Somewhere Beyond Myself

There are journeys in our lives when we step out from the shadows and into the light.  In Haiti, I feel as though my selfish sunglasses were removed from my eyes and I was quickly introduced to a world I had never known: a world I had only known from the media.  The Haitian people blew me away.  The people were courageous and joyful.  They were in the mist of adversity, but they had a zeal for life.  Their desire to serve God and serve others gave them a contentment that I could only admire.  Matthew 12:46-50 kept running through my mind.   “As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you. Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”  The words penetrated to the core of my being.  I always thought I truly comprehended what those verses meant, but I realized I had no clue.  I could have walked away from everything because I felt like I was truly serving the Lord with all of my being while I was in Haiti.  I was completely removed from everything I had ever known as normal.  Throwing my selfishness into new customs, new languages, and new traditions… I didn’t stand a chance.  I was consumed with compassion for the people, hunger to know them inside and out, with love for people who were different from me in so many ways, but there was one unescapable truth… we were all made and loved by the same Creator.  Not only was God stirring my affection for Him, but for His people… stirring an affection in me to be a catalyst for change.  In these next few blogs, I will be sharing the experience I was able to be a part of while in Haiti and how God changed me.  He used the Haitian people to be a catalyst for change in my life.  Bold people.  Compassionate people.  Courageous people.  Driven People.  Loving People.  Passionate people.  Selfless People.  Everything I desire to be… they were!

(Typed out of my personal journal; I wrote these journals in Haiti)

Where do I even begin?  There are no words to describe things we have experienced or been able to see thus far.  The great has been great.  Courtney, Jason, Jeremy, and I have been eager to get to Haiti.  We have laughed a lot… some at Courtney.  She says very funny things early in the morning.

[Scenario: Courtney and I were sitting in the plane heading to Miami.  The sun was reflecting off of the ocean and it was gorgeous.  Courtney looks out the window to see the view and sees the sun’s reflection off the water.  She turns to me and says, “Ronda, is that the sun down there?”  Then she quickly caught herself and said, “Nevermind.”  We both just busted out laughing.]

Once in Miami, we sat around anxiously waiting to leave and get to Haiti.  We talked about all the apprehensions we had and expectations.  In the meantime, we met a family whom were waiting to board a plane to visit family in Venezuela.  They were laughing at us picking on Jeremy.  We shared with them where we were going and immediately the mother said, please don’t drink the water there.  Be very careful!  We laughed and not her we were not worried.  We told her we believed the Lord would protect us and she said with a smile, “Amen.”  After they left and boarded their plane we realized that we were the only ones in our area waiting to board a plane and our plane left in 20 minutes.  Jason started asking around and we realized we were waiting at the wrong terminal.  We grabbed our carry-ons and ran to our gate.  We made it right as the last few people were boarding.  We couldn’t help, but laugh in that moment at the possibilities had we missed our plane.

All morning my prayer had been that God would allow all of our nervousness to fade away and turned into excitement at the possibilities of what He was about to do in our lives.  [We had no clue].  The flight was relatively short.  Once we were off the plane we headed into this small building and began heading towards baggage claim.  We walked into this building that looked like a warehouse and inside we were placed into lines to go through Customs.  This was our first real experience with no air conditioning, but I don’t know if any of us really cared.  We were overcome with excitement and bombarded with people everywhere.

We must have looked quite funny trying to find all of our luggage with 1,000 other people.  We were all running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  Within minutes of looking for our luggage, a young Haitian guy, appeared with a HCM shirt on.  He introduced himself to us as “Fegens.”  It did not take long for us to realize that Fegens was a character.  He had a great personality with a big smile to go along with it.  I quickly knew I would enjoy his presence and if everyone else was like him, then it would be an interesting week. :]

After all everyone had their luggage we headed outside to the van that would be taking us to the mission.  On the way their we were suddenly surrounded by 3 other guys.  I could tell all of us were unsure, because we had been told to be cautious when leaving the airport and not to let just anyone help you with your bags.  Fegens reassured all of us that it was okay, so the guys took the bags and placed them into the back of our van.  We all loaded up and the guys jumped into the van with us.

