Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Livesay [Haiti] Weblog: They are Haiti

Just have to share this recent post by Tara Livesay...

Livesay [Haiti] Weblog: They are Haiti

One of the many things I am looking forward to in Haiti, is getting to know it's women, love the snapshot that she shares!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Say Yes to.....?

Where do you draw the line when God asks something of you?
What would you say yes to?
To what would you give Him the answer:
"Are you crazy? Absolutely NOT happenin'!"

I was thinking about my own answers to those questions today & probably will be for some time.

This weekend I saw the facebook post of an old college friend (thanks, Sheila!). Now I'm on Day 2 of a new devotional series by Kay Warren (Saddleback Church).

It seemed like a good fit since:
1) The lessons are 5 minute video devotions.
2) She calls it a 30-day "ADVENTURE", &
3) It's about learning to say YES to God.

Why after saying "yes" to MOVING to HAITI...would I still need to work on that???

In my personal experience, deciding to obey & actually moving forward & doing it are sometimes two very different things. Have you ever asked one of your amazing children to do something for you? You know something they know they need to do for you, but just isn't all that enticing? 

Has it ever played out like this in your home?

"Could you....., for me, please?"
"Sure, Mom"
"Great thanks, love"
"Oh and could you make sure that you take care of .... while you're at it too?"
"Yep, no problem, I got it."
"Well, don't forget, it's really, really important...."
"Nope, I won't."
"Great, thank you so much!"

Some time check back in w/ amazing kid, only to find out that the good intentions of obeying you that were "verbalized", have not actually "materialized"?

Yes, well, that is a "nice" version of me obeying God most days.

So, go to Haiti? Wow, that IS a tough one!
He's been at work for YEARS preparing me for not only be willing, but wholeheartedly agree to answer His call.

But what I've agreed to is still MY version of going to Haiti -- the scenario that I can picture in my head. In all reality it has probably been "edited" to my own tastes just a bit. It is possible, that His ideas may be a little different than mine & that the process of getting there, as well as life in Haiti, may have a few surprises.

In that light - YES - I am going to participate in Kay's loving "boot camp", just to make sure that I am ready to respond positively on a daily basis & (hopefully) even when those unexpected events come.

Since going back to work the past couple of years, I haven't been able to participate in any women's Bible studies. This one is finally simple enough to manage, but I'd love to have some company!!  If you'd like to join me on this particular adventure, you can sign up to receive short daily video devotions here (

Let me know what "saying yes to God" looks like for you...

Anyone who has time for some online fellowship, please message me on facebook & let's set up time to "chat"!

just say...YES!

ps: IPhone users - there is even an app for you!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The journey to Haiti officially begins...

Words can hardly describe my thoughts lately about all that God has done to get us to this place of "reckless abandon" to His work full time in orphan care! Though our path to Haiti specifically has just begun, He has been faithfully guiding us through some treacherous territory the past few years, in order to get to that starting point.

My plans are to keep up, as well as I can, my personal journey on this blog from now on, while taking on the responsibility for updating the family one at the same time! Right now we are getting that one up & going this week, so watch for the "launch" of that one very soon! We'll see how it goes to do both for a little while...?

I covet your prayers for energy & efficiency (sounds like a household appliance! lol) while we navigate the new waters of fundraising. I will continue to support the family until we are fully funded with my work for UHC. Ted will be taking over responsibilities for the guest house this fall. There are already 6 teams scheduled to be hosted there before the end of the year. Each of them is traveling down to provide much needed encouragement & support for the Haitian churches that are caring for orphans. We are hoping to move by mid-March in order to manage things in person, which will be much easier!

Pray also that I will sleep better. The beauty of being totally pain-free since recovering from my hysterectomy 3 months ago has only been marred by the fact that "insomnia" seems to be one of the classic symptoms of menopause!? Just when I thought I would be catching up on years of interrupted sleep...oh dear! I'm going to need it during this extended time of pray hard!!

Watch for more to come on our new blog roll out...both provide a place to subscribe if you'd like each post to come to your email for convenience. 

Here's a preview of the title we voted on & developed...

It's based on our family's motto & one of our favorite children's books! Be blessed...& be a someone in need today! R

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Home from Haiti...wrap up & some photos

I've shared some intial impressions while we were in Haiti, but thought I'd give more of an overview of the work being done there, what was accomplished on this particular trip and where we go from here...

T & I arrived on Saturday afternoon (7/24) w/ Scott Vair, VP of projects for World Orphans. We did some basic preparation @ the guesthouse, for the full team to arrive the next day.

