Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Our son Daniel turned 21 on Saturday. I am so blessed to be called Mama to this man-cub. He was born singing and hasn't stopped since! Daniel has brought us great joy. He has always been my most protective son of me. I have no doubt that when I do get really old he will take good care of me!

Daniel was born with a rare chromosomal disorder. The list of things that could go wrong were quite long. He ended up needing physical therapy starting shortly after birth since his limbs would not move the way they should. His foster Nana and Papa gave him such a great start. When we adopted him at five months of age he already knew us. We had sent individual pictures of all of us and his Nana put them in little plastic frames and showed them to him everyday when he woke up and when he went to sleep. She told him all about us.

When we walked into the room for the first time he smiled and put his arms out ready to go. I will always be grateful for his Nana and Papa. He has brought great joy to my heart. I am so blessed to call him Son.

Thank you LORD for Daniel and what he has meant to our family. Please give him many more years to serve others earth side. In Jesus Name

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, January 23, 2014

True Poverty Part 2

My sister Wendy and I went to Lakewood Park for a 4th of July celebration. The fireworks were always fabulous shot over Lake Erie. As we were walking into the park the sky became a very interesting shade of green. The numerous trees in the park had been shaking all day with the wind but at this moment you could hear a pin drop. The trees were eerily still. It was the calm before the storm. In a split second the roar was so loud it rattled my teeth. Within seconds every tree in the park was uprooted and people were running and screaming. Within a minute or two four of our classmates would be dead and the park looked like a battle zone. Tornado's leave a path of destruction that is incredible.

Left in the wake of destruction like the tornado is hungry children, broken families, teens with no purpose, drug addiction, alcohol addiction and homelessness. Like the tornado that can happen in seconds it can take years to rebuild. In the park we were in that fateful evening it took many years to replant every single tree and have it grow to be strong once again. The lives of those four families that lost their children that day the destruction lives on.

When I look at Haiti I see much destruction. In Haiti most couples never marry. The reasons are many but at the top of the list is a lack of money to get married. The government requires purchasing a marriage license and when you can barely make it to feed yourself it is just easier to shack up. Of course in Haiti shacking up really can be a shack! An intact marriage is rare in Haiti.

Morality is another huge issue in Haiti. Stealing is not seen as wrong. Where I served we had to lock up anything that had any value. Stealing is a huge issue there. The government sees nothing wrong with stealing and the drug lords steal from them to sell to the people. It becomes a vicious cycle. At MamaBaby the issue of stealing had to be dealt with. You could be fired on the spot for stealing the medicines or the supplies for birthing Mama's.

The lack of opportunity is perhaps the biggest challenge over in Haiti. There are no places to flip burgers, no malls to work in, no government jobs. I see the women particularly at risk. Since most don't have a husband to help carry the load they are left to scrounge for food. When they do get food they have to decide if they will eat or will their children eat. Most chose to feed their children instead of themselves.

Education is not free over in Haiti. Our interpreter Claudin is 26 years of age and is just now graduating from high school. Many years his mother didn't have the money to send him to school. Not only do you have to pay for school but you have to purchase the school uniform. Most just don't have the money so most don't go to school. He is one of the rare gems found in Haiti. His mother was a hard worker and she worked to keep Claudin in clothes and food. He dreams of coming to America and going to college. Very few young man have the ambition to make something of their lives. They turn to drugs and violence and many times young women pay the heaviest price.

In my experience over in Haiti most women have lost any hope. On our intake form we had to ask many questions about their lives and health.  Over half of the women did not want to be pregnant and well over half spent their days sad and who can blame them? The future does not look bright for them. They bring babies into the world that they don't want because they know that trying to feed them will be a monumentum task. They understand the risk of having a baby. They have seen Aunts and Mothers die from childbirth, they see their babies die. It is frankly a bleak place.

Not all is lost though. There are glimmers of hope. There are Mama's who want to learn how to care for their babies. They are willing to walk twenty miles to MamaBaby in labor just to have compassionate hands serve them. There are groups who come from the United States to serve the people by training them to garden so they have food, to marry and not sleep around, to have self respect. No, not all is lost.

I remember the story of the little girl on the beach throwing one star fish back into the ocean while hundreds are laying there dying. Someone came up to her and asked why she did what she did since it was hopeless. She replied that for this one star fish she could make a difference. That is my prayer. That we can make a difference to just one. There are hundreds of women and children dying over in Haiti. But to the one we are able to serve it makes all the difference.

Tomorrow I want to talk about the role of government and the church in fighting poverty.
Till then go make a difference in the life of just ONE.
In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

True Poverty Lessons From Haiti

I have been asked by several to share some thoughts on my trip to Haiti. Delivering babies in a third world country is eye opening and I learned a lot professionally. What I really want to share is some deeper observations beyond baby stories. If you are interested keep reading.

While in Haiti I saw poverty unlike anything I have seen in the slums of Detroit or Cleveland. The poorest of our country is rich by world standards. Let me say that again. The poorest of our country is rich by the rest of the world standards.  I get that in the United States we are witnessing class warfare and it makes me sick.

Most of us are reaping what we sow. Now before you throw me under the bus let me explain. We make choices in life that reverberate throughout our lives. Education is one example. Statistically speaking if you chose to get a college degree you will make well over double in salary, than if you chose not to go for higher education. That is a simple fact that neither political party can debate. Getting a good education is your ticket out of poverty. I have encouraged many young men and women who are being raised in a cycle of poverty to rise above and get into school. It can make a huge difference.

Most people in our country have the ability to get food that they have not paid for. There are many churches that have soup kitchens or homeless shelters that provide food. We do have a safety net here in our country and not just one.  In most cities you can be fed. You can also get help getting a place to live. When we served a congregation in Lansing we worked with a woman's shelter. Anyone who stayed at their shelter were given training for jobs and then given apartments that they either paid nothing for or a small stipend. They were also given jobs.

