Today marks four years since a devastating earthquake demolished Haiti, a country already deep in poverty and full of economic woes. In the summer of 2012, this country taught me four lessons I will never forget.
Today I realized that actions speak louder than words. The language barrier must be broken down by finding new ways to communicate.
If I speak in tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love I gain nothing.
1st Corinthians 13:1-3
Journal entry from July 25, 2012.
Every time I think of Windy, he reminds me to be thankful and value every single second of every minute, every hour, every morning, every evening, every night, seven days a week of every single month of the year.
I took away many things from Windy, but the most important thing I learned is to value life. To value every second of every day. I was convicted strongly when I thought of all the HOURS I’ve spent worrying and not doing. Even during this time of sickness he [Windy] refused to be anxious.
Journal entry from July 26, 2o12.
Faith & Trust
My friend, lets me tell you something, when you already say God has control, your bad situation gets worse or even you saw you are in front of death; you must say you are good in Jesus’ name. And God will say you have faith say you have faith in him. So my friend, I am very good in Jesus Christ.
Windy’s favorite bible verse was Exodus 14: 14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.Windy was a ddisciple, servant,pastor, teacher, friend, brother, son,student, Kirk Franklin fan, father to the fatherless, pastor, EMT, founder of the Jehovah Nissi school in Cite Soleil, dreamer.
This picture was clearly not taken in 1994, both of my great grandparents were in their ’80 s at the time of my grandmother’s journal entry. In this particular instance, the adventure my grandmother was writing of was a country drive turned day long road trip. They missed their highway exit which caused a setback. Except she didn’t remember it as a setback. Rather, she saw it as an opportunity for adventure.
I’ve been brainstorming. A lot. I’ve been experimenting. I’m starting to explore my interests. I know I want to major in Journalism and Media Production hopefully minor in Professional Writing. I know I want to go to Washington State University after finishing my transfer degree at Edmonds Community College. BUT, I didn’t know that until after I had already graduated High School. Up until then. I had no idea. I mean, how do people have all that stuff figured out in such a short amount of time.
Anyhow, people have been asking me probably since I was in eighth grade what I want to do with my life. Come my freshman year of High School, I still had no clue. Then my sophomore year came and went. Then quickly I was done with my junior year. Senior year all my friends were applying for colleges, being accepted, figuring out their majors, and making plans. I, on the other hand, had just begun playing around with ideas. I hate math with a passion. So that eliminated quite a few things. I started thinking about majoring in English, but then I realized I’d probably have to either become a full-time writer or teacher. I’m not good at teaching. I don’t enjoy being upfront. I shake and I mumble. But writing, ah. Now there is something I enjoy.
I began thinking outside of the box. Instead of asking myself if I had a dream school, I began asking what kind of impact I wanted to generate in this world and how I could use my skills to inspire others to impact the world as well. So I began to look into journalism. And here are just some of the ideas that came through my mind as I envisioned myself as a journalist, and everything I could potentially do within that degree. The sky is the limit. You just have to think outside of the norm.
This is a fun exercise! (I hope you’ll try it out too).
Meet Kay. Kay turned 86 in May. For over twenty years, Kay has been serving the homeless men and women of Downtown Seattle. Mission: serve the soul, not just the stomach.
Kay’s ministry is titled The Lord’s Table. The location is at 6th and Columbia, directly underneath the freeway. On the second Thursday of every month, my church: Northshore Baptist Church in Kirkland serves with Kay. Our branch of the ministry is called Isaiah 58. Sixth and Columbia is home to many big hearts of the people who flock from the Union Gospel Mission, Pioneer Square, and all (literal) corners of Seattle for a warm meal of hearty Spanish rice.
In sixth grade, my friend and I were both looking for a ministry to become involved in. We stumbled upon Isaiah 58 after asking our youth pastor’s where we could serve locally. We’ve missed a few months here and there, but we both agree that it seems just yesterday, Kay was 80. I suppose it’s because her stamina and passion hasn’t wavered from year to year.
Kay thrives off of this verse:
Isaiah 58: 6-7
Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
A cup of coffee is capable of going a long way. Or tea. Or water. Or Kool Aid. Jesus constantly reminds us that the issue isn’t a matter of liquids. It’s a matter of the heart. The Lord of the universe can dwell in your heart if you allow Him to. He is the only free gift on earth that you don’t need to work towards. There is no checklist to acceptance.
Seattle wants Jesus. They crave Him. They flock to 6th and Columbia because Jesus is evident in Kay. She treats them like her equal. She doesn’t turn anyone away. She knows many patrons by name. More importantly, she bleeds the gospel.