In Haiti the time is the same as it is here in TX, CDT. However it is east of the US, so the sun comes up @ 4:30 am!! In order to beat the heat, church services begin @ 6 am. We were invited to a beautiful church service, by the Haitian OVC director, Ron, & were the only fair-skinned worshippers present. The service was in Kreyol, with a rare sentence or two of English thrown in (I assume for us).

 Sunday afternoon, we did a little shopping for the guesthouse, and made airport trips to pick up the other WO staff members, & Phyllis Kilborn, an expert on childhood emotional & crisis trauma, and the rest of her team.  

The main objective for the week was to hold a 2-day training session for up to 70 Haitian pastors & church workers that are caring for the children in their OVC program. Culturally, the Haitians "press on" & don't deal with their experiences.

But the pastors repeatedly expressed their thanks in being given knowledge & "tools" to help the children cope with what they have experienced, as they see it coming out in many unhealthy ways. Some admitted that they were glad for the information, and planned to apply it to their own family's trauma & grief.

The second day concluded with the entire group writing down something they would like to leave with God & put in their past in order to heal.
They placed it in a balloon, & released it over the city... 

In the afternoons, on the back benches of our sessions, there always seemed to develop an entourage...of kiddos.
"Stevenson" drawing on my notepad, became quite an attraction, kids appeared from nowhere wanting a turn. He also became quite the little photographer:

( Me w/ Scott, Kate, & Erin - the WO crew!)

Once the conference was over, we put on our hiking shoes.
Wednesday we spent the entire day traveling from home to home to visit with families of children that various churches have identified as the most "vulnerable" & enrolled in the OVC program. All of the children are at least single orphans, some double (no living parent) and are being cared for by extended family who love them, but have no means to provide. Typically these children would be out on the street, or dropped off at an orphanage due to sheer poverty.

World Orphans' model realizes that it
is best for any child to stay with someone who loves them...
especially in times where they have already suffered so much loss & insecurity.
So, they have organized a framework of partners in order to provide these children with 1 good meal a day, schooling at the participating local church, appropriate medical care, and trauma counseling. Most importantly, this is all provided by their local church, whether they attend there or not. This ensures that the program will be ongoing, culturally appropriate and supports the Haitians in caring for their own. Each of the participating churches does have an American partner church to lift them up in prayer, provide finances to administer for the orphan care expenses, & to visit in teams for further encouragement and hands on support.

As we are talking about the most vulnerable, you can imagine that most of the homes we visited were in the tent camps. It was over 100 degrees out, there was no shade other than what tarps provided. The tents have little ventilation, and by mid-day were well over 120F inside. We asked a mom how they live in the heat & she replied "we stay outside, walking around most of the day", they just go there to sleep @ night. Some had a makeshift bed inside that typically wouldn't hold the # of people that were living there.

In the photo above this is the grandmother of two little girls in the OVC program, the younger, Lorena, I carried out to her home. She & her grandchildren have no bed. All 5 of the makeshift tent inhabitants sleep on a piece of cardboard with a sheet over it on the ground. The night before it had rained, the ground was damp, I took note of gaping holes in the tarp "roof" of their home. However, this was the stop where we pulled up, & when Lorena's older sister saw her grandma from the bus window, she bubbled up & began calling out with delight to see her!! Both of her daughters were killed in the earthquake, she takes care of their children, as now they have only each other.

 Holding little "Lorena" on my lap, as we visit her home.

So, you can see how important this work is...
It is often much easier to just set up a big home & start filling it w/ children, to feed & clothe & protect, but that's not always what is best for them, certainly not permanently.

Thursday our stay came to an end, we flew home with our heads & hearts spinning about the work being done. How might we step in & fill the gap with running the guest house for teams coming to support their partners, freeing up Ron for his main responsibilities, and walking alongside the churches & families as they endeavor to meet the needs of these precious little ones?

Next step?? Nothing we saw or heard in Haiti told us that it was "undo-able". Difficult? Absolutely...but worth stepping out of our "comfort zone". In fact, our love and admiration for the Haitians has grown. It is clearly a time of greater need than ever in Haiti. From what we saw it will take years and a lot more support (in every form) than anyone can imagine, for them to find their country recovered & we pray, blossoming with faith & hope!

Life goes on in Haiti, despite the destruction...
Please continue to keep HAITI in your prayers! While you are at it, you may want to lift us up a little more too. We'll spend a few more weeks in prayer ourselves, discussing things further with World Orphans, sharing details with the kids as they start arriving home next week, & ultimately make the BIG decision!??  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 3 in Haiti - I have NEVER ...

