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Category Archives: Haiti

My Story and Why I’m Saying Goodbye to My Blog of 4 1/2 Years

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The story began on Christmas 1985 when I was just nine years old. I received my first camera as a gift that year. It was film, of course. One of those old-fashioned rectangular Kodak cameras, I’m quite sure. $10? $15? $20 max? Who knows how much that camera cost. I might not have known it at the time, but that camera was undoubtedly the best present I’d ever received.

I never once stopped taking photos. I’d claim it’s the only thing I’ve done non-stop, my whole life, since I was a little girl. But that’s not really true.

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The story began in 1988. July 4, 1988, to be exact. I’d just turned 12 and received my first diary for my birthday. I wrote stupid stuff, silly stuff in that diary. Like who came to our house for Easter weekend, all the shirts my crush wore to school, the grades I got in school, and why I thought people should be nicer. $5? $8? $12 max? Who knows how much that diary cost. I might not have known it at the time, but that diary was undoubtedly the best present I’d ever received.

I never once stopped writing. I’d claim its the only thing I’ve done non-stop, my whole life, since I was a little girl. But that’s not really true.

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The story began some unknown year when I was a little girl watching Brady Bunch and Little House on the Prairie on burnt red couches in the family room in our basement. I ate potato chips with bermuda onion dip, and cupcakes I dug out from Tupperware in the stand-up freezer. In-between adventures with Marcia and Greg and Laura and Mary, images from a television advertisement for Children’s Christian Fund clung to my soul. A man with a white beard told me stories about children afar living in extreme poverty. He told me I could sponsor a child for just 80 cents a day and asked me why I’m waiting as I watched children walk barefoot through slums. When that little girl stared at me through the screen, my tiny heart wanted to help. I paid nothing. Nada. Zilch. I might not have known it at the time, but the continual running of those television ads were undoubtedly the best present I’d ever received.

I watched those ads intently for years, as long as they played them on TV. I’d claim I’d forgotten about those children, about my deep-seeded passion for children and families living in extreme poverty. Maybe it was just a childhood whim, maybe the nonprofits manipulated my young, tender heart. But that’s not really true. The truth is that the passion lay dormant due to a culture that doesn’t talk much about people living in extreme poverty. Thanks to God’s grace, I was exposed to Compassion International via my favorite blogger, Ann Voskamp, in 2010. In August 2012, we sponsored our first child. In February 2014, I traveled to Haiti with Compassion International. In January 2015, I was invited by Compassion International to travel to the Dominican Republic with two other writers. And in late 2015, I traveled to Kenya with a small nonprofit, Love for Kenya, to spend 10 days with widows and children in an orphanage. Writing and photographing my way through all three trips was pretty much a dream come true.

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I began dreaming about becoming an author in early 2003. The dreaming was private, intense and specific for many years.

I began a blog, Perfectly Unbalanced Supermom, in 2010, but never published a post on it. I was more than ready to write publicly, but that particular blog just wasn’t quite right.

I launched this blog, Divine in the Daily, in July 2012, and have been writing here faithfully for 4 1/2 years. 439 published posts. 91 unpublished posts in the draft box. Four children’s books in the works. A heavy, but hopeful adult nonfiction is somewhere on the horizon. FOUR additional nonfiction books and TWO ebook ideas sit in Evernote as very real and viable possibilities, but they’re somewhere out there in the distance I can’t yet see. Yes, this dream is for an older and wiser woman who’s not that much interested in retirement.

Two years ago this week on December 18, 2014, I left my 14 1/2 year career as a speech-language pathologist to pursue writing, explore professional photography and be home more with my children.

I just wrapped up my second season of professional photography, and it’s been gangbusters, friends. Beyond anything I ever imagined.

This space, Divine in the Daily, has always been sacred to me. But today, I’m here to say it’s time to go. It’s time to close this space down and begin again.

For the past seven months, I’ve felt more and more clear that I need to merge my writing, photography and my passion for missions. I’ve told a few people (quite literally, a few) one of my specific and ultimate long-term visions. If, by the grace of God, I were to ever reach that vision, it would require me to have a complete MERGE of my writing and photography work with my passion for missions. In that ultimate vision, ALL THREE are working together in harmony. I can no longer pretend that my writing operates separate from my photography which operates separate from my interest in missions. As far as I can see, as far as I can perceive, the three are ONE.

