Posted in Personal Stories

Daughters of the King…

Over the last few weeks I’ve been consumed with anxiety and frustration over the girls’ visas. The whole process really rocked my world and left me doubting myself (as their mom)  and honestly even God. Mikela always has her ears open and she asked me if we were going to leave her here by herself? Is it because I don’t love her as much as I love Malaya? She’s been questioning what she is to me every day and it BREAKS my heart. I found myself telling God daily – – “These are my kids. Jose and I are the only parents they’ve had since they were babies. Why are You messing with my kids?”

After much reflection – I believe with all my heart that the Lord is giving me an incredible lesson and message to preach to all Moms. The truth is –  none of our kids are really ours. When Gabriel was so tiny in the NICU – it was His Father God that truly brought healing to him. It was Asher’s Father in Heaven that connected the dots to allow me to find special doctors to treat him. And it was my Father in Heaven who laid these children in my arms even though they did not come from my belly.

Every good and perfect benefit that has come from being the mother of these children is because the Lord loves me. Through this whole process – the Lord has allowed me to talk to Mikela and Rosie with excitement –  telling them that they are His true Princesses! Just like Moses became a Prince when he was placed in Pharoh’s daughter’s hands – my daughters are the Princesses of a great and even mightier King!

God has asked me to care for them and I am going to obey Him. But ultimately they are the daughters of a King who sees everything that is out there. If the King  – who knows everything – wants them in Haiti then it must mean that He has a great adventure in store!

As their true Mom – I have to step back much like Hannah and watch God work in them. I cannot change Haiti’s laws but I can change the way I think about the situation and my plans.

Royalty has little to do with geography– it is something you are born into. When I was born again – I became the King’s bride. And when EACH of my children were laid in my arms – they were His children.

Posted in Mission Stories, Personal Stories

Trust, Surrender, Believe and Receive.

Those are the four words a dear friend of mine just emailed me….. I know that’s Jesus talking to me today.

As many of you know –  yesterday Jose and I went to Port-au-Prince to renew Gigi’s, Mikela’s, and Rosie’s visas. We have NEVER had a problem in the 8 years that the girls have been apart of our lives. So we were totally shocked today when we were told that the girls are missing a new important paper.

Since the earthquake child-trafficking has sky-rocketed in Haiti. Many Americans “in the name of Jesus” have been falsifying documents and doing unspeakable things with these children once they get them out of Haiti. So there is now a new law that requires you to have a very specific paper “parent’s authorization” from the Haitian Social Services. There are many documents you must present and the parent’s must be present in PAP to sign the forms.

The lady at the embassy was more than understanding and told me there would be absolutely no reason not to give our children their visas – except for the fact that this new law requires that paper from the Haitian Social Services. As soon as I get the paper – the girls will get their visas. I don’t have to make a new appointment – I can just show up anytime with the paper and get their visas.

I totally understand. If doing the extra work means that we can save children from horrible predators – I have to totally be on board with that. Their visas don’t expire until the end of July. So we could still leave as planned and get the paperwork when we return.

I didn’t think a lot about it UNTIL they took out their black marker and wrote CANCEL on their current visas. I’ve had the girls since they were babies – I have always had a visa for them. No matter what was happening in this country – on any day of the week my “ENTIRE” family could fly out if needed. This is the first time that my daughters cannot leave the country.

I left the embassy feeling completely deflated. Completely defeated. The problem with the paper is it can take months to get all the documents you need in order to get the “official paper”. Rosie’s parents are dead and Mikela’s tried to sell her. So getting the “parent’s authorization” isn’t quite so easy for those two. I know the girls are mine no matter what any paper says – but today I felt like someone just came into my home and ripped them out of my arms.  I can barely process it.

We have tickets already purchased for July 11th – 1 month from now. With Asher’s heat-sensitive seizures it’s important that he’s not here during the hottest times of the year. There is no way we are leaving our Haitian daughters here. So what does that mean? It means the family will be divided in two countries.

I am sure that this whole process is somehow apart of God’s plan. I am “trusting” that there is a purpose in all of this. I am “surrendering” all I have to Him. I am “believing” that He will work a miracle and I know that Mikela, Rosie, and Gigi will “receive” it.

Please pray along with us…..

Posted in NW_Discipleship, NW_Personal Ministry Update

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play!”

