4.23.2014

Heart-Stamped...

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                                                                              all photos via Scott Wade   

Let's all be honest for a sec.
Child sponsorships can feel ambiguous.
A little murky.
Depending on which commercial you watch, maybe even icky.
And we all get bombarded at some point with "asks".
Whether it be from the pulpit.
Or a blogger. (Hang with me for a few- don't ditch this post just yet.)
A Christian concert. 
A conference.
'Asks' can feel uncomfortable.
I know, 
Because I have felt it, too.

I have tuned them out. 
I have sponsored.
I have wondered how the money gets there.
And who handles it between. 
I had only been a part of large organization's models...
But I longed for something different.

I think that is why I gravitated a year ago to a site called Help One Now.
Smallness.
Intention.
Grass-roots.
The unassuming but vision-filled man in the newsboy cap.
The story-telling.
Leadership.
Creativity.
All things that pulled my heart-strings and left my life stamped forever with the feeling that 
Doing good is simple.
And it should be.
What a relief when you let those words sink in.
It.
Is. 
Simple.

I saw the sponsored kids eat at school. 
For some of them, that is their only meal for the entire day.
But they are fed out of the huge pots of beans and rice and chicken because of sponsorships. 
All of them.
The entire school.
Bellies being fed in heaping spoonfuls.

I saw the children, lined up 7 across, sharing two desks.
Row after row like that.
Packed into each other and the heat of the day.
Leaning into the teacher's words.
Education never looked so holy.

Help One Now has a sponsorship page.
At the outset of this trip, they needed 100 more sponsorships in order to invite more community children into the Drouin school.  Some of those are spoken for now, but sponsorships are still needed. 

I think my followers are unique in that (most of you) are crafters.  
Specifically, cardmakers.

We all need to do what we can from where we are.

If you love kids.  
If you make cards.
If you want to dazzle some little fingers with your crafty goodness.
If you spend $41 dollars on crap each month that you can cut out.
Then, maybe you are in the exact position you need to be in to sponsor a child in Haiti.
While I was watching their dusty fingers move over cards and photos from those who already sponsor, 
I couldn't help but think this is where crafters' cards need to be sent.  
With flowers.
And sparkles.
And colored images.
These are the cards that will be treasured in a way you will never know.
It sort of moves our hobby past Facebook "likes" and blogpost comments
Into a deeper place.
A needed place, friends.

And, seriously, look at their faces when they get their envelopes from sponsors.
I almost died watching the giddiness.  
It was something I will not ever forget.

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So this is absolutely an 'ask.'
But I am confident that it is unique.
Because this organization is unique.
And, even though an ask is hard to write, because "asking" does not feel natural to me...
I can't imagine walking away from this trip without doing so.
What I'd really love to do, 
Is wrap my arm in yours and take you back into last week with me.
Because it wouldn't feel like an ask anymore.
Just two friends, joining together to do good.
It really is that simple. 

To sponsor a child click here.
To read more about the unique sponsorship model that Help One Now has developed to sustain their efforts in the Haitian communities I visited, click here.

If you cannot afford sponsorship, please consider a Garage Sale for Orphans.  I did one last fall.  Got to clean out all our excess to help those who are in need.  What a profound paradox.  When you commit to the garage sale, be sure to select "Ferrier Village Preschool."  You will be coming alongside the community children in the second photo in this post:).

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments, and I will respond individually to each one.

Thank you for following my trip to Haiti, friends.
Thank you for caring about what I care about.
You have helped me raise over $5,000 for Help One Now the past year.
I can't tell you what that means to me.
Or what it felt like to walk through the projects on the ground...
I love you all.

4.22.2014

Of Monks and Men

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They called him The Monk. 
A translater. 
Tall and handsome. 
He only spoke when spoken to.
His clothes were neat.
And his voice was soft. 

I watched him from creases in the crowd of friends and leaders.
He was so quiet; never uncomfortable or uneasy in the quiet.
And he never filled up the empty spaces with chatter.
He drove us around Haiti.
And translated.
He hugged kids; they hugged him back and talked his ears off.  
There were a couple times where I caught him in a funny smile, looking from the kids to us, 
The only one who knew exactly what they were saying about us...
There was mischief in that, and I think he might of enjoyed it just a little.

He walked alongside a bunch of chatty women for five days.
At ease.
And with great purpose. 
I think in Heaven he will be a great king. 
Because he reminds me of Jesus.

