Sunday, December 26, 2010

Speak to me in Sea Glass - Understanding the Search

As a young woman I recall my mother in law going on long walks in the early mornings.She collected treasures on these early morning beach walks. Beautiful colored glass that was then referred to as "beach glass". Nuggets of colored glass polished and worn smooth by the churning of the sea and the constant tumbling in the rocks.I asked her how she found it and she spoke of the color or the shine making it stand out. When I walked on the same beaches I would never find them so I gave up looking.
Only now, many years later do I understand what she was trying to teach me.Now when I go for my walks I know what I am looking for. I am drawn to it and excited with each new treasure I find.
So it is with faith. Sometimes in our lives we are blessed to be around someone who is more mature in their faith who reaches out to us and tries to show us how to find what they have found. Sometimes we are just not ready to really search for these nuggets of truth so we give up our search. Only later, sometimes much later, do we "get" what that person was trying to teach us. But when an "ah ha" moment happens we can go right back to that long forgotten truth and understand and grasp it and call it our own. We can recreate conversations that we thought were only passing time and realize that an important "nugget" of truth was being planted into our spirits lying dormant under the surface until the Father wills it to be born again in our hearts, take root, and grow into a belief.
At 55 years old I can remember my Aunt Bam telling me exciting, bewildering things about Jesus coming back that I did not understand. And now nearly 50 years later when I hear of the second coming of Christ I am once again in the backseat of her car hearing this amazing thing! Those seeds planted then, reaching maturity now, where the seeds can be passed to another generation of children. They too will hide things in their hearts and when the time is right it will spring fourth into a personal belief.
My mother in law did not live long enough to see me seek and find my own beach glass. Sometimes that is also how it works with faith. It is not our job to make someone find the treasure. It is our job to share what we know and to let God do with it what He chooses to do and when He chooses to do it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"All generations shall call you blessed."

As a child I attended a beautiful Catholic Church in Southampton NY. It really was (is) an amazing structure and the ornate detail of each and every carving, painting,stained glass window gave a child much to study and day dream about during the weekly services and countless Catholic school related programs I was required to attend. The statues and impressions of Mary the mother of Jesus were beautiful and saintly often exposing her bleeding heart for the world to see.
I admired her but I did not 'get her' until many years later. When I was carrying my youngest daughter Melody. She was due in November so I was 'great with child' when all the Christmas activities started to get underway. And then, holding this precious babe in my arms so fresh from the heart of God at Christmas time caused me to have this wonderful realization. Mary was a mom. She nursed her baby and cared for all of his physical needs. She sang to him like I sang to my Melody. She felt the warmth of his breath on her cheek. She did not have a halo. She was a young girl. A girl who believed and obeyed. Her heart portrayed outside her chest was not unlike my own mother heart. Evident and obvious for everyone to see and to know that I loved my baby. She loved her baby. Just like I loved mine.
I don't pray to Mary but I understand why my mother felt that so easy to do. I admire her. I called her blessed because that is what he word of God tells me she is.And tonight, the night that we remember the birth of THE baby I thank God for giving us such a beautiful picture of the mother of my Jesus. And I thank my Melody for teaching me the tenderness of Christmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Christmas Letter.

Some people hate them, some make fun of them. I spoke with a woman at the Post Office who had just mailed off her NINE page Christmas letter. I resisted the temptation for a long time. Too impersonal I thought. Corny. However each time a Christmas card arrived in the mail that contained a "Christmas Letter" I was really pleased. An added photo was a great bonus! In a world where distances prevent us from regular communication with friends and family and epically pre-facebook the Christmas letter was a great way to catch up with all the cousins and classmates and people you may not have seen or talked to for 20 years but is nice to see their smiling face. If you have been sending me Christmas letters over the years, I still have them. Kept in a special (now over stuffed album) where from time to time I pull them out and see how you have grown and changed and aged...documented history of your life. The joys and sorrows the trips and weddings, the deaths and births..they are all there in your Christmas letter. I love Facebook and am amazed at how I have reconnected with so many from my past and delighted with the day in/day out interaction with my circle of friends and family. But you can't hold Facebook in your hands and read and remember.
Today I got a Christmas letter from a friend I met in 1980. We camped together at the Creation festival at Muddy Run in central PA. I was 24 yrs. old..Chris and I never lived near each other but for several years were always together at least that one week in June at the festival. Her daughter needing a place to get away for a time came to stay with my family..knitting our families in a tighter weave. Time and distance and Chris's family no longer coming to Creation did what one would expect. We drifted apart. But that time and distance did not change our love for each other and when we both found ourselves on Face Book we reconnected.
When the 'letter' arrived today I expected to see some crazy photo (like the one from her daughter's wedding where her whole family and the bridal party were dressed in roaring 20's garb...always an actress :) but instead of her smiling face I found myself looking at the latest photo of my daughter Gwenn and her husband Nick and all 11 kids they are raising in Haiti. I did a double take, turned over the envelope and then began to cry when I read the title "Thompson Advent conspiracy Letter" Instead of the normal things one might find in a typical 'Christmas Letter' this one was not about her family but about mine! She said
"When I asked the Lord what I could do in the world to make a difference this Advent/Christmas He inspired me to write this letter." She went on to share about the work my daughter is doing in Haiti and shared how to help with the challanges that they meet everyday in this broken country. I am crying as I write this. Honestly..the most selfless, beautiful greeting I could ever imagine! She spoke with graditude about her own family and the blessing they are for about two sentences. Then continued to tell the reader about child sponsorship and prayer support.
This letter will go in my Christmas letter album and it will stay very close in my heart.Feeling very thankful for "Christmas Letters."

Saturday, November 27, 2010


The older I get the truer it is. I love Christmas. The lights, the music, the colors but mostly I love the connections.I love that we can choose to focus on each other and on Jesus. Like most Americans I must check myself and learn to not give in to the frenzy. Like today.. I am thinking "Denise, do you realize how many grandchildren you have??? You can't shop like you did when there was only one or two...or three..or four..and so on." I am thankful that my children and grandchildren don't have great expectations in terms of gifts from me. I am glad they all 'keep Christmas' all during Advent and share with me the joys of the simple things. I am glad that my grandchildren do not love me for what they can get from me. I have a long blog stirring but for now Amy Grant says it best.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I can't slay the dragons

Keep You Safe - JJ Heller
Quiet your heart
It's just a dream
Go back to sleep

I'll be right here
I'll stay awake
As long as you need me

To slay all the dragons
And keep out the monsters
I'm watching over you

My love is a light
Driving away all of your fear
So don't be afraid
Remember I made a promise to keep you safe

You'll have your own battles to fight
When you are older
You'll find yourself frozen inside
But always remember...

If you feel alone facing the giants
And you don't know what to do...

My love is a light
Driving away all of your fear
So don't be afraid
Remember I made a promise to keep you...

My love is a light
Driving away all of your fear
So don't be afraid
Remember I made a promise to keep you safe

I have mentioned in the past that I really love the songs of JJ Heller. Except this one. It has a beautiful calming melody and I want to love it.I want it to be real. But I have seen too much in the last few years... I know that parents can't keep their children safe. In our culture, the American culture where life revolves around our children we perhaps can take measures to keep our children safer. We can even say with some confidence that "I will be here to protect you."
But tonight in the tents of 1.3 millions people there are mothers and fathers how can't say that. They love their children like we love ours. They desire long and full lives for their children just like we do. But their words of "Don't be afraid." are coming from fearful lips. They can't promise to keep their children safe nor can they slay the giants of poverty, disease, earthquakes and hurricanes.
The last time I came home from Haiti I did not come home and look at all my things and think "I am so blessed." No I thought "I have sinned."I waste my resources on 'things' when I could be freeing a parent to care for his child but investing in his life.
So tonight I sit here in my dry big house on a rainy night thinking about the thousands who have tents and tarps for homes and not way to assure their children that they will be kept safe from the storm..I'm not writing this to you. I am writing this to me..Jesus help me to love your children.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The question of Halloween.

