Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Not Good Enough

Have you ever felt like you didn’t measure up? That you were scared to try because you had just a bit of a fear that your inadequacies would show their face?

I step foot in Haiti in just less than a few days and I’m honestly scared. Terrified. I said it for the first time today out loud, and it feels good to be so truthful with myself. I am not scared of what you may think though; you see the fear actually is that I feel like I am not “good enough” to be there. What if I’m not spiritual enough? I know way too many people whose spiritual walks put mine to pure shame. I’ve messed up so many times and in such big areas of life that surely I’ve gone too far. I seriously can’t be smart enough? So many others have experience and life skills that far exceed mine. What happens when I don’t know what to do when weird medical situations come up that I am just totally overwhelmed by? What if my language skills are suffering because I haven’t studied as much as I should have?

All these things run through my head like a stampede of horses… they are loud and impossible to ignore. My excitement to get back to the country I love is undeniable, but I had to realize something today that I seemed to have forgotten. God has never once asked me to know everything, speak Creole fluently, or never make a medical misjudgment. Never has He asked me to do suffer through something I couldn’t handle. Never once did He ever leave me all alone. He is faithful. Always He is faithful.

I will not let fear of failing or not being "enough" stop me. Nothing was ever accomplished that was not  attempted. More importantly, nothing great has happened that didn't first begin with courage. Facing tough things and weaknesses in us pushes us to depend on strength outside of ourselves. 

Thankfully, instead of complex standards I could never measure up to, I feel God asked me to do some pretty simple things. He created me to love, and gave me the gift of a heart to serve. So THAT I know I can do well--- I can deeply treasure each baby I hold or child I come across. I can pay attention to those that are hurting and need an advocate. I can converse in broken Creole just enough to let those I’m talking to know I care.  I can feed precious mouths, smile for precious eyes, and hold precious hearts close so they feel the love of a God who values them more than we will know this side of life. 

Hopefully I WILL learn more each day and become more spiritually sound with passing time… but for right now---

Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Through the eyes of an orphan

The following are based on true stories that I have come across in the past few years that deserve to be told: (disclaimer- the pictures are not of the child the story is about for protection of privacy)

Try to put yourself in their place and see the world through the eyes of an orphan….

The wetness around you is thick. The stench is so pungent that it hard to take even just one of the 40 breaths you require a minute. It is so dark all around you- it just validates the evil that has happened to take place in your short life. Those your age desperately need warmth and soft blankets swaddling them, but you freeze as you lay completely naked in the viscous stench. Others that are as fresh out of the womb as you couldn’t last as long as you without anything in their belly… but you have a just enough strength to let out occasional weak cries- desperate pleas for help that seem hopeless in this hole you are in. You never once have been held with love. You were not wanted; your mom couldn’t afford to feed you because she couldn’t even really feed herself. Naked, hungry, cold. In the bottom of a privy. And you’re just barely a day old.

Now imagine you are a common man. An odd sound is coming from the outhouse, and quite honestly it is one you just can’t ignore. You swear it sounds like a baby’s cry, but it is so faint that it is hard to tell. A few steps from the door cause your stomach to jump to your throat and your skin to become clammy… the source of the sound is undeniable now. Anything but this. Peering over the ledge of the seat, you can barely make out the baby lying in the muck. Little fists pulled up to its face. And like an angel sent from God, you lower yourself slowly into the sewage to snatch the newborn from certain death. This baby is nothing but thin skin and tiny bones. You have no idea, but the warmth of your arms has changed everything for this tiny life.

This time it was a happy life. You weren’t like those kids who didn’t have a mom and dad that ran in the streets. Well, you weren’t at least until a hurricane wiped away everything that brought you joy. It took your mom’s smile when you’d dance. It stole your dad’s dedication to bringing home food for your family every day. That hurricane even took your sister you loved to tease until she was furious with you. Oh, to have her be angry with you again… even just once. It took everything from you. You wandered the streets in a daze a while, but eventually found yourself at a place where they take in kids like you. Kids with no one left. They feed you, have a school you attend, and give you a safe place to live within the walls of the compound. Sometimes people visit, and you watch as all the other kids rush to them with delight. Some days you even join in their joy of those people who radiate the love back, but today is different. Today you just feel sad as you watch the other kids play and laugh with the visitors. You sit as far out of the way as you can and your heart breaks watching the visitors hug the other kids with huge smiles. You can see it as clear as day in your mind as you remember your mom’s face light up when she’d take you in her arms. She’d tell you how much she loved you, just as your sister would come to try to jump in. She always annoyed you so much back then, so how can you miss her so much now?

