Monday, September 16, 2019

The gift is joy

“If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.” -John Piper

 *your joy will be full*

 That truth is the beauty of the life of a follower of Jesus.

 We’re all looking for joy right?
Does the truth really set us free?
 Is there goodness in this world?

 I have been with and I have been without, but the joy in Jesus never fades. Because when you believe that He is good and live like He is good and see that He is good, then that goodness will be your focus and nothing or no one can take that pure joy away...
 *Even giving up your life*

 “the path of God-exalting joy will cost you your life.”

 Life in Haiti is challenging but lately I’ve had such immense joy. To the point that I’m questioning that lovely fruit of the spirit in a wrongfully guilty sense.  Am I really allowed to find joy in the midst of poverty? Is it ok to fall in love with this life as a missionary following a crucified Savior? Aren’t I to suffer and surrender to Jesus everything? Does surrendering take away my joy as well? Does being happy mean I’m now just a humanitarian because sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice anymore because I’ve become accustomed to living without? Does loosing my life to Jesus actually mean I really am saving it? It is really possible to sacrifice my life and my wants and my desires and come out more joyful on the other end. Is it really possible to have a challenging life yet be filled with joy? Does His will uniquely become my will after giving into blind trust that He knows better?

Jesus said “whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” -Mark 8:35

 So to all those questions the answer is YES. In Jesus Christ. Through Him I find my joy. Through
Him I find my comfort... even through living without. Through every bloody battle and every steep mountain climb. Through every dark storm and every shaking fear. Joy is always lurking beautifully around the corner because joy is found in Jesus and He never turns the corner without me. And if Jesus is in me then I will never, should never lose my joy in Him.


 For the first time in 6 years of living on this island, I now have a television. Time and time again I hear missionaries not wanting to tell of their comforts over here in fear that their supporters will stop supporting because of the idea that we are to “live without” and because we’re put on a pedestal of perfecting the cost of sacrifice. But... I have a TV and it’s been a blessing. I get about 15 channels and I’ve caught myself turning it on and then working in the office just so that I could hear English in the background. (Y’all, no one at this ministry speaks English so the American tv channels have been therapeutic on lonely days!) I mainly only watch the news, and Jeopardy... (which reminds me why I dropped out of college.) I am mortified and shocked and most nights I can’t not watch the reality going on outside of my little bubble that I like to stay in. I lie awake pondering the fragility of the world after watching the breaking news and the urgent alerts flashing across the little screen of mine.
It all just seems so utterly bad. It makes me feel like there’s no more joy to be sprinkled around. Mass
murders, gang rapes, natural disasters. So much darkness. I’ve lived in a developing country (in other
words a “third world”) for 6 years now. I have seen quite a bit of hunger, disease, disaster, and injustice, but without that news channel I’ve been blinded to what’s going on around the world. Outside of my little world.      

 We desperately need Jesus. We desperately need to focus on love and grace and joy not despair. We need to see the mountains ahead of us as exciting trips to be taken hand in hand with Jesus, not turbulent disasters to be climbed alone like in the ferocious battle of trying to climb higher than your neighbor. But we can’t when we’re all just trying to save our own lives. We get blinded to the world around us that is hurting and aching with the need to know and love the King of the universe like we are privileged to. We try to work harder, save more money, climb the popularity ladder, look the prettiest, shine the brightest, save and savor the precious life given to us when in reality, we’re told to lose it.

 When you live for Jesus, your joy will be full.
 A crucified king. Born in a barn. Worked as a carpenter. Hated by many.

 When you serve this crucified King, your joy will be full. When you give your life away and surrender it all you’ll find the life you’ve always wanted. Full of overflowing, never ending joy. Joy should never be a guilty feeling. Joy should never make me question if I’m too comfortable as a missionary overseas. Joy is a gift. Joy is a beautiful gift from God when you set your heart on things    above. Joy is the essence of living a life in Jesus and for Jesus. Joy is the positivity of always looking   for the light in a dark and frightening world. Joy is not found in what I do or where I live. Joy is found in the heart. In the way a life is lived.
 Life is hard, but nothing will steal my joy.

