Monday, February 27, 2012

God is NOT Invisible!

For most of my life I believed that God was invisible.  I truly believed that it was impossible for us to see Him while living on this earth.  But, I was wrong.  So, very wrong. 

I have seen God in a rainbow following the death of my baby boy.  God's love was shining brightly, and He delivered me hope.

I saw God the day my sister died.  His love was so strong that He held me up knowing that I didn't have the strength to stand on my own.  He was dressed in a black dress with a hat and had tears streaming from the corners of sorrow-filled eyes.

I saw God and His love each and every time a child of mine was born.  His skin was soft and smoothe and His hair was fuzzy.  He was warm to touch and His breathing beat in sync with mine.  

I saw God feeding the poor as He tenderly looked into the eyes of each one.  I saw God handing out blankets to those who were without clothes giving them shelter from the cold and stormy night.  I saw God holding the hand of the dying person whose body was riddled in pain and whose heart was full of shame.  I saw God blooming in flowers as they were delivered to the lonely person in the nursing home.

I saw God reaaching out and holding the children who were orphaned and alone showering them with love and helping them feel warm and secure.

I saw God in every color, shape and size.  I saw God living in the skin of a servant filled with mercy and love.

And, in just 19 days, I will get to experience seeing God again as He tends to the needs of the sick, the lonely, the orphaned, the starving, and those dying without any hope.  I will see God again and again, and I am so thankful for that privilege of walking beside such servants of love!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Don't Pass Up the Chance to Visit this Mansion!

How I love to look through magazines and check out all of the photos online of gorgeous, breathtaking homes!  I love to see the floor plans, the vast assortment of tile designs, wood finishes, and intricate brick work.  And, the windows!  Oh, I love to see lots of windows that face the morning sunrise.  I could spend days on end looking at photos and daydreaming about what it would be like to live in my dream house by the sea.

As the days draw closer for me to spend some time in Haiti, I've been researching what the homes look like in the land where I will be staying.  I didn't find my preconceived dream home in any of the photos.  In fact, my heart began to fill with sorrow as I saw pictures of falling down structures put together with mud, rotted wood, and tin roofs.  There is no tile on the floors.  There is nothing even remotely close to indoor plumbing that boasts imported fixtures from Italy, let alone marble counter tops, and French doors leading to the libary and family room. 

Rather, I saw photos of decay, clutter, debris, and ruin.  BUT, I also saw photo after photo of smiling faces amid the poverty and rubble.  There were no signs of smug, self-seeking people who have a deeply imbedded love of things.  Instead, I saw beauty in the eyes of people who seemed to say, "Welcome.  Welcome, my friend.  Please step inside the doorway to my home, my mansion, and I will share with you what I have for the day.  What I have is yours. Please, come stay for a while with me."

I'm certain I will not find my "dream house" in Haiti, but....there's a real good chance I might find my "dream home" while there!  In fact, I just might find the next best thing to that mansion prepared for me in heaven.  (John 14:2)  I just might be blessed enough to find a house overflowing with the glory and majesty and wonder of His precious love!

Only thirty two days 'til take off........


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Are There Flowers in Hell?

Beautiful flowers blooming in the midst of tremendous pain!

Sometimes people can ask some really strange questions!  Here's one that I got asked a while ago.  "Are there flowers in hell?"  Now, what kind of question is that?!?!? 

After thinking a minute or two, I said that I doubted there would be flowers blooming in hell -- not according to the description of hell in the Bible.

BUT, I do know that flowers can bloom in the midst of agony and pain.  And, I think part of the purpose of gorgeous flowers that bloom in spite of brokenness and pain is to give us something beautiful to focus on and to give us HOPE of a better day.  Maybe that's why I'm such a flower nut!  I love, love, love flowers!!! And, I sure do love hope!!! 

Last year when my daughter spent time in Haiti, she saw all kinds of things that broke her heart.  Extreme poverty.  Severe damage due to storms.  Orphaned children.  Elderly living in blindness and fear.  Starvation.  Illness with not even a Tylenol to reduce pain and fever.  Nakedness.  Homelessness.  So much pain and suffering!

BUT, Stephanie took a picture just for me.  "Here's a picture of some flowers for you, Mom!"  Steph has no idea how many times I've looked at that photo in this past year.  In every petal I see hope.  I see God's love within each bloom.  I see His hand stretching out to those who are in daily pain saying, "I've sent you these flowers to show you that nothing -- absolutely nothing -- can keep my love from reaching you!"

When I set foot on Haitian soil, I will also experience walking among pain and poverty and illness such as I've never seen before.  But, you know what?  I'm going to be looking for those flowers!  The yellow flowers that bloom so brightly!  Why?  Because those flowers will quiet my broken heart and remind me that God is near to the brokenhearted.  He is with us in our pain.  He has not forgotten us or forsaken us.