Recently, I attended a writing workshop and wrote a seven-year vision. That seven-year vision ALSO requires a merge of all three, writing, photography and missions.

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So. Here we are.

This is the LAST blog post I’m writing on Divine in the Daily under the domain name, www.divineinthedaily.com. Soon, Divine in the Daily will no longer exist.

I have a few more photo shoots to share on my photography Facebook page, and after that, my photography business will no longer be named Knit Woven Made Photography.

EVERYTHING – writing, photography and missions – will be merged into ONE NEW WEBSITE that will provide a foundation which will support the integrated, long-term vision God has given me.

Honestly, I might be crazy. Call me crazy way back to 9 years old when I received that camera for Christmas, or 12 years old when I began writing in the diary I received for my birthday, or crazy watching Marcia and Laura while eating chips and cupcakes on the couch while watching children walk barefoot through slums in faraway lands. I’ve spent a lifetime caring what people think and doing all the “right” things. But I kind of don’t care what everyone thinks anymore. Call me crazy. All the signs keep adding up in the land of crazy. I’ll follow these crazy dreams wherever they lead.

For now, I’m signing off Divine in the Daily. Goodbye. You’ve been good. So good. Thank you to my dear and faithful readers. You are marvelous and faithful and oh so strong.

It’s your story I’m concerned about. What I’ve learned most through this space is that it’s really not about me anyway. The story I’ve shared today? It’s mine. But it’s meant for greater good. So goodbye, farewell, Divine in the Daily. There are greater stories to tell. There’s a better, more integrated vision for the gifts God’s granted me, and that will be best served in another space, another place.

I can’t promise when I’ll launch the new site. I’ve already been working hard behind the scenes, and have much work to do ahead. I need time and space to do everything required to get another site up and ready. It might be a couple weeks, it might be a month. Who’s to say? I’ll do my part. I’ll work as hard and as often as I’m able. Yes, I might be turtle slow, but this turtle’s story goes way, way back. Turtle it will be.

God bless, goodbye and I’ll see you around the other side.

P.S. Stay with me. NO need to unfollow. NO need for you to leave. I’ll be back and will be sure to let you know when everything new is ready to go. So excited for you to join me as I journey to the next chapter of this story.

greensig

My 40th Birthday. Dreams Surrendered. Gifts Received.

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I held two long-standing dreams for my 40th birthday.

  • Run a marathon
  • Take a mission trip to Haiti with my husband

Run a Marathon

I was going to run Grandma’s Marathon in June 2016 or Twin Cities Marathon in October 2016. The dream to run a marathon for my 40th was serious and alive for a few good years until the rubber hit the road and I realized I’d need to actually sign up and start training. When I reminded my husband that this was a goal for my 40th and told him we were approaching the time I’d need to commit, he reminded me that my plate is full, that training for a marathon was super intense, and that I also have a book writing goal, so perhaps it would be better to spend time focusing my efforts on that dream instead.

He was right. His logic made sense. I made a cold and fast decision to drop my dream of running a marathon for my 40th birthday.

Take a Mission Trip to Haiti with My Husband

My husband and I were going to Haiti to visit our sponsored children through Compassion International. Better yet? We were going to Haiti to visit our three sponsored children there, then fly over to Dominican Republic to visit our sponsored child there. It was an idyllic 40th birthday plan in my book. My husband would meet all four of our sponsored children in one week, and we’d plan some sun time for the Dominican side so my husband could get the R&R he needed. I wanted us to take our first mission trip as a married couple. I wanted my husband to see me in my happy place. I wanted him to KNOW that very best part of me. I wanted him to understand why I can’t shake my trips to Haiti, Dominican and Kenya. My dream to make this trip for my 40th was serious and alive for TWO years until the rubber hit the road and I realized we’d need to actually book the trip and start planning all the details.

We had big conversations.

For a period of three or four weeks, it was official! We were planning a Haiti/Dominican trip for my 40th, sometime in the second half of 2016.

But things didn’t feel right. I knew my husband didn’t really want to go to Haiti, and was just agreeing to please me. I didn’t want this to be a check-it-off-the-list experience. I love Haiti. I love it so much I can barely contain my tears writing these sentences. But I also love Kenya. I love it so much that I’d go back today, in a heartbeat if I could. Having said that, I know my heart and I know my current reality. It isn’t realistic to keep both Haiti AND Kenya active and open in my heart during this season of life with three children, ages 13, 11 and 4, at home. I’d consider myself ridiculously blessed if I was able to take ONE mission trip a year until our two oldest graduate from high school. But that once-a-year-dream isn’t realistic. If I returned to Haiti, I’d open my heart up wide all over again, and would want to go back for a third visit. But then there’s Kenya. If I went to Haiti for my 40th in 2016, that would mean Kenya would have to hold off until 2017, more likely 2018. Could my heart bear the weight of that possibility?

