Loving Deeply

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” -Lao Tzu 

 

Today my sweet boyfriend Taylor flew back to North Carolina after an amazing week in Haiti. Last Thursday he ventured to our little Caribbean island for his first experience of life in a country very different from his own. We spent the week fumbling through speaking Creole, secretly stealing kisses on the cheek, and laughing constantly. We ventured from the beach up to the mountain of Fort Jacque. We held malnourished babies and played with the very healthy children that I take care of. We ate Haitian food and squeezed onto one moto together. We loved those around us without borders or limits, and it was the sweetest week.

Taylor and I met when we were at the ripe age of 16. I was a sassy girl looking for trouble and he had a heart of gold. Our time together then was short lived. Little did I know he would become the one six years later to make my heart beat a little faster. We spent our years during college a part at different schools but we always kept in touch. When we graduated from college our paths found their way back to each other in the simplest and most beautiful way.

Taylor has always had a way of loving me through my brokenness. I have a history of believing the lies of the enemy, that I’m not good enough but too much at the same time. Taylor has always crushed those lies instantly. I never thought that I was deserving of someone to love me in such a relentless way. However, in an earthly picture of my Father’s love for me, Taylor loves me without question.

What drew me to Haiti for the first time was the simple yet rich life I experienced here. In the same way, I was drawn to Taylor by the depth of his heart and intelligence as well as the simple way he lived and loved. As I decided that moving to Haiti would no longer be a dream, but instead a reality my boyfriend was not thrilled. I’m not sure who would be thrilled to have their girlfriend move away for a year. As the days slipped away and my suitcases became packed, ready to go, fear settled deep in my chest. I assumed Taylor would say that I should stay home but instead he said, “this is your dream. You are strong and you CAN do this.” The first night I called him crying I was expecting an, “I told you so,” but instead I was met with comforting words and encouragement.

Being loved and loving someone in return gives us strength and courage. Love takes strength and it also takes courage. Courage to risk pain or to experience immense joy. Strength to be patient, kind, and vulnerable. Knowing love from the Father and through relationships we are enabled to bloom like the flowers we were destined to be, and through this we know that God is love.

God changes hearts. All of those years ago when I thought Taylor wasn’t the one for me Jesus was preparing my heart to love and be loved by someone who is so good for me it’s almost too good to be true. When fear settles in my heart and cripples me from living fearlessly, God is quickly on his way to change my heart. In the same way, this past week I have seen how God changed Taylor’s heart from being unsure of Haiti to embracing the people and place that I love with open arms.

 

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These boys were inseparable ALL week!!!

 

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We both got onto one moto to ride 45 minutes up the mountain for this view. Needless to say, at first Taylor was not happy with me.

 

Father, thank you for your love. Thank you for allowing us to experience earthly love in an imperfect way that always points us back to you. Thank you for the way you work all things together for our good, even when we don’t know it yet. Thank you for how you change our hearts and give us the life you’ve always wanted for us. Thank you for giving us people to come along side us in our mess, and hurt, and adventures, and joy who inspire us and make us better. Lord thank you for the joys of life and the sorrows, because in those sorrows we savor the joy. You are too good to me God and I love you. Amen. 

 

Princess of the Promiser

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” -Hebrews 10:23

He who promised is faithful. God who promises is so faithful. What does it mean for God to be faithful? So many times in my life my idea of God’s faithfulness is the ease of my life. God’s faithfulness to me sounds like happiness, and comfort, and simplicity. God’s faithfulness doesn’t really feel like being alone, and being immersed in darkness, and hurt. God’s faithfulness doesn’t sound like serving, and serving, and serving some more. God is faithful to me when I am full, and when I am loved, and when I am held. However, I have found that none of this is true. When I am tired and when I am weary Jesus meets me and he is faithful. When I pour out love and receive none Jesus is faithful to love me in return.

What has God promised to me? What has God promised to us, the ones who love him and want to serve Him? He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He has promised that he delights in us. He has promised that he is with us when we pass through deep waters. 

When I live a simple, easy life I act as if I do not need God. This is so harsh for me to verbalize, but it is so true. When I am living for myself, in my comfort, with the ones I love I don’t need my Heavenly Father to carry me. Although I have seen that when I am at my weakest this is when I am the closest to the Lord because I am 100% dependent on his strength and love. Just like He has promised, He comes to my rescue.

