What He can do with our Tidbits.

Some tidbits you may not know about this blogger:

  • I drink my coffee black & I’m also catching myself turning into one of “those” coffee people, who talk about flavors brought out using a Chemex (it’s a coffee brewing method).
  • There are about a dozen saved drafts for blogs on my dashboard. All passionate, two to five sentence starts on topics I want to talk about that have sat as I’ve been busy or distracted to a new idea.
  • Since I’m a responsible adult now I try to work out for health. I’ve mastered walking our dog with 30-second spurts of “running” (I say “running” because of the short spurts & also the memory of a substitute gym teacher once calling me out saying, “you don’t run much, do you?”)
  • If you ask to meet for lunch & make me decide, I’ve probably spent anywhere from ten to thirty minutes on Yelp before sending a reply. Yeah, it’s that bad.
  • I sold my car before leaving for Haiti in 2013, meaning that I borrow my mom’s vehicle now. With her six-disc CD player, I hunted through my belongings for music. I found No Strings Attached & Beyoncé and have been jamming to both everywhere I’ve driven the past couple months. This alternates with mom’s Chris Tomlin CD & a Haitian rap CD I brought to America a few months ago. (Don’t mistakenly assume I was cool enough to own Dangerously In Love when I was a preteen, it’s my dad’s CD that got mixed into mine accidentally.)
  • Going with that fun fact, I’m a shameless car singer. So when I say jamming, I mean every-word-to-“It Makes Me Ill” as I travel to our serious meeting over coffee. This time is one of the things I’ve realized is in my top 50 for what I miss when I’m in Haiti. (Are you tempted to laugh? Picture this all going on in a minivan, cause that’s what I’m borrowing. Now let it out & don’t feel bad for it cause I’m happy to laugh with you.)
Proof cause we’re friends. Holla if you’re a 90’s girl who knows those gold/maroon stripes and you somehow remember the words ten years later.

Okay back to the tidbits:

  • I took a challenge to memorize two verses per month in 2014 with a friend. Based off of Beth Moore, my friend blogs on the first and fifteenth of each month – a new verse each time and two weeks to get a new one down. You comment and join into this community for accountability and encouragement. I have one down. You read that right, one.
  • I get a lot of questions about both faith and living it out that I don’t know how to answer.  I get a lot of questions in general that I don’t know how to answer.
  • Going back to Haiti is harder now than it was the first time; before I was going into the dark and now I sometimes think about it with fear or dread because of how hard it is. I’ve cried a lot, reacted wrong towards many people when I’m unsure what to do, and stayed inside from fear (not for physical harm, but how tough it is to be in relationships).

“What was that jump? Can we backtrack to the fun quirky tidbits that are easy to relate to, like that lack of athletic skill?”

That’s what you’re thinking, right? That was a dramatic turn and you aren’t sure how it relates. Don’t worry, I’m not turning my post into a counseling session & I’m not going to make you cry with me.

I’m a strong believer that our testimony is made stronger in our vulnerability, because it is in that that our testimony is about what is should be – what God is doing. It does not give God justice when people associate the term “missionary” with “put together” – disregarding what He can do regardless of who He is working through. I am saddened by the amount of times the idea of mission is put on a pedestal that the “chosen few” who are spiritually mature and oh-so-wise are chosen to stand on to shine and look down on those working mundane jobs. No, no, no, no!

Most days I look around amazed that I am where I am, and that God both can and is using me in it. That’s what’s so cool about God using people: we all feel this way when we’re in the center of it. “Me?! What am I doing here? Is God sure about this??” Because no one is put together or “ready” before living on mission starts. If this was true, or even possible, the gospel would become irrelevant with us being able to reach anything in our own ability. Where’s the power in that?