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I prayed. I thought about it. I knew what was safest for my heart and the best decision given my current reality, finances, life as a mom of three, and wife of a husband who’s crazy busy with work. One late night after the kids were in bed, I requested time with my husband and told him straight up, “We’re not going to Haiti for my 40th.”

I drew Haiti a beautiful little circle on our bed sheets with my finger, surrendered the final 40th birthday dream, and left it there with God. I never said I was surrendering Haiti for good. I’m surrendering it for now.

With tears and Haiti in a bed sheet circle, that left my heart open and committed to Kenya, and Kenya only. For now. For this season. If God sees fit to open the circle for Kenya AND Haiti someday, I won’t be surprised. In my heart of hearts, I see both. But for now, one. Kenya.

And with that, both of my 40th birthday dreams died.

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Four to six weeks later, we found out that my dad was approved for a lung transplant. If everything goes as planned, he will be placed on the national lung transplant registry by mid-July, just days after my 40th birthday. My mom is first in care for my dad. But my mom is also first in care for my sister who has schizoaffective disorder – bipolar type; she has two children and lives two blocks from my parents. Since I’m oldest in my family of origin, that leaves me second in care for my dad while he’s going through the transplant, and first in back-up care for my sister and her two children while my dad and mom are going through the transplant.

My husband has an intense corporate job that often requires longer-than-normal work days, occasional work on nights and weekends, and regularly takes him away on business travel.

I’m home this summer with three children. It’s only my second summer home full-time since I became a mom nearly 14 years ago. Our youngest starts kindergarten in 14 months.

I’ve written and thoroughly edited TWO children’s book manuscripts, and have a third roughly drafted. I need to write the series proposal and get it in the hands of a literary agent. After that, I’d like to tackle an adult nonfiction proposal.

I’m EIGHT pounds over my most comfortable weight, and haven’t been able to get the weight off since it first started piling on in January 2015 after my husband’s eye cancer diagnosis. I’m wearing capri leggings every day this summer because I only fit into one of my size 8 drawer full of shorts. And my well went dry last weekend because I haven’t had enough time to replenish my soul these past seven weeks.

The Lord is so wise and graceful with his gifts.

He knows what we need and when we need it.

Influence

40-some days ago when I realized my 40th birthday was approaching, my emotions got the best of me. No marathon. No trip to Haiti with my husband. No marking of this momentous occasion. 40 is big to me. If you know me well, you know I’ve been looking forward to 40 forever. I wanted to do something big for my 40th, something special, something to honor who I am and how I want to live the second half of life.

I wondered if there was a way to still pull something off that resonated with my soul. Perhaps a Facebook campaign – 44 days to my 40th birthday – in which I’d collect 440 pair of new underwear for boys and girls at the orphanage in Kenya? Perhaps a party in which we could raise funds for a set of swings and slides for the children at the orphanage?

Creating a new dream out of nowhere was crazy, impossible and possibly stupid. I had a little meltdown on my bed, then headed to the gym with my 4 year old. As I pulled into a parking spot, I looked down at my phone and noticed an email had arrived from wise counsel, someone who has taken at least EIGHT hours solid just listening to me. I hadn’t communicated with this person for a couple months, so she had no reason to communicate with me that morning besides this perfectly-timed gem.

Be Still

You do not have to look for anything, just look.

You do not have to listen for specific sounds, just listen.

You do not have to accomplish anything, just be.

And in the looking, and the listening, and the being; find Me.

Ann Lewin in Celtic Daily Prayer, Book Two, p 1483

Tears. Just tears.

The timing of the email was impeccable. God was clearly speaking. I didn’t have to do anything momentous or incredibly special for my 40th birthday. I didn’t have to find a way to celebrate and express the unique heart He’s given me for life. I didn’t have to prove to anyone except myself and God that I’m heading into this second half of life with passion, fervor, grace and an open heart for whatever He has planned for me.

I don’t have to work for the world anymore.

His dreams are greater than mine.

