servants of great kings that care little for their plight. Then, God moves.

"the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia" 1:1

He suddenly decides to rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. No earthly reason for such an undertaking. What did he know of the God of the Jews? Yet, the call goes out and the remains of the houses of Benjamin, Judah and Levi crawl out of their hidden places and travel to the city that once was boasted as the most glorious place on earth and is now in ruins. The men who had been more numerous than the stars in the sky were reduced to a mere page of names. Yet, in those numbers we find some of every part of Jerusalem. The Priests, The Levites, The Singers, The Gatekeepers, The Temple Servants, The Servants of Solomon…

Then it comes… there in ninth chapter. Ezra is praying and he uses the term.
"But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in bondage." 9:8

God, in his graciousness, leaves a remnant. A "scrap of material that isn’t useful for anything" and gives them a firm place in his sanctuary. He puts light in their eyes and gives them relief in their bondage.

That is just the beginning. You can catch glimpses of it throughout the Scriptures.
"therefore pray for the remnant that still survives."
"a remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God."
"in that day the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown…for the remnant of his people."
"let them glean the remnant of Israel…"
"O Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel…"
"perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph."
"I will surely gather all of you, O Jacobl I will surely bring together the remant of Israel.'
"So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace."

Some may hear hopelessness in the word but I hear the sweet melody of redemption. Redeemed. Remnant. The words even look similar, don’t you think?

This brings to mind a song that I fell in love with a few years ago. "Wallflower" by Laura Woodley. The chorus says,

Wallflower come dance with me,
Left over you’re just what I need.
Broken one,
You’ll be the Queen of my heart.

This, then, is the message of the word. Remnant. Left over. Useless. Broken. And then, God moved.

No earthly reason for the undertaking. Yet, He took that worthless inadequate thing and said, You’re just what I need. You’ll be the Queen of my heart. You. The Remnant of Israel. Scattered to the ends of the earth. I will gather you together and build within you a stunning bride. My priceless remnant.

Now, every time I see that word, nestled in amongst the thousands of words in the English language, I can hear him whispering in my ear…
Come and dance with me. You’re just what I need. I choose you. Beautiful One. You belong to me.

And I think if you listen closely you’ll hear it too. Maybe for you it’ll be in the sound of the wind or the warmth of the sun. Maybe you’ll find it in the laughter of a child or in the quietness of your morning devotions. But I urge you to listen. For I truly believe that inside all of us there is a remnant of God’s perfect counterpart… the thing we were created to be. And he is waiting, longing, to gather you to himself.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Night We Went For a Walk.

We decided to go for a walk, my husband and I. Our travels in the coolness of the evening took us on the narrow trail next to the citrus tree, where the still ripening fruit was examined and the longing for some kind of ripe citrus was talked about and wished upon.

On down toward the gray school building, we went, circling around the looming structure, then between the large mango trees that sat near the water fountain, next to the cashew tree that twisted it’s way upward in front of the hospital. We walked down the dirt road, surrounded on both sides for a few minutes by towering cactus plants. The cacti gave way to banana trees and we paused for a moment to looked at the bunch of ripening bananas that hung on the nearest tree.

We continued on past the coconut palms, underneath which was found piles of thick green shells that had been cut away so that people could grasp the small circle of creamy white sweetness inside, past the he-hawing donkey that was tied by a withered old rope to a stake in the ground, past the field where the boys were playing football with bare feet and patched soccer ball, past the compound with the many children who all came running, exclaiming our names in excitement. Soon after we turned around and passed by it all again.

Our arrival home was met by the sound of the generator purring loudly and we walked around our house under the massive mango tree with the still green fruits clinging to it’s branches, to fill our water tank.

That task finished we noticed the goats out of their pasture. I ran inside for a bucket and after we shooed the bleating animals into the pen, we walked hand in hand across the now greening field to the orange tree in the middle. After cutting a stick from the small section of trees and using it to shake the outstretched branches until a bucket full of a ripe oranges laid about the ground, we scurried about filling the bucket.

We stopped at the other mission house on the way back home, offering from our freshly picked pile of oranges. Mary declined, saying she still had juice left from the last buckets they brought home. She then offered us some key limes. We gleefully accepted a bowl full of the tiny green fruit and after promising to bring back some of our grapefruit in exchange, we headed home.
There I quickly squeezed the limes and we both enjoyed several glasses of the tart refreshing limeade.

After dinner we heard the sound of footsteps on the front porch and after our questioning, "Kisa ou vle?" (What do you want?) The little voice answered, hopefully, "Mwen chwe football." (I play football.)

