Saturday, March 29, 2014

The List: Books Wrecking Me (A Snippet)

This is a post I have been promising people to write for about six months. People ask me a lot what I am reading, book recommendations, etc. They, and I, like to call it the "books that have wrecked me"...:)))

As I continue through my giant purge (I really need to get a name for it.), I am reminded that I need to get this post written (sooner rather than later). Don't worry....I am not purging any of my books. ;)

So....I am working on a draft now, but I wanted to give everyone a snippet for those who want to get started checking some of them out.  When I look back, there were three books that started the beautiful spiral...John Eldredge's "Beautiful Outlaw," Brene Brown's "Daring Greatly," and Katie Davis' "Kisses From Katie."  These three books are highlighted, dog-eared, marked up, and banged up. It actually looks like I didn't read them as much as I might have devoured them. To me though, that is the most beautiful sign of a well-loved book.

For me, books have always been a source of new ideas, a time machine, thought-provoking, eye-opening, and a source of laughter, smiles, tears, and hope. Some books I struggle to get through...the ideas so breathtaking (good and bad) that my mind (and heart often) need time to let it all sink in, but eventually I do go back and dive in again. These first three books were difficult reads for me....both due to where I was in my life at the time I read them AND because they forced me to look at myself through a new lens. I have since read all of these, in part, again, and I gain something new each time. To me, that is always the sign of not only a good book, but a book that will stand the test of time.

My father taught me to read before I even entered Kindergarten. I still have two of the books he taught me with, and I will treasure them always; I will always love him for triggering my deep love of books and reading. I still treasure those original books not because of what they say, but because of what they represent. Reading gives us freedom...both inside our own minds...and in this great big world.

While in Haiti recently, I had the privilege of touring Papillon Enterprise founded and run by Shelley Clay. I have a whole post I am working on where I hope to share more of the photos and stories I learned that visit about this remarkable company that is, quite literally, changing lives in Haiti. Rich, the boutique manager, gave our team a tour of the operations, we got to meet the workers, see how they do the amazing and beautiful pieces they create, and I saw something else that brought tears to my eyes...a library. Rich told me that Papillon has the largest library (of books in English) in Haiti. The room was 20x10 if it was a foot, and it was the most beautiful library I have ever seen (and yes, I know that I have walked up and down the library at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland). Papillon's library represents...Hope. Effort. Work.

In the poorest orphanage I have ever visited (and went to this last trip to Haiti), I read a Mickey Mouse book, in English, with full facial animation, and those kids were putty in my hands. They were laughing and smiling...and it was a reminder that words matter EVEN when you don't understand them because you can feel the love (or the hate) behind them.

...and I have digressed...

I love books. I love words. I love books that I don't agree with or even like. Books matter. Words matter. These three books have made me think, challenged me, made me laugh, brought tears, changed me, grown me, and helped me heal. I hope that you will check them out. For those of you waiting for the more exhaustive list, I promise it is coming....the purge is helping me to pile them all up in a special place so that I can list them all out...they are also bringing up a sweet reminder of the growth along the path I have trod these past few years. I am grateful for all of these words that have been delivered to my heart, soul, and mind...the sweetest gift.

I so want to go read right now, but I have more purging to do. Somebody out there read a book for me today. :))))

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Life Compared to Playground Equipment

I am hurting.

I have been grasping for my big girl panties since returning from Haiti last Friday, and they are clearly misplaced, out of reach, too small....gone.

One of my friends called me last night to check in with me after getting a text message from me checking on them (a sure sign the apocalypse is upon us all...I am making a dent in voice mails, e-mails, and text messages). Their first, "How are you?" was like someone had dropped the atom bomb on the Hoover Dam. The slow wait for the bomb to strike, explosion, and then water everywhere...I was a hot mess of tears and emotions. I am confident that they instantly regretted making the call. Bless their hearts. Truly.

This afternoon I am sitting in the lobby of my favorite doctor's waiting room for my six month check-up appointment. I am struck looking around this packed space at how blessed I am to be healthy (barring any surprises from my blood work today) and that I have access to heath care. I can't help thinking of this little boy named Wood who I met in Haiti at a school we visited on the coast. He was obviously sick and too weak even to feed himself. He crawled into my arms, and I proceeded to get water and snacks into him. One bite at a time. One drink at a time. It broke my heart.

When I said good-bye, I found myself trying to be brave as I packed his sister's backpack with water and snacks. I then gave extra hugs and kisses. As I watched them walk down the dusty path towards their home, I fell apart, and bless my friend who just let me cry. I am still haunted by thoughts of did someone tuck him into bed that night, tend to his fever, is he okay??? I don't know that I will ever forget his face. I pray not.

