His Name.

There’s something so innocent, pure, and honest about the words that come out of a child’s mouth. I absolutely LOVE spending time with kids. It’s no wonder that after God called me to Haiti for what I thought was 6 months, I ended up staying to work in the orphanage for almost 5 years! Once in awhile the orphanage kids pushed buttons in me that I didn’t even know I had, but most days they brought out Joy and Love in me from my depths that I didn’t even know I possessed.

When I moved home I deeply missed, not just my orphanage kiddos, but being around kids. God started to teach me though, to dig down deep and not just depend on the presence of kids in my life to bring out that child-like faith and joy, but to be a carrier of that presence no matter who I’m with and where I am.

Once I started to learn to do that God started to open up doors again for me to work with Kids and youth and its been such a refreshing season to be in those ministries.

Not only do I get to serve at those ministries at church, but it’s been a joy to have so many friends in my life with kids that I get to be the “fun aunt” to and love and spoil them!

I was recently babysitting for some sweet little kiddos that are carriers of  joy. Their laughs and smiles are contagious and their eyes just light up the room while they’re laughing! They’re so fun and they have such a pure love for Jesus. Even while we were watching a movie anytime someone did something mean they would say over and over “that wasn’t kind, was it!? Jesus wants us to be kind!” Oh if only we could see it the way these little 4 and 5 year olds do. The simplicity of it all that we grown ups tend to make so complicated.

At one point in the movie there was a line that referenced a daddy. One of the girls, without hesitation, excitedly looked up to me and exclaimed, “Katie!! I have a dad and his name is Daddy!” She, of course, was referring to her earthly father, whom she so clearly adores. But it was in that moment that the Lord so gently whispered to me, “Katie, you have a dad too, You have me, and I have many names.”

It was two weeks ago that I had this encounter and I just keep hearing her words, “I have a dad and his name is daddy!” and then God saying “Katie, you have a dad too, You have me, and I have many names.”

So I’ve bee intentionally reflecting and meditating on the names of God and who my heavenly Father is to me.

ABBA

ADONAI

CREATOR

HOLY ONE

DELIVERER

YAHWEH

I AM

YAHWEH-RAPHA

KING

REDEEMER

JEHOVA JIREH

SHEPHERD

(JUST TO NAME A FEW)

He’s so much more to me than I even give him credit for. He’s always there, always ready for me and waiting for me, yet sometimes I still try to do it on my own. But even still, I have a dad and he’s not just my “daddy.” He’s my provider. He’s my redeemer. He meets me where I’m at and loves me anyway. He leads me and guides me. He stretches me and grows me. He equips me to do things I’m so unequipped to do on my own. He’s such a good father.

I’m so blessed to have an amazing earthly father, just like this little girl who so was so excited to tell me “I have a dad and his name is daddy!” My earthly dad loves me so intentionally and so well. I think about this and how much more God loves me and it’s truly overwhelming in all the best and humbling ways!

Intentionally dig down deep, friends, and tap into the joy and laughter of the child-like faith that is inside of you. Embrace the wonder around you. Know who God is, the names He carries, because it will help you understand the love your Daddy has for you on a whole new level.

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Well, well, well…

It’s good to be with you again, my friends! It’s been quite some time since I’ve sat down to write. The truth is I haven’t really had a lot of words to share. Or, rather, I haven’t been able to put into words what I wanted to share!

Can I be real? Of course I can. It’s my blog 🙂 2017 was a challenging year. Really, transitioning home from Haiti has been a challenging season.  There have been some really low lows, and some really sweet highs (the legal kinds!!)

I’ve said it many times before, but transitioning home from Haiti has proven to be a painfully beautiful process. I’ve been so thankful for this season though. So. Thankful. God has allowed me this time to rest and heal.  If I’m being completely honest I didn’t even realize the many ways I needed to heal from my time in Haiti.  Don’t get me wrong, it was one of the most beautiful times of my life, and I would do it all over again if God asked me to, but it sure was hard!   Coming home has been hard though too!

So 2017 in a nutshell, like I said, was painfully beautiful. I needed to step back from a lot of things. I spent a lot of time alone with the Lord processing, healing, forgiving, crying, laughing, healing, and crying  (ya..I meant to say those twice!)  But here’s the thing, allowing myself to feel and deal with everything has allowed me to start walking out healing.