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10 NIV

Every time a new group is on their way, I have a level of excitement that builds like a player getting ready for his next game. When I know the groups have landed in PAP airport and are on their way to the Mole, things change around here. Just like a stadium making sure all the programs are stacked, the field is marked, and the hotdogs are grilling-we are preparing for a really big game. I am always amazed at the teams that come to meet us. They may have different names and quirky little characteristics but there are a couple qualities that ring true with every team.

First of all, just like seeing a team standing on the sidelines, there are players that crowd the coach wanting to be put in the game.  Sometimes it is quite comical to meet these folks. You really don’t have to go looking for them; they are the ones whose hands pop up every time you mention anything that needs to be done. It reminds me of little kids saying “Pick me, pick me…o o o o o pick me!” These missionaries are a lot like the disciple Peter—they would probably rush into the middle of a voodoo service with fried chicken if I asked them to!

And then there are other players who stand several yards away from the coach—they are almost afraid to go into the game. These are the youth and adults who are happy to wear the mission t-shirt but are so afraid of making a mistake that they are gripped with fear when we just ask them to give out a bag of rice. My heart goes out to these Christians. I know it took so much courage for them to step out of their comfort zone and serve the Lord in such a nasty dark place. As I have watched many groups come and go, both of these groups have one major thing in common. They do love their God. They are not here under any false pretenses. Both groups knew they were going to do ministry and were ready for the challenge when their feet was firmly planted on American soil.

Unfortunately, as game time approaches one group soars and the other group panics. Have you ever been there? Perhaps you are experiencing it right now. Your heart has been moved by the news that a family member is going through divorce and you really want to help them but when you are face to face—you have no words and you wonder if whatever you do say will really help anyway. Or you may be one of those folks who just happen to overhear a mother trying to negotiate a better price for the meds for her baby and immediately you step up and say, “Let me take care of this for you.” I am always moved when I see a veteran or a soldier in uniform when I am in the States. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate everything they have done to protect my right to be me. Yet, seldom do I actually confront them personally and say, “Thank you.” However, if you were ever out with my mother, she actually will stop whatever she is doing to go out of her way to say, “Thank you for serving.”

I say all of this as a challenge to myself and others as we become children of light in this world. As I see it there are two motivations that can take over when we are in a position of serving God. The first is our giftedness. When we are serving and doing something God has supernaturally gifted us with—we experience an incredible sense of blessing and even pride. Most of the time when I am serving through my gifts of administration I am completely fulfilled. I am doing what I love to do with an intensity that is ordained. Very few things stump me—I could organize 200 Haitian preschoolers going to the potty if God called me to it!  However, if you asked me to sit down with one of those preschoolers and teach them how to do a lace-up card, I have met my match! I’m not gifted as a preschool teacher.

In the same way, I have found that there are other times when God calls me to do something that is not even close to being in my gifted area. Actually, living in the mole has made it more apparent that there are many times that God has me doing things completely out of my comfort zone. The need becomes the call…at those times, serving the Lord is not necessarily the thrill of a lifetime. In fact, it is one giant gulp and step of faith at a time. Honestly, every time I go to the fishing villages, I am serving this way. I am not spiritually gifted to do this! Yet the need is the call, if I don’t go—who will?

I think back to the writings of Paul in the 12th chapter of 2nd Corinthians. He looked at his weakness as a blessed handicap keeping him in constant contact with his limitations. I guess for myself, I must begin to look at serving outside my giftedness as the same. By serving through weakness, the Lord actually gives me strength. Don’t get me wrong—it’s not a physical strength as it often leaves me in a mangled heap of nausea. But spiritually, every time I achieve one more boat ride—my Spirit soars.

As you serve where you are my prayer for you is 2 Cor 12:9-10—that you may have Christ’s power rest upon you!  May you never cower but boldly say to the Lord “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play!”

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.   My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.  2 Cor 12:9-10 THE MESSAGE

Posted in NW_Personal Ministry Update, Personal Stories

Solid Foundation…

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  Mattthew  7:24

As I walked upon the campus at St. Louis this week, I suddenly became overwhelmed with emotion. I had so much pride when I looked at my Dad’s masterpiece -where the depot had been built. It was magnificent. This massive project which could have been my Dad’s last major build  – was completely amazing when you figure that each inch of cement had been placed there bucket by bucket…inch by inch.

