Keep Your Feet Grounded

I met a woman on the plane this morning who just lost her husband to cancer a mere three months ago. She was traveling to Scotland for holiday with her cousin, a chance to get away and heal. We talked the whole flight – both tearful by the end – acknowledging the hardness of life, the resiliency and wholeness of life with faith amidst that pain, and the incredible gift of people.

This woman has a story. And it makes me want to step back for a minute. Because somewhere in that pain, she was at peace. She had hope and strength that doesn’t just come on your own.  This woman reminded me of a simple and profound life choice: keep your feet grounded on the Rock. 

She is ok. This woman shared deep abuses from her past, the tragic – and slow – death of her husband, and the incredible things she’s overcome in life. How could a woman like that have so much strength? In incredible weakness, Christ made her strong. He showed up in her hard times (sometimes in the form of dreams, sometimes in the form of friends) but there was always someone or something there to carry her through.

I think about the myriad of people I’ve met in the course of my life who exemplify that same message. They give me courage. Courage that we can get through incredibly hard things in life when we have Christ as our Rock. Courage that we can weather storms with each other. And courage to believe that this kind of strength and peace is possible through tragedy.

I sit here thinking about her smile, I’m reminded of the opportunities we have to touch the lives of people around us every day. May we be firmly planted on the Rock so we can boldly weather the storms together.

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Walking with Burdens

I look at this and think about how much I try and carry on my own sometimes. Does it look as ridiculous as this?

Found on flickr.com

Found on flickr.com

I’m in a season of realizing the load I’ve been carrying is too much for just me. I need those who can help shoulder the load and walk with me. And as I confess that with trusted friends, I find there are others… many others, who feel the same. Put simply – we are recognizing that we need each other. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.”

When I first saw the picture, all I saw was the huge load of baskets. And then I realized… there were three of them, sharing the load, walking together – a load made a bit more manageable. 

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Identity

Tonight, a friend and I spoke to a group of high schoolers about identity. It was a good lesson, a good tag-team. And I think maybe a few kids might think about it again :) But really, teaching is so good because it forces me to tackle myself head-on and get to the meat of the issue. There’s no better way to clearly define your own identity is than when you have to explain it to someone else.

Found on tumblr.com

Found on tumblr.com

In ways probably typical to an American teen, I struggled with self-worth. It didn’t take much to see that the world around me thought I wasn’t enough. Wasn’t trendy enough. Wasn’t pretty enough. Wasn’t thin enough. I thought my identity was mostly in the “was nots” of my existence. It was debilitating.

But Christ was working too… and those self-worth issues slowly gave way over the years to grace and a gentle nudging. It was a start… a start to the realization that the Bible was true when it talked about finding our identity from the Spirit within. These verses became a beautiful mystery in my heart, ones that I would ponder many times (and still do).

Mark 8: 34: 38 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

I love the journey that teaching about things like this takes me on… It’s with a full and thankful heart that I could honestly say tonight these words.

I think if you ask anyone who’s sold their life out for Christ and lost their identity in him, they’d tell you that they’ve never felt more alive and full and whole. Somehow, Mark 8 happens “whoever loses his for my sake and the gospel will save it.” I have never been more sure of who I am, where I belong (not this world) and what I believe than in this growing, crazy journey of dying and following. And that is far more assuring that a list of credentials and “identity” scams the world keeps trying to throw at me. 

Identity. Perhaps ambiguous. It’s personal and scary and something that can only come from deeply within. And I think perhaps one of the most liberating pieces of self to uncover.

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Becoming Miracles

This quote has been speaking volumes to me. I’ve had it stuck in my bible for a long time and flip to it periodically… It really hits home in those moments when I feel stretched to the very limits of my stamina and capabilities (which seems often lately) that this comes alive for me:

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks! Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle—you shall be the miracle.” – Phillips Brooks

Portrait of Haitian woman

Perhaps in my weakness, Christ can really be made stronger.

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PS – In light of just returning from Haiti, I’m finding this very interesting. It’s a really great site packed with info: http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/haiti/

 

A Full Heart

Village kids, Haiti

I’ve been traveling to Haiti since 2009. Words can’t contain the love I have for the children, my friends and ‘family’ in Les Cayes, and my work with Loving Shepherd Ministries. It is my joy and privilege to be a bridge between cultures – to tell the stories of radical redemption in the lives of extremely vulnerable children. I have seen both the depth of need and the depth of new life and sometimes just feel overwhelmed to be allowed such a powerful look into this big big world.

With Judel at the beach

 

I could go on about so many things from the trip in particular. But I’ll leave it to a few pictures that I’m holding out as my favorites. Precious, precious memories.

Welsch, Haiti

 

My buddy

With kids in Welsch, Haiti

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Haiti Streets

Tesse with Loving Shepherd Ministries

 

Philippians 4 is close to my heart with the fitting message: “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice!”

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Electricty, Heat & Simple Moments

The power’s been out since about 6:00 last night. But they finally got a generator working enough that we could get electricity in the bedroom. And you start praising God for willing handymen and working fans.

It’s really the simple things.

Areal view flying to Les Cayes, Haiti

Areal view flying to Les Cayes, Haiti

We sat out under these radiant stars for hours after dark – gazing at the sky because outdoors was far cooler than inside. And I think about how much we are made for those moments. I come alive in this – feel the most connected to God when stripped of my comforts and left to watch huge shooting stars in the tropics outdoors.

It’s really the simple, gloriously majestic things. When suddenly you don’t care about the sweat or the discomfort and are totally immersed in the beauty of the moment. 

Earlier, we giggled with some little boys and snapped silly pictures and talked about excitement for VBS… well, I rambled in English and threw in a few Creole phrases. I think the point got across. But in that broken communication, I again see that language isn’t always necessary. We say so much without it.

with Loving Shepherd Ministries, Mt. Zion Home of Hope family

with Loving Shepherd Ministries, Mt. Zion Home of Hope family

This work is simple – and yet so complex. It’s a smile. A silly expression. A big bear hug. A willingness to sweat alongside them and listen. To give and serve and combat generations of injustice and extreme poverty with a lot of learning and a lot of mistakes along the way. And somehow watch as God takes that willingness and runs with it.

God is alive and moving in Haiti.  And in this sea of inspiration, I find that simple is often far better.

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