Friday, December 24, 2010

Abundant Life

"I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10

1. present in great quantity; more than adequate; oversufficient: an abundant supply of water.
2. well supplied; abounding: a river abundant in salmon.
3. richly supplied: an abundant land.

Life more abundantly. Abundant life. I've been pondering this phrase for quite some time now. I don't think I want, really want, an abundant life. No. I don't think many of us want an abundant life and if I had to choose a substitute I would go with adequate. I want an adequate life. Adequate as in enough. I want enough money. I want enough time. Enough patience. Enough rest. Enough testing to still warrant my own sense of piety but with it enough faith to come out unshaken, unscarred.

But Jesus didn't offer an adequate life. In fact, the only thing adequate about Christ was his death and payment for my sin. It was enough. But everything else in the realm of following Him is wrapped up by this notion of abundance. And 2010 as much, way more than...any other year shed a sometimes unflattering light on this abundant life.

This is not a life that follows a straight, manicured, well-illuminated path. It's more like the yellow brick road full of dark forests, deceptive poppy fields, and some downright terrifying flying monkeys--but made easier to traverse by the company of good friends.

Our joys this year have been abundant. Celebrating milestones like weddings and graduations. At times we have laughed so hard our sides hurt and are hearts have been full to overflowing. Abundant smiles.

Our sorrows this year have been abundant. Grieving the loss of thousands, hundreds of thousands, in a country so dear to us barely a year ago. Fearing for and grieving with our dearest friends and loved ones of those lost. Weeping over the loss of one precious, tiny life just a few short weeks ago. At times we have cried so hard our bodies ached and our hearts felt broken beyond repair. Abundant tears.

And to be perfectly honest, we've had more than enough, an abundance, of doubts and questioning. Times that our trust was so weak and our faith so shallow our own skepticism threatened to swallow us up. Abundant confusion.

Many of you have been good company. You've walked with us and helped us fight off those proverbial "lions, tigers, and bears" of uncertainty, fear, and spiritual attack. You've prayed for us, encouraged us, supported us. Abundant gratitude.

Looking back on the year, I see that all of this --ALL OF IT--is part of the abundant life that Christ gives; the storms and swells as much as the still moments. Even David's "quiet waters" were marked by "darkest valleys."

But I have this regret. That far too often I lost sight of the most important thing. The abundance of God's presence.

I don't want another year like 2010. Many of you may share this sentiment. I'd rather that no one face overwhelming natural disasters, that no one die a senseless and tragic death, that no one suffer injustice or abuse... the idealistic wish list could go on for days. And so mostly, I don't want another year of overlooking His abundant presence. His sufficient grace. His boundless mercy.

Whether 2011 is a frightful raging sea, a playful babbling brook, or deep still waters I want to (and may need occasional reminders to) remember, live in, and cling to the knowledge that God's love, my Savior's love, His very Spirit in me is adequate...sufficient...boundless....ABUNDANT!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Deep in the Heart of Texas

If you've been following this blog or our ministry blog for any great length of time, then you already know our connection to and affection for Haiti. You are probably also familiar with a some of our favorite people on the planet --Troy and Tara Livesay and their crew.

Saturday morning, we will be boarding a plane headed for Texas to spend a few days with these people who claim to love us but have never managed to hit NC soil to prove it. It's all good though because we need to enjoy being the better people in at least one friendship and Troy and Tara provide ample opportunity. ;-)

As Tara mentioned here, Tim and Troy became instant bff's after finally meeting just last year despite the fact that most men of their age and station in life would go to great extremes to avoid such an effeminate reference. It works for them without being too creepy. Sort of. =)

Since we saw them last summer MUCH (understatement) has happened. Their adopted home country being ravaged by an earthquake and their displacement in the States being top of the list. And while we know that they know that we love them and have been praying for them --this trip is not about them; it's about us. :-) And we will feel better after getting to see, love on, and squeeze them in person.