Over the years I’ve encountered many fun characters. Seattle is a colorful place. I remember the man who could pop both eyes out of his sockets, the woman who asked me if I could give her pet mouse, Phoebe, a chocolate cookie. The regular who walked through our line and always asked for “Bill’s Famous Tea.” I remember gazing up through a space in the freeway where the two lanes came apart and feeling as if I were in the movie The Dark Night. I remember when in junior high, Brianna and I collected donations from the youth group to buy Christmas gifts. I remember the British security guard with an Australian accent. Did I mention he dressed in a way that made him look as if he were the captain of a fine vessel? We’ve seen some interesting characters walk through those food lines.
I tease Brianna endlessly for passing out too many desserts. To say Kay is frugal would be an understatement. “Just ONE cookie Brianna” and “Oh those will last until Monday,” is common phraseology around her. Her influence (among others) has made me think twice about waste. I’ve poured perfectly filtered drinking water down the drain with my only pretense being that it had been sitting out too long. Thrown away food because I’m too full. Ditched socks because of one hole in one toe. Once monthly, for almost seven years I’ve served with Brianna. Last month I served with her ONE. LAST. TIME. (Indefinitely).
New volunteers have made their appearances! Over the years as the youth has been a part of this great opportunity and we’ve begun spreading the word through social media, a large variety of people show up each month. It’s always exciting to see volunteers come and go. But to see those who stay? Ahhhh, now that is quite a joy to see.
While Kay may never be replaced, the organization is looking for a new leader to take over all responsibility. The vocation has become an immense responsibility for just one person. We trust in God’s provision. Always.
Alex and I went on our first trip to Haiti together last summer in 2012. Deep down somehow I knew that first trip wouldn’t be her last. Your time, talent, and treasures will send give Alex and her multiple teams they need to make this world a better place, and what’s more, shine Jesus’s light in one of the world’s darkest places.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. by faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
A few years ago I was having a conversation with a friend when she asked me, “What kind of person do you want to be when you’re older?” and I surprised myself by answering with, “I just want to be someone in love with Jesus.” It’s a simple concept really, for me to be someone in love with the man who bled and died for me specifically, the man who in constantly seeking to spend time with me and loves me no matter how many times I fail Him. The tough part is trusting, trusting that He knows His plans for me and that I need not worry what tomorrow holds or where I will be in 10 years (or one to be completely honest here). We as a fallen people try so hard to hold on tightly to the control and direction of our lives…
I’ve written a lot. I adore writing. I’ve written about practically anything and everything. However, I dislike I talking about myself. It is the one topic I avoid at all costs. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve filled journal on top of journal filled with life. But wait, sharing this knowledge? That’s a totally different story. God has been convicting me of something lately (as He always is); God turns our messy lives into messages. I can make Him famous by sharing my story. We all have stories. They started the day we took our very first breath. Our lives are a book written by God. Each day is a page. Every decade a chapter. We were created to be read. We were written to put God on the Bestseller list!
God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive–a living soul!
Genesis 2: 7
If that’s not crazy, astonishing and thrilling, I don’t know what is.
Apparently, I am really good at putting on a poker face. I don’t try to look like I have it all together. In fact, oftentimes I feel like screaming “I’m not strong, but He is! Every waking minute Jesus is holding me!” It is because of His strength that I am capable of being strong in my weaknesses.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the LIFE of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
2 Corinthians 4: 7-10
Before I begin sharing my story, I want to exhort you to share yours. Your story may not sound exciting to you, but you never know whose life you can touch without sharing it! If it means anything, your story matters to me. If God, the one who created us to be full of purpose, shouldn’t we have faith that He is using it for something epic?
I’m going to share with you mine . I would start with day one, but I’m 6,791 days old.
Eleven years ago, at the age of seven. I had my first epileptic seizure. I conked out on the floor of the Olive Garden Restaurant on 196th St. in Lynnwood, WA. Here’s the catch: I was perfectly healthy, and nobody knew it was a seizure. We didn’t even call an ambulance. I took a sip of water and finished eating dinner with my family. I felt fine after gracefully smashing my head on their then-brick floor. (OK, I make that sound much more exciting than it actually was). Nothing showed up on my post-fall MRI. Not even a minor concussion! Clearly, angels do exist.
My mom scheduled an emergency appointment of course. She figured the whole thing was just a fluke. It wasn’t. You may be thinking “wow, that is unfortunate.” Well, you are wrong. That day changed my life forever. OK, now you’re thinking “well duh.” It was a good life changing experience. I’m still not sure exactly how it has changed my life for the better, but everything takes some figuring out. Can I get an amen?
In the beginning I saw three different doctors. These three doctors proposed three different diagnoses:
– Most likely Vasodepressor Syncope
-Colloid on 3rd ventricle
-Small chance the episode was a seizure
I went through so many tests it’s CRAZY. EEG’s, MRI’s, blood tests, the tilt-table test, cat scans. The whole bit. I even wore a heart monitor for about one month. God was there. Holding my hand. He was upside down with me when I was strapped on that table.
