Introducing Murphy

When I decided to quit my job in Kansas City and accept my current job in Baton Rouge, I would often answer the inevitable question of why I was quitting and moving across the country with a half truth – because I wanted a dog. It was only a half truth because I was truly miserable at my old job and was looking for any escape route but also because I wanted to be home enough to have relationships, including one with a dog.

I love block-headed dogs. Our family Labrador was block-headed and gorgeous. I also like unusual coloring like orange or blue or brindle. I was exposed to a wonderful lady who fosters dogs in Kansas City. You can read her blog at Our Waldo Bungie. She had an amazing pit bull named Moby who I adored. The timing wasn’t right for me and he ended up with his forever Mom – read their blog here. But I was hooked. I wanted a pit bull.

Insert new life in Baton Rouge – house, steady hours at the new job, and the pit stop rescue group. I’ve been looking at their adoptable dogs for several months now and decided to fill out the application last Friday. I was thinking this process would take a little while (read: a month or more) but it came back approved the same day! It was also good timing because they were having an adoption event on Sunday so my friend and I decided to go.

The original dog I was thinking of adopting wasn’t able to make the event which turned out to be quite alright. He is a little more high energy that what I really wanted. When we walked up, Murph was laying very still in a kennel and taking in the whole scene. He alternated raising his eyebrows are me when I would make eye contact – our old Lab used to do this and we called it the railroad crossing eyebrows because they look like the alternating blinking lights of a train crossing. We looked and played with several other dogs but I came back to Murphy.

I don’t know a lot about his past and maybe I never will but he is shy. In fact he is named after Audie Murphy, a famous WW2 army soldier because he army crawls to get around. I think I’m going to call him Murph – also after a heroic solider – this time Navy SEAL Michael Murphy. He must have had some terrible experiences on a leash in the past to be like this. He’s submissive, not aggressive and actually gets along with toddlers and other dogs quite well (both were at this event and he was giving kisses).

I was hooked.

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We had the home visit yesterday afternoon and he is now on his 7 day sleepover with me! If all goes well (and I think it will), I will sign official adoption papers next week 🙂

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Relationship.

I went to Haiti thinking I knew what I was getting myself into. I was excited, not nervous like last time. I was ready.

God must have such a great sense of humor.

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“I love you like Jesus loves you.”

Really?

You’ve known me for less than 4 hours. and yet, I completely believe it. Completely.

The children of Village de Vie in Gonaives, Haiti understand the gospel, a gospel most of them have never actually read. A gospel most of them do not have access to in their own language. They understand the love that Jesus has for us. enough love to die for us. A love whose only requirement is wanting relationship. these children seek to have relationship with you. all you have to do is let them sit on your lap and suddenly my heart bursts.

I was not ready to cry in Haiti.

I was not ready to have my heart-broken again by The Lord of All. I was not ready to see all the lessons God has for me. I was not ready for the children to remember me by name and come running across the school yard to greet me. But God is sovereign.

“Small steps, one at a time, because He knows my faith isn’t strong enough to take a big step. The God of the universe knows my limitations, and still loves me enough to work within them. He does this with literally billions of people all over the world at the same time. God blows my mind, stirs my heart, and quiets my soul. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9).” -Ruined for the Average

Such an appropriate quote. I read it for the first time as I sat on the airplane back to Miami. I didn’t want to come home. I didn’t want to leave Haiti. The first time I left Haiti I knew, deep down in my gut, that I would be back. No question. No hesitation. And God provides so I went again in October. This time, I wasn’t sure. I wanted to be sure. content. established in my ability to go back to Haiti. Instead, I am waiting for God to show me how and when. I can’t imagine Him giving me such a love for Haiti that He will not be faithful in fostering an opportunity to go again. but I will pray and wait and see. A lesson in patience.

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God is also teaching me about relationships using small steps. The obvious lessons about relationship from Haiti are with the children. the community. the church. How to be in international community. How to provide lasting impacts. How to help raise children that live on another landmass. But what’s deeper is that these children already get it. They love us because we spend time with them in relationship. They pray for us and we pray for them. That’s all it takes because God is handling the rest. The same with our relationship with Jesus. He wants us to spend time with Him and He loves us. that’s it. no strings.

