Great, now I’m getting emotional over Facebook comments.

What in the world, I just teared up over a Facebook comment.

As I cringe at another social media post and hope I’m not becoming “annoying”, “spammy”, etc….(because I’ve been offering the opportunity to partner with a family and sponsor their child daily – sometimes multiples times in one day)

I see a comment from someone who follows CPR-3 on the picture of a girl I adore, whose mother I have sat with in their small house the size of my bedroom on hot afternoons. A girl who has taken years to open up but who sometimes smiles from the background at me now. A mother who has not enrolled one of her children into school this year, who says “I have absolutely no way”.

This comment says, “The ___________ family will sponser her.”

Simple. Forward. You can tell it’s the dad who commented with the way that it is written 🙂

And that’s when I teared up.

Why?

In the apathy that so easily comes after just one or two posts, I had lost it. I lost the big picture.

In the thought, “There is always one more”, “This won’t solve every problem”, I was starting to get robotic.

And this one comment rocked me. A stranger, someone that I don’t know and someone that I know has never personally been to Canaan (maybe never even Haiti), stood up and said “We are in. She is mine. We’re going to do life together.”

Years ago, even just last year actually, the thought of this was a distant dream. Many people asked when sponsorship would be available, we weren’t sure if it EVER would be outside of where we live in Bercy.

Sponsorship is tough, and takes more logistics than we ever imagined when we listened to the people who asked us to make it happen and followed doors we felt God was opening, and then helping us get through on the hard days.

But now we are here. I am staring at a comment on CPR-3’s Facebook page that says, “We will sponsor her”.

Not even someone who knows her.

Tell me that in June 2012. Go back as this girl and her older brother are the first to come out with big eyes and watch us from far away, then slowly approach us but stay silent and unsure. Tell me that in 2013, when I went back and found that her brother remembered me, and I was amazed that I got to live in a country where he was. Tell me that in 2014, when I was amazed that I had the opportunity to fall in love with this family and now sit in the living room/bedroom/dining room/closet with their mom and SWAP STORIES IN CREOLE. To talk about her newest pregnancy and see her fears, to learn that God stepped in and sheltered His daughters from a human trafficker that approached the mother. Tell me last week, that tonight I would have the realization I got to have tonight.

I have watched us go from meeting this community and family, to now a stranger stepping up to partner with them in a program we weren’t sure we could even dream would happen. Our dreams seemed big….too big?

And here I have tears as once again I am reminded. Remember who your Father is, Stephanie. Small dreams are cute and all, but the impossible ones honor Him. And He CAN.

So yes, I teared up at a Facebook comment tonight.

I teared up for the God of big dreams, ones that we wouldn’t dream if He didn’t move our heart in the first place anyway.

I teared up for the chance to get to be a part of this.

I teared up in gratitude for this father of the family stepping up and saying, “It’s gonna be us. We will do life with her.”

Keep dreaming big and giving it to Him, friends.

Once again, He is too good.

If there’s a nudge in your heart, here’s the resources you might ask me for. This post was in no way AT ALL to “sell” child sponsorship, but I would be silly to not include the link to save you from asking me later. You can e-mail childsponsorship@cpr-3.com or check out https://cpr-3.com/childsponsorship. If you already partner with child sponsorship, or partner with me so that I can be a part of making it happen, thank you SO MUCH for being a part of dreams bring reality. God is using you, and it is no small deal!

One.

Tonight there’s rolling thunder with the lighting strikes that accompany a downfall that rainy season is supposed to be known for – although we have had less rain than you’d expect for a season named after it.

Tonight, it’s cold. The water creeps in through windows and across the floor as the indoors is still sort of outdoors here, not completely sealed off for the sake of needing air flow. The rain poured for at least an hour, it’s slowing down now. 

Tonight, there is one person under a roof who wasn’t last night. One person able to be dry and secure as opposed to unsure and searching for a few hours of relief. It is not Christiana*, and it is not every other person still outside and full of uncertainty and fear and need (not including all those with roofs that let water in, mud walls that fall with too much rain, or dirt floors that are now muddy).

