When Yes leads to Goodbye

Four and a half years ago I thought I was taking the biggest leap of faith ever. God told me to move to Haiti and I said yes. It was the best yes I’ve said in my life so far! I didn’t understand why God was calling me here. I had a lot of great things going for me and, in all honesty, it didn’t make sense. But there was no doubt it was God calling me and saying no to His calling didn’t make sense either.  So without ever stepping foot in Haiti prior to moving here I hopped on a plane, met up with some lady named Rachel Bernard at the airport and started the best journey of my life.  What I thought was going to be 6 months of serving in Haiti turned into 4.5 years.
There are so many words I could use to describe these years I’ve been in Haiti.  I have been challenged and stretched more than I ever could have imagined. I have walked through some of the darkest, most painful and difficult seasons of my life so far. I have had moments of loneliness and confusion.  And I’m so thankful for each of those hard times. They forced me to lean into the Lord. I learned to reflect on situations and figure out how I can become better through them, how I can react differently. I’ve learned humility, oh so much humility, as I messed up over and over and had to ask forgiveness.
Despite the challenges of the last 4.5 years, I can truly say that I’ve experienced joy and love like never before. seriously. These kids have taught me to love at a capacity I didn’t know I was capable of.  Through loving them unconditionally, God has shown me a small glimpse of the love that he has for me! I would do every.single.bad.day over again to experience the wins, the victories, the JOYS that I have experienced in the last 4.5 years.
Last week I announced to the kids that on July 16 I would be moving back to America. It was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had to have.  I explained to them that I didn’t understand why God called me to Haiti when He did, but now I do. He knew that I needed them to be part of my life. They will a.l.w.a.y.s be my family. I will a.l.w.a.y.s love them. It’s purely out of my love for them and for the Lord that I’m leaving. I do not understand why God has called me to leave Haiti right now, but I do know He’s calling me to go. Just like I came when I didn’t understand why He called me here, I’m choosing to be obedient and go.  We don’t always understand God’s plans for our lives or the things He asks us to do. I don’t have a job to go to, yet. There’s not a lot about moving home that makes sense. But we’re not always called to understand! Proverbs 3:5-6 has come to life for me over the last few years. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding  but in all your ways acknowledge Him and HE will direct your path. My “understanding” hasn’t been able to make sense of this yet, but I still Choose Him. The 61 kids that I’ve come to love as my own don’t belong to me. They are HIS! They were HIS first and they will be HIS last.  I trust HIM to provide for them and be constant in their lives. I choose to believe that if He’s calling me to leave it’s because HE has something even better in store for them!
The last 4.5 years have been nothing but a gift to me that I will cherish for all the days of my life.  Mission of Hope took a chance on me. They let a girl who had never stepped foot in Haiti move here and join their staff. They have believed in me, supported me, held me up, challenged me and done life with me, and will continue to do so! I am so thankful that I am able to transition out so well, as family, with an open invitation to come back! I’m thankful I get to continue to be part of the kids lives and that the staff here are part of my forever family!
Please pray for the kids and I as we make the most of the next 2 and a 1/2 weeks of time together. Pray for their hearts to be protected and that they will continue to walk in the confidence of having a constant Father in their life, Jesus.
Please pray for me as I make this transition home. I am expectantly waiting for God to show me what comes next, to provide for me financially, emotionally and in every other need I have!  He knows my heart and exactly what I need! I can’t wait to see what city, State/Province and Country I end up in next. No matter what I know my heart is to follow Jesus, serve Him, and I trust Him to lead me!!!  Saying yes to God isn’t always yes, sometimes it leads to really hard goodbyes, and I’m kind of dreading that.  But it also leads to some new Hello’s and I’m excited to see what those look like!IMG_6290.JPG

Thank you for being part of my journey!!!
If you would like to know more about How you can support me through this transition, please email me at katiejoy555@gmail.com.

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When Redemption Comes

I’ve come to learn, in the most firsthand way I can without having my own family, that parenting is hard. It’s not just hard, it’s REALLY hard. And parenting 61 kids is no joke. There are moments, hours, days and sometimes seasons that you just feel so unbelievably defeated. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s hard to know that the child(ren) you’re struggling with in that season might not ever change.