Aside from all the excitement about our visit, I am also experiencing a level of apprehension over the flight(s) that await me. I don't love to fly. I've stated this fact many times. It has not changed. Tim LOVES to fly. He flew often as a child and enjoys it immensely. He loves planes, knows lots about them and loves the whole shebang. He will be comfortable sipping soda and listening to pod casts while munching down the complimentary trail mix. I will be practicing shallow breathing, clenching my fist, and trying not to look like I'm about to spew while chanting my flying mantra "I will NOT throw up in a paper bag!" He will at some point attempt to chat with me about some random bit and I will smile sweetly while shaking my head "no." No as in do not talk to me, do not touch me, and for heaven's sake do not interrupt the "I will NOT throw up in a paper bag" mantra. Okay, maybe that's all a slight exaggeration but still, I do not love flying.

Additionally, I do not love "advanced imaging technology." I am not looking forward to the new screening process of having my x-ray silhouette examined by some remote security agent. Though I choose to believe that said remote security agent is not looking forward to it either. I've read lots of articles, blogs, etc. about the controversy and I get why people are wary but seriously, is it necessary to assume that all TSA agents are perverted, x-cons and sex offenders who signed onto the job as soon as they heard the words "invasive pat-down"? Did TSA break protocol and seek out new employees by posting a classified ad for people to "feel up airline passengers?" I don't think so. I choose to believe the whole thing is uncomfortable for ALL parties involved and for that reason, I will be polite, compliant, and respectful although...

I am fighting the urge to write on my belly with a metallic marker: "I SEE YOU LOOKIN'!"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Stylin' and Profilin'

A couple of days ago I enjoyed a nice hairstyling moment --with my middle son. Yes. Isaiah. The gargantuan child brushing my hair ever so carefully and securing it with a clip. Does that read as oddly to you as it feels in real life for me?

It's not that I don't consider cosmetology a worthy profession. I've seen Barber Shop for crying out loud. I know that this is a decent and respectable role for a strong, black man to pursue. And supposing my boy grows up to be a stylist for the stars, that will rock and my love and support for his accomplishments will be sincere...eventually...after some processing time and a small measure of unsuppressed snickering behind his back.

You see, ever since this precious boy was a mere 6 months old but being squeezed into 2T clothing, we have been banking on the notion that he would someday take the world by storm as a renowned athlete, use his prestige for God's glory, give back to his community, and well, maybe just maybe, set his folks up with a sweet little bungalow beach house on a private island in the tropics. =)

Superbowl ring? Sure.
NBA championship? Heck yeah.
2024 Olympics? You betcha!
Cover of Cosmopolitan? uh....gulp.

Maybe he can do both, I muse to myself as he palms my head before brushing the hair back out of my face. Yeah. And that way, when he flashes a "Hi Mom!" poster during the Superbowl and the camera pans my way for all of two seconds, I will be beaming with pride and sporting perfectly sculpted hair! A mom can dream, right?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is there a counselor in the house?

Life can be pretty crazy and I suppose we all have coping mechanisms of one sort or another -those little things we do to reboot, regroup, recharge, unwind, etc. For some of us, it's a glass of wine and dark chocolate (thank you Juli Bourden for reinforcing this one) but for three year olds it looks a little different.

I know of kids who have imaginary friends. Bella has never had one of these though she does go through occasional seasons of being her own imaginary friend named "Maddie." And her imagination sometimes confuses us -like when she says to Tim, "Daddy, you be the dad." It's typecasting, we know, but either way those drama days of high school really pay off. Tim totally rocks the "dad" role; very convincing.

But now Bella has taken coping to a new level. She's become a dog. Her name is Titan or Cooper (real names of real dogs) depending on her mood. She crawls on all fours. Kennels herself in an invisible crate which she insists must be locked lest she escape and she loves to do tricks. It got a little weird yesterday when we had company and she came crawling into the living room and said, "Mom, tell me to sit so I can get a treat." She continued to practice her obedience training as well as fetch. Fortunately, the company found it more cute than disturbing.

