We have so much to learn….Part One

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It has been a while since I have literally written anything, but the longing never leaves…..every day feels like I am living a blog post- a life of learning lessons from my own experiences and those around me that change me forever. I think the last month I have been taking in so many experiences I have not even known where to start. Today I figured I needed to start somewhere…..

I come across like I am confident and fearless but in certain areas I am a HUGE scaredy cat. For example, I don’t think I would be good with tools so I never, ever use them. I have never even used a hammer to drive a nail to hang a picture. I have also never painted a wall. I know it makes me sound like I am just a spoiled wife because my husband does all these things and does them well so why do I need to? I admit I am relieved I don’t have to do it but the bottom line is that I don’t think I would be good at it so I don’t even try. I also don’t touch finances for us personally or for the nonprofit- ok….I will be honest. I DID try that and my own husband fired me. For that one, I am grateful I tried and failed horribly because it was my worst nightmare but for a few days after my termination I did feel like a failure and I don’t handle that feeling well. Fortunately, the stakes were not too high on that one.

Going a little deeper, I fear being alone, not having a place to live, and not being able to provide for my family. I fear my friends in Haiti going hungry because I did not do enough. I fear my children not knowing how much I love and adore them because I feel like I can never say it enough. I fear a life cut short by heart disease that runs in my family. I fear living a life that does not matter. My biggest fear is that something would happen to my husband- the most powerful voice and presence in my life. I fear…..the list goes on…….I don’t think about them all the time but when I go to the places in me that make my chest hurt and my breath shorten- it is these.

With all these thoughts, voices and fears swimming in my overactive mind (and not the good kind of active that can remember how to do algebra and geometry to be able to help my kids with their homework), I am always exposed to courage around me that makes me stand up and say, “YES! THAT! That is what I am talking about!!” Then I leave changed. Encouraged. Blessed.

I love to learn. It reminds me I have a long way to go on an exciting journey.

And here is what that has looked like to me the last month….

Churches are scary for people who feel like they do not measure up. And churches have only reinforced this for many. I talked to someone who is in her thirties who remembers distinctly being a little girl and not having a dress to wear because she was poor and told she could not come to church in anything less. She was taught that being poor meant she was excluded- from the one place that should have embraced her. This memory is so real it is like it happened yesterday.

Whenever I bring visitors to church who don’t know how to “act right” and who maybe talk too loud, ask too many questions, or are too fidgety, I can feel the stares. I sense the judgement. I feel the question being asked, “Why are you letting that person interrupt my hour of worship?” The reason….because Jesus called the church to be the church and the church will never be the power hour at 10:30 AM on a Sunday. The church will always be a group of people loving others to the point of sacrifice and above all else loving a Jesus who first loved them. How quickly we let church be a place of convenience where we let our own comfort win. That will never be a win for Jesus.

And then we have classes or groups of people who have not been programmed to be churchy and shallow, and we don’t know what to do with their honesty and brokenness….so we put on a DVD and give the one-word answers in the workbook so we don’t have to really confront the demons who haunt so many of us. We stay safe and contained in the script that was written by an author who had no idea what that group would be facing and therefore, remains irrelevant to most of the people in the room. When we take prayer requests, we don’t REALLY want to know how we can pray for the people in our groups because that makes us WAY too uncomfortable so we pray for our aunts, cousins, and distant relatives and their ailments, which are important prayers but not in place of our own struggles that need to be shared.

But I also learned this…..God can use me to break the cycle of churchy people looking down on outsiders and he can use you. We can ask the questions that may take the person more than two minutes to answer and listen patiently while she shares. And then we can follow up day after day and week after week so people learn that they are not momentary projects to make us  feel good about ourselves. That is where Jesus becomes real to them. That is where the Holy Spirit grows us and gives us the words we need when we have no idea what to say. THAT is the church.

I learned this month that I was afforded the opportunity to attend a prestigious university but many never had the chance to finish middle school. Lazy? Unmotivated? Not at all. Childhood abuse, homelessness, endless moves in foster care, parental neglect- all contributing to the end of the road of education for MANY. “Go back to school! Get your GED!” That is what everyone has to say. I say….”Are you ready to go back to an institution that failed you? Are you confident enough to face the vocabulary and math equations that you never understood the first time? Do you fear being teased and mocked for the being the “new student” when you had to do that 4 or 5 times a year as a child because the foster care system failed you horribly and could never stabilize your placement?” From there, I say….”We will do this when you are ready, not when everyone else thinks you SHOULD be ready.” Most people want to throw judgement around about someone’s level of education without a thought as to how it can be done with the past that is still only a memory away and those memories are beyond painful.

