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Four months ago, I met with wise counsel in a coffee shop. She sat with me for three or four hours. I hadn’t had anyone spend that much focused one-on-one time with me, be so patient and gentle, listen so intently, or ask such thoughtful, deep questions of me for a long time.

I needed somebody to listen, hear the whole story, help me filter, discern without judgement or bias. I needed someone to process with me, and I needed it to happen organically, without feeling like we were under some sort of time crunch. So I scheduled more time than I thought necessary, and we filled it all. Obviously, I needed that wise counsel.

The words we shared with one another that day will always remain confidential. But there’s one thing from our conversation I would like to share with you today.

She asked me to spend some time thinking about my identity. Beyond wife, mom, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt, blogger, speech therapist, former nonprofit board member, and all the other roles I’ve played in my life…

Who am I?

Strip away the roles, titles, and responsibilities. Strip away the masks and dreams of what could be. What remains of my identity? What words best describe the core of who I am?

I love questions of identity, so this really got me thinking. Add to that, I’ve spent nearly two years in an awkward in-between, more than ready to embrace and live out my true identity. So what would I say? How would I answer this question? Who am I? Who am I, really?

Here are the words that come to mind…




Deeply intuitive.




Observer of people and life.

Rapport builder.

Fairly serious.



Justice seeking.

Hard working.


Detail oriented.

A little obsessive.



Deep thinker.


Can be quiet.

Can be really talkative if the stars align (setting + personality match + subject matter).


Child of God.

So what’s the point? Why identify your identity?

1) We need to keep our identity grounded in what’s truly significant. Our worth comes NOT from what we do, how much we accomplish, how many kids we have, or how big our houses or bank accounts are. Our identity is what remains when all the things of this world are stripped away. What remains at the end of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? You. What remains at the end of a beautiful, marvelous, spectacular, very good day? You. Our worth is best judged based on our identity rather than our circumstances. As they say, you’re so much more than what’s happened to you.

2) Our lives should, ideally, reflect the whole of our identities. God created you for a reason, to fulfill a specific purpose during your time here on earth. All the intricate little parts of you come together to create all of you. So does your day to day life reflect your true identity? Do you feel like you’ve been wearing a mask, trying to please, living a life others created for you, hoped for you? Was your identity trampled on somewhere along the way, have you stuffed it away in hidden places nobody knows but you? Are the most authentic parts of your identity yet to be tapped? Are you desperate to embrace your identity rather than reject or half-heartedly live it out?

Let me share one great example of how identity recently showed up in my life…

This week I’ve been reflecting, yet again, on my trip to Haiti with Compassion International. In all my deep thought, I realized something important. One of the reasons I loved Haiti so much was that the trip was 100% in line with my identity. Every aspect of my identity was tapped during that trip. I didn’t have to work hard. I didn’t wear any masks. I was at peace. And I was filled to the brim with joy of another kind. Because I was living out my true identity. Who I am flowed out naturally during that week in Haiti. I didn’t have to reach out, grab onto, or construct some false, half-hearted identity. To have that opportunity, to live 100% in line with my identity was a beautiful experience. So from that point forward, I committed to living differently, fully in my identity. The best way to express gratitude to God for creating us in the first place, is to whole-heartedly embrace our unique identities and live accordingly.


So I wonder…

What’s your true identity?

Who are you?

Who are you, really?

And remember…

Our identity is what remains when all the things of this world are stripped away.

Take time for you. Give yourself a gift.

Identify your identity.

Grab a pen, sit down on a comfy chair, and take a few minutes to identify all the things that make you, you.

Then, be intentional about living your life in a way that taps into every bit of that identity.

Because this world needs ALL of you.





That last night in Haiti, I sat on the edge of a bed in a Port-au-Prince hotel room facing my roommate, Georgeann. I’d just met this woman one week prior, but I’d learned enough of her to know she was authentic and completely trustworthy. So in that moment, both of us bare-footed and ready for bed, with all the noise and clamor of Port-au-Prince in the background, I shared the secret of my heart.

There are things I’ve experienced here in Haiti that I’ve never come close to experiencing back home.

Yep. These are the things that have been weighing on my heart. These are the things that have been pressing on my soul since I returned from Haiti, nearly two months ago now. These are the things that call to me, speak to me, dare me to find the soonest opportunity to return to that beautiful country. These are the things I long for when I know in my heart I’m missing Haiti.

How was it possible for me to develop such a deep and rich love for a country I visited only one week?

