A girl with God and a lot of yeses in the middle

Friday, December 20, 2013

In the last month I have been struck by the joys and rest that comes with winter and how beautiful full seasons are.  I have thought & pondered much on how the seasons of nature true, full, and beautiful seasons are much like the seasons we live as people.  Winter is beautiful, restful, , it solicits covering in the form of warm coats, scarves, fuzzy blankets, and fur lined slippers.  Snow covered hills & fields are beautiful when untouched.  The snow covers the once tall overgrown fields beneath in a blanket of pure white concealing the death that lies below. 

I drive to work each day at the opposite times of most people; I drive to work at 4 in the afternoon and home from work at around 6:30am.  Driving home as the sun rises has been an unexpected joy each morning especially after a light snow fall.  Driving home the sun rises and the light snow across the hills of Kansas communicates a rest and a peace I’ve not ever seen.  The brightness that reflects off of the snow covered hills is almost blinding, but so hard to stop looking at. In these drives I sense God revealing so much about how winter is beautiful, how it is to be embraced, and how the winters of my own soul are not actually times of death but times of preparation for the life that would follow in the coming spring.  I've always loved snow, but seeing snow so often is quite nice.  Snow covered roof tops & snow cover fields that are unoccupied and sleeping until the coming season when the corn fields are planted & fertilized yet again are gorgeous here in central Kansas.  Underneath those snow covered fields is ground; resting, recovering, and waiting for the next season of fruit.  

My favorite thing about winter is the silence and invitation to solitude.  The sense of peace.  The overwhelming sense of rest once you move past the Christmas/Holiday shopping craze that American consumerism has created (of which I’m partly to blame I work in retail).  If you really listen to winter she’s saying, “quiet down, drink a cup of tea, be healed.  My snow covered fields are simply a reflection of the covering, the healing, and the quiet that come from my King.”  I spent two years on an island and my team and I often joked about the eternal summer we were living.  There was no winter, no spring, no fall, just summer and honestly I got burned there; physically, emotionally, and about everything elsingly.  It was not just two years of heat it was two years of fire.  The fire drove out the dross, I am more refined.  But now, here in winter I am being covered and I am being healed.  Here in winter I am breathing in the breath of fresh air that is a new a different a quiet season.

I came from the seemingly never ending fire into what looked like was going to be another season of death, but oh no my friends this winter is much needed & beautiful.  There is a covering from heaven, a white, pure, and soft covering of the Father’s affirmation.  There is not death underneath that covering, but rather ground being healed and prepared to produce once again.  There is a much needed & desired solitude and silence.  When I moved to Kansas the Father spoke, "I'm bring you here to heal you." This winter, this hiddenness, this quietness, this solitude, this pause is like healing waters covering me and refreshing me.  I was burned, I was touched by fire, and as I've come out of the furnace my skin is recovering but my heart was not scorched.  Oh the joys and adventure of the summer but oh the rich peace of this winter.  How long this winter will last I know not, but I welcome it not as a season of death or hiddenness but as a season of healing and preparation for the spring that is promised to come.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The end is in sight

But how I feel about the end being sight is a totally different subject all together.  Haiti is well non-comprehensible if you've never been here.  I've lived here for 2 years and she’s altered me.  Altered me in a way I may never nor choose to recover from.  The end of this journey will swiftly come to an end in just 4 short weeks.  Transition is always awkward and uncomfortable.  Remember when I moved here, I was convinced I was a crazy person, and as I leave I just feel THANKFUL.  Thankful for the fire, thankful for this people, INCREDIBLY thankful for my American team that has become family, and thankful I said yes.  It wasn't easy, and there are many things I won’t miss, lying under a breeze less mosquito net many nights to name one.  But I will miss simplicity.  I am not looking forward to but am looking forward to the grocery store, menus, car shopping, house hunting, support raising, getting a cell phone plane, purchasing US health insurance, and all the other million and a half things you do in a regular American life.  It’s busy there.  I don’t want to be busy, I want to be present a rare gift of life here.  You can’t not be present, it’s all up in your face.  Oh God teach me to be present at every moment, of every day, with every friend as I return.  I want to learn a new discipline in the busyness of the states to be a present person, not a busy distracted person.   I hope to slow down my striver & speed up my rester.  God is God, He will move, He will work, I choose to go with Him and His ways.  Teach me God.