In the captains chairs sat Keke and Fegens.  Keke was our driver.  He was quiet, spoke very little english, and looked to be in his 20’s.  Fegens, once in the van, introduced himself as Kanye West, which we all erupted with laughter.  Fegens knew everyone.  He was extremely outgoing and never met a stranger.  In the next seat sat Jason and I.  The seat behind us was two young Haitian guys.  Robenson (23) and Samuel (18).  Robenson, also known as Sonson, was very handsome with a sweet smile.  He spoke English very well.  He had a sweet spirit about him.  He was socialable, but was not as outgoing as Fegens.  He was not one to force a conversation.  He seemed as though he was very humble and kind-hearted.  Robenson had learned English in a very short period of time and had helped the Haitian people after the earthquake.  He was an interpreter for the doctors in the Dominican while they were seeing many Haitian people; he did this as a volunteer for a few months and was later hired by HMC to help interpret for them.  Samuel was younger.  He was still in high school with only two years left.  Samuel also spoke English, but he was still learning.  [Robenson had been helping him learn].  Samuel was handsome as well.  He had a sweet nature about him.  He was very patient [which I learned while he was trying to teach me Creole].  Samuel had a hunger about him… to learn our language and about our culture.  He was a little more shy which honestly just intrigued me.  Samuel had a sweet smile as well.  He was admired Robenson and looked up to him which was very obvious.  Samuel had a spirit of boldness and encouragement.  I will tell you more about them as you read on.  Both are amazing young men and one thing was deniable about these two, they loved God with everything in them.

The ride to the mission was wild.  People driving however they wish and as fast as they wish.  There were motorcycles driving in the middle of the streets [which would have been white lines for us] with cars driving in both directions on either side at crazy speeds, people (young and old) running into the streets with cars coming right at them.  Not to mention how many dangerous potholes there were along the way.  It made for an interesting experience. haha.

On our way to the mission, Fegens recognized some people walking down the side of the road, so we stopped and let them ride with us until their stop.  At this point there much have been 13 people in the van with us.  It was awesome.  We were all chatting about different things to pass the time.  Samuel and I spent the time teaching on another; he was teaching me Creole and I was returning the favor by trying to help him learn new English words. [Clouds = Nyaj]  When he could not understand what I was saying, he would turn to Robenson, saying, “Sonson? Sonson, I don’t understand?”  Then Robenson, who was talking to Jeremy, would translate what I was saying so Samuel would understand.  It was awesome!!!

It had been an incredible trip even up to this point and we had not even been a Haiti a full day.  We were laughing and cutting up with the guys we had just met and I already felt like I had known them forever.  I am pretty sure everyone on our team felt the same way.

Preparing For An Awakening

My thoughts are consumed with Haiti!  I can only imagine how the lives of the people there have changed since January 12, 2010.  The devastation they were put through, the cries and screams from the city streets as people searched for their loved ones, the smell of death all around, the dust and rubble covering their skin from head to toe, struggling to breathe as they crawl from under the rubble which had only minutes before been their homes…  utter devastation all around them.

I can’t even begin to truly prepare my heart for this trip.  Prayer has been on the forefront of my mind.  I have truly been trying to pray without ceasing especially considering all the circumstances I am about to experience.  My biggest prayer has been for God to use our team in a mighty way by sharing the love of Christ with His people.  The Haitian people are in need of love just like everyone else.  They need to know that they haven’t been forgotten.  It is easy for us to see the devastation of their community and feel sympathy for them, but to truly experience their environment will be totally overwhelming.   I cannot wait to see how God moves through our team on this trip and to see what kind of life change it will bring for all of us.  The last thing I want to happen is for us to come home, hit the ground running with school and work to just forget everything we experienced while in Haiti.

Please pray for us as we share God’s love with the people there.  Especially considering that majority of the people there are Roman Catholic and almost half of those practice Voodoo. :]  It is definitely going to be a new experience for all of us.  I honestly just want to spread the love of Jesus to the people there and love of some little kids and the women there.

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.  You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” – Matthew 5:13-16

Pray that we will be a light to the Haitian people… that we will be a catalyst for their weary souls, because of Christ.

“For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.  He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.” Psalm 22:24

a word can change everything…”mommy!”

