09 December 2018

the whirl

What a whirl of family and heart! Ben, Lily and I got home safely on Saturday afternoon with no hiccups. We had a few hours with Dad and Cindy before we left, who joined the list of family who finally met Ben, just adding to the richness of our time!

I'm so thankful for the time I had with each of my precious nieces, sister, brother-in-law, mother-in-law, dad and Cindy.  So thankful.  Please keep praying for our precious Mayah.  Little ups, little downs.

While traveling home early Saturday morning, we learned that Matt's uncle passed away Friday night, the only sibling of his mom.

Tomorrow is our big staff Christmas brunch (fun photos to come...always such a good day!) Nikki and Emily leave for Christmas Tuesday, and then Matt goes out Thursday when Mark and Marybeth go out for Christmas for the funeral.   

I managed to catch a cold on the flights home, so I'm off to bed. Oh, He's got us. I'm so thankful for Christmas, and the way it re-focuses me again and again on God come down.  

07 December 2018

Heading home

Incredibly grateful for this time in Philadelphia with these precious ones (and Mayah and Adam). I both can’t wait to be back with Matt, Sofie and Nora, and utterly hate leaving.  This is a long road and I have been so so blessed to be on it with this precious family for the week.  
Lily, Ben and I leave Saturday morning at 3:30 for a 6 am flight...thank you for your prayers, and please keep on praying for my nieces, sister and brother in law and for my father-in-law, too, who starts radiation this week.  

Today was student Christmas at Emmaus, which meant a lot of post-finals cheer 😂 

Monday is our big staff Christmas party...and have some preparing to do!  I’ve been so grateful this week for staff and students emailing and texting their prayers.  

Emmanuel, God with us. 


05 December 2018

precious time and prayers

Fiesty little Mayah struggles on with all the basics, little victories and little concerns, all piling up on the mountain of emotion, exhaustion and spread out love that is this little family's new reality.  I'm so incredibly grateful for these sweet and precious days to spend with them, for the time they're getting with her, and for the beautiful time with my nieces, Lily and Ben.  Thank you for your continued prayers for Mayah...and please just keep on!
I spoke to Matt finally for a few minutes this morning.  They are doing well, but this is a very busy week...finals week, Christmas events, year-end events and meetings, Sofie has had testing every day the last five week-days, Bible studies, writing and grading, grading and grading.  We are very thankful that rioting planned for today (a minor holiday) did NOT happen and things are peaceful and schools are open.  I MISS Sofie and Nora! (and matt, too :)...there are so many little Sofie-isms in Jayla, so much sweetness in these girlies that I miss in Nora.  I'm pretty sure I couldn't be handling 7 nearly as well as I'm handling 5 right now, but I do MISS them!

Pray for sweet Addy, happy and easy as they come and the queen of destruction.
Yep...you see the Sofie in Jayla back there, right?
While mom and dad were gone yesterday evening, we all had a pizza party / ice cream sundae / dance party / movie night.  The girls had the GIGGLES, and I just cherish it.

Meanwhile, another gift is that Grammy Barb (Matt's mama) was in Philadelphia for 2 days visiting her brother in the last days of his life, and finally finally got to meet Ben for a few minutes.
How precious precious that was.
Lily is getting lots of good cousin time in...trains, paints, books, and crafts.





I'm so thankful Lily came with me...she's been a much needed extra set of hands, and a great source of comic relief for her cousins :)
Another blessing was that Ben had his first ever doctor's appointment today!  It was incredibly hard to find a pediatrician who would see a five month old with no medical records, but we finally did, got his shots I've been anxious for him to have, and turns out Big Ben isn't all that big...80% for height, but only 40% for weight!  He's not sure how he feels about all these clothes, but they sure do make him look older!

THANKFUL to be right where I am, right when I am, and that I can.  

My dad and his wife will overlap us by a day, so we'll be very thankful to see them! Ben has gotten to meet his aunt, uncle, 3 of his cousins, his grammy and his Ms. Cindy, all in one strike! 