How is it possible that an adoptive mom’s story really is true, that she’s never heard of anyone going to Haiti just once?

And the question I’ve asked myself time and time again since I returned – why would God have brought me to a place I loved so much, a place that sat so perfectly with my soul, only to take me away again?

It takes me a second to realize the obvious – my family and friends are here in the United States. Of course I desire, of course God desires for me to return to my country, to live, love, nurture and serve those He’s placed in my path. Here.

My life is here.

My life. is here.

My life is beautiful, blessed and rich beyond measure.

But my heart still speaks. That deepest place calls out, longs to linger in the beautiful match Haiti was for my soul.

Perhaps you understand if you’ve been to Haiti.

So I believe. God will have me return.

I believe God is already preparing a way.

I believe He knows exactly where I’ll go next, exactly where He’ll have me next.

And I’ll be open, beyond ready when it’s time to go. Because I know, He will call.

It’ll be specific. And it’ll be with people and for purposes far greater than myself.

Because I simply can’t afford what Haiti needs. Nor can I afford what Haiti has to offer.

So I lend myself as an offering, before He calls. I’m willing to go, it’s my desire, no doubt.

But in the quiet God tames me. He says wait. Hold up. I’m working. Wait. Not yet. Let My plan unfold. I will show you the way.

So I wait.


Very patiently.

I ponder and pray over every clue, wondering if this is what He’d have me do.

And I ponder all the reasons I dared to utter that sentence in the Port-au-Prince hotel room…

There are things I’ve experienced here in Haiti that I’ve never come close to experiencing back home.

I keep these things close, tucked away in the recesses of my heart. For God bestowed on me these most precious gifts, and I’ll treasure them as such until He calls me to return to that beautiful, soul-stirring place called Haiti.

That beautiful place where mamas aren’t afraid to tell truths about the depths of their pain, and they aren’t afraid to share the source of their joy either.


That beautiful place where girls showed me what it looks like to have a servant heart. That beautiful place where I learned what it really means to receive.



That beautiful place where kids from extreme poverty say “I love my life.”


That beautiful place where dreamers dream and believe ALL things are possible, with God, through Christ – even when ALL signs suggest otherwise.


That beautiful place where words mean something. Yes, that beautiful place where words are powerful, limitless, LIFE GIVING.



That beautiful place where simplicity wins, integrity shines, and dignity is always of the utmost importance.


That beautiful place where creativity is fostered, not forced.


DSCN6180That beautiful place where leaders rise among sleeping giants. That beautiful place where great leaders of a country literally stand before you. And you can feel it, this rising up of of a nation as they fulfill their call.


That beautiful place where hearts just like yours affirm, make you feel known, completely understood, tell you you’re beautiful, we love you just the way you are.


That beautiful, beautiful place where humble hearts reign. And you’ve never experienced humility like that ever, ever before. And you finally know, THAT’S what true humility looks like. Yes, that’s a beautiful place.


That beautiful place where joy is unspeakable. And pain is never, ever far away.


DSCN6250That beautiful place where faith crosses every border.


That beautiful place where human souls sing, triumph, keep pressing forward…even if, even though…



That beautiful place where eyes can’t help but notice the poverty, the destitution, the lack of everything, everywhere. That beautiful place where I couldn’t help but notice the wealth, the riches, the abundance in everyone, everywhere.



Yes. Those are the things about Haiti that I can’t quite replicate here, back at home. Those are the things that have been hard to explain. Those are the things that have lingered in my heart. Those are the things that call me, beckon me to return.

Is it possible for a heart to be 100% engaged in one place and 100% engaged in another? So be it. Let it be mine.

If, for any reason, these words have spoken to the deepest part of you, whether you’ve been to Haiti or not, please let me know via comment, Facebook message, or email. Whatever God has in store for me and Haiti, I’m most certainly going to need travel partners. I’m believing He might have one or more of you join me in the future. Who’s it going to be?

Some food for thought this Friday afternoon.

Blessings on your journey, wherever it may lead you.


**If you’d like to read about my journey to Haiti in February 2014, click on this link and read to the bottom where you’ll find links to every post I wrote about Haiti. It’s an honor to invite anyone and everyone into this life changing story.



The Place


*This is the final post from a month-long series about my journey to Haiti. Click here to read all the posts in the series.

*Music courtesy of Ft. Alex Boye, Africanized Symphonic Cover of Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain


He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; 

yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11



Kids_239God makes no mistakes.