And it was... until this morning. She came into the bedroom first thing and already in character. Tongue hanging out, on her hands and knees, panting. I told her that I was really hoping to see Bella for a good morning hug and kiss. No change. So, then I suggested that "Titan" could go and find Bella and bring her back for some morning love. She headed out the door in search of ...herself. Tim shook his head. "I can't believe your playing along to convince our daughter not to be a dog." I didn't have much time to ponder it since Bella, er Titan, returned at that moment. Still crawling. "Where's Bella?" I asked. "She didn't want to come" came the reply.

I knew we'd have to pay for counseling at some point. I didn't expect any of them to crack so early. If she doesn't return to her human persona soon we will schedule her psych evaluation and I will need more dark chocolate. In the meantime, she is awfully cute and quite frankly, she's the best dog we've ever had! =)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lemon Broccoli

Oh, how quickly it can all go wrong! In the middle of cooking supper (read: cooking, chasing pre-schoolers in and out of the house, yelling at boys for wrestling like maniacs in the living room, monitoring neighbor children who are way too zealous about using the sharp knives to "help" me, and finishing up one young lady's science homework) I had a...well, what my grandma would've called a spell. Yep, I had a spell. I was suddenly hot, sweaty, nauseous with stomach cramps and a pulsing headache. No idea what prompted it (not counting the stress of the above mentioned chaos coupled with stifling heat as we try to save money on a/c).

I went down hard. An hour, a quickly cooled house, and two ibuprofen later, I woke up to my poor hubby trying to manage the hooligans and finish the dinner I had abandoned mid-prep. It was 7:15 pm. We don't usually eat that late. The domino effect. He had roasted the broccoli and cauliflower nicely but expressed concern that he hadn't put enough olive oil on it and it wasn't quite the way I make it. No biggie. He had also made a last minute decision to roast some chicken. So, we were waiting for that when Tim answered a phone call.

I decided to put on a pot of pasta to supplement in case the chicken wasn't ready until midnight. I reached up in the spice pantry for my sea salt and noticed a bright yellow can of "Lemon Scented Dusting Spray" (that's the super creative name for generic Pledge). I retrieved the can from the cabinet and handed it to Tim with what I thought would register as a what the heck is this doing in the spice cabinet? look. Turns out facial expressions do not translate nearly as well when one of you is on the phone and not really paying attention -justifiably so. Also turns out that the what the heck is this doing in the spice cabinet? look strongly resembles the here, maybe this will spice up the broccoli look. yup.

Oddly enough, I like lemon on broccoli. But I definitely prefer the fresh squeezed sort verses the "lemon scented" version with the poison control warning on its label. The broccoli was trashed. The little people ate cereal. And the rest of us scarfed down buttered pasta and piping hot chicken that will surely haunt us in our sleep tonight.

Anyone want to join us for dinner? We'll begin taking reservations soon. =)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Single Square

Question. What would you do for a single square of toilet paper?

Random, huh? But seriously think about it for one sec --what would you be willing to do?

If you happen to be sitting at your computer with a settled stomach and the (taken for granted) knowledge that there's a value pack of "big roll" tucked in the bathroom closet, cupboard, pantry; you probably can't imagine taking extreme action to secure a small sampling of quilted 2-ply. And that scratchy, generic, 1-ply stock offered at most public facilities???? Willing to go to great lengths to chafe yourself with that stuff? I doubt it.

Then again, we've all been there. The mall, the library, gotta go real bad, you plop down and aahhhhh, then glance over and "aw, snap!" Ah, well now that's a different story. Suddenly, toilet tissue, no matter how thin or stiff, is a prized possession. So much so that you will grab that sad little brown tube and start meticulously peeling off tiny pieces --the ones that stick to the glue -- and stacking them together into something resembling a cotton cosmetic pad that you can only hope has as much absorbency. You've done it, you know you have! =)

In some cultures none of this would be relevant. You'd just squat in the street and move on. But here in the good ol' US of A, we are a little more particular about our bums. (Though perhaps not particular enough by some standards. Check out this interview with the author of The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters for an interesting read.) We've traveled the path from pink and blue --Vagisil would like to express their sincere thanks--to quilted, to aloe infused, to recycled. Buffing our bottoms is big business.