Who have I become?  This is a question I’m asking myself as I transition back to a western nation.  What do I value, what do I cherish that I didn't 2 years ago?  What will I take back as a discipline that was gifted as a reality here?  I have seen darkness, I have known emotional despair, but I know the LIGHT of God trumps all.  I've experienced it.  2 years ago I was lower than low, and today I know HOPE trumps it all.  Will I remember this?  Will I remember that darkness & despair are as light to Him?  Or will I become consumed with the newest fad, newest television show, and trying to keep up with the Jones's on instagram?  Will I maintain a little bit of oddity as the girl who lived in Haiti for 2 years?  I know I will be a little weird, and honestly I hope to stay a little weird.  Ask my cousin Duke, he personally watched a the weirdness occur while trying to order breakfast over my Christmas break.  I love my home here, I love my life here, and I’m really ready to drive on paved roads. It's all these competing emotions mixed up in one bag. A friend of mine sent me a blog post written by someone that puts into words how I've been feeling the last few weeks.  I wouldn't agree with all of it, but some of his/her words describe what will be weird to me.  http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/what-happens-when-you-live-abroad/.  I’m a little confused, but that’s ok.  God spoke this.  When God speaks, what isn't comes to be.  His word is that powerful.  I go with the word of God, it’s solid rock, my emotions are fickle.  He is God.  He said light, and well we have it every day.

I’m moving back to America; something I've known about for over a year.  But as I pack my suitcases, as I say goodbye, and as I pass off my work responsibilities it’s becoming very real.  Before I moved to Haiti a Pastor at our church was praying for me and shared a sense from the Lord; this was that I would be so changed and so altered that I wouldn't even recognize who I used to be.  That prayer has become a reality.  I am changed.  I don’t have words for it, but I’m not who I used to be and by the grace, power, and mercy of God, I don’t want to go back to who I was. 

As I look towards a new life in the states, a new church, a new city, and just re-starting I’m looking head on into another fire.  This time I’m running into it.  I choose to live fearless.  When you look into a fire you know there will be heat & pain.  I tiptoed in once, and I found a depth in God that can’t be exchanged or explained.  This time I RUN IN, though I’m totally freaking out.  I choose to be the crazy person who says yes again.  In my yes’s I've found God.  Would I be a yesser 100% all the time.  If I go to the fire, I’ll find God.  This time the fire will just look different.  I don’t know and I don’t care, but I’m going.

I’m moving to a town I've visited for 3 days.  I know about 5 people who will/are living there.  I was a little weird to begin with and now have a good amount of PTSD from malfunctioning generators.  I don’t call my updates Amanda’s Adventures to be cute.  I’m on a life adventure with God, that has peaks, valleys, dark caves, unstable rock, and ends in eternity.  I won’t lie that I do hope this next season in Lawrence is a little more of the electricity & infrastructure nature, but it will be different.  I will be a little odd.

Yes is my anthem.

Monday, September 3, 2012

If you despise today you will despise tomorrow

Wow, Amanda what a title.  Yes my friends this is the way in which I will regain my blog following.  Do I really care about people reading my blog, well yes I do so READ!

That title was a word I so kindly felt God speak to me a few years ago and it has been a truth I have held onto since I graduated from college.  You see I am a single white female looking for that special someone (kind of but that's a country music line I inserted for what should be a comedic element).  My single status has brought about many an emotion.  I was just telling a friend today how this 1.5 years in Haiti has probably been the easiest.  That's not always the case though, and during a that wasn't the case season I felt God speak so clearly to me, "Amanda if you despise this season, you will despise the next."  Uggggh, talk about a gut puncher.  I felt he was speaking it in regards to my self-pity of woe is me the lowly single girl who has yet to find her bridegroom (very dramatic yes?), but have discovered that it applies to much more than my singleness.

Am I thankful for today?  Am I thankful for what is put before me each and every moment of every day, or am I grasping out for what is next?  What is the more adventurous thing I could do?  What place in the world would I gain even more experience in than here in Haiti?  Oh why am I single and must google car parts?  Or am I saying, wow God thank you for an amazing team.  Thank you for dear ex-pat & Haitian friends who I now can't imagine not knowing. Thank you for the insane amount that I have learned in this small nation. Thank you for the parents, sisters, brother-in-law, nieces, cousins, grandparents, aunts & uncles you've given me.  Thank you for the power of the Spirit that is living and breathing inside of me.  Thank you that I was rescued & saved out of darkness to dispel that darkness out of the life of others.  Thank you that you have called me yours.

