“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
-Dr. Suess, The Lorax

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Most people don't get us.  I understand that, and I'm ok with it.  But I would love for more people to get it, to understand our hearts.  Especially those whom I love that just think we're weird or crazy or (fill in the blank). 

This is my invitation for you to journey with us. 

We go to Haiti and do nice stuff.  Everybody that knows us knows that.  But it is SO MUCH MORE than that.  If that was all it was, I'd be over it.  Totally.  Haiti isn't easy or a ball of fun, and "nice stuff" isn't worth the sacrifices we make...not worth the risks, the expense, or being separated from our family, or even having to sweat so incredibly much.  Nice stuff is worth very little.

But God stuff, that is a whole different ballgame. 
It is worth EVERYTHING.

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a... you get the point.  I'm a lot of things that are important.  But more important than any of these precious titles, I am a follower of Christ.  He is #1. 

And He has called me to the work I do in Haiti.  He has specifically invited Brennon and me to join Him there. 

The understanding I have of WHY we should go to Haiti is based on this framework: 
Matthew 28:19 - go make disciples of all the nations.
Acts 1:8 - be Jesus’ representative locally, on a regional/national scale, and abroad.
Mark 12:30-31 - love the Lord and love people, that’s the most important commandment. 

I believe these scriptures give us clear instructions of what the Lord expects and desires us to do.  

My agnostic child with Asperger's resentfully asked me why we have to go to Haiti.  My simplified answer:  God invited us to.  I don't know why Haiti, or why us, but He did.  And He's so much smarter than us; He knows everything.  I know He'll take care of us and reward us soooo much.  His gifts are the very best!       

Some people say I am brave.  No, really I'm not.  I just try really hard to be obedient and trust Him.   That's where my courage comes from.  Do I still get freaked out?  Do I want to puke because my nerves are so knotted up?  Do I have a few ugly cries as I pack my bags?  ABSOLUTELY.  

Hear me on this:
I don't like being away from home.  I don't like the unknowns. 
I hate saying good-bye.  I hate making my loved ones sad.
It rips my heart out to be so separated from my older daughter. 
Parts of this SUCK SO BAD.

But you must understand this if you are ever going to get why we do the crazy stuff we do:

There is a deep ache in the marrow of my soul to join God in Haiti.  The ache has yet to go away.  Like a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  Psalms 42:1  

When I contemplate where my real, true, most passionate joy is found… where I feel most alive and totally fulfilled… where I absolutely hunger to be... it's in rural Haiti, showing love in every way I possibly can to the hurting, the oppressed, the “least of these.”  To encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ.  To reveal Him to the lost.  And with each step that I get closer to returning to Haiti, that ache turns into excitement.  My heart beats stronger, my sense of purpose and self increases. 
There is nothing this world can give me that can compare to the sweetness, the absolute high that I obtain when I totally surrender to God and let Him work through me.  Oh, what precious moments when someone looks into my eyes and sees Jesus, and I can see Jesus in theirs.
I know this sounds like foolishness to some, Greek to others, Jesus-freakishness to many.  And that's okay.  But to those folks, I want to say...
You're missing out. 
This God of mine is so good, and He loves me so much.  He loves you equally as much, and His invitation for you to join Him somewhere to do something amazing is sitting there on the table. 
Open the envelope.  See what He's inviting you to do.  Trust Him and sink your teeth into His good stuff.  It'll be the most delicious thing you've ever tasted.  I promise. 
Your invitation probably isn't to go to Haiti, but He's inviting you to something.  And it is so good. 
Be brave obedient and trust Him!
"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” 
We'll be doing this Haiti gig, and I hope you do your gig. 
Let's journey together. 



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2016 - A New Chapter is About to Begin!

For such a long time we have been praying for direction,
for clarity,
for "What the heck do you want us to do, Lord?!" 

And here we are.  Looking at 2016 square in the face.