Now there are two boys battling to see who will win the current game of foose-ball while another picks at the guitar and another plays solitaire at the table. Oh, and we cannot forget the three year old younger brother curled up on the couch, fast asleep.

Hope for Tomorrow.

The other day I was organizing my clothes and came upon a t-shirt that I haven’t worn yet since coming to Haiti. I decided to wear it and put it on. It was a shirt that Keturah had given me just before leaving home. It still smelled like her. It made me so homesick I almost started crying.
I think it’s a bit worse because I am working on writing about the year we lived in the little house on Rural Ave. I desperately miss my two roommates and the laughter and tears we shared at that point in our lives. Since that time my life has been such a roller coaster- I think in my subconscious I am always trying to return to that period, back when life made sense and God seemed so close.

Then at times I go back a little further, to the days when we all went to Rhema. Back to when I found safety and love within the walls of a church. Back to when every Sunday I would rush to get ready, longing to be there for every possible minute because maybe; just maybe- I might hear God speaking to me again.

At times I trip back even further than that. Back to the days in Florida when Brianna and I spent almost every afternoon together. Back to when we would go for long walks and talk about the phenomenon of hearing God speak to us for the first time.

Then other times I go back even a little further. Back to living at ABI. The time when I ran carefree through the open fields and made dandelion chains and dreamed of a fairy land where all sorts of adventures happened. Even there within my dream-worlds I always had a Savior. The king who would come rescue the little girl and place a dandelion crown upon her head.

Sometimes I think that for me, heaven will be like a continual beautiful memory. It’ll be a place where I can make dandelion chains and walk with Brianna and giggle with Keturah and Delite and dance at the throne of the King in the midst of a throng of people who I know and who know me and together, we’ll listen to God speak his love over us. And, of course, as we’re singing songs of worship, the King will step down and place a crown of dandelions on my head and more than that, he’ll wipe my tears and never again will there be any sorrow or pain.

I’ve been reading the last chapter of Revelation over and over again lately. I think there are days when I can hardly stand being here because things seem so hopeless. I can watch people hurt each other and listen to children crying but I can’t stop them. Yet, there is a promise of things to come. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of the God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

And that promise, I cling to as I live out each day. That the time will come when this nation will be healed. No more curse. No more sorrow. No more tears. It is hopeless when we think of only what we can do because, in truth, we can do nothing. But God, in his love and mercy, will someday touch this place and what is rapidly turning into a dry barren land will be washed anew. The children won’t cry anymore and the people will stop hammering nails of hatred and thoughtlessness into each other.

He who testifies to these things say, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Standing Between.

People are so hard to work with. Being on the mission field has brought that truth sharply into focus. There are always disagreements. There are always hurts. There are always frustrations. It’s a painful business! Yet, our purpose for working with people, despite the trials it produces, was laid before me today, anew.

I was reading in Numbers 16 and came to the place where the Israelites had risen up against Moses and Aaron. They were led by three men who doubted God’s anointing on the two leaders and wished it for themselves. They caused such a stir in the community that even after God caused the earth to swallow up the instigators and their families and caused fire to consume two hundred and fifty other tribal leaders, they still grumbled against God’s chosen.

God told Moses and Aaron to stay away from the assembly of "grumblers" so he could destroy them. Yet, instead of moving away, Aaron took the incense of his offering, which God had accepted, and ran into the midst of the people.

Scripture says, "The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped."

As I read that verse, truth entered again. We, as God’s chosen, can stand between the living and the dead! There is a plague of sin that has engulfed the human race but Jesus already died so that our offering would be acceptable. Instead of moving ourselves away from this plague infested world, we need to run into the midst of the lost and offer all we have, that God might show mercy on them as he has on us.

Jesus, thank you for showing us, again, a picture of you! You saw us and instead of turning your face away, you ran into the midst of us and offered your life as a sacrifice to make atonement for our sins. You stood between us and death and because of you, we have life! Help us to follow your example and stand between death and your lost loved ones that they might all have a chance to truly live!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Morning Has Come

This morning started out in the usual way. I noticed how beautiful the sky was on the way to the hospital. The mountains rose majestically on all sides of us, the birds were singing, goats were blahing, roosters were crowing… it was a lovely morning.

At the hospital I stopped, as usual, to peak into the maternity room. The same girl who had been there yesterday afternoon was up and getting ready to leave with her little baby boy. She motioned me in to take one last peak at her sleeping angel. She was so proud. Full of smiles.
Amos and I wandered around the hospital and into our office. I read our devotions. The story of the twelve men who went to spy on Canaan. (Numbers 13) We talked about how up until that point the Israelites were obedient in everything that God said. Would we, now, be able to comply to the law? I doubt it.