His plans are greater than my plans.

He needed me to know this.

My job from here on out is to look, listen, be, and seek Him first.

I know I’ll run a marathon someday.

I know I’ll return to Haiti someday.

I know I’ll return to Kenya.

I pray I’ll go on a mission trip with my husband someday.

I know, without a doubt, that I’m going to keep working on those books.

I know I’m home for a reason, for this season, to help my family.

I know I need to take care of myself.

I know God’s timing is perfect.

I know His gifts are good.

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I surrendered two 40th birthday dreams. But God’s filling in the gaps with gifts aplenty.

Time at home with my children this summer.

Time at home so our family has a sense of stability.

Knowing and understanding my husband so our marriage can survive and thrive.

Helping my parents with the CaringBridge and Facebook pages set up for my dad’s upcoming lung transplant.

Being available to help my parents when my dad gets called for the lung transplant.

Being available to help my sister and her two children.

Becoming a Facebook page administrator for the nonprofit, Love For Kenya, with whom I traveled last fall.

A photography partnership with a nonprofit that celebrates babies with Down syndrome.

A divine encounter with the president of MN Teen Challenge who confirmed that my idea would be an “incredible ministry.”

Joining a private writing community on Facebook.

“Yes” to an intense, three-day writing workshop in November 2016.

Two 5Ks instead of that marathon.

A compass from day camp with a message from my four year old. “If you don’t remember where you’re going, then you have that to remember. Okay?”

A perfect ending to the last night I could call myself “39” without lying, including a senior photo shoot, three end-of-season clearance outfits at my favorite store White House Black Market (so I don’t have to wear capri leggings every day this summer), and a beautifully-painted sunset to top it all off.

God’s gifts are good.

He knows what I need.

I’m 40 today.

I’m ready.

Bring it, 40, whatever you look like.

greensig

Carol Femling - I cried all the way through this post!! Yikes!!! I had Tiff go into our house to get some tissues, as we were in the car ready to go somewhere.The song that Tiff has on the radio right now is “God is on the Move…Alleluia”! I know that this song was meant for you right this minute. You are always on the move with so many good things happening, all in the name of love!! Keep being the person you are!! You are AMAZING!! Of course being your mom I would think that! ❤️ Enjoy this special 40th birthday today and enjoy every day from here on. You are very loved by me….your mom!! Happy HAPPY Birthday, my dear sweet daughter!!! ❤️July 2, 2016 – 3:59 pm

Teresa Campbell - Beautiful! God ways and paths are not always clear, and we may seem confused or questioning, but they are always good. Praying for you on your birthday and knowing God will bless it with sweetness and contentment.July 2, 2016 – 3:58 pm

Tom Baunsgard - Happy 40th Birthday Amy! May the next 40 years will be filled with Blessings too!July 2, 2016 – 3:14 pm

Mama

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I bought her from a street vendor in Haiti.

Poverty stricken men begged for our business. They didn’t have to beg me a second for her. I saw her. I wanted her from the minute I laid eyes on her.

I bought her for $12. Didn’t barter a cent. She’s worth far more.

If she were to break, I would freak.

She’s pregnant. Expectant. Waiting on something more.

She doesn’t push or shove her way to delivery. She wants nothing more than to birth when the time is right.

She’s beautiful. Ripe. Swollen with new life.

Moves my heart so.

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She’s been on my dresser for a year and a half. I stare at her nearly every morning before I rise from bed.

Three weeks ago, I brought her to her rightful place. Downstairs. Where we move. Where we live. Where I write and ponder. Where she can be treasured, loved and remembered for who she was, for who is, for who she will be.

Expectant.

Lovely.

Full of promise.

Peaceful.

Mama.

pinksig

Proof of God’s Pure Awesomeness

Friends, I’m so excited to share some awesome news with you today! Let’s just say I’ve had a hard time keeping it to myself. I can barely contain the joy, so let’s get right to it!

When I went on the sponsor trip to Haiti with Compassion International last February, I met a 2-year-old boy named Charles. I wrote a blog post about my time with Charles and his mama. If you never read it the first time around, or need your memory jogged, now would be a great time to check it out (click here and the post will open in a separate window.)