Which one am I and which one will I choose to be?  I love the scripture that talks about how a thankful heart prepares the way of the Lord.  Am I preparing His way or am I blocking His way with my dissatisfaction of what I don't have.  What if I was married?  Would I have had stirred the attitude & spirit of thanksgiving in my life, or would I wish I was single and fancy free again?  Would I be taking an attitude of contentment into a marriage and a family or would I re-produce grudging and complaining in my husband and family?  I don't know to be honest.  I want to be one that says THANK YOU for the hard days and the high days.  Oh Lord create in me a spirit of thanksgiving that ushers you into my & our midst.  Let me say thanks for today & thanks for tomorrow even when I am left with a longing and a wanting.

To be thankful is not to lack want.  At least I don't think so.  Friends all 3 of you who read, I want a husband.  I want a life partner who I fight with, who I fight for, and as my covenant partner in which we see the Kingdom of light manifested in a dark and hurting world, but today he is yet to be.  I want to have children that shake the world & fight against the status quo.  I want children who in the midst of the fiery furnace like Shadrac, Meshasc, and Abendego continue to worship the Holy God.  I want to be a part of an earth shaking family.  I want to hold a baby... that's mine.

But today they are not yet in my life.

But the real truth is you want to know when I REALLY wish I was married.  I unashamedly say, when I am in airports.  I don't care who you are, what your political affiliation is, but is is a cold hard fact that MEN CAN HAUL LUGGAGE!  Oh man, my poor yet to be revealed to me husband has no idea what is in his future.  My dad does, but he does not.  Seriously I could do about a million push ups and it still is not easy to get that 50 lb. piece of luggage up onto that scale at the check-in counter.

So during my next airport experience that will quickly approach in October, I will have the opportunity to say Thank you living God that I get to build my upper body strength by hauling this 50 lbs suitcase through this 3rd world airport.  THANK YOU!!

Here we are me & my future hubs.  Look at how effortlessly he & I model those bags.  We are travel pros.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The problem with community

Community especially biblical community is a very bizarre thing to live and be a part of.  The most interesting part is that it shouldn't be bizarre.  Being an American, like most of you, we have a very very very low value for what biblical community really is.  I like my space, my time, and my independence.  Anyone who wants to ruin that becomes the object of the manifestation of my flesh, unfortunately.  The church I've been a part of for almost 10 years now has a vision to live life like they did in Acts 2:42-47.  The people shared everything, they studied the words of God,  they followed the words of God, they saw signs and wonders, and no person among them had any needs.  No person among them had any needs, really?  Did that actually happen?  Yes in fact it did.

Having lived in a very very inter-dependent state with 7-8 other adults and 2 children for the last 17 months has left me in a very interesting place.  I have an entirely different perspective of community.  I have very little room to think just about me (however I often try to force room for me-ness).  Sometimes it feels like I'm married to 7 people.  Even what I want to eat for dinner affects particularly the 3 adults I live with.  We often joke at dinner or while watching a movie how much we've missed each other, for the 10 minutes we were taking showers, because well we are never apart.  And when I mean never, I actually mean never.  A typical day looks like this, we cook breakfast in the kitchen all together, we drive to work in our shared car together, we work all day together, we drive home from work in our shared car together, we eat dinner together, then we socialize and have fun together.  There is not a day that I don't see one of them in our lives here in Leogane.

The problem with this is though, and what I ultimately believe is the problem with true community is, when we are not together I feel a little lost.  Like part of my identity has become us.  I no longer feel like a me but a we.  The problem with community is that when it's gone I realize it's more right than my supposed desire for independence.  I like being a we.  Maybe it's just me that's saying that, but I like us.  This has come about as I am headed up to a friends house in the mountains here to help them out for a few days with only 2 of 7 teammates.  We usually go up there together as a very bizarre version of a family, but today I'm riding alone up there.  I kind of want to cry about it.  I don't make sense without us now.

Last week we were together but apart at our bi-annual missions conference in CO.  It felt like a giant family reunion where at the end of the day all I wanted to find was my inner circle, my immediate family.  How was their experience, what was God teaching them, who was their favorite friend to see, but the last night we were there I just wanted to be with us.

