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Category Archives: Prayer

Me and My Battles

You have to keep your cool at work, generally speaking.  Can’t lose your temper in the face of complete incompetence, you have to be professional.  But then you go home and you let off that steam.  Sure, you try your best to be nice to your spouse and your kids, but it’s still your own home.  Your safe place.  You do things the way you want to.  You keep things the way you want them.  Like the lids securely on all the Tupperware in the fridge?  You got it.  Like the bigger pots to hang behind the smaller pots?  No problem.  Like to do yoga in your underwear?  Um, sure.  You can face another day at work, because you just had a night or a weekend away from all that nonsense.  Even if you love your job, you need some perspective, some refreshment, some solitude.  Or is it just me?

Now imagine you live at your work.  That little break room at the end of the hall?  That’s the extent of your “privacy”.  And the other employees?  Some of whom drive you nuts all day?  They never leave.  Evenings, weekends, holidays, they are perpetually there.  There are always at least 3 of them sleeping down the hall, sitting in your living room when you’re “done for the day” and just want to relax in peace, rearranging your silverware for no apparent reason, listening to loud and obnoxious videos on their phones, and always ready to pounce if you lose your cool for one second.  My type-A, verging on OCD-like tendencies, are under constant attack, as is my introverted heart.  A hundred times a day, I see something that makes my skin crawl that I’ve just learned to let go, because it doesn’t make any difference to call it out.  I like my house kept a certain way, a logical way (in my mind!), but I’ve realized it just ain’t gonna happen!  But letting it go just means I don’t do anything about it at the moment.  It still feels like a little assault inside of me every time.  Then there’s another tier of things that I try to gently address because it more directly affects the well-being of our kids.  Those things are usually met with a myriad of excuses and complaints.  So that’s fun.  Then, after letting a hundred things go, and addressing a dozen things that are basically rejected, I have reached my capacity.  I do have a capacity.  I am human.  Something, big or small, is going to tip me over the edge.  I’m going to overreact.  And because I try desperately never to let this happen with our kids, it is going to be with one of the adults in our house.  I don’t like when it happens with Wilson, but overacting to your spouse is sort of “acceptable”, in a way, I think.  More acceptable than overreacting to your employees at work, at least.  But that’s where I am all the time, at work with employees who, frankly, make me crazy.  So lately I feel like I’m constantly on the verge of a breakdown.

Adjust your expectations.  That’s the advice I’ve received on a number of occasions.  And that sounds nice; lower your expectations and you won’t be bothered or disappointed.  But it’s not that simple.  For one, I will not lower my standard of care for our kids.  I just won’t.  They need to be clean.  They need to be safe.  They need to be loved and engaged.  No compromising there.  Second, I am a steward of money that is not my own.  If I were not strict about how supplies are used in our house, there would be a gross misuse of pretty much everything, driving the Promise House budget through the roof.  I know this because that’s how it was before we moved in and that’s how it is every time I “give an inch” or when we leave for a vacation.  And third, I’m not sure you can just switch personality types because you say you want to.  And, I’m not sure I should anyway.  I think my perfectionism, organization, logic, planning, and determination are at least partially responsible for the progress we’ve made so far in the Promise House with these kids.  I think to run a home caring for 8 kids with special needs and staying within a donated budget and being mom/advocate/nurse/teacher/therapist/manager/etc. takes at least some of these qualities to do well.  And we are doing well.  The kids are healthier and happier, they are progressing, the house is cleaner and more efficient.  But the cost is a battle inside me and I’m pretty sure I’m the one losing.  Guys, I can’t even have a good cry in my room because the nannies can hear me from the kitchen and the short-term volunteers can hear me from upstairs.  I can be the picture of perfection for weeks and lose my temper once after the umpteenth time they do something totally ridiculous and they will lose their minds and go tell the nannies in the other houses what a horrible person I am.

For a few months, we had a nanny-free day every week and even though it was hard work taking care of the kids by ourselves, it was pure bliss, in its own way!  A day to detox.  We really appreciated their help more after coming back from a day without them.  But now we’re back up to 8 kids in the house with another little one on the way (yes, I’m 12 weeks pregnant, if you haven’t heard!), which means I’m more tired than usual and soon won’t be able to physically care for the bigger boys for a while, so it’s just not practical to continue our nanny-free days.  So truthfully, we need the nannies. But truthfully, I’m barely holding it together having to live with them 24/7.