I know some of you don’t have time to read the original post, so let me refresh your memory! I met two-year-old Charles and his mama at one of the Compassion projects we visited in Haiti. Charles’ mama shared her painful story with our group, and revealed that Charles had one leg. She was beyond grateful for Compassion’s Child Survival Program, as they have been a tremendous source of hope and support. Needless to say, I was deeply moved by Charles’ story. Later that morning, I had the opportunity to interact at length with Charles, his mama, a translator, and Compassion staff. By God’s pure grace, I was offered the opportunity to be Charles’ sponsor once he’s old enough to officially enroll in Compassion’s Child Development Sponsorship Program. I was, of course, delighted to say yes, and gathered all the necessary information to make the connection back home.

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When I returned from Haiti, I spent nearly nine months trying to track down Charles. I wanted to do my part to keep the promise. So between February and October 2014, I called Compassion International’s hotline three times to see if there was a way to link Charles’ name with mine in the system. While Charles and his mama have been participating in Compassion’s Child Survival Program, Charles is not quite old enough to enroll in the Child Development Sponsorship Program, therefore, there has been no easy way to officially link our names.

Let me just say, after the first two phone calls to Compassion, I was beginning to realize it was going to take an act of God for this to happen. But I was determined to do my part and follow it through to an end.

During my third call to Compassion in October, I was advised to send an email detailing all the information I had so they could investigate the matter further.

I sent that email to Compassion on October 30.

Within a week, I received a personal phone call from a staff member at Compassion. She notified me that she was going to contact Compassion’s country office in Haiti, and would get someone on the ground to investigate the matter. The goal, to ensure Charles’ continued participation in the program and officially link his name to mine for sponsorship.

I was excited and hopeful, y’all. This was actually going to happen!

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(So here’s where the story starts to get really cool.)

On November 18, 2014, a man named Antonio (aka Tony) posted a note on my blog’s Facebook page“I would love to share my experience with your sponsored child Charles with you. Please contact me when you can.” That same night, I also found comments on my blog from Tony, one comment on the post I’d written about Charles, and another on a post I’d written about my love for Haiti.

Within four hours of the post to my wall, I was Facebook messaging Tony, this “random stranger” from Texas. Tony had just returned from a sponsor trip to Haiti with Compassion International on November 10-15. While he was there, he met and engaged extensively with Charles!

Within four days of the post to my wall, Tony and I agreed it would be awesome and much easier to chat on the phone about our sweet Charles. So we exchanged numbers and talked at length about our experiences. It was amazing. Simply amazing.

But friends, this isn’t the end of the good news! I saved the best news for last. Because it’s the biggest, most awesome and amazing of all!

Did you ever wonder how Tony tracked me down? How in the world did he know I had anything to do with Charles? I won’t bore you with the lengthy sequence of events Tony and I unpacked that ultimately connected us, but let me just say THIS WAS A PURE ACT OF GOD! There’s no way I would’ve ever connected with Tony and discovered these updates about Charles had it not been for God’s miraculous orchestration of events. Many hands were involved, friends. Many hands were involved. People followed the Spirit’s promptings, one after another, which ultimately led to me discovering and sharing the most AWESOME NEWS OF ALL with y’all today…

Our sweet Charles has a prosthetic leg! He’s well and joyful, and is moving about with relative ease! And his mama has a smile on her face that’s filled and overflowing with joy. I’m as tickled pink as I could be! For THIS is a miracle. This. is a miracle. Believe it, friends. Believe it when you see it.

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This is an act of God, all the way around. He has worked. He has shown His glory. He has shown His great power and delight in bringing joy and healing to His children.

Today, a boy walks and dances.

Today, a mama beams joy.

Today, this mama sponsor beams joy, too, for she understands God’s sovereignty and goodness, even in our pain, even out of our darkest moments.

Today, a man in Texas understands the power of the Holy Spirit. Because he listened to the promptings in his heart and stopped to engage with a little boy in Haiti, we can begin to fathom the lengths to which God pursues us. Even when we aren’t aware, even when we don’t believe, He’s working. He’s sovereign. He’s in control. He’s got this.

It’s a miracle. Pure awesomeness.

pinksig

 

 

 

Yesterday was #GivingTuesday. Perhaps you gave to the nonprofit of your choice. Perhaps you didn’t, but are moved by Charles’ story. Compassion International is funding a Child Survival Program for mamas and babies in India! Yesterday, Brianne McKoy wrote a lovely post about the opportunity to help fund this project. Check out her blog post and maybe, just maybe you’ll feel led to give. Because who wouldn’t want to be a part of this joy?! Or maybe you’ve always wanted to sponsor a child. Head right on over to Compassion’s website where hundreds of children are waiting for a sponsor.