One of the kids on the bench must have drawn a visitor with a long flowing skirt in, because she’s walking over to your table. Your sad eyes barely meet hers, and you fight back tears because there is something in her gentle eyes that reminds you of your mom. Before you realize it, she sits down- next to YOU! You can’t raise your face to her right now, because you’ll know you’ll start to cry and she shouldn’t be distracted by you when all the other kids are so happy to see her. The girl with the tie die shirt and green skirt does something next that you are not sure you’ll ever forget. She wraps her arms around your skinny frame, and she just holds you. You try to be strong at first, but you melt because you’re just eight years old after all. Seconds are all it takes for the tears you held inside so long to start flowing, and your soft sobs are just loud enough to catch her attention. She doesn’t say anything at first, but then it comes… in desperately broken Creole, she asks you why you are sad. In a sobbing whisper, you say, “Paran mwen te mouri”. Her embrace strengthens as she realizes what you said--- your parents had died. Her showing up that day and holding you close in her arms prove the words she says next as she tells you God loves you.

Now this time it would be enough if your only problem was that you were dangerously malnourished at three months of age. But your story of how you got to this point of starvation is the real clinch. It is truly a story of tragedy, one that is sure to cause people to have to take a deep breath. Your mom was just a child herself at 15 years old when she was raped by the man who was living with her mom. When the story surfaced as her belly grew, it was horribly distorted and the man accused this sweet girl of seducing him. Instead of her mom defending her daughter, she was thrown out to the streets so this evil man could stay. Homeless and desperate, your mom did the best she could with the best attitude she could for your first few months of life, but starvation overtook both of you. You were the size of a newborn after months of not growing, and she knew she had to save you from dying. She brought you to a place for babies just like you. Though it hurt so much to leave you there, she saved your life. God’s destiny for you is far too great to miss.

Final story…

You were the curse. Yes, in this land of voodoo and witchcraft, you were it. Why were you the cursed one? Well you just so happened to be the second baby in the womb. Nothing more, nothing less.. that’s just the way it is. Your mom hid that she had twins from everyone she could, and only takes your sister in public so people don’t know she’s cursed. Your sister is plump with health, but your emaciated frame is a result of only getting the leftovers, if any. You are hidden, shunned, and punished endlessly for your curse. If only you knew that just a country away that twins were a blessing—dressed in matching dresses and bows. Your stuff would be purple, and all of your twin sister’s stuff would be pink. If only you knew that because of this horrible belief that you are cursed, your immune system would be so dangerously destroyed from starvation that a common bout of diarrhea would take your precious life just months from now. Yet when you reach Heaven’s gates, you will learn just how cherished you are. For the very first time, you will never go hungry again. You will never feel like you don’t matter. Never ever again will you feel cursed, for you were created for greatness in Heaven you never could have fathomed. You will discover that God loved the weak and powerless like you so much that He fiercely commanded people to defend you so many times in His book you never got to read. You will discover God whose love lasts for eternity. You will finally experience the truth of Psalm 27:10- “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.”

“If you can’t feed one hundred people, then feed just one” –Mother Teresa

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.” –Mother Teresa

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” –Jim Elliot

Saturday, February 23, 2013


>>God, please break my heart for the things that break yours….

I have to give you fair warning- reading this blog shouldn't be easy. It shouldn't be one you read and just go on to sip your coffee and wonder about your schedule for the day. Pray that it rocks your world to the point of action. Truly try to imagine these real life events happening to someone you are watching, and then just try to move on with life unchanged....

Nefarious: Wicked. Evil. Despicable. Immoral. Reprehensible.

Let’s take a journey today... we will travel the world and the word “nefarious” will forever be burned in our brain.

Imagine you see a beautiful little girl- dark brown eyes sparkle with light and joy. She’s barely skin and bones, but she uses the tiny bit of energy left to spin in circles dancing with her the other children in her village.  Her home is a shack, her food is literally garbage, and her family struggles to survive. She has learned more in her tiny body and more in her short life about survival than she ever should have had to. She is just a child, with a wonder of the world and an innocence that should never be touched. She is precious--- of incalculable value.