And then one day, God touched me with his magic spirit wand and now I have the patience of a saint.  No wait, that didn’t happen.  And then one day, I stopped caring about anything that didn’t have true, eternal value, so the dumb things our nannies did just stopped bothering me.  No wait, that didn’t happen either.  There’s not really a resolution to this little story, I’m sorry to say.  It’s just me, hanging in there because God has given me a fierce love for these 8 precious kids that I can’t turn my back on.  Just me and my battles, praying that maybe I could win a few so I can find hope for myself like I already see for my kids.

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Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Life in Haiti, Prayer, Sheila

 

Freedom of Speech

So, I started writing the next installment of the One Year in the Promise House series, this time about J and K, and this just came out instead.

J and K came to live at Children of the Promise (COTP) years before I did, when they were still babies, and have been some of the few constants in an ever changing landscape over the last five years.  Before coming to be the nurse at COTP, I had very little experience with kids with special needs, but I quickly grew to love these two boys and their friends.  I learned a lot from them, about God, about myself, about humility, about unconditional love.  And in no small part because of them, I found my voice.  Perhaps related to being a middle child, I definitely had a go-with-the-flow attitude, and would rather be at peace with those I loved and others around me than share my opinion.  To be honest, I wasn’t even sure I had an opinion about many things.  I was already starting to delve into this part of myself before coming to Haiti, but there’s something about being with someone who actually doesn’t have a voice that puts your own vocal discovery on fast forward.  How could I keep quiet when these children I cared so deeply about needed to be heard?  How could I let them stagnate without getting the therapy they needed?  How could I let the rain drip on them through holes in the roof while they tried to sleep night after night?

The verse God has pressed into my heart since the beginning of this journey is Galatians 5:13, “You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”  We are free.  Free to have an opinion.  Free to have a voice.  At least in some parts of the world, we have freedom of speech.  But how do we use our freedom?  To shout our opinions from the rooftops, our own needs and desires from the mountaintops?  To shame and slander those who disagree with us or whose needs and desires compete with ours?  Or do we use our freedom to give a voice to the voiceless?  To advocate fiercely for the oppressed, the forgotten, the downtrodden?  To serve one another in love?  To serve one another humbly in love?  An important distinction, that is.  I’m quite certain the passage does not say “do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, speak up for others so you look like a good person.”  My boys, J, K have taught me much about truly selfless love.  Not to say I’m always that great at it, but that it is worth striving for, that I will never stop trying to serve them humbly in love.

God has given me a voice, I know this now.  And I know that He has called me to use that voice to speak up for children in Haiti with special needs, to make sure that those considered weaker and less honorable are treated with special honor (1 Corinthians 12:23), to serve J and K and their friends humbly in love.  And now that I know this, I will not waste my freedom, I will not choose another path.

I choose to believe that many of you are already using your freedom to serve others humbly in love.  Please tell us how you’ve been called to use your freedom, who you are giving a voice to, who you are serving humbly in love.  Not to pat yourself on the back, but to set a spark or fan the flame in someone else, to encourage one another, and to give praise to the One who called us to be free.

I also believe that some of you have yet to discover your voice, or have yet to discern how best to use it.  Pray (or meditate or think); who does your heart break for?  Who is oppressed, forgotten, or downtrodden and you simply can’t stand to see things continue as they are?  What are you going to do about it?  How will you use your freedom?

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in Haitian Reflections, Life in Haiti, Prayer, Sheila

 

Teacher Needed Urgently

Teacher Needed Urgently

The mission of Children of the Promise is to provide excellent physical, spiritual, emotional, educational, and economic care for at-risk children and families in Haiti, empowering the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.  Vulnerable and disadvantaged are certainly two ways to describe the kids we care for in the Promise House (though we do not believe these words define them!). Slowly but surely, we are seeing change here in the Promise House, as we strive to provide excellent care for our kids.  There has been positive change in their physical, spiritual, emotional, and economic care.  However, after almost a year here, the one area that we have not yet been able to affect change is in education.  We are so thankful for the two house parents who have been able to do a few hours of school each week for our kids, but it pulls them from the kids they are caring for and they simply don’t have enough hours to give.  They do a wonderful job with our kids but their expertise is not in special education.  So, in order to allow them to refocus on their own homes and to better meet the educational needs of our kids, COTP has opened a full-time position for a special education teacher here in Haiti.