Sometimes we unjustify our feelings, we devalue our experiences by trying to brush them aside because of, well, whatever your reason is! Maybe you think feeling is weakness? Maybe it hurts too much to feel those things and in the moment it’s easier to ignore it? I don’t know if/why you do it, but if you’re pushing you’re feelings aside instead of dealing with them, can I give you some advice?!

Stop it!

We aren’t meant to not feel things. God has allowed me to walk through this painfully beautiful year and face my feelings head on. I truly believe that because I was obedient to Him and said yes to coming home, and said yes to walking through this season of healing, that God honored my obedience by bringing all the right people into my life to walk through the journey with me this last year. Friendships that rekindled. Friendships that continued. And brand new friendships that became suddenlies in my life..as if we’d been friends for years. It also meant letting go of some friends that were more hurtful than helpful, and that’s ok too! You don’t stop loving them, but it’s ok to let them go. You see, God doesn’t intend for you to be alone.  Even when you feel alone, you’re not. Maybe it means speaking up and getting out of your bubble, but you’re not alone, I promise.

So many people referred to 2017 as a year of breakthrough, and it truly was a year of breakthrough for me. I entered into a new realm of understanding who God is, and who God has made me to be. I  became part of a church family that has loved me so, so well, even in my brokenness! I have been humbled and I have been blessed. I have experienced God favor on my life in the most beautiful ways.

There were so many moments I felt defeated. But here’s what I learned, friends. Through Christ I get to live (un)defeated in all circumstances. Even on the days I mess up (which I do more than I’d like to admit) I still get to walk in victory!

We are almost a month into 2018, which is so hard to believe, but here we go, right? I choose to walk into this year as a Victor and stay that way, even on the days I might feel defeated. I choose to walk into the goodness God has for me this year and not let any assignments of the enemy hold me back from that.

Don’t forget that you’re a victor too. You get to live Undefeated too! Our God is a God of redemption, healing and restoration.  Sometimes it means walking through some pain to get to the healing, but I can promise you if you face it head on and deal with it, you will heal!  And don’t be afraid to pull people into the journey with you! Ask for prayer. Ask for help. Let your dear ones hold you up on the days you need that truth spoken into your life. Let them be the body of Christ we’re all intended to be.

Cheers to a victorious 2018 full of open doors, breakthrough, and healing!

I want the Impossible, too!

Have you ever had a random conversation that becomes a monumental moment in your life? Like one of those awakening moments where you think, “yea,I want that too!” I had one of those a couple of months ago and these thoughts have been brewing ever since.

It was just a normal day in the life of Katie and I found myself having a conversation with someone who had some pretty significant struggles going on mentally. The conversation seemed to be going nowhere and I finally just said “Is there something I can do to help you right now or make things easier for you?” Their reply was this, “You know what I want, Katie? Your name is Katie, right? I want to see the impossible become possible. That’s what I want.”

Tears instantly stung my eyes and I immediately thought to myself, “Oh man. That’s what I want too.”  That thought has been brewing in my mind for weeks now. I want that so badly.

The last 9 and a half months since leaving Haiti and moving to America has been a roller coaster ride. It has seriously been insane and I’ve felt every emotion in the book! There are so many moments where the dreams that God has laid on my heart have felt impossible and simply out of reach.  And then moments where I feel so alive and full of hope that I literally just shout out or jump for joy because of the joy and hope that I have. That’s where I want to be. I want to live in that state of expecting the impossible.  Because, well, because God.

One of the many beautiful gifts God has given me since returning to America is my church. I love it there and I don’t even know too many people yet…but you know why I love it?! I immediately felt like I belonged there. It’s my new home and I’m so excited to call it  that.  God is using that anointed place and those anointed people in incredible ways in my life and it’s reignited what I didn’t even realize had fallen asleep a long time ago. It’s reignited that desire to live in a constant state of expecting the impossible. When I was at church last Wednesday night there was a guest speaker and one of the many things he shared that hit me was this–

“Limitations are N O T part of the life of a Christian”

Whoaaaaa! How often do I put limitations on myself? On the people around me? On God? I said “bye-bye” to limitations that night and a big ‘ol “HELLO” to the impossible. God has shown me over and over again in my life that He is capable of far greater things than I can even fathom and He wants me to be part of those things. So today I choose the impossible, whatever that might be. I choose to continue to wait for God to open the next doors in this season of transition. I choose to wait with anticipation and expectancy and to remain present in the waiting. It’s in the waiting that I find Him. It’s in the waiting that I grow. It’s in the waiting that I’m reminded that God is working on something NOW for the future.