Amy - So glad you found and read the post, Stephanie, and that you met little Charles, too! What a blessing that you had in that trip to Haiti. As for me, I’d go back any day.December 6, 2014 – 6:10 am

Stephanie Green - Being a fellow traveler on last months Haiti trip with Tony, I remember meeting Charles, as well. What a happy little boy! What a blessing that you two will be to each other.As for Tony finding you- I am not surprised :-) God works mightily through him – he was a blessing to us all!December 5, 2014 – 7:37 pm

Gretchen Wendt O'Donnell - Way cool!December 5, 2014 – 3:15 am

Hannah Hinojosa - Wow!! God is amazing!!!! Thank you so much for sharing this story with us!!!December 4, 2014 – 7:55 pm

Terri Siebert - This story gives me goodbumps and brings brings tears to my eyes, only God could make this happen :)December 4, 2014 – 5:19 pm

Antonio Macias - I’m brought to tears and humbled by this experience. I desire to be used even more by him. I am filled with so much joy. :)December 3, 2014 – 9:46 pm

Sandi Bishop - Only God! amen!December 3, 2014 – 8:47 pm

Donna McMorrow - What a wonderful way that God has revealed Himself. Thank you for sharing. May God continue to bless you and Charles.December 3, 2014 – 8:35 pm

Amy - I hear ya, Sandra! This is good stuff. :)December 3, 2014 – 7:19 pm

Sandra Heska King - Oh my word. I’ve got chill bumps!December 3, 2014 – 2:51 pm

I Had to Fly Away to Find Myself

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2014

It sounds dramatic.

But it’s true.

I had to fly away to find myself.

Nearly nine months ago, I found myself alone in a hotel room in Miami, Florida. I’d spent several hours on a flight from Minneapolis, so when I arrived at the hotel, all I wanted to do was get out for a walk in the “warm” February weather and grab some dinner at a nearby Chick-Fil-A. I took my chicken strips with honey roasted barbecue sauce, waffle fries and Diet Coke back to my room and ate quietly on the bed, then turned on the television, slipped into my pajamas, and watched Blackfish. You know, the unforgettable documentary about orcas at SeaWorld? Yep. I was intrigued. I got completely lost in the story. And I stayed up extra late to finish watching it even though I really needed to get to bed. Because I was flying to Haiti the next day to visit our two sponsored children through Compassion International.

When Blackfish was over, when the unexpected flurry of beeps in response to my #Blackfish tweets finally slowed, when I’d decided to call it a night and turn out those lights, that’s when the heart pain kicked in.

I’d been having ever-so-slight heart pains for weeks leading up to my trip to Haiti. So it was no surprise that I had them again that night when I was alone in the dark, Miami hotel. I’ll tell you the truth. I started to freak out just a little. I wondered if I was going to have a heart attack while I was in Haiti. I wondered if I’d been ignoring all the signs of an impending attack. What if I was about to find myself stranded in a Haitian hospital and have to forgo my trip because of these stupid heart pains?!

I started to feel alone and a bit scared for my life. In all the months of planning and preparing for this moment, for this trip to Haiti, this was the first time reality had really set in.

I’m in Miami, Florida. In a dark hotel room by myself. I’m going to Haiti tomorrow. With a bunch of people I’ve never met. What in the world am I doing?!

Through all these thoughts, my heart continued to ache little aches. I ignored them, though. Because those little aches weren’t about to stop me from going to the airport and getting on that plane to Haiti.

Oh, I’m so glad I didn’t let those little aches stop me.

Haiti collageThe trip to Haiti was marvelous, wonderful, better beyond anything I ever expected. The children, parents and staff we met at the Compassion centers filled my heart to the brim. I felt completely at home making those home visits. And having an entire day with our two sponsored children was the most amazing, blessed gift I could have ever received.

I felt fully myself.

I was fully myself.

Back home, life had been well. I had pretty much everything I needed and most everything I wanted. And everyone who loved and cared for me was there.

Something was missing, though. That is, until Haiti.

Until Haiti, I’m not sure I knew what it felt like to be fully me, fully authentic Amy.

Let me explain.

Haiti helped me realize there’s a difference between who I’ve been and who God created me to be. When I was there, I experienced what it was like to live in the center of His will. I was fully, fully alive. I was fully, fully me. If I could ever pinpoint a moment in time where I felt 100% comfortable in my own skin, it was then.

