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Always More

Quick updates about life in Abaco before I get into the newsletter. First, in February we had the Story Hills Church men’s team from North Carolina come down for a week to help with a multitude of things, but especially helping rebuild some of the Agape's school and classroom in our gymnasium. It was such a huge blessing and I was very grateful for their generous hearts! Many Hands Tutoring Program that I have been helping with once a week with Mrs. Lysa has recently moved into the local public school doing more of a pullout program during the schooling day to help kids with their reading and writing instead of an after school program. Please keep Mrs. Lisa in your prayers as she transitions to this new set up and program to help kids with their reading skills. My small group of girls celebrated galentines in honor of valentine's day a few weeks ago, each designing our own charcuterie boards, playing games, and just good old bonding time. So things have been busy this past month, but full of blessings and big projects on the way!


Let’s get really honest for a moment … I am really hard on myself and have been really struggling this month. I have been struggling with shame and guilt from my past feeling dirty and anything but beautiful lately. So much so it has been causing me to hold back in relationships with others around me and those back in the states because I have felt anything but worthy of love from others. Not the best feelings to be going through, but we all have our moments. Even as I write this I am still struggling with these emotions. So on that very “cheerful” opening I would like to share the hope I have about all these pitiful, but yet very real emotions I am sure we all struggle with at times and probably often don’t admit out loud.

So something that would be good to know about me is that I am such an adrenaline junkie and like doing extreme adventures since I was in middle school with my best friend Kendra (Man, I miss those days a lot). Kendra is a great friend at pushing me out of my comfort zone from learning to ski where I cried for forty-five minutes at the top a hill scared to go down, jumping off cliffs into bodies of water (*cough cough* she usually had to push me off, which I appreciate), rock climbing, camping, backpacking, learning how to ride a horse for the first time, and so much more. I give Kendra Hilliard (aka Kendra Biery) a lot of credit for my love of the outdoors I have nowadays and my ability to face things that scare the bejeezus out of me. She always gives me courage to face my fears.

Something that I have always admired about Kendra in those hair-raising moments, but I’m sure would give most people a heart attack is her bold spirit that usually doesn't calculate the risk as much as she calculates the reward. When she goes out to conjure those terrifying moments she does it without a second thought and because of her calm and confident self does them flawlessly most days with elegant grace. She is a wonderful combination of bold and beautiful. Then because of my competitive spirit I would/do always mumble under my breath pulling up my metaphorical big girl pants about to also try to take on the same horror-striking challenge instead thinking of everything that could go wrong, but I ain’t no “chicken” so even with tears or screaming bloody murder I would also take on the challenge… however much less boldly or gracefully.

A little secret of mine is I always enjoy the journey leading to the mountain top moments like those with Kendra, but when it’s time to summit the mountain something in me always holds back thinking of everything that could go wrong, unlike Kendra who embraces the climb with optimism. I’m much more of testing the water kinda girl, looking for a guarantee of safety than cannonballing at full speed into the unknown. While that consciousness of safety has served me well in making some smart decisions and I’m sure kept me alive, it has also taken some really great opportunities away too.

One of my favorite preachers, Timothy Keller, in his book “The Meaning of Marriage” he revealed I think the key to the human heart in relationships. He says, “Our greatest desire is to be fully known and fully loved. Our greatest fear is to be fully known, but not fully loved.” Which leads me to the greatest mountain top experiences I am ashamed to say that I often hesitate the most to summit and that is forming deep relationships. So while I talked about the beauty of intentionality that God gave me to develop and maintain friendships doesn't make loving them any less terrifying and allowing them to see my own brokenness. My whole life I have always felt on the “run.” I never wanted to stay in my hometown, got out of college as quickly as possible, and in all honesty just wanted to escape my life and run away starting all over with people who know nothing about my unclean past and agonizing embarrassing moments. Right now more than ever I am struggling with shame and guilt about myself most days as I shared in the beginning. Recently, though I finished Lysa Terkeurst book “It’s Not Supposed to be this Way” has helped me look at those shameful parts a little differently when it comes to not just fully loving others, but also allowing them a chance to fully get to know me.