Finally, finally, God has removed the blurry, out-of-focus old glasses we've been wearing and replaced them with crisp, clear, new lens that we can see through.

And it looks exciting!

In just a couple of days, we will have a HUGE announcement to share with you.

It's all about our family,
a small Caribbean island that we love,
and how those two things will be knit together in 2016.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

This is it!

The other day I was having lunch with a long-time, dear friend.  I was telling her all about my recent trip to Haiti and the new endeavors that are unfolding in my life.  She paused and said, 
"You do realize you're glowing right now, don't you?"  

I was.  Like a mother fawning over her beautiful newborn babe.  Or a giddy Spongebob.  Whatever....you get the picture.  This new season in my life that I've been blessed with.....I can't help it....it makes me light up with joy and anticipation of what lies ahead.

I think I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up.  And considering that I'm quickly approaching the big four-oh, I suppose I am well into official grown-upary and this revelation is long overdue. 

I am pursing...
 ((drumroll please))
becoming a child advocate.
As in: trained, legit, for reals.

Today I began my training to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer.  That means that I will be advocating for children that are victims of neglect/abuse that are involved in the court system.  It will be my job to be a voice in court on the child's behalf to express the child's wishes and my recommendations about what is in the best interest of that child.  I will be working through Child Watch Counseling & Advocacy Center here in Paducah.  

I'm excited about this opportunity to put my previous experience to good use - from my time working in law enforcement, to foster care, adoption, and being a mom of a kid with special needs - it's a great avenue to combine my gifts and knowledge with my passion.  Pretty stinking cool.  Not to mention that future training and certification opportunities are on the horizon that will give me more skills to do what I love more effectively.
But I think in terms of Acts 1:8 -
"...you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
CASA work here in Paducah is my "Jerusalem."
Now let me tell you about my version of "Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth":
(Like you didn't know.  Duh.)
But I want to tell you specifically about where in Haiti.  During the course of this year, Brennon and I have been seeking where God wants us to serve in Haiti.  God made it clear to us that He isn't done with us in Haiti, but He took His sweet time to reveal where exactly He was sending us in that little Caribbean nation.  Now we have reached the point that we are clear and confident where we are going and who we are going to partner with.  
Let me introduce you to our dear (new) friends:
 Haiti Foundation Against Poverty (HFAP) is located in Port-au-Prince, and was founded in 2007 by an extraordinary young woman by the name of Mallery.  A mutual friend of ours suggested I stalk her send her a friend request on Facebook to get to know her.  I quickly realized that this chick was somebody that I could relate to.  In February, I got to spend some time with her and her awesome husband Frentz (and their absolutely adorable son Jayvan) and see HFAP with my own eyes.  The top-notch Hope House orphanage, the amazing Les Bours School, the Gift of Hope program to empower mothers and keep families together.  Love love love!  The mission and heart of HFAP, the team, the way things are run, the ministry's transparency, everything was a resounding "YES!" in my heart.  Since February, Brennon has made two trips to HFAP to help out with work projects that required someone with his skill set.  And I'm eager to get back there in just a few months to work on a few projects.  Woohoo!
Mallery and Frentz Neptune (with Jayvan in his arms) with the Hope House kiddos.
And also meet:
On my way home from my trip to Haiti in February, God sat me right next to some guy named Calvin, the co-founder of Living Hope Haiti.  For two hours on that flight to Miami, despite my best effort to convey the message "I'd like to be anti-social now," Calvin talked my ear off and made a list of all the projects that me and my husband (whom wasn't even present, mind you) would be a great fit for within the ministry.  By the end of the flight, I knew one of two things was for sure - either this guy was nuts for trying to recruit us (being total strangers) OR God was opening up an important door.  Or maybe a little of both.  Ha!
LHH is located in St. Michel de l'attalaye in northern Haiti.  It is a beautiful, mountainous, rural location that makes me joyful to my very core.  LHH is a multifaceted ministry with one ultimate goal: to witness the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of the St. Michel area through education and medical services.  Elementary schools, a vocational school, church plants, medical clinics, economic growth projects, a radio station, and an orphanage.
View from the yard of Living Hope Haiti's high school.
In May, Brennon traveled to LHH with the ministry's president, Dr. Gueillant Dorcinvil, who is a native of St. Michel.  It was a fast trip filled with a bunch of electrical work and learning about the ministry.  Brennon came home with a peaceful "two thumbs up" feeling regarding LHH and our future involvement with the ministry.  We had hoped that this past summer would allow us to travel to St. Michel to get our feet wet with the work there, but the nasty mosquito-transmitted virus Chikungunya made us put our plans on hold.  I was finally able to head down there just a few weeks ago to see LHH for myself....and it was a definite Yes! that this is the other ministry that we are to partner with.
Kiddos at one of the elementary schools run by Living Hope Haiti.
 Brennon....well, he's the Jack-Of-All-Trades and is a total MacGyver that is useful anywhere he goes in Haiti...so he'll fit right in to help with the many projects that LHH has going.  Me...well, I've just met 18 of the most precious kids that are true orphans living at the LHH orphanage, and have been invited to be a voice for their needs.  Yep, Calvin and Dr. Gueillant invited me to help LHH accomplish their goal of providing excellent care for these little ones entrusted to them.  I've never been so humbled and simultaneously bursting at the seams with excitement to have this opportunity to invest deeply into the lives of vulnerable kids.  When I got home from my trip and was relaying all my stories to Brennon, I told him, "I want to pour myself into these kids...not just now, not just this year, but long-term.  I want to watch them grow into healthy, happy adults and flourish as leaders in their community, thriving with families of their own."  So...our family just grew a bit... by 18 more kids that happen to live across a little ocean.          
Because there's always fun to be had with an iPhone.