But then they do.

Today started as just a normal day. Woke up at 5. Talked myself into getting out of bed to go to a workout that would most likely involve running up the hill (which it did!) and finish feeling glad that I pushed myself another morning and am that much better because of it. I ate breakfast and went to work. It started out normal.

And then God.

God knew what my heart needed today. He knew I needed time to sit with a dear friend and talk about the hard things God’s been teaching us. He knew I needed encouragement and He sent it to me in a variety of people from places, literally, all of the world. Even if it wasn’t encouragement, it was silly snaps or texts just to be reminded that there is so much joy to be found in each day.  It came in the form of an office full of excited kids and a dance party because school is over! *i’m not quite as excited as they are 😉 *

It came in the form of a restored relationship and redemption. A teen that’s been a struggle for a few months (to put it lightly). One who, just weeks ago, informed me how unloved I was and how much I did not love her, came to me today to tell me she loves me, she’s sorry. Restoration.   She came to me to tell me that God wants me to know that the things I’m praying for, God hears me and to keep praying for them and don’t stop, even if they don’t happen right away. Redemption. 

Friends, if you’re tired today and you feel like giving up. Don’t. God has so much more in store for you. If you can’t see with your humans eyes how your situation will work out, stop trying to look for the answer and Let God do His thing.  If you are at your whits end with your child, keep hanging on. If you feel defeated or like you’re failing as a parent, tell Satan to get behind you and let God fill your heart with a dose of supernatural grace.

God’s got you in the palm of His hand. He’s not going to leave you.

Redemption will come!

It’s Not My Fault I Ran Out of Gas

Yesterday I travelled about an hour away to catch up with a dear, dear friend. While I was on my way there I had to stop for gas.  I pulled up to the tank, got out of the car, swiped my card and started the pump.
A woman walked up to me, fake crying, asking for money. She had a fresh pack of cigarettes in her hand and, to be honest, was kind of a big mess.  She actually reminded me of a former client from back in the days of working in the mental health field. My initial assessment of this woman was that she was unstable, dishonest, and having a really tough day.
She started to tell me this sob story about her mom is sick and she was in town helping her, but needs to get back to her grandson because she’s supposed to pick him up. The only problem? She ran out of gas and has “no money.” She said that the gas gage in her car is broken and she doesn’t have money to fix it. Who knows, maybe she was telling the truth, maybe she wasn’t. It’s not my job to figure that out.

Her name was Diane and I just gave her a big hug. She started to actually cry at that point. I gave her a few bucks and asked if I could pray with her. There we stood in the Marathon Gas station parking lot praying together. Afterwards I just looked at her and told her how loved she is by God, by me and that God has a plan for her life.  She said she doesn’t think God loves her because he let her run out of gas. I assured her that it wasn’t God’s fault she ran out of Gas and that He’s showing His love for her by providing for her.

I’m more than certain I’ll never see this woman again, but I do know I’ll pray for her often.   As I was spending time with the Lord this morning I started to reflect on my encounter with Diane yesterday.  It kind of goes a long with one of the things the Lord has been challenging me on this year, and that is to Ask. There are things in my life that I want, things that I want to work out, dreams I want to be fulfilled. Sometimes I don’t ask the Lord for them because I’m scared of what the answer will be. Sometimes it’s easier to just go without than face the disappointment of not receiving. Diane had a need yesterday, whether it was actually gas for her car, who knows. The point is she asked. God provided.

So many of God’s promises to us are conditional. A friend reminded me of Psalm 37:4 yesterday. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  How often do we read those words and just see the part about getting the desires of your heart? I know I don’t always delight myself in the lord. I looked up the definition of Delight this morning.

Delight:
1. a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy

It is definitely not easy for me to delight in the Lord when I’m not getting what I’m asking for. The verse says AND he will give you the desires of your heart. It means that we shouldn’t expect the desires of our heart to be fulfilled if we’re not delighting in the Lord. The two go hand in hand.

Yesterday Diane told me it wasn’t her fault that she ran out of gas. I assured her it was, but that I believed God would provide everything she needs. She just had to do her part.

