March has come to an end. Sometimes I wonder what types of pictures merit a spot in these photo blogs. They often showcase some fairly mundane moments in my life. But, you know, I’m finding that there’s a certain beauty in the simple, “unimportant” parts of our days.
Today, I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness. For my precious family. For the work which the Lord has given me. For my Savior’s sacrifice. And for His sweet presence each day. Happy Easter!
I can unequivocally say that the last few weeks have been the most difficult of my life. I’ve experienced trials that I never imagined it would be possible to withstand. And yet, God has been so near. He has allowed me to face some of my biggest fears and personal weaknesses: things like dealing with conflict, struggling with being a people-pleaser, making (and owning) decisions, and caring way too much about others’ opinions. Never once has He left me alone!
When we first moved to the mission field, I ran across this little poem that William Cowper wrote many moons ago. In fact, I wrote it out and memorized several stanzas because the Scripture-saturated truths kept me looking upward and not at the storms around me.
When struggles come, we as Christians often pray for the Lord to remove trials from our lives. Yet, it looks like Cowper had learned something about his burdens. Through his difficulties, he was getting more of Jesus. While I’m not going to go asking for more pain, I continue to learn that there is a sweet rest in taking my heartaches to Him.
‘Tis My Happiness Below William Cowper 1773
’Tis my happiness below Not to live without the cross; But the Savior’s pow’r to know Sanctifying every loss.
Trials must and will befall; But with humble faith to see Love inscribed upon them all— This is happiness to me.
Did I meet no trials here, No chastisement by the way, Might I not with reason fear I should prove a castaway?
Trials make the promise sweet; Trials give new life to prayer; Bring me to my Savior’s feet, Lay me low and keep me there.
We’re spending two weeks in the States with our families! We didn’t reach out to many people because of the quickness of the trip and the current state of the world.
Whenever I’m back, one of the things I always do is make some store runs to pick up items we can’t find in the DR. My first stop this year was Dollar Tree for some teacher supplies! I like to hit up that treasure trove for items I can use as gifts/incentives for our Dominican teachers who go through the teacher training program we’ve started. As I was hunkered over in an aisle sifting through bulletin board border and classroom organizers, a lady and her two children walked by. A neat interaction ensued.
“Are you a teacher?” she asked me.
“Well, sort of! I’m a teacher trainer! I like to look for things my teachers can use when they have their own classrooms someday.”
She responded without hesitation. “Now, that’s something I can get behind. Let me help you out. I want to give you $20.”
“Wow! That’s so kind of you. How very thoughtful! I actually don’t live here in the States. My family has helped start a school in the Dominican Republic where we work with children who live in the sugarcane villages.”
“Even more reason to help. Thanks for making a difference over there.”
A few more details were shared, and she left me with the money and some more kind words.
I had walked in for a routine shopping trip, and I left blessed by a complete stranger. Isn’t it amazing that the the Lord allows us to experience such unexpected blessings?
Not long ago, a missionary here asked me, “What do you really enjoy about your job?” I talked a bit about the teachers and the blessing it is to be a part of their lives. While that response is absolutely true, I think I’d expand my answer if I had the opportunity for a “redo”.
I’ve had the incredible privilege to work in several areas here at Freedom over the years. And with each passing day, the Lord is teaching me that no matter what I’m doing, keeping in step with Him is the most rewarding and precious experience this world has to offer.
By nature, I’m a perfectionist. Taking risks is hard for me. To fail is one of my biggest fears. And yet I’m learning that God, while He wants my best, is ultimately responsible to work out His perfect plan. I’ll give an example of how this recently played out in my life.
This past December, I was sitting in Jason’s office one afternoon, brainstorming some fundraising ideas. We’re behind financially in regards to sponsorship numbers, and we hadn’t met our end-of-the-year goal. Our “Change a Life” program is super important for us. It essentially keeps things running at the school. We’re able to bus in our 410 students because sponsors’ monthly donations cover costs like food, transportation and teachers’ salaries. How in the world were we going to find so.many.new.sponsors for the new year? As we bounced around a few ideas, this campaign push just kind of popped up. We thought a good goal would be to find 60 new child sponsors in these first three months of 2020. It was a solid direction, but instead of running after it, fear of the unknown initially began to creep into my mind. Are there really 60 (!) new people out there, willing to give their time and money to this cause? I started to think about all the ways a campaign like this could fail, and I shied away from the idea of putting together anything at all.
But as time went on, God quietly and consistently whispered to my scared little heart, “Just trust me.” I thought, Ok, Lord! You’re giving me this opportunity to walk with you. Even though I think this goal is terrifying and ambitious, You’re in charge…
Well, here we are. Halfway through the campaign. (The Lord has provided about 20 kiddos with new sponsors! That is amazing!) To be honest, I still wonder if we’ll actually hit our goal. I pray we do. It’d certainly be amazing to see this campaign successfully finished on March 31st, but ultimately I’ve been trying to allow the truth that God is in control to soak down deep in my heart. The Lord is doing a work in my life, and I’m doing my best to simply rest in Him. I really don’t have to worry so much when I choose to abide.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
There is this beautiful balance to be enjoyed in my relationship with Jesus: my humble efforts combined with His perfect plan and powerful provision produce such bliss. Joy to the fullest is found in walking with Jesus – no matter my weaknesses, no matter the circumstances, no matter the outcome.
Yesterday was the last day of my first year teaching Kindergarten here in the DR. What a blessing these kids were to me. As a teacher, I went into the year excited about all the things I would get to teach them. But in reality, they were the ones who taught me. This group of kiddos will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m so excited I get to watch them grow up. Still praying for their little souls.