By now, you're thinking, Amie, what the crap are you talking about? (couldn't resist that one) I'm talking about this...all joking aside:

Every other Thursday we volunteer at a local food pantry distribution at Faith Baptist Church. It is one of my favorite things. Overwhelming, heavy, leave feeling both glad to have helped and utterly helpless at the same time FAVORITE thing! The economy continues taking a toll and this is more than evident by the ever-increasing number of families coming for help. The need is great. There are families sitting in the worship center of the church who do not have a roll of toilet tissue in their home. This is not assumption, this is not some projection of common statistics, this is knowledge based on relationships built over months and months. Toilet paper. None.

If your first thought was "well, what have they done to squander their money away?" -shame on you. Please stop yourself now.

If your first (2nd, 3rd, 175th) thought was "whoa, what can I do?" I'm so glad you asked. =)

1. Be aware.
2. Be humbled not judgemental.
3. Be there.
4. Be generous.

Okay, so you've read this blog which means you've taken care of number one whether you meant to or not. Now you're accountable. See how I did that? ;-) About number three...if your church, community, local non-profit hosts a food pantry (and lots of you reading are FBC'ers so I know yours does...hint, hint.) please volunteer. Most have lots of options for service and even varying times available for different components of the ministry. And if you spend a night or two hanging out with the families, grandmas, grumpy old men, precious babies, I assure you that humbled thing will take care of itself. But if you can't be there in person then definitely be #4. I can only speak to our specific location but the warehouse is looking bare and could easily be replenished if we all, each, everyone, the whole of us added a few staple items to our grocery list each week.

I did a little research and there are lots of items that run under $1.00: white/brown rice, pasta, chicken noodle/ tomato soup (on sale .50 each @ Target), instant mashed potatoes, tuna, salmon (lunch packs), lots of canned vegetables, etc. etc. etc.

I hope you take this as I intended it. A reminder. It's not a guilt trip. It's really not. Now, if I said that I hope you think of the need for supplies at local food pantries every time you wipe your butt today THAT would be a guilt trip. But I won't say that. ;-)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Four No More!

Last Wednesday Justus began running a fever in the late afternoon. We put him to bed and I tossed and turned all night anticipating his cries when the medicine wore off and his temperature climbed. It finally happened at FOUR in the morning. I got him up and slept the rest of the night (morning) on the couch feeling like I was snuggled up to a gargantuan baked potato.

Thursday and Friday my body tried to catch up on the sleep lost but unsuccessfully. ( I was mid-way through a digestive cleanse and my system was fighting against me.)

Saturday evening after church, Bella complained of a headache. Yep. Full-blown fever by bedtime. She crashed on the couch and we decided to leave her there so we wouldn't have to wake the other pre-schooler to care for her in the night. After one hour of sleep, she made her way into our bedroom. Tim vacated to the couch and again I was wrestling an oven-hot super-spud. She moved, turned, dug her feet into my back and legs ALL night. I alternated Tylenol and Ibuprofen, wrapped her feet and legs in a vinegar soaked cloth, held, rocked, and comforted her. At long last, she fell asleep. It was FOUR in the morning.

Sunday night, I tried to catch up.

We headed to bed around 10pm on Monday and I was out like a light. Then the phone rang. 11:45. I threw on my clothes and headed out to take my friend and her daughter to the Emergency Room. We waited and w-a-i-t-e-d. She was seen. Everything was fine. She was discharged. I dropped them off around the corner and quietly slipped back into the house. Tim met me at the door. I crawled back into the bed guessed it - FOUR in the morning.

I'm still trying to catch up.

Now, I'm just hoping that this four thing comes in...threes. =)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Five is Two

Two years ago today, a baby boy was born. We had NO IDEA he existed. And yet somehow through an emotionally confused maze of human choice, consequences for choices, God's sovereignty, grace, and the sometimes seeming insanity of His design --- that baby boy was ours. (click here and here for his introduction posts)