“Why are so many people who are homeless obese?” How many would say that it is because they are lazy? Probably the majority of Americans would reach this conclusion. A friend recently told me, “A honey bun is a whole lot cheaper than a salad.” I get it. Many cannot afford fresh fruits and vegetables, much less the GMO free spinach or the cage free chicken. Think about it.

What about the way people dress? Maybe the shirt is too short and the stomach hangs out because the free clothes closet at the shelter had 3 shirts to pick from and they were all too small. But anything is better than nothing. Maybe the person never had a mom to explain “modesty” and what is “appropriate.” People are quick to say, “She knows she looks like a slut!” I talked to my friend whose family had spent decades owning strip clubs and she told me that she never was taught another way. She was doing what she knew. Maybe, just maybe….if we stopped pointing fingers and saying “modest is hottest” to people who do not even know the definition of “modest” and took the time to shop with them and teach them how cute clothes can be without our bodies hanging out- the problem would get better.

While we post pictures of our perfect trees with the ornaments appropriately spaced, our Christmas cards in the field with the chalkboard MERRY CHRISTMAS and the red wagon, and the presents perfectly wrapped and nestled around the tree, there are so many who have nothing. Absolutely nothing to share with their families but love. We are quick to say, “But love is enough!” That is, until it is us who can’t exchange a gift or make a cookie because even the Betty Crocker mixes take a stick of butter that is more than we can afford.

You say, “There are programs for people like that!” Yes, there are programs for children whose parents are in jail. Yes, there are plenty of programs for children in foster care. But what about the mom who works two jobs and has nothing left after the rent? Nothing for her….except the people who profess Christ and decide to live it out and give less gifts to their overindulged children to give someone else  gifts to put under the tree. Oh, that’s right….they don’t have a tree. Or ornaments. “But they have each other.” Have you tried explaining that to a six year old?

As God continues to reveal to me, I will continue to write. If I am too bold and too mouthy, then I am doing what I am called to do. I feel I have been called to live what I talk about and bring others along with me. Sometimes kicking and screaming but as God does the drawing of people, I never worry. He is raising up an army to be Jesus to a dark and broken world. As we sit in our comfortable churches hanging with the same exact people every single week and snickering at the ones who don’t know all the “rules” yet, we are not the church. We are a failure for the kingdom. As we decorate our homes and our trees and ignore the least of these, we are again a failure for the kingdom. As we judge others for how much school they have, how they dress or what kind of job they can get and we never help them fill out an application when they are illiterate or take them to AA so they can stay sober, we are a failure to the kingdom.

We have to stop failing and start loving. It is what we are called to do. It breathes life into our very bodies and makes the light of Jesus shine in the dark places where most are scared to ever go.

 

Beauty in the Brokenness

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I have learned more in the past month than I have my whole life. I thought I understood and embodied words like “overcomer,” “brave,” “courageous,” and “survivor.” I am pretty sure I had no idea what they meant until I sat across from women who told me their stories. Stories of unimaginable abuse, rejection, abandonment and being taken extreme advantage of when they were little girls.  Finally tonight I let the tears flow that have been accumulating for weeks.

I worked for DCF in foster care/adoptions for 4 years, worked as a Guardian Ad Litem for years, and adopted a child who lived 9 years in foster care. As a result of these experiences, I had very little compassion for birth mothers and the pain they brought on their children. I have always been very indignant, angry, and relentless in my resentment toward the damage that parents can inflict on helpless children.

As I sat today and listened to stories of moms struggling to get sober and learning to live clean, I have seen the bravest of women. For most of them it is all they know. All they have ever seen in life. Given drugs by their own moms, their bodies sold to support their mothers’ addictions, and raising themselves and their siblings while mom is passed out on the couch. I understand drugs are a choice. I don’t think anyone struggles to believe that…..but before today I never really heard about how many of them got there and when I did it was overwhelming.

I am not sure what to do with that. Right now, I just sit, completely broken. I am sad, feeling guilty that I never felt compassion before today, and asking myself how the church is reaching these women. Where have we been? Most of us have probably been just like me- arrogant, self-righteous, and unwilling to look them in the eye. Why? Because we might actually feel compassion if we actually SEE them. And then we might have to do something. And most of us don’t want to do anything. Let’s be honest…..entering into someone else’s struggle is exhausting and inconvenient. So we don’t SEE them. We just judge them. It is easier.