This girl is struggling. I am struggling to digest and understand all that I witnessed. I am struggling to grasp even a teeny tiny bit of control over my emotions. I am struggling to not bore my friends and family with stories from my trip....worried I will talk too much, start blubbering uncontrollably (already happened three times), or wear out the patience of people who love me and have patiently walked with me this past year as Haiti has broken me again and again, and now a third time. Will I wear out their patience with me? I worry.

I struggle to find words. How do I properly paint the picture of the beauty beyond words coupled by heartbreak that took my breath? How do I do all of that justice? I want to be fair to the gift I received in being allowed access to so much...experiencing so much. I also need to tell more of Tacura's story. A story that is showing me yet another layer of the complicatedness that is Haiti. Solving the problems there is not as simple as throwing more money at the problems, adoption, more people helping, etc. Haiti needs to be addressed with a scalpel not a machete. I problem-solve for a living. I am struggling with not only how to discern all of that knowledge, but how I can be of I to be of use? Where is God in it? Where is God in my own story? What does God want me to learn and discern in all of this?

Questions? Questions? Questions?

Where are the answers???

In time. Get ready. Stop worrying. The whispers of my soul...

I think this post is about me asking for grace from all of you. This is also a post where I ask for prayers.

When I was a little kid, there was this spinning disc thing at the park. It had bars on it that someone or many would hold onto, run as fast as we could, and then jump on, and then lay down while the whole world spun above us. It was exhilarating, and I loved it. The faster the better. A couple of times, I got sick, but it never stopped me from jumping back on and doing it again.

My life feels a lot like that spinning disc. I ran hard, jumped on, and it is moving super fast, the whole world is above and around me, and it is thrilling....but I am feeling a little nauseous. I don't want it to stop, but I do want to throw up every once and awhile to make the ache in my belly go away. Then, I will be good to go again.

Let me be clear. My life is JUST like that spinning disc thingy right now.


In an hour, or three, the doctor will call me back to give me my blood work results. He will kiss me on the forehead. Yell at me about going to Haiti (not a fan of overseas travel). Give me a grade (A+ - F) for my results. Hug on me. Send me on my way.

I don't want to love on these adults and children in Haiti, hug them, encourage them, and then move on with my life. I want to be a part of the solution, move the needle, make a real difference...what does that look like for me? my life?

James 4. #mindblown

Sometimes when God reveals to you a new passion, buried passions, dreams, etc...he goes slowly, peeling it all back one layer at a time. To show us everything would scare us silly and...Take. Us. Out. Jen Hatmaker refers to it as pulling the string. My string has been pulled. Clearly. 😳

My challenge to each of you is to pull on the string in your own life. What is the dream you have always held close? What scares you to death? Who has been pestering you to go somewhere...try something? Take a deep breath. Acknowledge that these are hints. Jump out there. One ticket. Push that disc thing, run hard, then jump on, and ride. Arms wide open, spinning, gut churning...Live. ❤️☀️ 

*By the way, I went to Google and the disc thing is called a roundabout. 😜

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Heart Exposed

I am a big believer in signs and wonders. I don't believe that heart rocks, heart clouds, heart-shaped potato chips just happen to cross my path (sometimes literally) for no reason. So when I turn my IPod on and hit shuffle as I leave on a trip, arrive from a trip, or when I am simply going through something...I see it as words and music being given to me for a special purpose...and I am compelled to listen. Repeatedly.

Today upon saying good-byes to Hilde as she headed home after our seven day vision trip in Haiti, I turned on my IPod and hit shuffle, and this was the first song to play I Stand Before Almighty God Alone. I posted a link to a YouTube video in case you want to take a listen. Consider yourself warned. In the best ways.

The words took me out...and then the line " heart is now exposed..." to which began the first of many post-Haiti meltdowns.

I hear you. Crystal. Clear.

There is so much to download and process from this third (unbelievably) trip (in less than a year) to Haiti...that I am overwhelmed simply by that small to do (downloading and processing and dealing with the aftershocks (aka re-entry)) that must be done...yet as I sit here tonight on my deck listening to the noises of the city, feeling the cool breeze, sipping a glass of wine, listening to this song on repeat-hitting shuffle again-then coming back to hear it again, wiping away tears, laughing at funny memories, and missing my Sis who I have been with in lock-step for the past eight days...I am struck...