Do you need to experience the impossible?! Ask God for just that and be ready for it when it comes because it will come!

Hope is Up and Running!!!

This week marks 8 months since I left Haiti. Most days it still feels like I should be mentally gearing up to go back for the next stretch, yet here I remain in this new life.  I’ve been pretty silent on the blog for the last few months because, well, truthfully I haven’t had a lot of words. It’s taken me 8 months to come up with words to describe it and not too long ago i came up with two…

Painfully Beautiful. 

Those are the words that so perfectly describe this season. Leaving Haiti was painful.   Saying goodbye to the 61 kids and the dear friends who will forever have a special place in my heart was painful.  I knew leaving was going to be hard and I knew it was going to hurt, but truthfully? It was a million times more painful then I could have ever anticipated.  I was hit with grief so deep that for weeks upon returning home I could barely even leave my house.  If I’m going to be real here there were days that getting out of bed and joining the world was even too much for me to handle.  I’m telling you, it was painful.  But that second word is so crucial in the description of this season because despite the pain it has been one of the most beautiful seasons I’ve walked through.

Upon leaving I realized there was so much that I walked through over the last 5 years that I had never even been given the time to process. Life was non-stop there and while you had a day off here and there you were always on, even on the “off” days.  God taught me so so so much and I wouldn’t be who I am today without those 5 years. But coming home and having some distance showed me I needed to work through and process a lot. I had to process the deaths I experienced, both at home and in Haiti, over the last 5 years. I had to process being hurt by people that I had never really faced. I had to rest because I poured out so much of myself for the last 5 years and looking back I didn’t do enough to keep myself filled up .  But the biggest thing I saw when I got home is that I had become so comfortable in the UN-comfortableness of life in Haiti. The un-excpected was normal. The chaotic was normal. The struggle was real…and normal.  I had become comfortable. At the beginning of 2016 I started to get a glimpse of that and started to pray that the desperation to be close to Jesus would rise up within me again..and it did, it has, it is.

I long for knocks on my door and dirty feet all over my furniture with my tiny little tile-floored apartment full of way too many kids talking over the movie that nobody is even really watching.  I miss it more than I can ever express with words.

I thought that coming “home” would feel like coming home. But it hasn’t. It’s almost harder than moving to a new city because everyone’s lives have gone on without me (as I fully expected they would) and I just don’t really fit here the way I did before.  I’ve been on this journey of searching for home.  God has so gently been reminding me that my home is with Him, wherever He leads me.  From the time I got home in July until the end of 2016 I was stuck on the struggle bus.  I felt like an alien wondering around in this land called America trying learn the ways of the land, remembering not to speak creole to every African-American I see and seeking out what God wants to do with me here.  I felt kind of hopeless and lonely most of those months and it was really hard.  As i rolled into 2017 I took time on January 1st, as I do every year and asked God what His word was for me.  He very quickly gave me the word RESTORE.  You see,  I spent so much time pouring so much out that I started to lose little pieces of who I was in Christ.  Early on in January I started attending the Life Center in Harrisburg, PA. It’s an incredible, beautiful group of Jesus loving people and I instantly felt at home there.  I was listening to a podcast from one of their services and this little blurb stuck out:(paraphrasing)…

“You’re like a runner in a race that’s fallen down on the track.  All these runners start trampling on/past you…the runners are called discouragement, depression, despair, etc.  All of a sudden hope comes up to you and stops.  Hope takes your hand, helps you up and as you are filled with hope you start running again. The announcer comes over the speaker and says “oh wait, you won’t believe this, but Hope is up and running! It’s running past discouragement…oh man! now it’s passing despair…and it just passed depression! Hope is in the lead!! Hope just won the race!”