My mom, being the awesome woman that as she is, finally pull out her handy dandy Taber’s Medical Dictionary from the bookshelf, performed her own research and she basically said, “Let’s take the focus off the heart and look at what is going on in her brain.”
Since my diagnosis of absence seizures has been confirmed, life has been a whirlwind. I’ve been tossed hither and thither. Since that time I’ve tried two alternative treatments to medication: 1) The Modified Atkins Diet and 2) a Vegas Nerve Stimulator. Concerning the MAD, let me just say this. After six months of eating fifteen and 10 carbohydrates per day, I obtained a whole new appreciation for bread and an extreme dislike for milk and peanuts which I practically thrived off of.
The Vegas Nerve Stimulator brings me to where I am today! Contrary to popular belief, the Vegas Nerve Stimulator is NOT brain surgery. Think of it more as a pacemaker for the brain. Well, I remember the day of my implant. I was supposed to have a history exam that day and all I could remember was that April 9th. The date of my surgery was ironically a date in history I needed to memorize. What a strange coincidence! Fast forward to today, 9/13/ 2013. Today I am recovering from the surgery I underwent yesterday to have the device removed. Why, you ask? I was given two choices: 1) replace the battery or 2) remove the battery. As of today I am fifty-one days seizure free! It’s these little victories we must embrace.
A few days ago I received my OUTPATIENT NOTE in the mail. One sentence written by my physician stuck out to me: “She has been approximately 40 days seizure free. It is not clear to us the reason for the increased efficacy…” To doctors, these instances are just medical mysteries. I read this and thought to myself, Clearly, Jesus is at work in my life right now. I realize that while he is always at work in my life, I tend to only recognize this truth when I am having either a really bad day or an extraordinarily good day. Something about that needs to change. Whether or not I’m having a particular high or low day, I need to start off each day saying these words:
This is the day which the Lord has made;Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118: 24 (NASB)
God is consistent. That being said, I shouldn’t “shelve” God. I ALWAYS need Him. I should never take Him down when I think I need Him and marginalize Him when I am under the impression that I can do things myself. So how is your storybook going to look? On the cover of my current journal, I wrote “The story of how Jesus wrecked my life and put me back together again.” He knows exactly what is wrong in our lives and puts us back together the way he sees fit! So why do we worry? We’re still human. God recognizes that. We are extremely blessed because He looks at us the way He looks at His Son. Incredible!
Your story matters. How will you use it to change the world?
I’ve been trying to think of the perfect gift for my mother. I am quite aware I missed the Mother’s Day boat. Every Mother’s day I wonder, how any gift could ever match up to anything my mom has lovingly sacrificed for me? Well, that would be one hard gift to find.This is not to say you shouldn’t give your mom something for Mother’s Day. Rather, just remember that mothers are something to be celebrated every single day! They’re not babysitters who go home after their hours are completed–lucky you!
It is crazy to think that in just a few crazy weeks, I’ll be graduated from High School with 30 college credits. I’m convinced I couldn’t have made it through without my mother. I bore the near impossible task of writing 100 words about both my parents in a tribute for graduation day. I could write a thousand about them both. I know I’m going to bawl my eyes out. Waterproof mascara is still on my graduation day shopping list.
My mom has been there for the roughly 1,600 days of school I’ve made it through thus far. And no not just to pick me up from the bus stop. In fact, I rode on a school bus for the first time just this past weekend and it was nothing special. From day one, she has been my teacher. Kindergarten through twelfth grade, she’s been my favorite. Without my mom, I wouldn’t be having an awesome graduation party. There are twenty-five days and counting until graduation. My graduation party is this weekend. I told my mom way back when that I had no idea what I wanted I just didn’t want it to be an expensive extravaganza. Based off of my vague suggestions she’s been planning menus, ordering floral arrangements, and making Costco runs. She says ‘Oh Kayla I hope it’s what you wanted and you’re not disappointed.’ She ordered my graduation announcements and has been collecting items and pictures for my ‘senior shrine’ to be displayed at the senior dessert and after the graduation ceremony. I swear the only thing I’ve done so far is stuff envelopes. She reminded me of every yearbook deadline, although she knew I received every reminder e-mail. She is quite aware I have been putting too many things on my ‘will do tomorrow’ list.
My mom has been at my side through every health crisis and surgery–well OK so it was just one surgery. I’ve had multiple MRI’s, EEG’s, CT scans, heart monitors, you name it I’ve had it etc. She packed my lunches for summer camp when I was on a 15 carbohydrates a day diet in hopes that it would hamper my absence epilepsy episodes. She has also been there for every celebration and birthday party. She attended every choir performance and every piano recital. She’s gone with me to pick out every spring formal dress. She attended nearly every t-ball, basketball, softball, and soccer game. She washes my sheets and cleans my room before I arrive home from every camp and mission’s trips–trust me, it’s the best thing ever. She even made my first Barbie cake.