Today my blog will not be popular.
Melody says I have scarred her for life.
But here goes...I HATE HALLOWEEN!
There I said it. I do not hate little kids dressed up. Heck my grandchildren play dress up nearly every time they visit.
What I hate is the open mockery of my faith.What I hate is tombstones and making death look like a funny game. Demons and witches are glorified.
Any one who has lost a child knows that death is not a joke.
Anyone who has been confronted with violence knows that blood is not funny even if it is fake. Anyone who understands that in some places human sacrifice is still very real and Halloween is a Holy Day for the enemy. He knows that he has a lot more power if people do not take him seriously.
Would it be right to celebrate the evil of the Holocaust? Why is it ever ok to celebrate evil? Murder? Demons? I don't get it. At all.
Yeah.. I don't even like Halloween alternatives that are often offered by churches.We don't need to sugar coat it any more than it already is. I just wish Christians would say "No." The other holidays (ie:Christmas) have pagan orgins as well but at least they don't openly delight in evil.I pray that Christians would read in Ephesians about the battles that are going on even now in the spirit world.
When the Lord first convicted me of this my youngest daughter Melody was so embarrassed when I took her out of public school on that day. I told her art teacher that scarecrows were fine. Witches were not. No doubt it was hard for Melody.I get that.But God said it and that pretty much setteled it.
I was raised believing in real ghosts and even lived in a haunted house. I know that it is not a joke. The Bible tells us to avoid even the "appearacne of evil".
When children knock on my door I will give them some candy. I'm nice to them. It's not their fault.
I know I am rambling and I would love your comments. But I'm pretty sure you won't change my mind. OH... And by the way Happy All Saints Day. That is on Nov. 1st.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Little Prophet

I was coming out of the grocery store with my cart overflowing with food and house hold supplies. I don't go to the store often but when I do it is an event. No one wants to get behind me in the check out and cashiers usually take a break when they are finished with me.
As I opened my truck a mother and her small (4-5 yr. old) son pulled their cart up to the car next to mine.The little boy wearing a blue Mount Olivet nursery school tee-shirt says to me "You better get your bags in the car quickly there is going to be a big storm. It smells like rain." I looked over to east over the ocean and while it was a bit gray I saw nothing to indicate a "big storm". He continued to say "Wait..let me see your hair. Yeah the wind is coming from over there." as he points North East. A little bemused I smiled as he continued. "I tell you what. You can follow us and we will make sure you get home safely." At this point I am loving this kid and wondering which one of my grandaughters he should marry. But he is not finished. "Yeah, we have lots of things at home to be ready in case we have a hurricane." We parted ways and I thanked him for his concern.
Five minutes down the road I noticed the rain strating to fall on my windshield. The sky opened up and by the time I reached Manteo the streets where beginning to flood. While driving down Airport Road the road was flooded and I could not see more than 15 feet ahead of my car. I kinda wished I had someone to follow to get me safly home! I unloaded the bags in a massive downpour and wished I had listned to the small voice that said "You better get your bags in the car quickly..."
God tells us in His word that things are going to happen. He tells us to prepare. He tells us to follow Him and he will guide us safely home. He tells us that He has made provision for me and He will take care of me.I choose to believe Him or not. I choose to follow Him or not. His word is true if I believe it or not..
Thanking God for this little man, his kindness and for the lesson this little man was teaching me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's in your closet?

Yesterday when a co-worker said "It must be so hard for you having your grandchildren in Haiti with cholera going around." I told her that I had confidence in Gwenn and Nick's ability to care for the children in their home. She responded "And God will take care of them because they are doing His work." I shared with her that sometimes he does not protect missionaries from these things but it is still the right thing to do. I really had peace that as bad as this cholera is that at this time I am not frightened for my family.
When I got off work and read Gwenn's email saying that their upcoming furlough had to be postponed I was disappointed but called her to say that if if were me I would make the same decision. And I meant it. Things have been very stressful lately. People are believing lies and the stress of constantly having put out fires is exhausting work. Holding your tongue when you want to speak, when you want to not turn the other cheek is hard work. So I totally get it and understood why this decision had to be made.
Because I understand and have completely bought into the mission of Joy in Hope in Jacmel I really can take these fears and disappointment with a level of maturity that even sometimes shocks me. I will not whine and complain when I do not get my way. There are too many other things to consider. So I am good with this...
I was cleaning up and went to put something in the closet. THE CLOSET. The closet that is home to hidden gifts and the Christmas clothing. I bought everything on super doper clearance last year after Christmas. I have 9 American grandchildren so that is a lot of clothing. For months I have considered how I would set up the Christmas Card picture. I finally decided and bought some matching shirts for the boys. Everything was in place except the children....
That is when it hit me..there would be no Christmas photo this year. Al least not one with 9 grandchildren in polka dots and checks.And I cried. I am amazed by my reaction.
Part of me thinks what a trivial thing to be concerned about! And it is. But deeper is what those photos represent. They represent family.They represent a family who has come through a very difficult year who has made it! They represent unity and strength that lays the foundation for future generations.
I still think that Gwenn and Nick are making good decisions. I am not in any way wanting to lay some guilt out there for them to carry along with the other burdens that they must carry at the moment. I am really just searching myself.I imagine that the closet door was just a trigger for the emotions that I need to keep inside for self and family preservation. I am so grateful for the other American grandchildren who will still be here. I am blessed beyond measure. And I mean that with everything in me. God is faithful. I am blessed..I am blessed..I am mater what is in my closet. Picture or no picture.

Friday, October 22, 2010

What if?? An Advent Challange

When Gwenn spoke at my church a few weeks ago she told us of a Haitian proverb that translates :"God gives but He does not separate."
She also wrote about that today in her blog today at . It is a powerful word.
Last night I started to think about the Advent Conspiracy ( and both of these thoughts have been rattling around in my head all day. You may know that Joy in Hope has been doing diaper distribution in the tent cities since shortly after the earth quake. This week they added another camp. While cloth diapers are preferred in these tent camps it it impossible to wash diapers due to the lack water and proper sanitation. With this week's outbreak of Cholera in Haiti this is now an even more urgent need. Face Book friends have been awesome about helping with the diaper collection but this is a hugh ongoing need. Here is what I am challenging:
Go to Youtube and watch:

Let that message rip you up inside. That is what needs to happen. But don't stop there. Make a decision that you can make a difference.
When I was traveling in Haiti in July I started to become overwhelmed by what I saw in Port au Prince. I felt like "There is nothing I can do!!" But God showed me you can't do everything but you can do something. I needed to put my efforts into the something that I could do.
There are many ways to participate in the Advent Conspiracy. One way would be to look at a picture of one baby. Show that picture to your husband, your children, your classmates,your coworkers, Sunday School class and determine that you can help that one baby. You can decide that instead of that overpriced video game or diamond necklace you will make sure that that baby has diapers for one day, one week, one month or even one year. You can help lessen the spread of disease in a tent city with a package of diapers! It is so simple!
You can pray for that baby. You can pray for it's family.
On facebook I have shared a wonderful, easy way to handle the delivery of diapers. You can go to at:
Amazing but true SHIPPING IS FREE! so if you buy a $10.00 package of diapers it cost you $10.00 AND if you spent $50.00 you get a $10.00 credit AND I get 3% back for an entire year on all your purchases allowing me to buy more diapers. Each time family or friends or teams travel to Haiti we load them down with diapers. Each week Gwenn goes to the camps gives out the diapers and checks on the babies.It's very personal and very real.
Some of you may want to send support thought to Project Connection to help pay for the extra baggage costs that we sometimes have to pay..
The beauty is...this is the's about giving from the heart. It's about rejecting the Christmas that is and embracing the Christmas as it can be. I promise you if you Worship More, Spend Less and Give More you will have the best Christmas of your life! It makes me feel just like a kid again! Bring on the Christmas music I'm ready!!!
Here is a link to Gwenn explaining the work in the tent city. There are now three camps where they are serving:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How My Husband Almost Killed Me and Other Nautical (mis)Adventures