But it is one, and we will praise. We will pray for him, a teenager who saw no point to life with the combination of no work or school teaming up with being homeless to equal a hopelessness that was getting too heavy to handle. We are not praying for physical as much as what we are praying for the physical to point to – His provider, his Father. Comforter and friend, shelter and miracle worker.  The One who sees a son feeling no purpose who proclaims back, “My masterpiece! Chosen, called, living stone I want to build with!”

We refuse to back down because we can’t solve it all at once. We refuse to let the messiness of getting involved be too much to stay actively present. We refuse to be drawn back as it is compared to an ocean and an eyedropper.

We cannot relieve them all tonight. But one young man matters. 

After all, that one young man – once he believes it is true that he was created to breathe life – will affect more than we can try to guess now as he transforms his corner of the world one day.

(*I have reached out in search of resources for Christiana and received some leads to follow. You can keep praying for her! There I nothing like embracing her and saying I have been praying for her – and knowing I really have with my heart in it. Of course, she replies she prayed for me last night too.)

Reality Check

Reality hit me hard tonight, and I can’t even walk past the gate yet.

I went down to the gate tonight to look for Brooke, figuring she would be coming home anytime now if she wasn’t already waiting for me. With a breeze starting to blow and the sun finally less harsh, 6:00 is a beautiful time at night. Still a few hours of light, people start walking again instead of staying in the shade away from the brutal heat. Neighbors are coming back from market, boys are running excitedly to a soccer match near the school, and girls are walking down the street holding hands and singing together.

As I open the gate to look out for Brooke, I open it to neighbors walking by and get the beautiful sound of “Bonswa!”, “Estephanie!”, and “Como ou ye?” every few minutes as someone new walks by with a big smile and wave. We’re all relieved from the heat letting up and we’re happy to have the chance for casual greetings after a season of every neighbor only seeing me passing by in a tap-tap with no more time than 2 seconds to wave a “Bonjou!” their way.

In the middle of all the people that I know passing by, someone passes holding the hand of her daughter who isn’t old enough to speak much more than babble yet. She walks slower and hangs back as others pass by, watching me. I smile and wave and she waves back, then hangs back and watches me. I’m used to this, people who don’t know me watch me sometimes, and I stay aware but don’t really pay attention to her after that. After a few more friends pass by, and I go in with one of them to pick some of our flowers with her to make a tea. I turn around and the little one who was toddling along with her mom is behind me, trying to follow me in! When I walked back to the gate she started saying “mama, mama”….then refused to take her mother’s hand once we reached the gate. So a conversation started up as we laughed about her daughter being a typical 1 1/2 year old.

“Li vle rete avek ou paske li grangou…”

“She’s doing that because she’s hungry, she wants to stay with you,” she then went on, “She’s mad at me because I don’t have food to give her.”

I hear the word “grangou” a lot, some say it with a laugh even. But this was not with a laugh, neither a guilt trip. Just a mom explaining her daughter with a half smile & a voice that sounded resigned with the words coming out of them. My heart twisted as I thought of our pantry upstairs and I did mental calculations for any food I could send that was real food of sustenance. Then there was the mental debate on it being a good idea to hand over a grocery bag the first time I meet someone.

Sabrina and Zobwam stand on either side of me now, they just walked up and they’re holding their green “Nuevo Testaman”s in their hands. Zobwam looks up with me with his always present grin and Sabrina greets me with a hug then turns to say hello to the mother I’m talking to.

As Sabrina talks, I notice the details. The hair tie in this woman’s hair is a “sachet” – a cheap plastic baggie that you may get buying something in market or that you could find on the ground. She is not old, but her body tells the story of many more years than a birth certificate can account for. Her clothes are just a little less than someone would be okay with walking around in as they trek across Bercy. Her eyes are red, I’m not sure why. But she is beautiful, and she smiles gently through conversation. She turns back to me and talks. Just talks, spills her life out. Have you ever met someone who just shows off that human need that we all have, the one of just wanting to be known?