On our way driving across the country, one of the girls asked him if he had ever been out of Haiti.
He answered that he had.  
The Monk had visited Miami.
She asked him how he liked it. 
He said he had not. 

So, the Haitian was unimpressed with Miami.

I waited for a punch line.
Because I thought for sure he had to be joking. 
We were driving alongside canals shared equally by trash, farm animals, and naked children.
We were visiting places where parents needed to choose which of their children would eat that day.

I had never spent time alongside great poverty.  
And I do not know that even now I have really processed out the mix of brokenness and beauty.  
Haiti blends the two so well; maybe it is not my job to separate them into distinct experiences.
Whatever the blend, there is something greater in this beautifully broken country 
Than there is in Miami, 
A US hotspot of pristine beaches, flashy nightlife, and living luxury. 
And I felt shell-shocked by his words.

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Now let me tell you about a white guy from Raleigh who wears golf hats and black rimmed glasses.
His name is Chris Marlow. 
When he talks, he sometimes touches the middle of his frames to slide them back up his nose.
And he likes to lift his cap off and on 
Lost in words, 
Explaining in great detail the various pieces of Help One Now.

When Chris spoke to us about one of his dear friends, Pastor Gaetan Alcegaire, the tears flowed. 
He stood in the shadows of a newly built school, funded through Help One Now.
And now Pastor could offer education to the orphaned children he took in after the 2010 earthquake.

When Chris stepped into Ferrier Village, the kids came running, open-armed.  
And he teased Pastor Jean Alix Paul, because he was wearing a golf hat now, too.
Both of them walking in a sea of Haiti's kids, sharing the same vision.

In Chris, I saw a heart fully engaged. 
He doesn't wave Help One Now flags around in Haiti.
The people whose lives are uplifted by his organization do not even know who is behind the goodness they experience. 
The village people sending their kids to the schools do not know how their kids are receiving a nutritious meal during their school day.
Or where the books and materials come from.
They just know the children have an opportunity to eat and learn.
He is in the shadows empowering Haitian leaders to create change.

While watching Chris move through Haiti, 
I started to understand The Monk's words about Miami.
There is something both of these men are working towards that is not about comfort for themselves.
Or cleanliness.
Or happy places.
Or security.
Miami might be lovely.
But they are not about a quick-fix of lovely that has no eternal weight.
I think that is why Haiti, to me, feels like a kaleidoscope of fractured beauty.
Because in glimpses, I saw Jesus.
I saw justice worked out.
I saw risk.
I saw people willing to get out of the boat and try this walking on water thing.

And being a girl who has always held on white-knuckled to the sides of the boat, 
Unwilling to meet danger or brokenness,
Or even reach for my Maker's outstretched hand, 
I realized on this trip
That the riches and beautiful things I need to be seeking
Are going to be found in the unlovely places,
The broken people.
Because in joining their causes, 
I no longer need "Miami's"...
I find myself closer to the Kingdom places.
And hoping in the coming Kingdom...seeing it ushered in by men like The Monk and Chris, 
in all honesty, 
Makes Miami look pretty lame.
  
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“In every bit of honest writing in the world, there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. KNOWING A MAN WELL NEVER LEADS TO HATE and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other!” 

~John Steinbeck

Tomorrow I will share how YOU can come alongside Help One Now.
Please make it a point to stop by...
And feel free to share these posts to your heart's content:).

4.15.2014

Rescued.

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Have you ever seen a more perfect profile?
She is beautiful.
And rescued. 
She lives with 25 other children in a small, walled-in (for protection) village in eastern Haiti.  
She would have been trafficked.
But now she gets to sleep in a safe home.
With running water.
And a "mother."
She is fed well.
She plays.
She gets educated.
And she doesn't need to grow up repeatedly wounded and broken down.
She gets to grow up with a heart that is allowed to hope
HOPE.

I have tried to get my thoughts into this post 4 or 5 times, but each time I deleted them.
Because this trip has felt much more complicated than I ever imagined. 
I figured 5 days in Haiti would be pretty fun.
But there have been many moments that I find myself questioning everything from calling to theology. 
I need more days to process what I have learned and experienced.  
And so, I'll leave this post short and sweet.
Revisit it later when I return home. 
Because Haiti is heavy.
Poverty is deeper than I imagined.
Humanity is more beautiful than I believed. 
And Help One Now spans the distance between the two in ways that have left me hurrying to pull my sunglasses over my eyes so no one sees my tears streaming. 