As I told the 18 kids and my new friends Merceda, Chrismarie, Emanise, and Evanie (the orphanage administrator and the housemoms...unsung heroes and my sisters in Christ).  "By the grace of God, Brennon and I will be back to St. Michel in January."  Yes, our tickets are already booked. 

So to summarize:
We are not moving back to Haiti.
We have work to do right here in Paducah.
But we will be traveling to Haiti often.
There's lots of work for us to do there, too.

And I finally know what I am going to be when I grow up.

I am a child advocate.
I am a servant of Jesus.

 In Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
The Lord of Heaven and Earth has graciously shown us the work He has for us to do, both here and afar.  We are humbled and ever so thankful that He is giving us this incredible new season of adventure, allowing us to be a part of His great plan.

Our hearts are full and we are ready to roll!


Friday, October 24, 2014

The Time Has Come.

In the great words of Dr. Seuss, spoken to the character Marvin K. Mooney:

"The time has come.  The time is now."

Last week, my time had finally come.  With passport in hand, I got on a plane heading down to the island of Hispaniola.  I flew in to Cap Haitien, a city on the northern coast of Haiti, ready for the next chapter of my life to begin.

That very same week a year ago, my family and I had packed up and moved back to the U.S. from our home in Cazale, Haiti.  It was hard.  One of the most painful events of my life.  I was not ready to leave, did not want to leave.  But God said it was time to return to our ol' Kentucky home, so we did.

During that bumpy drive to the airport from our house in Cazale, my heart felt like it was ripping in half.  There were lots of tears.  Sobs, even.

Our pastor later gave us the best advice we could have received.  
We had suffered a loss in that life-change, and grieving was what we legitimately needed to do.  And so, we did indeed grieve.  As most people know, grieving is not a quick and easy process.  

We went through all the stages of grief.  
The isolation, the anger, the bargaining, the depression...
....and finally the acceptance.
The process took a solid year.

We struggled with forgiveness and harboring resentment towards people that had hurt us.  Two steps forward, one step back...that seemed to be our emotional pace for many months.

