It's been a long time since I've posted something on this blog, and for all I know, it could be three years before i post again. My life has certainly not been boring these last years, but if you REALLY want to know, you can ask me!
I'm just going to start from now - me sitting in my Digital Image Design course working on a digital storytelling project, which is my newly named passion. I was so excited when I heard about this concept because it articulated what I knew I loved but couldn't exactly explain. So what is Digital Storytelling? It's a method of sharing stories through still or moving images, words, narration, music.... There is something wonderful about having a label for what I find myself drawn to - it satisfies the need to categorize and make it fit somewhere. Where is this going to take me? I'm not exactly sure, but I'm trusting the One who does. To start, here's a little bit of my story.
Some mark the passage of time in years, beginning in January and ending in December. I however, seem to be more inclined to mark it by significant events or dates in my life. It may seem that all I ever write about is Haiti, and the dates associated with it, but I promise that those are not the only things of importance that happen to me! However, even as I say that, that is exactly what this blog is about...but it's not so much about the date as it is about the amazing awesomeness of God!
At this time last year, I was going through one of the most difficult times of my life as I was faced with the reality of my departure from Haiti after having lived there for two years. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was God's will and plan for me to leave Haiti, and I had an inexplicable peace about it. But that didn't make it easy. Looking back on my journal entries, I found an excerpt that articulates what I was going through very well:
"I am learning something about peace. Peace does not mean that there will not be pain, or that things will be easy. Rather there is peace in knowing that, not matter the circumstance, I can run to the arms of my Saviour and find shelter in the One who loves me and cares for my heart more an anyone could.... Peace comes in knowing that no matter what changes life brings, God is my Constant. God did not promise ease - He promised to be there when it's hard (and good), and that it will be worth it all."
Reflecting on this past year, I can say with absolute confidence that God has been very near and at work. I got to be present for various significant milestones in the lives of my family members, and I was privileged to spend nine incredible, sacred weeks at Ellerslie Leadership Training in Windsor, Colorado last fall. It was a time of great growth in my relationship with Jesus; I learned more fully what it means when God calls us to live a life of obedience to Him. It is absolutely amazing to think that the One who created the entire universe would wish to call me His child and bring me into fellowship with Him. There is nothing that I possess that He could possibly need, yet He chooses to work in and through me, imperfect though I am! Words fail to describe the wonder of God :-)
Since then, I have had the privilege of working with young moms and their babies at Ramoth House in my hometown, encouraging and supporting them, by God's grace, as they begin the great task of mothering. I've also had the pleasure of learning all kinds of fun little details about the business of fish bait; I had no idea the worms were such complex creatures! It may not be a glamorous side-job, but it has definitely been part of the way God has provided! I know that this is all part of the reason that God brought me back home to Ontario. There are things He wants me to learn and understand that, for whatever reason, I could not in Haiti. It's simply that He leads us all in different ways; I may never fully understand the reasons for the ways God has directed my life and will direct it in the future. But that's why I must live by faith. If there's one thing that I have learned, it is that God's ways are perfect. They are not easy, but they are the best, and there is no place I'd rather be than in the centre of His will. For now, that place is right here with my family, my friends, my church, my co-workers, my community.... I am far from forgetting my beloved Haiti, and am learning to pray for her people from afar, to root for and dream for the little nation that I know God is at work in and has great plans for. One day God may lead me back to work in Haiti, but today He has called me here, and asks me to be faithful in each task.
"Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or even Thou hadst formed the earth and the the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God."
It's been five years since I first met and fell in love with a little island tucked away in the West Indies. Just over five years since I stepped off the plane on the dark February evening and felt the island heat blast against my face. Just over five years since I first rode up the winding mountain road that led to the place that has become my second home. These five years have been filled with joys and sorrows, challenges and triumphs, heartbreaking goodbyes and joyful reunions. Much has happened in those years, and I am continually reminded of how privileged I am to have had so incredible an opportunity. God has been so very faithful, and will remain faithful. That's just one thing I have learned in the past five years!
Ayiti, Cheri, mwen sanje ou chak jou!
"All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live. I surrender all, I surrender all. All to Thee, my blessed Saviour, I surrender all."
"...unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think..." Ephesians 3:20
Sometimes God speaks through the beauty of His creation, like when you wake up in the middle of the night to watch the meteor shower, and see multiple 'stars' shoot through the sky and think of how huge the galaxy is. And how amazing it is that the constellations are so far away from Earth that the same formations can be seen in Canada as are seen in Haiti?
Sometimes God speaks through children and babies - when they do or say something that once again reminds you how precious and amazing the very fact of life is. Or when a tiny, tiny baby lays all swaddled up and even if not full term, he or she has all his fingers and toes and a perfect little nose.