My husband bought me beautiful blue kayak. His is yellow. Yellow being an easier color to spot on the water I am already at a disadvantage.
We loaded up the kayaks, or I should say Steve loaded up the kayaks in the back of the pick up and we headed over the Manns Harbor Bridge. Steve had suggested maybe a quiet paddle on the Manteo Waterfront but I knew the chance of getting out and searching for sea glass was nil downtown so I suggested going to the sound. Steve was the one who picked the west side of the bridge and that is why this (mis)adventure is solely credited to his decision thus making him fully responsible for nearly drowning me.
When we unloaded...ok..he unloaded the kayaks I searched the sand for my treasured seaglass. In fact I was so intent on my search that I nearly stepped on a bloated rotting carcass of a deer who was partically buried in the sand. But that is a different blog...
Steve helped me in to my blue (not yellow) kayak and I paddled out. He told me to go under the dock so I would not get snared by a fishing line. Good idea if you are good a steering a blue kayak. Bump...I paddled around to try again..made it!
We paddled out for a little while with a fare wind of about 5 knots from the NE. (I know that cause Steve told me not because I know anything about knots.) We were headed out for the point. The sun was getting lower and the moon was starting to rise. Our plan was to get to the point, turn back, take a nice seaglass search walk on the beach and then head back. As the moon began to rise it called to the north wind and we quickly went from a calm sea to waves and white caps pounding over the hull of the kayaks and drenching us from head to toe. I knew only enough about kayaking to not take the waves over the side of my boat but to ride them as much as possible. That was a problem. As I paddled harder and the waves got bigger and I remembered my co-worker Patty (who is pretty much the queen of kayaking in my book) telling me that it is important to use your core body strength to move the kayak. I am pretty sure every muscle in my body was present and accounted for and no doubt will remind me of that in the morning. Finally we were closing back in on the dock. A big wave broke over the cockpit..I wondered if I might not die right then and there. The dock loomed just ahead..when the water was calm I had bumped the piling how could I possibly get through the opening now with the kayak being driven by the surf??? I lined up the shot the best I could and let the current do the rest. Made it!! Finally the kayak rushed up on the sand!! I was alive! Steve who knows about knots and nautical things said that the wind was now about 10-15 knots. I think that's a lot. We were both drenched and cold and glad to not have been swallowed by the sea. Of course I reminded myself that should the very worst have happened that most likely I could have gotten out of the blue kayak and walked to the shore.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hanging out with my Dad

Melody Goodale Strayer is ridiculously excited that her Daddy is coming to visit. Ridiculously.

This was my daughter Melody's status on Face Book a few days ago. I love that she loves to spend time with Steve. All of my daughter's are like that. It's not that they do anything big or exciting. They just are. He listens to them and encourages them and well just hangs out with them.
I didn't have that with my Dad. He left when I was four and I saw him once or twice a year after that. Those times it was always an event and not just hanging out time. I didn't really know him and he didn't really know me. When he became ill I went to visit him in Texas. I loved that we sat on his bed and he told me stories and showed me pictures and we .. well.. we just hung out. How thankful I am to have had those few days.
Today I worked until about 2PM then came home and had some lunch. Because Steve is "hanging out" with Melody in PA I had some time to just be alone. I hopped in the car and drove down to the sound to look for beach glass. The day was cool and breezy and sunny. A perfect Autumn day. As I felt the wind in my face I started to be aware that just as Melody was having some time to "hang out" with her Daddy so I too was having some Daddy time with my Father God. I drove to the next beach and then finally to the ocean beach. I talked with my Daddy God about lots of things. We spoke of hidden treasures and surprises that He had for me. We spoke of grace and mercy and repentance. We talked about friends and people who have gone so far down wrong roads that I think maybe they can't come back. He reminded me that His kindness can bring them back.We talked about broken families and broken dreams. We walked and talked and we just hung out. Like Melody I would have to say that I was "ridiculously excited" to have this time with my Daddy God. As the shadows started to become longer I went back to the sound and watched the sun disappear below the horizon. Deeply satisfied to have had such a wonderful visit I look forward to our next time to just hand out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Magical One

Some birthdays are more memorable than others.
The earliest one I remember was when I turned four. I remember being allowed to sit in my father's seat at he head of the table when I got my cake.
When I turned 10 my mom took me and 9 of my friends bowling. When we got to the car all of my gifts were stolen..The next day a parcel arrived at my mother's work with a gift from someone who heard my story on the radio. Until I was married I received a gift from this secret friend each birthday.
When I was 14 I had plans to go out with my friends but Kathy (my sister in law) convinced me that it was best to do the family cake thing. I caved in, had cake and then babysat as the rest of the family went out to a movie! (love you Kathy, you are not so mean now :)
When I turned 40 I had just moved to the Outer Banks. Melody and I were in a small apartment at Morrison Grove. Steve was still up north. When I came home Melody ( who was in 7th grade) had decorated the apartment and made a cake and dinner and invited our neighbor Kevin Carter (a 17 yrs. old surfer boy) to join us. Kevin said to me something like "You're so phatt." but I heard "You're so fat."
There are other memorable moments ...Aunt Bam always having a cake and little gifts from each person who was there so you always had lots of things to open was a favorite memory.
But this year is my magical year. Now I use that word because that is the word my kids have coined as they tease me about my special day. But it really was special. I was born October 10, 1955. I turned 55 on 10-10-10. Everything about it is 10.
In the Bible the number 10 is a number of wholeness and completion. Five is the number of grace. I see both of these as revel ant to who I am today. I feel like I am at the time of my life when I have a deep, abiding satisfaction with my life. I feel like I am growing unencumbered by what people think of me and regardless of my circumstances. This satisfaction does not mean that I don't still have pain, sorrow or discouragement. This satisfaction has more to do with the understanding that God has placed me here for a purpose and I now get that I can't change the whole world but I can touch and bring comfort to the small part of the world that God has revealed to me. The satisfaction also comes from really understanding that my satisfaction has nothing to do with my 'stuff'. I like my 'stuff' but I don't need it and sometimes I don't even want it.
My satisfaction comes from knowing I have something to offer. And from knowing that I don't have to be a people pleaser. And from victory over fear. That is a big one. Do I ever feel fear? Sometimes.But I realize that it is a choice I make and does not have to be an automatic response.
The satisfaction also comes from having a husband who loves and respects me. This I know is huge and not every marriage has this.I respect him and love him. There is great satisfaction in a marriage that has continued nearly four decades and is not only intact but is strong and alive.
The satisfaction seeing how my children have grown up and what their lives have become is a reward that I can not even describe. Grand children's laughter and sloppy kisses are the gift wrapping on this gift of satisfaction that I have been given.
It's ok if my children tease me about this 'magical' birthday. I know it's not magic. But I see it as a truly special moment in time when God speaks to me and says "Denise, Happy Birthday. Here is a special day for you to always remember." I love it when he speaks my name.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Life of a Garden..The Life of a Believer

