Monday, March 30, 2015

Jacmel

I have always wanted to live by the sea. I never thought the answer to that prayer might be that I could see the water, but not go near it. I currently reside outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti and every time I hang the laundry out I see the glorious blue water of the Caribbean Sea stretching out before me. Well, technically it’s the bay of the Caribbean Sea, but same difference. The point is, the sea is basically right outside my door, but I can’t go to it. I guess this glorious view makes the situation a little better.

However, last week I had a treat. We had a team in helping out with a vbs and at the end of the week they got a day off. I have to admit I was a little disappointed to hear they chose going to the mountains over the beach. I love mountains, but I’d already been in January, so I was hoping they would choose the beach. The night before I found out we were going to different mountains than I’d been before so that I could see another part of the island. I got a little more excited. Then Mary Jane told everyone to bring clothes to swim in because there’d most likely be a beach for swimming once we reached Jacmel, our destination city. What?! Mountains and the beach in one day? “I am one lucky girl.” I thought.

Bright and early, and possibly half asleep, we prepared for our day trip. I threw together a bag of towels, sunglasses, money, camera and ya know, all that tourist stuff I might need. Being an indecisive person I threw in an extra pair of clothes, just in case. Then the driver didn’t show up. So we called him. He thought we had a different driver lined up, but being a good sport he came for us on last minute. We finally got out the door around ten, two hours past planned time. No sooner had we pulled onto the highway did we get met with a traffic jam. Now those nasty things are way too common here, and so I’ve grown used to traffic jams nearly every time I go anywhere here, but this was a might-as-well-turn-off-the-engine-and-walk traffic jam. Oh, did I mention the driver also misunderstood how many people we had, so we were all quite cozy with each other, kind of like a can of sardines. Eventually the traffic got moving and we were off.

We began to climb higher. The winding road up was better than any roller coaster ride. The view got incredible. What I had seen before was hills compared to this. This was mountains. And it was unlike any other mountains I’d ever seen before. (I’m used to snowcapped mountains in the Rockies) Some were bare and brown, but still gorgeous, and some were lush and green, filled with terrace gardens. Pretty soon we were in the clouds. And the view. Pictures will never do it justice.





After breathing in the cool, mountain air we hit sea. Ocean, really. Our destination was a hotel placed in a cove-looking area, surrounded by tropical flowers, palm trees, lush green grass, and hammocks. Tropical paradise, anyone? We placed our food orders - I got fish - and hit the water. We had a baptism service where four members of the team got baptized. It was a special time welcoming them into the Body of Christ.

We went swimming in the lovely torqoise water for about an hour. Oh, and my extra change of clothes? While a bunch of us were swimming I noticed the Haitain girl with us wasn't in the water. I went to invite her in, and our driver said "Oh, she said she doesn't want to." Mary Jane said "She didn't bring clothes." I said "Oh, but I have some for her!" and then turned to her, and begged her to join, which she did, and emensly enjoyed, I might add.







Lunch was delicious, minus the millions of bones in my fish. Gosh those things have lots of bones, but it was good none the less. I might add that I ate an eye too, just because I could.


Some people had set up tables of souvenirs along one of the beach areas, so we all headed down there to get some deals. It was fun, and brought back memories of bartering in Tanzania.

Shortly after this we headed back towards home, with no major events on the road. I still long to live by the sea, AND be able to go to it often, but I am thankful for the day in Jacmel. The mountains really do claim the majesty of God and that place where water meets sky...it has always left me in awe of the gloriousness of God. Our God is an awesome God, the best of all artists.



Friday, March 13, 2015

in my weakness i am made strong


"I've had a long day, I just wanna relax
Don't have time for my friends, no time to chit chat
Problems at my job, wonderin' what to do
I know I should be working but I'm thinking of you and
Just when I feel this crazy world is gonna bring me down
That's when your smile comes around"
(Jamie Grace)

I used to hate those songs. You know, the ones where you could hardly tell if it was a love song to your significant other or God. I didn’t like putting God on the level of human relationships. I’d be driving with K-love on and this comes on “I love the way you hold me…” Sure, God loved me, but to me God was a sovereign ruler, not someone I’d sing love songs to. I would say to myself as I changed the station, “God is more than your boyfriend or girlfriend! He deserves more! He doesn’t deserve to have the same kind of words as them. He’s the King of the universe!” Then God got a hold me, broke me, and I fell in love.

It was slowly and by surprise. My life took a twist when I moved to Tanzania, and back again. My heart broke into a million pieces and scattered about falling on each person I met there. It broke so much I wasn’t sure I had any left with me. I had always had a good immune system, and rarely got sick, but then I got sick, really sick. At first it was the flu, I thought, and then it got worse. I couldn’t walk from the living room to kitchen without getting exhausted. Sleepless nights were spent in tears and prayers until I was too tired to do even that. How did God get a hold of me with this, you may wonder? Some people might retract from God when trials come, but this past year has proved to be opposite for me.

The worst times came when I was alone, unable to reach out to other people for help. I was on vacation when I had my worst episode. Far from home or family and stuck in an unfamiliar city (country girl here) in a hotel room, I was sicker than I’d ever been. Perfect timing…to trust in God. My Father was showing me that I cannot try to control my life. He holds it in His hands, He is the author, and I am the character. It was in times like this one that I cried out to God most, having to rely solely on Him. And every. single. time. He came through. Holding my hand He would say “My daughter, I am here. Come to me. Trust me.”

As the year wore on, I found myself in prayer much more than times past. I would simply talk to God like a friend, at any time of the day or night. “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” An awareness of the Kingdom of God around me in each moment grew inside me despite the brokenness of my physical body. He was, and is, in every moment. He was there in my rejoicing as I watched a life come into this world, and He was there in my weeping over a dear friend lost in this world. He is there in the washing of dishes and folding of laundry. He is there in my dreams and in long talks with friends. He is there in the planting and harvesting of the gardens. He is constant, immortal. A knowledge grew that God is not just God, but He is Baba, Father, Rock, Strong Tower, Marvelous, King, Love, Grace, Peace, Beloved. He is in three – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Had this illness never come upon me, I would not know Jesus as I do now. I would not have the understanding I do now. I would not have the knowledge of how big God’s love is or how much I need Him. As my body and heart broke, my soul strengthened – in Christ. My constant prayer is for God to continue to break me and mold me into the being He desires me to be. And so I thank the Lord for being sick and needy. I thank the Lord for being broken. For it has been in my weakness that I have been made strong.

“Walk by faith, not by sight. As you take steps of faith, depending on Me, I will show you how much I can do for you. If you live your life too safely, you will never know the thrill of seeing Me work through you. When I gave you my Spirit, I empowered you to live beyond your natural strength. That’s why it is so wrong to measure your energy level against the challenges ahead of you. The issue is not your strength but Mine, which is limitless. By walking close to Me, you can accomplish My purposes in My strength.”
(From ‘Jesus Calling’ by Sarah Young – written as if Jesus were speaking)

So you see, I fell in love last summer. I fell in love with the One who is like the shining sun above me. I now smile when these songs come on because God is my love. He is love in itself. He is everything I need, He is my Beloved.

“I am yours and you are mine. I am ravished by his sight, of one glimpse into your eyes. My lovers coming for his bride, but there is none upon the earth that I desire before you Lord. For you’ve been faithful all my days, your love endures it will never fade away. I need to say what my soul is singing. I need to say what my heart is screaming….that I love you, my Dear, my Dear…” (Bethel Music - My Dear)

(Linking up with The Grove this week.)