The beauty of the gospel is that it grabs us, right where we are, no matter who we are or how deep the gross trench is that we’re stuck in – and it takes over us. It gives us life and transforms us. It’s us bringing our small willingness and abilities that God gave in the first place to the table, and Him meeting us there and filling all the rest in. It’s His power in us, it’s the Holy Spirit that we so quickly forget is inside of us. It’s his all-encompassing love that is still holding us when we continue to get it wrong sometimes even after we say yes to that transforming life he offers.

That is why it’s good news. That is why we’re going across the world tell people about it. 

God says, “It’s not about about me being sure about choosing you, it’s that you can be sure because you have chosen me”. The Bible doesn’t say to stand firm on our feet but to stand firm in our FAITH; and that is what happens when we get past the lie that we are to be put together and we instead move forward fully aware of our faults and shortcomings. Our strength is in His name & His Spirit in us, not our schedule or our knowledge or our memorized verses or our false sense of control.

I’m done with hearing people think that God must fix them first and THEN put them to use. People, you did all he had to when you said yes to Jesus. You have the SPIRIT in you, which you can put MUCH more confidence in than whatever you fixing yourself for use looks like. We are refreshed and growing EACH DAY. He is already holy and always has been. 

It is a lie from the pit of hell that you have to be good enough first, and serve second. Our enemy, also known as the father of lies,  loves to push our thoughts to keep us where we are. I’ve read it in every spiritual warfare book, I’ve experienced it myself, and I’ve heard it over and over again through people who approach me and talk about how they’d love to do something one day, after they are “better at this stuff”.

There’s nothing about being put together, it’s not about us being perfect – it’s about how our God is perfect and then we get to come and work with him. And as we walk together, we are transformed. That is the beauty of Christianity. That is why I am constantly amazed at where I get to be. That is why there’s passion.

Perfectly put together people (if they exist) who are working in a perfect plan aren’t passionate. It’s the ones deeply aware of their imperfections that God has forgiven and worked on with them as they get to be working in his perfect plan – those are the passionate ones. Jesus even had parables that can relate to this. Two people have a debt they can’t pay back. One is significantly more. One is moderate (still can’t pay it back, but lower than the first). Which person shouts louder about the forgiven debt and the life they now lead?

Let’s put a stop to thinking we’ve got to get ourselves together before the one who knit us together can work through us. 

Myself included.

I’m not perfect. Talking through both my bad singing but also my sometimes bad attitude, I started with that point today. I’m scared and feel that I’m not good enough for what’s next. But that’s where those songs about “following him wherever he goes” become beautiful. Knowing who goes before and who stands behind. The Psalms talking about it not being by OUR faithfulness or character, but HIS perfect faithfulness and character. They ask him to show us imperfect beings his unconditional love, to teach us his ways, to preserve us not for our glory but for his. That’s what it means to live on mission, starting now.


Toxic Beauty

I’ve always been a saver – slow to buy & ending up with an outdated closet that I then regret.

But before I went out to restock on clothes (hand washing is ROUGH on tank tops), I saw an article on our “dispensable” clothing written by a girl in Haiti. Like me, she knows that our “generosity” with second hand clothes being passed on to third world countries really hurts more often than helping and she also pointed out more than I think of. And since then, I’ve seen it more and more – we need to rethink how we do clothing. We just buy, buy, buy and therefore there is a ridiculous amount of choice to buy FROM due to supply/demand.

Now that I’m aware, there is such a large pool to pull blogs or articles from. I’m choosing this one for the way she words it & the fact that she’s from Haiti – seeing the mass amounts of clothes like me.

“Most Americans are thoroughly convinced there is another person in their direct vicinity who truly needs and wants our unwanted clothes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Charities long ago passed the point of being able to sell all of our wearable unwanted clothes. According to John Paben, co-owner of used-clothing processer Mid- West Textile, “They never could.”” (This comes from another article: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/fashion/2012/06/the_salvation_army_and_goodwill_inside_the_places_your_clothes_go_when_you_donate_them_.html?_ga=1.241199554.1127112318.1399390819)

We need to be radical in a disposable culture.