Thank you for your encouragements and prayers, and keep on!  






02 December 2018

love someone well today

There are three little ones finally sleeping above me and two little ones finally sleeping below me, celebrated ice cream in my bowl and Adam and Lisa off to spend the last weary evening hours with Mayah.

It's quiet and I'm on the other half of the split, missing my Haiti family and grateful for my stateside one.

Nothing is easy for Mayah, not breathing, not moving, not diaper changes or eating, and as she fights so many people are fighting for her.  What a deep joy this morning to finally touch her little perfect fingers and to finally sit with my sister in the NICU, hearing her heart and all the little meows of the precious miracle babies around us.  What a place of ups and downs, of hards and heavies and love, and every little hand reaching for the sky as we sat just seemed reverent and sacred.
My chubby baby in the basement, born in Haiti in the bedroom without so much as a beep, and my sweet sister five minutes from one of the best hospitals in PA who came this close to losing her life and now spends half of it in the NICU fighting for another.

There are no little things, are there. Just a big God and a lot of grace and little ways every day to trust Him, even to pray simply, Help Me, if nothing else.

What joy to sit with Lisa's babies today and to watch women I've never met come and go, bearing banana bread and gift cards and hugs and prayers and coming in the name of loving Jesus.

It's so important, family. Every time I come to the States, and everytime I fly back again, I am amazed wherever I am how many people need genuine love and grace in the name of Jesus. So. Many. Hurting. People dealing with so much hard.

It makes me want to be endlessly patient and sacrificially servant-hearted and ridiculously full of grace for the rest of my life on every single person I meet...because the world NEEDS that.  That Jesus--endlessly patient and sacrificially servant hearted, full of grace.

Oh, love someone well today. Forgive and forgive and forgive. Pray without ceasing for the places that are hard, knowing that through our prayers, His grace can penetrate and transform the hardest hearts. Pray out loud WITH someone, hold their hand.  And then do it again tomorrow.

Thank you for praying Ben, Lily and I safely here, and for lifting up Matt, Nora and Sofie while we're apart. Thank you for praying for Emmaus as they wrap up this last week of the school year, and thank you for praying for my sister and her dear family. Thank you for praying for the many struggling and hurting people I've brought before you over the years...how very much internally and externally is done on our knees, through prayer.



30 November 2018

count them one by one

Today beautifully wraps of a full week of classes, praise the Lord.  With renewed manifestations/riots rumored for December 5th, we're all thankful for this peaceful lull, and I'm thankful to be traveling this weekend before things potentially pick up again. Praying rumors and fear are squelched and that there will be no more violence.  Keep on with us, please.

Preparing for finals week next week, my class (and lots of others) have been doing presentations, final projects and research paper, and I love hearing my class go through some of what they've learned!
And it is with great joy that the world welcomed little Timothy last night, our dear friend and Academic Dean's new son.  He was born safely at the hospital where Ben was supposed to be born.  So thankful for him and for Fanfan's beautiful family!

Meanwhile, we had such a fun time last night celebrating Leme's life...34 year old, and we're blessed with his friendship, and with the friendship of his beloved wife Guesica.  Elisa bringing the fake mustache's a few weeks ago have just been a really big hit :)  I haven't laughed like we did last night for a long time.  Thankful for friends in our lives, who know and care and share their lives with us. 
We introduced lemon meringue pie in place of birthday cake last night with mixed reviews :)  Everyone decided they liked the "snow on top" best!  But it is not chocolate. 
Emily, Rob and Lori finally returned to Haiti yesterday, and I'm so thankful that Emily brought in some winter clothes for Benny-boy.  He's about to have a serious awakening, for a child who only wears pants and socks on Sundays and who has NEVER experienced anything you could call "cold".

Our little Haitian-American is finally going to America.  

SO.  Instead of what I'm praying for, let me think through my praises.

