Be Present…

What a powerful week! I’m sure you know by now from all my tweets and Facebook posts that Jose and I are in the states and just attended the Catalyst Conference. This is a conference where 13,000 Christian leaders come together for fellowship – sharing ideas – and learning new ways of thinking! What that means for me is taking LOTS AND LOTS of notes from some of the top leaders in the ministry. And let me just tell you my notebook is COMPLETELY FULL!

For those of you who read my blog faithfully – it’s been pretty evident that we’ve been going through some personal struggles. I’m a pretty straight forward person – sometimes to my detriment. When your mind is full of other things – it’s hard sometimes to sit down and blog as if everything is rainbows.  The last few months I have had a hard time even forcing myself to sit down and write. Yet I know that God uses me to reach others and I often do that through my writings.

Right now I feel like I could blog for about 5 days straight! God has used this entire week to really speak to Jose and I. We’ve enjoyed the silence . I think we forgot what that’s like when you have 7 kids!  But more than that – we’ve had time to grieve together, laugh together, be silent together, and play together! 🙂

Not only is my notebook full – but my heart and my mind are as well!  When I flew out of Haiti last week – my glass wasn’t just half-full. It was empty – nearly shattered – and missing most days.  Yet I’m flying back into Haiti tomorrow with an overflowing stainless steel pitcher of God’s love  –  grace  – and mercy.

As I said before – I could blog for days but I want to take some time to absorb and read-through all of those notes that I took! I do however want to share about the Catalyst theme. The theme was – BE PRESENT. Now that seems really simple and straight forward. But just like anything else – there are many layers to what Being Present really means. I just want to share a a few of those layers today.

So the conference opened with a few short speeches about – Being Present. What does that really look like? They had a little pendulum that swung back and forth representing the time. And so often we are thinking of the next thing or the last thing – that we miss what’s going on during the current swing (of the pendulum).

The speaker asked us to  – BE PRESENT. TO BE THERE. TO BE FULLY ENGAGED. To be Present in our communities.  To be Present in our daily lives. To be Present in our families. To be Present in what is happening around us. To stop tweeting about what just happened or taking a picture of what is before us. Those things are actually distracting us from being Present right now. No – for the next few moments we need to get off the computer  – off the phone –  off Twitter – off Facebook  – and “BE THERE IN THE MOMENT”.

***

I was really shocked to see SO MANY team members at this conference. It’s crazy to think that we literally live in different worlds – or at least different countries – and yet here we randomly meet in Atlanta! Of course I’ve learned that nothing is ever random! 🙂

So – after the first break we met up with several short-term missionaries (people who’ve been to Haiti with the mission). Actually EVERY break we met up with people.  Anyways one of the leaders said to Jose and I – “I guess you could tune-out that first part of the session. I just wished we could be as Present as you are”. It was hard for me to respond to that because as soon as it was said another team member started talking to me.

We walked back to our seats and sat down and just looked at each other. Seriously?  Are you kidding? People want to be as “Present” as we are? Believe me. No they don’t. I listened to the same opening speakers and felt REALLY convicted. I thought why aren’t I doing more? Why aren’t I PRESENT instead of worrying about things I can’t change. Or thinking about the future of the Mole and the mission.  Or wishing I could change something of the past.

There are moments where the needs outside my door are too much and I just want to hide. When someone asks if they can speak to me – I know that what they want to share with me is too much for me to hear. On those days – I am definitely not PRESENT.

There are also days when I am so caught up in the ministry – in all the things I need to do that day – – that I have no time for these beautiful kids God gave me. I will hear the twins knocking on my office door and Mme Nene telling them that mommy is busy. I have heard Malaya tell strangers/group members that my mommy spends all her time working.

As I begin to reflect – I can see how my children in some ways are like those little kids on the street. They attach whole-heartedly to teams and are truly sad when they leave. Groups not only feel a void for the Haitian children –  but often they feel a void for mine.

Not because I’m up to no good.  Not because I don’t love them or try to make family time. No. You see I feel convicted to help those with no voice. I have neighbors with child-slaves. I have villagers consumed with evil. I have teens who believe they don’t matter and it’s too late for them to be pure again. I have towns who’ve never heard of the Messiah. I am dealing with “poisoned” watermelon – frustrated church leaders –  and corrupt politicians.  I’m doing the “Lord’s work”.  What I sometimes neglect to see or am unaware of – is that sometimes those with no voice live in the same house as me and THEY need me to be Present!

So you see – – I am afraid there are days that I’m not very “PRESENT” in one way or another. I share that with you because I think for most of us in the ministry  – we believe by default – we’re “there”. Our work is His and nothing is more important. And what I’m afraid is happening is while we are planning tomorrow and thinking of what could have gone better yesterday – all those things  – are keeping us from today’s swing!

Comments

  1. Jody, I want to speak truth to you. I do not, nor have ever lived in Haiti yet there are many needs outside my door. I, as you have, have put my children’s needs at bay for the needs of other children whom I perceived needed me more. I am a mother…I am also a caring servant of God. Don’t beat yourself up about not always being present…I think just being cognizant and making those other choices is tantamount. You are a great mom! Your children love you and it is obvious. What else is evident is that they are LEARNING from you. They spread the Word in the streets, they have their own VBS, they know what is important because you and Jose have shown them the love of the Lord! Don’t ever doubt that, it is obvious to anyone who meets your family. You are making a huge impact on Haiti but also on those of us who have met you and have fallen in love with service all over again. Thank you! You will be in my daily prayers as you return home!

  2. Sadonna Myers says:

    Thank you for sharing your love, joy & the concerns you have for all that you do & how it plays in the world, in general. We have just participated in a huge Prayer Chain Day here in Flint, MI. We had many, many people praying along a 10 mile area of the main road through the area & it was so gratifying being able to be a small part of it. You can check out some photos by going to my Facebook page & see the cross a man brought that has gone to many countries as he spreads the word about praying for God’s people to be brought back to Him, & to banish the evil that has taken over too many of them. I often pray for you all back there in Haiti & as I usually wear nail polish with glitter, I tell people it is to remind me daily to pray for the children of Haiti. It was such a sweet time when I was there at the mission in St. Louis & painted on many of the girls fingers. Afterward they walked all over showing how shiny & sparkly their nails were & oh, how they smiled with something so simple. I can’t go back anytime soon, but still work behind the scenes for the mission, as we gather things to send there. God bless & keep you always. Say HI to mom & dad for me.

  3. Gretchen Austin says:

    Jody,
    Thanks for sharing. Can you be present everywhere at the same time? No. My grandmother always said, “Tend to the Lord’s work first, and everything will fall into place.” You have fantastic kids and God uses them to touch our lives as well. For me, having three sweet faces greeting me every morning made it a little easier to be away from my kids at home. Their hearts are big and that’s because they see your big hearts.

    I am glad your cup is full. Know that you are in our prayers daily!
    Gretchen Austin

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