Monday, December 26, 2011

The best Christmas?

After my surgery and as I was starting to feel really good I had all of these good intentions about how "great" Christmas would be this year. I would bake and decorate and have lots of time to work on my business , Jacmel Bay.  I imagined having a party and inviting people into my perfectly clean home with the smells of gingerbread in the oven (as opposed to Yankee candle on the candle warmer.)
Sometimes we need to release our expectations about how things "should" look and gracefully accept how the actually are.
Gwenn came to stay with me after the surgery.She took care of me. Then Melody and the girls came and continued to care for me. When the house was quiet again I started to dive in to projects that have been neglected for years. Thus the start of a "perfect" holiday.Less than a week later Gwenn and Nick were robbed in Haiti and shortly after she was back with the three American children. Let me just say up front that I am so glad to have her and the children here! I have never had a Christmas with these grandchildren.
We had already planned to spend Thanksgiving with Melody and Chris and the girls in PA and had a really wonderful few days with them. Chris even go tickets for Steve and I to go to a play while we were there.Honestly, Melody and Chris are amazing hosts! And what fun I have with Melody and her thrift store/yard sale passion! Evie makes me feel like I am really someone special!
The night before Thanksgiving I rolled over in bed and actually heard a "pop" coming from behind my right knee.The pain can only be compared to childbirth...except it was in my leg :) Thanksgiving AM was spent in the ER and here I am after Christmas and have not had a follow up appointment and still hobbling around and not kneeling down.
All this to say that Christmas was not shaping up how I imagined. Sometimes I felt frustrated by the fact I had not pulled out even half of my Christmas things. Frustrated that while the greens are gathered I still have yet to make my yearly wreath for the front door. Frustrated that while I have bought all of the ingredients for cookies I have not made the first cookie.Frustrated by the pain in my knee not allowing me to move freely. Frustrated that I have not been the "fun" grandmother doing all the holiday "fun" stuff with the grandchildren. Oh sure we did do a bunch of cool things (saw the Manteo Christmas parade for the first time ever!)..but I was not always 'fun'. "Micah...what are you crazy??" , "Josiah, you are too loud!", "Johanna! get down!" , "Nia, not now." , "Nico, you and your brother go watch a movie." , "Pick up your your teeth.....STOP IT!!!!" Not exactly the fun, silly, loving, gentle, and playful grandmother I long to be, once was...hope to be again....kind of grandmother.
 One night when I looked at a Santa Clause mug I told the kids about my own (hated) great-grandmother who kept me and my brother and sister apart from our father when he came to deliver very similar mugs to up after the separation of my parents. Her rage that day separated her from my affections for the rest of her life. I still can not think of one good thing to say about her. I don't know why I told them the story but they have asked to have me repeat it nearly every day. The only thing she taught me is that I don't want to be like her.
In my times of frustration when things are not so 'perfect' I understand how important it is for me to not let my expectations cloud my reality. So what if all the decorations did not get up. So what we didn't make cookies or wreaths. what!!!
I had a Christmas break through. I was with Gwenn and the children at Gwenn's church Crosspointe in Cary. A song about relationships was being sung. I remember thinking "not very Christmasie but really pretty." And then it came. I felt tears well up as I had this quiet moment to reflect. I found thoughts rushing through my head. "I am alive this Christmas! I did not die from cancer. I did not make Christmas a really bad time for my family by being dead. Gwenn is alive! Nia and Nick and Josiah and Nico and all the other kids!!! Alive!! The robbers did not kill them!Ruby was born beautiful and healthy without the problems that had shown themselves in the pregnancy. Gwenn did not die from staph and Josiah did not die from what ever he had!!We have a home that while messy and small is a haven where my grandchildren feel safe and loved! This in fact is the BEST Christmas ever.
 Well not really, there was one that was better. It was another messy and loud one. It was a Christmas that did not meet the expectations of the family. No cookies or decorations. No wreath. Just a baby in a barn and parents to keep Him safe a warm. Parents willing to do whatever needed to be done to keep their family together. Even if being together meant to be separated for a time as Gwenn and Nick are. Christmas. Not always pretty. But always beautiful.
Thanking God for getting the "stuff" out of the way so I could see His heart.

(Looking at these pictures I think..hmm...maybe I WAS the fun grandmother!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One Month

I started to blog this brush with cancer on the day that the doctor gave me the news. That was one month (lifetime) ago. My mind can barely wrap around the facts that has been my life in this month. I truly am humbled by the outpouring of love and attention from my family and so many others.They have loved me well. I am blessed. I am humbled by the love of my God.
I have know so many people who walked the cancer road who suffered so much yet held on to their faith.My road has been short and easy in comparison. My heart goes to those who even today are dealing with the questions and fears that I lived for only one month that they are knowing as a new lifestyle.

My nephew's wife Lisa was 37 when she left this world. She did everything right. She went to the doctors early, she modified her diet. She worshiped and prayed and worked and laughed.The last time I saw Lisa was six weeks before she died. She was the picture of healing as she came in the house after shoveling out the house stall. I never knew her to feel sorry for herself. She died with courage and honor and beauty. Four years later the pain for her family is still close. She left three young children.
Why God choose to take Lisa and heal me I will not know this side of glory. But I do know that even in Lisa's death He is glorified. Harder to see to our human eyes maybe but true just the same.
Cancer killed my mother, my father, my grandfather and my uncle. (to name a few) There is a good chance that if Jesus does not return first that I will have to walk the cancer road again. If not in me then in someone close to me. It is just a fact of the fall. I am not claiming it or jinxing myself. It is just a real possibility that I must face. How I choose to face facts of life and death is all that I can control. And I choose life. Life even in facing death. I choose to acknowledge that worry can not add one hair to my head or one day to my life. Everything I am or ever will be is in the hands of my loving Father. This day He has spoken Life. And I rejoice and am glad.
In one month...He rocked my world. I am beyond humbled.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Giddy with excitement and smiling at the future! So much to say..later. For now..I am so honored to be the child of a loving God!
On a perhaps lesser note..SO this is what if feels like to get 8 hours of sleep every night for 2 weeks!!!! The air is clear, the breeze is cool, the mosquitoes are GONE and the sun is shinning. SO much to  get done and keep on having to remind myself that I actually have the time to do it!!!!!!
Thanking so many for going to the throne of grace on my behalf. I will die someday but for now God has spoken LIFE!! to Him be all the glory!!!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

So...this is it.

