What's in Your Hand?

What's in Your Hand?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Divine Appointment

A few days ago I returned from my annual pilgrimage to the mountains of Pennsylvania. This is the 33rd year straight that I have made this trip. Each year is special and each is also a family reunion of sorts. Teenagers who hung around my campfire are now in their forties with teens of their own. When I first went I was a mere 25 years old with babes of my own. Now I watch my grandchildren learn the ropes of learning how to work and serve in this community. Young men with braids down their back are now dying what little is left of their hair blue in a vain attempt to hold on to a visage of youth. Over the years we have grieved the loss of 'family' as they have left this festival for one that is far grander. Many very much loved 'family' were not there this year due to changes in leadership making it at times hard to even be there without them.
When I first began serving on volunteer staff in 1985 I was honored to work with Liz and Elayna cleaning the six packs, a name we had given the outhouses which were in groups of six. Three on each side much like a six pack of beer would be packaged. My children came along holding doors and sweeping floors and spraying down the bath house floors. When the children were older I moved on to supervising Individual Campsite ushering. I did that for a few years but clearly not my gift. :)
When Phredd asked me to supervise the Deaf Ministry I was more than excited and very humbled knowing that my sign language skills were far less than many of the volunteers I would be working with. I loved this assignment but to be honest it was very time consuming. I spent months leading up to the festival compiling lyric sheets often having to type out the lyrics before the whole 'cut and paste' thing became available. So when in 2006 my son in law Chris started a new ministry at another festival , Purple Door, and then at Creation in 2007 I was a little reluctant to give up the ministry that I enjoyed so much. After prayer and council in 2007 I became know as the "Ice Pop Lady".
Chris designed a super cool wooden box that  was secured on the cargo bed of a John Deer gator. It has straps to secure three 5 gallon jugs, a ice pop cooler, a trash can, a cup holder, a storage box and a candy box. Just add Gatorade, candy, water, ice pops and prayer and I was set to go. So for six years now I have spent the last week in June driving over the fields of Agape Farm in Shirleysburg, PA hunting down weary, hot, tired and thirsty volunteers at the festival in hopes of encouraging them and refreshing them and trying to be sure that they do not feel invisible.
Why you may be wondering am I posting this when it has noting to do with Haiti or Jacmel Bay? Well this is why...
I was working my 'ice pop' cart at the Fringe Stage. Doing my normal thing..ice pops, water, candy, Gatorade...when a golf cart with two volunteers backed in beside me. I gave the driver and his passenger a ice pop. The driver said "Didn't you just get back from Haiti?" I told him that I was there in March. He said that his passenger was just there as well. At this point of course all ice pop work on my part comes to a halt and I became  engaged with this young man in conversation about our adventures. He told me he was ministering in Port Au Prince.I tell him that I go to Jacmel. He says "We went to Jacmel for one day." So I tell him about my family there and about the Deaf that I am working with there. I tell him about the sea glass necklaces. At this point his jaw goes slack. "No way!! I bought one of those necklaces! A deaf girl came to the house I was staying at!"  He described the packaging and the necklace and sure enough it was one of the Jacmel Bay artists that he had  met.We were both more than a little excited. Remember, there are only seven deaf artists working with Jacmel Bay in Haiti. This young man from SC meets me from NC in PA and we discover over an ice pop this wonderful connection.
Many thousands of people come to this festival for the amazing music and ministry that happens from the multi media state of the art stage. All the best known bands and speakers come from all over the world come  to share with the crowds messages and songs..I don't get near the stage very often any more. ....well except to hand out ice pops...but still God creates divine appointments along my way. These appointments offering encouragement and reassurance that He is with me. God does not need all the extra 'stuff'. He speaks to His children in so many ways. Can He use the music? The speakers? He sure can. And does. But if we are available. If we are serving Him, he will and does speak in the small stuff. In the ice pops..He reminds us that He sees us and that what we do matters....We are not invisible.
I am so encouraged by this divine appointment. God reminding me that Jacmel Bay is touching lives. In Haiti. And in golf carts on a farm turned music festival in PA.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Little Help from my friends.

