Monday, August 31, 2009

A Legacy

While driving in my car recently I have heard a certain song over and over. Usually this annoys me. I hate when they overplay songs, when you can't turn around without being bombarded by the same melody. Most of the time it's enough to make me want to pull my hair out. But this particular song has touched me. Every time I hear those familiar chords of the beginning I have to just crank it up and sing along!

(don't forget to pause the blog music at the bottom of this page!)

This song is the prayer of my heart.

It feels strange to approach this topic. I almost feel like bringing attention to it disregards everything I am trying to say, but it's come up so often lately that I just need to share.

I am not a good person. I do not go to Haiti and do the work I do because I am so giving and kind and "christian". In fact the reasons for the work I do are 100% selfish. I work in Haiti because I love it. I love every single bit of it. I love the smells, the people, the food, the country as a whole. I love Haiti. That is why I work for her! I was given a passion and equipped to live it out. I didn't chose this path, but I can't deny it. I go to Haiti because I literally can not live without it! I do not go there because I want to do good things, I go there because I want to feel alive! I go there because that's the only time that my chest doesn't ache when I breath in and breath out. I go there because that is where the constant pain in my arms is soothed by the weight of a tiny child. I go there because it's the only thing I really truly love to do.

I know that God uses me in my time there. I know that the things that come about because of the work of His missionaries in Haiti are good. I know that lives are being saved and battles won for our God, but not because of my human body. No, the works I do are not good, but the God that I serve is.

I will never claim to be a good person and it makes me cringe when people think that I am. The truth of it is that not one of us really is a good person. Mother Theresa was not a good person. She was a person who gave fully to God, her sinful self and chose to let him lead. But that didn't take away any of the sins in her life. In the same way, though I am a changed soul, my mind and body still fail. Countless times a day I disgust myself with the things I let take over. The lying, envy and pride that creeps it's way into my heart. The anger and selfishness that overtake me. I want to be different, and in some ways I am, but mostly, I am still the same girl I was, waking up every day in desperate need of a savior. I will never make it on my own.

Does this mean that I think I am an awful person, not at all. Just to get out into the open that I am just like anyone else. Thankfully I have been called and forgiven by a gracious Savior. When He looks into my soul He sees the purity that He has given. But as long as I am in this world I will never be able to live completely in that purity. I can try my best but when it comes down to it, I am completely reliant on the Grace of my Father. How thankful I am for that grace! Because of it I don't have to spend my time focusing on the ways I fail, but can live every day striving to point to the One who has saved my life!

I have heard many times from people what a good thing I do by working in Haiti and of course, everyone needs to be encouraged. But I want to make sure that rather than see me in the work that is being done they can look past and see the One who called me, who prepared me, who created me, who gives me the strength to make sure that not my will, but His be done. The One who truly deserves the credit. I want to live every day to leave a legacy, not of my name but of His grace!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Day To Remember

A video made for Berlancia last year. (Don't forget to pause the blog music at the bottom of the page.)

I had a beautiful day of just remembering B yesterday. I drove up to a reservoir and waterfall site where I released balloons and wrote Berlancia's name on the shore. I spent some amazing, quiet moments remembering a little girl who inspired my life. I took some photos that will probably make their way into Worldless Wednesday this week but for now I wanted to get this video up.

Never Forgotten, Always Missed

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Have Been Inspired

I have been inspired by this sweet little girl...


September 30th 2006 - August 29th 2008

Saturday will bring the one year anniversary of Sweet Berlancia entering heaven. It seems like a lifetime ago but while driving today and thinking about her, it hit me, to B it has been just the blink of an eye. She has forever, with no end, in the presence of our Savior. Could I ever wish her anywhere else?

In honor of Berlancia's memory I want to encourage all of you to make donations to God's Littlest Angels this week. You can go to their website and make a donation or click on my paypal link at the right side of this page. For every $5.00 donated I will enter your name to win this shirt! From the (product) Red collection from Gap, created to help eliminate HIV and AIDS. Just leave me a comment and let me know if you donate between now and next Saturday (September 5th) and I will enter you to win!