I sit in my newly redone studio/office space that Melody spent LOTS of hours cleaning and organizing for me. It's like here I am at this great place of new beginnings. And I am. Soon I will be officially retired. I have not set an alarm clock in two weeks. I have lots of business possibilities coming around.It is exciting.
Tomorrow I go back to the oncologist. He will tell me what the next chapter of my life will look like. He in no way controls how this book will read but he knows the title of the next chapter. Seems funny to me that the information that will alter my course one way or another, information that is so important to me, has most likely been sitting on his desk for days....
No doubt he has reviewed it by now....this is the closest to anxious I have been to date. But I still rest in knowing that God is for me and not against me. And...I trust Him...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Merry Melody

When I first moved to NC sixteen years ago she was my closest and actually only friend. Steve had remained up north to sell the house and Gretchen and Gwenn were in college. So Melody and I packed our bags..and boxes.. and a large truck and moved to Manteo. We rented a small (cold) apartment at Morrison Grove and set out exploring our new life here.
Having ten months without the distractions of a normal life we grew quite close. When I felt discouraged or downhearted Melody would leave me sweet little notes on my pillow or on the mirror. We shared a love for old houses and would drive around and look at every house on the market. There was one old house on Sunny Side that she loved and would make me park outside of it for long periods of time so she could imagine what it would be like to live there. "Can't you just imagine me sitting under that tree and writing my first novel?" Sometimes I wonder if I had bought that house if she would have written that book by now. In those months we talked about her hopes and dreams. We talked about boys and dish towels. She gave me a surprise 40th birthday party and invited our only new friend. Kevin was an eighteen year old surfer who told me I was phat and I wasn't sure if I should accept that as a compliment or an insult. We laughed til we cried when he tried to set up our Christmas tree and ended up using a wire and nailed it to that walls to make it stand up.
When Melody left to go to Fire School in Florida it was hard to let her go and she has not lived in Manteo since. That was a long time ago. When Melody married Chris and moved to PA it was hard to have her so far away. We see each other a lot. We are still very close.
This time of my recovery has been a special time with my Merry Melody. I'm not saying I am glad for my cancer. I am glad however to have Melody and her three beautiful little girls here with me for a more extended stay.
Some times hard times bring their own reward.

Friday, October 21, 2011

In the Quiet

The house is quiet. Cana is sleeping. Evie is upstairs playing a game. Melody and Ruby are out. Steve is at work and the other grandchildren won't be here for an hour. I am reflecting on the burst of activity in my life and how for most of it I had to sit passively as I watched it happen around me. I am blessed and grateful for all this activity that was directed at moving me on to a healthier place. Physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I have yet to get the results of my pathology from my operation. I don't know what is going to happen in my tomorrows. But I fell good. I am not anxious or in fear.
When this is all over I will be officially retired from the US Postal Service. YAY!!!! I have worked since I was 13 years old. During the 'baby' years I took children into our home and worked part time jobs like school crossing guard, cleaned offices, this and that. In 1986 when my 'baby' was three years old I stared at the Post Office. Since that time every Saturday has been a work day. I have not been able to be involved in women's study groups or coffee times. For the first time in ....ever.....I don't have to set my alarm clock!
Because I can't lift anything heavier than a milk jug it cramps my style a bit and I can't dive in the way I would like to. For months I have been piling things in various places knowing that I would be able to really organize my home as soon as I retired. Sure didn't count on this. However....I do have a Melody in my life who is tearing through my piles, staying up late every night and restoring order to my neglected home. Mostly I watch her and try to help with the kids cause she is like me and finds it easier to 'do it myself'. So I humbley let her. So even if I can't do what I have been waiting to do for months it is nice to have it being done just the same. And she is more ruthless than me and 'encourages' me to toss out things I may have otherwise kept.
I understand a little why people on the Hoarders show get so upset. If 'helping' a person is not done with a caring attitude it can make you feel really threatened. And old. Melody does not make me feel this way.
So with Gwenn here to do my makeover and straighten out my paper work (because I honestly could not handle that right now without crying) and Melody straightening out my home ...well..I feel like I am ready to take on this retirement thing full on!
In this quiet..I am thankful for this journey. For my family. To my God. Life is good. Come what may.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Today I took Evie and Cana to the Aquarium. Well..I didn't actually take them there. Melody did because I am still on the "Denise can't drive" thing for another week. While there we went to Neptune's theater to see the Show. Which Evie promptly informed me was not a "show". Yes ..she was right. It was an educational presentation. Can't fool the daughter of a music promoter. :)
One fact that really touched me was about dolphins. Because a dolphin is a mammal it needs to breath air. When a baby dolphin is born the mother's sisters will often stay with the mom for the delivery. When the baby dolphin comes out the aunts will often help usher the baby to the surface so it can take it's first breath.
What a picture of family. Having my children here during this time has been so awesome. Sometimes I need them to push ME to the surface to catch my breath.
I am so thankful to my God who paints this picture of family. The natural family and the family of Christ.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Survivor's guilt..7 days post surgery

My name was on the prayer list in a local church prayer list. First let me say "I love that!" I love that churches I do not even attend are including me on their list. Next to my name it said : "cancer".
Wow..this has not yet sunk in. I hope it does not have a chance to actually. But somehow..somehow I feel like I am cheating. If all goes well I would have found out I had cancer in my body and they took it out all in the course of a week! Yes, I very much hope that is what will happen here. But somehow it doesn't seem fair. So many people with "cancer" suffer. I mean really suffer. I have not suffered. I have had mild to moderate discomfort for one week. I could not sit down with someone who has cancer and say "I know how you feel." My daughter Gwenn says it is a kind of survivor guilt. Like when she when through the earthquake. Of course it was hard for her but so many had it so much worse it was hard to process the fact that she and all of her family were alive and still had a home.
Interesting enough I have learned of several people who have learned they have cancer since I learned of my own. For those new cases I feel like maybe God can use me to encourage. Maybe that is why I have this blog... I don't know.
On Tues of next week I will get the results..I pray that if I still need treatment that God will be glorified. I pray that if I am cancer free God will be glorified. I pray that I will be a survivor and live to tell His story. I pray that I will be a friend and live to listen to yours.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Little 12

The surgery went well. I think my recovery is going well. I have around me so many of the people that make me happy. Each with their own gifts and abilities to encourage me! My friends and neighbors, coworkers, facebook friends have sent me cards and flowers, fruit and offered prayers. I am learning to listen to my body and not fight the temporary limitations that I have.
Tonight, the house is quiet. I have been working on paper work. And more paper work and then some more. And I am finding it hard to concentrate on any of it. And when I can't find the stamps I just bought I start to cry.
I have piles of important papers everywhere. As the team leader for the trip to Haiti (that I am not going on) I have deposits and itineraries and passport info and travel insurance info to gather and print and put in one place.
I have to file a claim to get a refund on my ticket to Haiti. More papers and they all have to get filled out and signed by doctors...Which doctors? the family doctor?, the Ob/Gyn? the oncologist?? Do I have to contact the they?
Then there is the FMLA...whose phone answering system did not function properly...more forms..
The retirement papers...the state sales taxes...the regular bills..
And my mind can not focus on any of it.
The doctor said to expect this. He said it would be hard to is. I just want to throw away every paper in my house and start over...sigh...enough complaining.
The reason I feel a need to share this frustration is because it would not be fair to share my cancer story and make it seem like it was all faith and love letters in the sand. This part is hard for me. I wanted to go to Haiti SO bad. Anyone who knows me, has met me, ran into me at the store, bumped into me on the sidewalk KNOWS that I was counting down the days. My Google desktop a daily/minute/second reminder of the time my flight would leave next Friday. This is hard stuff. This is were my faith could be challenged! But still...still... there is the reminder.. a daughter who honors me with a new tattoo on her arm.. daughters who write their  love for me in the way they care for my home and my needs, a husband who stands by me in every way and a God who writes me love letters in the sand...and I know..I know that I know that I know...
He if faithful..and this is all stuff that is just trying to get me off track..