Recently one of the kids from the mission wrote about herself that she was “the daughter of the King.” This made me cry because she had recently come to me with questions about her faith. She told me that she is struggling with understanding all of the rules involving religion. I’ve been trying (probably insufficiently) to explain to her that God doesn’t want our rule following. I think he actually loves rule breakers (see Paul, Rahab, and Moses to only name a few). The Bible beautifully depicts how God actually used people who broke the rules and didn’t measure up to be a part of the lineage of our Savior. To me there is nothing more beautiful. God using broken, messy, imperfect, chronic rule breakers to do Kingdom work.

Just like these Biblical rule breakers, I’m probably the last person who should be responsible for loving people and children in a third world country. I’m selfish, I’m tired, and my reserve of love often runs dry. However, as soon as I start to feel parched I feel the spring of living water well up inside of me. I feel the water of life flowing through my veins enabling me to give this water of life to others. God’s promise has been fulfilled once again.

Thinking of “daughter of the King” created spinning wheels in my mind about who else I am. I am the, “daughter of the King.” I am the, “delight of the highest donor.” I am the, “beloved of the Bestower.” I am the, “friend of the Father.” I am the, “princess of the promiser.”

God promises to be faithful. He promises to come through. He promises that if we will just be still he will meet us where we are and as the ultimate Promiser he will provide for his princesses and princes.

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I love this photo because it looks like Heaven is coming to touch me. I also just love nature because it SCREAMS of God’s beauty and goodness. 

 

For Such a Time as This

Today I have lived in Haiti for one month. One month doesn’t seem that long, unless of course you’ve moved away from everything that has made you feel secure for the last 24 years of your life.
As I reflect on a month away from my home, the job I loved, my family, and my boyfriend I feel empty places but I also feel so full and so held. I’ve never experienced Jesus sustaining me and filling me up like I have in this month.
I’ve recently been studying Jesus’ heart for injustice and the idea that comfort is an idol. God did not call me to sit at home and be comfortable. He called me to go to the places where I don’t know the language or the culture and love others well. Sometimes when I’m feeling like I’m not changing the world (like I had hoped) I start to feel frustrated and wonder why I’m in Haiti anyway. I wonder “couldn’t I do this same job at home?”. Then I’m reminded that the school I’m working at has never had a special education teacher before. The country where I’m currently living does not view people with disabilities very highly, and God gave me such a big heart for people who have special needs and need someone to be their voice. So I guess no I couldn’t do this same job at home. God called me to Haiti for a specific purpose to really see these kids and to love them well.
When we follow Jesus and take on the servant’s heart he called us to rather than the self righteous heart the world calls us to we will venture into places that seem like they aren’t good for us. We’ll be asked to do things that are hard and that hurt, but oh the joy that comes from being in the center of God’s will for you. Oh the joy of a “Miss Kelsey can I help you” and an “I love you” with a kiss on the cheek. Oh the joy of children who once were illiterate entering into high school for the first time. Oh the joy of saying yes to the exceedingly and abundantly bigger work of Jesus Christ.

Some days my time in Haiti feels like an eternity and other days it feels like the speed of butterfly wings. Whatever it may be I will feel it and embrace it and continue to lean into what Jesus has called me to because this is so good and I don’t want to miss a thing.
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther 4:14 NIV

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Love these silly girls! We’re having some fun before we start back to school!!

Beautiful Women

“We all move forward when

we recognize how resilient

 and striking the women

around us are.”

-Rupi Kaur

 

Within the past week I’ve been dealing with some girl drama. I live with 4 girls age 12- 15. I’ve now got 4 new baby sisters to lead into womanhood. Honestly I do not miss that age at all. Teen years can be full of so much hurt and insecurity. But as I think back on those days and ALL of the mistakes I made I know that God used that pain and time of life to help me grow into the woman I am today.

 

Being a woman is so beautiful. I know many women only experience hurt from other women, but I think God designed our female hearts to be able to breathe into other female hearts in such a special way. Females offer life to the world. We offer love and emotion.

 

Walking the girls through their disagreements reminded me of the struggles I had with friendships when I was younger. I’m thankful now that I journeyed through those times so that I can now walk my new little sisters through this stage of life. I want them to know they are strong and powerful, and it’s okay if another woman is strong and powerful as well. God uses all of us together to achieve his purposes. Instead of arguing we should be lifting each other up and celebrating each other.

