Saturday, May 5, 2012

Miss Kari

I feel life I have known Kari Hamilton all of my life. I haven't. In fact I have only spent one short week of my life with her in person.

Kari is spunky. Kari is a woman of God. Kari has a heart bigger than the universe.

That week I spent with was in Haiti. I witnessed a fearless girl (mongoose not included)love like I have never seen anyone love. She didn't care about scabies or if what she was eating was really a fried chicken leg.I am most impressed by her ability to love. It is so genuine, so pure, so Christ-like.

When we left Haiti we were all going back to families, jobs, etc. Kari was going back to a job and her final semester of her Masters in Social Work. Except she didn't leave with us. She stayed behind to help care for a sweet baby boy who had arrived at the orphanage a couple of days before our departure literally on death's door. Kari, a bright, young professional, put her life on hold for a tiny baby she would probably never see again once she left approximately a week later.

This same girl, with the same amazing love will be spending her entire summer in Uganda working with Exile International helping former child soldiers and 60 Feet. I do not doubt for a fraction of a second that Kari is going to change lives in ways that would blow our minds.

Kari would be the first to tell you that she cannot love big all on her own. She has the guidance and protection of he Heavenly Father. And, hopefully, your support. Please checkout Kari's blog and support her amazing ability to minister by donating $25 and entering her iPad giveaway.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Miss Addison

Meet precious Addison!

In December of 2011, just a few short months ago, Addison was a very sick little girl. Shortly after she turned a year old her milestones started receding. She began to lose her ability to walk and talk. Her short life had already been filled with more than her share of doctor's office visits for digestive issues. This being their 3rd child, her parents were determined to find answers one way or another.

A few days before Christmas Addison was diagnosed with yolk sac carcinoma. The tumor was in and around her spine. Almost immediately she was taken on a several hour ambulance ride to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis. As you can imagine, the entire family had their world completely turned upside down at what was suppose to one of the happiest times of the year.

Addison and her family were engulfed by the love and support of friends and family back home. More importantly, they were engulfed by the wonderful news that is St. Jude. I could try to explain all of the amazing things the doctors and staff have done, but there is no way I could do it justice!

All I can do is ask you to do a little something to make sure that kiddos like Addison whose families find them in desperate situations have every thing and more that hers did. Addison and her sweet Momma Mindy are featured in a special promotion at The Loft (Ann Taylor).

The Loft Cares card is $25, 90% of the purchase price goes to St. Jude. The card is then good for discounts at The Loft.  Visit your local store or click here to order online. You might just be lucky enough to get a card featuring Addison's artwork! Regardless you will be helping families feel loved during one of the most difficult times of their lives!

One last thing...Addison and her family will be seeing this post, so leave them encouraging message in the comments and most of all please remember Addison in prayer as she recovers for what we are believing and trusting will be her final chemo treatment!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Unfixable, but Lovable (Simply Love - Haiti)