...been so sweaty in my entire life!
...been kissed on the cheek by each & every one of a crowd of curious children.
...had a little girl climb boldly onto my lap during church in order to scrutinized my white skin right down to the freckles!
...met a little boy before that didn't know how old he was.
...seen the face of a 10 yr old Haitian girl light up with sheer delight at the opportunity to brush my hair into a ponytail.
...witnessed a cloud of balloons filled with paper notes being released on the wind over Port au Prince by local pastors & church leaders signifying the start of their own healing process in preparing to help the orphans deal with theirs.
...dreamed of praying with a vivacious young Haitian-American woman while she fully accepted Christ as Lord of her life, in the midst of a mighty work that He has begun in bringing her back to her homeland.
...shared ministry with such a humble, but tour-de-force woman, as Phyllis Killborn who has done mission work with children in over 50 countries in her lifetime.
...ever calculated the long-term affect of a widespread lack of childhood trauma counseling on a country devastated by natural disaster & severe poverty.
...seen such servanthood and gratitude in "brothers & sisters" for receiving the tools they need to deal with psychological trauma.
...felt so at a loss as to the magnitude of healing needed in a country, or as sure that God alone could provide it...

until I came to Haiti.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Adventures in Haiti - day 1

at the close of our first full day here in Haiti...

Initial impressions:
-It's surprise there
-New best friend - the fan in our room!
-Our neighbors sleep in a tent on the second story of the remains of their home. My window looks out on their bedroom & theirs on mine
-Woke to the smell of charcoal smoke & roosters crowing @ dawn (4am).
-Went to church @ 6 am (to beat the heat). Amazing service & a glimpse of the multicutural heaven we will live in one day.
-Intrigued with the fact that Haiti is east of the US, but still in central time zone.
-Grocery prices are higher than @ home, yet most people live on $2/day
-The Haitian's are beautiful and so joyful despite the circumstances.
-The "tent cities" are heart wrenching, collapsed homes at every words to describe.
-Spoken Kreyol, it's musical, we're both enjoying it. The Haitians however, are greatly entertained by OUR attempts!

We didn't get a chance to respond to all of the notes of encouragement & support many of you sent us off with last week. What a blessing we have in the love & prayers of family & friends...

off to bed - long day tomorrow - children's trauma counseling training with the OVC church leaders. Outdoor church. Forcast 101.

Unable to post photos yet...more to come.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yikes - We're going to Haiti!?

Hospitality happens to be one of our spiritual gifts. Yep, each & every one of our Barlow crew has it running deep in their souls. It is one of our favorite "common bonds", bridging age, gender & bloodline in our woven family tree, and providing some of our most cherished memories.

While hospitality is one of my personal gifts, prophecy is not. So it surprised me when the two came hand in hand in writing this post. I was updating my blogsite earlier today which required editing a couple of old posts to adjust the text for a new format. One of them happened to be from May 21st. As I read through the first paragraph of the old one and considered the fresh topic at hand, a chuckle sharing that day, the news of my pending surgery and the risk of finding cancer, this is what I wrote:

"I wish I could announce that we're beginning a new adoption journey, or heading off to do orphan work in Haiti, but that's not what God has in mind this week."

...this week?? This WEEK? LOL God's timing and sense of humor just cracks me up!

THIS week, T & I are trembling as we announce that not only are we in the process of renewing our homestudy for the possibility of adoption, we are indeed leaving for Haiti in less than two weeks!!!

If you are new to this blog site, then it may be that particular announcement that has led you here. As some of you may know already, this trip to Haiti is actually part of discerning a larger call that God has on our family. It began as early as the process for our first adoptions over 12 years ago, was refined through years of "bonding & attachment", renewed each time we encountered children without forever homes, and made clear this past year as we took on an orphan care leadership role.

Bill Hybels came and ministered to us this weekend at church, and I'm pretty sure that it was meant just for us! He spoke of the "Power of a Whisper", the whisper of God, of course. Well, in our case God is pretty "with the times", because His whisper actually came to us in the form of a Facebook post! On June 3rd, World Orphans posted a postion seeking managers for their new "guest house" in Haiti. It is part of the OVC (Orphaned & Vulnerable Children) initiative developed by HORT (Haiti Orphan Relief Team). It is a program to address the substantial increase of orphans and children at risk since the earthquake in January.

Though God had been directing us to open ourselves to more full time ministry lately, we were blown away as the five of us here at home responded in unison, to the post - "wow, that's totally for us!" A whisper? More like a "shout"!! So, while the kids are away on their summer mission trips T & I have been pouring ourselves out before God and seeking more deeply whether that is where He leads us.

