Here we are- in a cold, somewhat snowy, wintery world.
The contrast to my vibrant, tropical, sunshine-y life is hard most days.
There is also peace- my soul needed rest.
2019 was a year to remember but probably one of the toughest years we have faced so far. We experienced much loss and in many forms. We endured the hardship of evacuating and the unknowns of when we could get back to our little island home. We grieved much in 2019- loss in all forms. Death was no stranger to us this last year, taking loved ones from us and leaving behind sorrow.
So here we are, putting one foot in front of the other as we walk this road. It feels a little hard sometimes and just when we begin to feel completely alone or broken down, God brings us hope and confirmation in Him alone.
Reflecting on 2019 and the hardships is easy but it is not the focus. I share these sorrows and trials with you because I want you to realize we are oh so human- fleshy and broken. The strength you might think we walk in is actually not ours but something we are graced with by God alone. We can do none of this by our own strengths or plans but only by God's.
This last year has taught me many lessons and none of them were learned lightly.
"Here is my heart, Lord, I open it vulnerable to glorify you Father."
God has been faithful countless times- over and over again. The things He sometimes uses to remind me of this make me laugh (like socks when my few pairs are all but destroyed from being washed in Haiti). Sometimes His faithfulness is exemplified in late night conversations with a friend, or a Christmas card given after a fun day out bringing joy back to the smile lines on my face. His faithfulness is always displayed when one of you sends an encouraging word or a thoughtful donation. We have such great needs and lack of funding for those needs and boy does God really enjoy showing off as He provides ways that only He can do. His faithfulness also goes beyond our physical needs and wants but in the ways He carries us gently through this life.
The biggest lesson we have learned this year is about L O V E.
The last year has been difficult but the Lord continues to guide, mold, lead, and speak to our journey. He provides for us, He makes a way where there seems to be none. He does all of this (not because we are worthy of it) but because He loves us. He desires for us to grow in His love and for it to spill over to empower the Haitian people. Though there were hardships and loss, we still cling to God's goodness because no matter what God is still GOOD.
We are thankful for the ways God confirms our visions and the scriptures He lays on our hearts to form the foundations of our community center initiative:
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power. together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and how long and how high and how deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses all knowledge-- that you may be filled to the measure with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:16-21
We are so thankful for the Lord's faithfulness to us and our mission in Haiti. We are thankful to Father God for all of you, too. For those of you who have listened, prayed, donated, encouraged, hugged and blessed us in more ways than we can even count. Together through Abide in Love we will bring glory to God and further the kingdom. Together we will teach everyone we work with to Abide in the Love of the Father.
Stay tuned for how God used this last year of loss to teach us about "Everything Under the Sun", and to teach us to "Love Anyway."
As always dear readers- Abide in Love!
Kristen & Alex Bradshaw