We received wise counsel from precious people that God specifically placed in our lives that helped us work through the junk.  We were loved on and encouraged.  Our brokenness was validated.  We were not alone in our hurt.  We joined hands with others who understood, who were also walking down this particular path. 

  Meanwhile over the course of the past year, we have dealt with some difficult stuff.  Stuff that God knew in His infinite wisdom that we needed to be at home to deal with.  I had some health issues that had to be worked through.  Both of our kids had some school issues (college and middle school).  Both of them also needed us to invest emotionally into them more intentionally.  And there were handfuls of other important things that we needed to tend to...things we just needed to be here for.  Things that my husband and I would be in the midst of and pause to look at each other, saying, "It is good that we are present for this.  Right here.  Right now.  God knew."

 We worked on our family.  On our marriage.  On our spiritual health.  We even worked on long-neglected home improvement/repair projects.  And Brennon, well...he just simply worked.  He immediately returned to his job and resumed bringing home a paycheck, which is a super good thing.

Fast forward to October 2014.

A new chapter begins.

God has allowed new seeds to be planted in our lives, and we are watching them grow into something beautiful.  

He has shown us the work He has planned for us....which we have been pleading to see and understand for a long time.  

He has guided us to new people and places and shown us where we can confidently let our roots establish.

He has revealed to us that for now, we can firmly stand with one foot in our hometown of Paducah and the other foot in Haiti.  He will balance us and use us in both places.

We now have direction.

We now have work to do.

And.  We.  Are.  Stoked.


Exciting stuff lies ahead.  I want to tell you all about it.  
And very, very soon, I will!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Freedom from Fake

I have no desire to be fake.  It's too exhausting.  Take it or leave it, this is who I am.   

Some of our family's darkest hours of getting along occur on Sunday mornings.  What starts out as a leisurely morning of sleeping in just a little, then coffee and some breakfast....suddenly morphs into this stressful race to make it out the door at a specific time in order to not be late to church.  And we are ALWAYS late. 

You put-together families with your perfectly pressed shirts and lovely hair and sweet bows, I cannot relate.  I will wear jeans, my kid's hair will likely look like a rat's nest, and I may be pissed off.  Because that "Easy Like Sunday Morning" mantra is heresy.  Satan gets all up in our business about 30 minutes before it's time to load up in the car.  There's often tears, and not just from my child.

Our Jesus-loving, God-fearing family has one 13 year-old member that hates going to church and is annoyed by all things of our faith.  It's a real fun thing to deal with.  (Note: sarcasm is one of my spiritual gifts.)  So, as you can imagine (no, you probably can't imagine), all wild cards are played on many Sunday mornings in hopes of derailing our family's church-goingness.  By the time I plop my butt into a Sunday School chair, I'm spent.  Empty.  As I muttered to my husband yesterday, as chipper couples all around us were all chatty chatty and eating their delicious (not gluten-free) doughnuts, "This is pointless for us to be here."  I felt far too angry and exhausted and frustrated and so on.   I did not want to be there.  However, I knew I needed to be.

I certainly didn't want to be chatty.  I wanted to be in a bubble that was clearly labeled, "Do not talk to me."


I didn't have the energy to be fake happy.  I did not have the energy to shake hands, smile, and say, "I'm fiiiine!  How are youuuu?!"  Gah.  I was limping in, emotionally and spiritually.

And I am not going to fake it and pretend I'm fiiiiine.  Because I wasn't.


A few minutes passed as we sat there in the classroom that we've been attending for a few months now.  To my relief, I only had to exchange brief greetings with a couple of people.  Thankfully, our introvert aura kept us fairly invisible as people made their way to their seats.  Then our teacher came by on his way to the front of the class, stopping to say hello with a handshake.  And out of his mouth came some precious words.

"You look sad," he said in a questioning tone of compassion.

Because I didn't fake saying I was fine.  I simply wasn't.

"It's been one of those mornings." I replied with the ol' one-eyebrow-raised expression, trying not to let a tear slip out.