Her family is in the depths of poverty, but at least she has a mom and dad. You smile at how adorable she is as she plays and explores the curiosities of her little village- at least she has a magnificent joy!

You watch as one day a man whose dark eyes host an evil glare comes to the village. You see him speak with several parents, and then he hands them a small amount of money. Your heart pounds when he drags the girl in her tattered dress away from her family… her blood curdling scream will always haunt your memory.

Shaking and terrified, this petite babe is taken away to a place no girl should ever have to go. She is not old enough that anyone would even let her walk to school in America, yet she is put on display for lurking men to purchase. This is a child. A living, breathing human being who should be learning about the wonder of the world, not the fear that is required to keep her in submission. Men the age of her father now are destroying every ounce of innocence left in her spirit. Her soul has been been swallowed by the devil- a life destroyed one transaction at a time. They pay more because they want someone her age and innocence. One time she tried to refuse to work. A piece of cloth was shoved in her mouth so no one could hear her scream as she was raped by a customer. She experiences what no human being should ever have to feel, and she is just a tiny child. Tears only buy her beatings, so she learns to die inside so she stops feeling the repeated rape. Her dark brown eyes no longer sparkle… they are empty, lifeless, and numb.

This is not just another number or statistic of a girl sold into sex slavery… this is a person with a fingerprint that can never be replicated. At the expense of a man’s selfish touch, she will never stop shuttering at the thought of a gesture of towards her.

Imagine a teenage girl… bright blue eyes shine excitement for the life ahead. Her eastern European life has been fabulous, and now she has been promised a life of modeling in an incredible country just a passport away. Based on the looks of the guy who recruited her, she is in for a lovely modeling life with the most charming boyfriend on the universe. He treats her like gold as they travel to the new country. Oh, how lucky she feels! But all hell breaks lose when her passport and money is confiscated by the guy who brought her there so sweetly; he shoves her in an apartment with five other weeping teenage girls. Some appear bruised and beaten, others scrawny and emaciated. All appear extremely terrified. Before this bright eyed girl has time the chance to ask what is going on, the door swings open and four men stand there. Their faces are stern and inexpressive, as what they are about to do is beyond cruel. In the most forceful voice, one screams at them to strip down. A hesitation from the blameless girl instigates a brutal thrashing. Her bright blue eyes turn red with bloody tears. From this moment on, she has to learn men take what they want, leave her with the bruises they please, and toss her back to her pimp. When buyers come, they would make them take off their clothes as the men examine them like they were cattle. The skimpy amount of food provided is supplemented with drugs, and she comes to learn the drugs help numb the horrible pain. She just wants to die because she has no way out. The time she tried to run away she was found by the corrupt police and taken back to her pimp for little compensation. He taught her a lesson that intended to make sure she never attempted to leave again. She was once beautiful, educated, and filled with inspiration. She was going to be famous and married to a wonderful man someday. But you see her face to her knees rocking in the corner of the crowded apartment awaiting her next torture. Not even 18 years old, she never smiles any longer. She has no reason to. Just then, your heart drops as you see the door swing open once again….

It is like a bad dream- one that you can see and feel everything but cannot move fast enough to stop the evil from happening. You see a little girl in America in her pink and purple bed, unicorns on the walls. She is dreaming of being a princess in a faraway land rescued from a dragon, awaiting her prince charming.  The dream is shattered as the door creaks open, her eyes open wide in fear and the floorboards announce his drawing near. He tells her it is just their secret, and that she has to do this if she loves him. He gives her dolls and candy if she is good and doesn’t tell. She can’t quite understand what is happening to her, but it hurts so bad. Her mind is consumed with dreaming of a prince someday saving her from this man she thought was supposed to protect her.

You see this same girl in years to come- she is fourteen years old and now out on the streets wearing clothes that make her look twenty one. Fairytales are for children, and she knows no one will save her now after the years of loneliness and hiding the shame. She once was offered money for sex, and she couldn’t believe someone would give her money when she was so used to someone just taking from her before.  No matter how much it destroyed her soul, she has lost all sense of worth. People look at her bright makeup and short skirts and just scorn. She is rejected by society and discarded by her family, so the only place to turn is her “new family”- a man who claims to protect her as he takes his cut. She knows how to fake a smile to lure a man, but the pain never ceases. She has been beaten by Johns, kicked out of a moving car, and had a gun pointed at her head. But she knows if she can’t act like she is happy in her work, she will never make the money required of her to be able to come home. The night generally offers her forty different scenes to act like she is happy so she doesn’t get killed. Ah, you see instead of becoming a princess when she grew up, she has become the greatest actress of all.

