Often I reflect on my time in Haiti and think, man I want to write a book. I wrestle with writing a book when I know (or pray) my story is far from over. I have had a long journey over the last four years and have met some amazing people who I have written about. Most often I am reminded of them by Facebook’s stellar news feed. I often reflect on the people I have met here in Haiti when driving around; landmarks or restaurants reminding me of days gone by.
I know I have written about many of these people during my time over the years. I think of the difficult times I had, the days spent in prayer and uncertainty. Uncomfortable, hard days. Days when I now can look back and see the Lord at work. Days that were so overwhelming while I was in them, better days seemed far far away. Better days come and go, and I am grateful to know He has walked me through it all.
Sometimes I think back at those days and I can help but think, “How selfish am I.” How selfish am I to think my days were hard compared to those outside the gates of the various places I was so fortunate to lay my head down on. How selfish am I compared to the millions, starving, beaten, abused, broken, fighting their battle. Never have I gone to bed hungry or cold. Never have I gone to bed thinking, “God are you still there?”
The last four years has grown my faith in unmeasurable ways. Hardships I have experienced seem to be the thorn’s on the stem of flowers. If it weren’t for my thorns, I never would have come to the roses.
Facebook as I mentioned is a great reminder of the roses I have met over my time in Haiti. Today I was reminded of one woman in particular. I was staying temporarily at a guest house after what I thought was a devastating situation. I was reminded of God’s grace, how “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I am not sure I will ever lose the childish amazement when the Lord reveals himself in these situations. Here I am years later and still blessed, still seeing God use situations for His glory.
Over my time at the guest house, I met Stephanie Bowman. Stephanie was serving on a team with her two daughters. In a time I was really missing my own mom, I found myself drawn to Stephanie. She opened up to me and told me her story; addicted to drugs, abused, pregnant, but in the end, she has conquered. Like myself, Stephanie’s story is far from over, but I am count myself blessed to meet such a woman. Stephanie’s story is still going strong. She has taken her difficult situation and has turned it around to help others. She gives back to those who are not yet able to help themselves. Completely aware of what life can be like for women, Stephanie had a dream, a dream to impact the lives of others.
Stephanie started One Heart for Women and Children in Orlando, Florida. An organization that impacts about 1,000 people a month. People who are struggling, suffering and hurting. I think of how I show the love of the Lord to others and again I think, “How selfish am I?” How selfish am I when things get hard. My life is a dream compared to some. It does not fall on me how very blessed I am. My job, my family, my friends, my home-all filled with joy. I have people to turn to who have my best interest and happiness at heart; people who shower me with gifts and love and fill my heart with joy daily.
I am ever grateful for the reminder of people like Stephanie who are doing such big things for humanity and for His Kingdom and His glory. Stephanie, who doesn’t know it, has helped me to remember how blessed I am by her efforts to bless others. She is a continual reminder of how to be a disciple of the Lord, a true servant. Stephanie, who selflessly gives her love to strangers. Stephanie who was a rose to me when I was stuck in a thorn bush, who continues to be a rose and an inspiration to me.
I am grateful for the trials and welcome the difficult days, because it is from the bushes of thorns that we enjoy the beauty of roses.
and if you happen to be in the Orlando area, be sure to drop in and lend a hand.