Haiti one.

Well, we made it to Haiti, finally!
After 12 hours of traveling we’re here, it’s hot and humid!

We left Seattle at 7:35pm, flew to Denver and from Denver went to Miami and after Miami finally got to Haiti. We are currently waiting for another team to come in that will be joining us for the week. Their flight doesn’t land until 4pm and ours got in at 9am, so we’re hanging out at a residence by a pool, under the avocado tree, mango tree, coconut tree and bread fruit tree. Really, not so bad! We have a couple of locals that are here with us Dave and Worster. They are our ride and our tour guides. We just finished lunch, a very Haitian lunch. Chicken, fried plantain, beans and rice, salad, a spicy cole slaw, and a salsa type thing for the rice. It was delicious! We also had a cherry juice to go with it. 

The ride over here reminded me a lot of my time in Indonesia, open street markets, crazy driving, people walking out into the streets, trash everywhere and just a lot of people that you find in crowded cities. 

We won’t be staying in the city, but seeing the city still stirs my heart for the city and for the people. 

Well, on limited wifi and trying to learn some French/creole while we’re hanging out. So, until the next time I have wifi!!
Au revoir,

Natalie

preparation.

It is safe to say that the days are closing in! I’ve used these last couple days off to gather everything I need and try to pack my bag up as much as I can. I’ll probably unpack a few thing in the next couple of days that I’ve realized I probably realized I don’t actually need, but that’s why you pack early, right?

I can say without hesitation that God is in this trip to Haiti, His hand is upon me, He is preparing me and is going before me and going with me. There are a couple of stories that I want to share, mostly to have them documented for myself, but also to show the goodness of God.

First, about a week ago a couple ladies were leaving my work and as they left I said goodbye and the shop was empty. They immediately came back around the corner and said they both felt like they had a word from the Lord for me and asked if they could share it with me. I was in awe of their boldness, but also eager to hear what they had to share. So, since I had a moment and no other guests in the shop at the time, I agreed to hear what they had to say. Both words were right on, and very encouraging. i then told them about my trip to Haiti and they prayed for my trip and we just had a really cool 10 minutes or so together. In the midst of everything that was being said, one of them mentioned that she saw someone just handing me cash for my trip to help pay for the rest of it. I didn’t think a whole lot of it at the time, but thought it would be cool if it did happen.

As a lot of friends know, it has been hard for me to get Sunday’s off the last 6 month’s, so this last Sunday we did our Send off at Gateway and our team was prayed over in the gatherings. I am such a strong believer in the power of prayer and it’s so important to sent off with the proper protection. I asked for the time off of work, with little expectation of getting the time since I was already taking 9 days for the trip, and got the day off! At the end of one of the gatherings someone came up to me and told me that God asked her to give me some cash for my trip and she handed me a good sum money, just like that girl had seen the week before. What a cool thing to be a part of and see God orchestrate! Just think, if I hadn’t asked for the time off, I wouldn’t have seen that little miracle.

Finally, one morning at work I heard a still small voice tell me to make a french press. I know, it seems silly. You see, that’s how we do our “drip” coffee. People order a drip and if we don’t have a fresh press we have to make one and it takes about 5 minutes. So they have to wait… anyways, I made the press and the next three customers that came into the shop ordered single cups of french press. There was literally 30 seconds left on the timer as the customer ordered the cup of coffee. It’s just one of those confirmations for me. I do hear the voice of God, even in the small things that really don’t have an eternal impact on anyone. But maybe someday when they do, He’ll speak to me, and I’ll know it’s Him and I’ll be confident that it’s Him speaking to me because I know His voice.

All that to say it has been an exciting couple of weeks leading up to this trip, lots has been happening and God has been speaking. I consider it such an honor that He chooses to use me and to work through me. He has always been so faithful and has always provided for me in all of my trips. Thanks for your prayers and support as I head out on Saturday.

Natalie

365 days.

It is so hard to believe that 365 days ago I had all my belonging packed in my car and was driving north on I-5…

It was a mixed bag of emotions, excited for the possibility of the new job I could possible have with Storyville, but at the same time mourning the failure that I was feeling as I was leaving after such a short time in California. I wanted it to work so badly, but it just didn’t.

These last 365 days have shaped me more than I think I’ve ever been before. My time with YWAM was life changing, but it was also very guided, so the changes were pretty much required in that time. This year has been different, it was all on me to decide, it was all on me to hear and obey God.

I’ve learned a new level of patience, dependability, self-sacrifice and just an overall awareness of those around me. I don’t have any clue what the next year holds, but hopefully new and exciting things. Life always has a way of changing and moving to keep me on my toes. I really feel as though I’ve finally gotten to a point where I feel like I’m not just surviving, but really thriving where I’m at… I guess I’m getting a little comfortable, who knows what that means, but I’m trying to embrace it.

It hasn’t been an easy year, I’ve been working/commuting about 60 hours per week and that makes relationships hard, but thankfully I’ve been blessed with amazing housemates (mom and dad) that let me at all hours and usually save me leftovers. I have been exhausted and worn out, but at the end of it all, I know I’ve been giving my best.