 

Today I celebrate being a woman and loving all of the women in my life especially my new little sisters!

 

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Equipping

As I’ve transitioned to living in Haiti it hasn’t been easy. A few days after I unpacked my bags and settled into a new home I found out my grandmother who I’m very close to has a cancerous tumor. A few days later some of the staff had to go get our children that were stuck in traffic for three hours due to roadblocks around us and violent protesting. Last night I went to bed with no shower and not much battery left on my phone to let me loved ones know I was okay. Although none of these things are ideal God has sustained me and brought so much peace into my heart.

From the beginning of this journey I have felt unprepared and unqualified. I am learning every day that I don’t have to have a 10 point lesson plan and Pinterest crafts ready. All I need is a heart willing to love and to be used by God.

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Hebrews 13:20-21

What I’ve come to know so far is that I don’t have it all figured out and I’m not equipped for this, but every day Jesus is equipping me with His love. All that He asks of me each day is that I reside in Him and to let Him use me.

As someone who has always liked to have a firm grip on my life and the things I feel are in my control, it has honestly been so refreshing to let myself breathe and give God the driver’s sear for a change.

I also have learned so much from the children at the mission. No matter what is going on around them they are so full of joy and life. I’m so thankful God has allowed me to spend my days with them during this season of life. In the 10 days I have lived here they have already changed my thoughts and attitude on how I embrace life.

June 29, 2018

Not knowing what to expect is one of the hardest things for me to embrace. As someone who was born wanting to be in control (every woman in my family is this way- I couldn’t help it!) embarking in a stage of life where I have no control is actually terrifying for me.

The first time I went to Haiti I fell in love. I was so close to my Father and I felt my heart come alive. I told God I wanted to be challenged. I wanted to depend on Him solely. I told Him I wanted to be brave.

It’s so funny how time changes things and feelings. As the months ticked away for me to move to Haiti, where I had once felt joy and excitement I began to feel the attacks of the enemy set in which revolved around fear and doubt. Fear of not being enough. Fear of not being loved. Doubt that I didn’t have the courage to do this. As I fly away from North Carolina which holds all the people I love so dearly I continue to have doubt, but I know Jesus wants to meet me there. He wants to join forces with me to crush the enemy, and he wants to destroy the lies I’ve been believing. Even if I’m not enough Jesus is. Even if I’m not loved Jesus loves me. Even if I don’t have the courage Jesus does.

Today I am leaving for an adventure. I’m filled with every emotion under the sun. I’m so thankful God is using me and writing this journey into my story, and although my flesh fells and I fall to fear at times I am choosing to close my eyes and keep moving forward because I know God is walking right beside me and he is pleased with my small effort to be His hands and feet.

“I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I’m praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.” – Mother Teresa

God’s Plan

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

When I was in middle school I wanted to be a marine biologist and work at Sea World. I think I chose this profession after watching Aquamarine, and really just wanted to be a mermaid too. When I was 16 Jesus put a desire in my heart for people with disabilities. It’s so amazing how things that were never on our radars are His plan for our lives. I never, ever wanted to be a teacher. My mom is a teacher and I always like to go against the grain, but wouldn’t you know that I am a special education teacher today. Needless to say I had my future figured out very incorrectly. Now Jesus uses me every single day to love on students with disabilities. He uses me to see their potential and push them to reach new goals. He uses me to see a person, and not a label. Like God always does He took my life from what I thought I wanted to something so much more amazing and so much more deeper and with more purpose.

Once again God has placed a desire in my heart that when I was younger I would have never dreamed up for myself. I haven’t moved to Haiti yet, but I know that God is going to move in mighty ways.

None of this is about me. It’s all about God. It’s all about how He uses someone like me who messes up daily. Someone who is busy and not present to move to Haiti and love children in the name of Jesus Christ. It’s all about how He’s taking my life of living in my hometown with my wonderful job and my nice car and my great friends and family to go live out of my comfort zone and cling to Him more tightly than I ever have before. It’s about how He carries out extraordinary stories of love and faith and thankfully asks us to come alongside Him.

I pray that you will follow me in this journey and I pray even more that you would say yes to Jesus and His call for your life. I promise it’s always worth it.