I'm praising the Lord for Nikki, helping Matt with the girls and continuing homeschool (especially in such a unreliable hour for education outside the home) and also covering final exams for both my classes!

I'm praising the Lord for our neighbors who will be making dinner for them and checking in on them and I'm thankful for Julie--who insisted on it, and has been a constant source of daily friendship and support, releasing me from so much guilt and emotionally-clouded thinking with her honest and godly support.

I'm thankful for Granny who will be making lunches and checking in continually, and helping with Sofie (she and Sof are special friends...anytime life feels like too much for Sofie, we find her with Granny, sorting beans or sweeping the kitchen or pouring out her little heart...I'm thankful to know Sofie will have Gran while mom is gone!)

I'm thankful for Linda, Jane and Sharon who sent in some quick breakfast foods and premade snacks weeks ago, not knowing what a gift they'd be now. 

I'm thankful for the many students and staff who have come alongside us and prayed with me, are praying for us, are praying for my sister and her family.  I'm thankful for the many people here who have asked, and listened, and then dropped everything to pray with me, tears in their eyes...how fortifying are cares and the prayers of His people!

I'm praising the Lord for the many friends around the world and here in Haiti who have given or sent money to order pizza, to buy groceries, to buy a gift card, to help with all the mounting bills, as I head to my sister's.  I mean, how humbling and practical and praiseworthy. 

I praise the Lord for the group of women who are checking in with me daily on Lisa and Mayah, thankful for my sister's best friend Robyn, who has spent this week with them helping in a million ways and helped keep me in the loop.

I'm thankful for friends and family in our lives who step up when we need them.  I'm thankful for my sister and for Adam and for their children...gifts in our lives, every one, and precious.

I'm thankful for the many people making it possible for me to go and be where I need to be when I need to be there without concern for my kids or for Matt or for my job or for finances.  

I'm thankful for the temporary lull in political chaos that allows for planes to come and go this weekend so that WE can come and go.  

That list was longer than I even realized...how freeing in the midst of dark and heavy times to count our many blessings.  Must be one of the reasons why the Bible asks us to give thanks in all circumstances so many times.

Please continue to pray.  I'm so thankful for you!

28 November 2018

what we cannot imagine

If there is any hope, any trust, any faith to be seen in me, surely much of it was planted and watered in me by my Haitian fellow-believers.

By this morning I was at the very end of myself.

Our little Mayah isn't doing well in Philly, and texts and photos and FaceTime throughout the days and nights just doesn't touch it. Being there won't touch it either, for there will still be very little I can do.
Whatever America can do for her that many other countries couldn't, whatever money could do that poverty can't, whatever skilled doctors could change that inexperienced ones couldn't...it doesn't matter.  

Her every breath, her every heartbeat is a miracle, needs a miracle, and only God can do what Mayah needs.

Our English class today was doing presentations on sicknesses and remedies, each student briefly talking about a different illness common in Haiti.

As one student wrapped up his presentation on the prevention, care and treatment of cholera, he asked if there were any questions.

"Yes," one student asked seriously.  "What do you think is more dangerous?  Cholera, or the politician currently trying to overthrow the president?"

I allowed everyone to stretch their English on it for a moment, one threat heavy on our history, the other threat heavy on our hearts today.

Our cholera outbreak, brought from Nepal through the very organization present to keep-peace, killed some 10,000 people, most within days or hours of symptoms, crediting Haiti with the first-modern large scale outbreak of cholera, and with the most deadly modern outbreak of it.

That season of all our lives was so stressful. I remember fearing every banana, every head of lettuce, every glass of water, remember seeing my children for the fragile that they were. I remember friends and family losing friends and family, suddenly and with spreading fear, I remember where I was when we learned that all the surrounding area clinics were out of life-saving IV bags and IV equipment.

Was that more stressful than now? The masses being threatened by a corrupt few, publicly warning parents to write the names of our children on their feet before daring to send them to school, so that we can identify their bodies when they burn the schools down? Guaranteeing Haiti's people that the day they return to work will bring the last regret of their lives?

