08 January 2022
05 January 2022
31 December 2021
We've spent the last few days rebounding (mostly the house and the laundry and it needed it!) and prepping for the next four crazy weeks.
Tomorrow my dad and Cindy from Ohio and one of our very favorite MKs (missionary kids) Ethan, from New Jersey, are heading to Jackson. Dad's coming for Lily's thirteenth (13?!?!) birthday on Sunday, and Ethan for Mason and Brooke's wedding also on Sunday. Sunday, one of our good Haiti missionary friends who is just now starting his doctorate at Wesley Biblical Seminary is coming for a week of on-campus intensives and as soon as we all get back from that wedding, it'll be so good to see Steve. Several people are staying with us and several with Lady Jane next door (who is celebrating her 90th! in a few weeks), and so I'm just getting on menus, meals, beds and finally have down Christmas.
Matt also heads to Florida this week for a president's conference of some kind and has a whirlwind week with doctoral students coming in from everywhere...so we're just buckling down and I'm THANKFUL for a few mostly quiet days to catch up and get ahead.
My bestie Shelley sent us Thai one night, our dear friends took the kiddos one afternoon and had us for dinner that night (mopping and vacuuming is SO much more effective when the kids aren't home :) and time with the McCartney's is always so treasured) and Cindy even sent us pizza tonight...which means New Years Eve at the Ayars is pizza and fort building with the last of the Christmas lights. Lily and Sofie have mighty plans for staying up till midnight, even if mom and dad have opposite plans.
Today Nora and I made our new "joy jar" for the year...a jar we slip little answered prayers, fun memories and unexpected blessings into throughout the year. Looking through last years this morning really blew the kids and I away with how many prayers He answered this past year, number one of which being finding us a church. So many of our other answered prayers for friends, outreach and growth have come from that one major prayer we had this time last year.
This year's prayer theme is dad...so thankful we'll have a few days together this week before he starts chemo.
Thankful for you each
27 December 2021
Glammy and PopPop got on the road today and we had such a nice Christmas with them! They hung with us through our Foundry Family Christmas Eve dinner and service, for Christmas Day at home, and joined us for church Sunday morning, dinner with Lady Jane and then headed out this morning. It's a LOOONG road and we all enjoyed them being with us so much.
23 December 2021
When we were little, every Christmas my mom would let us help set up her Aunt Norma's nativity scene. Each figure was wrapped in sheets of yellowed newspaper, and once she had the large wooden stable perched on top of the piano, she would let us put each person and animal in their place, complete with an angel at the top and an orange light bulb inside, shining down on baby Jesus.
The wooden stable, the box of sacred ceramic pieces that had meant so much to her. Don't know where it all was all the years we lived in Haiti. Still don't know what happened to most of it.
But when we unpacked ancient mystery boxes in a blur those first days of Mississippi, I found Aunt Norma's wisemen, the camels, the sheep and the shepherds that I hadn't touched in twenty years.
I don't know where the Mary and Jospeh are, nor the stable and manger. Don't know where Jesus got to, or where the angels flew, but the wisemen and shepherds are waiting tonight on top of mom's piano, and I can hear her voice every single time I remind a little finger not to touch Aunt Norma's camels, gathered around the candle...waiting expectantly for Jesus to show.
Five days into our time with Bill, Julie and the boys, my dad called in an attempt to ruin Christmas.
An itchy spot on his head...routine biopsy...very rare, very aggressive...out of nowhere...cancer.
The last two weeks have been heavy beyond words.
Launched into scans, appointments, biopsies and conversations the past 10 days, today he, Cindy (so thankful he is not doing this on his own) and my mom's sister-nurse, Patty, met with the surgeon, oncologist and radiologist to set up a plan.
He's back at the Cleveland Clinic, a road we went down countless times in 2003 to visit mom. Her battle with very rare, very aggressive, out of nowhere cancer was all fought and lost at Cleveland Clinic.
Cancer cells already circulating throughout dad's body, they've decided to do a few rounds of chemo to attack them before a very challenging surgery on his head and skull.