In Haiti there is no safety net. None, zip, zilch, nada. There are no jobs period. The government is so inefficient that the local government building is set in a beautiful park like compound all ready to go but has sat for two years waiting to move in. If the government can't even get their own building up and running what makes you think they can help the population?  There are no food programs.

We would have Mama's come in who were not nursing their babies and when questioned some of them said they were out looking for food. That is true poverty. I set up my own little food program in Haiti after finding out the situation. The 50 pound bag of beans that I bought out on the street had an American flag on it. They were donated bags given by our government that fell into the hands of the drug lords who then sold them out on the streets. The 25 pound bags of rice were the same thing.

You think our country is corrupt you need to go oversees and see what corruption looks like over there. There are no McDonalds to go to and flip burgers. There are no janitorial jobs in schools or garbage collection jobs to get. There are no government jobs or local jobs.

So what is poverty? That is the question we will tackle tomorrow. Until then.
In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gratituesday Honoring a Life

 Indulge me for just a few minutes. Once upon a time there was an adorable little boy. He had the cutest little blue eyes and freckles on his face. When he smiled his whole face lit up. Adversity would call this little boy by name and for a long time the battle raged for this little boys soul. Prayer does an amazing thing. It brings to God's attention that there is a soul who needs extra special care. One so loved that the power of the cross would overcome all adversity. That cute little freckled face boy would grow up and find a soul mate. One who would see beneath the adversity and see great hope.  He would grow to be a man in the LORD, like a tender shoot slowly growing in the warm soil. His sisters would be like the Mom they never had, always praying and always encouraging.

Today I want to honor that man who I call brother on his ?? something birthday. People come and go in our lives but those that know us best can also love us best. I can't think of another soul besides my husband and children who I am more proud of. My brother has been through the fire, literally with me and back. On this 21st day of January I honor my brother. John, may God grant you many more years of good health and service to our maker.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Blizzards and Babies Gratituesday

 What a week it has been. I woke up to the balmy temperature of minus twelve degrees before the windchill factor. It supposed to be a high of zero today but it's doubtful it will even get to zero. We had a wonderful blizzard. We had over 16 inches of the white stuff. The parking lot in our apartment covered the front of all the cars. Most everything is still closed but honestly, who wants to go out?  I am so thankful for a warm apartment. I am certain I wont like the heating bill next month but that's okay.

I was blessed to be a part of a beautiful birth this week. Mama had a C-section at her last birth. She really wanted to have a home birth this time. She was a perfect candidate for a VBAC.The coolest moment was just a few minutes after delivering a beautiful baby she raised her arms up in the air and said to her husband, "honey, we did it". There was pure joy on her face.

Whether you climb a mountain, deliver a baby or conquer your own demons the feeling of accomplishment is huge. I am reminded of the scripture, "I CAN do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Our power comes from the LORD. For that I am truly thankful for.

What are you thankful for today? I would love to know.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year Promise

The idea of New Year's Resolutions sounds hollow to me. A resolution is easily broken. I hate making a resolution and not following through. It seems that resolutions aren't serious contracts. But a promise is a promise. I never promised my children anything unless I was able to back it up and follow through. So this year I am not making any resolutions. However, I am going to make some promises to God my Father.

I have no idea what this new year is going to bring to me personally. Usually I am very thankful that I have no clue what is coming. Some of the decisions I have made over the years would not have been made if I had known the outcome. Thankfully God is so much wiser than me and keeps me in the dark when it comes to telling me what's going to happen next.

I do know that there are things that I want to accomplish and improve on from last year. One thing that I want to improve on is my writing. I want to be more intentional in my writing. Perhaps step on a few toes in order to challenge others to reach beyond themselves. One of the things that was reinforced for me in Haiti is our culture of comfort and fun. Here in the good old US of A we place a high value on fun and comfort. Now before you tune me out, I am not saying we shouldn't have fun. Jesus went to a wedding and had lots of fun. What I am saying is that we tend to center our lives on our own comfort and fun. There is a high value attached to it. To the rest of the world we look like spoiled little brats.

My goal is to challenge you to look beyond yourself and look at the world around you. Who could use a kind word from you? What new Mom could use a meal taken? What children do you know that need to learn the value of serving others? This was really brought home as I was introduced to the T.V. show 19 Kids and Counting. I had heard of the Duggars but never watched their show. The biggest thing I appreciate about them is how they train their children to serve others. They start at a very young age and give them multiple opportunities to serve.

Perhaps you have no children in your home anymore. Do you have grandchildren in your life? There are so many things that we as adults can do that will encourage others to look beyond themselves. Grandchildren need to learn to serve others. Several ideas is to look in your town and see where the needs are. Most towns have police departments. They work 24/7. It doesn't have to be Christmas to bring them a plate of cookies and a thank you for all they do. What about the fire department? One of my favorites is the Ronald McDonald's house. When our second son Richard was critically ill while we lived on a tiny island out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, we were medevac back to the States. We were at Walter Reed for a month. We had no money and knew not a soul in the city. The Ronald McDonald invited us in. I will forever be in debt to them. Taking a meal to the facility is such a blessing. It doesn't matter how young your children are. They can still be a part of the serving.

Do you have luxuries like a boat or an RV? Instead of inviting people who look just like you invite the single Mom or the single Dad out for a day of fun and encouragement. Are you blessed with money? Then bless someone who is struggling through no fault of their own. What about writing one hand written card a month to your pastor or your elders? Nothing says I love you more than a hand written note.

Why don't you join me and reach out to just one person today? Be a blessing to someone else. As believers we are called to be Jesus' hands and feet. Now go out and do something about it.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".