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But deeper than that, God has given me relationships with other people who live in the Midwest and love Haiti. people at Redeemer. people with The Haiti Orphan Project. people who have significantly different world views than I. believers and non believers. Let me be the first to tell you – watching a non-believer loving a child of God and being the light of Jesus in their life is astounding! God truly uses all people for His Glory. These people have shaped my life in KC. They have provided comfort and support and speak into my life on a regular basis. I am so thankful.

And when I question God’s influence and ability to make a difference in Haiti, He connects me to people all over the USA. Some via blogs that I read and take refuge in. some via my Mother’s sewing group who now wants to help establish a sewing center and provide dresses to the girls of Haiti. people I have never met who have seen my photos and want to help. People who have no other incentive to be a part of Haiti except to provide for people who need. people who restore my faith in humanity and the God who created it all.

And deeper still.

God keeps showing me the next step to take. always. This trip He blessed me with wonderful examples of marriage and relationships. A friend’s boyfriend showing up at 4am to send us off to the airport. A husband parenting his child. letters written to fill in the time without technology. conversations about learning to be pursued. conversations about redemption in a marriage. a wife taking pictures of her husband loving children. leaps of faith to try something new and uncomfortable. I was overwhelmed by the love people have for each other and could only imagine the love God must have for us! It is so much I cannot even fathom it. My heart cannot contain all of it.

“God’s love is greater than anyone can know…” -Ephesians 3:19 (NCV)

As I sat on the plane back to Miami, for the first time in my life, I wanted to wait for the man God will give me to marry. I’ve been waiting. I am being obedient. but not with a joyful heart. I’ve done this out of duty. but for the first time, I was excited to wait for God to bless me with someone who pursues Him, loves me, and wants to work to see Jesus’ love poured out to this world. For the first time, I added something to my nonnegotiable list – he must love Haiti.

At one point in my life (driving cross-country with my Mom in March of 2011 actually), I had a list of items that I wanted in a husband. It was a long list. mostly silly. and completely artificial. I remember my Mom asking me if I had it written down. I did not but I was sure that I was going to remember all of those things when “Mr. Right” came along.

Since then, I’ve been born-again in my faith and come back to loving God and learning to trust His plan and rule over my life. Until October 22nd, my list had shrunk to one item – he must be a Christian who pursues God and points me back to Jesus (I guess that technically a couple of items). But October 22nd added that he must love Haiti and want to be in international community and even that he will want to adopt a child (or children) from Haiti. I’m writing them down and talking about them.

A year ago I would never have had a serious conversation about adoption. I wouldn’t have considered it. God knew this. I have friends who are orphaned and friends who are adopted. I’ve ignored both of those issues for years. He sent me to Haiti to open my eyes to what adoption could look like. It’s messy. It’s broken. It needs love and God’s support. It is exactly like me. It requires faith in Jesus. and trust in God’s plan and sovereignty. reduction of self for another.

My Mom and I talked about adoption when she was in KC right before I left for Haiti. It was a generalized conversation about how this was something on my radar. Something I was just beginning to think about. it was a good conversation but one we left for far off in the future. I’m 26. not married. busy career. adoption is a serious committment and I have a hard time sticking with the same shampoo all the way thru the bottle. But sitting on the plane October 22nd, I had the same feeling and determination about adoption that I did about returning to Haiti. This is something I am going to pursue until God changes my heart. I pray that He doesn’t. I pray that He provides the right man to go through this process with and the right child to bring into my life. I pray for it to happen in His perfect timing. and I pray with thanksgiving in God’s ability to use small steps to take me a long way from where I’ve been. I am only hopeful in what the future holds for me and my family.

The children of Haiti have created room in my heart that will one day be big enough for a couple of humans to fit into. God is still working and I am thankful. Thankful that I wasn’t ready. Thankful that God uses small steps so that I can start to comprehend His power and grace. Thankful for the lessons I learn in Haiti and how they translate back to America.

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