This is not the post I had intended to write as the next of my series. However, here I am. Words on my brain, Haiti on my heart, tears in my eyes and passion in my soul.
Our trip to Haiti wasn't a let's-show-the-Haitians-the-way-we-would-do-things-in-America type of experience. It wasn't the intention from the start. That way of thinking never crossed our minds. We immersed ourselves in Haitian ways of life for eight days, no questions asked (except for the cold showers). This trip was not a fix-it-quick mission.
Our trip was about loving people right where they were, no matter the circumstance. Please don't get me wrong...we fixed and helped where we could, when we could, how we could. We took baby formula for infants with sick or deceased mothers. We bought food for an orphanage. We provided an orphanage with a water filtration system. We made connections to fix a well pump so the children at an orphanage wouldn't have to haul via 80 feet out of a well with rope and a bucket. We put a roof on a dining hall. We made connections for a baby with a cleft palate to have surgery. We sat up a makeshift NICU and cared for a tiny baby that, by all odds, shouldn't have lived through that day let alone another week.
Yesterday we received word that twins part of our team visited during the trip passed away. They were healthy which makes their deaths suspicious. It is speculated they were poisoned under the care of a witch doctor. I am told this common in families involved in voodoo. We will never know whether it was intentional or accidental.
I mentioned the baby, Julie, with the cleft palate. If I recall correctly surgery is tentatively scheduled for April. Today we learned Julie and her mother are both hospitalized with cholera. In Haiti cholera is deadly.
So today I thought a lot about Haiti. I thought about how much I wanted to fix it. I want to fix voodoo. I want to fix cholera.
I can't fix these things. They are not fixable. They ARE lovable.
The uncle of those twins is being loved on right now. He is a Christ follower. If you and I love him through prayer God will take care of the rest. Those twins are resting in the arms of Jesus. Their uncle has an opportunity to witness to an entire family. I cannot fix it, but I can love.
I cannot fix sweet, tiny Julie and her precious Momma. I can love them, by petitioning my God, the Great Physician to heal them.
We cannot box up all of our American ways and conveniences and dump them in Haiti. It will not fix anything. We can love Haiti let God do only what He can do to bless these people right where they are at this very moment.
Please join me in loving Haiti. Go if you can. Give financial support if you can. But most of all pray! Pray for God to touch the Haitian people in a mighty way!
"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people." Acts 2:17

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Slaying Giants (Simply Love - Haiti)

We all have giants in our lives. Even though they are huge, massive, ginormous and is funny how we can learn to live with them rather peacefully. Most of the time, as long as you don't talk about them or recognize their existence, they just live quietly in your every day life.
A couple of my giants were very disturbed by my trip to Haiti. This means I have been forced to face them in a big way. I am not going to hide them anymore. This is my public outing of the pain they have caused me. They pain I refuse to let continue.
My first weight.
Our Haiti team has a private Facebook group. It was an incredible way to get to know the 16 or so other people on the team. I was able to get to know 13 amazing women and a 3 incredible men of God before we even met in real life.
However, it occurred to me very quickly that I was going to be the FAT GIRL on the trip. I went on a super low calorie diet (not the healthiest choice) three weeks before the trip and lost 15 lbs. Yay, great for me...but I was still the FAT GIRL on the trip.
I was embarrassed. Every. Single. Day.
There was always something to caused me to hear trash talk from this giant in my head.
Stepping on the scale at the airport.
Hiking my fat tushy up into the back of a pickup truck. (I am short in addition to fat.)
Not being able to do the physical labor required to help with the dining hall roof.
Hiking up a significant Haitian speed bump.
If that wasn't enough, there are now a couple of dozen photos of the FAT GIRL on Facebook for all 514 of my friends to see. (Although I didn't take note to know for sure, I am pretty certain I may of lost a few FB friends from the photos of the fat, pale white girl in the tank top photos.)
Oh, and on the very last day in Haiti, I am almost certain a Haitian man mumbled "FAT GIRL" as he passed me on the sidewalk. I realize it was probably a warm greeting in Haitian Creole, but my brain heard FAT GIRL in English.
Other than sharing my weight issues with a few friends before my trip it was pretty much a silent battle with the weight giant. My other giant was much more visible.
I have battled anxiety attacks since I was a kid. It has only been in the last few years I have realized my uncontrollable episodes were anxiety attacks. I have medication and methods to deal with them that work most of the time. It didn't work so well in Haiti.
Upon arriving at the airport in Port Au Prince we were shuttled in the back of a "caged truck" to the gated neighborhood in which our gated guest house sat.
When I say gated, please don't confuse that with a pretty ornamental iron fence. Think more solid concrete wall about 8 feet high.
So, my first time outside of the U.S., I am taken via cage inside a prison wall, and behind another wall to a smaller prison. This was all for our safety. I knew that then and I know that now. I never questioned that. I was very thankful for it. However...
Anxiety set in. When I have an anxiety attack the nervousness quickly gives way and becomes uncontrollable crying. Within 30 minutes of arriving at the guest house I was a snot-covered basketcase. I just wanted to GO HOME.
Except for the fact that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God wanted me in Haiti, on this trip, with these people.
Our team gathered for a pow-wow that first night. As we started to pray, I stepped up and faced my giant. I explained to the team what was happening to me. I asked them to pray over me. They did and the giant slowly started to die.
Another team member encouraged me to take a 24 hour break from any contact with my family. Before I did that I contacted my small group and asked for prayer. They delivered in a big way. Not only did they pray they fasted for 24 hours. Before that 24 hours was up, my anxiety giant was completely dead.
I realize my anxiety giant will probably come back to life at some point. But, I am prepared to kill it. My weight giant...that one isn't as easy. There isn't a pill I can take. Breathing techniques will not help. But I want to kill my weight giant. I will confess, I don't know how...but it WILL happen.
I say all of this to actually say...stop living with sleeping giants. Wake them up. Go to battle. They do not deserve any piece of your life. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be free of giants..."So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through." John 8:36 The Message