I looked at what had once been my own home; I remembered the joy of building that house with my Dad. The loving care that he took in making sure every piece of block was laid correctly. No doubt, my father has always had an eye for detail for building things.  Above all, I knew that no storm or earthquake would take down what Dad had built. He made sure the foundation was solid and could hold whatever it held.

That home that Dad helped build is now ten years old and Jose and I have moved on. We are no more than just visitors to this campus and our first home is just a relic of our past.  We aren’t the same people who lived here. We are kind of like a crab that has outgrown our shell! (Most people have been saying I was crabby for quite a while.)

Ten years into our ministry in Haiti and our marriage, Jose and I are convinced that we are entering into the decade of our own building project. Not just looking at the prospect of building our own physical home but making sure we are truly building a Spiritual edifice for our family that cannot be torn down by any storm that comes our way—sickness may try to tear at our foundation, the heat may try to melt our fortitude, discouragement and loneliness may chip at us brick by brick—but we commit that our home will be built upon The Rock!

We are entering into a new era of independence from earthly relationships and dependence on the Supernatural God we serve. Our eyesight is changing—we daily ask the Lord to give us His sight. Allow us to see through the trappings and wrappings of the natural and let us see what is really happening in the Spiritual. We know we will not be perfect and sometimes we may have to “tear out the plumbing” and restart some projects to get it right. But our Lord is faithful and we rely on His benevolence to these dedicated Kingdom builders.

We look at our sweet family and breathe a sigh of thanks and then hold our breath as we watch each of our dear children grow in the Lord. We are not doing this alone! O no! Living in the supernatural does not mean we think we have super powers—actually “superpowers” are too lame for how we live—we are living with Holy Power from the Most High God.

I have learned much from my Dad about building in the natural…and actually building in the supernatural. As Jose and I go into our next decade of marriage and ministry—we commit to live daily standing on the solid rock of Christ.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Posted in Personal Stories

Along For The Ride…

Sitting outside today I feel the coolness of the gentle breeze. The clouds cover where the sun once was and the voices of little children overtake the airways. It’s the first time I’ve been able to sit all by myself and reflect on the past few months. It’s the first time I’ve been able to simply catch my breath. Slowly and deeply I take in the air all around me.

Between dad’s unexpected surgery, my anemia and blood issues, packing up our rental house, some unexpected personal frustrations, and trying to book hundreds of summer tickets  – I’m simply exhausted.

I feel like I’ve been living on the bus that goes to Port-de-Paix. It’s a 90-mile ride that can last anywhere from 5 hours to 12 hours! The thing about the bus is that it goes full-speed ahead not caring that it’s bouncing you all over the place. There are all these amazing things happening outside the bus windows – the most beautiful scenery and people. BUT you never get to take in God’s amazing creations because you’re too busy holding on and complaining how sore you are.

Sitting outside today I couldn’t help but think about the bouncy road I’ve been traveling. My body is really sore. My spirit is really tired. My heart has been very “blah”. Life has come full-speed ahead not caring where it threw me.

Yet with every blow thrown – I feel the Angels.  They are armed with feather-down pillows!  They are there before the bounce and they create the softest landing-place! During the most stressful times – they blanket my family with feathers of comfort. They rain down favor each and every day. They show up every morning shielding us from attacks that we never knew existed.

Yes my body is sore — BUT –  today I got to look outside the window! WOW is it gorgeous out there! The beauty of my surroundings brought tears to my eyes. The news of several baptisms today – some from the impoverished fishing villages hours away – brought me down to my knees. How Great Is Our God!

Out of the corner of my eye – I can see the twins playing ball with our neighbor’s little boy. I can hear the girls playing “airport” – checking-in groups going to Haiti! Gigi is laughing so loud it can be heard from blocks away! Gabriel is sound asleep which is probably why all the other kids are laughing and playing so well!!  🙂

Thank you Jesus – for sending Angels along for the ride – each and every day.