I bought the new Natalie Grant album that came out yesterday, knowing nothing about it. When I sat down to write I started listening to it and the first song is “Be One.” Here are the lyrics:

We don’t feel ready, we don’t feel steady
Question what we really have to give

Stay where it’s safer, claim faith but waiver
Is this how we’re really meant to live

We pray but never move
We say but never do

Chorus
It’s time to get our hands dirty
oh oh, oh oh
Be love – there’s a whole lot of hurting
oh oh, oh oh
Calling all hearts, Calling all hands
Calling all feet to take a stand
Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come
When we can be one, When we can be one , When we can be one

A little somethin’ might feel like nothin’
But in His hands it’s all we’ll ever need

To speak life to the broken
Watch the blind eyes open
It’s who He’s calling you and me to be

We can be the change – be the hope
We can be the arms that don’t let go
We can be a light in the dark
We are we are where it starts

Chorus

We can be the light in the dark
We can be the arms that don’t let go

WOW. I have to ask the question…..do we “speak life to the broken?” Are we the change and the hope that God has called us to be? Are we light in this dark world? Or do we just use our light as a flashlight to illuminate our own path and let the rest of the world figure it out for themselves?

We are a very self-consumed country. It is time to rise up and enter the hurt and the pain with people. This is not my idea- God came up with it. But most of us want to be comfortable, safe, and “happy.” Meanwhile, women are all around us, desperate for truth, love, and just someone to listen.

We feel often like we have nothing to offer. I get that. I was talking to my friend Carol not long ago. I told her I felt like I had nothing to offer because I have lived differently…..no drugs, abuse, etc. And she told me, “God will use you because you are willing to learn.” Isn’t that all it takes? A willingness? Saying YES to God?

Isaiah 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

Is this us? I pray it will be, church.

 

Miracles Do Happen….

When I met Jean Marc six years ago, I immediately knew he was a rock star. Confident, driven, and committed to his schooling, he knew where he was going in life. He had embraced the fact that he could never farm because of his disability so he put all his effort into his academics.

IMG_1521Sometimes I would have to encourage him to take a break as he read the English/Creole dictionary into the wee hours of the night. He has been known to look at the back of the granola bar wrapper and try to have a deep discussion with me about the chemistry (that Ca for Calcium and Fe for Iron stuff I have no recollection of) and continue to try to teach me until I learned it. Those were some very long sessions, driving in the back of the pick up truck, and precious to me regardless of my lack of interest in chemistry.

IMG_1455He seemed to have a grasp on all aspects of his life, except his disability.

Until two years ago, Jean Marc had never seen a doctor. No one had ever been able to explain to him why his legs were deformed and he was so short. In Haitian culture, they often attribute disease to some kind of curse because they do not have the opportunity to be exposed to explanations we get from going to the doctor. At that time, we sent him to Dr. Frank Bertram who lived across the street from me for the majority of my childhood in Lakeland, Florida. He was doing medical missions work in Dominican Republic and agreed to see Jean Marc. This involved getting a visa, a passport, and going across the border from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. Not a small feat but accomplished nonetheless.

Frank was able to diagnose him with ” severe bilateral bowleg deformities secondary to skeletal dysplasia.”  Surgery was not possible in the hospital where he was working. We figured out how to manage his pain to some degree, but most days the pain was close to unbearable. The day I told Jean Marc we could not correct his condition he hung his head and a single tear rolled down his cheek. It was the first time I realized how difficult life was for Jean Marc. The mom in me mourned for my helplessness.

Two years have passed since his initial diagnosis and I have sent him to other missionary doctors in Haiti, but all with the same conclusion- no possibility of surgery. Although I think that Jean Marc felt encouraged that we were always searching for answers, I also think he was falling deeper and deeper into despair. The lack of mobility, the pain, and the tiring days walking to and from school and other times trying to navigate transportation where his legs were not even long enough to hoist him up into the truck had taken its toll.

When I talked to Jean Marc a month ago, he had returned to the farming village with his parents because he could not afford school. With only a year left of high school, he felt desperate to be in finish and go on to university.  After I traveled there a week later we made arrangements for him to start the school year. Perfect! Oh, and I had this doctor’s appointment for him the week after I left but was completely convinced it would be the same result- no surgery.