He orchestrates every detail of our lives.

He knows exactly who to bring into our lives and when, so we become more of who He created us to be.

It’s been 12 days since I met Kednaud. Out of all the translators I could’ve been assigned, God chose Kednaud. It was truly a divine appointment.

Kednaud spent an entire day with me. It was arguably the most important day of my trip to Haiti, the day I met our sponsored children. He translated every word I uttered, every word our two sponsored children uttered, and every word uttered by a mama, auntie, nurse, and project director. Add up all of those words across an entire day, and you’ll begin to grasp the thousands of words Kednaud translated.

I was grateful for Kednaud’s presence and assistance, truly grateful.

The only words he didn’t know how to translate from English to French Creole were “pink” and “swimsuit.” That accounts for an entire day of translating words. I’d say that’s beyond impressive.

I’ve worked with translators before for my work as a speech-language pathologist, so this translation was nothing foreign to me. But this experience of working with a translator all day, non-stop? It was beyond amazing. The Compassion staff reminded us that these were not just translators, they were “relationship builders,” and that’s exactly what Kednaud was.

But there’s something more I want you to know about Kednaud. You see, he wasn’t JUST my translator that day.

I believe God sent Kednaud to be my translator because there was something He desperately wanted to show me, show us, in the moments in-bewteen translation.

God arranged moments in-between translation for me to connect with Kednaud. When everyone else was using the restroom, when everyone else was helping the kids change into their bathing suits, when everyone else was helping the kids change into their clothes, when everyone else was getting a second helping of food, and after everyone else had been given gifts, Kednaud and I were blessed with small moments to connect about things that matter most.

What are the things that matter most? They’re things that connect us as human beings, regardless of our gender, regardless of where we were born, regardless of our possessions, regardless of any circumstance.

Kednaud’s friends tease him, joke that He’s not fully Haitian. He “gets” American culture. He has friends that are from America, and they’ve invited him to come and live in the United States. They’ll even buy him a house if he’ll move to America. It’s tempting, but he knows. He’s Haitian. He loves his country and he doesn’t want to leave. He’s meant to stay here, in Haiti.

So he translates for American visitors, he values the opportunity to engage and develop relationship with Americans who visit and build homes in Haiti.

And God’s placed on Kednaud’s heart a big God-sized dream. Kednaud dreams of learning 21 languages. He’s already learned four, and knows what his fifth will be, Italian. Because education is expensive and finances are limited, Kednaud works on one language at a time, as he’s able to afford. He takes courses online, through a website called Babbel, where he learns each language and earns a certificate that proves his proficiency.

Kednaud understands. His dream to learn 21 languages is big. It’s a dream most might think is unattainable, especially considering his circumstances. But he believes, I believe, that ALL things are possible with God, through Christ.

I shared about this “God-sized dream” talk in America, how God places dreams on our hearts that seem big, unattainable through the lens of human eyes, but that we trust, knowing anything is possible with God.

We both looked up towards the sky, stating out loud, agreeing as brother and sister in Christ, that yes – anything. is possible. with God. There was peace and joy in this agreement. And that was the first moment I knew, God had me meeting Kednaud, and Kednaud meeting me for a very special purpose. To propel both of us further, with confidence, towards His dreams for us.

Kednaud plays drums. He’s in a band, and he writes songs. And as you might guess, he loves American music. The most perfect medley of songs played throughout the day with our sponsored children. Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do,” Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” and The Jackson 5’s “I’ll be There” played as we frolicked in the pool for the first time ever, played games that united young and old, and shared a great feast together.

Then, it was time to present the families with gifts I’d brought from home. First was Bethchaida. The joy on her face was indescribable. And sweet Djino. I’ll never forget the way he smiled bashfully when I showed him the motorycycle shirt I’d brought for him, the way he bent over, kissed me on the cheek and said “merci.” Kednaud was there, and captured it all in words and photographs.

But there was something missing. I’d promised Kednaud a special gift, too. There was a song, it came to me in the moment we were talking about American music. And I knew I needed to share it with Kednaud. I’d just downloaded it from iTunes a few weeks prior to coming to Haiti; it’s the song that’s resonated most with my spirit these days.

So I ran. I literally ran back to the place where I had my iPhone and headphones. Because the clock was ticking. I’d used up all but 15 minutes of time with my sponsored children and their accompanying adults, and I didn’t want to miss a minute. But I wanted to keep my promise to Kednaud. I wanted to give him this gift, I wanted him to hear this song. So yes, I ran, and then I ran back, iPhone and headphones in tow.