Posted in Personal Stories

Your Love Never Fails…

Nothing can separate
Even if I ran away
Your love never fails

I know I still make mistakes
But You have new mercies for me everyday
Your love never fails

You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There maybe pain in the night but joy comes in the morning

And when the oceans rage
I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me
Your love never fails

Verse 2:
The wind is strong and the water’s deep
But I’m not alone in these open seas
Cause Your love never fails

The chasm is far too wide
I never thought I’d reach the other side
But Your love never fails

You make all things work together for my good

Posted in Personal Stories

On The Move…

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 days since I’ve posted anything. We’ve had so much going on. I’m no longer staying with dad at night as he’s getting stronger and able to get out of bed by himself now. I still go and check on him every day. I took him for his first outing in nearly 3 weeks on Thursday! He’s been out of the house every day since! 🙂

Last summer for the first time in our marriage we rented a house for our large family! With our inconsistent support this year – we don’t believe it’s wise to continue to do so. My parents have graciously invited us back to their house! So our family of 9 has started packing up the house and preparing for the move back. We are only out 3 times a year but you should probably start praying for them right now! 🙂

My parents told us we could take their back shed and make it a playroom for the kids. It’s a 12×20 space! So every day this past week Jose and I have been working tirelessly cleaning it all out and laying down carpet. Then we packed up all the kids toys and brought it to the playroom. My mom sewed some curtains. It’s SO CUTE! It really turned out beautiful and the kids love it!

We’ve already packed up most of our stuff and moved it to a storage unit. We head back to Haiti the day after Easter. We will come out again in July. With Asher’s heat sensitive seizures we can’t be in Haiti during the hottest time of the year.

So that about wraps up the last 10 days. Here are a few pictures of my crazy bunch of kids!

Posted in Personal Stories

Burning The Midnight Oil…

The last several nights I’ve had the privilege of taking care of daddy. And I can say that and really mean it!

When I was pregnant with the twins I developed Chronic Insomnia. I was so sick/uncomfortable during the pregnancy that I never slept. My body just began to adjust itself and now unless I take my prescribed medication I can truly go days without an ounce of sleep.

For those of you who’ve been following along my blog for the last several years – I know I don’t have to tell you about the pregnancy. In fact if I could – I’d go back and delete half the entries since all I ever said was how sick and miserable I was!! I’m not sure during that whole process if I ever shard about my early mornings with dad.

My parents have a hot tub in their back yard. We turned down the temperature and for the last few months of my pregnancy (when I wasn’t in the hospital) – I was the big whale floating out back! 😀 My dad’s office was on the back patio. Every morning at 4am – he would come down for his quiet prayer time. He’d often slide the glass window open and laugh that I am always up before he was. As the pregnancy got closer to the end – I would worry non-stop about the c-section and all these hospital visits.  Worry, worry, worry.

My dad always could tell and after he had about 45 minutes of his quiet time, he would tell me something that God laid on his heart. Often times he’d quote me something from Proverbs or read to me a devotional thought. Then he’d try to help get this whale out of the hot tub without falling!

It’s been two years now and I haven’t thought about those precious times until this past week. My dad has a lot of anxiety in the evenings. They told us that panic attacks are somewhat normal and that hot flashes or being too cold is par for the course the first few weeks.

My nights are filled with —

Jody, I’m so hot. Put the fan on my face. Followed by 25 minutes later – Jody, I’m freezing. Move the fan. (repeat 10 times)

Jody, I am very anxious. I’m having trouble breathing. I don’t think I can do this. Followed by – silence where he finally fell asleep for 30 minutes. (repeat 5 times)

Then it’s about 8 trips to the bathroom and trying to get him tucked back in bed with all his pillows just like he needs them.

When I say it’s been a privilege taking care of daddy – it’s not because it’s glamorous and fun! It’s definitely not that. But I go back to those days in the hot tub when I was SO anxious and he NEVER missed a night praying for me and talking me off the ledge.

God has truly used me the last 4 nights and allowed me to spend the night praying for him and talking him off the ledge. Dad told me he has more peace and confidence just knowing I’m in the same room. When he starts to feel anxiety – I slowly reason with him and help him breathe through it.

Over the past 10 days I have had my own personal issue that has kept me frustrated and angry on top of everything else going on with my dad. If I wasn’t taking care of dad I wouldn’t be sleeping anyways – just because I have such a hard time letting it go.

So I’m sitting in a chair around 3am just thinking. We moved dad’s bed to the living room so he doesn’t have to go up and down the steps. I thought he was asleep and out of nowhere I hear, “Martha, Martha, Martha – thou art worried and troubled about many things: But only one thing is needed”.

I can honestly tell you from the weakest little voice laying in a bed about 6 feet away from me – it was Jesus. Certainly Jesus speaking through my dad as He has done time and time again……even though I’m the one who is here to encourage him.