joy

God’s glory saturated yesterday.

And it was spectacular.
  

Friends, it was lovely and packed with memories I will not soon forget. And in a time where memories are made every day the fact that my smile is still plastered across my face, and probably making everyone think I am making fun of them in the deep recesses of my mind, says a lot. I am still overflowing with joy from everywhere God’s glory exploded bright yesterday. I kind of feel like when Moses’ face kept reflecting the glory of God after being in his presence and no one could look at him when he carried the Ten Commandments down from Mt. Sinai. They were afraid to approach him because his face shone from talking to God. But it isn’t creepy. It isn’t scary. It is holy.

Oh, friends, that this joy would continually be reflected out of Haitian lives.

Yesterday marked the first graduating class of the Pathways program through Global Orphan Project in Haiti. Two years of hard work for students who have not passed school grades anywhere from 4th to 10th grade in Haiti and had to leave a Pastor’s care at age 18. Two years of living as a community. Two years of budgeting, language and life learning. Two years of true friendship and maturing. Two years of discipleship and growth as local church leaders. Two years of learning trade skills to earn a job within a country that has an unemployment rate of 70%. Two well fought years to reach yesterday.

I’ve seen grief in these students. I’ve seen their confidence grow. I’ve seen passionate prayer and worship. I’ve seen struggles. I’ve seen them walk with kindness and respect for others as they learn to navigate life beyond a Pastor’s care. I’ve seen them empowered and proud of themselves as they gain job skills and feel they have something to impart on younger students. I’ve seen them investing in other young lives still living in a Pastor’s care.

And yesterday, I saw them exploding with joy in their accomplishment. They were so, so happy. I kept telling them, ‘I am so happy for you!’ And one by one their eyes would shine bright and smiles would sparkle as they replied with, ‘Me too!’

As I reflect on yesterday while I journey to Kansas City for my brother’s celebrations leading him into a new married life…I am breathing deep breathes of gratitude.

Today I am praising true life, because it is a gift to live and count so, so many people as dear friends across so many different cultures and languages.

Today I am grateful for patience in Haitian culture, because through the craziness of traffic and no disgust in long lines, Haiti has taught me to slow down and treasure what is in front of me…to take the moments we are given for what they are meant to be.

I am inspired while living within a culture that lives the example of respectfully greeting colleagues and friends when you first see them in the day with a hand shake and kiss to the cheek. It is intentional. It is meaningful. It shows they are present with you and we are known by one another.

Today I am thankful for the examples of overflowing love of Jesus in the Haitian lives surrounding me, because it has taught me to not be ashamed of who I follow and easily sigh with ‘Seigneur Jésus.’ It has taught me that worship is passionate, with your whole existence crying out for the Savior.

Today I smile with overflowing love for a culture of extremes and being chosen to grow within this place. It is not easy living within the extremes of Haiti. This place is no where near perfect, but there is loads of beauty…even in dirt and trash. There are many things that ignite my sense of justice and many things that force me to rely on faith when I do not understand. But they hone my vision to God’s Kingdom restored and renewed, and fuel my fight for that Kingdom to be known.

Today I am refreshed by young lives filled with pride and confidence through empowerment.

As I sit and soak in the last year and a half, and look forward to the next year in Haiti, I see it as the incredible gift it is in my life. I am grateful for my calling, and this time of being placed perfectly within who God created me to be for his Kingdom. God’s glory is evident and present everywhere, but somehow Haiti purifies it and allows us to look through a clear lens. I will forever crave the presence of the Holy Spirit in this place and Haiti will forever make my heart explode.
  

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joy

They have no clue what they were in for…this is what I think every time I read Luke 10. Jesus is sending out his guys, and he is giving them a myriad of marching orders. Do this. Don’t take that. Peace. Kingdom of God. And don’t forget to shake the dust off your feet if they don’t welcome you…wait. What?!?!

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’
[Luke 10:1-11]

Imagine the challenges these guys faced. Dirt, and lots of it. Stay with folks you don’t know. Don’t take anything with you. Sent out as lambs amongst wolves…that’s pretty intimidating. And all to spread the message the Kingdom is here, and if they were not welcomed they were to shake the dust from their feet and move on.

I think of all the challenges folks have when they are taken out of their comfort zone and how they adapt to them in those intense Kingdom moments. It’s hard stuff.

But the key here is how the guys returned…

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” [Luke 10:17]

With joy, friends. They returned with joy.

That is the difference between setting out on your own and being sent out by Jesus. That is the difference between being called to an endeavor and making choices on your own without leaning into the Holy Spirit.

They were energized. They were inspired. They had gone out into the harvest and seen the fruit of their labors. They used the name of Jesus, empowered by Jesus himself. They trusted the One who knows. Their faith was insane. The road was hard. Their comforts were few. They took nothing from home with them. No toothbrush. No air mattress. And certainly no food from home so they could eat what was familiar.

And they returned with JOY.

Friends, the Kingdom of God is joy. It is extreme faith. It is risk. It is promise. It is adventure. It is the sweet spot where who God has created you to be merges with the gifts and experiences he has given you. And it is, oh, so beautiful for those with eyes to see it and work toward it. And that joy is evident on every face that catches a glimpse.

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Side note: I have some really spectacular friends who are blogging one word a day with me through Lent. However, since I am posting from an iPhone in Haiti…it’s rather hard to link their fabulous blogs. Please check out Shawn Franssens, Lindsay Evans, Heather Kostelnick and Brian Swanson’s blogs if you get a chance. It is really interesting reading to see how each of us feels led to share about each word!