God wants to give us the desires of our heart. He wants to shower us with blessing’s because he loves us, we’re his children. But he also wants us to do our part. We know that if we seek Him we’ll find him. If you feel like you’re not hearing from God, start or continue to seek Him. The bible assures us if you seek Him you’ll find him, but it doesn’t tell us it’ll happen immediately. If we delight in Him He will give us the desires of our heart, but it might not happen tomorrow, don’t stop finding Joy in Him.

Friends, stay strong in the journey. Whatever it is that you’re waiting on today, don’t lose hope. If I’ve learned anything it’s that God’s timing is so much better than mine, He sees all that I cannot. So don’t stress, choose joy, choose delight, and keep asking!

He Made a Way

When I met Angelie in 2012 I instantly knew there was something special about her. Truly, I feel that way about each of the kids in the orphanage, each of them in their own unique way!

Angelie though, she radiates joy. Her goofy personality never fails to make me smile. As time goes on, and I’ve learned more about her story, I’m more and more amazed at the obstacles the Lord has so clearly brought her through. A girl who was abandoned after the earthquake, told that she would likely never walk.  I’ll never forget the day I watched her RUN down the hill to school. She’s amazing.

Her and I have been on a journey the last couple of years, one that my dear sister-friend-co-mom Rachel started and I’ve continued.  Angelie has cataracts in her right eye.  Her other eye doesn’t have perfect vision, so seeing is a challenge for her.  She’s managed to find her way, eaten a pair of glasses (yes, you read that correctly…however she didn’t so much eat them as she did chew them up!) , and still managed to not hurt herself, despite this visual impairment.

We’ve seen many doctors over the years, some local, some not. We’ve tried to go see Doctor’s up north in Haiti and have been faced with closed doors. With her being so young, and her cataracts being on the worse side, and living in a third world country, well, it’s just not simple.  But her love never ceases. She never, ever complains. And her joy? her joy is always still there! (well, minus the normal kid things that you just need to cry about sometimes!!)

Last week we went to a vision clinic. I was amazed at their facilities and equipment, and, for the first time, we were given a second appointment!

Today we left and headed out to the hospital. Last week we got WAY lost heading out there. Our truck was also stuck for a few minutes.  I started out really confident that we would get there with no problems this time, since the driver knew where we were going now. Not the case!  We pull up to this road that, literally, is like a little pond.  We couldn’t actually see the road. just the water. The driver turns around with panic in his eyes and says “I’m not sure if we can get through, but I dont know any other route!” Inside I’m freaking out. We HAD to get to this appointment so we could meet with the doctor’s before the fly back to the US. It had to be today.

The driver says again, “I don’t know if we can make it through!” And then, his face changed, and he said “but we will try!”

Our driver, sweet little Angelie and myself prayed before we tried, we specifically asked God to make the road safe and easy to get through.  The driver took off, and I just kept praying, so did angelie! We made it through without the slightest issues, and, come to think of it, our car wasn’t even that muddy! God made a way!

Our next obstacle was 5 big piles of dirt. I’m talking piles bigger than our truck, covering most of the road.  I’m glad to see someone, at some point, intends to make the roads better 😉  Our driver turned around with that same panicked look, and I said “Let’s try it!” His panic turned into a smile and off we went! With more prayer and faith, God made a way!

As we got to the doctor’s we thanked the Lord together and Angelie and I went in to register. We waited for hours.  Angelie and I sat on the ground and sang worship songs, eventually a few people around us started to join in. It was quite beautiful.  The song stuck in her head that day was “God I need you now”.  A 12(ish) year old girl named Destiny came and sat with us while we waited. She was telling us about her trouble seeing and out of nowhere Angelie leans over me to tell her “Did you know that God made the road good for us today so we could be here?”

In that moment I was so in awe of the Lord. Sure, I saw him at work as He made a way for us to get to the clinic, twice! But to sit there and listen to Angelie share a testimony of how God made a way for us. It was just so beautiful.  In that moment I was so encouraged. I was encouraged for Angelie. God is making a way for her.

The verse Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to mind “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on YOUR own understanding! In all your ways acknowledge Him and HE WILL direct your path!”

Maybe this season of life you’re in is full of unknown’s. Maybe the task before you feels quite impossible.  Maybe you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or, maybe you don’t know if you can’t make it through the pile of mud that’s blocking your way.