Around 8:30am Amos went out front to talk to Nelson. And I realized that it was baby day! That’s what I call it, at least. Every week they have check-up day for the 0-5 year old kids. Mostly babies come. Lots and lots of babies. They weigh them and give them shots and then they all wait around until their turn to pick up food.

Three weeks ago a girl came with her little twin babies. A boy and a girl. The father offered to let me hold the little boy, which I did, gladly. The next thing Amos knew, the mom had plopped the little girl in his lap. I thought they were about three months old. They were a little dirty but, oh, so precious. I later found out they were seven months old and terribly undernourished. The mom had been feeding them once or twice a day and had been giving them rice and water. The nurse yelled at her for a while. Told her to feed them often. Since then she’s always had a bottle with milk in it. I don’t think they ever actually drink a whole bottle, instead, she gives them a swallow or two at a time.
They’re doing a lot better and since it was baby day, they were there! I smiled at them and she immediately dropped the boy in my arms. He was cranky and tired so I snuggled him up and whispered sweet nothings to him and he soon fell fast asleep. I held him for about an hour and a half and he slept almost the whole time.

While I was there, snuggling my little boy, Nelson came driving up and called for the doctor. Beja, the pharmacist at the hospital for the past twenty-eight years, was terribly sick. The doctor came running and they headed off to Beja’s house. Twenty minutes later they came back with an unconscious Beja. They rushed him into the emergency room but in less than half an hour he was gone.
As I sat there on the bench amidst the wailing and crying family I suddenly felt the baby’s fingers touch my face. I looked down to see him wide awake, looking at me, as if to ask, "Is everything okay?" I snuggled him up close and whispered words of comfort. I told him about Jesus dying on the cross and how it’s sad that Beja died but it’s also a time of rejoicing. Because, you see, Beja was crippled. He used crutches to get around but not anymore. Now, because he knows Jesus, he’s whole.

And as I sat there, one life passing in front of my eyes, while a new life just beginning was nestled in my arms, I was struck by the fact that God is so very gracious. So loving. So forgiving. So wonderful.
He could have left us to wander helplessly through our days, living without hope and dying with even less. But he didn’t. He saw us all, in our sin and our pain and our crippled bodies and said, "They are my loved ones. They may have chosen this way when they sinned but I refuse to leave them like this. I will make a way for them to be healed. I will bring hope back into their lives."

And he did. And into the darkness of our world, morning came.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Screaming Girls and Squealing Pigs

Sunday morning I got up and was making breakfast when I heard a little voice outside my window. "Natasha?" It whispered. I looked out and saw "Rosie" (that's what I dubbed her since I can never remember her name). I knew that she wanted to come in but I decided that it would be better if kids didn't come in on Sunday mornings. There was another girl out with her so I decided to give them each a sheet of stickers instead.
I took the stickers outside and Rosie turned to go in the door behind me. I told her "no" and when she turned around she dropped what she had in her hand. It was a little bag of coffee. It broke and she started crying.
I felt bad then and helped her clean up the mess. I kept saying it was okay but she just kept crying. Finally, I figured out that the coffee was for her Mama and she was going to be in trouble. I decided to just give her the five gourds to buy some more. She smiled then and hurried out to get it.
Not two minutes later I heard screaming like I have never heard before. I mean, make your skin crawl, blood curdling screams. I stood up from my seat at the breakfast table just as I heard pounding on my door. I opened it to see Rosie crying and screaming hysterically, still hitting the screen door and her mother, standing on the steps to the porch with a switch in her hands.

It was awful. I didn't know what to do. Here this little girl is crying hysterically and is obviously going to get a whipping- but it's her mother! I still can hardly speak Creole so I had no way to find out what the problem was.
I kept thinking, "Was it the coffee? Good grief, she can buy more..."
But there wasn't much I could do but say, "Rosie, ale Mama." (go to your mama) Anything else would probably get her in more trouble later.
She went screaming down the porch (and got a nice switch on the way past her mother) and off the mission property.
Later we found out that her mother had sent her an hour before to get coffee AND she had told her not to go to the mission. So, yes, she probably needed a spanking.
A whipping? Not so much. But, that is the way things are here. Truthfully, her Mama, I think, is a lot nicer than some.

This morning I was doing the breakfast dishes when I looked out my back window to see three boys chasing our pig. It had gotten loose when they were taking it to the butcher shop and they were trying to catch it.
Oh, but that was funny to watch. I got some excellent pictures that I will have to post later. They finally caught her when Willy (a great little kid here at the mission) grabbed onto her tail and just hung on!
Then, after that, I got to watch how the Haitians butcher animals. It was interesting. They burn the hair off so they can save the hide. Apparently they like it in soups. ilck.