The garden in Autumn was not much more than an imagination. The ground was made fallow and the compost was added and dried bulbs were put in shallow graves and covered with dirt. Only in the mind of the gardener was there anything of beauty. What was seen by others was a rotting, decaying compost. The death that would bring life lay quiet and cold for the long winter.
The garden in March was that of the stirring in the earth.Delighting with the first warmth from the early Spring sun the first bold daffodils raised their heads to sing. Their new life exciting and vibrant and calling to it's friends who are still burried in death. The daffodil heralds the message that there is more..more..there is life in death. The zeal of the daffodil calls the others to dance her dance. To take their rightful place in the garden dance.To rise up from their tombs and dance.That was the heart of the Gardener for them.
The garden in April sings with color of laughter.Bobbing and bowing to the rhythm of the April showers.
With May comes the more delicate of hues and the garden fills in to a fuller mature landscape. Each blossom unique in it's own right but complementing and encouraging it's friends to sing now in a more perfect harmony holding each other up straight and strong.
In June when the temperatures climb some colors fade..a bit..but the beauty is still sweet.Some of the dancers fade away..
In July..the weeds sneak in first on one side..then the other..encroaching here and there until they think that this is this place was created for them. The flowers helpless to defend themselves without the Hand of the Gardener.
August the sun and the heat and weeds try to choke out the beauty and that which was a delight is now a blight. Dried vines and mildewed stems. The flowers surrender to the hand of the Gardener. The pruning painful but necessary.Unable to care for itself she accepts that which was bringing death needs to be removed.
In Sept when the heat subsides the blossoms rally for a last sweet dance. Not the same one as they danced in Spring. Not loud and bold. No, not loud, but clear. Ready for the offer the seeds of her life for her love for the future generation that they may dance...
And the Gardener fallows the ground.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lessons From My Garden

just's too late to start a blog..but it's simmering and i have to write it..and not forget all the things that God is teaching me..

Monday, August 23, 2010


I am not really sure where this post is going but it has been haunting me for days now. So maybe it's time to work it out in words.
This weekend I met some new friends. Justin and his wife Christine arrived on Friday with their three beautiful daughters for the weekend. Justin was here to help me work through some business ideas and real life decisions as I approach retirement age. I invited the family for a beach/work weekend that worked very well. I have the beach Justin has the brains and the guts as well. I am creative and I like people but I don't like all the nitty gritty business number crunching type of thing. But.. I digress.
I was outside with the children and Christine. The kids were riding in our big circular driveway on an array of riding toys and bikes that I keep here for my grandchildren.Three bikes, a hot wheel trike, a scooter, a John Deer tractor with a trailer (a really cool old one) and a peddle fire truck that I got one year for my grandson Micah. Chris my son in law tricked it out with cool lettering and Micah's name. I have lots of cool stuff. Actually if the truth be told I have way too much stuff.
The mosquito's started to reveal themselves in tiny welts on my ankles so I made the call. It was time to go in. Christine stopped at her car to get her luggage. I asked if I might help her carry and she said "No thanks. I only have one bag."
I was dumbfounded. One man, one woman, three little girls, two days and one bag. One small bag. Like a carry on that would fit in the over head compartment on a plane. I have never seen anything like it! When my family or friends have arrived in the past it takes several trips to the car and my house is swallowed by more stuff. Now I am not saying that is bad. I expect that. I am not a heavy packer but I do like to cart some 'stuff' with me when I am on the road.
This small suitcase got me thinking about all the other 'stuff' in my life..If I were to get rid of half of my clothing would I even miss it? How about half of my pots and pans or towels or sheets or even half of the canned goods in my pantry?? I like my stuff but maybe I would like what was left more if I got rid of the other half of it...
In Haiti, Gwenn's living room has a simple sofa, 2 simple chairs, a simple coffee table, a shelf for the TV and few nick knacks that her staff gave her. That's it. And she has ten kids...I saw one toy box but never saw the toys come out of it. How did I (we) get this way??
I think Christine is on to something....

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Give Me Your Eyes.

Today Jamie, our youth pastor preached at our church. He is a very good teacher, always well prepared and always using the word of God as the foundation for his preaching. He preached today about Jesus always finding the "one" to minister to. Once the woman at the well, once the woman with the flow of blood, once the man who was possessed by "Legion" the many demons. Jesus put himself in uncomfortable and unlikely places to meet these people. Jamie spoke of the importance for us to be available fot that "one". That we like Jesus would minister to that "one" even if it is not convenient. He touched on how the disciples would question the places where Jesus went and joked about their reluctance to follow. It was well spoken and all true but for me...When he showed the part of video the Man Named Called Jesus where Jesus touches the man with leprosy it pained me. I could see in my mind the children of Pichena (sp?) the tent city in Jacmel, Haiti. The children with scabies and TB and who knows what else. When he talked about touching the "one" I could see the eyes of the old men and women who lay on their cots with no provision and no hope. When the video clip rolled with the song Give Me Your Eyes by Brian Heath I saw in my head the prequake video that Leann Pye had made about Haiti.
The problem is that God has given me His eyes for these people and honestly I can say it is not always a good thing. No.It is always good. Not always easy. When God gives us his eyes then He also gives us a responsibility to respond to what we have seen. Had we not seen we would not sin when we pass them by and do nothing or worse, do a little something and pretend we have done enough. Having the eyes of Jesus and the heart of Jesus is so very painful..
So I caution..don't pray Open the Eyes of My Heart or give me your heart unless you are ready for the is painful. But there is unspeakable joy when you can touch and not be afraid.
Look down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight

Touch down on the cold black top
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breath in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos

All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me you heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide what’s underneath

There's a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
Too ashamed to tell his wife
He's out of work, He's buying time

Pre Chorus / Chorus

I’ve been here a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just move and pass me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
I need a second glance
Give me a second chance
To see the way you’ve seen the people all along


Look down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight

Touch down on the cold black top
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breath in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos

All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me you heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide what’s underneath

There's a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
Too ashamed to tell his wife
He's out of work, He's buying time

Pre Chorus / Chorus

I’ve been here a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just move and pass me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
I need a second glance
Give me a second chance
To see the way you’ve seen the people all along


Wednesday, August 4, 2010


What I share is what God is convicting me of. A personal journey of discovering what is the real truth and what is our American culture church truth.
I have heard and I have said "God has blessed me with so much." I look at my home, my car, my things and I am thankful. I have since I became a Christ follower in 1977 really had, I thought, a good understanding of the scripture that "all good things come from God." Why poverty still existed I guess I could chalk up to "The poor you will always have with you." What a nice tidy yet unfounded way to deal with this messy problem.
Last night as I looked around in the grocery store and then again at my home I had a revelation. How many shirts, shoes, dresses, pants, jackets do I have that I don't even wear? Every closet, drawer, shelf and cabinet in my home is full of "stuff". Much of it unnecessary to conduct my life in a comfortable way. This time when I looked at my "stuff" I saw it as sin and not as a blessing. For all these years I have lived with a sense of entitlement as an American and as a Christian. I am thankful that God has provided for me and my family. Very thankful. But what part of "give us today our daily bread" includes all this stuff? The blessing that are from the hand of God are those that sustain our lives. Food (not the excess of food), water, shelter. The rest is what I have stored for myself calling it from God so I may avoid my responsibility to the poor.
I am so deeply involved with my stuff that honestly I don't know how to stop this cycle. I hope that to see it for what it is will be the first step..
The Parable of the Rich Fool

13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Do Not Worry

22Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Loosing it in the lettuce isle

I admit that I am a little unbalanced. A little OCD when it comes to Haiti. I like to call it passionate but really...well I'm a bit over the top. Why do I say this your might ask? Well tonight at Food Lion while walking down the produce isle I spotted it. A small cart at the end of the isle laden with fruit. No just any fruit but the fruits that are common to Haiti. I lovingly stroked the mango and with a tear in my eye I recalled Gwenn's boys gathering mangoes in their tree at the land whir Gwenn argued with this Haitin man about weather or not it was the right time for mangos.
Next, I noticed the plantains and thought about how good they tasted fried. There was coconuts and I closed my eyes and remembered Jean Louis at the top of the tree throwing Hugh coconuts to the ground.
The mangos that were free for taking on the land were close to $3.00/ea at Food Lion. I didn't buy any.If they had canaps well i would have skipped thinking about the price and they would have been in my cart (read mouth)
A few ilses later I had a conpulsion to buy Rama noodles. I havn't bought those in maybe 20 years.But we ate them in Haiti and I want to show the Manteo grandchilren how the Haiti grandchildren eat.
Over all, shopping was very emotional for me. I's just not normal!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Just saying...