 Lose your life to Jesus and you’ll end up saving it.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Learning Center for Special Needs

It is with great anticipation and overflowing excitement to finally say that our Learning Center for children and teens with Special Needs will be opening JUNE 18TH!!
Here’s some background info: Back in February riots broke out for 2 whole weeks across this little island causing the construction on the community center (next door to the learning center) to be delayed and postponed and delayed again. The learning center could not open because there were piles of rocks, sand, and nails spread out all across the yard. It also would be hard to open the learning center while construction men are making noise right outside the windows as well as trying to push wheelchairs as we maneuver around piles of rocks and gravel. Good news arrived a few weeks ago and I was told the community center would be complete the last week of May give or take a few days.... But then an accident occured and our head welder sliced his finger and broke it while putting on the door frames. I rushed him to the ER with our painter who accompanied us. The ER didn’t have the medicine that he needed so I stayed with the welder while the painter took a motorcycle to the pharmacy. Before arriving to the pharmacy, that motorcycle got hit by a truck and the painter went flying through the air. He returned in bad shape without the medicine but with a collapsed lung and was transported to a bigger hospital. From all of this, we are here on June 15th with yet another delay in the finishing of construction for the community center....
I talked it over with the nannies/teachers that will be working with the children in the center and they said “let’s open now”. No more wasting time. These children desperatey need this. And so here we are!
The children don’t have a cafeteria yet (the community center will be used for this) or a playground... but they do have beautiful classrooms filled with play dough, flashcards, crayons, balls, and workbooks to help each child learn their colors, numbers, letters, how to zip, button, tie, how to wash clothes and wash hands. How to build blocks and learn manners. How to sing, dance, but most importantly learn about Jesus. This learning center is all for Jesus’ glory. These children will hear bible stories every day. They will learn bible verses and be taught about His love and His mercy. And even more than teaching these sweet kids, we’re praying this ministry reaches even further out to each of their families. For the first time they will see that their child is accepted. Loved. Cherished. Worth more than jewels. They will see that we as Christ followers do not shun them for their disabilities like the culture sometimes says, we won’t cower away from their mental illness that some of them have been told is a result of a voodoo curse. We will speak truth into them and the truth will set them free. They will see the worth in their child and see the worth in themselves and open their eyes wide to see just how much our heavenly Father loves us. That is our prayer with this learning center. Will you pray with us?
For the summer months we will have a condensed schedule. This will give us time to learn about each child, their disabilities, and how to best help them thrive. The center will be open from 7:00am-12:30pm 4 days a week so the children and teens can get adjusted. I am beyond grateful that we are able to show the love of Jesus in this much needed way and I could not have built the center without your help. For that, I say thank you with all my heart!
BUT, after the riots broke out in February, the State Department raised the security level for Haiti to a level 4. Majority of our mission teams have had to cancel due to the unrest and because of these cancelations, we have not received all those lovely suitcases full of diapers, wipes, shampoo, and food. The funds we have is having to go towards purchasing these things (that teams usually provide) for the girl’s home thus we are limited in providing for the learning center’s students. We have 23 sweet souls registered for the learning center. Would you be willing to sponsor one of them? We are desperately needing help to pay the extra staff (teachers, maids, cook, security, bus driver) as well as each student sponsorship fees for supplies, food, activities, physical therapy, and doctor visits. If you feel led in your heart to sponsor one of these students, please go to www.lalimye.org to the donate page, choose your amount, and type in “learning center sponsorship” in the memo. You’ll then receive a picture with your sponsored child and a great big thankyou from them for giving them the opportunity to learn in a school type setting for the first time in their entire life. We are looking for 23 sponsors to give $20.00 a month, but pray about it and give whatever you feel the Holy Spirit leading you to give. Nothing is too small or too big. We are just beyond thankful and are trusting God to provide!
“if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:20
To be honest, we don’t have the extra funds lying around to open the learning center, but we do have faith and we will trust in our Provider. We will open the doors, pour out our hearts, and love these sweet souls while trusting that He will provide. He is a good, good Father and He wants what is best for His children. Let Him use you to make a huge difference in the life of these children. Together we can be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Underserved Privlege