Lots of families have "oops" kids. (and yeah, I'm aware of the negative connotations behind that label and how most people try to avoid saying it in such terms or at least have sense to whisper it in the presence of said child...yada, yada.) Justus was our "oops" adoption. Just like those unexpected pregnancies, we hadn't planned on him and were not exactly prepared for him. Only difference being, we didn't have nine months to get used to the idea. We had six days. Six feverishly-insane-running-all-over-creation-to-file-appropriate-documents; buying-borrowing-and-begging-for-blue-baby-stuff; picking-out-boy-names-days. It was all very surreal, well, right up until the midnight feedings. It got real, REAL fast. ;-)

But even now, there are times that I look at this golden-toned, chunky-legged boy running through my house and think where did this kid come from? And I think of all the things that could have shaken down differently and kept us from getting that phone call from Amazing Grace Adoptions and I am struck by just what we could be missing: all the snot, poop, biting, fighting over toys...I'm kidding! I'm kidding! (I knew if I got to mushy and idealistic you would all be rolling your eyes by now. =)) Sure all those things came with him but we would also have missed the mischievous way he cuts his eyes, the way he talks to the chickens as though they've been anxiously waiting for him all day, and the sweetest, puckered up kisses on the planet to mention only a few.

And so the one who pushed us over the hump to number five is a whopping two year old and knowing how many more tantrums, spills, or diapers are left to endure... doesn't make me feel any less blessed!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Sometimes when you're feeling overwhelmed by life, kids, ministry, circumstances, spiritual warfare, food poisoning, fatigue, or a number of other completely random things =), it helps to shift focus and consider the things that are simple, quiet, don't wake you from sleep in the middle of the night, don't wretch your insides, and are really beautiful just because they are! Here are some shots of the really beautiful things God is letting us enjoy around the Sexton/Launch 150 stomping grounds.
The Rose bushes are exploding with color.

This one just about makes me cry. Teri Gray gave me this plant 8 years ago for my birthday. We moved and left it behind. Last year, I asked permission from the current residents to dig it up and transplanted it to our front yard. Given my track record -I expected it to wither and die immediately. Not dead. Gorgeous!

Same plant -two types -two completely different shades of purple. God is so cool.

Even the garden is showing off!

Delicate Sugar Snap blooms


Mulberries ripening overnight. Cobbler on the way!

And last but not least...there are always these lovely ladies. I never would've dreamed that sitting and staring at a bunch of chickens could be so therapeutic. It's quite impressive when those layers of feathers reflect a prism of color in a kiss of sunshine.

I am waxing poetic about yard fowl. sigh. Maybe I'm even more tired than I thought. Off to take a nap.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Peeps on Parade

Pictures from the Arboretum. A family day favorite.
Mamma Jamma
Hoodlums =)
Okay, okay but Nathan actually requested this shot.
More of Nathan's photography skills.
Doing our part to propagate the Dandelions.
I'm sure the horticulturists appreciate our efforts.
Quickly growing boy/ quickly growing afro.
My favorite! (picture not kids ;-))
Future model. Always posing.
Tim Vs. The Arboretum
Miscellaneous Pictures

Mia and Mamoune
Nathan and his prize bunny at the annual Wright family Easter gathering.

Did I mention the modeling career?
Heaven help us.
Freshly shorn boy --not baby anymore-- just boy. sigh.
Man on the run.
Two sweet peas in a pod.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Out of the mouths of Babes

People have asked me at various times since we moved here if we feel safe. I recently got this question from a good friend after mentioning that I'd gone out walking early that morning. I had to laugh. Truth was, I did get creeped out a bit...that is, when I got to the "nice/white" section of town and found that I was completely alone between empty, two-income homes and a construction site. If I'd been grabbed up, no one would've even heard me scream. Back here on my side of town, I got waves, smiles, and even a big hug from one our middle schoolers waiting at the bus stop. So, the way I see it --the scariest neighborhood is the one full of strangers with tightly-drawn blinds and manicured lawns. But it's not just me...

Sunday nights have become a sort of family worship time for us. Usually, we light a candle or two, sing along with Tim and his guitar, and then pray for families and situations in our community. This past weekend, we put the little people down for the night and then migrated to the front porch. It was quite dark as we huddled under blankets and sang and chatted. Having read the entire Little House series to our kids over the years, Tim mentioned that he felt a little like Pa with his fiddle at the close of the day. "This ain't the prairie." I chimed in. "Not the big woods either" he added. Then Mamoune said, "I'm glad it's not the big woods! If it was, I'd be scared to go outside in the dark."