Forget epidemics and political chaos that brings a country to a standstill, what about the Great Earthquake and the 200,000 men, women and children it killed in a matter of minutes and the days following? What about the earthquake last month, that shakes everyone to its core, because 200,000 people in a country of 8 million means that everyone, everyone lost someone.

And the middle days, the middle days without drama that still baffle me...to this day I can't TELL you how so many live on SO LITTLE.  To this day I don't know HOW 90% of the people I see every day feed their children.  I know how much groceries cost...and I know how much people make...and I know how hard people work...and I know how much school costs.  It does NOT add up for many.  I don't even know how to calculate it.

From all my earthly wisdom and experience and observations, believers and non-believers alike in Haiti should be scarred beyond recognition and unable to get out of bed in the morning.  FOREVER.

And instead, day after day, I live among some of the most beautiful, hopeful, joyful, servant-hearted, hard-working, generous, humorous people.  Scarred and burdened and beautiful and encouraging.

At the end of my class, tired (the stress of political instability and not being able to plan on each day makes you WEARY, I promise you) and overwhelmed with concern for Mayah and my sister and her precious family...I explained to my students that I would not be here next week for their final exam.

Immediately someone asked if my sister was ok, and as I gave the 2 sentence version to avoid tears, another student insisted, "Let's pray. In English, now, I will try!"

As he stood to pray, always reverent, these believers, I closed my eyes over my tears and powerfully felt the Spirit meet us in the silence.

He thanked God for seeing us through the class, "from the first day until now, you are with us" and thanked God for their teacher. "And God," he continued carefully, deliberately. "We ask you for Stacey's sister and her baby, and we ask you, God, what we cannot imagine."

That's it, isn't it.  

Isn't that faith, in it's purest form?  Isn't that hope abounding?

In the earthquakes and burning streets, in the hunger and in the epidemics, in the devastation and in the difficulties, one after another after another, we are praying in Haiti today for a tiny baby far away. 

We are praying in Haiti today for what we cannot imagine.

We are praying in Haiti today for what we cannot see.

We are praying in Haiti today for what we cannot do.

Not with anger, but with hope.  Not with fear, but with trust.  Not with despair, but with simple faith.


Haiti guides me, oh, once again, and as I sat in chapel an hour later, vibrant worship and dance swirling all around me, hands lifted with abandon to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, I lift mine, too.  When I’m too weary to lead, I’ll follow.

25 November 2018

rich in family

Getting a good picture with this many people, and a word to spell :), is not easy...but it was fun!  After having to move Thanksgiving a bit due to continued political instability (this is a new season, friends, with no easy solutions in sight...please be praying), we finally settled on a wonderfully fun and relaxing day yesterday!  I'm so thankful for this family and for the way God continues to put people in our lives to make days like Thanksgiving away from our home cultures and relatives easier.  
It's a shifting family, looking a bit different every year as people come and go, but worshipping together, talking about what we are thankful for, eating together, talking about holiday traditions and sitting around all afternoon eating pie and drinking coffee with laughter and music and children playing just blessed me immensely.  We are rich in family, family, even when the enemy would have us believe we are alone. 







My precious little niece is struggling to keep her heart up and her breathing up and just each moment is a lot of work...Please be praying for Lisa and Adam as he has to head back to work, she can't drive due to the c-section, and as she's had to stop her nannying and tutoring jobs...as they try to balance continual hospital visits and three little girls...as they try to balance healing and health and ALL of it.  Lisa's good friend will be there this week, and thanks to the help of a dear church and frequent flier miles, Nikki being here and finals week (no teaching), Ben and I are heading to Philly on the 1st to help for the next week.  I don't need to tell you how heavy on my heart they are and how anxious I am to help, even in very small ways.  So thankful to have this opportunity, Lord willing.