So really the problem with community is that  it's the right way to live and it's not a problem at all, but we so often don't choose it.  We choose independence, self-reliance, and selfishness (I am the greatest culprit of all!).  We were made for togetherness not isolation.  We were made to be a part of family.  As we get older  and see the holes & brokenness in our biological families we are given the opportunity to remain isolated & hurt or painfully give ourselves over to the family of God where healing and restoration are truly found.  God is not even one he is three, but he's one, (pull out an egg now and explain to yourself, and egg is an egg, but it has a shell, a yoke, and that other stuff, I can't remember the word right now, yes I am a highly educated individual.)  There's your first grade Sunday School explanation of the trinity.  I understand nothing of this paradox but love ALL of him!

So today if you read this take the painful selfishness cleansing treatment of community.  It will be one of the most challenging and most beautiful journeys to take.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What if you said no??

I think about this a lot.  What if I had said no to this adventure in Haiti?  What if I changed my mind and decided that it's too hard, too hot, too uncomfortable, and not worth it.  I would be so sad.

Yesterday was amazing!!! Our neighbors here are a British organization working in some really remote mountainous areas in and around Leogane & have become special friends of ours.  Because they are a larger organization they also have really large vehicles that can do almost anything.  One of their staff members called us to go on a what became a 5 hour adventure up & down unpaved mountainside roads yesterday.  Literally at one point we were driving along a mountain ridge on a red mud path if you will.  You for sure need a 4x4 vehicle for that, and the handy dandy land cruiser can do it.

While on the ride up I was talking about how my enjoyment of and love for adventure & specifically hiking has been growing.  I am a nervous scared type & my fear is usually what keeps me from enjoying things that are amazing.  For example, hiking down steep mountains makes me really, really, really nervous.  Ask my team.  I am afraid I'll fall and get hurt, which I've done many times.  Another thing standing in the way of my desire to be an adventure seeker is that I have really bad motion sickness and always have.  So, yesterday while 4 wheel driving it up & down mountains my insides felt a little churned.  And, although I am quite an expressive person, this rustling of my innards usually leaves me very silent.

The thing with adventure for me & hiking in particular is that it 1. Scares me, 2. Makes me really uncomfortable.  While we were on just a little mini hike yesterday I was self-talking the whole way up, you can do this, just be bold, take a step, find a secure rock, don't psych yourself out, when you get there it will be worth it, don't let fear overtake you.  Are you catching where I'm going with this?

What if I had said no to this mountain trek yesterday??  This is what I wouldn't have been able to experience first hand.

Hiking & adventurous activities scare me less, but they still scare me.  However the more I jump the more I find out I get caught every time.  The people I was with wouldn't have let anything happen to me, and if I had gotten sick we would've stopped, but my own fear would've kept me from seeing those views above.  My fear would have kept me from seeing a Haiti that's trash free, dust free, full of life and working together, and it would have kept me from a beauty that's hard to describe with words or display through iphone photos.

Adventure with God is only that much more risky, that much more frightening, and that much more beautiful.  Teach me God to fear you and not miss out because of fear of what could be hard, painful, or uncomfortable.  It's not easy, but it is beautiful beyond compare.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

3 yet 1

This post has nothing to do with the trinity & everything to do with my sisters.  I got an email today from my youngest sister celebrating some huge accomplishments that her & her business partners have achieved in the last few months.  So this got me thinking even more about me & my sisters.

I have 2 sisters.  Marcy & Casey.  Therefore combined we are 3, yet we come from 1 family.  From the beginning I think God thought, let's make these 3 like us, 3 but 1.  Marcy the youngest is probably the most creative person I've known.  Her ability to arrange flowers, pull together an outfit, or transform a normal Thursday evening dinner into an event is incredible.

Casey, is the go-getter type.  She could run the world I tell you.  She is a student, mom, wife, business woman, and doing it all with flare and class.  Try to find her with a bad hair day, she has the most incredible hair in the world, even when it's in a pony tail.  She is one incredible mother to the cutest two little girls in the world.  Casey is a multi-tasker, she can study business economics & then make dinner for her family like she was born to.

Then there's me.  I live on a small island nation, loving those I don't always understand, and those who don't understand me love me in all of my brokenness.  I take care of generators & Chinese vans, and oversee the operations of a church planting & development work in Haiti.

Needless to say, the 3 of us live very different lives, yet we are of the same unifying fabric.