Like when this little one fell asleep on my lap today.
Feeling safe and cared for. 




4.13.2014

10 Thoughts on Haiti, Mid-Trip

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10 mid-trip thoughts on the Help One Now Haiti bloggers trip:

1.  You all-- Haiti is beautiful. I love the long pink ribbons tied in the little girls' braids.  And the way the sheets hanging in the doorways blow in the wind.  The little people's bare feet, all dusty and worn.  Even in the broken down places, there is this cultural beauty that I want to bottle up and bring home to share with everyone.  And the  landscape literally takes my breath away.

2.  Driving in the back of a SUV in Haiti also takes my breath away.  There are no road rules, just horns.  I know a lot of people who travel are not phased by this because they have seen it in other countries, but I have not.  So I am both freaking out and totally mesmerized.  There is not a single trace of road-rage, but everyone is cutting everyone off...Incredible.  Haiti can cure road rage peeps.

3.  There are true and worth-emulating leaders here.  Americans should be getting on airplanes to learn from them.  They are changing their homeland and have the most faithful hearts you can find. 

4.  Worship is worship.  It doesn't matter that I did not understand a word of their music this morning in church.  The tunes were familiar...but the words, so different.  And yet, my heart felt like it might overflow with praise for my King.  All our hearts connected, even with real barriers like language and culture between us...just worshiping God.  That is holy stuff.

5.  Haiti people are beautiful.  

6.  I still hate airplane rides.  It does't seem to get better with each ride, either...I am a mess, so pray for me.  PLEASE.  (Wednesday I have three flights.  Yikes.)

7.  Help One Now is the most intentional organization I have ever leaned into with my heart.  I knew before going on this trip that I loved their work.  But, seeing it on the ground...hearing real, live people tell us about the changes they have achieved with the backing of this organization-- I want to grab all my friends and tell them to get on board with this.  

8.  I have so much to learn from the ladies on this trip with me.  They are further down the path of leadership and loving others well...and I am running -- running-- after their words and conversations, just trying to absorb all the wisdom in these women.  This team is amazing.  

9.  Some moments I think, Am I really in Haiti right now?  I grew up liking the comfort of a hard wooden pew in a church that really offered very little outreach to the world around them (and my heart, if I am honest with you, liked words better than action anyways).  It is easy to wish goodness to others, to think Christian words like "mercy", "justice", and "hope" without ever having to go there and wrap those words together in "experience."  God get us out of wooden pews and religious places and heart-stances that wish the world better.  This trip, at times, has been uncomfortable for me, but I am so uttery thankful for it.  Living in a comfort zone is not really living, friends.  

10.  We played with kids from the school Help One Now built with a local pastor today.  They loved my tattoos.  And my iPhone.  And the videos of my kids I played for them.  All these little people clinging onto pictures of my regular life, pointing and giggling.  Little hands trying to trace and rub away my tattoos.  Braiding my hair.  Holding my hands.  I could have played with them the rest of the trip.  This was my most favorite part yet.  Seeing the love and genuine relationships between Help One Now's people and the people here.  Tears were cried.  Hearts were full.  This is goodness overflowing. 


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Click over to the Help One Now site for ways YOU can help them do their work in Haiti.  This is a creative and different org altogether, friends.  So there are various and unique ways you can get involved. 

4.04.2014

Giveaway, Wise Decor!

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I am a words person. It is my love language.  
I use to write with sharpies all over my jeans, the lyrics of songs, Scripture, quotes, anything really. 
Now I just tattoo stuff on my skin:). 
Or, I put it on our walls.  
A few good words lined up in a row can shift my whole day~
Spoken, written, however they come...They just reach down and sit heavy in my heart,
Beautiful, sweet, and remembered. 

I was invited to choose some wall decals from Wise Decor to add to our word collection.  
After searching through the tons of designs they offer and then contemplating on maybe even going the custom route, I found 1 Timothy 4:14 in their list of Scriptures...And that was it.  

Perfectly timed.
Ever needed. 
And now applied to our old 70's paneling, offering a daily reminder to not neglect the gift within. 
Who knew panelling could look so good.

Gifts are never meant to be buried away, forgotten, ignored, or neglected. 
The things that stir your heart to excitement, 
the things you know and are good at, 
the things that make you feel alive,
the things that inspire you to do more of the same~
You feel drawn there for a reason.  
For a true and honest and legit purpose.