These last 365 days have brought more new friendships into my life. Deep, meaningful friendships that I know I’ll hold onto for a long time, that I know will be with me for my lifetime! This last week as I reflected on my birthday, talking with a friend about where I was last year, the transition to this year and how far I’ve come, I was reminded of the dreaming I was doing, of my goals, aspirations, things I want to accomplish and places I want to go.

I’ve decided that it is time to start dreaming again, it seems like there isn’t much time in the day to sit and dwell on what could be, I’ve always been a person that lives in the moment, but it’s time to dream of what my future holds. Maybe I’ll try some new hobbies, maybe I’ll book a trip to a country I’ve never been to, maybe there will be a little less self-sacrifice and a little more taking time for my self. I’m not really sure what all this looks like, but I know that I want to keep moving forward, I don’t dare grow stagnate and bored. There is too much life to live and I want to grasp all that I can.

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encounters.

So, a little over a year ago, I quit my job, moved to California and tried to spread my wings again. As we all know, my wings got clipped. I couldn’t find a job, I was out of savings, I was out of options and I came home with an opportunity to work at a coffee shop. That really doesn’t sound glamorous at all, and really, it isn’t. Part of my reasoning, that I’m still learning about, behind it all was to be around people that need more of Jesus’ love. Don’t get me wrong, I saw people at the Church all the time that needed more of Jesus’ love, but I wasn’t really in a place to be that person. I was really comfortable with where I was and most of my interactions were with people that already had enough Jesus in their lives. There are lots of holes to poke in all that, but this isn’t the reason for this post… For me, I needed out, I needed to be in the world and I needed an outlet for what Jesus was speaking and doing in my life.

Over the last months it has been my prayer that my day-to-day life would impact those around me, that people would experience Jesus just by being around me.

Today I was talking to a customer and she was asking me questions, a Bible verse came up and we kept talking while I was making her coffee. The verse is Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still” (my version, in my head, ha). In the beautiful chaos that is life, we need to just be still sometimes and let the Lord fight for us.. This is a little bit of what we were talking about. Her drinks were finished, and I carried on with my afternoon, I actually headed to lunch and when I came back she saw me as I was headed to the break room and grabbed me, she was writing me a note, but wanted to talk to me real quick instead. She told me how my words had spoken to her about where she is at in life right now, how she sensed this peace and beauty in me. She told me that she was a believer and just going through a tough time. She had tears in her eyes as she was telling me how incredibly encouraged she was by her encounter with me. I kinda stood there a little dumb found, but was so encouraged by her seeing Jesus in me.

She ended up asking me if she could pray for me since I had blessed her, so, of course, I couldn’t turn down prayer! In the hallway outside work, I had a stranger lay her hand on my shoulder and pray over me… I’ve had other encounters, some have been amazing and so memorable, but i think that this one takes the cake.

All this to say, be who Jesus has created you to be, He’ll work through you no matter where you are. Let your life, your demeanor, the way you carry yourself reflect Jesus. Have a confident humility in who He has created you to be. Love Everybody!

deeper.

Life has its ups and downs. It has its successes and failures. Often I find myself focusing on those “failures” but I also find that a lot of the time I’m the only one who may see something as a failure. Some days those so called failures try to drag me down, and sometimes they do. That’s the honest truth. Then I stop and look at all the wins along the path, those little wins may add up to something big and noteworthy or they may just keep you moving forward looking for the next win.

I also believe with every one of those disappointments I have put myself “out there” in a place of risk to even come to a place where I may fail. Without taking those risks, I’m living in a safe place. If anything I’ve learned this last year it is that Jesus has NOT called me to live the safe, risk-free life. He has called me higher. He has called me deeper. He wants more of me with every step along the way, the risks become bigger and those failures even more evident.

Do you ever find yourself in a great place with God then it seems the walls start to fall around you? Those safety walls were never meant to stay up. He’ll let you rest for a time safely, but then He’ll call you back out again. Back on the road less traveled, back out where the walls won’t save you. Out where risks can be taken, where you have to trust Jesus with all that you are. Out where you have to go deeper with him, and if you don’t you’ll probably end up at the beginning, running back to the safety instead of building a new refuge in the deepness of Him.
He never said that you’ll succeed at everything. But he does say that he’ll fight for you, you just have to be still. Wait. Be still? Where does that fit in? It fits into the place where you’re trying to do everything for your win instead of trusting his plans. I bet it’s pretty hard to be still when there is a battle raging around you. Imagine giving him that control though… Could you do it? Have you done it? Do you need to do it?
Go deeper with him, give him all control, just be still. As I was reading this morning I came across the story of Jehoshaphat when the “vast armies of Edom” were coming to fight him and his army. (2 Chronicles 20) His army wasn’t big, it wasn’t strong, his army was no match for the armies coming toward him. He stopped and cried out to The Lord, he had all his people do this, and a Word from The Lord came down. Go to battle, step out, march out and you won’t fight, but just be still. By the time they got there, all of the other armies had turned on each other and almost everyone was already dead. They just had to step out in Faith and watch God work around them. They only had to go where he called them, then be still. Talk about going deeper in your trust of what you hear from The Lord!