"I totally get that!" he said with a nod and a smile.  "We have those at our house, too."

On he proceeded to the front.  And I breathed.  That's all I needed.  As my husband and I sat there and soaked in his teaching, the binding grip of the morning's frustration began to ease up.  It in fact was not pointless for us to be there.

If I were to guess, I would say that there are many people within the church's walls on any given Sunday that aren't fine.  Wouldn't it be great if we would all be a little more real and let down that facade just a bit?

Maybe it's not just that being fake is the pits.  Perhaps there is real beauty and freedom to be found in transparency.

The truth will set you free.



Monday, March 24, 2014

On ADHD, a Quiet Monster

Hey, look!  A post not about Haiti.  Because there is more to our family than our adventures in Haiti, so maybe I'll branch out a bit in my writing.  Here goes....

My younger kid has severe ADHD.  Like, legit severe.  Currently we are engaging a battle with that wretched acronym.  Once again, it has snuck up on us and has been creating havoc in our lives without us realizing it was the culprit.  Like a stealthy serpent in the tall weeds.  Oh, how I'd like to take an ax to the head of that serpent.

So I look up and find myself tearfully discussing behavior issues with my kid's counselor, and as I'm listening to the words tumble out of my mouth, I realize that the battle we have been fighting isn't just because my child is making really, really poor decisions.  The lightbulb is lighting up in both the counselor's head and my own.  It's time to change meds.  Ugh.

People that scoff at parents that put their kids on meds for ADHD ("if there really is such a thing..."), well, I want to punch them in the mouth.  I want to invite them over to my house in the mornings, before my kid's meds have kicked in.  I would love for them to try to get her ready for school and see how their blood pressure rises.  I would love to have them over for dinner as her meds are wearing off, but it's yet too early for that nighttime dose....the dose that is the only thing that will allow her to fall asleep before 2 am.

My kid's brain is wired weird.  She needs medication.  She can't function without it.  She has been on medication since she was 4 1/2 years old.  It was absolutely necessary to medicate her at that point, before ADHD killed her.  What?!  Yeah.  Her impulsiveness was so unbelievably severe that she had nearly gotten run over in the parking lot of Burger King.  Came nose-to-tire with a car as she darted away from me.  That incident was the icing on the proverbial cake of ADHD.  I sought help, begged for help.  We had struggled with this brain-wiring glitch since she was 18 months old.  And I can't put enough emphasis on the word STRUGGLED.

One day a few years ago, under the strict supervision of her doctor and counseling staff, we took her off all medications.  We were suspecting that the meds she was on were contributing to some anger issues, which is not cool at all.  My husband and I felt this was our shot to try the no-meds challenge, just to see where she was at as a baseline.  Maybe her brain had rewired a bit?  Maybe she didn't need medication, or at least not as much?  It was worth a shot.  We were hopeful.

Oh. My. Goodness.  Lord have mercy.

Above:  The day she went off meds.
Below:  The next day, back on meds.

This coloring illustrations represents so much.  Not just the lack of control she had over her thoughts, but also her motor skills.  Her mind, and therefor her body, was being harnessed by a mere, thin thread of control.

When the child psychiatrist says, "This child cannot live like this," then you know you're dealing with a serious issue.  It's a bit more than just not wanting your kid to be so wiggly.   

Can you imagine being inside of her mind when it was running at a thousand miles per hour like that?  Scary!  In fact, I asked her how she felt.  She didn't like it at all.  It was a crazy, chaotic place.  That afternoon without medication, I had to take her outside to hopefully burn off some energy before she broke something inside the house.  The poor kid just ran around like a caged animal set free.  She literally ran into a wheelbarrow, bouncing right off of it and hurting herself.  Yeah, she saw the big clunky thing setting there, but couldn't process the "warning: wheelbarrow straight ahead" thought quick enough before she careened right into it.