I was just telling one of my teammates the other day how my sisters & my mom are my favorite people to cook with.  We may not choose the same clothes to buy, but I can guarantee we peel potatoes the same way.  When we all get in the kitchen we're like a well oiled machine.  Everyone knows their place, their role, and by the end of the evening we've had a fantastic meal, and the kitchen looks as if no one ever even entered.  We are three but we are 1.

I miss my sisters.  I miss cooking with them.  I miss celebrating business achievements & nieces birthday parties.  I miss lake summers finding new fun drinks to make.  I'll deeply miss the beach and sitting in our purple chairs together while we laugh and talk all the things we thought we snuck by our parents when we were little.

I love you sisters.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

His Voice

Let me just say, we are CRAZY right now.  New vehicle, new office, 2 interns, 3 teams coming in the next 2 weeks, goodbyes, and so much transition.  Plus, it's hot again.  I mean it's always hot in Haiti, but now it's really, really, really hot.  The kind of really hot where when you are just sitting still you sweat.

All of this transition and activity is sooooooooooooo exciting though because we are watching what God spoke would be months and even a couple years ago happen right before our eyes.  There is still so much more, but it's so exciting.

Part of this craziness was that 2 months ago no one on our team had any idea where we were going to live.  To look for a new living space here you don't follow the same "house hunting," procedures you would in the states.  There are no, let's just get an apartment options, there are, oh let's live in a giant house no one needs, or a dumpy house no one wants.  We also have been living & working in the same building for the last 15 months.  Needless to say, working from home isn't so awesome when there's no Starbucks to work at.

So, 2 months ago I had let go of our awesome but way to expensive for us house.  It has everything you could dream of in Haiti, electricity, running water, internet, and we LOVE LOVE LOVE our neighbors and friends in our neighborhood.  We looked at houses that had none of that.  Friends so far away, no generator, no water pump, and totally unfinished.  We looked at houses that I would never feel comfortable living in, one literally had 9 bedrooms, who needs 9 bedrooms, and one that I think was like 7,000 square feet.  I'm not sure why someone built that here, but they did.

After weeks of our main leader looking at houses nothing was an option.  Then one morning I woke up & clear as you can hear a bell ring sensed the Holy Spirit say, "you'll stay in your house & rent the house down the street for your office."  A few problems existed one in particular, we had very little money.

Over the last 15 months of living here I have felt so connected to the story of Joshua and his faith to enter, conquer, and take over the promise land.  The promise land was just that, a promise from the voice of God.  A promise that a nation would enter a land flowing with milk & honey that they would be blessed to be a blessing to the nations of the earth.  But the only thing anyone had to stand on was what the living God had said.

This is what me & my team stood on, and this is what we fought for.  I love reading the beginning of Genesis when God created the well everything because it doesn't say, "he toiled & labored, molded & shaped, wielded and sweated, and there was light."  It says, "he said, let there be light, and there was light."  He spoke.  In his very breath is the power of being.  Not to mention the details & science that also came into existence when he spoke.  He simply said & it was.  What if I believed that when he spoke, it just is.

I think that's what Joshua believed.  God said so he believed, he said no the giants aren't too big to overtake, he then lead the people through a dry RIVER, then watched the walls of a city fall to the ground (really), and he was blessed to get to enter the promise.  At the end of Joshua 21 it says, "So, the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there.  The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers.  Not ONE of their enemies withstood them; the Lord handed all their enemies over to them.  Not ONE of all the Lord's good promises to the house of Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled."

He said it & it is.  God spoke, we moved forward, with little to no money, and today we are resting.  We were able to have the rent for our current house dropped, yes not increased, by about 50%, we were given a huge anonymous gift to Haiti Transformed, part of our team were oked to build their own new homes, just two weeks ago signed a lease on a brand new office including EVERYTHING we need, and we are seeing the beginnings of a work that some on our team have dreamed of for years.

They are just buildings I know, but they are buildings he spoke about to facilitate a work he spoke about even farther back.  There are still many things large & small I've clear as a bell heard God say but they are not yet.  I want to be like Joshua.  I want his portion of getting to see the promise fulfilled.  I want to be like Mary whom Elizabeth her cousin said about her, "blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished," and then the virgin gave birth to our savior.

Weird things happened in the Bible.  God spoke Man and Adam was formed.  I am convinced more than I ever have been that the word both biblical & spoken word of God are where my security rests.  I will choose to believe the crazy, outrageous things he speaks, because the sun wakes me up every morning.