Oftentimes, perception defines reality. But it's awfully fun when reality corrects our perception.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Open Letter to My Body

Dear Body,

Why have you turned against me? For 35 (soon to be 36) years I have taken decent care of you. I don't smoke or drink heavily. I give you fresh air and sunshine while protecting you from the harshest rays. I typically avoid fatty, greasy foods and occasionally even eat a plate full of spinach salad. I nurture, clean, perfume, clothe, and care for you. And I got you a good man. Don't even get me started on what he does for you. Yet you betray me. Why?

An occasional virus is one thing but this has gotten out of hand. You let down your guard in January and that stupid virus took its toll on me. Then the coughing, and the coughing, and the coughing. Then strep; then a revisit from my ovarian cyst; and most recently a possible bout with my gall bladder. Did I mention the coughing? Seriously!? I thought you were my friend.

You've lost your stamina. You've lost your ability to endure stress. You've lost your quick recovery time. And what have you gained? Girth, my dear. Nothing but girth. Darn you.

What must I do to get you back on my side? What do you want from me? A nutritious, well-balanced diet? Regular exercise? ask a lot. I suppose I'm willing to try. But just between me and you, I better see some evidence that it's working and quickly or all bets are off, sister!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Shower Scents

I was getting ready to wash my hair when I noticed that I was low on shampoo and conditioner. Low as in, already added water to the bottle and squeezed out the last pitiful squirt of foam. So, having exhausted the meaning of frugality I looked under the bathroom sink where I have a stash of hair products that were bought by or for me while on sale. Problem is, I don't have any sets; only random, mix-matched bottles like Ocean Breeze, Crisp Green Apple, Freesia, etc. The dilemma. What do I want to smell like? I finally settled on "Fresh Mountain Strawberry" shampoo and "Cucumber Melon" conditioner.

Why Amie, what's that delightful fragrance you're wearing?

Fruit salad.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Post Beach Report

Oh, the beauty! Oh, the bliss! Oh, the bummer of it coming to an end. We had such an amazing time in Ocean Isle, and if you follow my facebook you should know that we stretched "Naked Friday" over several days. =)

As a mom of five there is something completely liberating about sitting in the bed with my hubby, munching chocolates, sipping a Mojito, and watching 80's music videos on television at 2 o'clock in the afternoon completely nude. I never once had to wonder if a little person was going to run into the room and a) steal my chocolates b) change the channel to another rerun of Hannah Montana or c) scream in horror and require years of therapy. Freedom! Divine freedom!

Here are some pictures and commentary from the trip (no, silly, not those pictures):

Last time it snowed at Ocean Isle was 10 years ago. Very cool timing!

Looked like the waves were coming from both directions.

Snowy seashells

Snow-beach bunnies.

Whimsy meets irony.

No tan lines for Tim!

Last year the sign said "Out for Business."

We didn't expect them to top that but they did.

Considered putting a new countdown clock here but that would just be too depressing. Perhaps it should become a bi-annual Ocean Isle retreat. hmmmm.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Countdown Is On

In exactly 97 hours, 35 minutes, and 16 seconds (yeah, I made up the seconds part) Tim and I will be heading to our Third Annual Ocean Isle Retreat Weekend! (2008 here and here, 2009 here, here, and here.)

Childcare is in place. The reservations were made MONTHS ago. A bottle of muscadine wine, a couple of good books, and only enough clothing necessary for short public appearances will be packed up by mid-week and ready to go.

If you hear the sound of tires peeling out of the driveway Friday afternoon...assume it's us! =)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Peeps on Parade

Random Snow Pictures

Little people. Big world.

The only thing bigger than her attitude...
is her hair!

You've seen Elf? Snowball fights are serious business to Nathan.

She wouldn't dare!