To spend a lifetime cultivating our unique gifts~ mining, digging, uncovering their beauty and scope...can you imagine the legacy we'd leave?  

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Wise Decor is offering a $50 gift card to one lucky reader. 
Comment below.
Tell us what you are gifted at...
(I love to read about you guys...so write away, peeps!)

**To increase your chances, follow them on the social media links below and comment separately for each follow.  There are many ways to enter, so use them all up and up your odds:).  


Giveaway ends Friday, April 11th.

You can check out the Wise Decor shop here.
I think a custom design might just be the best grad gift ever...
Or maybe a June wedding gift?
Possibilities are endless!

Good luck, friends!

4.03.2014

Join Me For Stories~~~

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I sat on my floor the other day and watched the video below. 
While my own kids played behind me.
Running wild.
Laughing.
Free.
And my eyes watered all over my cheeks. 
Oh God, I might be a mess in Haiti.
I'll hide my red eyes behind the brim of a Yankees hat.
And hope that the people there know that any tears they see are NOT because they are poor.
Or broken.
Or have less.
Or need so much more. 
It's because they are all just like us. 
The sounds of women preparing food.
The sounds of shuffling feet on the earth.
The giggles. 
The reading.
The working.
All of it is beautifully familiar.
And yet, I've never really taken time to go hear the sounds lived inside anyone else's life. 
I have a feeling that I will see and hear more beauty in Haiti than I've ever witnessed before. 



I am humbled and thankful for the chance to be a storyteller person for Help One Now on this trip. 
That feels so huge a task right now.

To walk with some amazing women (they are authors and speakers; and I am a note-taker, utterly thrilled to share company with them for a few days)...


To attempt to put words to moments that might leave me speechless.

To get a chance to see the very things YOU all helped raise money to build into people's lives.  

These are heavy things for my heart, honestly. 
Just typing them out now makes my screen go blurry.
I look forward to sharing each day with you.
All the tiny moments.
All the wow moments. 
And everything in between.

Sometimes the most exquisite and beautiful pieces of life are the strangely familiar ones...
The sights and sounds that make you, not even knowing it, say 'oh yeah... I know that.'
When you find those same familiar treasures in lives far away, in strangers,
They will make you feel right at home. 
Like, this is where you belong in this moment.

I am banking on that for Haiti.
That it will be a place I forever long for in my heart.
Foreign and familiar. 
Broken and beautiful.
Wild and free. 

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So I carve a place for this trip in my soul.
I look forward to making Haiti's people my home for a short time.
I pack a lot of ball hats.
And clear space on my camera card for hoards of photos. 
I promise my kids that this trip needs to happen, even if they miss me for a few days. 
Because they are sharing their mama with little kids who don't have their mama anymore. 
And I am thankful for the encouraging push to just 'do this' from a husband who knows my heart better than even I.
And I pray hard.  Hard.
And bring the authority of Jesus into this trip.
So that I can give my fears no space, no time.
And spend April 12th to the 16th just telling beautiful stories

lovely photos captured by Scott Wade.


3.24.2014

Spring Break - Beach Living.

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My mom and dad treated everyone to a beach week in Ocean City for spring break. We went down for most of the week (kept a couple days for homeschooling and a sick Philly at home).  And even though Phil and Philly were not 100%, we all had a blast.  

There was lots of exploring and shell collecting.  We have bucket-fulls of nature in the kitchen right now.  The kids watched the sunrise two mornings with my mom and talked about heaven, barely visible fishing boats on the horizon, and shifty characters called seagulls.  We watched The Walking Dead in the dark, all lined up on the couch.  Phil read on the deck, snuggled in a hoodie.  And he talked about how God loves change.  Then we decided that change is a beautiful part of growth~ so we like it too. 

I love my little triangle house.  Next to a field and car lot.  Across the street from old airport hangers and a still-used runway.  It is the opposite of fancy and on a good day, maybe gets labeled 'quaint' or 'somewhat charming'...But, I am thankful and satisfied to the brim with it all.

But if I ever get to pack up and move to the beach, you better believe I'll be there.  I'd move in a heartbeat if I got to watch sunrises over the water and collect shells with the kids everyday.  There is nothing like breathing in the ocean and sleeping with the sound of waves in your ear.

What is the one place you'd jump to move to?  
Or, do you already live in your dream spot?
Do tell.

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