Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bella Blast

This Saturday we enjoyed a day in LaFollette with MiMi, BaBa, Aunt Beth, and Bella. Here are some pictures of our favorite pooch (and one of my favorite tree climbers):

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Haiti Update

Pictured above, the children in One Vision's care now situated in their new temporary shelter.

It's incredible that it was just over a month ago that a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. John Miller, with One Vision, has traveled to the country several times since the quake, and below is his most recent update on the children. Thank you for your continued prayers for the Haitian people and specifically for this group of orphans. To follow One Vision's work in Haiti more closely, visit their Web site at Here is John's latest report:

I have decided to split the group of orphans up into two groups. I will be moving the older children to a place that is more suitable for their needs. It will still need a bit of light construction work, but we are well on our way. The 77 younger children, ages 13 and under, have been moved to a different location where we have purchased brand new mattresses, a freezer, a refrigerator, and an oven. We’ve built bathrooms, showers, installed electricity, and even put in a television. The kids are all doing incredibly well!

We have also been working on every child’s official papers, and we are up to 29 birth certificates!

Since I arrived in Haiti 3 days ago, I can’t tell you how many people are stopping us on the road to say how much they appreciate our work (and even ask for jobs). It seems that proper humanitarian aid still has not reached this area. People are still in desperate need of medical attention, as well as food and clean water.

Unfortunately, prices have gone up drastically and our monthly budget, along with our work, has more than tripled. I would like to ask that everyone pray for God’s provision in these times of need. He truly has His hand on us right now and has given us the responsibility of making His name known here. Together, I know we can reshape the future of Haiti.

Learning About Lent

I have to confess...somewhere along the way, I never learned about Lent. It wasn't part of my church life growing up, and it never became part of my spiritual life as a grown up. When Tim and I moved to Birmingham, I heard friends discuss what they were "giving up" for Lent. They'd bemoan the absence of coffee or TV for a few weeks; then it was over. I never understood what it was all about, and honestly, I never explored it.

The past few years I've heard more friends talk about giving something up for Lent with motives that run deeper than denial or deprivation. So, it causes me to wonder what this Lenten season is all about. Frederick Buechner wrote:

After being baptized by John in the River Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question of what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be answer questions like this is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become.

This past year I've been reading through many of Henri Nouwen's works. The liturgical year provides the framework for much of his writing. As a Catholic priest, Nouwen's calendar was organized by these remembrances and celebrations rather than months and seasons. What a new thought to me: that our daily lives be so mindful of Christ that even our calendar is shaped by His life!

With this thought, Advent took on new meaning this past year for our family. And now, I begin to consider Lent and why and how a believer observes it. When we practice Lent, we "fast." We give something up from Ash Wednesday until Easter. However, we don't merely give up something - we replace it with something else. What? One definition explains that "the purpose of fasting is to take our eyes off the things of this world and instead focus on God."

If we are merely denying ourselves a daily chocolate fix to fulfill the Lenten requirement of giving something up, then we are missing the heart of Lent. We are failing to shift our gaze from the world to the Father, asking Him to meet us and fill us and satisfy us. Trusting that He is enough.

During these forty days, we have the opportunity to invite Him to come, to create the space for Him in our lives, and to dedicate that space to Him. I believe that when the forty days transpire, we will find ourselves practicing a new spiritual discipline and walking in a deeper intimacy with Christ. And whether we pick back up that cup of coffee or bar of chocolate, we will not lose the lessons we learned during Lent.

I am praying about how I will honor Lent this year. My reading of late has focused on the spiritual discipline of solitude, so this will be a part of my Lenten observance along with a fast (from what, I don't know yet...). Most importantly, I will consider that Jesus himself looked to God for His true identity; I will ask the questions, ""What does it mean to be me? Who am I becoming, and who am I failing to become?"; and I will listen for His reply.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sweet Valentines

My Wolf Cub, who is hard at work earning his badge, cooked up some fun and pretty tasty treats in the kitchen over Valentine's weekend. On the menu were Porcupine Balls and Rice Krispy Hearts. The entree was interesting; however, I'd recommend the dessert:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You Know My Name

Help me remember the reason I’m alive
And that I was on your mind the day you died

Help me imagine, this is not my home
And some day I’ll be resting by your side

Help me remember the day you won my heart
And you paid my way to freedom with your love

Help me imagine the beauty of this gift
A grace that I am so unworthy of
But you’ll never let me fall away from you

You know my name
You know my story
Still you’ve taken on the world
Just for me

I am amazed that you hear me speaking
You listen close to every word I say
Who am I to be loved this way?
You know my name

If I rise, if I fall
My only hope is this
That you’d be with me everyday
Who am I to be loved this way?

(Above painting "Psalm 139" by Sarah Rowan Dahl.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Quake Update

Only twenty days ago a massive earthquake struck Haiti, but the story is already dropping off the news. John Miller, of One Vision International, just returned from his first trip the country since the devastating quake, and posted his first-hand account at It's a brutal reminder that the suffering is ongoing for the Haitian people and the affects of the earthquake still very, very present. Please take a moment to visit the One Vision Web site to read this account. Below is his update specifically concerning the orphans in One Vision's care:

Many of you have anxiously been waiting word on the One Vision kids. To be honest, when we first arrived at the orphanage, I was floored at the sight in front of me. The temporary location where the 124 children used to live, eat, and go to church was basically flat on the ground. Total destruction. Nearby, you see our precious children waiting patiently for us on the salvaged benches under blue and white tarps. As I was led through the destruction, Dr. Noel showed me where one of our girls was trapped as the blocks fell in and around her. One of the men from the house next door, came over and risked his life as he crawled under the broken blocks to save Katlyn.

After learning this, I couldn’t help but remember that this is the second time in two years these particular orphans have almost lost their lives to a devastating disaster. First, in September of 2008, when their home was flooded and they had to flee to the mountains to escape drowning. Now, January 2010, to a 7.0 earthquake.

On the second day of our trip, we went directly to the orphanage first thing in the morning. All of the kids had prepared a very special ceremony for One Vision for in their words, “saving our lives.” Even though we had many patients waiting on us in the next town, we were stayed for three hours of the children thanking us through prayers, songs, food and even dancing. It was very humbling.

We were able to get about 15-20 Coleman tents for the children to live in for the time being. Right now they are all safe and as healthy as can be expected under the conditions and circumstances. Food and shelter are the main concerns at this moment. This Tuesday afternoon, they will be moved to a much better location about 45 mins away. It was not damaged by the earthquake, and the children will thrive there.

We are working on food now. Because food is more scarce, it is also more expensive. We are praying that the proper help comes soon. In addition, while the doctors were checking out the kids, they found one boy with malaria, and another girl who has malaria and typhoid. Please pray for these two as we are in the process of treating them both right now.

As we are working on moving the kids to another temporary place, we really need get to work on building the final orphanage. We will be re-examining the building plans we have now and make a decision very soon. I hope to be able to break ground late in February because the need is ever more urgent. We are going to be posting updates online. Right now, financial help is the biggest need.

We plan on totally changing the lives of these children, and continue to take medical teams to the area. I know many of you have personally given generously, and I pray that you continue to do so.

–John Miller