I’ll never forget the moment I heard those words.  I was working out at home that morning and was doing a plank.  I literally started weeping and fell to the ground because that was me.  I was that runner who had fallen on the track. I was that runner getting trampled on.  But for some reason something in the atmosphere shifted at the beginning of this year and I felt hope again. I’m up and running again and I’m winning this race!

I’m confident that I’ll never stop missing Haiti. I have a book of pictures of every single kid and I look through that book praying over my babies every single day.  They hold a piece of my heart that will forever be reserved for them.  But friends this is more than just the next thing. God is doing a new work in my life. He is preparing me for a new season and He is raising me up for the adventures to come.

Over the last few months I’ve had the most beautiful encounters with the Lord. Encounter’s that remind me that He has so much more in store for me. Encounters that remind me that my mission didn’t end in Haiti. He’s been romancing me and in this season of feeling lonely on this earth He has been my constant friend and guide, so gentle and gracious with me as I find myself realizing He’s been waiting for me to dive in to this next season all along.  I remember feeling this way two years before I moved to Haiti. I remember that feeling of anticipation, knowing that God is preparing me for something. And just like He told me for those two years before I moved to Haiti he’s telling me again, “Katie, go be a light wherever you are. Love me people and point them to me. And make sure you’re ready because you’ll know when it’s time, just like before”.

There have been some ugly days for me over the last few months, and I mean u-g-l-y. I’m so thankful for each friend, old and new, that God has placed in my life to walk through this season. I’m so thankful for the JOY He has placed in my life and I’m so excited for what’s to come!  If you’re in a season of despair, get up and run with Hope! I promise the prize is worth it!

I Want to See You.

I have been so busy the last 3 weeks! I’ve jumped into this new job and I’ve been busy learning everything that comes along with it. My morning’s start between 5:00 and 5:30 at the gym, come home, get ready for work and then I’m off for the day. It’s been so wonderful, so refreshing and so encouraging to have this job.

But can I be honest? I’ve been struggling. I miss community. Life is so busy here. I went from getting to sit down and have time for conversations with friends to trying to squeeze them in when we each find free time that overlaps.

I’ve been struggling to see God. 

It’s not like I don’t know he’s there. Because He is. Always. I’ve felt pretty off the last few days. So much so that I texted one of my dearest friends this morning in tears to ask for prayer. Within minutes of texting her I walked into church and the opening song was “Open the Eyes of My Heart”. Old school classic right there. But I just immediately started crying. 1. Because as we were singing I could hear the lyrics being sung in creole in my head. 2. Because I knew that’s what was missing. My eyes were closed and that’s why I haven’t been seeing Him. I haven’t been spending time with God as much lately. I don’t even really have a good reason for it, other than my own shortcomings.  Church couldn’t have been more on point for me this morning and I’m so thankful God led me to this new (to me) body of believers.  I was reminded of so many truths. I was reminded to show myself mercy. I was reminded that when I seek Jesus I WILL find Him because that’s a promise He gives us in His word.

I’ve been so challenged the last few weeks to be different. I keep trying to figure out what life in Lancaster is supposed to look like now that everyone else’s, including my own, lives are different. I’ve been praying through what ministry is supposed to look like for me now. Do I volunteer at church or do I just go out into the community and meet people where they’re at? What God’s been showing me is that I need to continuously put Him first. I need to fight to do that and make it a priority. I need to open my eyes and look for Him even if it doesn’t feel like He’s right in front of my face.

God has been so gentle on me in this season of transition. He continuously shows me Mercy and grace. He’s teaching me so much. A few months ago I had no idea what I was stepping into. He’s so faithfully given me a job and has provided every single little, and big thing I’ve needed.  This season continues to be beautiful and challenging.  I just don’t want to miss any part of what He has in store for me. I don’t want to be deceived by my feelings on the hard days and I don’t want to fall into the busy lifestyle that doesn’t leave room for investing in people around me.

A year ago I was praying a prayer asking God to make me uncomfortable. I know that He answers prayers and I truly wouldn’t trade this season for anything. I’m so thankful that God allows me to walk through seasons of life like this. And I’m so thankful that as I walk through them He draws me closer to Him, reveals Himself to me i new ways and makes me stronger for it.

May my eyes always be open to what God is trying to teach me.