Jesus told us to care for the widows and the orphans. I am thinking that we Americans who follow the American dream are so stuck on entitlement issues that we believe that it's ok for us to have all this stuff when babies on our door step have no diapers. I include myself in this picture. I have far more than I need. I overeat. I overspend. What will Jesus say to me when He returns?( sooner than later I believe..) Will He find me about His Father's business or will He find me sleeping?? I know that this is born from my latest trip to Haiti and in time I will calm down. But should I?? Really should I?? What should the correct response be?? Not "Bless me Lord"> like in the Keith Green song.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Who I Am

Last night as we traveled the long road home from the airport in Raleigh. Israel and I had lots of time to discuss our thoughts about traveling to Haiti. When he asked me "What was the best part for you?" First thought was "Being with the children and meeting all the new children." So many things were my "favorite" things. But as I let the thougts mull for a few minutes I had a realization. I think I like who I am in Haiti. I like the freedom I have to choose not to be afarid which allows me to enjoy and experiecne more. In the US I would not dream of riding on a 4 wheeler in heavy traffic. With or without a helmet. In the US I am limited by what I think is safe and normal.I don't like to take chances and don't like to take risks. I always opt for safe and controled. In Haiti...well in Haiti there are no seat belts in the back of the tap-tap. You have to assert yourself and say "No". You touch germs and don't wash your hands right away.You hug children who may or may not have scabbies. In Haiti a mouse running across the floor is...well... it's a mouse running across the floor.
I am braver in Haiti. I am more confident. I am able to trust God more because I have to! I can't keep myself or others safe by American standards there. So...I relax and enjoy the ride. On the 4 wheeler, in heavy traffic, with no helmet.

You Should Have Bought a Squrirrell/ Final Part #3

As I sit here in the comfort of my air conditioned home after taking a hot shower and sleeping until 10 AM the excitement/anxiety of our squirrel chase seems almost mote. In it's moment it was huge but so much has happened in this past week that it is just part of the hardship of living in Haiti. But to be fair to my readers I will wrap up this post so I can move on to process so many other things that have impacted my heart this week...
Gwenn and Nick dialogued about what to do. The police man was now out of sight and our truck was at a stand still as the water rushed over the street. I saw in the light of day on our return trip to the airport that this area is bad even when it is good. There are ditches and potholes and most of the road here is not paved.
The gridlock is normal because of the aggressive driving in Haiti. If there is an open spot someone moves into it regardless if it is road or not. Regardless if is your lane or the lane of oncoming traffic. As I look back on this drive to Jacmel I see that God was preparing me for my next post...
I don't remember if I wrote earlier about Gwenn as a child. She was "the worrier" in the family. We would get in the car and she would ask "Are you sure we have enough gas?" as if to run out of gas was the worst thing that might happen to you. She was also my cry baby. Now I must say she is the toughest woman I know and that is saying a lot because Gretchen, my oldest daughter is a pretty tough woman. (Melody not so tough but she is after all my baby, she is strong, but not tough).
Nick and Gwenn were discussing if they should call their friend in the Jacmel Police Dept and decided to wait a bit. As we moved and stopped slowly through the rushing water in the driving rain we sometimes got small glimpses of the yellow rain slicker that the police officer was wearing. We edged our way through a narrow gap in the road past a large bus in the oncoming traffic perched it's outside wheels on the top of a hill leaving me holding my breath as we passed it for fear that it would drop on it's side on top of our truck as we passed. Cars in front of us stalled in the standing water and Gwenn and Nick and Jen discussed the work that Jen would be doing in Jacmel for the next 6 months working in a rehab tent working with people who had lost limbs in the quake.There conversation was easy and not at all stressed giving me the confidence to know that while to me this was a bad situation we were in at the moment it was not to them a fearful time. It was a Haiti normal thing.
Finally, as the traffic started to ease from the bottle neck we saw the police officer. He walked up to the car, handed Gwenn her license and told her to stop being a trouble maker. (In Creole..don't remember the exact translation.) We had a really good laugh about this!
As we continued our seemingly endless journey to Jacmel, Gwenn commented "Nick, did I miss my turn?" As we continued the road grew more narrow and the banana trees closer to the road. Gwenn stopped and turned the truck in the mud and went back from the way we had just come. We made our turn by the Texaco station and continued over the mountains hair pin turns and areas of landslide littered rubble until finally we reached Jacmel. It was a long,long, long,long,long road home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

You Should Have Bought a Squrill/Part II

As we navagaited our way through the crowd who had assembled with their luggage outside the door we saw Nick looking like a caged animal on the other side of the fence. Well really..I guess we were the ones in the cage.He indicated to us that there was a long walk down to the parking lot. Israel and I turn to the right with him pushing the cart with about 180 pounds of luggage. We get no more than 10 feet when a Haitian man nealy pulls the cart from Israel's hands and insists on pushing it for him even though I am infatic that it is not necessary. I finally give in rememering Gwenn saying "If you get someone to help with your bags do not give them more than $1.00/bag. We get half way down the path and the man says "$10.00" I say "No, I will give you five." He says "No! $5.00 from you and $5.00 from him." I say "No." but Israel pulls $2.00 from his pocket and the man settles for $7.00.
Finally at the end of the walk that Gwenn calls the "walk of shame" past the many people who are calling out "God Bless you mame' I am hungry. Give to me money."
Our flight being delayed for an hour was not really a problem because Gwenn and Nick had to wait for someone else's flight a few hours later. We went on a diet coke search and finally returned for Jen. She did not have the good fourtune of sittingo next to a woman with a tiny teenly infant whom she could help out so it took her more than an hour to arrive at the end of the walk of shame. By this time is was raining HARD and it was getting dark.We traveled though Port Au Prince with bags piled on our laps and Gwenn at the wheel.
In about an hours time the rain was washing over the road and the traffic starting to back up.In Haiti traffic is well...a bit outside of my comfort zone. With puddles and pot holes threating to swallow us alive Gwenn manuvered the pick up past motos and cars and through small rivers that had appeared from no where. At one point in this a man in a yellow rain slicker knocked on Gwenn's window and demanded to see her driver's licencse. She questioned his authority and he lifted the jacket to reveal his badge and she produced the license..after we dug down through all the bags that were piled on our laps. The police officer took her license and walked away in the pouring rain. Nick realizing this jumps out of the crew cab and sprits down to road to confront the officer and comes back empty handed.