Her daughter was kicked out by the dad, and they have no support from him. The mom has no food, but someone gave her some bananas today, she’s carrying them with her. Although she has nothing to go with them she is going to go see what she can do with them to feed her little one. Sabrina comments, “You only have one cooking pot, don’t you?” – the answer is yes. In Bercy, no one has just one cooking pot. The poor among the impoverished. I hear more and more of her story, pouring out. When I ask her name and introduce myself, she pronounces her whole name with a proud smile. She looks me in the eye and says it twice. She tells me the church she goes to, and about the pastor of the church. Because we all want to be known. Her daughter’s name is just one letter off from her own, as many families name their children after someone else. She also told me at one point, “Do you see how my eyes are red? It’s because I get beat in the head so often.”

This is all with me at the gate, one foot inside the property. This is reality. This woman lives in Bercy with me. This is my neighbor. In the poverty I am surrounded by, she is poor among even the poverty I have become frustratingly accustomed to – even apathetic to some days. I am not even outside the gate completely, and I am so hit with reality as I stare into her sweet eyes full of depth.

When we say goodbye, she hugs me. I hug her back tightly, and she repeats her name in my ear – like a simple ask, the whispered name says so much more. Remember Me. My name is Christina Pierre, and I ask that you remember me. We all want to be known.

She leaves and Sabrina, a typical 11 year old, starts talking. About her day, why I haven’t seen her, and about Christina. She knows where Christina lives, she tells me, and I am happy to hear that as it means I’ll be able to pay a surprise visit another day. I ask where and Sabrina goes, “It’s not a house, Stephanie.”

A tin roof. On sticks. No walls, no covering. (It’s rainy season, by the way, and there’s been a storm every night). In a country where people don’t like to walk around a night, a single mom is going to spread out a sheet that is full of holes and sleep on the bad part while she saves the one clean area for her daughter – who isn’t yet two. I remember something Christina said to Sabrina as they talked now, “it’s where people put their donkeys or their goats, and I’m staying because I’m not going to leave my daughter to sleep alone”. The wind will blow, the bugs will bite, every sound will be heard. Sabrina has seen her sleep because she usually sleeps “in the road” (which means, she has been homeless and just slept anywhere outside with that simple sheet). It’s how Sabrina knew this mother only had one pot – it was Sabrina’s mom who gave it to her. They have seen Christina and how harsh life has been to her.

Oh, my heart. I don’t want to share because the knowledge hurts. I didn’t like hearing it. Because I am sleeping one street away, with security and plenty of sheets and pillows on my bed. With lots of walls, with a door, with a bathroom for myself. With fans and lights. This reality check hurts.
I can physically feel the tightened stomach at the thought.

Sabrina, talking away, tells me about how Christina sold charcoal to her mother once.

The father of her child, the man they don’t even live with, came out of nowhere and started to beat Christina. Sabrina and her family saw it all. He took and ripped up the gourde she had just been given for her sale. He kicked charcoal everywhere, and started to beat the daughter as well before Christina stood in the way and was hit for it.

This is the day Sabrina’s mom gave Christina a pot. Christina was scared to take it, and Sabrina’s mom packed it tight so it was hard to see what she had. Why was Christina scared? The reason that the man beats her is, in Sabrina’s words, because “he doesn’t want to see her around”.

I was confused. “Does she need to move out of Bercy?”

Sabrina responded, “No, it’s not like that. He wants her to stay where she’s at, he wants her to stay in poverty. He doesn’t want to see good things happen to her.”

I think my mouth just stayed dropped open for a beat before I could collect myself. I don’t understand. And that Sabrina, at 11, witnessed this and speaks about life and facts like this, explaining Bercy to me.  I don’t know what to do with these facts.

This reality check is a heavy one. This is not “poverty” or a story to me. This is the poor single mom, who I hugged today. The one who whispered her name in my ear like an ask to be remembered and known. This is tearing my heart as I type, on a computer, at a table, on a bench, under a roof, with clothes I will not wear again for a week – or even two! I know where she is and it hurts to think about.

I can’t not share this. I shared a blog today from Kayla, who said it perfectly. There’s not a solution at the end of this blog. Americans like solutions, and they like them clean cut. This has neither.

What we can do is remember Christina, because she is known.