Please here me when I tell you, GOD WILL MAKE A WAY!  This year started out r.o.u.g.h and pretty much stayed that way until August.  God made a way for me! He guided me, directed me, and He protected me. It was a painful time of growth, but getting to the other side has been full of so much reward and more importantly a whole new depth in my walk with the Lord!

Friends, be encouraged by Angelie’s faith today and in those moments that feel impossible, remember, God is going to make a way for you too!

m a g n i f y

magnify.
[ mag-nuh-fahy ]
1. to increase the apparent size of, as does a lens
2. to make greater in actual size; enlarge
3. to cause to seem greater or more important; attribute too much importance to; exaggerate
4. to make more exciting; intensify; dramatize; heighten
5. to extol; praise

{M A G N I F Y}

I haven’t been able to escape this word for the last couple of months. It’s been showing up everywhere from reading, to signs, to conversations with dear friends (shout out to Patrick and Lauren!)  This word has been everywhere and it’s caused me to stop.evaluate.and c h a n g e.

Let me back up. It’s no secret, if you’ve read my blog or had a conversation with me in the last 8 months, that this season of life has been a challenge.  It was by far the hardest season of ministry for me. I’ve never felt so alone in something before. I started to tolerate (another word God has been focusing my attention on lately) a lot of things going on around me in the flesh and spiritual realms, and, if I’m being honest, allowed it to take me to an ugly place.

I didn’t turn my back on God, but I sure was frustrated. I felt like I was barely surviving and was definitely not walking in the fullness of who God created me to be. That’s where this word *magnify* comes in. The hard times were all I could focus on. It was all I could see.  My loneliness. The overwhelming feelings that felt like they were suffocating me.  I didn’t feel like I was good enough to be in a mothering role to 61 kids. I felt like God made a mistake. And that’s what I magnified.

I tried so hard to be in the word and I wrestled with God so much during those months. I had a small community of family, friends and mentors that prayed me through this season, talked through things with me, and most of all loved me regardless. But it wasn’t until enough was enough that the shift happened. I came home from work early one day, locked my door, sat in my chair and had it out with God. I’d had enough! I said “God. This isn’t working for me. I know that this is NOT who you’ve created me to be and I want to walk in the fullness of who YOU have made me to be. So we need to figure this out and I’m not moving until we do”. I sat with the Lord for hours that day. I cried out to Him. I listened. I worshipped. I opened my bible. I cried out some more and I listened some more. Thats when the revelation started to pour out. God started to show me things that were happening spiritually, things that I was tolerating in my life and around my life. And so I repented and I replaced those lies with truth.

You see, I had been magnifying so many of the challenges that they started to become bigger and bigger until it’s pretty much all I could see! When you magnify the hard things you are not magnifying the greatness of our God. You are not magnifying how Big He is, how loving He is and how Good HE IS! When you focus on the negative, when you magnify it, it just keeps growing.

God wrecked me that day, in the best ways possible. After hours sitting with Him it was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I felt like a new person. It was as if blinders had been taken off of my eyes and I was seeing clearly for the first time in a long time. I have a new sense of joy and strength.

What are you going through right now? Maybe it’s a really sweet season, magnify that. Maybe you’re going through a really painful, ugly season. Shift your focus. You might have to search for it, but I promise you that you can find good and that you will find God at work even in the hard times, magnify that! Magnify the good.  The word magnify is used more than a couple of dozen times in the bible. It’s almost always associated with an act of praise.

Friends, don’t let satan steal your joy. Don’t let him steal anything from you. We know that he comes to steal, kill and destroy.  We also know that we are already walking in victory! This season has taught me so much. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned though is to never give up, to fight harder when life gets harder. To stay in close community with God even when I can’t feel Him or when things on the outside are so hard. Nothing has purpose apart from Him. Nothing matters. My heart is to walk in the fullness of who Christ has created me to be. Sometimes that means sacrificing things that I think I need or want, and when I do that? Christ’s plans are so much better!

So today I ask you this. What are you magnifying? Are you a negative Nancy? Are you constantly magnifying how hard things are, how sick you are, how unfair life is? I hate to break it to you but that might not change until you start magnifying how blessed you are, how you see God at work in your life and good God is! Praise Him. Honor Him. Glorify Him. Magnify Him.