Until we have a more "official" family website, I will continue to post the latest on our "Journey to Haiti" here.

Knowing it is nothing we could ever do on our own, we cherish your prayers and support. If this is one step toward a longer term ministry there, we will need our family, our friends & others with a heart for God's children, to partner with us in seeing it through.

May you be deeply blessed-
Rebecca, for us all

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Wait....

I recently posted the comment below on LifeSong's blog site. (Yes, in order to try to win a "free t-shirt"!!)

Writing it though, was a great reminder of God's faithfulness in all of those "times". You know...the ones when you just want to move or wiggle or run, or just DO SOMETHING to make things change?!! He sees us in our "endless midst", watches our silly shenaningans and then snickers, knowing what's in store. He's going to work it all out (for our best) in the end.

Waiting from our limited perspective can be "painful" at times. The blog I commented on challenged us to "...share a brief experience of how God worked in the waiting". It may sound like a simple little story. But it was one of the most excruciating times that I've been through in life. Knowing there will likely be more in the future, I was glad to be reminded of His hand in finally bringing it to an "end". One that I can see and move on from with deeper faith. Most importantly like many periods of uncertainty or "in-between" I see how He made something better out of me as well!

Oh the waiting...
Our adoptions (4 from Russia) began over 12 years ago. They were amazing -- God opened doors, provided funding in His glorious way, and even increased our income so that I could stay at home & care for our new girls. The wait was blessed, because He showed His clear intentions & provision for our family, but looking back that wasn't really the waiting that was so hard.

The time that was really difficult to "wait" through was the 10 years following the adoption of our youngest - twins! You see they came from "hard places". They were preemies and then lived in an orphanage, no one rocked them when they were scared or cried. People seemed untrustworthy and frightening. They only knew how to watch out for themselves. It was understandable, but made for a really difficult life in our family that wanted to be loving & "close".

So there were years of holding & tantrums, therapy, new parenting styles, prayer, crying, begging, and even probably some bargaining with God! He had his own time though. Finally we laid ourselves aside completely & just gave HIm time to do His work in them. That is when the real healing began! We watched and WAITED & waited & waited....

Our baby girls are 16 now & WELL WORTH the the time it took for God to redeem them from their past. They are sweet & beautiful creatures that are learning to know & serve God. Now it's time for "round two" and this time they will join the rest of the us as we begin our new adoption "wait"!!

This is in reference to adoption obviously, but there are so many things we wait on in life. What are some of yours and how have they changed you?

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Tynan is counting down the days to his mission trip in France & would really be encouraged to know he has your prayers & support!! He's trying to raise the last bit & gets really excited just to know someone has even given just $5 to support his work there. 

Go to his chip in page for an easy way to give, or to to give online directly. Use his name & the following code: 0L0777

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Side Trip" notes.

Not that I wouldn't have been thankful in all things that are the will of God, but I am particularly happy & thankful to say that my surgery went well. The MD found NO CANCER!! and I seem to be slowly on the mend. I say slow, it hasn't been two weeks yet, and I'm off all pain meds, but just not quite back to feeling myself .

The computer has been my bedside friend this past week, since my mind has been way more active than my body! So that has been a help. T & I have been able to spend some good time working on orphan care details and planning while I've been lounging around. Our social worker called this past week as well, and we are going to start the homestudy update process...just to be ready wherever God leads next with adoption. However, to top it all off, from my recovery bed we have begun applying for a new overseas opportunity in full time ministry that has come up!

Can you say "New Frontiers"??? I had no idea one little "side trip" would be preparing me for so much more, but it may very well be that God expedited my need for surgery in order to be ready for something else He has in mind.

Please pray with us for His guidance and continued healing.

Also keep our kiddos in mind & in your prayers...
Tania Grace is still working hard to complete her college degree
Ana is living in Germany for the next year
Tynan is trying to finish raising/earning support for a 6 wk mission trip to France
Emma & Olivia are leaving Weds to work at Word of Life for the summer in upstate NY

Blessings as you all begin the busy summer season!! I pray you'll each find a time of rest as well.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Side Journey or New Frontier?


In the midst of a whole lot going on in the Barlow household, a new adventure has claimed the limelight this past couple of weeks. I wish I could announce that we're beginning a new adoption journey, or heading off to do orphan work in Haiti, but that's not what God has in mind this week.

Instead, a long time issue with endometriosis has recently highlighted a more acute situation. Two weeks ago I had flank pain. The MD thought maybe a small kidney stone? Since abdominal pain is a part of my life so many days of the year already, I thought it might be related to that. A couple of ultrasounds and a little over a week later I found myself sitting in a surgeon's office discussing the inevitable.