To be contuined....falling asleep again...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"You should have bought a squrill"

You know sometimes when people exagerate in their story telling in order to make a story more entertaining? Well this story isn't like that kind of story. In fact, I may even water it down a bit just so you will believe me!
Our trip to the airport in Raleigh was cake. Esay 15 minute drive from Nick's partents house. ( I won't tell the story about the night before when we got almost hopelessly lost when returning from our trip out to find the long term parking lot.Tom Tom apparently only works if you program the right address into it.)
Our two hour flight to Maimi was easy. We were engaged in deep conversations with a woman who told us how to treat ourselves if we should happen upon and infestion of botflys. She only discovered the remedy after the lavra was removed from under her skin.(Yet another use for duct tape!!) On the same flight was one of Isreal's high school teachers who was headed to Balieze for a jaugar show. It took me quite some time to realize that she was going to see animals and not cars.
Once on the ground in Miami we were glad we had packed sweat shirts after rememhering Nick say that Miami was the coldest airport in the world. If we did not have our above mentioned selection of outer garments we may have been tempeted to ask American Airlines for a blanket.If we had we may have ended up in a really ugly, loud arguement with an airlines employee over the $8.00 fee that would be charged to our credit card. However we would not have had a baby to carry around by the wrist as we argued (loudly) with the said airline employee as did this young mother who was being chared for the blanket. It made the time pass so it was all good. Except that we had more time to pass due to a one hour delay so the plane could get a new air filter.
We were seated next to a woman with a 20 day old baby. The Haitian woman left shortly after the quake and was happily headed home to see her husband, six year old daughter and her extended family.When we arrived at PAP everyting was different than last year. We had waited to leave the plane until everyone else was off in order to help our new friend carry her baby gear into the airport. may think this was a cleverly designed scheme to find favor with Haitians and get us to the front of the line. I assure you that that was not my plan. However, that was the result! I felt a bit embarrassed to be brought to the head of the line but not so embarrassed that I didn't do it. At customs I walked through in front of Isreal who was pushing our bags behind me. The customes man asked me something and I said "excuse me" To which he rudly replied "Al'e, Al'e!" Indicatating he had no paitence for my lack of language skills and that I needed to just move on. Great! Only Israel had the bags and when he said to Isreal " What is in the bags?" "Excuse me" Isreal replied. I tured back and said to man "He's with me." and again his reply was "Al'i, Al'i! ( Get out, move on, hit the road Jack) so we did....
My head is nodding as I write this..look for chapter 2 soon when I may or may not get to the "You should have bought a squrill part." Which of course is a quote from a movie. There really is no squrill in this story just in case you are a squrill lover and were hoping for a cute little bushy tale essay on why I don't even like sqruills.
to be continured... btw.. no spell check in haiti

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A room.. by any other name.

When we first set foot in our home in 1996 the feeling was instant. We were home. Fifteen minutes later we were signing papers. The house had the "home" feel and just about everything we could want. It did however lack one thing. We wanted one more room so that all of our children had a place to call their own. When we bought our first home up north we had the same problem so we brought in the expert. Digger. My older brother really is amazing in designing and creating spaces. Unlike other contractors Digger did not work 9-5. He just moved in and worked on the job until it was finished. Bathrooms, kitchens, additions..he does it all. So when we desired a new room we knew just who to call.
When Digger arrived I told him I thought a dormer off the back of the house would be the best way to get the desired extra space. He said "Well you could do that but you have an extra room right here." He was looking at my vaulted living room ceiling. He explained how it was just wasted space and he could drop in a floor a lot easier than pushing up the roof and for a lot less money. With that I was sold and the extra room was born.
The room first was Gretchen's. It was not long before she was married and then..I think maybe it was a TV room. After that it was "The children's room" where we stashed the toys and the grandchildren. Then I think it was a guest room. Then Jenny a then 19 yr. old moved in and stayed for ...a few years I think. When she got married I took possession of the room as my "office" but added a daybed for overflow guests.
Recently I have found a new passion for making seaglass jewerly and art. Today I had a new revelation about this room. This "extra room" is my studio. What I realized was the difference between an "office" and a "studio". An office you do work and want to get out of. In a studio you create and can't wait to go back to it. You are allowed in my studio but only if I invite you. I make no apology for the wire or papers or beads or whatever laying around because it is my space and if I want to clean it I will and if I don't want to I wont.
I know everyone is not in the position like me to have an 'extra room' but I hope that everyone can find their little space that is can call to them from their busy life and can absorb them and give them a passion to create.
I am so thankful for my big brother and the extra room he created. I am thankful for all the purposes it has been used for and I am so thankful for this my studio.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ghost of a Dog

Disclaimer: What you about to read has no foundation in biblical truth. It is just a way to work through a hard day. I am writing for me.

When I stepped out of the tunnel that pulled me dancing toward the light it was not as I expected it to be.I knew I would not see Saint Peter. There was nothing in the Bible that suggested that, just an opener for the jokes I often had heard on earth. I had thought that I would first see Jesus and I would place my crown at His feet, He would put His hand under my downcast chin and bring my face up to meet His gaze and then He would say "Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter into my rest." At least that is what I hoped He would say. I also thought that my mother and grandmother and all those who had gone on before me would be there for my homecoming. But that is not how it was.
What really surprised me was not what I saw but what I heard. It was faint at first and coming from a distance. But as the sound grew closer I knew what it was and who was about to greet me. I opened my eyes and there she was! No longer gaunt and weary but strong and joyous like I remembered her in her earlier days. Not so long ago. She yelped that special bark that said "I am so happy that you are home! I have been waiting all day to see you!" Her tail that had been permanently bent in the closing of the car door was once again straight as it now thumped loudly as her whole being joined in her welcome song. Just as she had done on earth. No matter how bad an earth day had been when I came in the door she was there to make me feel loved and important. Never one time did she raise a snarled lip or offer a low growl. She was always kind hearted...even on earth. She thought the grandchildren were her puppies and protected them. One time putting herself between a one year old toddler and the earthly fish pond to prevent her from falling in. Other times lying directly beside whatever sleeping baby was in the house knowing it was her job to protect and defend. My husband taking her on her evening walks would marvel at the way the old dog would grab his sleve and gently tug on it to say "I'm ready! Let's go!" I would marvel how she could hear his truck from a long way off and come and find me where ever I was in the house and like the famous Lassie dog of yesteryear she would "yip!yip!" and turn and run to the front door.She would continue her request to be let out so that she could greet her master. In the weeks before she left she faded a lot.We knew it was getting closer to her time. My husband made an appointment to have her checked out. I was in the garden with her and she paused to drink from the fish pond. I once again marvelled how the gold fish came right up to her and thought "I need to get a picture of this." An hour later my husband came home. I called down the stairs "What did he say?" He replied "She's gone." "Gone?Where?" I replied. He looked up to me on the stairs where I was waiting and not understanding what he had just said. "Gone!She's gone???!!! What do you mean???" and I sat right there on the steps and cried like child.
She ran in a large circle needing to release some of her pent up excitement then paused by a pond to lap it's cool water as the goldfish rose to her mouth and puckered up as she licked their heads. It was only right that she would be the first to greet me. She was always the first to greet me. Memories of the hard day I had and the long journey I just taken faded as she tugged on my sleeve and pulled me on."Yip, Yip" she barked. It was her special bark. The one that says "Hurry! It's time to go see the Master!" It's good to be home.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What is real? ( A blog that somehow never posted last year)

I am finding that some things are just more 'real' than other things. It is in those real places that I find a deep peace and satisfaction. It is real to pull up raishes in the garden, rinse it off an take a bite. It is real to hold my newest grandchild in my arms and pray over her and then pass her to the next person in the family circle as we all bless her and speak her name and join with her father as he prays for her life. It is real to put out oranges and nuts in the bird feeder and watch them disappear over night. It is real to have goldfish nibble on your fingers in the garden pond.It is even real to watch the egrat circle my home knowing that one of my goldfish may soon be lunch for the hungry bird. It is real to turn over the compost pile and see life squiggle and squirm and retreat from the sunlight.
It is real to feel the smooth seaglass in my hands as I twist the wire and create something that people desire from something that others discarded. It is real to have dirt under my finger nails as afternoon becomes twilight. It is real to go to Target and purchase 900 diapers with money collected in one night and it is real to push into duffle bags. It is real knowing that next week I will see on Face Book these same diapers in the hands of many who have been displaced by the very real earthquake.
I have finally leared, for real, that so much of what we consider important is just not real. In America the complaint "We have nothing to eat." is not real.. Or when we say "I have nothing to wear." or "I have nothing to do."
I don't believe God ever intended for us to be so far removed from reality. Movies and magazines. Over eatting. The pursuit of endless entertainment. In loosing touch with what is real we have lost our ability to understand the world around us.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just Do It