Oh, and this one is a bonus.
We are relieved to know that if the budget ever gets too low,
Bella can totally work a Target bag!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oh, Those Beautiful Stars

Several people have contacted us with questions about adoption, especially pertaining to orphans in Haiti. I have pondered for several days how to handle these inquiries. And alas in my hesitance, I have found a scapegoat. In the link below, you will find well-written, clearly laid out, no punches pulled, essential information regarding adoption from Haiti (or any other country for that matter).

This article will help you understand the reality of the process of adoption. Thank you Mark Miller (whoever you are)! But in addition to the paperwork, waiting, red-tape, and so on; there are also many emotional issues that must be truthfully addressed. Let me begin...with a story.

Once upon a time there was a young man who'd left his father's home in the country to embark on his own fortune in the big city. After years of toiling and working his way up the proverbial ladder, he longed for simpler days and returned to his father's farm for a time of reflection.

Late one evening the two went for a stroll through the open pasture. The young man looked up into the wide expanse of the night's sky and was mesmerized by the brilliance of the moon and the abundance of stars that seemed close enough to touch.

He spoke in near breathless excitement, "Oh, Dad! Despite all of my accomplishments and all of my wealth, I have never felt so complete as I do right now while realizing my own insignificance beneath the beauty and magnificence of the heavens. Thank you for sharing this moment of wisdom with me!"

Sensitive to the emotion of his boy, the father sighed deeply and said, "I guess there's just one more thing for me to tell you, son...

You're standing in cow mess."

Adoption isn't all peaches and cream. And sometimes you have to get the stars out of your eyes to realize your knee-deep in ... you know what.

Adoption - international adoption - international adoption of a severely traumatized orphan could be the most difficult journey you will ever experience. We brought our Haitian daughter home at 4 1/2 years of age and the first three years of her life with us nearly destroyed us. She wasn't the lone survivor of a major earthquake. You could've considered her a "normal orphan" if there were such labels. But it was hard. And while we have no regrets and that difficult journey taught us so much about ourselves and about God and His unwavering love for us --we do not want to see anyone walk blindly into the adoption process. It is dangerous for the adoptive parents and for the children.

All this to say --if you have fallen in love with these precious Haitian children, praise God! Start the process and be ready for if/when the need for homes arises. But please, let's debunk the notion that the government will (or ever should) start lining these babies up at the airport and handing them out like a PetSmart adopt-a-thon.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Help Haiti

If you've already donated to the Red Cross or some other major relief organization...okay. But YOU SHOULD ALL KNOW that the supplies, money, and resources being sent to Haiti via the "big" companies are NOT, NOT, NOT being shared with the smaller faith-based organizations that are already on the ground in Haiti.

Those supplies are only going to government operated hospitals and the like. Meanwhile, many Christian service organizations such as Heartline Ministries are having to drive 8 hours into the Dominican Republic in order to restock their fuel, food, and medical supplies. The US government does not care that NGO's like Heartline have been serving in Haiti for 25 years or that they have transformed their offices, classrooms, etc. into emergency clinics providing transportation and care for those in the poorest areas.

The bottom line is this: I cannot tell you what the $10 you texted to 90..whatever is accomplishing in Haiti. I'm sure it's good but still. If you give to any of the following ministries ALREADY sitting in the middle of the chaos and serving their butts off (without the support of the big relief agencies)...I can not only tell you but can show you the difference your money is making.

Please, please, give!

Help Haiti T-shirt

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Interlude of Humor

I was lamenting to Tim how badly I need to exercise.

"I gotta do something. I'm having to fight just to get into my jeans."

He responded, "yeah, and that's after throwing up for a whole day. How many viruses does it take to get you into your jeans?"

Sneaky smile from him. Evil glare and shaking of the head from me.

The boy likes to live dangerously and well, he's just lucky that I like him so stinkin' much. Now, to stop lamenting and actually start moving. ugh.


Monday, January 18, 2010

The Play by Play

Because I'm sure you want to know:

11:00 pm -Tim throws up. Justus coughs in the background.

12:00 am -Amie throws up. Justus continues coughing and screams out for "dada."