Getting {UN}comfortable

I’ve lived in Haiti for 3 and a half years now. Whoa. Most days I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, yet I feel so comfortable at the same time.

C O M F O R T A B L E

It’s a word that makes me cringe when I use it to describe it my life.  Haiti can be anything but comfortable. I seriously hate sweating. It’s so (UN)comfortable when you just want to look and feel like a girl for 5 minutes and you can’t do it without sweating. And it’s not the cute sweat, like a little glisten, it’s drips, or in some cases a steady stream that soaks your shirts and you just have to embrace it, even that has become “comfortable. I’ve gotten used to so many things.

A year ago I took over as the interim director of the orphanage. This week is my one year anniversary of a life change that caught me by surprise.  If I would have know the year was going to go the way it did I probably would have run, fast. It’s a good thing God just carries us one step at a time.  Even through the trials of this year, I’ve found that I’ve gotten comfortable.  It’s become “normal” to go out and see ridiculous poverty all around. It doesn’t phase me the way it used to when I walk through Levek and see way too many people living in tents from the earthquake that brought so much destruction over 5 years ago.  It’s embarrassing that I can even say things like that, but it’s the truth.  It’s not that I don’t feel sad for them, but it hadn’t been phasing me the way it used to when I first got here….until recently, that is.  A few weeks ago I started to get uncomfortable again, and I’m so thankful.

U N C O M F O R T A B L E

For months now my friend Rachel has been bugging me to go out to Levek with her to interview families.  Rachel gets my life. She’s literally the only person right now who does.  So I should have listened to her the first time she told me I needed this. She gets that in my job I don’t see a lot of immediate progress or fruit from all the hard work I put in.  She gets that the constant knocks on the door, nagging, fighting, teenage girl AND boy drama can be so wearing that I quickly forget my purpose in being here.  So I gave in. I went to Levek. That’s when I started to get (UN) comfortable again.  I spent the day talking to families that live in tents. One woman has lost 3 of her babies just because of the heat from living in a tent. WHAT! Another woman had gotten to such a point of helplessness that she just stopped caring, stopped hoping. She couldn’t even tell us when her kids were born. She didn’t know her own children’s birthday’s or ages.  Now your initial reaction might be to judge that woman. I know my first instinct was to say “How do you not know this!”  However, I stopped and thought about her life.  She’s been living in a TENT for over 5 years. Do you know how hot it is outside, let alone INSIDE a tent!? Like way over 100 degrees everyday. The majority of that time she hasn’t had a lot of hope that her situation could ever change, that her life could get any better than a tent. She had lost hope. She lost her drive. And she forgot when her kids were born.  She got comfortable in her hopelessness and stopped trying.  But I saw hope that day. I saw something spark in her eye, a smile that was so desperately trying to be seen. And for the first time in a long time, I started to feel uncomfortable again.

I was the most u n c o m f o r t a b l e I’ve ever been this past week. I wasn’t just uncomfortable. I was mad, livid, boiling blood, wanted to punch someone in the face { A N G R Y }.  I was introduced to a group of little people that are being treated unfairly. We complain about being hungry when we’re bored, and these kids? They’re lucky to get 5 meals a WEEK. Yea, you read that right. Most Americans eat more than 5 times a day between meals and snacks, they’re lucky to get that in a week. And when they do, it’s often soup or cornmeal. I held a little boy for a few hours who just kept saying “manje? manje?” Which means, “food? food?”  I wanted to scoop each and everyone of those little souls up and bring them home with me. Seriously. I obviously couldn’t do that, so I did what I could, I gave them extra sandwiches, reminded them that God loves them, and that He is our strength, and I prayed. I haven’t stopped praying. I go to sleep at night praying for them, I wake up praying for them. I think about them all day, and I pray for them. I know that God’s hand is on them and that He will provide. But man, I got uncomfortable.  It’s kind of pathetic that it took a group of starving kids to remind me that there is a battle going on here. That there are more important struggles that people are facing, far greater than what i face with my sassy teenagers.