How did I know?

Because I experienced the fullest range of emotions I’ve ever experienced. My guards were down, all the way down. I cried, a lot. Not because I was sad, but because I was so full of joy. I felt a little stupid, because, well, I seemed to cry like a baby every time it was my time to share at the end of the day. I said stupid stuff, like “this trip means a lot to me.” And after sweet baby boy said he wanted me to be his mama, I pressed my hands up against the windows on the van and sobbed my eyes out and put my hands on my heart and didn’t even care that someone was sitting between the window and me watching it all go down. Yet, I was filled with joy. Some of the purest, truest joy I’ve ever felt. And I knew, there’s beauty, great beauty in the place where joy and sadness meet. That’s God space, God’s place. He was there. In me, through me, behind me, ahead of me. Everywhere. Everywhere.

So yeah. That’s how I knew I was most fully myself.

Then it was time to leave.

I wasn’t sad to be going home. Because my husband was right, home is where everyone knows and loves me, home is the beautiful everyday God has created for me.

But I was really sad to leave Haiti. Because there, I’d learned to be me, without borders. I didn’t want to fly away from the beautiful everything God created me to be.

I thought the story was done. Back home, life returned to normal. Or not so normal. Nothing was the same.

I took a blogging break for 3 weeks.

I dreamed.

I made some decisions.

I decided I really wanted to go to a writing conference in the fall.

My husband said yes.

So eight months after I got back from that trip to Haiti, I found myself on a plane to a writing conference.

I’d been connecting with this group of writers for four years. I’d wanted to attend the conference for two years. But when push came to shove? I had no idea what I was doing when I got on that plane. I had no. idea. what. I was doing.

But let me tell you. In some odd, totally unexpected turn of events, God showed me, once again, who He created me to be. I came fully alive, again. I felt fully alive, again. I knew what it felt like to be me. Really, me.

AllumecollageI found my people. I felt free. I took risks. Little risks and great big risks. I roomed with someone I didn’t know at all. But in the end, it felt like we’d known each other forever. I got to meet nearly everyone I wanted to and then some. I was me, just me. I wasn’t less than or more than myself, I just was myself. When I sat myself at random tables, I knew there’d be a place for me, because everywhere I went, I felt comfortable as me.

I ugly cried with Jill who pursued and loved me like mad. I got vulnerable and prayed with Christy and Jaimie. I humbly welcomed the love from sweet Darlene when she introduced me to friends and called me “angel.” I felt all the exhaustion when I plopped, hunched and got real on the couch with Jessica, Heidi, Alia & Shelly. I felt God’s divine power pour down when Anna and I had the opportunity to speak at length with Mama Bear Liz. And I hoped and prayed I was meeting friends-to-be when I hugged and chatted with Crystal, and complimented Annie on her way of making me laugh and cry in one hour. I felt like an idiot when I’d completely lost it in that dark, dark room when Judah & The Lion played music that matched the core of my heart. And when I realized someone witnessed me losing all composure? I didn’t even care.

I went all day, and I didn’t want to stop.

I couldn’t get to sleep at night because my mind was racing, my heart was full.

And when I called my husband to tell him how awesome the trip was, I felt the same way I did when I called him from Haiti. I felt full. I felt like me. I wished he was there. To see the real me, the best of me in action. He said he was proud of me, that I deserved this. I don’t feel like I deserve anything, but I was happy he got to hear the real me, the best me.

Before I knew it, I was on my way back home with Traci. God knew I needed her bubbly extroversion to balance what would’ve otherwise been my sadness.

And when I got home, what waited on top of the mail pile?

A blue box. With a Compassion International sticker on top. Inside? The details of our trip to the Dominican Republic two months from now.

I had to fly away to find myself.

And God’s willed. Pure grace.

I’ll be flying. Again.

Perhaps those heart pains weren’t pains at all, but a heart ready to burst open wide.

pinksig

 

 

 

*Photo at top of post taken by Allume photographer, Kim DeLoach.

Jaimie West Bowman - I love how God gives us moments like this to remind us of who He created us to be. I’m SO happy that you felt free on your trips (and I felt the same way ) :)November 7, 2014 – 9:49 pm

Anna Rendell - You are so special, Amy, and I treasure that hour with you and Liz!!November 7, 2014 – 9:46 pm