Wreck my heart, God, for what wrecks Yours. 

1 out of every 3 girls is sexually abused as a child. 

1 out of every 5 boys is. 

When girls are trafficked, they can be gang raped, beaten, and starved for the soul purpose of "breaking their spirit"- seasoning her for the years of prostitution.

It is estimated 99% of all prostitutes were sexually abused as children.

The average age of entering prostitution is 13 years old.

Orphans are incredibly vulnerable to being trafficked due to the ability to make them disappear and no one even notices a thing about them missing. 

Fact: God desperately loves these victims, which means we are called to as well. He speaks to this topic on many occasions.

James 1:27
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. 

Exodus 22:22-24
You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

Isaiah 1:17
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.

Psalm 27:10
For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.

Psalm 146:9
The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 

Psalm 82:3
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 

Exodus 22:22
You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.

Matthew 25:40
And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

God, open our eyes. Never let us be the same. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dear Haiti, you helped me write this...

I was physically shaking. Not from fear. Not from exhaustion…. No, this is the type of shaking every human wants to feel in life because they care about something THAT much….

I left Haiti in May 2011 with every intention in the world of returning in just a few short weeks after my required “leaving of the country” after 3 months of living there. My knee was swollen and had some issues during my time, so I was told I needed a quick surgery with a short recovery before heading back to my precious Haiti. I will never forget the moment waking up from the surgery and the surgeon telling me the words, “Well, you sure won’t be going back to Haiti.”.  Devastation in a moment— my oh my, I learned devastation so well that day.

The bone where my previous ACL surgery had attached to had become necrotic and needed to be replaced with bone grafts. When those healed six months later, I would need another surgery to replace the ACL once again. It would then be six more months of physical therapy before I could return to work I was so passionate about. I was faced with devastation I couldn’t have imagined prior to this lesson in patience.

The following times included the most humbling events I have experienced so far in life. My knee became infected after the third surgery and therefore required a fourth surgery. My ignorance led to a failed marriage and a move away from my family—further and further from my passion to return overseas. Before this bottoming out, I never understood the depth of the doubt of how God could ever use a sinful and desperately broken person like me. I walked around feeling like I didn’t fit anywhere any longer…

Then it happened. Not overnight. Not in a brilliant moment of epiphany. It didn’t happen in a church, nor did it happen suddenly in a conversation of deep pain…

Months of facing the disappointments and pain- struggle after struggle to try to pull myself out of shattered life I had created… I finally lost the strength to fight and collapsed into the most loving arms in this universe. God saved me from myself and my feeble attempts to fix my mistakes.

He whispered life back into my soul that had been sucked dry. He demonstrated insane power, intense grace, incredible hope, and incessant love for those who have been beat down in life. Never had this verse made so much sense to me:

Isaiah 40:28-30

Do you not know? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God. The creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.

I decided to surrender the destructive things that I thought brought me comfort in a time of pain. I traded those in for the uncomfortable challenges that were required by a life abandoned to God.  I exchanged the label “shameful” for “humbled”, for God makes beautiful things out of what humans destroy.

So why was I shaking?

Because while I was beaten down by evil, I could not be ruined…
While I was tempted and failed by evil, I am redeemed…
While I didn’t have the strength any longer, I didn’t have to save myself…
While words ate at my soul and worth, God filled those empty holes with purpose…

I was shaking because I was reminded of what I was put on this world for. There are the most beautiful children starving to death, orphans awaiting families to love them, girls trafficked for sex slavery, and desperately hurting people screaming so loud that no one could hear them.  There are girls devastated by sexual abuse by people they trust most, women marred by the words and actions of a vindictive man, and families destroyed by adultery, abuse, and lies. It is now that I realized no matter how utterly we have failed, God has this incredible charge for our lives. We are to stand up for the defenseless and fight for justice in the world. We are commanded to care for the forgotten, feed the hungry, and live with integrity and hope.

I decided to start writing this blog again because, while I may not be living overseas at the moment, God is still teaching me so much about things to shout to the world about! There is so much to learn about freedom from oppression, in the million ways it rears its ugly face. I am so excited to write about the things that I know I will never stop being so passionate about— perhaps we can transform our minds, revolutionize our lives, and discover what life is really about through the eyes of a hungry soul.