Last night I received a phone call from Sarah’s mom.  I had just finished a softball game with Bethany Christian and was pretty pumped about our win.  We were going to eat with the team, so I figured I would return the call after dinner.  During dinner I sent my mom a text message about going on vacation and she replied with, “Did Susan call you?”  I sent her message back telling her that she had called, but that I hadn’t have a chance to call her, but I was planning to once I was done with dinner.  She sent a text message back that said “as soon as possible.”

After that text I told Nick we needed to go, because I needed to return the call.  As soon as we got into the truck, I went ahead and made the phone call.  [At the moment, several things were running through my head… she scored a goal in soccer, she won an award, she was calling to wish me a happy belated birthday, she was really sick, or maybe the impossible, but I quickly put the impossible out of my head].  Sarah’s mom answered the phone with her usual sweet greeting [with Sarah in the background saying, “you said I could tell her”], and told me that Sarah had something she wanted to tell me.  Sarah was quick to take the phone and the next thing to be said to me was from Sarah’s sweet voice, “Hey Mommy!”  [I couldn’t breathe.  I felt like someone has just sucked all the air out of me.  A million things were running through my head, so the only thing I could do was say, “Hey Sarah.”  Then she giggled and said it again, “Hey Mommy!  Mom and dad told me tonight that you are my mom.”  She was so happy!!!  I had no clue how to act or what to say.  I could hardly breathe for goodness’ sake.

I told Sarah I was so excited that I was about to start crying to which she replied, “I know, right?!?!”  [too much like me].  I asked Sarah how they told her and she said, “Mom promised me that the next time Dad was with us they would tell me who my mom was.  I had been asking for a while.  So Mom told me, ‘you know her.’  I replied, ‘I do?”  Then momma said, ‘your mom is Mrs. Ronda.’  I couldn’t believe it.”

I then asked her what she thought about all of this information she had just been given and she said, “When they told me I was so excited and shocked that I leaned back in my chair and just thinking about you being my mom felt like I was falling into clouds.”  [I had the biggest lump in my throat as I was trying to do everything, but cry].  I started laughing and told her how glad I was that she was soooo excited.  Then she asked me, “Is Nick excited about too?”  I reassured her that he was very excited [which was easy to see with his giant smile].  We both talked about the next time we would see one another and how we would do much better about talking on a regular basis now that it wouldn’t be so hard.  Then Sarah told me her mom wanted to talk to me again.  They explained how excited she was and how she told them that “they would always be her mommy and daddy and that she loved them, but she was very excited about finally having two moms.”  She also told me that she couldn’t have seen it going any better than it had and I explained that I totally agreed.

I told them how thankful I was for them and their love for her.  I told them that I couldn’t have picked better parents for her and that I knew that God had His hand in all of it.  I also reassured her that Nick and I only wanted to partner with them in loving her and teaching her about the Lord.  I reminded her that we saw them as her parents, not us, and we would respect their wishes always.  I made sure she knew we only had her best interest at heart and that we were overjoyed by the news we had received.  Wish a promise of a visit as quickly as possible and me thanking them repeatedly, we were close to ending our conversation, so she asked Sarah if she had anything she wanted to tell me before we got off the phone.

Sarah, as quickly as before, took the phone from her mom and said to me, “I love you Momma.  Good night Momma!  I love you, Momma!  Bye Mom.”  [still in shock] I told her, “You have given me the best news possible.  I love you too Sarah.  Good night.”

I could hardly breathe when I hung up the phone with her.  I am pretty sure my feet weren’t touching the ground… my brain wasn’t really working [actually it was in overdrive].  I sent a text message to my mom that said “HOLY COW,” as I explained my conversation with Sarah to Nick, Megan, and Adam.  [Nick had already called his mom and Megan had already text hers].  It was crazy.  Then I finally called my mom.  She already knew because Sarah had called her after they called me and couldn’t reach me.

Sarah told my mom, “Ronda is my mom.  Nick is my dad.  You are my grandma.  Mr. Ronnie is my grandpa.  Russell is my Uncle. Kristopher, Zachary, Zaylee are my cousins.”  Mom said she seemed super excited when she talked to them.  Mom and dad were completely overjoyed as well.

The whole situation with Sarah’s adoption and her knowledge of the situation has turned out to be a total God thing.  To Him be all the glory!  There is no way that it would have turned out this perfectly without His hands all over this.  Thank you to everyone who has been praying for her and me over the years.  They were truly heard.  Thank you!!!  Please continue to pray as we all transition… especially for Nick and I as we transition into a more permanent role in her life.  I love ya’ll!!!!