I go to sleep every night with a full belly. My apartment is small in most US standards, but I’m living in a mansion compared to my friends living in tents. I have a comfy bed, comfy couches, air conditioning and every need I have is fulfilled. And yet I’m still so unsatisfied sometimes. I worry about what I don’t have….which in reality is nothing. I have everything I need.

I got to a place of comfort that we can all fall into so easily. A place where we are more consumed with ourselves than we are aware of people around us. A place where I forgot that there are starving children out there because I was too worried about my “hard” life.

My heart broke again last week. Not just for Haiti, but for the injustice that is happening to so many people in this world.My heart broke for the mother that forget’s when her children were born. My heart broke for the kids that don’t know when they will get to eat again.  My heart broke for the people that have forgotten what hope feels like. My heart broke for this country. My heart is broken for the lost, the last, the least.

I”m so thankful God pulled me out of my comfort zone. Life is still challenging. It will be. Teenagers are exhausting. They’ll still be exhausting. But for this season they’re my exhausting teenagers and I will keep loving them, fighting for them and doing everything in my power to help them experience a heart for the kids down the road that are starving.  I want to use this place of being uncomfortable to make them uncomfortable. I want them to want to fight for these kids. I want them to want to change this country. I want them to remember when their kids are born someday. I want them to never forget what it feels like to hope.

And so I will continue to fight and pray that I stay uncomfortable.

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phasing me

Even When

Last month I was beyond blessed to be at home with my family and some of my “people” for a whole month. I can’t even describe how great it was to, 1) get a break, and, 2) have so many amazing people pour encouragement into my life.

One of my favorite things to do when I go home is run. There’s a little creek down the road in the farm country we live in that I just love to run by, and I’ve had so many encounters with the Lord on these runs. This time home was no different. One morning, after some frustrating news, I went for a long run.  I had my iPod on shuffle and all of a sudden this song comes on. I don’t even remember downloading it, but there it was. It’s called ‘Even When it Hurts’ and it’s by hillsong. You guys. I think God might have downloaded it in that moment because he knew I needed to hear this song. The song goes like this, and it’s become my anthem for this season of life:

“Even When It Hurts (Praise Song)”–hillsong

Take this fainted heart
Take these tainted hands
Wash me in Your love
Come like grace again

Even when my strength is lost
I’ll praise You
Even when I have no song
I’ll praise You
Even when it’s hard to find the words
Louder then I’ll sing Your praise

I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise

Take this mountain weight
Take these ocean tears
Hold me through the trial
Come like hope again

Even when the fight seems lost
I’ll praise You
Even when it hurts like hell
I’ll praise You
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I’ll sing Your praise

I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise

And my heart burns only for You
You are all You are all I want
And my soul waits only for You
And I will sing till the morning has come

Lord my heart burns only for You
You are all You are all I want
And my soul waits only for You
And I will sing till the miracle comes

I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise
I will only sing Your praise

Even when the morning comes
I’ll praise You
Even when the fight is won
I’ll praise You
Even when my time on earth is done
Louder then I’ll sing your praise

I will only sing Your praise

This season of life has been hard and I’m not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel for the time being. Raising teenagers is hard, exhausting, painful, and at times fun. It’s hard. I’m a single, working mother of 62 kids, over 40 of which are teenagers. I’m lonely. I miss my family. But I can confidently say that, for this season of life, I am right where the Lord wants me to be. I’m thankful for songs like this that remind me to praise, even when.

Waiting for the end.

I’ve been stuck in Exodus for days now. I love that book, but specifically, Moses!? Could he BE any more amazing?! Seriously though. He’s my favorite. In so many different season of my life I’ve been so encouraged by his story, but lately his story has been exactly what I’ve needed. The fact that what God asked him to felt impossible is encouragement enough. And yet the more I read the more little parts of his story stick out to me in BIG WAYS!

I’ve felt like a broken record the last few months, talking about how hard things have been. As odd as it might sound, I’m so grateful to be walking through this season because the Lord just keeps drawing me nearer and nearer. You guys. This is so FUN    HARD! It’s fun sometimes. It’s really, really hard though!  There have been so many moments Satan just tries so hard to convince me I’m a failure, I’m the wrong person for this job, I suck, and the list goes on. I know those aren’t truths though, those thoughts aren’t from God, and Satan just sucks.  Teenage girls are exhausting. I have a newfound respect for my mom and dad!

