Standing On Level Ground

Last night I had the honor of leading a night of worship for a local ministry’s people and their friends and family up here in the Kenscoff mountains of Haiti. We had an awesome potluck (I love potlucks!!!) beforehand and then sat outside with the tiered garden covered mountains as a backdrop, singing our guts out to Jesus. We worshipped because of the Lord’s faithfulness, His unending love for us, His protective and gentle compassion that always beckons us back to sit at His feet.

As 40+ people worked off their hot dogs, hamburgers and awesome summer salads by exalting the only God who is worthy of every bit of our honor and praise; as we sat and stood and sang songs about the Lion of Judah and the Lamb who was slain for us — I couldn’t help but look at all of those people and their families and be completely in awe of every one of them. They’ve all given their lives to furthering the Good News of Christ. They’ve accepted the wild adventure that God has offered them of moving to a foreign country, learning a new culture and language, facing challenges that they never even had a category for before they said yes to the call. I was just so humbled and thankful to be in their company last night. It felt like home; the best kind of place to rest. I loved standing next to them.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I know we get tired and burnt out. I know that ministry can be exceptionally tough and that it seems the streak of drama that you had no idea could run so deep never seems to dissipate enough. Sometimes it seems like that’s all the more true with regard to the mission field. So I think that times where we come together for the primary purpose of worshiping the Lord is vital to our soul’s health and long-term mission sustainment. God’s people worshiping, led by the Spirit, breaks through all of the fog and mire. It always has been and always will be, the level ground for the people of God.

Here’s to the People of God; saints made so by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. Here’s to level ground; the People of God worshiping Jesus – the only One who is worthy.

My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD. Psalm 26:12

Who Can Stop the Lord Almighty?

IMG_1817If you’ve hung out with me over the past couple years or we’ve worshipped alongside each other, you’ve heard me singing, Bethel Music and Leeland’s song, Lion and the Lamb.

I’ve found myself singing the simple bridge to this all morning Who can stop the Lord Almighty? The lyrics were adapted from the passage of scripture in Isaiah 14 where God shows compassion to his servant Jacob by reassuring him that the people of Israel are His chosen people and that He plans to clear their nation and lands of long-standing enemies, slavery ,tyranny and abuse. God finishes off this guarantee by posing the question, For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back? Isaiah 14:27

I think it’s a fitting anthem and question that always illicits the same reponse as our family celebrates our 1 year Haitiversary this week. There is no thing and no one who can stop the Lord Almighty’s plan of action for His people. This past year has been evidence of that day after day. One year ago, we got rid of most of what we owned, left our wonderful friends and church family behind in California — to follow the Lord’s call to serve as missionaries at God’s Littlest Angels (GLA) in Haiti. God helped us to keep our eyes fixed on what He promised us would be the adventure of a lifetime for our family and there’s not been one day where He’s ever disappointed us. Everyday, we continue to see His beauty and protection over our lives and work here.

The ways and timing with which the Lord has continued to shower His favor and blessings over our family has left Ingrid, Owen, Ella and I so very humbled to serve in this place; at this time. We’ve forged such strong bonds with all of the GLA children and the nannies that help us care for them and we love that God has continued to give us ample opportunities to bless each of them according to their needs.

When we need encouragement, someone sends us the perfect words. When we need donations to support the children and Haitian staff at the Toddler House, they always show up in a suitcase at the perfect time. When we need rest, our little fellowship of amazing friends here, who love Jesus more than they love us, have made sure to help us relax and take a break. We know all of those blessings come from the Lord Almighty. His purpose, and provision can not be stopped even when the enemy rages against us with petty adversity, cheap accusation, division and discension.

Today more than any time in my life, I am renewed with certainty and joyful beyond sentiment that the promises of God, through the work of Jesus are the only thing worth standing on. They never give way because He is the Lord Almighty. That is a certainty that we love sharing with one another and a Good News that we love spreading!

Dance Moves at Just the Right Time

Our family recently celebrated Valentine’s Day with the GLA Toddler House kids. Ingrid had worked hard to make fun Valentines from the both of us to all of the kids as well as for every nannie, cook and teacher that works alongside us each day. Everyone was so excited to receive that little gift and a sweet treat but surprisingly, it wasn’t the highlight of the day.

We’d recently watched the movie, Trolls with all of the kids and they have been jammin’ to that soundtrack for over a week. Every time we play the main track, Can’t Stop the Feeling, by Justin Timberlake, the kids start pulling out the dance moves. I love watching it…and yes…I almost immediately start dancing too. Check out some of our sweet dance moves from that fun day here!

Lately, the music always seems to come at just the right time. When we’re frustrated, annoyed or disappointed, those beats start coming through our little portable speaker and the fun seems to make the downers of the day lose their grip.

All of that has pulled me back to the scripture verse, Romans 5:6 which says, You see, at just the right time when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

First of all, if that’s not a reason to dance, I don’t know what is. But what I love the most is the implication given in the verse.

God timed his rescue of my heart perfectly. Had anyone else tried to carry out a plan of restoration and redemption for me, it would have failed miserably. But God knew exactly the right way and He used the perfect sacrifice, His Son, on my behalf; and He set it all in motion and carried out His battle against my sin, death and the devil at just the right time.

That reminder for me takes all of the pressure off. It reminds me again today that there is no amount of my own performance or posing that could fix my or anyone else’s brokenness. The Lord’s grace and love makes me want to dance – plain and simple! I’m reminded that first and foremost, I am called to love the Lord and to bring His love into every circumstance with every person. Whether people receive that or when they receive it, isn’t up to me – and that’s a dance-worthy thing too! Because I know that the Lord is working and that at just the right time, He’ll do what He needs to do to be recognized for who He is by every single person. And I hope that when they see them for who He really is, that they can’t help but break out some of those funky dance moves.

the new, the strange, the funny

I know that we’ve been here 5 months and that maybe I should be used to it by now but, I am daily astounded at how different each day here is; the challenges, the work, the emotions, the weather! Every day is a completely out-of-left-field mashup of different circumstances that collide to make a day full of the new, the strange, the funny. Just this morning I rolled out of bed and my foot made direct crunchy-squishy impact with formidable cockroach on the floor. I had cockroach guts on the bottom of my foot and it actually splattered onto my other foot…it was really juicy. The comedy that ensued of the kids running around to grab paper towels for me with Ingrid laughingly yelling at them to hurry up and deliver them to me was like something out of a Everybody Loves Raymond episode.

I’ve found that I really love the new, the strange and the funny  parts of living in Haiti with Ingrid and the kids. And I could fill chapters with those kinds of stories already. In all of this, I think God is reminding us to focus on loving one another day by day, one episode at a time; to delight in the beautiful, abnormal and silly moments He gives us, even if they’re only for a few seconds.

And because it’s a daily occurrence that the Lord loves to show us something unimaginably new about Him, His creation and His heart for us, I suppose I also ought to quit being surprised that every one of those joys are opposed by the enemy. Case and point, every time I attempt to plan well for the day in front of me, I’m reminded of the old Marine Corps adage that “no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy”.  It’s so easy to roll into each day and make the agreement that, “It’s all up to me and today I’ve got to check off some things on my to-do list.”

I’m thankful that Jesus lovingly but firmly reminds me daily that it’s not all up to me; that He is greater than the challenge and the change of plans; that He is stronger than the opposition — and most of all ,that He wants deeply for me to see His Work, His Life, His Triumph amidst all of the new, the strange and yes…in the absolutely funny.