The risk is worth it, He’ll be by your side, he won’t leave you. Go deeper, go to that place, he wants you to join him in the depths of his love that you’ve never experienced. Spend time with him, talk with him, listen to him and then obey. That’s where the depth is.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NIV)

time.

I’ve spent the last month digging deeper into who I am in Christ and part of that is learning how I love and how I love to be loved. This weekend has been spectacular in learning this. I’ve been working hard all weekend, work has been crazy with the holiday weekend and I have been a barista the last couple of days. I’m mainly a baker, but I get a few shifts out front each month. I enjoy interacting with the customers and making beautiful drinks for them. Anyways… working hard, on bar, but the best of all is that I had friends and family come visit me three days in a row! i know that most people don’t care if they see people they know at work, but for me, I know that it takes time and intention for most of my friends and family to come see me. Pike Place Market isn’t somewhere that most people are at everyday, people that I know anyways. So, for someone to come visit, get a hug and a cup of coffee, let’s me know that they care about me. I know it sounds silly, but when one of your main love languages is quality time, I know that they spend their time, to come see me and that means the world to me!

Along those same lines, my brother and his family are in town this weekend, Friday-Tuesday… basically my work week. So, I haven’t seen them in almost 8 months, but taking the time, even when I’m tired to stay up  late for that quality time or to get up early for that time is something that I’m totally willing and love to do. Yes, we all need sleep, but somethings are more important. Relationship is more important than a couple more hours of sleep!

All this to say, spend time with those that are important to you, go out of your way for those that you love. Love each other in the way that each needs it, which is usually different! Be intentional about relationships and know that if you desire to be loved, you have to love other too.

Also, take some selfies… it’ll make you giggle, and that’s good for you too!

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perspective.

In life there are times of  growth and there are times of getting through each day and there are times of thriving. I like to choose the latter. The other day we were doing a big event at work, there was a lot to get done in a short amount of time in a small space. Someone threw out that we just needed to survive the night… I never want to just survive. I told him, let not just survive, let’s thrive. I wanted the night to be fun and didn’t want to just get through it, but I wanted to feel like I did my best work for the people that were a part of the event, they deserved that!

All this to say, in order to thrive, I have to have a bigger perspective on life. I have to have a God size perspective. A lot of the time it is so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day, trust me, I know! I also have to step back, look at my life and realize that I am so blessed. I have amazing friendships all around me. I have so many different walks in this life and so many amazing people in all of it. I’m building such a great community of friends in Seattle that I get to work with everyday. I have my friends that live in Kitsap and those that are around the country and around the world.

I can let the words of few so often get me down, but when I stop I realize that I am who I’m supposed to be and who God has created me to be, I’m ok with being questioned. I’ll seek truth in statements, but also know that everything that is said isn’t a reflection of me, but also of those asking the questions.

When taking this God-sized perspective I see things so much clearer. I see that I don’t have to battle loneliness, or a heavy heart. I know that I’m loved by so many. I have battled my way through this life to find who I am in Christ and I still have many more battles to go through, but I can go back and re-fight those battles. They have already been won. There is no need to go back and really no desire either. As I’m questioned as to who I am, I know that I can confidently approach the subject.

I am a woman who longs to be loved.

I am a hard worker that puts her best foot forward everyday.

I am sarcastic and funny, but don’t always like to be in the lime light.

I am creative and adventuresome, looking to express those in new ways.

I am talented in many areas, maybe someday I’ll be excellent in a few.

I am capable, I am enough, I am strong, I am lovable, I am confident.

I make mistakes and I always will, but that’s ok too.

Stepping back and looking at all these things that I know about myself, I know that I am all of this because of one reason. Jesus. My Savior and most of all my Lord. He is in control of all this. I’m but a mere human, He sees all, hears all and is in all. This life, it isn’t about me and my wants, needs or desires. It’s about honoring him and bring glory to his name on a daily basis. I have to so loosely hold onto all of these things knowing that he is the Lord of my life, free to give and take as he sees fit. 

These are my thoughts, but I wanted to share with you some thoughts from John Piper that really hone into what I’m saying.

“So it is with the supremacy of Christ in your life. All the planets of your life—your sexuality and desires, your commitments and beliefs, your aspirations and dreams, your attitudes and convictions, your habits and disciplines, your solitude and relationships, your labor and leisure, your thinking and feeling—all the planets of your life are held in orbit by the greatness and gravity and blazing brightness of the supremacy of Jesus Christ at the center of your life. And if he ceases to be the bright, blazing, satisfying beauty at the center of your life, the planets will fly into confusion, and a hundred things will be out of control, and sooner or later they will crash into destruction.” -John Piper

May Christ reign Supreme in our lives as he holds it together for us. May he always be the center of my universe.

Natalie