It really is just me and him.

My God and I (as the old gospel hymn goes).

*Deep Breath*

His love has never changed. He knows me. I yield my need to cast the blame or stone. I have given up, my heart is now exposed. All the rights I've called my own. Everything I have believed. All of my hope is with thee. There's mourning breaking on a hill. The quiet dawn with peace and still. My restless heart is now at home. (THOSE. Words.)

One of my friends re-posted a video I made of a little girl in Haiti and it struck me that they referenced Haiti as "my church"...and there is a lot of truth to that. Haiti is teaching me deeper and more profound lessons about Jesus than a church or pastor ever has (and that is not intended to insult some of the fantastic pastors I have had in my nearly 43 years), but the hard, difficult truth is that you cannot go to Haiti and then read your Bible and then interpret the scripture the same. Let me be clear. I cannot. Cannot. Will. Not.

I truly didn't believe God could/would allow my heart to be wrecked more, but he has. He. Has. I am clueless to what the lessons are...the changes that are coming (small or large)...the after shocks that I will endure, but I know this...I stand before almighty God...alone. Alone.

The past few years have been wrenching (in lots of ways). In some ways, a roller coaster that I neither was prepared, or wanted a ticket, for...*Sigh.* The day I flew to Haiti, another chapter of my old life closed...ever so softly, with no fan-fare, or thank you very much, or even a whimper. Nothing. Like an empty boat slipping off to sea...until the horizon absorbed it stem-to-stern. The timing was breathtaking. I told only Hilde..quietly...on the plane to Haiti, wept a little, and then I turned my eyes forward...knowing that God has me and my heart in his strong arms...and he knows the course, not I.

Fast forward....

Day 5 of our trip, our bus finally (FINALLY!) pulls into Source de la Grace...the orphanage where Tacura lives. Fear washes over me like a wave crashing...suddenly aware that he might have forgotten me, be gone, etc. I take a deep breath. My heart is bursting for Hilde to meet this little child who has wrecked her sister's heart and turned all of her beliefs, thoughts, plans, etc. upside down. I hit the first step of the bus, look out to all of the beautiful children gathering to greet us (waiting to be hugged and loved on...if even for a little while), and I hear "Tacura!!" and look to see a boy I recognize pointing at me, it is Kaleb who I remember from my previous visits. Kaleb grabs my hand and pulls me off the bus and starts walking me towards the area where the boys rooms are...and I am staring at him in disbelief as he continues to say, "Tacura! Tacura!" as he points at me while also shouting it out as if he is calling out to Tacura to come to him. We get to the entrance of one of the buildings, and I look up/in, and there is Tacura walking towards the doorway. Our eyes meet, and I swear time went in slow motion, and he ran to me, arms wide open, huge grin on his face, and jumped into my arms. I proceeded to black out for a moment. Then started laughing and crying as Kaleb beamed at what he had brought together, and we are all three grinning like three cats full of canaries. And if there was nothing that could ever touch my heart more, I look at Kaleb and asked the obvious question (and note that Kaleb knows some English), "How did you know? Why? What the what the (okay...not the last part)???"

...and Breathe....

Kaleb says without a single moment of hesitation, "He loves only you."

Insert here whatever you think my reaction external or internal was....I blacked out again.

Kaleb, Me & Tacura, March 2014

I may not be a woman who is loved in all of the traditional senses, a great love, children of my own, or a list of other deficiencies and labels this world (and too often the church) puts on women like me, but let me clear...there are children, and specifically a child, who I offered nothing but a big smile, arms to be wrapped up in, a journal to write and draw in, and ridiculously horrible Haitian Creole...and they, he, made/makes me feel loved, worthy, needed, and necessary.

A note/gift from Tacura to me, "Jesus loves you...Tacura, Ardo
(that is how he pronounces Heather), and Kaleb (his best friend).
March 2014

Now...ugly (heaving) crying...

Deep. Breath.

We are commanded to take care of the least of these, but let my life of late be a is in taking care of the least of these that you gain your very LIFE.

I have given up, my heart is now exposed.

It took a small country, and an even smaller little boy, to teach my heart what no book or lecture or mentor or pastor had ever come life is not about me, expectations put on me (sometimes by me), or worldly concerns or labels, everything is going to be okay, and someone out there really does needs me and loves me in a way that time and distance can NEVER change...and sometimes that someone comes in the body of an eight year old boy in Haiti.

My heart is exposed.

Pray for me. I sit here stronger yet more deeply shattered than I can find words for...missing so much...

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)