I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess.  -Martin Luther 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why love until it hurts?

Here I sit. I have a fever, sweats then chills, utter weakness, and strep bacteria coating my tonsils. I’m exhausted and feeble. Bedridden. I’m worn out and sick. I hurt from body aches, headaches, and knee aches. There is this extreme pain when I swallow.  I want my parents and my dog. I need encouragement from my friends. I desperately need rest.

So why am I so sick? There was a chain of events recently that led to my recent demise of health. They went a little like this….

Sleep is not always impossible to get around here, but that has not been the case in the recent weeks. Night after night of broken periods of sleep have proved their fatal effect on my wellbeing. Please don’t take my next thoughts as complaining because I truly appreciate the opportunity to get to work with such precious children. This is just an honest reality of life here in Haiti some times. The joy always will outweigh the suffering. I hope you see both today.

Marck, our treasured baby who has been living with us with his mom, is still under our roof. Marck H. Finley is undoubtedly adorable. His respiratory symptoms have generally cleared up, but his oxygen saturations have stayed in the low 80’s, even on high levels of oxygen. We suspect that he has a possible heart defect and are working on getting him an echocardiogram to see what we can do to help him. Our love for him is undisputable, but this love has cost us many hours of sleep. Almost every night for the past week and a half, we would be called down to his room to help solve a dropping oxygen mystery. One night, we ended up having to work on him from 2 am until our work began the next morning. Perhaps the sleep deprivation started there…

But why love until it hurts?

He holds his own oxygen mask. His tiny fingers wrap around the tubing or stretch around the mask. I am pretty sure he is about as adorable as they come. He is worth every ounce of energy invested in him to allow him to have a shot at life.

Then two weekends ago there was a trip to Port Au Prince to help a gorgeous girl named Tania get a surgery to close her cleft lip. That night left with me with zero minutes of sleep to add to my account. Her nervous mother played loud music all in response to the fearful unknown of the surgery for her daughter. So why was it worth it to return to Cap Haitian far more exhausted than I left?

Tania can finally eat normal and actually have a chance to grow. At eight months old, her life will be forever changed. She no longer will be shunned or looked at differently. Her wonderful mother now has the opportunity to watch Tania live fully.

The true test of my endurance started on Friday, when the other nurse Amy had to go to the Dominican Republic for several days with two babies who needed heart surgeries. This was the night when I literally got two hours of sleep and had to jump in full force the next morning. The day was busy, but that evening proved to be the most intense. Our little Marck started turning blue and his oxygen saturation started dropping to unbelievable lows. We had every piece of rescue equipment we could find in that room, and he just barely pulled through. The strength of his mother blew me away once again. I do not actually know how Marck survived that episode besides pure prayer. He was against all odds and once again proved to be our Miracle Baby.

The next day all mayhem broke loose when we discovered just how many of our children suddenly were seriously ill. There was vomiting, massive amounts of diarrhea, unbelievably high fevers, and wheezing. A solid number of our children were in desperate need of close monitoring and care. The day was solidly exhausting, but the evening once again came with a collapse. A medically-fragile girl spiked a temperature of 104.7*F and needed to be rushed to the hospital. To describe the admission process at the hospital as frustrating is an understatement. Hours and hours of waiting for someone to care about the extremely delicate health state of our invaluable girl placed its toll on my energy. I just wanted somebody to recognize just how sick she was and how desperately she needed quick intervention. The next morning, we received the phone call that she had passed away. She had passed away. News like this hurts. A lot.

At the same time, we had a small baby who was ill, a malnourished and sickly child suffering from high fevers, and a girl refusing to drink for several days. We were doing everything we could to help restore their health, but it was draining us of everything we had. By Monday afternoon, I started feeling feverish and sick. Within an hour, my temperature quickly rose and I was on the ground shivering under blankets. All this “love” finally took me out once and for all. My body said stop. And it was not going to let me out of it this time. I’ve been in bed ever since.

So why pour your heart into something until it hurts? A greater good. A cause outside of yourself. A opportunity to watch lives transformed. A 6 lbs baby holding his own oxygen mask….