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Soap Box. Day 10/part 2

This blog is for any woman who is  50 years old. Or any woman under 50. Or any woman over 50. Or any man who loves a woman. Or any man who has a wife. Or a sister. Or a mother.
Cancer. And a great hush fell over the crowd.
We have seen the pink ribbons and the cute tee-shirts about breast cancer. We have all heard for years about he importance of breast exams. Both self exams and doctor exams annually. We even have a  postage stamp dedicated to raising money for breast cancer research. These are all positive moves. We need to not be quiet about the dangers of breast cancer.
We all know about the importance of a yearly pap smear. I know..this is perhaps a little harder to say out out loud because let's face it..on a good day is it uncomfortable and awkward.  Many woman shy away from this test because it is uncomfortable.
But I did all the routine tests. Had a few really uncomfortable breast biopsies that thankfully did not show cancer. I had yearly paps and even the dreaded colonoscopy!All the tests came back negative. So how is it that I sit here 2 days after a hysterectomy to hopefully rid my body of uterine cancer??
I am 2 years post menopausal. Yes, I know this is very personal and some of you..especially men may decide here to stop reading. Your choice..
I felt fine. No reason at all to suspect that a TINY bit of spotting should be something to be concerned about. In fact I almost did not mention it to a PA when it first happened. It seems so minor. Not even enough blood to use a pad. I did mention it and was told this could happen for a while after menopause.
Nothing happened again for several months. Then again.. the same thing. I waited a few weeks and it came again. I went to the Internet and googled "post menopausal spotting". The first hit I got was "any amount of bleeding after menopause is not normal." I went to a new doctor who did a repeat pap and that was fine. She set up a inter vaginal sonogram for me to look further. I thought this would be terrible. It really was less uncomfortable than a pap. This showed some irregularities. I was immediately sent to an OB/GYN for a biopsy of the lining of the uterus. This I will admit was very uncomfortable. In less than a week I had the answer. Cancer. I was shocked. I thought for sure we were going to find some minor easily treated problem.
The same week I got my results back so did the sister of a friend of mine. We were both 55 yrs. old. That is very young for this type of cancer.
Uterine cancer is a very common female cancer. If caught early it is the most treatable female cancer. The uterus is a muscle that holds the cancer in one spot IF CAUGHT EARLY.
That is why I am writing this blog. I thought I was doing everything right. I thought that a pap smear was the end all for female cancers. Women need to listen to their bodies. If we think something 'may' be wrong and a doctor doesn't agree it is ok to question that.
Uterine cancer is most often found in overweight women. Guilty. It is often found in women with hormone replacement therapy. Not guilty. It often can be found in families who have had colon cancer...yep..that's me.
I wait now for the two weeks to find out what next? if anything. I hope/pray that the cancer is gone. So, if you are a woman or know a woman I want to tell you not to be afraid to say aloud what you may suspect. Address it today. Not next week or next month. Make an appointment today. Even if it means you have to cancel a trip to Disney World..or even Haiti.

A Two Blog kind of Day. Day 10

What a birthday party! The waiting room filled with family and friends! Cards and greetings and love pouring down! This was a wonderful birthday! Hopefully leaving cancer behind as I go into this new year is a wonderful gift from God. I don't know yet if that is the case. But in this waiting room I choose to believe that the future looks bright. If I have other treatments to deal with that when it comes.For's pain meds and full makeovers :)
Yes..I had glamour shots today thanks to my daughter Gwenn. As silly as it feels to be sitting here with full 'wedding' makeup it's fun. It's great to have a light heart. I am richly blessed! This afternoon Gretchen will bring over her babies to visit me. Katie has been working on a surprise for me ( I hope she brings it!) And I look forward to Melody arriving with her 3 babies sometime this week! Steve has been taking care of me as well. Selah sisters are bringing dinner tonight.Flowers just arrived at my door! It makes me so grateful. It also makes me so aware of those who don't have the support group around them that I have.
Now on the other hand..lest you think life is all "sunshine and lolipops'...this physically hurts more than i expected. I hate taking narcotics and can't imagine why anyone would use them for fun! BUT I am thankful to live in a country where they are available and I am thankful for health insurance that makes them more attainable.
I am remained of two years ago when Gwenn and Nick were staying in Port-Au-Prince for language school. Woody, a young teen from Jacmel was hurt in a moto accident. His leg was broken in 2 places and because it was very difficult for his parents to make the trip over the mountain every day Gwenn became a care-giver for Woody. His leg was in traction using a milk bottle filled with water as a weight for the traction. Gwenn had to feed and bathe this young man as well as provide everything he needed while in the hospital. (food ,hygiene ect.)Nurses were not responsible to care for hygiene or toileting. Even though I did not have the best nursing care while in the hospital I had great care compared to what Woody had in Haiti. We in America do not really understand how blessed we are as a nation. It health care equal? No. Some people are 'more equal' than others. But even the worst that we have to offer in the US is still far better than the best to be offered in some other countries. This is not a 'soap box' moment..simply a statement of fact. We need to be thankful. I am thankful.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Birthday Party- Day 7

So my birthday party is shaping up to be quite an event! I wonder how many of my family will get kicked out of the waiting room for their raucous behaviour!
All these people that are coming..well I've told them they don't need to be there. BUT I am blessed that they will be. When there is a wound in our physical body the white blood cells rush in to do battle with the germs that are trying to attack the body. So it is with the Body of Christ. I am humbled by the outpouring of love and support for me and my family. And I am deeply grateful to God for placing me in this circle of encouragement.
Time and time again God has whispered His thoughts to me and time and time again He has sent others in to speak those thoughts out loud so I would be sure to hear them. To be alone would surly be worse than the cancer itself.
I want to live. I am excited about the future. I believe that I will be completely healed. If I an does not change my faith at all. When I came home from my first trip to Haiti  in the Spring of 2009 I wrote a blog about The Solid Rock . That rock has not shifted since then. It did not shift when the earth quaked and it did not shift when Gretchen nearly died. The rock is solid. It was, it is and it will be solid.
I have no doubt that I have faced and am facing an attack of the enemy. He can't have a victory. I do not acknowledge any power he may think his has on my life. I am a child of God. He created me in Christ Jesus before I was born. Jesus fights my battles. So tomorrow.. if you pray for it in praise and thanksgiving. Believers, worship Him. Non believers ask Him to show you what this means. Pray that all of us would have divine appointments tomorrow! Make us ready to meet those appointments. If you have the time to listen to the song I posted on my blog earlier today, listen to it. All nine minutes of it and pray with me. It would be great if you could do it at 10 AM..
Thank you for walking this path with me. Looking forward to see the Hand of God revealed!

my prayer and song

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Was this really my last day at the Post Office??