My mom has been my listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. She’s the greatest girlfriend ever. I can borrow her clothes, share secrets and only with her can I laugh until I cry while watching Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock in the Proposal.
She’s proofread nearly every report, essay, and analysis I’ve ever written, starting with my first book reports and simple five paragraph Academic essays. To this day, nearly every paper I write, she still reads— consequently, every single essay she hasn’t proofread has had the most grammatical errors. She let me stay up until midnight reading chapter books, but thankfully, she also made sure I survived every math lesson. She explained every problem in every way she knew how. She tells me all the time, “your best is different from everyone else’s best. If your best is a C then so be it.” Believe me, it’s not always what I want to hear, but it’s always exactly what I need to hear.
Somebody told me the other day that I am very patient and tolerant, and that it must be because I have six brothers and one sister. I first took it as a compliment, and then I thought “Who am I kidding?! Clearly, this guy has never met my mom before!”
There’s a joke in our house, especially between me and mom, that ‘nothing is ever lost until your mom can’t find it.’ If I complained about my brain being elsewhere, I’m pretty sure she could redirect my focus.
Proverbs 31 Woman
My mom is a Proverbs 31 woman. She spends her rare moments of solitude reading the Bible. She has her priorities straight. She has hair that would make Marilyn Monroe jealous and can rock red lipstick more than any other forty-two year-old woman I know. I sure hope I inherited those great genes!
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Proverbs 30: 30-31
Mothers, we take advantage of them all the time. They do our laundry, cook our meals, remind us to scrub behind our ears, and pick-up our rooms. Even more importantly, they hold our hand as we crawl, walk, and run this crazy race called life. Whoever the mother is in your life, don’t forget to tell them how much they mean to you.
Shoes speak. Shoes define each and every individual. Shoes tell the story of where people are going and the places they’ve been. Shoes show the wear and tear of each journey. Shoes display the hardships, the trials, the good times, and the bad. Shoes show where and how each occupant has attempted to make repairs when times became tough; these repairs are evident in patches, in clumsy stitches, and crisp white laces. Behind every brand name and every sandal, slipper, sneaker, and stiletto is a story.
What about that person without shoes? How is his or her story told? Their story is told in the cuts, scrapes, blisters, broken toenails and callus upon callus. Their story is told by the layers of dust, dirt, mud, and sand which coat every inch of tough leathery skin. No one questions a person without shoes. They’ve walked down every path, battled every storm, crossed every valley, and climbed every mountain. The person without shoes has more stories than the person with a closet full of them.
On average, every American buys 8 pairs of shoes each year. 8 PAIRS. What do your shoes say about you? Does your story simply say you are returning to the mall for yet another pair to add to your collection?
When I first rolled out of bed at 8:00 am this morning, snow was falling. Washington’s seasons seemed to have been mixed up. I wasn’t all that surprised. the past few days we’ve had everything from sun to sleet. Once I drank my morning mocha and ate my Nutella toast, I tried not to let the weather get the best of me. How could one possible be upset with such a well-balanced meal?!
Snow and all, the beginning of a bluebird day was on the horizon.
Right now my feelings regarding this type of weather is neutral Not one day of school was cancelled during the winter quarter. Now that I have a nice long spring break, it is 38 degrees outside with a chance of snow, rain and thunderstorms. Funny how that works
This picture was taken around 8:30 am or 9:00 am and now-pushing 3:00 in the afternoon- everything is exactly as it was yesterday. Wet and Cold. This combination seems to be the perfect excuse to not be productive. However if every seattleite chose that easy way out it would not be a pretty picture.
You Know You Are A Seattleite When:
It’s February and fifty degrees outside and everyone orders their beverage of choice at the coffee shop iced.
In March your Facebook news feed is filled with instagram pictures, phone pictures, tweets, and statuses complaining about classes not cancelled, pictures of snow either present in your yard or absent, and road-trippers on their way to Disneyland or some other warm sunny place.
Residents wear flip-flops beginning in February at the first glance of sun.
Within the same day of snowfall,the phrases “spray tan” and “yay it’s snowing are used interchangeably.
You take Zertec and Vick’s because your allergies are awful and you think you might be coming down with a cold as well.
Your vitamin D level is thirty, which would be normal if you lived anywhere BUT Seattle. The “new norm” is fifty. (Not even joking, my doctor put me on a daily supplement.)
Breaking of the “normal” weather cycle is actually normal.
On a near daily basis you comment to your friend,
“Aw man, it’s raining outside.” They reply, “What’s new?”
If you live in the suburbs, umbrellas are reserved for tourists and foreigners only, except on rare occasions.
Groundhog’s Day means nothing to most people. It merely remains a great excuse to watch the movie.
Being snowed in on spring break is very easily a potential problem.