He went to the appointment on Wednesday, October 28th and that afternoon my team in Haiti called me. They had scheduled surgery for Jean Marc. WHAT??? I figured I had lost the information somehow in translation and kept asking questions to hopefully get the real answer.

After two days of probing, I realized it was true. They were performing surgery on Friday. To be honest, I was a bit concerned about what they were going to do since this was the first time we had been told that any procedure would benefit him. But Frank Bertram had highly recommended him and I fully trusted his judgement. So after a restless night and much prayer, Friday came and surgery was performed.

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These photos were taken while Jean Marc was in surgery and later posted in a blog about his condition which can be read here. Jean Marc was given Taylor frames for his legs. The doctors stated:

The Taylor Spatial Frame (TSF) is an external device for limb correction, lengthening and/or straightening that is based on the Ilizarov Method. This device and technique is a mainstay of pediatric musculoskeletal deformities at Hopital Adventiste. This external fixator takes advantage of the body’s natural ability to grow healthy new bone tissue and gives the surgeon the ability to accurately move bones to their correct precise anatomic alignment.  The TSF fits around the patient’s limb and is attached to the bone with pins or wires that extend from the rings, through the skin and bone to the other side.

It sounded to me like an absolute miracle that there was a doctor coming to Haiti for only 5 days, saw Jean Marc and performed the surgery 2 days later….and then Frank Bertram sent me this email:

“This is really the Lord at work. There are very few people in all of Latin America – let alone Haiti- who have access and can use these Taylor frames. He will be in the frames probably 6- 9 months.”

Rejoicing happened in the Ellis household and spread like crazy to all the people in our community who love Jean Marc- some of whom have never even met him. The Gerbers, the Bowers, the Bertrams, Savannah, and many others were having a time of celebrating this amazing opportunity for Jean Marc…..but we also knew the road to recovery was going to be very long and painful.

Soon after the surgery his mom came down from the mountain to take care of Jean Marc and his little brother, Reginald, who had a less invasive surgery. The always joyful Madame Anselme I know was struggling to watch her sons in pain.

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12212506_714562072008772_538535076_nJean Marc’s favorite quote is, “When you make well, it is not easy.” We talked about that on the phone- how what is best for us is often the most difficult path at the time but leads to the biggest blessing in the long run. Through it all, his precious personality continues to make him the truest overcomer I have ever met. From phone calls to selfies, I watched him persevere through the process.

 

After a week in the hospital, he was released with his mom who was trained in how to help Jean Marc work the frames to continue to straighten his legs.

 

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It takes a lot for me to call something a miracle….but this is one of those times. A child who was told his whole life he would never be anyone because he was a “cripple” has had the opportunity of a lifetime to correct his disfigurement. He will never be fully able bodied but any correction that can be made to his legs is a miracle to Jean Marc and all of us who call him our own.

The Struggle is Real….

 

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Every time I return from Haiti, it is a struggle. Leaving a village that has no running water or electricity, parents struggling to provide one meal a day for their children,  and dear friends of mine fighting for their lives as disease slowly takes over without the means to see a doctor weighs heavily on me as I board the plane to come home.  Much of the time, the U.S. does not even feel like home. I spend so much of my time here in the States feeling like an outsider. Like I just don’t fit. As if I was created for something different.  Often loneliness sets in. Other times I withdraw- not meaning to- and stop answering my phone because I am stuck in the world of in-between. In-between my life here and my life there.

The struggle is very, very real.

I  got back last Monday and had lunch on Wednesday with one of my closest friends, who happens to be a therapist. She texted me days later and asked if I was ok and said that she was worried about me. It was  then I knew I was not adjusting back to my American existence as well as I thought I was.

This trip was the hardest transition so far- out of at least the 20 times I have been to Haiti. I think my dream team of three was able to really engage with our friends there and  realize how many obstacles they face. To have the time to truly listen to their hearts and God opened many doors.

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Jean Marc suffers from pain every day due to a genetic disease that affects his joints. In spite of it, he has always been outgoing, confident, and has overcome all the obstacles. This trip I sat with him while he recounted for me the stories of how he was told as a child he “was nothing but a cripple” and how people discouraged his parents from sending him to school because they said he would never amount to anything. A Christian school by his house

IMG_1455actually refused to allow him to enroll so he was left walking 1 1/2 miles in the mountains in order to get an education. Some days his legs got him there and other times the pain was too much. Listening to him recount how he has carried this with him all his life was heartbreaking…..but such a privilege to share in his struggle.