I think it will take me a while to really understand that I am finished working for the Postal Service. When I started I was the mother of three young daughters. In fact, Melody was still in nursery school! Now she is the mother of three daughters!
 I had walked into the Post Office one morning to get my mail and Mrs. Kuhl the Postmaster said to me "You want a job?" I said "Sure". Here I am 25 years later, the grandmother of a whole mess of kids and ready to start the next chapter of the book of my life that my God is writing.
I admit as nice as it was to be honored by my coworkers it still was bitter sweet. But I am still believing in hope for the future. And I am praying that this will one day be remembered as "water gone by".
Today I was thinking about the fact that I know God will be glorified in this. Then I remembered a dog we had named Nutmeg. She was from the pound and the policy was that all female dogs must be spade. So we paid our $54.00 special rate and brought her to the vet. When we went to pick her up they said that after they opened her up they discovered she had already been spade!
Wouldn't it be cool if the doctors opened me up and found the God had already 'spade' me???
Gwenn is on her way to the States! Steve will pick her up in the morning! Melody and the girls will be coming in as soon as they are feeling better. And Gretchen is here~ I know you are jealous they they are not your can't have them~

This is not how I dreamed the story would unfold.. day 5

For twenty five years I have worked in a job that has required me to work  a schedule that I really don't like. Every Sat, many Sundays. Both side of most holidays. Early morning alarm clocks. BUT it was a good job in many ways. I enjoy my contact with the public and the job itself really is not so bad. But for 25 years I have longed for the time when I could be a stay at home domestic type. Oh I knew I would have to work but finally ....finally I have found the work I was born to do! It was like everything I have done since I became a Christian in 1977 was preparing me for this season. I spoke often this year about having come to the most exciting time in my life.
Finally the day would come! On my 56 birthday I would be eligible to retire! The paper work done and turned in I decided to wait until the end of October to retire but spend the last week of work on vacation in Haiti. It was exciting to think about turning in my cash drawer, working the counter and saying 'so long' to the customers I have grown to know and love so well over these many years! I was pumped and ready!
So tomorrow is that last day that I have longed for for such a long I counted out my cash and signed the necessary forms. Got to the bottom of a few forwarding problems. And cried..
This is not how I dreamed this story would unfold....
I can't see next week...tomorrow... I am not being fatalistic. I just can't know if the dreams that were unfolding for my future will look anything like I hoped. I can't say I am scared. At moments I am. I am quite thankful that the doctors have moved on this so quickly. It does not give me much of a chance to think "cancer". I am praying that by the time the idea sinks in it will be gone. Jesus did not say to me that He would heal me. He said "Do you trust me?"  I know He has His best for me in His heart. I just don't know if we would agree on what is 'best'.
So while I did have a hard time at work today after work my closest friend Candy took me out for birthday lunch. I am so blessed to have this woman in my life who just lets me be transparent. I love Candy so very, very much. We have been together for births of children and the death of a child. We have been thought sickness and earthquakes and adoptions.We have worked through church difficulties and aging partent. We have laughed and cried and danced. She has rallied the troops around me to pray and care for me. So in all my uncertainly there are some things that won't change. My husband, my children, my grandchildren and my Candy as well as so many others will still be there tomorrow.My dream for me revolves around my relationships. That part of the dream is still on solid ground. I also know that God knew that on the very day I would be eligible to retire that I would be undergoing a operation to remove cancer from my body.. I guess He knew I would not need to take it with me anymore than I need my postal uniforms. He knows what I need. And His has bigger dreams for me than I have for me. And I have to answer Him with my whole heart. "Yes. I trust you." And I thank Him that when I am afraid I can close my eyes and see the 'little girl' Denise climb up on His lap. I can feel His embrace and when I can't even look in His eyes He lifts my chin and cups my face and looks me straight in the eyes and says "You're my girl. I've got this."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

weirdness and butterflies and 4

Really..??? is this only day four since the great reveal that cancer was found in my body???
Weirdness..the very reason I am blogging was to help dispel it. You know that awkward silence when someone does not know what to say. Well in some ways it has been very effective. I especially liked it when friends whom I only see once or twice a year did not hesitate to call me. I like that. They may have not been certain of what to say but they did not shy away from me. Others, when they make eye contact they look away. Some hesitate when they say "How are you?" indicating that perhaps they have heard but they are afraid to say and I don't know if they really have so I don't say. Weirdness...I have been there myself. This does not offend me at all. I know it is just hard sometimes for people to talk about 'it'. The 'it' that enters the room before I enter and lingers after I leave. Weirdness when I go into Subway and tell Gilbert that I wont be in for awhile and I start crying and can't answer him..Really??? I have told so many people why would this bother me??? But unweirdness when Gilbert looks me straight in the eyes and quotes scriptures to me in my weakness and tells me he will be fasting and praying for me. Yes. This happened in Subway.Weirdness when I get prayed for at church (which if great) but then some people who normally talk to me after a service can bring themselves to now. Unweridness when a young girl you have never met runs to catch up with you and say "You don't know me, but I will be praying for you." (Her name was Heidi)
But on the other side of weirdness is blessings. Blessings with the hundreds of people who say they are praying. Blessings when a son in law who will remain nameless publicly displays affection on facebook :), blessings when a friend goes for a walk on the beach and photographs butterflies that make her think of and pray for me. Blessings of arriving home from work to find a beautiful vase of flowers on my doorstep from friends far away. Blessings of laughter. Connecting with my sister. Blessing of remembering my mom and having a boss who really 'gets it' and cares. It is a little embarrassing to read all the comments on face book about how great I am. But it makes me smile. Knowing that even though there is a weirdness at times..the blessings outweigh them a thousand to one.
I am learning how to be a friend. My friends are teaching me. And lo! I may walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I walk through it! I don't go under the shadow and stay there! I walk through it~ and what a beautiful shadow it is!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Closer than the air I breath-day 3