Are there flowers in hell?  I doubt it.  But, I know there are flowers in our suffering and pain, and I'm so thankful for that precious reminder of hope!

Only thirty six more days until take off.....


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Unforgettable Band Aids

I want to be a Band Aid like this, too! 

I can now say that I am personally attached to an unforgettable Band Aid, and her name is Stephanie.  And,  she's married to a Band Aid named Roni.  And, I know lots more Band Aids named Bill and Mary Ann, and Jimmy, and Chris, and Tim, and DP, and Joe, and ........ Oh, I could go on and on and on!  I love these Band Aids, and I want to be one, too! 

I never thought I'd hear from nay sayers about my trip to Haiti, but it has begun.  Several people have said to me, "It's ridiculous of you to go on this trip.  What's the purpose?  Do you really think you can help anything?  You're nothing more than a Band Aid!  As soon as you leave, the poverty and hunger and pain will still be there, and you've accomplished nothing."

You know what?  I disagree!!!!  I'm going on this trip because "I want to be a Band Aid", and I'm so thankful for every Band Aid I know!  Thank God that Band Aids have come into my life during moments of pain and have placed that arm of love around me, helped me with a bag of groceries, paid a utility bill, given me parts for my car, called me with encouragement, and directed me to God's word for Spiritual strength during my times of need (and there have been many of those times!).  If the Band Aids had not reached out to me, I have no idea where I would be today!

My prayer this day is a simple one.  "Lord, make me a Band Aid who represents You in all that I do."

Only thirty eight more days until take off......

PS  If you weren't mentioned by name as one of my Band Aids, please know that my heart recognizes and loves every one of you.  My Band Aids are too many to mention here, and I thank God daily for that.  Now it's time for me to pay it forward! 
PPS  Just letting you know that this Band Aid is still not eating chicken feet!   

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dinnerware: The Top Ten Things to Consider Before You Buy

There's so much research to be done before buying dinnerware!  Among the top ten considerations is whether or not the dishes are microwaveable and dishwasher safe.  After that, there are other things to be concerned about.  Does Porcelain best fit my needs?  Or do I want Soft-Paste?  Bone China?  Stoneware?  Earthenware?  Melamine? The list goes on endlessly. 

Of course another biggie is the color and pattern of the dinnerware.  It has to match the dining room table and the glass hutch.  Plus, the dinnerware cannot clash with the color of the paint on the walls and the lighting must be just right so as not to cast any unwanted glare on the dinnerware.

Yep!  We really do fret and fuss over things like this.  We spend countless hours looking online, window shopping in department stores, and picking out our favorites on Pinterest. 
 I lay in bed and daydream about things like this every single night! 

However, when I visit Haiti I don't think any of these things will be items of concern.  Not at all! The real worry of the day will be searching for enough beans and rice for the daily meal. 

High blood pressure due to stress runs in my family.  For me, one of the biggest stressors is worrying if I'll have enough money to pay the bills.  You know what?  I think there will be some major changes in my budgeting when I return from Haiti.  Already I am doing some massive house de-cluttering and I have a strong feeling that I will no longer be borderline "hoarder" on my return from Haiti. In fact, I doubt I'll ever worry about what color dinner plate I place on the table again!  

My eyes are being opened to a whole new world every day when I learn more about this place called Haiti that I will be visiting.  Maybe, just maybe, this trip's agenda was planned by God after all.  I think He just might have some changes in store for this old granny!

Only thirty nine more days until take-off!

PS  Does anyone want to come help me do some house purging?  If so, you better bring along a tractor trailer truck! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

There Are Hundreds of Chicken Recipes, but......

I love the taste of fresh chicken and have had it prepared in more ways than you can count!  However, I have never eaten chicken feet cooked with beans.  Nor, have I watched someone slaughter a chicken in front of me and reach for the feet declaring this is a delicacy and most favored food!   

Total honesty, here.  I don't know if I can do it.  I don't know if I'll be able to eat chicken feet and beans.  I feel guilty, embarrassed, ashamed, and most of all queasy in the stomach.  I really and truly don't know if I can eat this particular dish that most assuredly will be offered to me while in Haiti.

I'm grieving over what to do.  My daughter who has visited Haiti several times now has assured me with delight that I will "love this food"! She said it's the most delicious chicken she has eaten.  Well, what does she know?  She eats goats and all kinds of other strange things.  Truthfully, I think I'm pretty much going on a liquid diet while there.  Okay, I'll eat the beans.  But, chicken feet?  I can't...I really, really cannot do that, Lord. 

These are the thoughts that are circulating through my mind every day as I prepare for this trip.  To some this may seem silly, but to me this is major, life-changing stuff for me.   