Ps. Sorry this is soooo rushed and probably jumbled, but I wanted to hurry up and get it out. :]

Questions

Why is this happening?

What are you trying to teach us?

Why can’t you give us some answers?

Why would you allow me to have a child in high school in all the wrong ways?

Why not now when I am going about it the right way?

How can you give people children who mistreat their children or neglect them, but people you know will raise their children to love you and serve you, you withhold them?

Does it make you happy to see us try and build ourselves up, just to crumble with the news of another negative?

Why are you allowing our closest friends to get pregnant, but not us?

How can you sit back and watch me fall a part and barely breathing and be okay with it?

Why are you allowing me to feel like I am drowning with no glimpse of help in sight?

How can I continue to have faith in you like I always have?

How long must we wait? (I am not getting any younger)!

I know you have a purpose in all of this, but could you please give us some answers or at least a answer?

How long do you expect me to hold on? (I am losing my grip).

Do you really think I am that strong?

Why Nick?

Why are you allowing him to suffer? (He deserves so much better).

How can I continue doing this… trying to move forward?

How long before I realize what you want me to?

Why can’t I feel you or find you?

Where are you?

Bitter water makes for a slow death…

I can’t breathe.  I feel like someone has their hands wrapped around my neck and I am desperately trying to get them off.  I can’t breathe.  The only thing I feel is numb.  This disappointment and discouragement is consuming me.  It is welling up inside me like a geyser about to erupt… and I am terrified of the impact is will have on my heart and the hope I have been holding onto for so long.

Idiot, right?  To believe this time would be different and that this month would be our chance.  I feel like someone sucker punched me in the stomach.  I wasn’t expecting that at all… I believed it would be our month, not that things were going to get worse.  Oh again, satan is screaming over me that I am a failure and not enough.  I want to scream, but who would listen… NO ONE!!!  No one understands or feels like I am feeling.

This situation feels like a giant ocean that I am trying to ride out and make it to shore.  I have been tossed from side to side…. emotions riding high… longing to find some normalcy in this sea of hope.  This time the storm is raging much fierier than I ever imagined and my heart is beating out of my chest, just trying to keep my head above water.  I can taste the bitter water in my mouth stronger today than ever and I am pretty sure that the bitter water is the makings for a slow death…

I need my life preserver! Jesus, I need you!

Days Like These… Enough!

Family planning is overrated. Okay, this is just me being bitter at the moment. I went to the doctor on Tuesday to see how I was taking to my medicine. I finally got the courage to just point blank ask Dr. McKenna whether she thought Nick and I would be able to have kids since she had given me some extra help in the fertility department rather early. She explained that she thought that because of my irregular cycle we would have some trouble (trying to not be too specific). She thought that if we used the fertility stuff that it would increase our chances.

I guess at this point I was okay with using the drugs because I was realizing we needed the help. While we were talking I explained that while we were on the CCF Women’s Retreat that I had experienced some cramping in my left ovary to which she became very excited and sent me stay to the lab to have blood work done. She thought the cramping might be due to my ovulation. This gave me the hope I had been looking for and felt myself beginning to get excited. I went to get my blood work with the biggest smile on my face hoping that finally things were going our way. Nick was really excited when I called to tell him that she seemed really excited and sent me for blood work. He wants a baby so bad he is just beside himself.

We both have been looking forward to today when I would get my results back. Today around 4:30pm, I called Dr. McKenna’s office anxiously waiting to hear my results from the blood work… Lynn (one of the nurses) read me the results which I didn’t understand and then she explained that I am not ovulating on my own. She explained that I would definitely need to use the Clomid to simulate ovulation. She went though how all of this would work and how I needed to take the drugs over the next few weeks. I hung up the phone to hear the sweet voice calling my name… my sweet husband. I explained what the nurse said and the results of my test. He, of course, was sweet and supportive, but inside I felt like I was dying.

I know it sounds stupid, but in some ways I feel like a failure. (I know I’m not, but I guess I just can’t help, but feel that way).These last few weeks I have been trying to remind myself that my job, my success to produce children, and so many other things do not define me nor should they define where my confidence comes from. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 has been what I have been repeating to myself.