Today I went to work and took a minute to talk to each coworker and let them know what was happening. I don't want to shroud this in mystery and make me unapproachable. Watching a persons eyes when you say "I have cancer" is very revealing. I am glad that God is giving me the peace I need to walk this road. I truly believe that God "inhabits the praises of His people" and when I worship I am overcome with joy and thanksgiving. This is the time that the tears come...but they are not bad tears...they are good tears. Tears that come with contorted facial gestures and heaving shoulders. Not so good when you are driving :)
After work I had to drop off some clothing at the place where they are collecting for the families who lost everything in hurricane Irene. I noticed that the other lane was backed up a long way due to construction and then I looked down and saw the gas gage was on E. Oh yeah...Steve drove my car up the beach the other day...I didn't think I would have enough gas to wait in that line to get back to the gas station so I went over the bridge (praying I had enough fuel to get me over the bridge) and then took the scenic route home. As I came over the other bridge I thought of stopping and looking for sea glass (sound glass really) on the far side of the bridge. I was glad for the long way home it gave me time to listen to worship music and enter into the presence of Jesus. I decided to continue on when His voice said to me "No stop. I have something for you." So I stopped. As I took off my shoes and was thanking Him for such a beautiful day I walked to the sand and then I saw it!
It's hard to see in the photo but it say "Happy Birthday!" I burst out crying. Again happy tears. I smiled so hard for so long my face about hurt! As I walked I picked up undone pieces of glass, even a pretty blue one. And I asked Him for a special treasure.I found a pocket knife I picked it up hoping that was not meant to be someone else's treasure thinking Micah would like that since he left his in PA. Then I found an interesting piece. That was it. I need to make a necklace out of it to remember that my God walked with me today. And He will walk with me tomorrow. I will post a picture after I put it together. But God also wanted me to put all the other pieces down. Even the pretty blue one. Maybe He was saying "Denise,do you love me more than these?" "Yes Lord you know I love you."  "Then feed my sheep."
This path that God has chosen is not just about me. But it is about me. God reminding me that I have a Daddy who cares enough to write "Happy Birthday" in the sand. A God who loves me so much that He puts hundreds of people in my life to lift me up and carry me.  And when you KNOW that someone loves you like that..well you can't help but talk about Him!
God has not told me He will heal me but this He did do. I came in the house and turned on the radio wanting to hear more worship. There was NOTHING like worship on. So He said "turn on WJTL on your computer." I said..."Let me get lunch first." He said "No. Now. I have something to say to you.I obeyed (I mean really ...wouldn't you??) The very first words I heard were "Our God is Healer!" Chris Tomlin singing the words I so needed to hear. Our God is Greater!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I thought you should hear it from me one

The doctor called with the news today. I knew that it was bad by his tone. "It's not good is it?" I said. "Not what I was hoping for. Can you come right in?" he replied. And so it begins..
Cancer. Yes that is what it is. Not the "c" word or the it like it is. I have cancer. Only time will tell where this road will take me but this much I KNOW..I am not alone.
I am choosing now on this very first day that this shall be a road of thanksgiving and praise. I am choosing that I will seek to allow my Lord Jesus to use me. In whatever way He wants. If I live it is to His glory. If I die it is to His glory.
I do not expect that this will kill me. I did not think that the tests would come back as cancer. Do I believe God will heal me? I hope so so very much on so many levels. Will I become scared/angry/doubtful? Very possibly. Will I cry? I imagine so.
My paperwork was complete to retire this month. Twenty five years and so ready for the next chapter to begin! Two weeks out from leading a team to Haiti. Starting a business working with the deaf in Haiti...Life was going really well!
The thought of missing that trip so far has been the hardest thing to swallow. I miss my Haitian kids so much! I so want to reconnect with my Jacmel Bay artists and move on to the next stage of our business development. Instead...I am reading the trip insurance policy and praying that I somehow will not really have to cancel.
Telling my children and those closest to me has been hard. I hurt for them as I could remember being told that my mom had cancer. I thank God that my girls have each other. They need to emote together. I informed my doctor that my daughters should be listed on my chart so that they could call and get information if they wanted to. In this time of instant communication some important information is not available. They call it HIPPA. or something like that. I get where it came from but I never want to cut off my kids from important information.
God trusts me enough to allow me to represent Him here on earth. I love Jesus enough to desire to represent Him in an honest way. I am tired of Christians who sometimes have a "name it and claim it" philosophy. I will not test my God. Christians get cancer. Even Christians who have a lot of faith get cancer. Anyway... the bible tells us that faith is a gift. I did not conjure it up. It was given to me. The amount I have is the amount that was given. Do I believe God can heal me?? YES! I know He can.  He has done it before! And I am counting on Him to do it again...
And so the journey begins. I thank my God for my husband who follows God's heart. I ask God to lead and guide and comfort him. I thank God for my girls and their husbands..all who are God followers. I thank God for the children who will touch the tender spots to bring me laughter.I thank you Jesus for my extended family who will walk this path with me. I thank my God for my Candy...a friend who has been with me in every trial and celebration for the last 15 years. I thank my God for the Body of Christ and the fellowship of the saints..And as hard as this is to say ..I thank God for this cancer.  For even in cancer He will be glorified.I thank my Jesus who walked the Via Dol a Rosa..the road to the cross. He understands..everything.
Day Two
We headed out to Norfolk today to see the oncologist. When I walked in I saw two people with no hair. "Oh..right." I thought.."That's where I am." Less than 24 hours after hearing the word "cancer" I was sitting with the oncologist discussing my treatment. Holding on to that one last ounce of hope I started to ask him about my trip to Haiti.."NO!" was his reply before I finished my sentence. It brought tears but I was grateful to not have to make this decision myself.
They don't waste any time here and after telling me that I had cancer of the lining of the uterus. He continued to tell me that I would need a total hysterectomy on Monday. Monday..Oct birthday. At 10 AM. Instead of thinking "What a lousy way to spend my birthday!" I thought 10-10 @ 10 AM and I remembered back one year ago to My Magical Birthday and the blog I wrote last year. And the importance of the number 10 in the bible. And I knew God was telling me that He remembered me and it made me smile. He knows my name. I am His child.
So it seems that if all goes well I will be operated on on Monday and be home on Tuesday. Gwenn is coming from Haiti and Melody is coming from PA with the girls. Gretchen, Gwenn and Melody will have some rare sister time. I know this will be hard. I know it will be painful. But oh the pain it would be to be alone in this! I am so blessed beyond measure! I am believing that God's purpose in this is so much bigger than I may ever know. So pray with me for divine appointments. Pray with me that God will open doors and hearts for me to share the hope that I know in Christ. Pray with me that I will carry in my illness the compassion of Jesus Himself and that He will be glorified.
I know this may seem a little 'tacky' to share this so publicly but a few things come to mind. Cancer is usually whispered if spoken at all. The bible tell us to bring things into the light. many people are already finding out about this that I want to share openly so no one has to be afraid to talk about it. I have cancer. I know it. You know it. Done. Let's move on. God has good things ahead.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Mommy, something is VERY wrong with the baby! They think in might be his heart."

