i was sitting at a client's house amazed by her sweetly behaved 5 year old twins when i spied a sticker chart in the hallway. i asked the kiddos about it and they excitedly said 'its our HAPPY HEART CHART!'

i asked mom more about it and she told me that when the kids started getting older, she wanted to tackle the attitude that starts to pop up along with their molars :) around 4 my struggles with lily started to be more about HOW she obeys, not IF she obeys. at one point a few weeks ago she actually crossed her arms and gave a loud 'humpf!' when she didn't want to do what i asked.

the chart is about spirit, about not just obeying but doing so with a positive, happy heart! needless to say i went to the store for posterboard and stickers and made two identical 'happy heart charts' and got lily and eve schooled in the wonders of a sticker chart immediately. we practiced a few common requests on my behalf (ie. can you please take your shoes upstairs and put them away?) and role played what their responses might look like with a grumpy attitude and then with a happy heart. eve particularly liked the over the top grumpy answers :)

both girls got on board and have been super excited to earn stickers. i have a 'surprise' box (aka old shoe box) that they can select one item from upon gaining 10 stickers and both girls chose candy necklaces as their first reward. i remind them often that we are ALL still learning to 'obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart'.

the proof is in the pudding- here is eve tonight with her booty. she earned 10 stickers this week!


(part 2 of ?)

the first night in haiti i took maybe the coldest shower of my life. we're not talking just 'not warm', we're talking 'was this water steeping in ice before it came through the shower head'? starting the mental list of things to be thankful for... 1) traffic laws 2) hot water heaters

we spent our saturday at the yaveh shamma orphanage, run by pastor gaetan (who has been dubbed 'best smile in haiti' and he deserves it!). we pulled up in our van outside the gated walls and my heart was in my throat. we have been sponsoring one of the children at the orphanage and the thought of meeting her and her friends had already brought me to tears several times before even leaving on our trip.

from the moment the gate rolled back we were swarmed by little hands, hugs, tugs, smiles, looks of yearning for love and affection. it was breathtaking, literally. i was glad to have on sunglasses so i didn't have to pretend i wasn't crying. i had at least 4-5 girls holding my hands, arms, waist pretty much the entire visit. if i could have just stayed there all week i am pretty sure that would have suited me just fine. looking around at their little faces full of hope and love, recognizing the little smiles from families at church who sponsor them, i was beside myself.

it is the overall emotion of that day along with the little moments of showing the kids pictures of my girls and hearing their sweet voices learn the names 'lileh, eef, anneh' that i will hold onto. their stories are heartbreaking but hopeful and we will continue to do what we can to improve life and potential at yaveh shamma.

sunday we spent the morning at church. i have never attended a service in another language and i spent a lot of time observing the attendees, the details. i was blessed to witness the positive affects of a microloan on one of the families at church and see other micro loans given out. the smile on his face when he held the check that his paintings earned him- this wasn't charity, not a hand-out. this was money he earned that will support his wife and child. it was priceless.

the hardest part of transcribing any of this is that the experience is in the details. it is in the people you pass on the side of the street selling produce, the smells and sights as you drive through town, the little orphan boy one pew over trying to capture your attention during a sermon in creole, the smiles and stories of everyone you meet. it is in the beauty and hope of this country that is so close to ours.


we left church one day last fall and looked at each other and i think i said something like 'i really want you to go to haiti' and kevin said something like 'i really want to go. i really want you to come with me'.

so we made it happen. it was a clear decision- we were not worried or uncertain. it was one of the clearest callings we have experienced and because of that i was excited, anxious, READY. we chose the next planned trip, just 3 short months away and didn't have much time to fundraise or prepare. in hindsight i think that was a good thing.

the morning we spent traveling to port au prince was probably the most fun we have had in quite some time. just laughing and joking with each other felt like a vacation in so many ways. by the time we made it to haiti we were already enjoying the group we traveled with. we didn't know any of our teammates until we arrived- another blessing in disguise.

our crew consisted of three married couples and 5 guys. a missionary, a faith blogger, a musician, a photographer, a techie, a firefighter, a teacher, a soccer referee, a pastor, a stylin mom, and me.

we were in the country a whole 15 minutes when we saw a woman die in the airport of what seemed like natural causes. the cultural differences were suddenly very apparent. the next cultural difference was quickly presented in the form of traffic. trust me, anyone who complains about austin traffic has never driven in port au prince.

when we made it to the pastor's house that would be our home for the week we felt so thankful and well taken care of. the girls' room was fairly empty with just 3 of us. truthfully we were all such different gals, but we got along famously. we stayed up late the first night laughing and talking and it felt like one part summer camp, one part college dorm room. i just know i was feeling thankful knowing i had these two amazing women with me for the week.

every person we met had an amazing story. our translators, our hosts, our cooks, our pastors. i just loved listening to each of them. we were there in haiti not to come with answers or to show haitians how to do things, but to be the students and supporters of the wonderful leaders already working so hard at improving life in haiti. it was our gift to be in the presence of such thoughtful and gifted leaders and to be a small part of helping them achieve their vision.

this is my first attempt at putting any of this into words. i will keep writing when i have time and space. for now babies are crying which means i am back in reality and i have to go be a mom. and this makes me even more thankful that for those 7 days in haiti i got to be so much more than a mom for just a week.


honkey tonk eve

eve understandably loves son volt's 'tear stained eye' since the chorus mentions 'saint genevieve'. i love that she doesn't know the words to any songs on the radio but this one (and honkey tonk is probably only on the radio in austin!)


walking down the hallway at church this morning, jen hatmaker held my arm to stop me and said 'i really want to hear about your trip to haiti'. i gave her probably the most honest answer i've given anyone so far and just told her i haven't even really talked to my sister about it. that the whole experience seemed too big still. that it would be somehow not fair to dumb it down into words.

she smiled and said 'that makes total sense. just keep experiencing it'.

and i am.

i'm so thankful in a million ways for our life and the treasure of this awakening we are experiencing as a family and as a couple. i hope for so much i feel like i can't even wrap my mind around it. so i am choosing to do my best to press in to God in these moments and stay near to Him and keep my heart open and listening.