Christina Pierre, I promise to be your newest prayer warrior. I promise to tell your story in my corner of the world, because I believe in prayer warriors being a key to making all things new. You are known. I will not fall into distraction and the comfort of a new internet tab and a new story as my stomach turns typing this one. I will close my computer and pray for you tonight.

Christina is being schemed for by Sabrina and I, because we don’t know what the big picture looks like. Tomorrow is not known, the house we want for her is a dream (Zobwam exclaimed, “Let’s build a house in the soccer field for her!” – Zobwam is 6), the man who fathered her child for some reason has problems with her. We don’t know the big picture, but we know what is in front of us. And what is in front of us is scheming to find one more pot and two spoons to eat with, and surprising Christina with a gift we will send with no explanation but God sending it.

Please pray for Christina. Please pray for an open heart and sensitive ears to absolutely anything that the Holy Spirit wants to prod me for in her story.

Sabrina went on to more reality checks, like the “tonton” down the street who only owned that one set of clothes.

“He bathes, and puts the same clothes back on. See how he holds the shorts? They aren’t the right size. He found them in the street and picked them up.”

From a simple trip to the gate to let Brooke in, and being still to sit down on the dusty ground with Zobram leaning on my lap and Sabrina talking non-stop about her day and the life of Bercy going on around her – God gave me a hard reality check. Let it not go to waste.

 

“B.”

I’m not a fan of clingy. I’m sorry, okay?! I know it isn’t patient, graceful, or loving. I know it’s an area I should work on. I also know that my introvert heart is not all about people hanging on me.

Meet “B”. Because I’m talking about her story, we’re going to call her B – because it’s not my story to tell with her name attached.

I’ve known B for a grip, since I was teaching english my first few months in Haiti in 2013. I don’t even know where she came from, she just started hanging out in the classroom before class sometimes.

I’ve seen her in market here and there over the years or around Bercy as I walk to visit a family. When I see her, she runs and says my name. Sometimes she may ask for a little something. She follows me, hugs me, wants some attention. She’s…a little clingy. But I don’t see her except in passing.

So this spontaneous “Bible get together” starts. B is in it – and so excited about it! I’m a part of the study since it became official and had a second night – B saw that I was joining and was so excited. Sits beside me, talks to me, has big eyes and a smile as we get to do this hour together.

We wrap up the simple get together, with a half hour before the sun goes done. B uses this time to play jacks with goat bones, talk up a storm to me, go back to playing, then dancing, then call my name and come talk to me every few minutes. When I say talk, I mean touch and ask questions and play with my things and unbraid the hair she braided as we were talking about the Bible. B is officially being clingy. Maybe you had to be there to see it.

Anyways, Bible get together night two (aka my second night). B is here. Which is so fun! But I also saw her already today, she was around the house while I was doing work, and you know…that can feel clingy. But she’s here, and we’re glad she’s here! While I tell myself, to get over myself, in my head in the background.

With about 20 people around I forget about B, who is across from me today, as we start talking about the two verses we just read in John. We’re talking Jesus, him being both human and God, and then the reality of how he reacted to life versus how we want to react to life.

This all happened after working through the belief that some of the group had: “Well, Jesus was always happy.”

So, we brought it to real life. Bro, Jesus had some tough stuff in life. Crowds, a mom pregnant out of wedlock, all kinds of things. Things like people saying lies about him. How would/do YOU react when people say lies about you?

(Culturally, this was a hit close to home. Kids in the circle had been fighting just today, including with punches being thrown, over someone saying a lie about them.)

But how did Jesus react? With grace.

So we talked that side, that very hard side.

We talked about if we had been able to do this in real life, to give grace ourselves to someone in a tense situation. After some answers closer to the surface – good answers, but about kids being kids and forgiving over sibling fights…a deeper story was brought up.

During that story, TiLove was poking B and giggling, saying she should share too. B looked down with a grin and shyly said “no, no” in the background. Simon quieted all of this side conversation saying that stories are for people to share themselves, not to be forced by others and making people feel ashamed or cornered into talking. The giggles died down, discussion moved back to other people sharing stories.