If you have been reading my blog for any time now you may have noticed that Haiti and her people have been a common topic for me. I know that it is because there is a supernatural calling on my life to "do something". So I am. Where I can, when I can and what I can. This in not to say that other areas of my life are not important but in this season I feel led to speak out often. This is the thing that I know to do.
The other day I was talking to my daughter Gwenn in Haiti about the canister drive that my friend Dennis and I are doing in our area. She said Mom you know what your doing is "guerrilla aid" I knew at once what she was talking about and it felt good. We don't have committees or officers, we don't have bylaws or rules. We know what needs to get done and we do it. As much as I would like to be on the ground in Haiti I know that my work for Haiti is far more important right here, right now. James 4:17 says: "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."
It is interesting that "Guerrilla Aid" is a humanitarian aid program. Really the concept puts us the Body of Christ to shame. It seems like the (American) church makes doing good things hard. We beat things to death with our committee meetings and our care to do everything the way it has always been done that we sometimes fail to do the good we know to do. We are always looking for approval and support and we sometimes fail to seize the moment to do what is right.
I am beginning to see how we live in this bubble that keeps us clean. And safe. Who ever said that we would be safe? Being a follower of Jesus is not safe. If it is maybe we need to reconsider how we are living. It is not always safe, or comfortable or pretty.In fact, the opposite is often true.
How is it that I can see the work of Jesus in Barton Brooks, a man who does not publicly claim to be a Christ follower? Why is it that I identify so closely with the work of a secular humanitarian? It is because the word of God is somehow written on his heart. He is doing the things that Jesus has commanded us to do. He is caring for the widows and the orphans in their distress. He sees a need and he goes to meet it. This is what the church should look like. We need to get dirty.
I don't want to step on toes unless of course they need it. The Bible tells us about what the last days will be like. Earthquakes, war, famine, signs in the heavens. (Matt 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.) The point of this scripture is not to alarm us but to comfort us and to tell us to be ready. God wants to find us doing the things that He told us to do. And what did He tell us? To care for the widows and the orphans. I think each of us is being called to 'do something'. James 2:14 summed up says "faith without works is dead". Simply to believe is not enough. The evil one, the father of lies, Satan himself is a believer. But he is not a follower of Jesus.
For those of you who remember the 1970s their was a slogan that said "Just do it!" I think it was a Nike ad. Well, I believe today that we could all borrow that slogan. Do the good you know to do. Don't know what you should be doing? The bible tells us to ask for wisdom. That does not mean we have to go off in some room for 40 days with a gathering of counselors to help you decide what 'good' to do. Just a simple "Jesus show me." He will. Then "Just do it."

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:26-27 (in Context) James 1 (Whole Chapter)
Romans 2:12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
James 2:18 (New International Version)

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
James 2:14-18 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Seaglass Christmas

Last week I took a seaglass workshop which was taught by Fran Peel in Manteo the the Dare County Arts Counsel offered. I was excited to get off work on time and didn't miss any of it. My thoughts about working with this art were how much blessing could pour back into Haiti.
The glass was all picked up by my grandchildren (which included the orphaned and abandoned children in my daughter and son in law's home) along a dirty strip of beach in Jacmel, Haiti. I thought that if I could learn this craft then I could go back to Haiti and teach it there allowing for a way for income to be generated in this area. What I didn't know that day was the passion that would be born in me to learn and create and learn and create some more. I have spent countless hours at night sitting at my craft table picking out matching earrings and wrapping wire around glass.
Tonight I decided to try something new. Fran had showed us briefly how to create seaglass nativities. I tried it tonight and was really blessed to see the results. Fran said that the glass selected determines the value of the piece. Well, I really don't know much about what is more valuable. Or really exactly what valuable means.Because really, value is determined but what someone is willing to pay.The value to me is that God can and will take our garbage and make something worthwhile and maybe even pretty from it. But I know that this piece tugs on my heart and I will hate to see it go...but really, it's just a thing. A thing that blessed me to create, will bless someone to buy and give, and will bless the people in a little coastal town in the poorest nation in our hemisphere.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I bring an offering of worship to my King

Sometimes it seems that what I have to offer is so small and pitiful. God doesn't need the dirty and imperfect things that I have in my hand. But He does not see my offerings the same way. He sees the heart with which I come to Him and He sees what is on the other side of that offering. So it is with this sea glass. The street child in Jacmel Haiti who extends his dirty hand with an offering just because it pleased him to do so does not see what this grandmother in another country, another world really, desires to do with his offering. He does not know that his offering will come back as a blessing to his community. He does not know that many will be blessed through him. He just knows that he offers what is in his hand. Child, you have taught me so much in this.

Paul Baloche

the sun cannot compare to the glory of Your love
there is no shadow in Your presence
no mortal man would dare to stand before Your throne
before the holy One of heaven

its only by Your blood and
its only by Your mercy
Lord i come

i bring an offering of worship to my King
no one on earth deserves the praises that i sing
Jesus may You receive the honour that You're due
Lord i bring an offering to You

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I look at thse pictures that gwenn took on the beach in Jacmel, Haiti and I am drawn back. I understand what it means to have a "call" on your life.I think that is why it is ok for me to see my daughter and son in law and grandchildren living in a place that most would never desire to visit. I know the about this call because I can only believe that at some level I am also called there. No, I don't foresee me and Steve selling everything and moving there.I do see me having some deep forvever connection to Jacmel and her people. I look at these photos and I see my grandchildren extending their hands filled with gifts for me! I have not met all of the children but they are "mine" as surly as the children that Gwenn gave birth to. It is a different kind of grandparenting but it is still so very real. I long to bring all of my American grandchildren with me to meet their Haiti cousins.
Since my first trip to Haiti one year ago not a day goes by that I do not miss it. No doubt people are weary of hearing about it from me. I don't really know where this is going or what it all means but I know I am homesick for this little island in the blue water.
I love my home and my life here. I am crazy nuts about all my grandbabies here and love every minute I have with them. But part of my heart will always be longing...for my ohter home this side of heaven.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Don't Get Me Started

I think considering the events of the last few months that I have held up pretty well. Very well really. I mean I am functioning and not like throwing up or crying a lot and all that. When the earthquake rocked Haiti on Jan. 12th my little world here in NC also shook. To the core. And for that matter it is still pretty fluid. I wanted to be there with my daughter and her family but God would have me serve here by caring for the children when they were evacuated.
Two months to the day after the quake we were rejoicing as a family as baby Johanna was born. Nothing like a baby to remind us of how sweet life is.
Eight days later my earth was shaken again as my daughter Gretchen, (Johanna's mom) was medivacted to Norfolk where she spent nine days in ICU and was on a vent which did the breathing for her.
I have rarely cried in all this. But something happens to me when I worship. It's like my defenses are all gone and my guard goes down and I weep. Today I was interpreting (sign language) the worship time at church. My back was to the platform but as the first song began I heard her. My Gretchen who less than 2 weeks ago was on a vent was singing! Just last night I was thinking of the song "Heart of Worship" by Matt Redman. Part of song says:

When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that's of worth
That will bless your heart

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the ways things appear
You're looking into my heart