3.5 Months Later…

Some morning’s I wake up and it still seems so surreal to me that this is my life now… that I’m not just home on a break and that I’m not heading back to Haiti in another week to continue my work at the orphanage.
As I’ve mentioned, this has been a painfully beautiful season.  It’s been a season full of sweet blessing’s and joy, it’s been a season of waiting and it’s been a season of growing.
I’ve been so in awe of the Fall this year.  Anytime I go for a run or I’m out driving I can’t help but be moved by the beauty of the colors. The weather has turned more crisp this week and it officially feels like Fall.   While the colors are changing and the leaves start to fall I can’t help but see the symbolism of the changing of seasons in my own life.

.SO.MUCH.CHANGE.

I’ve realized a lot in the last few weeks. I’m always going to cherish my life in Haiti and I’m quite confident I will always deeply miss it.  Some days my heart literally hurts because of how deeply I miss those 61 humans that have become part of my family. I miss my community. I miss that life.  And that’s ok.   That’s what I’ve realized. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.  When I was in Haiti I missed my life here, but I had to learn to embrace the season God had for me there.  It‘s time to do the same thing here.   I don’t want to miss out on the beauty of a new season because I’m too busy wishing I was somewhere else.

.SO.MUCH.REST.

God has blessed me with 3 incredible months of rest since leaving Haiti.  In the last 3 months I’ve slept a lot, read a lot, joined a gym, and spent time connecting with family and friends (old and new!)   I’ve had quality time with my cousins, my grandma, family and friends that are family that I haven’t seen in years. I’ve had so many opportunities to sit down with friends I haven’t seen in years and catch up on life.  Not only has time with so many wonderful people blessed me, but it’s reminded me time and time again of how many truly incredible people God has blessed me with in my life.

.SO.MUCH.NEW.

Two weeks ago I started a new job! I LOVE it. It’s truly the perfect job for me in this season of transition. I’m the Program Director for a residential program for adults that live with Mental Illnesses. Our program helps empower and equip them to grow and get ready to confidently live independently. I seriously love what I get to do. Not only do I get to help people, but I get to be in a position that I’m growing individually and professionally. I have the most encouraging boss who is walking alongside me and speaks so much encouragement over me, she truly believes in me and values me and I couldn’t be more thankful to have that.  I know that God is going to use this season, not only for rest, but as preparation. I believe he has very strategically placed me in this position while I’m finishing up school to prepare me for what’s to come in the next few years.

.BLESSED.

This season has been one of the hardest. Leaving the kids in the orphanage will always be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I miss their hugs, movie nights, laughter. I miss the way the pushed me to be better without even knowing it. I miss them. Deeply. But how truly amazing is it to know that, despite all of those things, not once have I questioned that God was calling me home. There is not one ounce of doubt in me that I was supposed to leave and that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. God is so so so good. I’m so so so blessed. He continues to provide every single thing I need. HE continues to put the right things in front of me at the right time.

Friends, obedience is far from easy. It rarely makes sense, especially at the time, and it can be so painful. BUT,  Living a life of obedience is so beautiful, it’s so worth it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So thankful for this journey, past and present, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

21 Days Later

Today marks 3 weeks since I left Haiti. That’s 21 days since I’ve gotten to see my sweet kiddos, hug them and squeeze them and laugh with them. I truly miss them more than I even know how to express. I feel like a piece of my heart is missing.

I’ve sat down so many times to try to blog over the last few weeks, but to be honest I just haven’t had words. I knew leaving Haiti would be hard, but it’s so much harder than I ever could have anticipated. I’ve had some really good days and some really bad days.

One of the biggest “surprises” in coming home was walking through a depth of grieving and loss that I never saw coming. It took me days after I got home to even be able to talk about Haiti without bursting into tears. Like I said I knew it was going to be hard, but the depth of the grief I feel completely blindsided me.

I’ve started asking God “why?” a lot. I’m not questioning, doubting or second-guessing my decision. It was undoubtedly the Lord that called me back to the U.S. I’m confident of this. I’m just not sure why.  I think I feel like I need to figure out the why because I’m not really doing a whole lot. God just keeps telling me to rest. So that’s what I’ve been doing.

