On Broken Parts in Regular Towns: Alabama, Arkansas, and Haiti

Haiti-Ferrrier-Village-Lg-001-7865.jpgOn the way to Alabama last week, my Ian said, “I love to be me.” It caught my breath, like the purple clover fields holding buttercup bouquets. In my part of the world, God plants the grass. That’s how I like it best, how my Ian is so untouched by the world.

I am in my 34th Spring and every one of them has been a surprise. A double row of bradford pear trees lining a driveway makes a house look new. It doesn’t matter how raggedy the place is, when the red bud blooms and the wide leaves of tulips reach their arms up like the resurrected from the ground, the surge of life casts an air of hope.

After a week with the family, I drove us back to Arkansas, but when we hit I40, and the 18 wheelers choked up the road, I slid out an exit as fast as I could. I always do. A little south of there is the real road, Hwy 70. It’s a road that stops you with its lights. It’s a bleeder. We only know we’ve come to a new town because we saw another courthouse. Houses don’t get big. Everything stays small. Children play outside. Buddies talk at the gas stations. Craig’s Barbecue makes eyes roll back in heads. There’s a straining and a dirtiness. There’s an element of touched, handled, familiar. There are no doe-eyed hipsters. Everybody is just regular, regular like flip-flops and tank-tops, like clover and  daffodil. 

Many along Hwy 70 and back at my home, too, keep stuff in a shed and sometimes spread in the yard and on porches. They keep the broken parts of everything just in case the opportunity arises to make good on something else broken. Sometimes the broken parts are a sign of surrender, and sometimes they’re a sign of hope. Broken parts make me feel at home. A people waiting for things to come together, those are my people.

I leave for Haiti in 9 days. And I am a regular girl from Alabama and Arkansas. I am made up of broken parts.

Not all of you know what I’m talking about, but some of you do. I like to talk about home with you. I like to know as much as I can what it is we’re talking about when we talk about home. What’s the invisible thing inside it?

On HOME and the Broken Parts in Regular Towns - an invitation

When I go to Haiti and look for what is home there, too, could I ask the ones of you who are regular to help me see as one who longs for home? If I know you’ll be here with me, I’ll come to you and tell you the smell of it, what it tastes like.

We’ll see a lot of things, but I’m most unaccustomed to seeing the faces and learning the laughter of victims of human-trafficking. So this will be a shift to me. Could I ask that you shift with me? But what of our hearts? Well, I just don’t know yet.

I do know that I’m going with folks who know the regular people there doing the real work on the ground. I’m not going to witness the work of great Americans. I am going to Haiti to see Haiti love who she is.

Last year 32 kids were rescued out of trafficking there, and 7 of them were reunited with their families. Help One Now initiated Garage Sales for Orphans (GS4O’s) to help complete phase one of a home that keeps the 25 children who didn’t have one. Regular people from many of our towns joined friends and family to gather and sell what had been saved in attics and closets. They paid for Phase 1 of what these children call home in Ferrier: the walls, the roof, the place where they get their names, their ideas of love.

I’m going with Help One Now and this team of friends so I can come and show it to you, and maybe we can build Phase 2 together. Maybe all our broken parts come together to make some things whole.

Watch for our story of home on Facebook


and Instagram?

Your comments in those places will be your arms linking with the likes of many regular folks. I hope you’ll take it all in with me.

Now listen to the sound. A spoon sounds the same here as it does there when it ladles up along the inside of a pot. I love it!

Ferrier Village Vignette from Help One Now on Vimeo.

The photos are from the spectacular Scott Wade, who is a founding member of Help One Now and will be going with us. He went with Seth to Ethiopia, and Seth calls him Lion Man. 🙂

About me


Wild in the Hollow Book Club: an Introductory video
August 28, 2015
How Right Living Was My Brokenness: a guest post from Kelly Smith
August 11, 2015
Marriage Letters: On Home
July 06, 2015
A Final Haines Home Companion: a Secret I’ve Kept
June 06, 2014
For the Dreamers of Drouin
April 15, 2014
On Losing Place
September 05, 2013
How the Light Peeks Through
August 26, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: A Little Eden
March 13, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: Alter
February 22, 2013


Samantha Livingston
Reply April 3, 2014

I'm a "regular" gal who likes regular folks too. Look forward to reading more about your upcoming journey.

    Reply April 3, 2014

    Samantha, thank you. This means a lot.

Reply April 3, 2014

PS: We leave April 12th.

Reply April 3, 2014

I'm going with you.
Feet here. Heart there, with you.

So good, Amber. This: "I’m not going to witness the work of great Americans. I am going to Haiti to see Haiti love who she is." A-to-the-MEN.

    Reply April 3, 2014

    I want to see us all have that feeling that my Ian had when he said that he loved being himself. JDL, he had such a huge smile on his face.

    Lisha Epperson
    Reply April 3, 2014

    I loved that line too Jennifer.

Reply April 3, 2014

You touch my heart with your words. I love it! Thank you for sharing so openly, honesty and with spirit. Prayers for you as you travel to Haiti. Mission experiences change lives and I am sure your smile and love will change lives there.

Leigh Kramer
Reply April 3, 2014

Proud of you, friend. Thank you for carrying us with you. I'm excited to see where this trip takes you and will be praying as you prepare.

Diana Trautwein
Reply April 3, 2014

What a team! Praying for all of you as you prepare, as you travel, as you look for home. Bless you, bless you.

the Blah Blah Blahger
Reply April 3, 2014

I can't wait to see how God uses you and changes you through this journey. I'll be with you in spirit.

Reply April 3, 2014

You made me wish for a long drive on a State Hiway or Country Road. Lovely. In all the ways.


Lisha Epperson
Reply April 3, 2014

Oh the humility required to take such a journey. Here...right here..is where I see it.." I do know that I’m going with folks who know the regular people there doing the real work on the ground. I’m not going to witness the work of great Americans. I am going to Haiti to see Haiti love who she is. " Looking forward to reading about Haiti through a heart lens like this. Praying your safe arrival and return.

laura @ hollywood housewife
Reply April 4, 2014

I cannot even believe we get to do this together. I will need your wisdom and beauty in Haiti, my friend.

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