I am extremely excited and hopeful about this opportunity.  As house parents, our goal within the greater mission of COTP is: We will create a stable, Christ-centered home, where each child is loved, encouraged, and supported as we help them reach their full potential.  We believe that providing high-quality education is an important component of helping our kids reach their full potential.  Providing age-appropriate education empowers our kids, giving them respect and dignity.  So many times I have wished I had the qualifications to provide our kids with more education, but God has made it clear.  My role in their life is to be mom.  Mom for now.  Mom indefinitely.  But it takes a village, right?  And while mom and dad are always important, right now my kids (and a few others here at COTP) need a teacher.  Someone who believes in them, believes in what they can be.  Someone with the knowledge and skills to draw out of them what some doubt is even there.  Someone with patience and resolve.   Someone called to empower the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.  Someone who is not afraid of humidity and a few pesky spiders.  Is something stirring in you?  Or is the face and heart of someone you know coming to mind?

I trust that God will provide.  I trust His will and His timing.  I want things to happen now (or yesterday!), but I choose to trust.

http://childrenofthepromise.org/open-positions/

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2017 in Life in Haiti, Prayer, The Kiddos

 

Personal Prayer Request

As the months and years pass, we have witnessed together this resounding truth: God hears the prayers of His people.  This community of believers, some of whom I have never met, have prayed in unison for prisoners to be set free, families to be united, little bodies and hearts of all sizes to be healed.  Though impossible to predict His answer, we can be sure He always hears us and will make all things work together for good.  Perhaps a good we couldn’t even imagine.  It’s easy to ask for prayers on behalf of others, but for some reason I’ve been finding it difficult to broadcast personal requests.  I feel like I need to say that I understand others have gone through much worse, for much longer.  But this is just where we are right now…

If you have a moment, I beg you to pray for Wilson’s visa to come as quickly as possible.  I know some of you are already on your knees regarding this process and we are so grateful.  When we were married last August we were told he’d have a visa by February, so when I moved back to the states in November we never imagined we’d be living apart this long.  We’ve been trying to focus on the good like being able to visit so frequently and the chances we have to video chat.  But everything else is starting to overwhelm us.

Logistically, I am not allowed to defer any more quarters in my master’s program so I need to start my clinical rotations in September.  I simply cannot work, attend clinicals, and travel to Haiti simultaneously.  Wilson and I have now been married 10 months and we are building the foundations of our marriage on scattered skype calls and one week together each month of the furthest thing from real life as you can get.  I have been back five times since January and the little glamour travel held before has long since faded.  When I’m back in California, I am worn out from making up the shifts I missed with an underlying current of jetlag keeping me awake at all the wrong times so that my most common emotion is just tired.  We have been patient.  We have been optimistic.  But we are wearing thin and the finish line is looking more and more like a mere mirage in the desert.  There is power in prayer, whether it changes our situation or changes us, we need the power of God in our lives one way or another.  And I know how much you all want to meet Wilson 😉

image (19)

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Prayer, Sheila, Wilson

 

Sometimes two is better than two

When Wilson and I were married last August, we wanted our wedding to be about two things.  First, we were professing our commitment of lifelong love before God and before our families.  That’s generally the idea, right?  But equally important was the idea that along with the expression of our vows, we were being commissioned for the work God had set out for us, as a couple, to do.  I strongly believe that our potential in tandem is far greater than our sum as individuals.  Two together can accomplish greater things than two alone.  This doesn’t necessarily apply only to marriage, mind you, as any two Christians in ministry together will accomplish greater things than they would alone.  Anyway, we don’t yet know exactly what or where God is calling us, but we know that we will serve Him together.  Certainly we were both working for the Lord at COTP and now we look expectantly toward what will come next.

For now, we have been given the opportunity to participate in a research project together that some of you may have heard about already.  We are partnering with a nutrition professor from my parents’ church to conduct interviews in two villages not far from where we live in Lagossette.  I totally geeked out last month when we got our official approval from the Institutional Review Board at California State University of Long Beach.  The idea is that we don’t want to help in Haiti in the ways we think they need it, but in the ways Haitians themselves see their need.  We also wanted to find and recognize the things that are already being done well, the strengths of the Haitian people.  So we recruited a young man from the first village to be a sort of ambassador to the people on our behalf.  He introduced us at each home and helped to weigh and measure each child at the end of the interviews.  As the interviews went on and he offered more input and suggestions, it became clear that this young man was learning from the process and had such incredible leadership potential.  He was excited to be a part of something that could potentially help his community and came back each day to find us.  Near the end of the final day, he asked if he could help us again when I came back in May.  Of course!  Pray with me that we continue to build this relationship, that he realizes the power he has in Christ to affect positive change in his world, and that we are able to recognize and provide any support and encouragement he may need.  Data collection is still in process but we look forward to sharing the results with you once the project is complete.  Hopefully my brain is not complete mush after that many hours of Kreyol.  I’m certainly getting lots of practice!