I haven’t been up to seeing to many people yet, truthfully, because it’s just so hard to talk about this season of life and to help people understand what I’m going through. So to keep myself busy I’ve been spending time with family and going on lots of runs.  One of my favorite parts about running right now is running past the farms in our area. The corn is growing so tall, everything is so green, the flowers are in full bloom. There is so much life in the land here.  As I run past the flowers each day God keeps showing me the picture of this season of life. I’m the flower waiting to bloom and He’s giving me a glimpse of what’s to come, something beautiful. Those flowers didn’t grow into the beautiful plants they are overnight. It was a process. They were planted, watered, the weeds around them needed to be pulled and they needed time to grow into their fullness.

I don’t know what my next steps are. It’s pretty humbling to refer to myself as un-employed. It’s even more humbling, though, to see how God provides when we walk in obedience. He gives us everything we need, always. And so I wait, like a growing flower. I wait with anticipation that what’s coming will be good. I wait with expectancy that God will provide. And while I wait I ask the Lord to show me and teach me every little thing He has for me in this season. I don’t want this time to be wasted.  I could SO easily (probably more than you know) fall into a season where I just isolate and waste my time away watching netflix and movies to numb the loss that I’m feeling. But that’s not what God has in store for me, at least not all the time!

Haiti was the best and hardest season in my life. I would do it over again in a heartbeat if God asked me to. But I know my journey didn’t end when I left Haiti, it’s just beginning and that was just one chapter.

Today I took a big step. I started unpacking. And today was actually one of the best days I’ve had since I’ve been back. I’m starting to make the space my parents have so graciously given me my own. I got to FaceTime with a big group of my kids today and I can’t tell you how good it was for my heart to “hang out” with them and laugh. My heart is so full. They will always have a huge chunk of my heart. That will never change.

I’m making my way through a Re-Entry workbook. Right now it’s having me focus on processing through who I was before Haiti, and how God called me there. I’ve been reminded that when God called me to Haiti I didn’t know why. It truly didn’t make sense and I couldn’t figure out why He would uproot me from my wonderful life here to something I didn’t understand. I get it now. And while I probably don’t even understand in full yet, there’s no question my time in Haiti was meant to be. I’m excited to see where this new season will take me.

It’s Going to Be Ok.

I did it. I got in the car to go to the airport and then I got on the plane and left Haiti.  A number of the staff and kids sat with me on the porch before I left.  I can’t even remember, now, how many times I was the one standing on that porch hugging and waving goodbye to friends that had become family. This time I was the one that left.  When I got in the car yesterday I hurt for myself, because I’m leaving something so great, but I hurt for my friends too, because I know what it’s like to be the one saying goodbye. Oh I miss them so deeply. All of them.

I cried all the way down the hill but by time we got to the gate I had pulled myself together. As we boarded the plane I sat in my seat and just cried. I cried as we took off. I’ve never felt so out of control of my emotions before! It’s so weird.

For the last 4.5 years, everytime I’ve flown in or out of Haiti I’ve tried to spot MOH from the plane and have never been successful. So of course, on my last day of travel I look out and spot it. In that instant I thought, if skydiving was an option right now I would jump out of this plane and go back. I pictured myself like a kid throwing a temper tantrum and not wanting to leave. haha. Shortly after I fell asleep and then we landed in Miami.

In Miami I said goodbye to Dennis and Donna. They were a godsend yesterday. I think I would have just sat in the Port au Prince airport and cried yesterday if I didn’t have them with me to talk to.

Shortly after we parted ways I got a call from my dad that my Grandma had passed away early yesterday morning. I’m glad that she’s not suffering anymore, but selfishly I was hoping to get to see her one last time before she left us on earth.  I’m so thankful for the time we had together at Christmas and the beautiful things she said to me. I actually left her at Christmas and felt in my spirit that it was our goodbye. I truly believe my Grandma waited for me to come home. I know it makes me sound selfish, but I can’t imagine if she would have died last week having to choose between my family and my family. I”m so thankful God gifted me that time with my kids and Haiti family and now I can be home with my family to walk through this time together.

So there I found myself riding the sky train, tears just streaming down my face. I could see my reflection in the window and just thought, “katie you’re a mess today.” I assured myself I’m going to be ok.

