Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One Step at a Time...

Goals. I live for them. Big ones, small ones – I just need them to keep me moving…and in the right direction. A day without a “to do” list is not a good day. So, when I’m focused on a goal or a task, there’s very little that can distract me or pull me off course.

About 15 years ago, I set out to achieve the goal of becoming a tenured faculty member at research-focused university. Well, last week, that goal was realized. The Mississippi IHL Board approved the recommendation by the Mississippi State University President to tenure me and promote me to Associate Professor.

Monday, I resigned.

You see, I had MY goals and MY life plan (for about the next 20 years, if I’m being honest) but in those plans, had forgotten to account for God’s plans for my life.  A few years ago, He began to subtly change my course. When the earthquake struck Port Au Prince in 2010, I couldn’t turn away from the news coverage. It had an impact on me like no other natural disaster. I was 9 months pregnant with sweet Eli and knew going to Haiti (at that point) was not exactly an option (and if we’re being honest, wrote most of it off to pregnancy hormones!). But the desire to help didn’t subside and I began to look for other avenues to help…and found plenty (including learning how to sew, but that’s for another post!).

As my baby boy got older, I knew it was time to start exploring the possibility of going, and I traveled to Haiti for the first time in June 2012 (Thank you, Fairview Baptist for saying “Yes!” to me crashing your trip!). God allowed my heart to be completely broken for the people of Haiti, specifically for the area of Anse A Pitres. I fell in love with the organization I traveled with as well, as its mission fit my heart’s desire. When I returned, I began to volunteer my skills and time to help the organization grow and increase its visibility. I returned to Haiti in February 2013 (again, thanks to those who let me crash their trip!) with Hispaniola MountainMinistries (HMM), and that was when HIS plans for me and my skills, my talents, and my time began to become more evident.
HMM Medical Mission to Recif - February 2013
In just a few days, I will leave for my third trip to Haiti in the last year. It’s hard to believe (and I’m finally not crashing a trip! I helped plan this one!) and it’s amazing to see how God has continued to open doors for me to serve in this country. I am thrilled to (finally!) be traveling with my sweet husband as well as 20 other amazing people!
FUMC Louisville Haiti Mission Team - May 2013
When we return to the U.S. on June 1, I will be the Director of Communication for HMM. There is no job description. No salary line (YIKES!). No clear expectations or neat list of things "to do." At the same time, there is also not a lot of  “We’ve always done it this way." or “The person before you did this way.” either (YAY!). I am excited to see how God uses the HMM team He is putting together to continue to improve the lives of the people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Leaving the security of an academic appointment (especially one I have worked so hard to earn) was likely the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. I prayed for ‘burning bush’ moments or big billboards from God to affirm my direction and assure me I was on the right track. And He came through – oftentimes in bigger ways than I could have imagined. I wish I could say that His affirmation made writing that letter of resignation and leaving my position easier…but I’m human, and giving up comfort and security is not easy. But God continues to place the right people, situations, songs, verses, etc…in my life and in my heart at just the right moment to continue to move (ok, sometimes push) me in the right direction. Further, He opened doors for me to continue my halftime employment with the MSU SSRC.

I am anxious about so many things and the first time Jeff used the “m” word (missionary), it terrified me – the responsibility of that word is heavy. But then I remembered, He calls us ALL to be missionaries. Every day. In every situation. At home. At work. At the baseball field. At the gym. At the beach. In the checkout line at the grocery store. Our lives should reflect His amazing love and mercy in every situation so I’m (slowly) becoming more comfortable with that word…even though Jeff still jokes I’m going to be eaten by a lion. :-P

God doesn’t call us to live an easy life; He calls us to live a life where our weaknesses are revealed so that His power can be made clearly evident to others (2 Corinthians 12:9). Will these next steps be difficult? YES! Will raising support be trying and oftentimes frustrating? It’s likely. Will there be days when I miss the security of my old job? Maybe. But I am confident He has this and that I'm acting in accordance with His will for me and my family...and I’m trusting that even in the difficulties, He will be there.

Walton Family-
May 2013
So, here we go on this journey. A journey like none I’ve ever taken before…where the steps are not clearly laid out and neatly arranged (like I'd prefer it).

I humbly ask that you pray for my family as we begin this journey, and also that you be in prayer for the ministries of HMM. We will be sending more information about ways you can partner with us soon, and I hope you will prayerfully consider supporting this amazing ministry!

Until then…it’s one step at a time. 
Anse a Pitres, Haiti - HMM Promise Land Project