I turned it to this song, Just Say Jesus, and gave Kednaud the headphones.

I sat with the children, the mama and the auntie gathered the gifts, and as we all sat together, speechless, in these last moments, Kednaud pressed play.

The music started. My heart raced. This was the song I’d promised. I had no idea why it was the only song that’d come to me when I learned Kednaud’s dreams and love for music, but this was the song I needed to share.

And that’s when he began. As the words and tune met his ears for the first time, he smiled, his face lit up. He air drummed, and he air drummed some more, non-stop, until the song was done.


He loved it. My gift had been received. God’s gift, to both of us, had been received.

The day had been worthy of a million pictures, and this moment was as worthy as any other. So we snapped a photo of another moment I’ll never forget, a moment that needed no translation.


God unites his children in the most unusual and unexpected ways. He tailors our experiences uniquely. Because He’s the one that created us. He knows our innermost being. He knows our heart and He owns the dreams He’s placed there. He’s the only one who can translate, when words just don’t suffice.

I saw so much of myself in Kednaud. We share a love for words, for music. Kednaud’s only part Haitian, and I’m only part American; we rest in peace knowing our eternal citizenship is in heaven. We share God-sized dreams that seem impossible, but we know in our hearts, without translation, that anything is possible with God.


*This is part of a month-long series about my journey to Haiti. Click here to read all the posts in the series.




It was my first full day in Haiti with Compassion International. Hours into the day, I found myself actively engaged with a group of girls at the far end of the project’s play yard.

With the help of a translator, I uncovered bits and pieces about the girls. They were all around my son and daughter’s age – eight, nine, ten and eleven-years-old. I was intrigued by their personalities and way of being with one another, and kept thinking how cool it would be if my daughter was there, engaging with the girls, just like me.

Another woman from our group approached and began conversing with the girls, so I decided it was a good opportunity to engage the teenage girls I saw yards away.

The day passed. We spent the rest of the morning with mamas and babies enrolled in Compassion’s Child Survival Program, had lunch with project staff, visited families’ homes, and returned to the project at the end of the day.

After we spent a little more time in the classrooms and play yard, after we used the restroom one last time before we had to leave, I met the boy who stole my heart.

I really didn’t want to say good-bye, but I was on my way back to the van. It was time to go.

Most of my fellow travelers were already on the van. I was one of the last to load.

Just feet before the van, a boy approached. He came alongside me, hung close, tight to my body. I’m still not sure if I’ve ever had anyone step in tandem with me the way that boy did. The only way I can describe it is that his little body was so tight, right alongside me, that we became one walking unit in that moment.

God helped me recognize, immediately, this boy’s strong presence.

I put my arm around his shoulders as we walked. “Hi buddy,” I said quietly, lovingly.

He kept close, never out of step. He snuggled in a bit closer.

And then he looked up at me, as we were walking even slower now, and ever so gently but assuredly said “I want you to be my mommy.”

This was the first child that had spoken a word of English to me all day, and these were the words I was going to hear?

My heart broke. I began crying immediately. “Oh buddy,” I said, as I gave him the biggest, most endearing mama bear hug I could muster.

The world around me disappeared. We were three, maybe five feet from the van at this point, and I’m sure there were an abundance of kids and adults wondering why I was crying and hugging this boy. I’m certain they had no idea what he’d just told me.

I loosened my embrace because we were now even closer to the van. He looked down and pointed to one of two bracelets I had on my wrist, one purple, one cream. (Oddly enough, I’d received those bracelets as gifts of appreciation from Haitians in the market 16+ months ago after I’d presented them with gifts I brought from home.) I couldn’t be his mommy, but I knew as soon as he looked at that purple bracelet that I wanted to give it to him to let him know how much he was loved. A translator was present and helped with the exchange. For a few seconds, all was right with the world. I had a bracelet and the boy had a bracelet. We’d be tied together, in our hearts, and the bracelets would be a tangible reminder. But a little girl approached and saw I had another bracelet to give, so I obliged, even though it meant I’d no longer have a bracelet to keep my heart tangibly tied to this sweet boy.

Still crying, I gave him one last hug, waved good-bye, and got on the van. Tears continued to stream as I made my way to the back of the van, past most of my fellow travelers. I explained to a couple who’d asked, he said “I want you to be my mommy.”