Anyhow, back to Moses. In Exodus 4 Moses and his brother Aaron gather up the elders. They share all that God had spoken to them, shared the signs God had commanded him to perform and they basically just cast the vision. The elders were SO relieved.  It’s that moment in the struggle when you realize that you’re seen, you’ve been noticed, you are not alone, and you all of a sudden have hope. That’s got to be how they felt. Working for Pharaoh had to have been so awful. They probably felt so trapped and hopeless. But that moment that they realized God saw them, they bowed down and worshipped.  There struggles were far from over. They weren’t finished this battle. But through faith they had hope and they chose to bow down and worship. They could have responded so harshly. They could have responded with a “moses shut your mouth. who do you think you are?!” kind of attitude. But they chose to trust, believe and they bowed down and worshipped God.  Let’s close in prayer! haha. But seriously!? That in itself is just so powerful to me! But theres more!

Afterwards, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, shared what God had told them and they asked him to let their people go for a 3 day journey to bow down and worship. Pharaoh was pretty much appalled at the thought, despite their warnings of plagues. Not only did he shoot down their request, as if that wasn’t bad enough!? NO! He then increased their work! Where as before they had their straw delivered, now they had to go get it themselves AND still produce the same amount of brick.

I’m sorry. But to me this just feels like kicking you while you’re down. And this is the part that has stuck out to me so much the last few days. First of all, Moses and Aaron probably just felt awful. Here they are, leading “their people” and, in the moment, it turns into more work. Their people got penalized for something that was supposed to be helping them!

Why does being obedient to God sometimes feel like punishment!?

I mean, really though. God promised deliverance and in that moment at the end of Exodus 5 when Moses was questioning this outcome, he probably couldn’t see deliverance, even though God had already promised it.

Friends, WE HAVE VICTORY! We already have that promise. I will be the first to admit though, that in the middle of trials that seem impossible, I don’t feel very victorious! Angry kids saying “I don’t love you”, makes it hard to feel victorious. Kids that you care so deeply about that just keep making bad choices? Yeah, their unchanging behavior makes it hard to feel victorious. It’s in those moments though, that we need to rise up and continue to claim that victory! Being obedient doesn’t always lead to smiles and giggles, but we’re still accountable to do it.  It’s ok to be exhausted! Y’all, I am SO TIRED. I’m so emotionally drained right now, and that’s ok. Do you know why!? Because I”m not giving up. I am claiming victory in each of these kids lives, in my life, and even if it has to be minute by minute (which it has been lately). I will continue to be obedient to what God asks me to do.  I will fight off the lies that Satan is trying to convince me of and stand in victory! I will stand in victory even when I don’t feel victorious because my feelings do not always equal truth!

I imagine the Israelites were so frustrated. They were just trying to be obedient and it just made things worse for a season. But if you keep reading you’ll see that the season didn’t last forever. They remained faithful.  Moses and Aaron led those people so well, despite the fact that they probably felt terrified and unequipped. And because they stayed faithful, they all got to see God show up in BIG ways! He parted the red sea! He made a path where the path didn’t exist. He made the impossible become possible.  It wouldn’t take much for me to fall into a dark place right now. It wouldn’t take much for me to start to believe lies that I can’t do this. I really can’t. But GOD! Because of God I CAN. God really does work all things together for good! I read a quote the other day by Kris Vallatton.

All things

work together

for good in the end.

So if it isn’t good,

then it isn’t the end.

Are you in a difficult season!? Is it hard to see the good?! Is it hard to believe that your promised land exists? Maybe you’re fighting day by day, hour to hour, maybe even minute to minute to hang out to victory!  Maybe you feel like you want to be finished being obedient because it feels like it’s just making life harder. Keep fighting. Keep waiting, because the good is coming. Even if you can’t see it, even if it’s hard to believe, it’s coming. We know that God works all things together for good, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to always be good all the time. Sometimes we have to wait for the good. Let the process of waiting happen. God has so much to teach you. I might be exhausted right now, I might be getting my feelings hurt on a daily basis, and I might feel totally unequipped to be doing what I’m doing at times, but guess what!? I’m still waiting for the end because it’s going to be so good. Friends, if you’re tired, keep waiting. Let Jesus be your rest. Let Him fill you up. And let Him continue to part the red sea in your life!

so trapped and hop

W I D L E R

How do I even begin to describe how unbelievably proud I am of this young man!? Widler is 13 years old. He is one of the most precious people I know. He loves Jesus. And he got baptized on Sunday!