Lysa Terkerust says in her book in the last chapter talking about those hurtful moments that leave us wondering “why” she states; “You won’t know why this and that are happening. But there is a part of the why you will come to know. Look around, you will see the part of why I do want you to know. You’ll find it in the eyes of every human you brush up again or bump into or barrel over or dare to embrace. In their eyes will be secret sorrow, deep wound, a scared child. You were made to connect with that person. Really connect. But you’ll never ever connect with your perfections and performance. All that’s slick and shiny about you repels them or scares them to make them shrink back. But your tears? Oh, they are liquid magnets drawing others in. They are a river of reality. A healing for hurt. A bonding for brokenness.

“You see, it’s through your tears that people are united. It’s what makes you a safe person to others when you simply whisper, “Me too, Me too.”

“You won’t have to bring them answers. Just your peaceful presence. And right then and there your heart will feel like it could just explode with joy that you have imperfections. They’ll invite you to stay when they realize you haven’t skipped through life untouched by failures and faults and being made to feel fragile by others.”

Perfection intimated. Compassion inspires. And in that you will finally find the why. Why did this happen? Because there's someone else in the world who would drown in their own tears if not for seeing yours. And when you make one other human simply see they aren’t alone, you make the world a better place.”

This simple short portion of Lysa’s chapter has given me so much needed inspiration to continue my journey to summit the mountain tops of relationships with each person I met here and those I left behind in the states, knowing that these imperfections about myself will serve a greater purpose than any of my flawless qualities. A dear friend wrote to me once in a birthday letter when I turned twenty-one saying, “Something that I appreciate about you include your willingness to be vulnerable and let others in, your tendency to love quickly and without holding back, and your passion you have for the things that matter to you…When I think of you, I think of someone who is willing to step into the things that are messy and hard and allow people to witness the light coming in… Even in the midst of fears, you have stepped bravely in what God has for you…” I’m not always that girl as she wrote about almost two years ago now, but she saw the best in me, knowing me fully and loving me fully as the broken vessel I am. So, instead of hiding the cracks edged upon all our lives I wanted us to all be brave enough to let the cracks be seen because without allowing others to see our imperfections they will never see the light (that light being Jesus 😉) that shines within that provides us life, joy and courage to take on hair-raising moments, such as daring to love others unconditionally and even …. ourselves.

The most courageous thing we can do with our lives is to love unconditionally. I had a conversation with a Bahamian gentleman who was conveying some of his struggles with dating and relationships. As we were talking about it and comparing it to Christ and the love Jesus shows others in relationships the gentleman said something to me that took me by surprise, “You speak of Jesus, this man who displayed unconditional love to others, but how am I suppose to find or give that to another if I have never experienced it myself?”

Fair point man, how is anyone supposed to know our great Creator who is the very verb for this profound emotion that never fails called “Love.” That my friends is what the great commission we are all called to do ….love. But how can we do it better so that people like my dear Bahamian friend and others can understand enough to get the aroma of God? I think that answer lies in Ephesians 3:20 and a famous phrase #AlwaysMore by Audrey Roloff.

Ephesians 3:20; “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.” So when we come to those mountain top moments when we are just about to summit, but hesitating for all the many different reasons we can come up with … think Always More. Right when you think about burning out or too scared to take the next step into allowing yourself to be open or be enveloped by others' love, think of these words shared by Audrey, “Because of Him there's always more strength, power, and endurance through Christ's power alive in me. You always have more through Christ. Christ gives us immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. With Christ there is always more to look forward to, more to be thankful for, more to give, more fun to be had, more reason to rejoice, more blessings to receive, more fruit to bear, more growth in faith, more peace to experience, more mercy to grant, more wisdom to gain, and more reason to love.” So don’t calculate the risk like I do often when showing unconditional love, but be like my dear tenacious Kendra going for the reward, holding nothing back in the name of Love!

Prayer Request

  1. Building Relationships with others and loving them well.

  2. Growing fully into the person God designed me to be and for my heart to be encouraged.

  3. Giving myself more grace.

  4. My 5th grade students and small group girls.

  5. Some big projects in the works that are yet to be announced and God's will for them here in Abaco.

Story Hill Church Men's Mission Team

Tutoring With Mrs. Lisa, 5th Grade, and Galentines with small group girls.

Beauty of Abaco

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