 

 

The school where we work is grades K-6th. It has been our dream for years to add a secondary school but the cost has been too much for us to manage. As it stands, students who graduate from our school must leave the village for 7th grade and live 20 miles from their parents to attend in Port au Prince. They must have approximately $500 US per year for books, uniform, and tuition and have a place to stay (at an additional cost). For the farmers in Chauffard, this is rarely an option. So after 7 years of applying themselves academically and overcoming so many obstacles, the students are forced to quit school. Even though I knew this was a problem, I was overwhelmed with the reality when I saw one of our graduates, Julie, selling in the market because she was not in school.

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One day a student, the next a graduate, and then the road to education stops. Why? Money. Smart, motivated, studious, and driven but hindered simply by the fact that her parents are farmers and cannot provide an education for her. As I snapped the picture of her in the market, I was weeping. Weeping over her and the other 16 students who graduated last year from our school who are not able to continue. On the plane ride home as I was wrestling with this, I came to a realization. Education has always been an issue in impoverished countries and will continue to be if we are not advocates. If we don’t stand in the gap for those who have no voice. So my attitude has been slowly shifting. As I have begun to recover from the despair and desperation I feel for these students, it has turned into a feeling of thanksgiving that I get the opportunity to be the voice for them and the one who fights for education. In a country where we very much take schooling for granted, I get to educate others on the struggle that occurs all around the world. As my friend so simply put it …….

 PAIN INTO PURPOSE.

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The stories from this one trip could easily fill up a book. The lives full of loss and gain, triumph and defeat. Not much unlike our lives, but the struggle is so extreme in Haiti that sometimes my mind cannot even comprehend it. The people of Chauffard have never seen a cent from the government- NOTHING. No help with education or roads or food. They are contributing members of society yet they are declined anything to improve the way they live.  And yet…..they persevere through the hardships and the disasters. I have yet to see one of them give up. I will never understand the capacity of the human spirit in them. It will always be a mystery to me.

The mountains are calling and I must go.

My shoes sit by the door and I am ready to go. To help. To learn. To encourage. To be blessed by a people who teach me more in a day than I could learn here in a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haiti…..Days 4 and 5

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It is Saturday! That means no school and lots of adventures! I am really hoping to spend time shooting some pictures because I am going to be able to hang my photography in Mitchell’s in December! So excited.

Besides picture taking, we will be visiting families and talking and doing life together. This is the best. We will also watch some soccer, watch Shelly jump rope with the girls (just kidding), and continue to pass out the awesome uniforms and shoes and socks to the students.

On Sunday we will attend church, maybe provide a meal for the village and then unfortunately, head down the mountain. At this point, everything feels like a whirlwind and it hard to believe it has flown by so fast. I will probably cry as we leave, hoping that the children will stay in school and not have to quit to work on the farm for their families’ survival and that we don’t lose anyone to simple infections while I am gone.

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Then on Monday, we will fly back to the US and advocate for our friends in Haiti. So their voices are heard and their lives matter. And then the process begins again as I prepare for the next trip and the next group and the next time I get to go to the land of the beautiful people.

 

Haiti…..the rest of the journey

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The next 2 days we will be waking up to roosters and people working around 5 AM. You can hear the laughing and chatting while people walk to the farms where they are working and I am usually up early getting the Coleman stove ready for my instant coffee and Savannah’s much better coffee, and Shelly’s oatmeal.  MMMMMM……

School starts at 8 AM and by 7 AM I like to be sitting on the side of the mountain watching the students come down the little foot paths from all over the area.

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The students will all line up and have their pledge to the flag, recite Scripture and start their day. We will spend the day checking with teachers about students, taking pictures and measuring feet. All 130 of our sponsored students!

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We will then work on getting new students signed up for the sponsorship program so we can come back and get new sponsors so we can keep up with the expenses of the school as it grows and the needs continue to grow.

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Then we will spend the afternoon hiking to make home visits, seek out children who have not returned to school, talk to their parents, and encourage them to send their children to school. We will have community sitting on little, tiny chairs talking about life, dreams, hopes, and struggles. It will be beautiful and hard- all at the same time.