My prayer for today:  "Dear God, I thank you for the bounty of food you have provided me all of my life.  May I feel the pain of others who are hungry so that I might know how to help.  May I be humbled as I sit among orphans and elderly and those in prison and learn to understand more of your love and purpose for my life while on this earth.  And, God, help me to be thankful for everything -- even chicken feet.  Very humbly I pray, Amen."

Only forty days until time to leave....  


Friday, February 3, 2012

Why Are You Going There?

In all honesty, I wasn't prepared for so many "why" questions.  I cannot tell you how many people have asked me, "Why are you going to Haiti?"  "That's no vacation!"  Why put yourself through so much to go there?" 

Once again, I've had to do a lot of introspection, and that's not a bad thing.  I'll bet I've asked myself that same "why" question at least a thousand times already.  "Why am I going to Haiti?"  I've gone around and around with this question, and if you've been reading along on this blog, you already know some of my fears. 

In the end, it all boils down to this.  Why am I going to Haiti?  I'm going because I love God.  Period.  God has asked each of us to love others as we love ourselves.  That's no easy task -- at least it's not an easy one for me!  I love children.  I love moms and dads.  I love teenagers.  I love old people.  (I'd better love old people, because that includes me!)  But, I can't say that I love others as I love myself.  I'm selfish and self-centered about so much in life.  And, the more I prepare for this trip to Haiti, the more I'm beginning to understand "me" and my relationship with God. 

Why am I going to Haiti?  I'll say it again.  I'm going because I love God.  He spoke to me in so many different ways about this trip, and I fought Him.  I'm still not jumping for joy over this "opportunity", but I'm going. 

I'm going because I love God.  And, I know that God loves everyone -- including every man, woman, and child living in Haiti.  In my search for more of God and less of me, I'm going to Haiti, and I know with full confidence that I will find a lot more of God and my life will be centered around a lot less of me.

Only forty two more days..........

PS  A very special thanks to all who are in prayer about this trip.  Guess what?  Your prayers are working!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Frogs in the Shower!

At first glance I thought this was some sort of dog!
Today was one of those days when I felt the need for a long, hot shower.  You know the kind when the water feels so good as it pulsates against your skin.  You lather up with the best smelling body soap from Bath and Body Works and you soon look and feel so fresh and clean all over!

As I was finishing up my shower, an image came to mind and I immediately had a panic feeling.  I remembered the frogs in the shower!!  Stephanie, my daughter, told me that on her last trip to Haiti, it wasn't unusual to see a big tree frog clinging to the wall while taking your 2 to 3 minute cold shower.  I shuddered at the thought!  A frog sharing my shower?!?  That can't happen -- not to me!  Please, Lord, if I'm going to have to shower with cold water, don't make me share the little concrete cubicle with a frog!

Isn't it amazing how much we cling to comfort?  We live in a land of so much bounty here in the states that we don't ever have to concern ourselves with sharing our homes with critters of the wild.  And, now, I will learn yet another life lesson as I get to shower with the frogs.  Already I can tell you that the story of Moses and the ten plagues is coming to life for me!

Forty three more days and guess what's on my mind?  Well, you'll just have to wait until tomorrow.  Right now I'm going to check my shower for frogs just in case....


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Love Will Always Be the Universal Language

Today was spent teaching classes almost the entire day.  In between breaks, I did my usual "Haiti thinking" and today's thoughts were centered around communication. 

Okay, I know we'll have a translator with us at all times, but what about those times when I would like to say something personally to a child?  How will that child understand what I'm trying to communicate?  Should I try to use some kind of made-up sign language?  Should I buy a book on "How to speak like a Haitian"? 

To you it might sound silly, but to me this is a big thing.  I want the kids to understand me.  I want the adults in the nursing home to know how much I care.  I want the families who are getting food relief to know that my heart will always be with them, and that I will continue to pray and care.

Well, you guessed it.  My answer came from God.  He spoke to me by way of my daughter Stephanie's pictures.  I looked at her face in picture after picture.  Sometimes she was smiling.  Other times she was crying.  Still other times she was looking into the eyes of a child she was holding close to her heart.  And, as the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words."  In each and every picture I can "see" what Stephanie is saying.  She's saying, "I love you.  I care for you.  I'm here to help you.  I want you to be happy.  I want you to be fed. I want you to feel safe. I want you to go to sleep and be peaceful tonight."

How will I speak and be understood while in Haiti?  The same way everyone else will.  I will speak with my heart.  My heart will transform my outer being into the language of universal love.  That's just what Jesus does!

And, so it now is only forty four more days until departure.  The excitement is growing! 

PS  A very special thank you to Stephanie for giving me permission to use photos from her previous trips to Haiti.