12:30 am -Tim throws up. Amie drags herself to check on Justus. He is burning up with fever and can't breathe through his nose. I take him to the living room where Tim is still hovering over the trashcan. I try to syringe Justus' nose and give him medicine. He is crying and clingy so I take slow deep breaths hoping not to toss my cookies while soothing him back to sleep.

1:00 am -Justus goes back down.

1:30 am -Cookies tossed. Plus the added joy of workings below.

2:15 am -Tag. Tim is it.

2:45 am -Back to Amie. Tim calls from the living room sofa, "I'm sorry I can't help you."

3:15 am -Tim.

4:30 am -I agonize over the garbage can for what I hope will be the last time.

I didn't really think you wanted to know this. But it serves a purpose toward my point.

Most of you know that Haiti is dear to us. Our blog name "ourcrewinhaiti" gives a hint. And while God closed the door on our physical presence there...our hearts could not be anymore intertwined from this distance. The earthquake and the aftermath have become a gauge by which we measure almost every moment of life.

At somewhere around 11:53 pm as my heart rate was increasing and I was breaking with a pre-vomitous sweat, about the time I would normally be giving God the what-for --seriously, do we both have to throw up at the same time? Can't you cut us some slack? What kind of raw deal is this? --all I could think was "One of my best friends on the planet is stepping over dead bodies. This is nothing."

I dread the day that we turn on the evening news and Haiti is no longer the top story, if even in the top three. And yet I know there are those who have already said to themselves "man, I wish they'd put something else on for a change." Even this week, as I turn off the TV or walk away from the computer I think how unfair that I get to tune it out for a time and process what I've seen; unlike those who are in the middle of it with little to no reprieve.

I dread the day that churches stop caring, collecting, or donating. I'm already frustrated by how few churches seemed to interrupt business as usual to spend a significant time in corporate prayer for their brothers and sisters in Haiti.

I am fully aware that life must continue. My mission field was not destroyed by an earthquake and in fact, 26 of them showed up in my yard today. I couldn't be so annoyed by their cluelessness about the world beyond their square mile block that I stopped loving and teaching and ministering to them.

Life goes on. But it is my sincere hope that I be willing to endure a thousand stomach bugs and a thousand sleepless nights if it keeps my heart and prayers centered on those (in Haiti, in the persecuted church, in war-torn Iraq & Afghanistan, etc) who are encountering far worse.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Things Taken for Granted

Last night Justus fell off of our dining room bench and his bottom teeth puncture through his lower lip. While wonderful friends, Melissa and Rhonda, soothed him and iced his mouth, I ran through the house grabbing shoes, jackets, insurance cards, etc. Melissa and I hopped in the van and drove SIX minutes down the street to a walk-in emergency clinic. I filled out three sheets of paper, he was called back, checked out, glued up, and we were back home in less than 45 minutes.

Heavy sigh.

In Haiti today, untold numbers will take in their last breath from beneath the rubble of their homes and business places. Others will endure another day of excruciating pain from open wounds which remain untreated. Infection will set in. And some precious mama will walk the streets with her injured child in her arms for hours desperately seeking someone...ANYONE who can help her.

This is a painful contrast.

"To whom much is given, from him much will be required." Luke 12.48

There are many places receiving donations for the destruction in Haiti. These are two that we know and trust who are right in the midst of the work and need help.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Prayer Meeting Tonight

We are inviting anyone in the Wake Forest area who is interested to join us for prayer for the country of Haiti at our house tonight at 8:30 pm. Like so many of you, we have connections to Haiti through friends, family, and mission teams, and we are devastated and hurting for the country of Haiti in the wake of yesterday's earthquake. Our friends in Haiti have asked us to pray fervently, as conditions in Port-au-Prince are indescribably difficult.

If you'd like to join us tonight but don't know where we live, please comment on this blog with contact information or call us at 919-815-6601.

If you would like to track with our friends in Haiti who are searching for survivors and blogging/Twittering as often as possible, go to

Also, please become the answer to your prayers by giving to a reputable organization that is serving in Haiti. We personally support and recommend the Livesay family in Haiti (see blog address above) and Heartline Ministries (, but there are many great ministries in Haiti that will all need help right now.

We look forward to praying with some of you tonight.