We started to move on, and B decided to share her story. Word for word is not going to happen here, just some main points:

“Well, growing up my dad was with my mom and helped take care of me…”

“…He moved away, to France…”

“….now it’s hard to get a hold of him and he doesn’t help at all…”

“…my mom works so hard to get me an education, to get me food…”

“He says he does not have a child in Haiti.”

The whole time, she is stating facts. Less giggles, but still a half smile on her face. Legs kicking the wall she sits on, because she isn’t old enough yet for them to completely touch the ground. She ends the story that we thank her for sharing, and we talk about grace in that story that she wants to show.

Heart? Ouch. Hurting. Both for her, and for my ridiculously small-minded and near-sighted perspective on B being clingy. It was so easy today to see her and wave and smile and hug, but hope she would not need too much of me.

Who in the world am I to dose out my love and attention? To ask the question, “How little can I put forth into this opportunity to do life together”? To be as prideful as to think about how needy this girl is for ME, and forget that I am a needy human as well.

Here I am, placed in her life with the opportunity to love her. To talk about her story and a bigger picture. To share my own story, and to learn about God within it together.

And instead, I see that B is clingy.

God, in his deep riches of grace, opened my eyes and widened my perspective to a glimpse of his vast picture of us all tonight. “Stephanie, B wants more attention than others sometimes and she thrives when she is poured into. Her story will help you see why. ”

A daughter, told by her own father in the most impersonal way that he wants nothing to do with her. Not even by name, he says, “I have no children in Haiti.”

No, no, no. I will not stand for someone treating you like this.

But look at me. My own thoughts on you wanting just a little more of my time and attention. I myself called you clingy in my thoughts. Is that not treating you in a way that should not be stood for?

Oh, Lord, thank you for lavishing grace. For opening our eyes. For glimpses of your perspective when we are so self-focused that we need a glimpse of your much bigger view to get our senses knocked back into us.

I have the OPPORTUNITY to love B. Not just B, but everyone else around me. I am surrounded by stories, and even the ones that I know are such small snapshots.

Our Father, in His perfect knowledge and goodness, sees it all. And then He places us right where we are, in this exact time of August 2015. He places us in our families, peer circles, and co-workers. He creates a temporary home in a certain geographical location – just for us. And in that awesome, bigger-than-we-can-imagine perspective and His eternal, perfect plan – He places us.

How many B’s are we surrounded by? Lord, help us. And thank you for loving reminders of your big picture.


 

Side note: Brooke and I are both mind-blown and thrilled at this spontaneous Bible get together. Tonight was night three, and here are some of our favorite God things that we are talking about in squeals…

  • The questions be asked. I can’t even. From the mouth of students – “How do you know the whole Bible? Is it possible to know the Bible 100%”, “How do you do what Jesus wants you to?”, “Who created God?”, “How is it possible to have faith?”
  • We respond, but discussion also happens. And some of the deepest, truest thoughts and answers and responding questions – where are they coming from? TEENAGE GUYS AND TEENAGE MOMS. Teenage guys who are swag, without the right look for church. Teenage moms who may be accepted, but not enough to be sure they won’t be judged in church. These are the voices that would be silenced, IF they went to church. They’d be in the background. AND THEY ARE THE LOUDEST. And they have GOOD things to say! How JESUS is it, that these are the voices that are fired up so deep? The ones pushing the conversation and the Word?
  • The people gathering…are not being invited. They are just coming. This is not a “CPR-3 Event”, this is not a “We had a dream to…” thing. It is boys and girls of all ages coming and plopping down at 5:40, ready for 6:00 time in John together.
  • Even us doing this together is such God timing, because both of our personalities need pushed to keep doing this. It is AWESOME as we do it, but our tendency is to back down in the planning. And Simon, of all people, is doing this with us! Although we have dreams if these teenagers would be interested in leading their own things the way they are speaking up these past two nights…

So, pray with us as we “make the most of every opportunity”! (ephesians 5)

Better Than an Eno

This isn’t a post on Haiti – but then, my heart isn’t to write about Haiti anyway. It’s not about the country, it’s about Who created it.