It’s good to still be connecting with people in Haiti.  It’s good to be able to help in some small way even though I’m living back in the states for the time being.  People ask me rather frequently when and if Wilson and I will be moving back to Haiti.  Honestly, I couldn’t tell you.  But wherever we live I hope we are loving our neighbors and whatever we do I hope we are bringing glory to God.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2014 in Prayer, Sheila, Travel, Wilson

 

Answered Prayers

Two and half months ago, we started fervently praying for two things.  One of our kiddos had some obstacles to overcome so that he would be granted a visa that would allow him to go home with his Forever Family.  My brother-in-law, Emilio, was unjustly arrested and put in prison with many forces working against his freedom.  In both situations, there were many days when hope would build and we came so close to resolution.  But each time, our hope fell a little as those small leads turned into nothing or encountered new hurdles.  Then on Wednesday, October 9, 2013, without fanfare, without dramatic finales, Emilio was granted his freedom and the U.S. embassy gave our staff in Port au Prince our little guy’s visa.  There are no coincidences in the realm of God’s sovereignty (everywhere!) and I am not suggesting that the little boy’s life at COTP is in any way like Emilio’s time in prison.  But I still think God was making a point.  We will never fully understand His ways but if I could imagine what He might have been trying to say it sounds something like this:

I hear your prayers, every one.  I listen and the injustices in the world break my heart; my compassion wells up for you.  I will answer your prayers, every one.  But I will not do it in the way you expect me to and I will not do it when you think the time is right.  I know exactly what is needed and when.  I know when the sea must part to swallow the armies closing in behind you.  I know when you need only to hear me whisper in the breeze.  Trust me.  Trust me to know what is best.  Trust me to do what is best because of my great love for you.  Trust me.

I am so grateful that Emilio is home and healthy.  I am so grateful that our little guy will be united with his Forever Family this week (though I will miss him terribly).  And I am even more grateful that we serve a God who is trustworthy.

the BrothersL to R: Peter, Emilio, Toto, Wilson

S & E

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2013 in Prayer, Sheila, The Kiddos

 

Emilio Update – Judgment Day

*Updated 10am EST – Emilio’s judgment has been postponed. Not sure when it will be rescheduled but we will keep praying and keep you updated.

Two months pass quickly when you’re a new parent, when you’re eighteen and have just moved into your first college dorm, when your friend or child is moving away and you just can’t seem to hang on to the days as they slip past.  But two months do not pass quickly when you’re awaiting your judgment in a Haitian prison, catching diseases, toileting in a bucket with 50 other men, bribing guards for your safety, and there doesn’t seem to be any hope that you will be tried justly when your day before the judge finally does arrive.  It’s been two months since our brother, Emilio, was imprisoned because of falsified police reports and an unrelenting grudge.  We prayed then, and we continue to pray now, but God has yet to show us just how He will show His sovereignty in this situation.  All my grand ideas of how God would (should?) show His power have not happened.  The gates of the prison haven’t busted open.  No high-ranking officials have chosen to use their position for Emilio’s release.  The man who had him arrested has not dramatically turned from his ways and dropped the charges.  Today, Wednesday, is finally the day of Emilio’s judgment.  We have been told the price for his freedom could be anywhere from $1,000 USD to $10,000 USD.  We will all go to the courthouse together and we don’t have any idea what will happen.  We don’t know how God will work, but we put everything in His hands.

Lord, we want Emilio to come home.  We want the hearts of those who stand against him to turn to You.  We want You, and You alone, to be praised.  We want your angel armies to be sitting with us in the rows of the courthouse, visible to those who need to see that Your power is above any other.

Pray for Emilio TODAY.  Pray urgently.  Pray persistently.  Pray faithfully.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Life in Haiti, Prayer, Sheila