The phone rang late this afternoon. It was Gwenn calling from Haiti. I wanted to wish Josiah a Happy 4th birthday but had not been able to reach them earlier. I was working at the Dare County Art gallery in downtown Manteo when they called. As we hung up the phone I noted the time...
Sometimes a moment is just that. It comes, it passes and it is gone forever. Other moment get stuck on their way and never leave. Every thought, every site, every sound, every emotion are captured in that moment and become one with it.
I looked at the clock and it struck me. Four years ago to that hour Steve and I got the first call.We were in a restaurant just a few doors down from the Arts Council gallery where I was now sitting. Josiah was FINALLY here! All nearly 10 lbs of him! What a joyful meal we shared.
Then the second call came the one that contained 'the moment'. The moment that set our lives in a tail spin and tried to rob us of our faith and rip our joy from our hearts. "mommy, something is really wrong with the baby. they think it might be his heart!"
We cried out to the Lord and He heard and answered. The days and weeks that followed are a big blur of hospitals and tears and fear. But the moment. The moment is clear. The moment is fresh as if it were lived tonight. The moment that doctors know as life and death. The moment that our God spoke life over death. The moment...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The boy God gave me.

When I was having babies I never "wanted" a boy or a girl. I wanted a baby and I knew that God could/would make a better choice for our lives than we could.There was honestly not one moment when I felt disappointed that my girls were born as Gretchen, Gwenn and Melody and not David. Melody was almost Meredeth but we flipped a coin and God even made the coin flip right.
Sometimes God likes to give us some 'extras' in life. For me the 'extras' were children. Children who while very loved by their parents were still part of my family because of various life issues. I always thought it interesting that when I started an in home day care most of the children in my home were children of divorce. Having been raised in a one parent home I felt like God choose me for these young children and for the parents as well. I felt I could understand their lives and their hearts just a little better than those who lived the perfect 2.3 children, 2 car, dentist twice a year American Dream.
The children loved me and I loved them. They fit easily into my life and I felt like a natural at this job.
Enter Erik.
Erik had just turned two. He was very quiet and very stubborn. He would not look at me and he covered his face with his hands when I spoke to him as if that would shut me out and he would not have to respond. Erik's family was going thought a very rocky spell. His mom had moved out and his dad was trying to muddle thorough this single parent of three children life. Having started his own business Erik's day was gone often more than 12 hours a day. And as the days passed into months Erik still would not look at me. I found myself growing detached from him and not trying to connect anymore. One night realizing that this kid needed more than what I could give him I prayed "God, I can't love this kid. Will you love him for me?" The next day it changed. He didn't change. I did. I found a new compassion and understanding for this (still stubborn) little guy. As I changed he changed. I was never unkind to Erik before this. I just could not reach him. Until I did.
Months past. Then more months. We got thought potty training with a amble supply of skittle rewards. We floated Cheerios for target practice. Erik was with me still when my I was pregnant with Melody and we would take our afternoon naps on my big king size bed. He worked in my garden and I took him to swimming lessons.I had to bribe him to get in the water with the big cookies we bought at the deli on the way to Round Valley. And months turned to years and Erik was still there. He broke his nose when he slid into home plate and then slid into the wood pile. They didn't ask me at the hospital is I was his mom so I didn't offer that I was not. I got mad at the doctor who was so harsh with him and felt like it wasn't right for me to leave and wasn't right for me to stay when his Dad showed up.
The day came when Erik became too old to justify hiring a babysitter. I was out of a job. I went to work at the Post Office and when I would come home for lunch there sat Erik. He would ride his bike to my house and just hang out. Time past as the visits were not as often but Erik remained close. I think it was in 96 when he came to Creation with us (again). (The first time he came he was about 4 and I remember that sweet little boy popping his hand up and agreeing that he wanted to ask Jesus in his heart.) But it 96 it was different. One night, at about 2 AM I heard someone outside my tent. "Denise..Denise...wake up!" I jumped up fearing the worst and flew open the zipper of my tent. "I wanted you to be the first to know!! I got saved tonight!!!" . With joy that only a mother can know I rejoiced with Erik then went back to sleep. The memory of not being able to love this boy was long gone.
We moved from NJ to NC and within a few years Erik followed.He went through some rough spots. But no matter where he was in his life he always came back. I worried about him a lot. But then something changed.
Enter Stacy.
For the first time since I met the frightened two year old boy Erik seems whole. All the places his parents and my family could not fill are now filled. No longer a little boy standing in the naughty corner in my houseand hiding his face from the world. Now he will stand at the alter with his bride. His parents will be there, his sisters will be there. My son in law will stand with him. My family will be there to cheer him on. I will miss the way he will look directly into his bride's eyes. I will not be there. But this I do know. Erik will be back. Because no matter the circumstances that keep us apart over the years this does not change. God choose to give me a boy and I am proud to see the man he has become.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I guess I planted them

This afternoon I went out to the garden to check on/admire the plants that I added yesterday. Tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, watermelon and lots of zinnias. They were doing nicely and it was satisfying seeing the fruit of my labor starting to take shape in my spring garden. I was looking at the red tulips when I noticed- them. Delicate bluebells growing along the boarder of the flowerbed. With a smile I thought that I did not remember planting them. But I did. Because if I did not they would not be there. I bought the bulbs, I dug the soil, I planted the bulbs and much to my surprise they grew in all their sweetness...they grew..just because I planted them.I didn't make them grow. I just planted them. I thought about my garden. Each plant, each flower represented my labor. It didn't seem like work at the time. It was dirty..and sometimes hard but it was a delight and more fun than work. My husband and I raised three daughters. Being a mother was a wonder and a delight for me. I can honestly say that it was not hard. Yes sometimes it was work- but I truly enjoyed it. And sometimes now I am surprised and delighted to see they things that have grown in their lives. Things I don't remember planting but I must have or they would not be there.My girls are smart and funny and compassionate. They are creative and gifted in so many ways. The way they read to their children and sing to them. Even the fact that they hold tightly the same beliefs I have about the importance of breast feeding and not allowing TV to have a major influence in their children's lives. I never told my girls "You make sure you breast feed your children." But they did know how delightful and important it was to me...and just grew..I planted it. I did not make it grow. I just planted it. How wonderful it is to see these surprises pop up in their lives. Back to the garden.. Gardening is not all blossoms and fresh vegetables. There are lots of weeds. They start out pretty slowly. They creep in around the boarders. Sometimes we don't even notice them. And as the gardener I certainly did not set out to plant them there. But here is the fact. They grow because of my neglect. If weeds take over it is because I did not stop them. I allowed them. So it is in my own life. In my personal life I have not set out to be undisciplined or messy or careless but sometimes that is my garden. So as adults if my children struggle in different areas of their lives, if they have some of the same weaknesses that I have...well just as certain as I planted the bluebells that gave them the good characteristics ...well I also allowed the weeds... I think I'll dwell on the bluebells as continue to attack my weeds. Thank you God for the beauty and delights of my garden. Thank you more for the beauty and delights of my daughters..

Sunday, March 20, 2011


A day to remember. And never forget.