I leave to go home in a matter of hours. I get to hug, cuddle, and find strength and restoration once again in my parents, siblings, friends, and my dog, BENNY!!! For the first time in many weeks, I will finally have a day off. Thank God for love that drove these last few days of chaos, and thank God for the resulting "pain". There is a different appreciation when love hurts or makes you sick. The honest truth is, right now, I am desperate for family. I am desperate for rest.
So here I go on a plane tomorrow to take me to the most wonderful place called home! The chaos will be escaped by me for a few short weeks. I even get to cuddle of with my SOOOOOO CUTE puppy day in and day out.... :) Home sweet home... here I come!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A whisper as loud as a scream

A poison of the brain. A heart turning viciously inside of a chest. A soul broken by "honesty".

I have recently realized I can be a dangerous person. I mean a really dangerous individual. I subconsciously can be ferocious. I can be fierce. I can be cruel. The urge to be those things can feel unstoppable because it is such a rich source of pleasure…. Fleeting pleasure.

Haiti is a time for me to learn things about myself, and sadly, this is one long-time learned. Ever since I was in junior high, I knew I could be a dangerous girl. Why?  When I was presented with the temptation of a girl’s treacherous path that leads to temporary inflated sense of self, I’d let those cunning words slip from my mouth. Faces would light up with the newest information. Eyes of disgust now had a place to fall upon. It felt guiltless and witty. For a moment that is….

But years of being a fighting one of the most vicious temptations known to the whole women-kind has taught me time and time again that it has to stop. The back-talking. The snide comments. The looks and the eye-rolling. Do I do these things? I love people and I promise I do not want to, but I have heard myself say things I’d never want repeated. I can honestly tell you that this is not who I am and this is not who I was raised to be, but a girl in a girl’s world is faced with gossip every day.
It is a horrifying snake. The temptation to think poor thoughts about someone waits eagerly at your lips. If you open your mouth just wide enough to even whisper a malicious opinion about someone, it can slither out and now it is free. It is free to poison other minds… innocent minds, tempted minds, and sound minds all the same. The damage is done the second it escapes. One thing is for sure… it is toxic and destroying.
So where did all this come from tonight?
I was listening to a song called “How He Loves Us” and a particular lyric set stood out to me this evening…
And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.

And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,

I don't have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…

That He loves us,
Oh how He loves us

For whatever reason, the line about the heart turning violently inside of the chest reminded me of the passion we humans possess. Not only the immense capacity of our hearts to love and understand, but also the distressing ability to judge and critique. Hearing this song about God’s irrepressible love made me think about how I view others. His grace to me went to them too. He didn’t choose just me to save. Nor did He choose just me to forgive my shortcomings, humor my mistakes, or adore my gifts and personality. The way He looks at me is exactly the way He looks at everyone else. That does not make me any less special, it just means that the way He views our worth is astonishing in the most paramount fashion. For me to look upon another human being and decide what I do and don’t like about them is a bit absurd. Yet it is far more illogical for me to claim to follow my God passionately and not view the ones He incalculably loves with the most grace-filled eyes.
I don’t know how many times a day you are faced with the same temptation I am. There would never be enough energy to count the times I have stopped respecting someone enough to mar their reputation with my very own lips.
We often feel pity for those with special needs who won’t get the same opportunities in life as we do. But tonight I realized they possess pure souls not stained by the same temptations we succumb to… they will never will hit another person in anger, never will critique someone deserving of respect, and never will knowingly wound the heart of another with cruel words behind their back or just thoughts of judgment. I can think of one boy who lives here in particular who would never do a soul any harm, but always can find a way to light up the whole room with his smile and glowing eyes. There is warmth in him and a light that is hard to explain. There is an incredible blessing to his life.
So here are thoughts from a girl’s world… Men often say women are complicated, so here is a little insight for you. We are continuously tempted with sharp tongues and harsh words; with looks that empower us while destroying the reputation of someone else. It is easier to criticize than appreciate.
But today I’m going to attempt to take something from this…  instead of just singing about how much He loves us, I want to put it into practice. I want to carefully watch the words that fall from my mouth and the thoughts that creep in to judge the ones that grace falls upon. It will be a daily struggle and a relentless battle, but one that I think I’m old enough to fight.
To finish things off in a coherent fashion, I thought I’d like to throw in a picture of a totally random and even more so cute baby for the day…. J! Think of it as your prize for finishing reading my disturbing soul-searching thoughts tonight…

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Miracle Marc.