Fast Fashion

(Modeling a handmade piece from India)

Several months ago I went to India and promised to write a few follow-up blogs from my trip. Immediately upon returning home from India, however, school started again, I finished writing a nutrition chapter for a book (coming out this spring!!), and then I decided to run off to Haiti for a week! Anyways, this blog has been on my heart for a while, and the intensity of my experiences both in Haiti and India have made me compelled to finally write it.

Most of the time, I talk about food. Sustainable food, healthy food systems, eating plant-based, and general health…. In my “free time”, I am working on reading two books  (Endgame and Over-dressed: The shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion) that have really helped me make sense of how our current fashion INDUSTRY plays apart into all of this too…

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I was blessed to get to attend an event this weekend to fill me up as I’m home, an event for women to come together and be built up. This conference is a partner of WorldVision, the most common organization associated with child sponsorship. They’ve been around for years, their profile folders now include a short video of your child, and it seems like they’ve got it all together. 

It’s an organization like this that I think of when we have the hard days in Bercy (Haiti), trying to get facts from kids or organize a program in a school that runs so differently than our minds can process through our North American filters. 

On the days where I try over and over again to re-word a key question for profiles of children in order to get the answer we are looking for….but every time, the answer is the same. 

You see, for months I have wondered what an organization like WorldVision does for this certain question – do they make up a cute answer? Do they have multiple choice for the kids? Are they more culturally competent, with the secret phrase that holds the key to getting an answer?

And then I opened a folder for a little girl from Haiti over the weekend. No older than six, she didn’t look the happiest in her picture but from experience I know that this happens often even with the giggliest of children as they get serious in photos we take. 

And in her folder, I saw a sentence that made me simultaneously laugh and sigh in relief. 

“She likes to help clean in the household.”

You see, this is the exact issue I have in Haiti! To the question “what are your hobbies”, I get the answers “sweeping”, “cooking”, and “dishes”! I have been discouraged, confused, and stretching to find the right string of words to get a new answer with no luck – and now I see I am not the only one! You can’t help but laugh at the thought of a six year old little girl thinking of her favorite way to spend her time, or at the least what she does most often with her time, and honestly responding “helping in the house”. 

And then I was getting ready a day later and a completely different realization hit me. For CPR-3, WorldVision, all of us trying to pull this first world concept of “hobbies” from children who still have not learned to write their own letters back to sponsors…we all get this answer. 

For thousands of children in Haiti, and who knows where else that I am simply not aware of, household chores are what the day consists of and the closest thing they relate to a “hobby”. 

Wow, ouch, no more laugh and sigh of relief at the not-so-gentle punch of humility to the stomach at this. 

Here we are, coveting our friends who are somehow perfecting each idea we pinned to our “If I ever have the time” board & living in the midst of a culture where sitting for hours in front of a screen is the usual hobby – while a hobby doesn’t really exist in a country where you spend two hours of it just fetching the water to get the basic chores done & your time in between “helping around the house” is spent simply sitting together, playing jacks with the smoothest rocks, or playing with an old tire.

Even for a six year old. 

We would never put it this way, but hobbies really are such a first world thing. Skills and interests is a different matter – but the freedom, ability, and resources to use free time for scrapbooking, crafting, trying new recipes, putting together fantasy football teams, being “social” with Xbox Live friends…?

Hobbies are just another thing I am realizing we should be thankful for, though we don’t even realize it and may even complain or feel we “don’t have enough” in this area – like so many others. 

CPR-3 has an active child sponsorship program for kiddos in Bercy & Los Cahobas, a community in the mountains near the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Comment or e-mail me and I can connect you with our sponsorship coordinator. As I have been letting you know the past few months, I am looking for financial partnership as I have committed five more years to Haiti. I am officially under $20,000 to go for the first year and it is SO simple to give through cpr-3.com/give (Just enter Movement Partner & type in ‘Stephanie Taylor’). Please join in prayer partnership with me if you are interested as well!