J O Y F U L

That’s one word I could use to describe Widler! He brings me SO much joy. And not just me. He brings everyone so.much.joy.
Widler has a laugh that will quickly spread throughout the room. He makes me laugh every day! Most of all though, it’s so evident that his joy stems from his love for the Lord! His joy radiates Jesus!

T H O U G H T F U L

How many 13 yea old boys do you know that will think to bring the ladies in their life flowers!? Fidler brings me flowers on a regular basis. He is so thoughtful that he takes the time to go pick them from my friends house (sorry Rachel!) and deliver them to me! Wilder’s thoughtfulness pours out of him so evidently in the way that he serves those around him! He is so quick to jump in and help whenever he’s asked, and even when he’s not! If I’ve got something in my hands he will take it and carry it for me.

L O V E D

I could go on and on about how much I love this boy. He is SO very loved, not just by me, but by so many others that are blessed to know him! Widler is world changer. He is tender hearted, caring, gentle, but he’s also very strong-willed and opinionated.

Sometimes working in the orphanage is challenging. Just like a parent, we don’t always see the fruit of our labor (especially when our kids are ages 13-16 and have no control of their hormones!). That’s why moments like this need to be celebrated. Widler asked to be baptized. He CHOSE to publicly declare his love for Jesus and his commitment to serve him. My heart is full and I am so proud of this young man.  He’ll never know what his baptism did for my heart. Those are the moments that make all the hard days worth it. Those are the moments that I’m reminded why I’m here. Those are the moments that keep me going. It’s the “Widler’s” out there that remind me that God really is transforming this nation, and he’s using our kids to do it!  So today we celebrate. We celebrate Widler. We pray for more Widler’s to rise up and that God would continue to do a mighty work in these children’s lives!

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quick to jumpto jump in and help whenever

Don’t Stop Searching

Each year since I’ve lived here, we’ve done an Easter Egg hunt with the kids. It’s pretty entertaining and has grown a little bigger each year! As we’re preparing for “The Hunt” this year, and in doing some studying for family devotions God revealed this to me, here’s how it all went down!

Saturday morning I hid 2 eggs in the kitchen, the room we all gather together in for family devotions. One egg was very visible, the other was not. After worship I asked for 1 volunteer. Nobody really wanted to, and then finally Elisson stood up and volunteered. I explained the game of hot and cold to him. I said that both eggs have good things inside, but one egg is full of something REALLY good and the other is just good. I told him he could take 3 steps at a time and then I would tell him if he was hot or cold. Naturally, his first steps were in the direction of the egg that was visible, it was a sure thing. With each step he was hotter and hotter until he found it! He opened it up and found some candy inside! I then gave him the choice to continue playing or stop with the candy. He chose to continue!

Now this egg was a little harder to find. After a few minutes of hot or cold Elisson was standing there, and he was in the hot zone, but didn’t see the egg! He finally asked the mommy he was standing beside if she had the egg and she then handed it over. He opened the egg to find money! SCORE!

I explained to he kids that just like Elisson was searching for the easter eggs, we need to seek the Lord. Elisson could have ignored my guidance of being hot or cold, but he chose to listen. God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us! We know that God has so many great blessing’s waiting for us, but if we don’t seek him, we’ll never find Him, and we might miss out on the really great things He has waiting for us! The other point I made to the kids was this, why settle for good when you can have great!? God wants to continuously pour out his blessings, to be content with ok or good. If Elisson would have stopped searching after he found the candy he would have missed out on something greater, like the money! The same thing applies to us in our walk with the Lord! Don’t let yourself settle for the candy when there’s something even greater waiting for you! Don’t let yourself get so comfortable with the little things that you stop expecting the greatness that God has in store for you!

God PROMISES us that if we seek Him we will find Him! Are you comfortable in a good place?! Get uncomfortable and keep searching for the greatness waiting for you!

 

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photo cred: Rachel Durban