Berlancia is in heaven today, and there is no other place I could want her to be, but there are hundreds of thousands of people in our world who are still living with this epidemic. Babies in the arms of their sick mothers, having inherited a disease that will kill them. Women who will die because of a husband who brings home a virus they did nothing to deserve. I can not forget and I can not be silent! Today I can do a little, not a lot, but a little. I don't have thousands of dollars to give to research or the ability to go and nurse these precious ones. But I can honor them. I can give them the respect they deserve. I can do what I can to work for them. So while today I can't do a lot, I will do what I can. I will give what I have and I will chose to remember.

"Berlancia, nou pral sonje ou toujou."

"We will remember you always!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Well, Mostly Wordless Wednesday

In honor of a sweet baby who just received his passport yesterday! L is going home!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


As we pulled into the cemetery following Sabrina's service I noticed a small plaque along the side of the road. It read Babyland. Once again pain washed over my heart. I hate that we live in a world where there is a section of a cemetery dedicated to tiny lives lost. I hate that the plots in that area stretch as far as my eye could see. I hate the broken hearts those little stones represent. Most of all, I hate being a part of the group of those who live a life touched by places like that.

Sabrina's service was beautiful. Every second of it was exactly what we all hoped for. From her sleeping face down to her tiny satin shoes, she looked more beautiful that I could have ever imagined. It was perfect, and it was horrible... I loved every second of it, and I hated it.

I prepared the things I wanted to say but standing up there, next to her and before everyone I lost them all. I had the words I wanted to share but I couldn't get them out. There were so many things I wish I could have remember at that very second. So many moments that are clear as day to me now, but for some reason I couldn't voice that day. There are hours of Sabrina's life and legacy that I just want to shout from the rooftops. The incredible impact a small baby made. Since I couldn't share them that day, I will share them all with you.

As you read here, Sabrina came into my life in a single second that I will look back on as a moment that changed me forever. A baby, sick...dying even, and I was chosen to hold her. Why, I don't know if I will ever understand. But I will forever be thankful! What an incredibly humbling call.

When I found out Sabrina had passed away I was shocked! I think a lot of us were... We were told we probably had years with her, but that was not to be. The pain in that day was overpowering. I cried, I prayed, I talked nonsense words to anyone who would listen and I cried again. But as the hours passed and the tears slowed, a new, almost foreign feeling came over me. A feeling of joy that to some may seem inappropriate. A joy that our sweet girl was now 100% whole and new. A feeling of HOPE in knowing that she was finally HOME. Not the home any of us thought would be, but the HOME that she was created for. On August 20th Sabrina was to move into the house of the Ingle family. She was to join her brothers and sisters. They waited, prayed and HOPED for her. But that was not to be. We know that as much as she was wanted and loved, Sabrina's true home was not in that house but in the arms of her everlasting Father. And now we know she is there.

Until the day before her service I did not know that the Ingles planned to give Sabrina a new name. When I heard I was brought to tears again. She was to be called HOPE. How perfect, how fitting, how GOD! Because we know that Sabrina lives in HOPE. The bible tells us not to grieve as those who have no HOPE. Because we know that the life we live here is not the life we are called and created for. Sabrina was not made to struggle through days of pain and hurt. She was not created to live here for years and years. Sabrina was created to teach us HOPE. She was called to show us that though the life we witnessed may not be what we thought it should, it was perfectly orchestrated by the Father.

As I prepared for Sabrina's memorial I came across a book specifically written for those facing the loss of a child. In it I found a song that touched my heart in a way that happens so very rarely. It is called With HOPE by Steven Curtis Chapman. I sat in stunned silence as I read the words. I knew this song was given to me for this time. The words were written to reach so many, but in my mind, was penned just for us. These are the words...