She pleaded with me to not take her off of medication again.  We began with new meds the next morning, and some peace was restored.  The dosage tweaking was exhausting and took several weeks, trying to find the right combination of a good non-stimulant with the lowest dose of stimulant added in to balance things out.  Every kid is different.  Medication is a crap shoot.

So here we are again, struggling with behaviors that we thought were chosen by our hard-headed kid, but which we now are realizing are a little beyond her range of control.  This ADHD exacerbates and agitates everything - impulsiveness, forgetfulness, judgement, and self control.  Every-friggin'-thing becomes a battle at home.  She's holding it together at school for the most part, though she's definitely struggling there, too.  But from the second she gets into my car after school, her guard is let down (no longer having the pressure to hold herself together) and I get to have a hand-to-hand combat with the ADHD monster.  It is, shall I say, taxing?  Yes, taxing on the sanity is a nice way to say it.

I'm  not even going to share the thoughts I think and the feelings I feel.  I'll just say, it's not a happy Mom place to reside.  It slowly eats away all will to parent well.  Love gives way to the pressing in of anger and frustration.  To say it makes me want to run away and give up on being a grown up is an understatement.  And it's got to be an unhappy place for my kid, too. 

And then I find myself describing our problems to a counselor, seeking help to manage this kid....and I realize that the ADHD monster, the slowly creeping chameleon that it is, has infiltrated our world again and has been manipulating ALL OF US like puppets.  Probably for months.  And we didn't even notice it enter the room.

Tell me ADHD isn't real or that parents that medicate their kids are evil....and you better run.  Momma don't play nice right now.  My patience is shot, and I'm at wit's end.  Post those snotty articles on your Facebook page, and I will delete you.  Critics don't get it, but they are more than welcome to babysit my kid for a weekend, and will then be a believer.  Oh, that's right...critics don't want to actually understand, they just want to spew words of judgement. ((Cue eye roll.))

This life is a journey.  A winding path.
(Wouldn't have DARED taken our kid on a mountainous hike unmedicated.)

Why does my kid have ADHD?  We'll probably never really know.  Doctors and researchers haven't figured it out yet.  However, I do suspect that it's genetic and/or related to her birthmother's use of narcotics in utero.  (In case you didn't know that adoption is part of our story, now you do.  I'll probably soon write about our journey in fostering and adoption.)

This morning, after returning from dropping the kiddo off at school after another morning battle (she didn't sleep last night...no idea why...but we're changing meds around right now, and this is part of the fun, I suppose), I saw this article pop up in my newsfeed:

"Hospitals Treat More Addicted Newborns"   Fantastic.  More kids that are likely facing battles similar (or worse) than ours.  My child fought cocaine while in the womb, at least that's all that we know of.  Cocaine is said to be one of the least harmful of drugs to babies.  Crazy, right?  But then consider what drug epidemics are going on in our region these days.  Like meth.  That's just insane right there.  I'd imagine ADHD will be a lesser of evils that a lot of these defenseless kids will be coping with in the near future.  

So there you go.  We are struggling, but seeking help.  We'll get back on track and some peace will be restored in our home.  I am irritable and currently intolerant of a lot of things right now, but especially sensitive to condescending comments about how it's heresy to medicate a child or "play the ADHD card." 

To be surrounded by an encouraging and supportive community is priceless.  We are incredibly grateful to have our child enrolled in a quality public school where the teachers and administration are extraordinarily compassionate and work with us as a team.  It can not be emphasized enough how vital are good teachers.  They are unsung heros.  Like Ms. M that just sent me a message a few minutes ago to make me aware of how she is dealing with my princess regularly disappearing into the bathroom for 15 minutes (as my kid was secretly texting me from said bathroom to report that she is sleepy).  I am forever grateful for the good Jesus-loving teachers that we have gotten blessed with through the years.  I can't imagine this journey without them.


 Today, like yesterday and tomorrow, we will just keep swimming.  That's all we can do, right?