When Aaron and I first got married he worked at church that was pretty affluent.  The first city we lived in was a fairly affluent city.  We were on the path to fulfilling the “great American dream” of 2 kids, nice car, white picket fence and of course a cute dog as well.  I was racking up credit card bills left in right to try and have the best clothes and make sure I was a good looking church staff wife.  I ate dinner in people's big houses and dreamed one day of having one myself.  It was all about ME.  What can I get for ME.  How can I have more for ME.

Then we moved to a small town outside of Nashville.

Then I went to Haiti.

My eyes were opened.  I had NEVER seen what I was seeing.  My world was changed.  I could not dare go back and think some of the thoughts I had been thinking my whole life.  I could not dare go back and complain about living in a house with ONLY two bedrooms, for my house with ONLY two bedrooms was a mansion compared to what I had just seen.

Sara Groves says it best in her song “I saw what I saw” ..

I saw what I saw and I can't forget it
I heard what I heard and i can't go back
I know what I know and I can't deny it

something on the road, cut me to the soul

your pain has changed me
your dream inspires
your face a memory
your hope a fire
your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
and what I know of love

we've done what we've done and we can't erase it
we are what we are and it's more than enough
we have what we have but it's no substitution

something on the road, cut me to the soul

You see that trip to Haiti in the Fall of 2006 forever changed me.  I will never be the same because God opened my eyes to the world around me.  The world where no one really lives like we do here in the states.  The world where people are forgotten and pushed down because of their race or class.  The world where I didn't fit in.

In 2007 we began a journey that would forever change our lives.  We committed to our two children Amos & Story and began visiting them often in Haiti.  We tried really hard to be there 4 times a year.   Not always together, but one of us there with them a few times a year.  Through those 2 years God continued to mold our hearts to see things through his eyes.

I remember making a statement that I needed Haiti.  I needed that place to remind me of who I am.  We're all desperate for Jesus.  We're all nothing without him.  You see, here in America there is so much stuff around us that we can begin to feel as though we don't need Jesus.  We can do this on our own.  When I would go to Haiti I would be reminded of the great love that God has for ALL his people.  I would meet people that by my standards had NOTHING, but yet the joy and happiness that flowed through them was something that I had never experienced in my years as a follower of Christ.  I was challenged greatly.

I decided I need to get out of my comfort zone a lot so that I could be the person he wanted me to be here.  I needed to be reminded of certain things.  I struggle with materialism.  Going to Haiti four times a year reminded me of that.

God changed our hearts in so many ways those two years.  Our goals in life changed. Our view of success changed.  Our dream home changed.  Our dream school for our kids changed.  Our dream retirement changed.  Our dreams were altered.  They were not diminished.  They were greatly enhanced by HIM.  He changed us.

I tell you all that to say that today I was reminded of how much I can be swayed into MY own dreams.  I still struggle with wanting more.  I still struggle with the “american dream”.  I have to chose to die to my own desires daily.  Some days I kick-a doing it and other days I am fighting for my life in it.

Today as I was driving home from my parents I had one thing on my mind. I was dreaming of expanding our home.  (let me clarify this before someone jumps down my throat here … nothing is wrong with expanding your home.  heck we may do it some day. stick with me here)  I was planning my dream laundry room.  I was planning a sun room.  I was planning a huge deck with lots of parties.  I was dreaming a study for all of us to do homework at night.  I was dreaming of a wall full of books.  I was literally building my dream home for us.  I was wanting and wanting and wanting an wanting and wanting.

Then I get home to this email from Aaron who has just spent the last four days in Haiti with our friends Troy and Tara:

This is the first time I've been here in 2 years.
It's completely unchanged.
Other than the new road that leads to nowhere and the many buildings no longer here because of the earthquake, this place remains the same.

Same poverty.
Same brokenness.
Still over-run by orphans and the sick.
Still oppressed by darkness.
Still stuck in a vicious cycle of corruption and evil.

Nothing has changed.
It seems untouched.
Women still abused.
Children still sold for sex and slavery.
White people still taking advantage of the black man, and black men still bitter about the white man taking advantage.

Nothing has changed.
Trash still clutters the streets, and weariness clutters the human heart.
Darkness still hangs at the end of every street, next to smoldering rubber tires and gang fights.
The land is still Barren.
Trees are still distant memories to a lost generation.

Nothing has changed.
Children still wander the streets without food in their bellies or fathers in their hearts.
Missionaries still love and care for the forgotten, while America chooses to forget while saving their money for a new car.
Orphaned teenage mothers still cry for their newborn cholera-stricken baby's fever to finally break.

Nothing has changed. Progress seems invisible.
But our God and His Kingdom are also invisible.
They aren't made up by progress, governments, and paved roads.
His kingdom contains things like faith the size of mustard seeds.
Cities on hills.
Fisherman turned missionaries.
Women who pour perfume on dusty feet.
Peacemakers and forgivers.
Those who hunger not for food or drink, but for righteousness.
Friends that turn cities upside down with a crazy gospel.
And children who kill giants.
His kingdom is different.
The invisible here contains things like faith, trust, love, kindness, and generosity. And even though its invisible, I can see it.

So even though nothing has seemingly changed, everything is changing. And the fight must continue. So, we keep giving. And crying. And pleading. And hoping for Him to come back.

This we boast in… He is unchanged.

I sat here and bawled.  I bawled.  Aaron is there.  I am here.  I'm fighting wanting a bigger laundry room and people there are fighting to live.  I'm wanting a bigger game room to host more friends.  People there are wanting  a hospital to save their baby.  I'm wanting a sun room with a really cool sliding door that I saw on Pintrest and people there are wanting a house that's not a tent to keep them out of the harsh weather.

I suck.

I am that same girl I first told you about.

She is always there.

I fight her daily.

I know this.  I am reminded of this today once again.  I will not give in to her though.  My selfish heart will not win.  Jesus paid too big of a price for me to give in to her once again.  God is in Haiti.  God is here.

I will chose to die to my self.  I will chose HIM.  It is not all about ME.

Jamie Ivey