“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

I think what has been refreshing is the translation in Greek for the word “competent” means “enough.”Repeating “Not that we are ENOUGH in ourselves…but being ENOUGH comes from God. He has made us ENOUGH,” has helped me wake up in the morning and not feel like I am worthless. It gives me some peace just knowing that God is what makes me ENOUGH… not my husband, not my job, our home, or our income, but simply GOD! Satan has been telling me that I wasn’t enough my whole life, so I don’t know why this is any different. I have fought hard against him for so long and this time will be no different… or is it?!?! This time it just feels different.

Satan has been beating me up steadily and at times I feel very weak and vulnerable. At times I feel like the biggest failure… most of my feelings stem from my past mistakes and decisions… fearing that I gave up the only child I might have been able to have, fearing that I would not be able to have a child with the man I love with all my heart, or that maybe I gave up my chance. I know all these doubts are from satan, but I guess I am writing this blog to have the people I love the most praying for Nick and me. Praying for God to give me strength and wisdom. I am just tired and growing very weary! I love ya’ll! Thanks for just being there for us and loving us no matter what.

Reassuring the blind-folded…

Nick and I are officially trying to get pregnant.  (Scary, I know).  We are looking forward to the experience and we know it is forever going to change our lives.  Nick has been ready for this for a while, but about a months ago we sat down and had the serious talk… “Are we really ready?”  We were both on the same page and feel like we are in a place where we are as ready as we can be for starting a family.

It has been really hard for me to prepare myself for this.  When I think about starting a family, I feel a plethora of emotions.  I can’t help, but think about Sarah and where she will eventually fit into this family we will have.  Wondering if she will even want to be involved in our family once she finds out that I am her biological mom.  I worry that she will resent me or her half brothers or sisters, because I kept them.  It is hard not to get excited about the positive things though if she is happy and understanding.  It’s exciting thinking about her being a big sister to our children and eventually getting to know her father’s children as well.  There is just so much to think about and sort through.

This pregnancy will be so different.  I won’t be hating myself for the mistake I made before marriage.  I will actually be having a child that I will be keeping and taking care of for the rest of my life.  I won’t have to feel the guilt for the consequences of my actions everyday.  I won’t have to grow attached to a “little one” growing inside me and know that I will soon have to part from that small little foot who stuck me in my ribs or played around in my belly while I was trying to sleep.  This time when I sing songs to them I won’t have to wonder if they will still hear those songs once they part from me.  This will be a whole new experience, but that scares me.  This will be a totally different  experience for me.    It still scares me because there are times when I feel consumed with guilt for even wanting a family… all because of Sarah.   I know that this is not how I should be feeling, but some times satan definitely gets the better of me.

God has definitely got a plan.  He has not failed us so far and I know He will have the best interest of my children at heart.  I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store, but sometimes it is a like walking down a road with a blind fold on with a guide who you can’t touch or feel.  You can only trust their voice and that they won’t lead you astray and knowing that the price at the end will definitely be worth everything we will go through.  Our guide is in control!

So here I am listening for that familiar voice that I love hearing… that is so sweet and reassuring.  Hopefully, it will be different this time and I will pull out my headphones and turn off my Ipod and just listen to His sweet words direct and reassure me.

Pray for us as we journey down this long winding road towards a wonderful gift that only God can give.

Serving together!

Children… square peg in a round hole?

Nick and I have been talking about children… scary, huh?  We both know we want children and we don’t want to wait much longer (Lord knows I am not getting any younger).  Children change your life so much… instead of everything being about you, everything is about the child.  Nick and I are not use to that… we do what we want, when we want, however we want.  That won’t be happening once children are thrown into the mix.  We had a long talk on Monday night about the fact that there are still several things that I want to do before we have children and how much harder those things will be to do when we have children to think about.  I feel very overwhelmed with anxiety when I think about all of these things and I don’t want the thought of children to be a source of anxiety for either one of us.

I really think that Nick will be an amazing father and that together we will make a good team when it comes to parenting… it is all just very overwhelming and scary.  I guess the idea of children right now compared to all the things that I still want to do just seems like trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole.  I will keep praying because I know that the Lord will show us when is the right time (I still have a lot of weight to lose before hand as well).

thoughts… just a bunch of thoughts.