Listening to a sermon this morning, “prodigal son” was mentioned. My thoughts wandered to the story. Who knows why it was today, but this morning the story hit me with a different side, a new perspective. That’s what the Bible does – it’s active and alive…don’t be tricked into thinking they’re the same old stories you’ve always heard.

I am the prodigal daughter.

The story does not translate into our culture in a way where we grasp how heavy and dishonoring this son was as he asked for his inheritance – so you’ve gotta understand that the son was basically saying, “Dad, thanks for the good times but you’re dead to me.”

As far as we know the father has not done a thing, the son “just wanted to go LIVE”. And for the sake of experiencing life, he let his father take the seat of “dead to me”. Let me emphasize how dishonoring this was, “there is no greater insult to a father.”

I grew up living a life of a little introvert who accepted Jesus at 7. A good girl, keeping to herself and her books, and being moral. Making the promises with the rings and sitting through D.A.R.E. thinking “well, of course!”

I grew older and continued to be a Christian – of course I loved God, he was God. Sundays are for him, it’s good to serve, and I’m a “good girl”.

Then I got to a point in life – not on purpose, but with thousands of little decisions, peer choices, times of toeing the line and then going over it – where I was not necessarily a good girl. I was, I definitely was compared to others. But I was leading a double life, where every place I went people knew a piece of me. There was Saturday night, and Saturday morning. There was my mom, and there was my boyfriend. But I never said I didn’t love God.

Did the prodigal son ever say he didn’t love his father? No.

But his actions screamed where his words were silent. “You’re dead to me.”

Tell me – does a girl walking into church on Sunday surrounded by friends from her Christian university who don’t know what’s going on when she visits home, does she need to say it with her words? When she has become numb to the voice she has quieted over and over again, so that she can walk into the building for service and walk out completely unchanged, is she not saying that the One it’s all for is “dead to her”?

I am the prodigal daughter. My words were not needed those years, because my actions shouted what my heart was saying – You are dead to me.

The only possible conclusion to a daughter walking into a place where she can encounter and interact with her Father and walking out completely unaffected, without obedience to the glaring offenses in her life, is “You’re dead to me.”

And those years were exhausting. People did not know the real me, because I did not know the real me. I floundered because I had no purpose to fulfill. Oh, there was plenty to DO – we’re in America and therefore the lists are unending to fill up time and space. But purpose? Fulfillment?

Verse 17 of the story in Luke 15 says, “When he finally came to his senses…”

Yup. That’s how it goes.

Just like falling out, coming back was not one big moment for me. It was hundreds of small decisions. Owning faith by looking for a church. Opening my bible for some reading plan they gave a bookmark out for. Watching my mouth – and being an outsider as a result – when the jokes started at work. And then the big ones came….like stopping relationships that never should have started. Not because people were bad, there were no feelings, or because there was some form of abuse or something serious. But because even things that are “good”, when there are blatant laws made from love against them, we’ve gotta step up and choose – “Is this Father dead to me or not?”

He wasn’t dead to me anymore. I started the walk back home.

And how does the Father react to his prodigal child?

Culture again – it doesn’t hit us like the story would hit its audience when it was written. This father RAN. He had been watching for his son, and he RAN to meet him. Running is not what someone in his position did. A son that said, “you are dead to me”, the ultimate dishonor….and this father dishonored HIMSELF to run to that very son.

Whew. That’s a time for tears and a mini-sermon in itself. Once again I am the prodigal daughter, and I do NOT deserve this reaction from a perfect and holy Father – one who I dared show was DEAD to me just months ago, let’s remember.

And here’s where the story has been hitting me lately. How the patriarch reacts after that running embrace. Not only did he dishonor himself for the sake of his son, he know proclaims to the household that he wants to honor his son. The finest robes, the biggest welcome feast!

There was no grounding period, no waiting, no time to sit in a corner and think about what the son had done. There were open arms and immediate actions to bring him back into the family and right where he belonged.

Of course the second son, who had been there all along, reacts like a human would. Wait – where’s the waiting period? The passive-aggressive relationship? The “purgatory” that many of us put ourselves in after we make mistakes?

THAT’S NOT HOW GOD WORKS. Hear me, friends – you do not need to wait to go to God, and He will not wait to run to you. Not just run to you – but then honor you!