I was thinking about Gretchen's beautiful voice and wondering how it would affect her if she now found it hard to sing. I was thinking about her heart of worship and praying that she would know her value in Christ even is she could not sing like before. But she could and she did. Hearing her stirred such a spirit of thanksgiving that the tears of joy welled up. Deep, deep thanksgiving pulsed though my whole being .
At the same time I am remembering that one year ago this morning I was in a small church in Jacmel, Haiti. I signed the song "Arise My Love" (by Newsong) for the deaf as Gretchen sang it. It was Easter Sunday. I met so many people that morning and was warmly welcomed by not only the deaf community but by others and I found myself longing everyday to go back. This morning I read on facebook that it had rained hard in Jacmel overnight. I thought about the people in the camp and how difficult it must be for them to worship right now. I grieve for them.
The guest preacher was raised as a child of missionaries to Mexico. His dad died I think of malaria when he was still young. How good it was to pray with this man. He asked me something like "What is the ceiling of the emotions you are feeling? What do you really want to see happen?" Wow. So much. I want the suffering to stop. I want my family to be safe. I want the mayor and his men to have radical salvation. I want to be in Haiti. That was a hard question. But I am glad to be asked. I was glad to have someone 'get it' and glad my girlfriend Candy stood with me as we agreed together to see God's hand move.
I realize that I have been avoiding worship and even times of honest prayer since January. I am not yet ready to really open up that gate. I'm doing well. Really, I am. I am just beginning to understand that God wants me to hang out with Him a little more. But I have to set aside some time for this cause it might not be too pretty.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring's First Blush

Last Autumn I decided I wanted to plant a flower garden. I have not always been very good with this type of thing. I like instant results. Gardens take time and work and more time.
Steve put up a fence for my garden and I hung a bird feeder from the small live oak that grows in the inside my fence just to the side of the fish pond. I planted bulbs in the fall and those promises I planted are now dancing on my flower beds. Years after I am gone those flowers will be there to welcome whomever is here to see them.
So it is with our lives. What we sow into the lives of those around us will bear witness to future generations as to what kind of seed we sown. How many times do we hear children repeat some unkind or angry words that they learned from us? What children learn from us they will also teach to their children and on down the line. The Bible tells us the that the sins of the father are passed on to the third and fourth generation. I believe this is referring to this very type of thing. But it is also true that our kind words and good behaviours can be passed on to future generations.How wonderful to hear my grandchildren encourage one another.

The fence in my garden keeps my plants safe from loose dogs, loose kids :) and it gives me a defined space to work in and makes me know that I am in my garden. So it is with boundaries in the lives of our children. Children need places of safety. Places where the influences of the outside world can't touch them and places where they know what is expected of them.
Just as my plants need attention, water and sun and pruning and compost, children need to be nurtured. They need attention and provision, they need sunlight and correction. We need to prune away all that would keep them from growing emotionally, physically or spiritually strong. And like my garden, children should be enjoyed. Watch them dance. The seasons are short, don't miss a single blossom.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Processing it all.

Every year I write a Christmas letter. Maybe I should consider penning one for Easter. So much has happened since I put up the ornaments and took down the tree. It has not been a great 3 months in many ways. But still, I see God's hand upon my family in an amazing way. And I am thankful. My body is reacting to the stress and I am glad to take a few days to process things. I have learned/am learning about priorites. The things that I have are just things. I don't need them. Getting my hair cut the other day my beautician asked what I wanted to do. "Just cut it. Any way you want as long as I can pull it back." These things just don't matter.
One year ago Easter I was in Haiti for my first time. I loved it. My daughters Gretchen and Gwenn were with me. I saw such incredible poverty but loved Jacmel and it's people. Those people are suffering. Gwenn and her family and the other missionaries and the children of the orphanage have lost so much. That's important. Not my haircut.
We could have lost my daughter Gretchen this past week. Watching her hooked up to a breathing machine and knowing I could loose her. That's important. As we cared for her newborn and her other 3 children I thought of how much I depended on her. I found myself with questions during the week and thought "I'll call Gretchen, she will know..Oh.I can't."
I always knew but now know more that family is so very imortant. And family isn't always what what the word describs in the dictionary. So many have risen to the occasion first after the earthquake and again with Gretchen's illness.
So while my body and my mind ache and sleep calls to me even though I napped long today, I am thankful. Hoping that there will be no more major events for my 2010 Christmas card and praying for sustained health for Gretchen and for the 'stuff' it will take to recreate Haiti.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Needing to sleep off this hangover...

Nine days ago my life went into a tailspin. Being called to action I went into stress mode, meaning "no time to cry, too much to do" and that is how it has gone for these nine long days. Oh, I did cry , a tear here a sob there but..mostly I had to hold it. I feel now like I am waking up after a long drunk..not that I would know what that feels like but I can imagine. I am so tired. And so thankful.
When Jon called to say he was taking Gretchen to the hospital I was very concerned. When I heard they would medivac her to Norfolk..well, I was scared. Gretchen is one tough girl. Don't often get to see her cry. Watching her pant for breath and realizing that this was really serious was compounded by a doctor who said (in front of her) "Well, it could be we give her diuretics and she will be fine in a few days, or worst case we are looking at a heart transplant. This before she left The Outer Banks hospital and before the first test was run. Remind me later about the letter the hospital will be receiving about this doctor.
Watching the helicopter take off and strapping my 8 day old baby in the car seat for the trip to Norfolk with Jon are all surreal memories at this time. I had run back home to retrieve the one bag of stored breast milk and wondered what we would do to fed baby Johanna after that ran out.
I can't remember arriving at Norfolk Sentura..yes I do..kinda..
I stayed with the baby in the waiting room and hauled her in the car seat with a big diaper bag and my purse around looking for a baby changing station. Then looking for a way to heat up her bottle. (She had never had one before..) Jon stayed with Gretchen and it was determined it was not her heart. ( transplant ..good..) Not a blood clot..good. But she continued to get worse. I lugged the baby and all the baby gack up to the 6th floor where I was told we could get a room. I could get a room, the baby could not. So I continued to lug the baby and gack around and tried to get some formula for her. Sorry, no free samples without a doctor's orders. Somewhere in here my pastor shows up. And Jim. Cause no matter what, Jim always shows up. For every serious, scary, sad or happy event Jim is there. Pastor somehow gets us set up in the ICU waiting room which is much better than the ER waiting room.And there we wait. Jon manages to get formula where I could not and they give him diapers as well.Steve picks up the baby and me and we head back home leaving my daughter in the hands of her husband, the doctors and Harold-my angel whom I have asked to stay with her. I am aware that this is a part of a very real spiritual attack that my family has been under. I know who fights our battle for us but none the less I am frightened.
Now like when you drink to much alchol the details get fuzzy and even now I wonder what have I done for the last nine days? Did I really watch my daughter cling to life then see a machine breath for her when she could not? Did I spend the last nine nights with the middle of the night feedings and rocking a tiny baby who didn't think it best to sleep? Did I soften the truth for my grandchildren so that they would be less afraid? Did I stay up late talking with my other daughter about her life in Haiti during and after the earthquake. Did I watch my youngest daughter step in so completely and loving to nurture her sister's baby?
Now, as I sit in my chair, in my home, in the quiet of this night it is so hard to believe that as quickly this trial arrived and now it is leaving. Gretchen now home with her baby and children. Weak but still strong willed and with an even stronger faith. My room is still spinning and I think I will need to put one foot on the floor to make it stop. And during this emotional binge I have had so many people willing to drive when I could not. Praying when I was too weak for too busy. Encouraging. Loving my daugther and my family. Pulling us through to the other side. So I will sleep it off. Hoping never again to go back to this last nine days but to move forward better for what I have known. The hangover is real. But I am encouraged that it will be short lived.