How has it already been almost one year? It feels like yesterday in so many ways. Getting that phone call before the sun had time to rise. Trying to control my emotions so as to focus on staying between those blurry lines painted on the highway. Busting through those squeaky double doors as the nurses move aside so I could make my way to Sophia's bed. To be in utter belief and shock that's it's over. The fight is over. Had we lost? Had we won? Depends. Depends on how I wanted to look at it.
When Melody died one year before Sophia, she was in my arms half a mile from the hospital. I didn't know, or maybe refused to believe that she died before running through the front doors of that hospital, so they generously said they would take care of the burial since she was pronounced dead in their ER. I remember the intense feelings all too well of her being carried in a box on the shoulder of a stranger as he tapped her box to make music while he hummed through the cemetery looking for a spot he thought was vacant. I walked close behind as my eyes wandered over to the other graves. So much voodoo paraphernalia on them. "what is this place?" I thought to myself. My next door neighbor is a witch doctor, so I've seen a lot, yet this place had things I've never even seen before even living next door to the priest himself. It was trashy. It was dark. This was where they were going to bury my daughter? The gasp for air and the rush of blood all to my toes when another human skull was dug out while digging Melody's grave. The agony and the reality and the shock from it all came rushing back into my head as I waited for the papers declaring Sophia's passing. I couldn't go through that again. "Please not again, Lord." I stood outside Sophia's room where there were still 3 other kids fighting for their life, (luckily too young to realize her lifeless body in a bed a few feet away) as I called my parents to tell them the news. "She's gone" is all that I could mutter out.
After what seemed like forever waiting to get the death certificate, I got the news. This hospital was different than Melody's. There wasn't an option for them to bury her. Nor was there an option for a morgue from what I was told. So, I picked up my baby girl wrapped in a taped-up towel and laid her on the back seat of my car and refrained as best as my will power would let me to not use my rearview mirror for that 1.5 hour drive home. Her grave was being dug in my backyard as I caught myself swaying my sweet 6-month-old in my arms as I always did to put her to sleep. It was a natural reaction. My arms wouldn't stop. Disbelief and shock come first. Emotions and grief come after.
Sophia's surgery was only days away from getting a shunt put in for her Hydrocephalus before she got an infection from her Spina Bifida, got meningitis, and ended up septic. We were so close it seems. We could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The light, I thought, was best for her. The light I wanted. The light we prayed for. Earnestly. Everyday. Instead, she laid in a hospital bed hooked up to machines and had seizure after seizure as he body started to get tired day after day for 36 days. I realized that I needed to let go. It was time. I told her to go see Jesus and that it was time to go home. "Go see The Light that is best for you, sweet one. The true light. Go see the Light that was laid out for you before you were even born." And she did. She breathed her last breath in the wee hours of February 15th 2018. She won. She got the prize. She got it all. And through the tears and the heartbreak and the heaviness of it all, I smiled. I had peace. She won. My baby girl won. It's all how you look at it. Winning or losing that is. She got heaven. She got the crown. She got the golden roads and majestic mansions. She won the fight. Through human eyes it doesn't seem like that. But through the eyes of Jesus, I knew. And my mama heart could not be more content to know where she is now. To know she's happy and healthy. She walks, she talks, she sings, she dances. Life on earth would have forbid her of those things. Through Sophia and Melody, I'm reminded of the true Light. The one that really matters. The one worthy of everything. The one my heart desires to serve no matter what it costs. The light I want to seek day after day knowing it'll never burn out. It'll never lose its flame. The only light worth following. How dare me to think the light at the end of MY tunnel is better.
---------"therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have PEACE with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of UNDESERVED PRIVLEGE where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory." Romans 5:1-2-------- Through losing a child, I've dealt numerous times with the trauma it brings. The anxiety every time one of my other girls gets a stuffy nose or has a fever. The "what-ifs" roll in and flood my mind. Trauma tries to steal my ability to let go and let God. It makes me want to grip the reins even tighter. It has made it hard to surrender the lives of my children to God. I want control…. because when the worst of the worst has already happened, how do I know it isn't just right around the corner again? Waiting to devour me. Waiting to rip me apart all over again. If I hold the reins, I'd be ready… So I thought.
Anxiety. One of the devil's tactics to keep hold of us. One of the ways he watches and grins as I struggle to give the reins to the Lord in that area of life. You see, God has given me the responsibility to take care of His girls. HIS GIRLS. They are his. And I have been given the privilege and responsibility to raise them up until HE calls them home. When He is ready. Even if I grasp those reins with every ounce of strength I've got, He still is in control. "Letting go" is something He's been walking me through for quite a while now. Learning to trust. It's an embarrassment that I don't trust him like I should with my girls. I know my anxiety is an insult to him and it stabs me deep. Lacking trust means lacking faith. That's hard to admit. But I know He is a God of grace and mercy and will continue to walk through life holding my hand, teaching me, and most importantly, loving me no matter what. I know He gave us mothers that profound instinct of protecting our flock and maybe deep down as he watches us jump up to check the heartbeat of our newborns all hours of the night he sees it as love not distrust. Unconditional love for His children, for our children. Maybe just maybe He gives a little grace during those moments. He knows he's the one truly holding the reins. He's just waiting for his daughter to accept that. Not in some parts of life, but every part. They're his kids. Not mine. He just decided to lavish me until my cup ran over with blessings of being their mama on this earth.
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" - Matthew(6:26-27) It truly is a joy to serve God. Even through the hard times. It is an honor that we must never take for granted. My prayer is that you and I follow Him wholeheartedly through whatever life brings. Whatever season you're in, seek the light and follow it with your whole heart. It's always worth it. Even in the storms. And for that, we can rejoice. "If we could only look upon a difficult crisis as an occasion of bringing out, on our behalf, the sufficiency of divine grace, it would enable us to preserve the balance of our souls and to glorify God, even in the deepest waters." - C.H. Machintosh-------------------------------------- Romans 8:6 "So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to LIFE and PEACE." "and since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. BUT if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later."Romans 8:17-18
Peace comes from faith in Him. Peace comes from handing over the reins. Follow that light. Follow The Light.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Community Center