They hope to start next week. I am ever-thankful for your prayers.
I never ever ever thought we'd be on this road again. I never thought I would ever be having these same explanations, these same conversations, these same nightmares, these same wordless prayers.
I don't know how we're on this road again, or how to navigate it with four kids who love their Grumpa and a husband who considers Dad, Dad...how to be so far away from a sister and precious ones who love Grumpa, too...don't know how to be there or how to not be there...or how to protest a road we're suddenly rushing down, regardless. I don't know how to get off the floor most days this Christmas, all so fast.
I don't know where Jesus is, or where the angels went. I've just got shepherds on the piano, staring upwards.
If we're on this road again, I guess that He is, too.
We'll have to find Him along the way.
20 December 2021
There are a lot of people just really hurting right now, aren't there.
Losses from the past 12 months all catch up hard at Christmas. Fearful things are pending for many in a time when the future feels so uncertain and bleak. Our neighbor who lost his wife in March was feeling it extra at Christmas dinner last night. Our college friend who is a thread away from losing her husband is wrestling with a totally different kind of Christmas. Long-awaited and prayed for babies lost, never-expected cancer turning the world upside-down, unending painful patterns twisting deep in places like Haiti, in people like so many we know.
Everyone says to be kind, and I think we're all trying.
Say something, do something.
Doesn't have to be the perfect thing.
Think for two seconds about what you'd want someone to say or do for YOU in that kind of trainwreck, and do that.
Awkward is ok. Choked up is ok. Not perfect is ok. No answers is ok. Not fixing, that's alright.
But the worst thing is to be utterly alone in it, and nothing feels more alone than silence.
Get out there this Christmas with your family and think of three people you know are having trouble getting off the floor, and tell them you love them and are praying. Give them, bake them, take them, pass them anything, write them a psalm or a prayer (I strongly recommend any excerpt from Douglas McKelveys, Death, Grief and Hope.) Take their kids to the park for an hour or two, show up to quietly clean and fold laundry, order dinner, cut their grass, rake their leaves, have your kids make cards, text them from the store and ask what you can pick up. Be lovingly and humbly invasive. Join someone in a broken space where nothing is expected.
Tell them you're hurting because they are hurting and that you won't stop praying for and with them...and remind them next week and the next that you haven't left them.
It will remind them that He hasn't, either. What a gift to give this Christmas.
16 December 2021
There was a very dark time, you could see it in the bags under Julie's eyes. Cholera had come to Haiti, not that long after the Great Earthquake, and it was horrifying, terrifying. People were getting sick in the morning and dead by dinner, children were dead before they could be taken to the hospital for help...the elderly didn't stand a chance. With over 10,000 deaths before it all was over, I remember eyeing every banana, every head of lettuce, every egg with such caution, such concern. I remember Julie and Hannah and the doctors and nurses at the clinic working almost 24-7, the odd smell of cholera and death clinging to them, all of us, living and breathing urgent prayers and mourning many.
That was 2010, and we never once, any of us, spoke of leaving. It was the time to STAY, the time to do all you could, the time to sit and listen and visit and pray.
For 48 hours at Christmas, Matt, baby Lily, Hannah, Julie and I loaded into the truck and drove to the Dominican...48 hours escape. I remember Julie and Hannah mostly sleeping at the 'resort', remember trying to pretend for 2 days that this huge imminent ugly thing didn't exist. I remember pleading for our people.
12 December 2021
This week has been rich in two ways...
09 December 2021
It's been a lovely first few days with the Edlers...so rich to be with people who have been your people for a long time and through an awful lot...especially good to see the kids never miss a beat and go right back to brother and sistering. They're having such a good time together, and play together so well...always someone to entertain!
Matt and Bill spent the day at the office as Bill tries to finish marking for the semester that Emmaus finished WELL despite not seeing how that could be possible, and we took the kids to an indoor play-place and they ran wild for hours with each other. Tonight the men are off at a sci-fi movie and the kids are all as wiped as the moms.