Steven Curtis Chapman
Speechless (1999)
This is not at all how
we thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
we had so many dreams
and now you've gone away
and left us with the memories of your smile
and nothing we can say
and nothing we can do
can take away the pain
the pain of losing you
But we can cry with HOPE
we can say goodbye with HOPE
'cause we know our goodbye is not the end
oh no
and we can grieve with HOPE
'cause we believe with HOPE
there's a place by God's grace
there's a place where we'll see your face again
we'll see your face again
And never have I known
anything so hard to understand
and never have I questioned more
the wisdom of God's plan
but through the cloud of tears
I see the Father's smile and say well done
and I imagine you
where you wanted most to be
seeing all your dreams come true
'cause now you're home
and now you're free
and we have this HOPE as an anchor
'cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true
so we wait with HOPE
and we ache with HOPE
we hold on with HOPE
we let go with HOPE
We live in a world where a place like "Babyland" is a reality. A painful, heartbreaking, real place that I would rather never know. But it is a place that is a part of my life now. Sabrina is not the first child I have loved who has passed away. One year ago this week Berlancia was swept up in her Daddy's arms. Over the last 12 months I have seen more babies die. I have watched the sin of this world and the destruction it brings in the most painful way. Is there anything more difficult to understand than the death of a baby? Of all the children I have see lost during my time in Haiti, I have attended one service. Sabrina was the only one given a funeral. Children die so often in Haiti that even a basic funeral is not given. I have questioned countless times why God would call me to a mission where these are the things I see. I have cried out to Him in the days where I didn't think I could do it anymore, in the moments where I didn't want to! I still don't understand. Today I know that maybe, just maybe I don't need to. Today I see that God is teaching me new lessons every moment. In the painful times, when I am broken and raw, He touches me. He gives me HOPE. Sabrina taught me so much. And not just me. Sabrina touched the lives of people who God needed to reach. Each of us for a specific purpose. No two of us were learning the same thing from her, but each and every one of us was involved for a purpose. I praise the Lord for the lessons learned!
Our HOPE...Sabrina with the Lord

Sunday, August 9, 2009

In Her Daddy's Arms

Saturday, in the arms of a woman who loved her dearly, Baby Sabrina slipped away.

When I heard the news today it didn't really hit me. I kept myself busy and tried not to think about it. When I was ready, I sat down to remember the life of a little girl who touched my soul. To allow the slide show of the moments I knew her play through my memory.
And now the memories flood...

I first introduced you all to Sabrina here... She came into my life and reminded me once again how different life in Haiti is. I had such an easy time, even there, staying inside our gates and becoming comfortably numb. Sabrina had a story that forced me out of those gates, Sabrina's tiny body pushed me to face the part of Haiti I would rather just not remember. Sabrina was Haiti.

A baby girl who had no chance. Destined to die, whom someone loved. She was given a life because the women who brought her to us couldn't bear the thought of "disposing" of her, as so many do. Sabrina showed me unconditional love. Sabrina taught me what it means to look at a baby who may not be conventionally beautiful and to see an angel. I had moments with her that forever changed my life. During the half hour that I held Sabrina before handing her over to the nurseries I experienced a wave of emotions. Honestly, I didn't know what to think. I knew that Sabrina would not live long. She was very sick. And then she opened her eyes and her gaze met mine. She looked at me and my heart skipped a beat. I knew she was sick, and I didn't care. I knew she would probably not live, but I couldn't even think about it. All I knew was that what I held in my arms was the most precious gift. All I knew that, though she may not live long, she was alive today and for some reason I was chosen to be a part of that life.

What a life it was...
After handing Sabrina over to the nurses I didn't get much time with her. Because she was so sick she was put in a heated bed, attached to monitors, and fed her feedings through a tube. I couldn't pick her up but every night after all the rooms were quiet and the lights had been turned down I would go and sit with Sabrina. I held her hand and stroked her cheek and I prayed for her little body. It was those nights, sitting next to her bed that I was faced with a difficult decision. Even though I wanted to be optimistic, in my heart of hearts I didn't think this baby would live. I could feel my heart being broken for her. I could feel myself being drawn closer and closer every day and sometimes I fought it. It hurts me so badly to admit this but I thought very seriously about backing away from Sabrina a little. I didn't know if I was really strong enough to love a child who was dying. But the choice was not mine. God put her in my life and I couldn't turn away. I thought about her constantly. I couldn't ignore that calling, if anything I fell more in love.