It is with so much joy and built up anticipation that I get to announce La Limyè is building a community center for outreach projects!! --------------------------------------------- This has been my dream and vision for so many years. To have a place for the local Haitians to come and get blessed. To have opportunities. To learn and grow in their understanding of Jesus and to have endless ways to learn in skills and knowledge. A HUGE thanks to all of our generous donors! We truly could not have done this without each and every one of you. Whether by English classes, church services, bible studies, teaching trades and skills such as woodworking or literacy, we now will have the opportunity to pour into the lives of the Haitian people under the shade of a roof and away from the beautiful, though noisy 11 little girls in the front yard!------------------------------- The pavilion type community center will be directly next to the school for children with disabilities and will also be used as a cafeteria for the school children. It will seat approximately 132 people with a stage, two bathrooms, and a kitchen. It'll take four months to build and will serve as our multipurpose building for all ministry outreach programs. I am most excited, not only for what we as a team at La Limye here on the ground in Haiti can do, but even more what our mission teams can do as they come in to train or teach for a week at a time. Education classes on health, hygiene, welding, plumbing, biblical studies, reading, writing, wellness, cooking... the list is endless of ways we can help love on and teach the locals in our area.
Thank you in just an understatement of the gratitude we have to those who have made this possible. You're changing lives. You're being Jesus. You're being a light. A bright, bright, light. Our goal, our main mission as La Limyè ministries, it to bring others to Jesus Christ. It is to plant the seeds and water the garden and watch God work in the lives of his people. So, whatever we do, however we do it, we do it for Jesus. To bring honor to his name and to bring people to a closer relationship with Him. It's the only reason la Limyè exists. For Him. By Him. To Him.----------------------------- Also, be on the lookout for new updates on the school as it's getting ready to open in the near future. We are in the middle of setting up classrooms this week. 24 anxious kids are ready to start learning and we can't wait to see how this school not only affects the children, but even more the guardians of the children whom never thought their child would get a chance at school. For some who thought their child was cursed for having special needs. We're going to show them the children of God they are and just how much jewels really are worth in God's sight. Through every child that walks up our handicap ramp. That is our mission. To show them their worth in Jesus Christ and to shine shine shine all for God's glory.