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Elvis is NOT dead!

On my way to work this morning I stopped at WalMart. The one near my office.
Elvis was checking out in the 20 item or less lane.
It was early. My reflexes were not quick enough to snap a photo.

Not only is he alive, he shops at WalMart.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ready to Go - Almost

I have spent the last six months fundraising for my Haiti trip. I have worked really hard. All of my friends and family can verify that. I trusted God and nearly half of the funds for my trip were donated in one lump sum. Nothing short of a miracle and one of the biggest blessings in my life!

I will head for the airport in just over two weeks. Packing my bags will be a breeze. The most important part is preparing my heart and mind. I am spending a ton of time in prayer. I want to serve while I am in Port Au Prince and Pignon. However, and please don't take this as me being full of myself, I feel God will change me more than I will impact any single person in Haiti.

I am finding missions is a tough balance between letting God work through you while He works in you. I am anxious. I am anxious to see what God has in store.

Please join me here on my blog as I share my journey.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Most Favorite Time of the Year

Happy July!

July is my favorite month of the entire year! Fireworks, family, homemade ice cream, summer heat and running through the sprinkler!

When I was a kid all of our extended family would gather at my Aunt's house. We would enjoy the company of one another and light some fuses on some fantastic fireworks. I have two very distinct memories about those get-togethers. 1) Falling off the swing set and having the wind knocked out of me for the first time ever. I pretty much thought I was dying! 2) The fireworks! I don't remember the big ones or the bottle rockets. I remember this little things called Flower Chasers or something like that. We would sneak up behind my Grandpa while he sat in his folding chase lounge, the one with the small plastic tubing stacked up the front and back, and light those suckers and take off running. I am sure we were giggling to no end and he knew exactly what was coming, but he acted surprised every single time. He would whoop and holler and take off in a scooty little run with his arms waving in the air. We loved every minute of it! And when I say we I feel completely comfortable including my Grandpa.

My favorite and only sister was also born in July two days before my Grandpa's birthday. I love how we finally grew up and stopped fighting like a cat and dog. The two of us are as opposite as two blood relatives could possibly be. The last several years have allowed both of us to grow to appreciate those differences. I think one of the best examples of that is when I told her we were going to become foster parents. Her reaction: "I think you are crazy, but I am not going to tell you not to do it." We get each other.

July, my most favorite time of the year, eight years ago, T and I welcomed into this world the most precious little boy I could ever imagine. If you have met Mr. A-man I am 99.9% sure he has captured a special place in your heart. Words really don't do this child justice. He truly is one of a kind. One day when we are all in Heaven together I will introduce him to his Great Grandpa. At that moment I expect to find some Flower Chasers in my pocket and show A-man how to have a little fun with Papa!