Do you know the treasure of one life? I don’t know how to put this into words, but the ultimate preciousness of lives never ceases to blow me away. Today forever engrained that in my brain…

Only 4 months old, at only 6 lbs, Marc is a miracle baby. Want to know why?

Well Marc has a mom who loves him so very much; she sought help when her four-month old son was extremely malnourished due to a condition in which she couldn’t breastfeed. Children of the Promise admitted her in to the Formula Program to help save his life from starvation, but today took that “life-saving” clause to a whole new level.

Marc’s mother came in today to trade out her empty milk cans for new formula. It technically was not her day to come, but she brought him in anyway thankfully. She mentioned he had a fever and a cough, and when we checked his weight, he had hardly gained anything at all. Nikki and I thought it would be best to see just how the mother made the bottle and try out a different nipple for the bottle. Well, Marc immediately started choking on the little milk he was given and started coughing profusely. I listened to his lungs and heard wheezing, so we started a breathing treatment on him. Minutes later, when his oxygen saturation came on the screen, it was at a very scary low- 71%! His lips started turning blue and his skin turned dusky…. Oh, not good… not good at all. And now after the breathing treatment, his lung sounds turned from wheezing to what sounded like his lung were filled with thick secretions. He was coughing and choking, coughing and choking… again and again. His lungs started retracting really deep from every angle (NOT GOOD). Nikki quickly got Amy, and we started him on oxygen and began suctioning him out the best we could.

At 6 lbs at 4 months old, this baby did not exactly have a huge shot once he went into respiratory distress. On the highest level of oxygen we could possibly put him on and even with suctioning, he was still a blue baby with extremely low oxygen saturations (stayed around 70% for quite some time). He was not moving any air in most of his lungs when he would breathe. Finally, Jenn joined us and started using a special tool to loosen the secretions in his lungs to allow him to expel the mucus. Nikki got a bag and mask ready and held a second source of oxygen over his face. Amy effectively suctioned out his lungs as often as she could without taking too much oxygen away. I got ready to put an IV in to help get him fluids to loosen up his lungs and give him energy to keep fighting for life. Intensity filled the room. This was truly a team effort to go down in the books!!!

This whole time we are rushing around trying to get this baby to keep going, the mother was a constant. She was strong and courageous… she held her tiny baby amidst all the madness and kept praying and singing with hope to be greatly admired. She never stopped praying or singing… she didn’t keep asking if her baby was going to be okay. She took that up with God and God alone. She trusted Him, and for that I cannot commend her enough. Tears in her eyes and a shaky voice, she lifted her baby up to God and His intervention. Her baby is a miracle baby. And this is why….

Once a scalp IV was placed and fluids were started, a peaceful spirit descended into the room. It just sort of came over us that this baby was going to live. The fluids are able to help water down the thick secretions so he is able to actually breathe. The oxygen was on full blast. And Jenn never stopped loosening up the thick rattles in his lungs for quite some time. We suspected him of having pneumonia, so we gave him an intramuscular antibiotic. He continued to need the highest level of oxygen possible because his oxygen saturations struggled to rise. But he’s getting better… he went from 80% to 88%. In just a few weeks, we are thankfully going to be able to take him to get an echocardiogram to evaluate if he possibly has a heart defect that is ultimate reason for his extremely low oxygen saturation. Both he and his mom will stay with us in our apartment tonight… in our modern day Haitian “hospital” in Jenn’s room at Children of the Promise :)! Our pharmacy has become a makeshift ER, and Jenn’s room truly has become an “ICU” for really sick babies. This is the first time we’ve taken a mom and baby couplet to stay with us since I’ve been here, but we wouldn’t dream of separating them after we observed the astonishing love this mom has for her baby. Marc's breathing has gone from retracting and desperate to calm and regular. He no longer struggles for air like he did this morning.
As exciting as the medical side of things happens to be, what is far more impressive is that when his mom and dad came back to visit him, the thing they requested was if we would pray and sing with them. In the pharmacy, a family praised God for their baby’s breath. Beyond that, we are so amazed at the nannies who work here who later came in his room to pray over him and sing songs of worship. They trailed in one by one to comfort the mother and give hope to her baby.
 He is a miracle baby. It is a miracle she ever came to us in the first place, it is a miracle that she came today, and it is a miracle we had four people to fight for his life when he turned blue. But most of all, it is a miracle that his life is surrounded by angels willing to pray for him and praise God through it all. Marc… a name to remember. He’s kind of a HUGE deal! J