Today is a very somber anniversary. It is a also a day of amazing thanksgiving. This past week when my grandbaby Johanna ate her first piece of birthday cake it kind of smacked me. This year could have been very different. Johanna could have had this special day without her mama there to sing her birthday song and make her birthday cake..and hold her and nurse her. I wrote about this shorty after Gretchen came home. (here) As I reread my words I remembered...and now I remember and give thanks. God choose not to leave Katie, Micah, Abbie and Johanna without a mom. I love God. I just do. I would love him if the story ended differently but I am thankful that it didn't.

Tonight I sit in a hotel room across from the main entrance to Duke Medical Center. Four years ago..a lifetime ago.. Remembering... It washed over me as I drove down the street..entered the front door..looked at the fountain and stood there with tears remembering the sweet voice of 4 yr. old Nia as she threw her coins in the fountain "Jesus, I wish that my little brother Josiah would get all better." In her tender faith she seemed to know that "wishes" only come true when they are prayers.

Open heart surgery for Josiah. Evie with a mass behind her heart. My mom closing her eyes and waking up in heaven. Lisa loosing her battle but winning the prize. An earthquake that rocked my world. Gretchen's coming back home..alive...

Life is made up of these things..hard things....but I can't/won't forget. In the dark days we come to understand..everything that we need to understand. God is able. God is faithful. Even when we are unable and unfaithful. Even when we think the story does not have a happy ending.

Remembering and thanking you Jesus.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A new page

I have added a new blog page which will be linked to my new (not yet published) website. :)
Visit me there :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Second Chance

Lettie does not know that she has big shoes to fill. She doesn't not know that she will forever be compared to the one who lived before her. She will not even know that she was a second chance.
When we adopted our first Lab mix from the SPCA is was my daughter Melody who 'found' her. About two years old she grew to become everything a dog owner would want. Her name was "Fancy" but we were just not the kind of people that could call a dog by that name. We changed her name to Chancey because she was given a second chance and it sounded kinda like fancy so we fighured it woul not confuse her.
When Chancey died last spring Steve and I had a hard time with it. ( I wrote about Chancey here: )
Up until today I would still miss her when I pulled up to the house and found it empty.
About two weeks ago I took my grandson Josiah to see the dogs at the SPCA. All the noise freaked him out so we left without seeing 'her'.
The next day I saw a picture of the "Pet of the Week" in the local newspaper. The face of a young Chancey stared back from the page at me. My heart melted. "Good with children, house broken...." Steve and I knew that one day we would want another dog. We also knew we would know her when we saw her. And there she was. I handed the paper to Steve and he read the caption. What I had missed I heard now and it stuck in my throat. Something about Lettie needing a "second chance". We knew it. She was out dog. Steve called first thing in the morning. We were too late..she was taken. Our hearts sank...
On a way outside chance I called back. "I know Lettie is gone but if she gets returned will you please let me know." Less than two weeks later she is asleep on her little dog bed behind my chair. Already she is working her way into our hearts. Watching her play fetch with the grandchildren I realize that while she will never replace Chancey she will be very much a part of out life.
I am thankful that God cared enough to not only give Lettie a second chance but that He gave us a second chance as well.
Welcome home Lettie.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

You can sing this song when I'm gone.

Last night as I tucked in my little Haitian American grandchildren on the last night of their visit I sang them the same song that I sang every night of their visit. This visit, the last visit, every visit. The same song I sang to my own sweet children as I tucked them into their beds long ago and far away. When did I sing the last lullaby to my own children? When did I last read them a bedtime story? When did they last crawl up on my Mama lap for comfort or rest? If I had known that any of those times were the last time I would have held them tighter or sang just one more verse...

Last night as I sang to the children I had to choke back the tears. To say goodbye once again. I know as I attempt to clean up from 2 weeks of nine grandchildren in the house I will find stray socks, unfinished apples, colored pictures with the words "To Nana" printed on the top of the page. What blessing..

When James Taylor first sang this song did he know I would carry it in my heart? Did he know that when I came to the line "But I can sing this song, and you can sing this song when I'm gone?" that I would be thinking about my grandchildren returning to PA, and to Haiti and thinking also about the day when I will actually be gone? Hoping that my children and my grandchildren would sing this song to their children and their grandchildren and somehow it would connect us even when i am not here? Not being morbid..just real...

But now, today.. the song says that the distance that divides us, the cultures that separate us, the days, weeks and months that stand between us can dissolve when we close our eyes and listen to a lullaby.

James Taylor - Your Can Close Your Eyes
(here is a link to my favorite lullaby:)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Giving up the good for the better.

Today was full day #1 with my Haitian American grandchildren staying at our home in Manteo. It was also a day off for me and a lot of 'catch up' household chores needed my attention after the blessing of having all of my 9 grandchildren around last week.

My mom always said "Many hands make light work." and she taught us as children about 'beating the clock'. So with rags and paper towels and spray bottles filled with non-toxic cleaner I set out to 'beat the clock' with 7 yr. old Nia, 6 yr. old Nicok and 3 yr. old Josiah. The job was going splendidly. Josiah was spraying the lower half of the kitchen window and wiping it with his cloth. No harm done. Streaks go away easy enough. But as I looked back over I saw Nia on the outside of the window standing on the porch spraying the window through the screen. My initial thought was "Stop!!!" but I didn't say it. I went out and told her to wait while I took off the screen. Then I showed her how the clean the winter build up of dirt in the window sills. At this point there was not way to 'beat the clock' and move on to the next task. Out came three screens. Windows were washed inside and out. Streaks left for another day. Screens were rinsed in the hose without getting the children soaked. All hopes of doing the rest of the chores was dashed so we packed up and went on a hike on the north end of the island in pursuit of "Little Foot" whom we have been led to believe lives in the deep forest there.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I am your grandmother.

The trip over the mountain was long and sickening. Because of the Dramine and a half of some other little pill I only threw up once. And not a whole lot because I knew the reputation of our driver. Fast and aggressive over winding roads with sheer cliffs sometimes with no guard rail.I did not eat much for fear that it might not stay in my stomach.
I finally arrived at my daughter's home in Jacmel,Haiti.It was worth the trip. Eleven children crowded around the truck chanting "NaNa, NaNa!" Even little Maneita whom I had never met was clamoring to reach the door as the pick up slowly pulled to a stop.The child safety feature must have been engaged because I could not open the door. When I finally descended I was hugged and kissed and enveloped from every side. I noticed in the fever that Jerry hung to the back of the crowd and then slipped away before I could get to him.
I first posted about Jerry last year. That was when he was new in the family.
As soon as I had hugged all the little ones I walked to the back bedroom where I had seen Jerry retreat to and knocked on the door. I stuck my head in and saw Jerry sitting shyly on the edge of his bed. We engaged in simple conversation a language barrier still quite evident. But in spite of him not greeting me outside I felt like he was really glad to see me. As I would do many times that week I called my 7 yr. old granddaughter Nia in to translate. After a few minutes Jerry leaned over to Nia and whispered something in her ear. I said "What did he say?" Nia replied he wants to know if you brought any presents? I loved it. That is what all grandchildren wonder about their grandparents when they have been away for a while. He wasn't being rude or greedy..he was just navigating this new relationship the best he could from past experience. I rubbed his head and told him "peta" (later).
Later in the week when I was cleaning up from my seaglass necklace class he asked if he could have a string that I was about to toss in the trash. Later when I finished a spool of wire I loaded it with some extra string and called him up. You would think I had given him a great gift.
Hugues (the house manager) says "There are three boys who are a big problem." I will admit that they do have their challenges but I see each of these challenges as stories of redemption. I see a little boy who was wounded and broken, scared and rejected now learning to trust and to expect that just maybe someone would want to give him a present. What I see now is a little boy. A little grandson. Who likes string.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Treasusre