Here’s where being a prodigal daughter gets another level of His grace, goodness, and radical love.

As the prodigal daughter, the time comes to turn around and go to Him. He is there, already watching and ready for me.

He does not hesitate. He does not get all passive-aggressive with me.

I have the earthly consequences he warned about like a broken heart, a confused sense of self, and aching at the piles to sift through in the faces I put on and the sides of myself I showed to different people. I have regret now that He has embraced me – oh, Father, how could I have lived from a place where you were anything but alive and active? And I represented that to everyone around me – which I cannot take back! I have time that I can’t get back, and more time to keep learning and changing and now build back from where I am.

But God is calling a feast and a robe for me.

Father. Dad. What? I’m pretty sure that my brother is right, don’t you want a waiting period or something? I mean, I’m pretty messed up and clearly have some growing to do.

But I am God’s beloved. I am not chosen after being refined, I am chosen and then refined in the process.

I am the prodigal daughter.

I came to my senses and turned home.

My Dad embraced me.

And you know what He did? This is how big He is, how immediate His forgiveness and plan, how serious He is about that robe and feast –

A year after some of the biggest turning I did from the world and towards him happened, my alarm went off to remind me of a family birthday. I remembered this birthday well because just 12 months prior, I was in the middle of a family dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse and I was raw. Heart aching but knowing it was right, my sense of self stripped down but with so much space to fill it in as I learned who I really am.

This alarm went off after a day in the community of Cabaret, as I set in my Haitian hotel room at Shernando. I was exhausted in the best way in body, mind, and spirit (and tongue, attempting to learn a new language for surviving life). I spent my day visiting neighbors, getting groceries in market, praying with my CPR-3 team. And I looked at the calendar and saw all God did in a year. He took NO time in plugging me in at the church I “kind of” went to, taking me on an international trip where my heart stripped down even more to see “all of me, it’s all of me for Him”. I then went home with my brand new college degree and a plan to be in Columbus – and in then LESS than a year God took those dreams and transformed them to place me in Haiti – from praying about going, to counsel to go, to acceptance, to a ridiculous kind of financial support pouring in, to just the right mentors in just the right places, to a plane ticket less than a year before I said “I’m all in”.

He didn’t take His time.

“’But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” (Luke 15:22-24, NLT)

Adventure is not eno hammocks and #lifegoals pictures of far away places. Adventure is going from a tiring and unfulfilling life (a double-life in my case where people didn’t even know me), to barely able to keep up with how quickly God is redeeming and using your story. You wake up and realize you are caught in something much bigger than you, yet designed for you to fit perfectly within it. 

 

I have never felt fuller or been more full of joy to be myself and learn more about myself. Life is seen through a new lens that changes how everything looks. And how in the world in just a year after that place did I get here? I didn’t even know this place existed and within a year, I was in the middle of it. THIS is adventure. Right where God created you to be….

Getting to grow up with Jessica & Hope and transition with them into the home where they’ve taught all the kids, “This is the day that the Lord has made!”

Getting to be a part of Erin’s BAPTISM, a year after her month in the program where my biggest prayer was, “Jesus, have them fall more in love with you”.

Just joy bro. Plus life with Brooke, of course.

Almost three years of this superstar now.

Some days, this is my office.

These little brothers I get to have around me.

Getting to spend six weeks with these future leaders.

Growing up with Wes.

Watching this momma love her son (usually he’s not making this face) just a year after she was scared and not happy about pregnancy. Getting to do life with her.

Poolside.

Because we bought a baby pool for this ridiculous August heat,

and because we can put bucketfuls of water in it,

We are rich.

We layered the ground underneath it with towels so rocks wouldn’t puncture a hole in it. 

All those towels make us rich too.

Simon helped us and said “you have all these towels you put on the ground and I don’t even have one?”

Of course he walked out with a towel, while we swallowed a dose of humility.

A baby pool and the water to fill it – clean water to fill it would be even more dollar signs – means you are rich.

Let’s not stop zooming our perspective out because it’s hard to swallow. Spirit, keep opening our eyes.