When Dixie, Rebekah (with the Hands That Heal organization) and others on staff began to work towards getting a medical visa for Sabrina I started to hope. Dare I hope? Conversations about Sabrina took on a new tone. People, medical professionals began to sound optimistic. People started to work for her! I began to become optimistic too.

On July 15th Sabrina left Haiti in the arms of a dear friend of mine, Anna. The journey was long, dangerous and scary. So many things could go wrong, she survived. She arrived in Indianapolis and was taken to a local hospital where she underwent a surgery to place a shunt in her head. This would allow the fluid pressing on her brain to drain. She survived. She went to live with a host family and was taken care of in their home. Sabrina was doing well. For 11 weeks Sabrina survived.

I began to breathe easy. The baby I loved was going to live. She was going to a family who wanted her. She was going to have a life!
However God's plans are not our plans. On August 8th, our baby Sabrina peacefully passed away in the arms of her foster mother. She had been having trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital where her breathing became even more shallow and several hours later she passed away.

Shock. Confusion. Numbness...those are the words I have. Not just for me, but for all of us who held and loved Sabrina in her time with us.

Honestly I don't know that I really have any other words right now. I spoke to Rebekah tonight and she told me that they are planning a memorial for sometime next week and she asked me if I would mind writing something. I didn't know if I could do it, but as usual the words were not my own. The following poem is about the women in Sabrina's life who held her. For a few hours, for a few days or for months. The ones God shared His sweet gift with.

God Chose Me

God chose me to hold you close
Sweet baby for a moment or two
God chose me to hold his angel
and I cherish the day He gave me you

I held you child for 9 whole months
The dreams I had may never be known
But I loved you baby I promise you that
I held you until you had grown

I held you while I heard them speak,
the women who loved you so
I held you while your name was given
why God chose me I may never know

I am another who held you close
while God granted us your time
I prepared your feeds and nursed your hurts
For those moments, you were mine

God also chose me to hold you dear
for a season of your days
I carried you as we left the land of your birth
and held you along the way

I held you Sabrina close to my heart
Photographs of you play through my mind
I fought so hard to bring you here
Doing the work God assigned

God called me to hold His child
A baby in need of care
All night and day I watched over you
for that time I was there

God chose me to pick you baby
to keep you as my own
I was to be your mommy here
how I wanted to give you a home

God chose each of us sweet Sabrina girl
To walk your road with you
God placed in our arms an angel of his
Until your time was through

He gave you a life, He gave us a passion
and somehow the two paths crossed
He gave you breath, He gave us vision
And through it your story will never be lost

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Meet and Greet

I have a fun night planned for this Thursday, August 6th at 6pm!

For any of you here in town I would love to have you join me at Hilltop Church in Fergus Falls (just off Highway 210, across from the Prarie Wetlands Learning Center) I will be hosting an evening of pictures, videos and stories from my year in Haiti. There will be a lot of time for question and answeres followed by coffee, cookies and juice.

I thought this would be the best way to be able to see and visit with everyone who supported me so much in the last year! I am so looking forward to seeing each of you!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Today I Miss Him

It's funny to me how different children cross my mind every day...Being at GLA for almost a year I knew all of them. Every single child's face plays through my memory at any given time, but today I miss this one!Sweet little "C". A baby who's photos speak a thousand words. I look at his face and I see "Haiti" the beauty, excitement and pure joy that is the people of my heart. Baby C, never without a smile, is today running through my memory. I miss his greetings every morning. The most amazing way to start my day. I miss his tiny little body held in my arms while the feelings of hope soaked through his skin. I miss his giggle. Today, I miss him and so I will stare at his gorgeous pictures and I will remember...