The kidney is fine, but the rest is not. It's clear, it's time to end the condition. I'm a little "over-the-moon" at the prospect of an end to chronic pain, but the "rub" here is going to take a little more faith than we thought. I'm never a very big fan of surgery. My system doesn't like many of the drugs. It always takes faith & usually a whole lot of grace (on the medical team's part) to get me through! This venture, I'm afraid, requires the dauntless variety though. The faith that says "anything goes" and relishes it!

See, the ultrasound showed more than endometriosis this time. There is actually a gnarly-looking cyst that is covering my ovary, not an issue I've had before, and alot of other "gunk" going on. There is a risk of malignancy, and it's not the good kind.

So what to do? I feel like Sharon Hincke's ill-prepared character in the Restorer series, a "mom" transported to an unknown land and time, disoriented but alert, trembling, curious, with no idea what lies ahead or why I'm here. Yikes, Adventure!!

Tuesday's surgery will reveal a little more the course we're on. Quick side trip? or a whole new "galaxy"? I'm beholden to a Father that transcends them all and shares every journey with me. But let's face it - I'm a nurse, a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend...& a really terrible patient, so I'm a little bit scared!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A new (and by grace, improved!) ME.

It has been so long since I "wrote" anything of much importance to me that I found it interesting to sit down in an attempt to resurrect this dusty old blog. Reading through old posts, I saw myself from a distant place, at another angle, and in a filtered light. Familiar? Absolutely! But OH, so different in countless ways.

It would have been nice to be able to chronicle the deep journey that I, no, that WE have been on. However, despite the fact that I am tapping in patient documentation that rivals my old writing goals of 500-1000 words for my "day job", viewing the transformation from what was printed here has been worth the leave.

It's refreshing sometimes to see yourself change, grow, truly become the heroine in your own "life" story - yes that character wth interesting potential, but OH so far to go..... It strikes me as awesome that God is the writer of our lives.... of MY life! Ok, so that means that He get's to choose the tension and the obstacles to throw in my way. But it's all in order to best develop my ability to glorify Him in the story - that is so WAY much better than any book!!

I'm not sure what this blog will contain from here on out, but I pray it does glorify Him in everyway as the Master Character Craftsman and Writer of Life Stories that He is.

So, that pondering aside...what quite a few have been asking lately is "What are the Barlow's up too??" Well, that's a good question, it might be easier to answer what we aren't up to lately.
Ted is still not employed after 2.5 years. Rebecca is not writing, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping or chauffering kids as her daily adventure. Tania Grace is not sure what her future holds. Ana is no longer attending college. Tynan is NOT planning to be a homebody all of his life. The twins have stopped wreaking havoc, rarely argue and no longer hate school.

Why? Because that is where God has faithfully brought each of us over the past few years.

In fact, Ted has no plans for a career back in IT security! He's now a full-time entreprenuer - working through the start up process to roll out the first product for FiveTwo Ventures, our new company. I'm working full time in nursing, but from my home office as a maternity RN-case manager. We are both investing almost every minute of our spare time in our new role as orphan care leaders at church and orphan care advocates in general. We're also currently praying for God's guidance on future family additions. ????

As for the kids - Tania Grace is working hard, plugging away at classes & taking the time of separation from her special guy right now, as an opportunity to figure out exactly what she should pursue this next year of school. Ana graduated from university 2 days ago (our first!) and is leaving this week to live & work in Germany for a year. Tynan has plans to spend the summer working in France at a christian camp with my cousins, then will "fly the nest" this fall when he starts college life at LeTourneau University. Emma and Olivia are clearly growing into their separate identities at last, though both chose to return to New York for the summer to work at the Word of Life Inn and camps where our other cousins live! They will continue home schooling in the fall.

With so many different roles & directions, God has amazingly brought us together & laid the same ministry passions on each of our hearts at this time - caring for orphans and vulnerable children. I'm sure you can't imagine why that might seem like a surpise to anyone, since we do have 4 children that are internationally adopted. It has certainly risen to the surface in a steady manner the past few years, but we have been taken aback by how clearly His fresh call has fit into so much of the change and the trials in our lives recently. The root might have begun with wanting to grow our family initially, but at this stage God has turned our heads 180 degrees to see what is at the center of His heart, and we are radically different having had that view.

To quote a new acquaintance this past year...we are "recklessly abandoned & gloriously ruined"!

My goal is to try to get back to journaling the adventures of life - one because it helps me make sense of them sometimes as I write, but also to encourage others in need of freedom and hope to stand firm in the midst of precarious journeys too.