A beautiful gift God has given me through this whole process is confidence. Despite how hard leaving has been, I still have no questions it’s what God wants.

As I took off from Miami I cried again, it was one more plane ride taking me farther away from Haiti and my kids. I closed my window and slept for awhile and then turned on the movie Joy. It’s about a woman doing something great.  Her grandma even died in the movie (of course i cried again!)

Right as the movie ended it was time to land and so I opened my window. I like to know when we’re going to touch down so I can brace myself.  Right when I opened my window I saw a rainbow in the sky. I’ve obviously seen lots of rainbows in my time, but never had that view from a plane.

As I sat there and I watched I just felt God whispering, “Katie, I’ve got you. I know it’s hard, I know it hurts, but I promise you I won’t let you fall. I will be your comfort and I will be your guide. You’re going to get through this.”

I can’t think of a better way to be welcomed home. Friends, this is hard.  It’s so much harder than I even could have imagined, and I imagined it being really hard. It’s weird unpacking my things. It’s weird that I’m making my parents house a temporary home until I figure out what comes next.IMG_7071  And while it’s hard, it’s right.  It’s a weird tension, because I’m SO excited to be home. I’m so excited to be with people that I love so dearly, but it means leaving people I love so dearly. It’s a weird tension of feeling so sad, but not wanting the people I’m coming home to feeling like I don’t want to be here! I’ve never felt so many different things at one time.

So I’m going to take it one hour at a time. I”m going to ask you to have patience with me when I’m a mess. I’m going to remember that rainbow welcoming me back to PA and the promise that comes along with it that God’s with me every step of the way.

 

Loved.

Today was perfect. Well, technically it was yesterday since it’s 3:30am. But you know what I mean.

The kids threw me THE most BEAUTIFUL surprise party ever! Thank you to all who were involved! It was complete with a Miseline and Lumaine singing Bless the Lord, followed by a group dance of Watch me Whip ( i mean, it wouldn’t be an orphanage party with out a little whip and nay nay), and topped that off with Clara, Christella A and Christella J sharing kind words.

I was presented with a certificate by Mr. Marc on behalf of the mission thanking me for my years of service here. Mr. Lookens shared many kind words and then we all popped some bubbly and had lunch together. Lunch consisted of ALL of my favorites.

I found out that the kids are the one that planned this beautiful party. They went to Mr. Lookens and asked for his help and it truly was the best.

The rest of my day consisted of packing, a full house of kids and laughter, and visits with my people.

I went up to Rachel and Kenol’s and said goodbye to my sweet Jubilee. I got to put her to bed. I read her a story and I cried through the whole thing.

A Friday night tradition that often gets lost in the busyness of summer is Friday night Family dinner with the staff. I requested one last “porch night” and it meant the world to me that people rearranged their schedules to eat dinner!

After dinner it was finishing up packing, again with a full house of kids. As I sit here I’m surrounded by sleeping kiddos. There are 4 in my bed, 1 on the couch, 2 on the daybed, and the rest are scattered across the floor. There’s gotta  be close to 15 girls here.

There’s not too much that’s easy when it comes to leaving. My heart is sad, yet excited for what God has in store. I’m going to miss this place so much, but more than anything I’m deeply going to miss these people. It’s a depth I can’t even really find words to describe. I slept for a little bit in the bed of 4 (so ya, that’s why i’m up now, haha), but when I woke up to a knee in the back, I just laid there.

As I laid there I just felt so overwhelmed with love. God has given me the greatest gift ever by allowing me to live in Haiti these 4.5 years. Today I didn’t just feel loved by the kids and my friends. I received an outpouring of love from Jesus.  God has brought so much redemption to so many things over the last 2 months.  In a little over an hour a car is coming to pick me up and take me to the airport. I’m already crying. But I know when I get in that car and travel down the bumpy lane at MOH and onto Route Nationale #1 that I will have poured out everything I possibly could in this season. I’m leaving knowing, without question, that the kids know how much I love them. I’m leaving confident that God has so much more in store for them and will be faithful to complete it. I’m leaving knowing that I got to be a small part of raising an army of Christ-Followers that are going to change the world. I’m leaving knowing that the scared Katie that moved to Haiti in January 2012 is no more, but through this journey Christ has made me new. I’m leaving knowing that I could have run so many times but  didn’t, and I”m so glad because I know this was the ordained time for me to go. I’m leaving and walking into a scary season of the unknown. But I’m leaving knowing that this is just the beginning of the next chapter. I’m leaving knowing that God’s not done with me yet, there’s so much more to come.  I’m leaving a piece of my heart behind. But I’m leaving knowing that this is not goodbye, because I’m leaving knowing that I won’t be able to stay away from this precious place and these beautiful people.