Sometimes God speaks directly to our hearts. Sometimes it comes as a surprise, and other times because we've been intentional about spending time with Him. And other times He speaks through the Bible and the written word. That's what happened to me this morning. I was thinking to myself that today marks two weeks left in Haiti, and was boggled at the realization. As my friend and coworker opened our devotional book to spend our daily time with God, the date jumped out at me again. August 14th. But soon it wasn't so much the date that stood out to me as it was the content of the devotion. As i read it out loud after having heard it once, it really spoke to me. This is what it said:
"I am yours for all eternity.I am the Alpha and the Omega: the One who is and was and is to come.The world you inhabit is a place of constant changes--more than your mind can absorb without going into shock. Even the body you inhabit is changing relentlessly, in spite of modern science's attempts to prolong youth and life indefinitely. I, however, am the same yesterday and today and forever. Because I never change, your relationship with Me provides a rock-solid foundation for your life. I will never leave your side. When you move on from this life to the next, My Presence beside you will shine brighter with each step. You have nothing to fear, because I am with you for all time and throughout eternity." Revelation 1:8; Hebrews 13:8; Psalm 102:25-27; Psalm 48:14 (bolding mine) From 'Jesus Calling' by Sarah Young Source: http://sarahyoungdevotions.blogspot.com/2012/08/august-14.html It was exactly what I needed today. It amazes me when stuff like this happens. The author had no idea that on this particular day, i would need to read those words, and she certainly didn't write them specifically for me - but it sure felt like it! God knew exactly what I needed to hear, and He used the work of this author. "You have nothing to fear, because I am with you for all time and throughout eternity...." "And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Matthew 28:20
Some days I am amazed at how incredibly blessed I am to be a part of this organization and to be a part of these kids lives. To know that when I enter the nursery, the kids will grin at me, yell for my attention, or latch onto my leg (as annoying as that may be) is pretty cool. And to have a pretty sure confidence that when I open that bright blue gate and enter the yard at the Toddler House, someone is probably going to start chanting my name and want me to hang out with them is a good self-esteem booster to say the least! :-) Today several verses from Psalms stood out in my mind; i'm sure they were placed there as a reminder from God. The verses are from Psalm 37, and this is what they say:
"Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.......
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand."
verses 4-5 & 23-24
TRUST in the Lord, FEED on His faithfulness. Wow. I forget that too often. I forget to trust, or I think that I have things under control, or doubt that God would have things in order already. In good times and bad, I need to remember to draw close to God and revel in His faithfulness - be amazed at it and reminded of it and ever conscious of it. God is faithful in the little things in life, and He can certainly handle the big things! And then - DELGHT yourself in the Lord. Think about it. "Delight yourself in the Lord - and He will give you the desires of your heart." I think this can easily be misinterpreted. We could think that if we learn to delight in and love the Lord, we will automatically get all those things we want. However, what I understand it to really mean is that as I delight myself in the Lord, the desires of my heart should start to look less like my own ambitions or wants, and more like those of God. God's ways are perfect. I have hopes and dreams for my life, and some of them may certainly be from God Himself, but I know that God's ways are so much higher than mine. I need to trust Him lead me - not try to jump ahead and work things out on my own. He has shown me over and over in the past that His plans far outweigh what I thought was possible or even what I'd hoped for. He wants me to COMMIT my way to Him, TRUST Him to be faithful, and ALLOW Him to bring it to pass in His perfect time and way. He had plans for my life (and every person's life) before I breathed my first breath, and He has set them before me, whether I can see them yet or not. God takes great pleasure in seeing His version of our life stories come to pass - He DELIGHTS in it. When I fall, am discouraged, or am hurt, the Lord holds me up with His hand. He is there through the joys, He holds my hand or carries me through the trials. He does not do this because I deserve it. He does it because even though He knows every one of my faults and weaknesses, He somehow still views me as precious and looks on me with this incredible love and acceptance that I could never hope to earn. How amazing is that??
Hungry ~ Kathryn Scott
Hungry, I come to you / For I know You satisfy / I am empty, but I knowYour love does not run dry / So I wait for you / So I wait for You / I’m falling on my knees / Offering all of me / Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for.
Broken, I run to You / For Your arms are open wide
I am weary, but I know / Your touch restores my life / So I wait for you / So I wait for You / I’m falling on my knees / Offering all of me / Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for.
Whoever (and by 'whoever' I mean Alfred Lord Tennyson) said 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all' probably was right. But sometimes, when the 'losing' part of 'loved and lost' stands before you, it feels like it might have been easier to never have loved in the first place. Not better, mind you. Just easier. Then there's Kahlil Gibran who says 'Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.' Truer words were never spoken, I don't think!
I feel like as the time for my departure draws closer, (and i really try to avoid thinking about it too much, but it's getting a little hard to keep doing that) I have to keep reminding myself that this is what God is calling me to for now. One song that God keeps bringing me back to and speaking to my heart by it is called 'You Revive Me' by Christy Nockels. These are the lyrics:
You Revive Me ~ Christy Nockels
Chorus: You revive me / You revive me Lord / And all my deserts are rivers of joy / You are the treasure I could not afford / So I'll spend myself till I'm empty and poor / All for You / You revive me Lord / Verse 1: Lord I have seen Your goodness / And I know the way You are / Give me eyes to see You in the dark / And Your face shines a glory / That i only know in part / And there is still a longing / A longing in my heart / Chorus / Verse 2: / My soul is thirsty / Only You can satisfy / You are the well that never will run dry / And i'll praise You for the blessing / For calling me Your friend / And in Your name I'm lifting / I'm lifting up my hands / Bridge:I / 'm aliveI'm alive / You breathe on me / You revive me. (source: http://www.newreleasetuesday.com/lyricsdetail.php?lyrics_id=74148)