So thankful to Justin Lukasavige for believing in the "story" of Jacmel Bay. Today on his call in talk show Coach Radio, he reviewed my new website jacmelbay.com . I have come a long way and he has encouraged me all along the way. I still have a lot of learning to do. Justin made some good suggestions on the program and I have made some changes and will continue to make the changes that are possible to make. (Some things can be changed  because of the limitations of the web host.)
I am so amazed and thankful for the encouragers that God has put along my path as I run this race! Having people believe in your vision makes all the difference.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Heartbeat

Mother's Day. Flowers and candy and breakfast in bed. I have marketed my necklaces as wonderful gifts for your wife and mom. And they are. Each piece of glass carries a story of hope and redemption. Each is a mystery and a repurposed beauty. Some pieces more rare than others. Some considered precious to sea glass collectors. One especially is highly sought after. Red glass.
Often when people inquire about my necklaces they will say "Do you have any red?" And this is the story I will tell them.
Red is precious. I have had a total of three pieces in the last two years. Some people search a lifetime for even one of these pieces. I found one on my very first day of collecting sea glass in Jacmel, Haiti. One of my deaf artists found one and I was given one.
I tried to make necklaces with these but somehow it did not seem right. I knew I could not sell them. They were too precious.
 Then this past winter we heard of the death of a baby. The mother of the child asked that people who attended the funeral should wear red. At that moment I knew. I knew that these pieces were far to precious to sell. The Mother's Heartbeat necklace was first created for this dear woman as a memorial to her most precious child. Just a token really for this child is so far more precious than anything that could ever be made.
Since then I have made one of these for my closest friend whose son died eleven years ago. I will never forget him and still after all this time I know the pain remains. With each birthday and anniversary...it still hurts. I want to remember with her. His life mattered. Her pain still matters. This necklace a visible token to wear close to her heart that says "My child is precious."
Today with tears I fashioned my last piece of glass. Loosing a child is always the worst heart break a woman can know. To loose a baby just a few days before Mother's Day....really I don't even have words. But I want to acknowledge that is child matters.  Even thought we will never see the baby's face this side of paradise this child is precious. Precious to the mom and dad. To me. And so precious to God.
So I send this necklace off. With love and with prayers. Knowing that a Mother's heart is broken but also knowing that God holds her baby and he holds her heart.
Remember this Mother's Day those around you who will not get flowers and candy or breakfast in bed. Those who are aching for their children and those who are longing to have children. Mother's Day is a painful time for them. Acknowledge them. Honor them. And love them.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Home from Jacmel. Remembering Day One.

When I packed to go to Haiti I tucked in my small journal having decided to at least write down points of interest that I might want to blog about later. But as the days passed that did not happen. I was convienced that I could not foget any of the details.
The truth is that there are so many 'new' things to see, heard, taste, touch and smell in Haiti that sometimes it blurs..times and days run into each other. And Haiti is like Narnia with it's own measurement of time so different from our own world. I will try to capture some of  what is left and write it out out the next week. For me mostly..to remember...
I started my travels on March 19th. Overpacked with dontated kites and bandaids, gun parts, a doll, hairbands, teeshirts , 700 count sheets and various other gifts. My first bag weighed 48 lbs. and the second was 51 lbs. The woman at the AA counter waved me on. My carryon was another 30? lbs and my backback close to 20. I was on my way..
With an overnight in Miami my biggest concern was claiming my bags and finding a shuttle to the hotel a friend had graciously provided with his 'points'. I remembered a friend saying to me "Denise, you travel to Haiti alone...and you are afraid go to a hotel by yourself?" Point taken. I put on my big girl pants, collected my HEAVY bags and found the shuttle. I checked into the nicest hotel I have ever stayed at and called it a day.,,,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Tomorrow will make two years since the quake that rocked Haiti. It seems like several lifetimes ago.
I was about to start my first sign language class at the community center in my small town. I was desiring to work with the deaf in Haiti and offered this class for a donation to the work in Haiti. As the students entered in a took a seat my cell phone rang. It was Pastor Frank from the Source church. He was not my pastor  at that time but we had worked together in youth ministry a few years earlier. His voice was serious when I answered. "I just heard the news about  Haiti. I am calling to see if your daughter is alright." My heart raced as I told him I had not heard anything. I could not image the images that would fill my TV screen in the days to follow.
I powered up my laptop and within five minutes had a message from my daughter. "We're fine." That was all. At the moment it had to be enough. The director of Joy in Hope followed up with a phone call. We were so blessed to have not lost communication with Gwenn and Nick. The amazing fact was that most had lost communication but by God's grace they still had Internet. Not always dependable but as least we were not completely cut off.
Because they were still able to communicate somewhat the countless inquires began to pour in. Families looking for families. Friends looking for loved ones. Joy in Hope on the ground in Jacmel became the eyes and ears and hands and feet. They worked at fever pitch for months on end. No matter how much was done there was still more that needed doing. In the midst of all that was going on there was still a family to care for.
For my part Haiti began to pulse through my veins. I loved Jacmel before the quake I mourned for her after.
Their orphanage was standing but for many weeks the staff and family feared going back inside. The after shocks continued for many months. The after effects are still very evident. The emotional aftershocks continue. For Gwenn and Nick..and for all of Haiti. Two years and 200 thousand lives ago.
Pa Bliye Ayiti. Don't forget Haiti.