Today is hard. The days to come will be filled with so many different emotions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond excited to be reunited with my family and friends. But when the reality sinks in that I’m not going to be coming back I know it will be hard. I’m looking forward to a season of God challenging me and growing me. I’m anticipating watching God move in incredible ways in and through me. Today I step into a new season, arms open wide. I’m yours, God, and I can’t wait to go on this journey together.

Passing the Baton

One more day. Whoa. I can’t believe that I am waking up to my last full day in Haiti. Time didn’t listen to me, it didn’t slow down. Yet, God has graciously allowed me to do so very much in such a short amount of time!

Yesterday I got up and walked/ran the rocky mountain that knows my deepest darkest secrets. I reflected on the countless number of hours and miles I’ve spent walking that path over the years with Rachel, sometimes on my own.  I can look back on so many incredible encounters with God on that hill. Sometimes I’m glad it can’t talk because it knows most of our secrets, other times I wish it could remind me of all the things I’ve processed and learned over the years. It could remind me of so many beautiful encounters I’ve had with the Lord in those moments.

I came home, had some quiet time with the Lord, and not long after the knocks on the door started. I eagerly opened the door to my sweet kiddos.  I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart that they want to spend time with me before I leave! I got a giant hug, like a big, huge, squeeze your brains out hug followed by an “I’m going to miss you so much!” Annnnd the tears started, it wasn’t even 7:00am!

I spent the morning tying up loose ends and cleaning out my office. And I cried some more.  As I was going through my office I was just flooded with so many memories, good and bad.  That office has been full of laughter, dance parties and creativity. It’s also been full of really hard conversations, discipline and desperate prayers because most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing!

Yesterday was my last “training” time with Pastor Frantz, my replacement.  We covered a lot of ground. When we were done he said this:

“Katie, I need to share something with you.  Haiti used to have a leader. That leader planted trees.  The people ended up taking him out of the country in a boat. He told them ‘You can take me away in a boat and you can cut off the branches of my trees but a part of me will always still be here because my roots are here and those branches will grow back.’  Katie, you are leaving us and we are so sad. It’s like we’re losing a branch. But I want you to know that what you’ve done here will keep growing. You’ve poured so much love into these kids and people. I’ve always appreciated how much you’ve loved Haiti. I will continue the work that you started.  You have planted so many seeds and you will always have strong roots here.  You will always be a part of these kids lives and you will always be a part of Haiti”

There were many pauses in this beautiful story as Frantz kept stopping to say “don’t cry.” It didn’t work. I cried. A lot. How beautiful is that!?  Gosh, I feel loved.

When Rachel transitioned into her new role and I transitioned into being the Director, she always used to tell me that she couldn’t imagine passing the baton onto anyone else in this season. I get that now.  Frantz is going to be great. I believe in him.  I can’t think of anyone I know that I would rather take my place in this season. He loves Jesus and he loves those kids. And so today, I pass the baton.

Today is my last full day living in Haiti, at least for now.  I’m going to hug a lot, laugh a lot, and no doubt cry a lot today. I’m going to try and cherish each and every hug, each and every moment. I probably won’t sleep tonight.

I am forever, FOREVER grateful that I’ve had this opportunity the last 4 and a half years. Tomorrow I’ll be leaving part of my heart in Haiti the size of 61 kids and my deep love for them.

I’m not really sure how I’m going to do this, how I’m going to say goodbye, but I’m confident that the Lord is carrying me through every step of the way. My dad messaged me yesterday, like he does most days. He said “I was just thinking, I wonder how many hundreds of people are praying for you this week?”  He’s right. I have an army of people praying for me and that is humbling and beautifully overwhelming. Thank you, praying friends and family, and please don’t stop!