After losing an entire week last week to political instability, we are all praying for a peaceful weekend and that Haiti's schools and businesses could reopen Monday.  Please pray with us.  Fear is as rampant as the rumors, stories as spread as the truth, and meanwhile many innocent suffer and sit.  We need prayers. We've never seen it quite like this, and there truly seems to be no solutions or changes in sight.  

So we trust.




22 November 2018

this is the day

The last time my birthday fell on Thanksgiving was the year I turned 30.

I was in a BIG struggle season that year, really having a hard time with feeling inadequate, old, unaccomplished, and ungrateful.  (You can remember with me here.) Yet about 2 weeks before the big day, I realized that my birthday was on Thanksgiving, and the Lord divinely kicked my butt (aren't you thankful He does that sometimes!) and healed my heart with gratitude.

While I'm in a very different season this time around, I know it's no mistake that my gift today is Thanksgiving.  What a perfect day for a birthday...a day that drives you to searching for the gratitude, no matter what.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much Thankful I have today.  I have 8 million things to say, but instead I'm going to say very little, because the depth of the complications and the richness of His presence and the height of His great love are leaving me a little awe-struck today.

I am thankful that the Lord very miraculously saved my sister's life on Monday night.

I am thankful that He also very miraculously saved and continues to strengthen Mayah's (meaning God is close) little life today.
I am thankful my four nieces have their precious mother.
I am thankful for the many people God used in that situation, and is using still.

I am thankful for the gift of the challenging journey they have ahead, and that God IS close.

I am thankful for Nikki, an utterly undeniable God-send in this season of our lives.
I am thankful for friends-like-family, family-like-friends here and there...for friends our daughters run to, friends Ben knows and grins for, friends who encourage me, friends who pop over and brighten, friends who pray and bake and love and email and text and remember, from friends in the village we can spend time with even going on day 6 of not being able to drive to friends I've never even met but truly know and know me.
I am thankful that God's kingdom is above this one, I'm thankful that God is at work when Haiti is paralyzed, I am thankful that evil and injustice will not be allowed to carry on forever, I am thankful that He offers peace when none can be found.

I am thankful for our staff and students - the salt, the light, the water that is NEEDED.
chapel yesterday, with so many unable to leave their homes...keep praying!
I am thankful for people around the world I can reach out to for prayer and know you're praying.

I am thankful for HELP and GRACE, because I need it, every day, in so many ways, and He provides it and sometimes it's you, or you, or you.

I am thankful for these precious children who point me to Jesus on purpose (or on crazy) every day, again and again. What a privilege.
I am thankful for a husband who loves Jesus more than himself, more than us.

I am thankful that WHATEVER today looks like, come what may, this day, He made...so we can rejoice and be glad in it.  

I am rejoicing with you.  Happy Thanksgiving!

21 November 2018

thankful

My sister and little niece are hanging in there...we truly have so so much to be thankful for.  He was in the middle of the nightmare Monday evening, and seeing God's hand in so many of the details has been a powerful testimony.  I am thankful for the ability to text with Lisa, for the men and women God's had in her life the last few days, for His amazing creation of my niece, for a good hospital and great care for them both.  I am thankful for an awful lot this morning.

Haiti continues to be paralyzed by fear, uncertainty, frustration and lies.  Today was the fifth day that our staff and students could not get to campus due to road blocks, barricades, and transportation strikes.  This is the longest season like this that we have experienced in our years in Haiti, and all three airlines have cancelled flights in and out the last few days.  Each day we get going, and each day we have to wait.

God is not. Not waiting. Not paralyzed. Not uncertain.

So we keep praying and praising and waiting.

Yesterday the girls and I walked to a friends house and so enjoyed a few hours with Shayla and Naomi and Florina and being off campus, even if we can't drive anywhere.  I'm thankful for that, thankful for Nikki, who has homeschool going full swing while the girls are on a political snow break!!

I'm thankful for an awful lot while we wait on a not waiting God, putting our Trust in Him.

THANK YOU for your prayers, and continued prayers, for Haiti and for my sister and baby niece...the road is long.