Each day someone has helped me...dropped warm dinner on our porch, stopped by with some coloring books or warm clothing for the kids, sent a note and some muffins. As these worlds all meet, I'm just so thankful for friends and His help.
Being with the Edlers makes me wish so many things were different. But if things aren't...I'm thankful to be with this dear family these sweet days, and laughing and crying and remembering and praying, together.
04 December 2021
Alright, friends, this one probably means nothing to you (feel free to skip), but sure means an awful lot to me.
I fell asleep last night praying for the Edlers, today their very last day in Haiti...praying with all my own memories, praying for all the goodbyes, all the hearts, all the gaps, all the kids, all the broken.
And I woke up with a vision this morning.
I say vision, not dream, because it wasn't distorted or unclear, foggy or unrealistic...it was just a strong, long-forgotten memory, clear as day, and I woke up from it with a clear interpretation/meaning in my heart and mind that was absolutely full of peace and clarity and resounded as His Truth (and backed up by Matt).
This morning while sleeping, I saw that we were just walking out of Wednesday prayer meeting, some six or seven years ago, at the Edler's house. I headed out the door to round up our kiddos after the weekly meeting, and looked up to see Sam (Edler) in the treehouse. I looked right at him and he was surrounded by kids...the Heckmans, the Bundys, Sofie was there, the Grosses...dozens of kids running all over the yard and Sam in the middle playing hard.
We were an imperfect bunch, always, but loved and supported each other so that we could all love and support the Haitian men and women God had led us each to Haiti to serve. We came and went freely. We always had fuel. We could always come and go. Wherever He was leading, we could go. However we could love and support our Haitian brothers and sisters, we could GO and DO and DID. We had all come to Haiti to GO, and did...and meanwhile we all held one another's ropes and prayed and shared every Wednesday and argued about little things like dress code and remnants of asbestos in the roofs, every house on both campuses full, about which day we should celebrate Thanksgiving and trading recipes for what to do with baskets full of mangoes.
I woke up, so suddenly, and immediately saw Sam again, same treehouse, same place, same house, TODAY...alone.
A few years ago, things in Haiti started getting harder and more unstable, and one family at a time, lots of different reasons, lots of different ways, said good-byes at one last Wednesday prayer meeting.
We (OMS in Haiti) had had more partners than the houses could hold, so many children running the yard that it looked like a school, and today, Julie and Bill are the very. last. ones, and tomorrow they are leaving. It has been a year, almost two of no prayer meetings...no leaving villages...no beach trips...no fuel...no missions trips...no travel...no friends over. One by one, the few remaining missionaries in the have gone...some hoping to return, some tired of evacuating and lock-downs and leaving for the last time, some accountable to missions agencies calling the hard shots.
I have felt the guilt of leaving ever since...life so hard, so much to do, so many to love well. So much more work!
But when I woke up with this all this morning for the Edlers, I deeply realized genuine release for them. They had support and partners so that they could support and partner. They could come and go freely so they could go wherever He sent.
The Lord is at WORK in Haiti, as much as He has ever been...and every ounce of the work and sweat and blood and tears for His glory by the Edlers....by so many...mattered, matters and remains IN there, in lives changed. But that era, at least for OMS in Haiti...at least for Emmaus...has shifted.
She can leave tomorrow, not by choice, not by plan, not as she had hoped, but WELL, with her chin up. The era I had forgotten and saw so clearly has changed...what He could do through foreigners I can see He is making another way...and that He's ever as good, and Faithful, and FOR Haiti.
The Edlers have been so anxious to be faithful...not to Haiti...not to friends...not to the men and women and work they love, but to Him.
They go well, with Him, and faithful.
I don't know why He showed me that this morning, for someone else, who will have to wrestle her own peace with Him...and will.
But I'm thankful for the vision I couldn't have given myself, and the confidence I haven't really had until today for Julie and Bill that following Him a direction you didn't choose isn't the same as abandoning His work or His people, for all the times and worlds that change...He never will.