How was I supposed to sit in this van, act like I’d just heard any ‘ol words, and move right on out?

Praise. The. Lord. He wasn’t about to let my time with this boy end, even though all other indications said it was a done deal.

Thankfully, our departure was delayed for one reason or another. I didn’t even care because all my mind could think of was the boy. Kids were swarming around just outside of our van. I looked to my right, and there he was. I caught him just as he was looking down, fiddling with his bracelet. “I’ve got to get a picture of this boy,” I told those around me as I stood up immediately and captured not one, but two pictures. I felt blessed to have, at the very least, seen him again and captured these photos to remember him by.



If I remember correctly, the van moved, turned in the direction of the gates where we’d depart. I thought I’d seen the last of the boy. I was sad, but grateful too, that God had given me the opportunity to see him from afar one more time.

But God knew otherwise. The van stopped. There was another delay.

Some moments passed, and then I noticed my boy coming alongside our van. He was looking up, into the windows, and he was now on the side of the van where I was sitting. When he came to the window of the people sitting in front of me, I noticed he was looking at them and pointing to his bracelet. I knew right away, he was looking for me.

“He’s looking for me!” I exclaimed as quietly and as calmly as I could without seeming like a freak to my fellow travelers close by.

I knocked on the window, loud enough so he could hear and notice I was there in the back row. I waved, put my hand on my heart, pointed to his bracelet, and then pointed to my wrist where the bracelet had once been. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and smiled.

We’d found each other, once again.

I began crying, once again.

I opened one hand and put it up flat against the window. He put his hand up too. One panel of glass separated us.

It was clear the bus was about to move towards the gates.

I blew him a kiss. He blew me one, too. I blew another. He blew another.

And as we drove off, I looked back and noticed. He was wearing navy blue Converse, untied. He walked quietly by himself as we drove away, fiddling with his bracelet, yet again.

Call me a blubbery mess. Call me whatever.

In the days following, I wasn’t sure what to do with this experience. In fact, nine days later, I’m still not sure why I met that boy, why he was the only child I engaged with that day that spoke any word of English, or why he felt compelled to say “I want you to be my mommy.”

I’d give anything to know if that little boy has a mommy. I’d give anything for the opportunity to go back and take a Compassion staff and translator with me, visit his home, and know more. If he had a mommy, I’d love on her and tell her how awesome she is and how she’s raising her son with a beautiful heart. I’d tell him what a great mommy he has and how she loves him with all her heart. And if he didn’t have a mommy? Well, I don’t know what I’d do. But reality is, I’ll never get the opportunity to do any of that.

Why is it that my Heavenly Father gave me this gift, this boy to love for just a few moments? I don’t know.

The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be His name, is all I can say.

Perhaps I’ll never know why I met this boy, why he wanted me to be his mommy. Perhaps someday the good Lord will make it clear. For now, I trust, there was a reason.

Five days after meeting the boy, I arrived back home. Photographs of my journey flashed on our television screen as I recounted my days in Haiti with my husband and two oldest children.

And then, the Lord gave me eyes to see what I needed to see in a photograph I hadn’t remembered taking earlier that morning in the play yard.

The boy.

There he was!


I’m not 100% sure because the first two photos I took of the boy were from the side, and this photo was straight on. But my heart knows, my heart feels confident. The Lord gives me eyes to see what He wants me to see, because He’s awesome like that.

That boy in the middle of all those girls?

It’s him.

I recognize his face, he looks familiar. He looks exactly like the boy who told me “I want you to be my mommy.” He looks exactly like the boy who blew me kisses when I was still crying in the van. He looks exactly like the boy who wore navy blue Converse, untied.

And if it’s truly him as my heart thinks it is?

Then God has spoken.

I’m here, orchestrating every bit of your life, whether you know it or not.

I chose you before you chose Me.

You are loved.

Now go love.


*This is part of a month-long series about my journey to Haiti. Click here to read all the posts in the series.

  1. Hannah Hinojosa says:

    How beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. I’m so glad that this boy has a continual prayer advocate in you now!!

  2. Terri Siebert says:

    oh man this had my crying, this is so beautiful and touched me so much. Thank you for sharing this experience.

  3. Vicki Thunstrom says:

    Oh my word, Amy! This is the most precious thing, Tears and more tears….. what a gift!

  4. Tiffany Femling says:

    Not much makes me tear up … But, your writing does! Thank you for sharing!

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