Walking down the familiar strip of sand I search. Missing to colors of the winter sky on this cool and damp afternoon I keep my face turned down. Looking up might mean I miss it. The treasure. I look for it. I search for it. I long for it. I even ask for it. Not content to trust that one walk along this narrow spit will yield the sea glass nuggets I search for I walk to the end and turn back to cover the same stretch that I have just walked. I do this maybe three or four times until I am satisfied that all of the treasures that are hidden in plain view are revealed and collected.The treasures for this day. So often it is in the second, third or forth time covering the same shoreline that I find it. At times I don't find it.In those times I understand that I am learning how to search.I am training my eyes to see. I am learning to understand what I am looking for.I know it's there waiting. I know that it's just not ready for me yet. I know that as I come back to this same spot on another day I will spot it and wonder how I missed it all the other times I searched in this place.
I pick up my Bible and I read the same familiar passages that I have read before. I know that there is treasure hidden here in plain sight. I know that as I read it the first time I might not find it so I must come back time and time again. I must look for it. I must search for it. I must long for it. I must ask for it.I must not be content to think that one pass over will yield all that is to be found. And when I find the nugget I will hold it and enjoy it and keep it. Sometimes it will seem that I have not found a treasure. In those times I am learning how to look. I am training my eyes to see. I am learning how to learn and how to understand. As I come back tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow in that same place I will find new things. Things I wasn't ready for today.I will wonder how I missed such a wonderful treasure and I will search again knowing that there is so much more to be found.

Monday, January 17, 2011

So You Want to Go Back to Egypt

You might think that this is a Martin Luther King blog being that today is the day we remember his birth. Maybe it is..but that's not where I started going with it.
In the book of Exodus we read of the story of Moses. Seeing that his people were burdened under the cruel yoke of slavery he obeyed God and set out to free his people. The trials he faced were grave and dangerous. But he did succeed and the victory over Pharaoh and slavery were won. That was a good thing.
After such a long reign of slavery the people wandered in the desert following Moses whom they seemed to expect could fulfill all their needs. As they wandered they began to grumble and complain.Things got hard and they started to reinvent God. Questioning Moses they stated that they wanted to go back to Egypt. At least in Egypt they knew what to expect. They would eat and work and sleep. They would not have to make decisions. They would know what the future would hold. The past, the present and the future were all the same. As years past they forgot about the cruel edicts of Pharaoh. Time will do that. As the younger members of the tribe grew they had no recollection of the cruelty that their fathers knew. They just wanted to find a place that wasn't so hard. A place where they could eat and sleep and not have to figure it all out.They became irate with Moses and were willing to give up the freedom. They were tired.
Haiti was a slave nation. The first to win it's independence.
Yesterday Baby Doc arrived back in Haiti. He was exiled for 25 years because of crimes against the people of his country. The people of Haiti are tired. They are hungry and they are sick. During the time of dictator Baby Doc the country of Haiti prospered. Education became more available. It was an easier time in some ways. But it was not a free country. If Baby Doc didn't like you died. Not just you but you and your family.
It has been suggested that should Baby Doc return to home land that he would face prosecution for his crimes against his people.
With this in mind it is hard to imagine the scene of his return. The county has rallied. The old and especially the young are excited about his return and what his might possibly mean to this beaten broken nation.
I wonder myself... I can only hope that if that is the case that this man known as Baby Doc will have had this quarter century change his heart. If not I pray that Haiti will choose to push on to the Promise Land and not go back to Egypt.
Today we rember Martin Luther King. He spoke the words of Moses. Those words echo in my mind.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fasting by Default

My church (Liberty Christian Fellowship) recently announced that we as a body were being encouraged to start fasting and praying on Jan 1st. I know that there is a bibical mandate to fast. I know that it is worthwhile on many levels.( ) I also knew that being in Haiti starting Jan 1st would give me little or no control over meal choices. Eating is very different here. When you rise in the morning you find that theree are already people preping your meals for the day. In the States if someone is up cooking before 6 AM it is because there is some feast being observed. Here, in Haiti, it is because someone is sifting the rice to remove stones or bugs or whatever other foreign objects may make their way into the rice bag.
I had been considering the Daniel Fast.This is close. Today for example we had rice for breakfast, rice and bean sause and a chicken wing for lunch and noodles for dinner. We had water to drink.Don't misunderstand I am not at all complaining. I am a big fan of both rice and pasta. The cooks do a wonderful job with seasoning. As an American I am used to more variety. So for me, three meals a day without any in-between snacks seems like a fast. What we eat in this home is far more than many of the population in this town/country. The children do not complain and most eat every bite. Often you will see the children sharing among themselves. The one who gets to scrape the bottom of the rice pot is always delighted much as an American child who might get to lick the batter when their mom bakes a cake. Nothing is wasted and the food that is left over goes to the security guards. seems more right. Food for the stomach and not the stomach for food..or something like that. Food is more of a tool and less of an entertainment.
This is my 4th time to Haiti in less than 2 years. I have not quite wrapped my head around it yet. But it does strike me somewhat ironic that what I might consider a fast many would consider a feast..Just something to chew on for a while..

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Take this cup and drink of it."

Today I had a new church experience. I took communion with Haitian believers. In many ways it was the same. The bread and the cup were passed. Prayers were said and scriptures were read. We took the bread and drank the wine. That is where the difference was. We drank wine. Not sweetened grape juice. Wine..a bitter wine that had a bit of a punch.
As I sat there a thought crossed my mind. To enter into communion with Jesus is not about something that 'tastes good or goes down easy'. To truly be in communion with Christ we must be willing to drink the cup that He drank. We must be willing to enter into His suffering. It is about a total denying of self and accepting of the trials that we face because we are His followers.
I wondered why we changed this in our American churches. Why do we need to sugar coat so much. Why do are we afraid to truly follow the example of Jesus? We have not known the suffering of the Haitian people. We have not known their sorrows and their trials. There is a sweetness in the biterness of this cup. The cross of our Christ is not pretty or sweet. It is bitter and hard to sw