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That night we will go to church for a few hours until we cannot stand any longer. We will fall asleep to the sound of worship that will last until 2 or 3 am and prayer will begin at 5 am. Humbling. As we sleep they worship, pray and go back to work as soon as they are finished. Sleep to them is optional.  They are more drawn to God’s presence than rest. I will go to bed humbled and wake up amazed at their endurance. It is beautiful- the sounds, the smells, the people, and the life.

Haiti Day One….

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By the time this publishes, we will be landing in Port au Prince. The flight is only 2 hours long which is crazy. From my bed in Lakeland to my bed in Chauffard, it only takes about 12 hours. It blows my mind that such unbelievable poverty is so close to the US and so many people do not even know it.

Today will be stopping by the grocery store in Port au Prince and then driving the 20 miles in the truck for 3 1/2 hours. We still in the back of the truck and take in the fresh air, the smells of people cooking on the sides of the road, and transition into a different world. A world without electricity, running water, medicine, or 3 meals a day.

We come bringing shoes, socks, and uniform shirts. The students at the school will be so excited! Shoes without holes or having shoes at all is a luxury. Shoes won’t end poverty but they will help our students avoid injury in the mountains and make them feel taken care of in a small way.

Once we get settled into our bunkhouse, Shelly, Savannah, and I will go find our friends who are like family- Jean Marc, Junior, Milo, etc. If we have time we might even go on a short hike to see families who live a little farther away.

The first day is always a huge transition. Exhaustion from traveling, feeling overwhelmed with the conditions-even if you have seen it many, many times, and excitement for the adventures we are about to encounter.

On this mountain I feel the most alive. There is no place I would rather be.

Morning thoughts about purpose…..

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The house is a WRECK- I have not unpacked from the weekend, the litter box is toxic, and my office is even a nightmare to a hoarder, but I had to sit and write.

 

 

When God is prompting I have learned to listen because the filth and clutter can wait and it will be back tomorrow anyway.

Thursday night was the Zoe’s Journey fundraiser banquet, Saturday was our second Light Breaks Through Women’s Encounter in Madison, FL and in a week I leave for Haiti. Am I exhausted? Absolutely. Is my to-do list long? Yep. Am I right where God wants me to be? Without a doubt.

How did I end up helping facilitate two non profits and beginning to volunteer at another? People ask me constantly, “How do you have time?” My answer- how do I NOT have time? To serve women who need to hear grace, mercy and that they are worthy and to serve hundreds of children in Haiti who would not have a school if we were not there……how do I not respond to that call on my life?

“But you have a family! Your husband is a pastor! You need to take time for yourself. You need balance in your life. You can’t do it all.” This is usually how the conversation goes. All of those are completely accurate and I would not disagree. But there is one argument I would make…..

I just decided that when God calls me to hard places I will say YES. I am actually very, very particular in how I use my time. I don’t do big non profits with huge budgets and a lot of wasted money,  bogged down by an endless amount of committees and boards- too much work for me. I don’t get on board with flashy, here-today-gone-tomorrow justice fads or dramatic, religious, overnight poster children for Jesus. That is not me. But I do get behind a vision. A dream. Someone’s pain turned purpose. And for this reason I go to the trenches with people like me, who are not too good to stack chairs, dig a ditch, or pray with the kitchen staff at an event.

In the past week, God has reminded me that He has gifted me with quirky, messy, oddballs like me who want to say yes……Shelly, Carol, Jerriann. And this weekend he added a few more. I am not alone.

There is kingdom work to be done and in my crazy brain, here is the motivation: life is very, very short, our time is valuable, God will make me enough, and sleep is overrated. Period. I get up everyday and these are the four ideas that immediately come to me.

It is ok to be different. It is ok to be a little (or a lot) manic about what you are passionate about. And it is ok to be exhausted and realize you can get up tomorrow and do it all over again. That is what LOVE DOES.

This is not a plea or call for anyone else’s life. I promise- not a guilt trip, conviction notice, or a statement of “rise up and conquer, people!” I just woke up this morning and needed to share my heart. I am sure my motives are not completely pure because when are they ever? But I am at the point in my life where I want to be known- even the parts of me that seem socially unacceptable and not-so-much-like-Jesus…..because I struggle too. I struggle A LOT with pride, insecurity, and masks of perfection. And I pray that the rest of my life I will commit to sharing my story and encouraging others to do the same so that we can get real with each other and dig that trench together…right where God called us to be.