Oh friends. What a tough few weeks it has been.
I honestly do not even know where to begin. I am having all the feelings, all over the place, all the time. We have been DISCOURAGED. (Note the all caps words will have a purpose at the end ;)
To be completely honest and get a little messy with you guys- it is exhausting being face to face with so much need and lack on the daily. Daily we are asked for money or a job or a loan and we are not in a place right now to provide for all the people we encounter. Imagine the people in your neighborhood needing a business loan and coming to you for it or a friend you work with asking for money for her kid to be able to go to school. It is TIRESOME. Not to mention the random people who ask us for stuff all the time while we are out and about.
Not that I think handouts are the solution to Haiti's problems because they are NOT. I firmly believe in empowerment which just so happens to take a little more effort. Alex and I have been dreaming again. Dreaming of a community center and looking at properties. We normally love to dream but we have been experiencing attacks on our dreams yet again. Many of you saw how things crumbled for us last year. Many of you saw how plans fell apart, the house and space was rented from under us, and the two month struggle of finding a house in our small budget. We just had a similar situation happen recently where we found a property we were in love with and it has the potential of falling through. This is DISHEARTENING.
Other feelings have surfaced for me because it is the week of Mother's Day and (again- just being honest) this is the holiday I dread most throughout the year. Mother's Day has become a holiday where I watch so many others celebrate while I continue to grieve the last six years of emptiness. If you have struggled with infertility you understand what that last sentence means. If you have not, I am not saying my life has been empty of purpose or passion but just something is missing and it comes from the empty womb. If you are walking this journey out just know you are not alone and it is ok to grieve. It is ok to wrestle with God. And if people tell you things like you are not praying enough or do not have enough faith- remember how Job's friends were. I personally know how hard you pray, how often you pray, the depth of your prayers, and the faith you have had to develop to keep pushing through each day. I am always around if you need someone to walk in the mess with. I completely understand the DESPERATION you face.
We also miss our own moms. This time of year especially brings up feelings of missing out and guilt for not being there to celebrate what wonderful women they are. Please feel free to give our mommas hugs from us and love on them. We so appreciate the faith and prayer they have in us daily. We honor the women they have to be to have their kids telling them the stories we share and the danger we are put in sometimes. Also- please encourage them to come visit us! I'm going to be so bold as to ask for people to donate to their trips here. It would be so wonderful for them to see in person some of the things we get to do! (*Shameless Plug*;) Being away from family and friends can be awfully LONELY.
That's just it. This life is messy. Battles come our way. Armies come against us in various form. We all face LONELINESS, DESPERATION, DISHEARTENING CIRCUMSTANCES, TIRESOME TRIALS, AND DISCOURAGEMENT.
But please do not quit. Please do not give up.
Can I take all that messiness and let you know it's actually beautiful?
It's actually the ashes of our life that God is trading for BEAUTY.
When we feel overwhelmed and stuck in the hardship, not sure how we are going to fight the battles... God is already waiting. You see, if you read about Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, he had three armies coming after him and his people. They were most definitely outnumbered. Jehoshaphat was worried but he prayed a powerful prayer. What was so powerful about his praying? He trusted God while admitting he had no idea what to do and knew the situation was bigger than their fight.
Look at all the ugly, messy stuff in your life. DO IT! Then start trusting God is turning those ashes into beauty. He is growing you in the tiresome trials. He is befriending you in the lonely, He is encouraging you in the discouragement. He is giving you His heartbeat when you are too disheartened to find your way. And in the desperation, He is fighting your battle for you. All you have to do is give it to Him. Pray and cast your cares, then Praise Him through it.
Jehoshaphat prays to God acknowledging his own weakness and lack- then acknowledging God for who He is, trusts Him completely. Then the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Jahaziel, and He said,
"Listen all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don't be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord's victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!" 2 Chronicles 20:15-17
After this King Jehoshaphat bows down and worships God.
The battle has not been won yet but he worships anyway! He trusts anyway!
The King reminds the people before the battle to trust God. He then appoints singers to go before their army praising and thanking God for His holy splendor. At the moment the singers start singing and praising- the Lord causes the enemy armies to start killing each other and by the time King Jehoshaphat's army reaches them there is no one left to fight!
God fought the battle for them. Hallelujah for such good news. What's more- the people got to take home all the plunder which took three days because there was so much.
Such a long blog to tell you all that the battle is not yours, it is God's. Let Him have it, trust He will bring beauty from ashes and then praise Him freely because His victory is YOURS!
**If you are walking out some of these tough things right now please take a look at some resources to help you find that victory that is already within you!
Abide in Love Friends- it's the only way to live this messy life.
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Kristen & Alex Bradshaw