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Hear My Words

I am guilty.  I am guilty of hearing words and adding my own meaning to the words.  I am guilty.  I am guilty of allowing conflict to arise because not only did I hear the words spoken, but I created 10 million more words to follow which changed the original intent of the words.  Am I the only guilty party?  I recently read a quote that has rocked my world in terms of words.

Words are an empty jar waiting to be filled.

How do I often fill my empty jar of words?

I fill my empty jar with personal feelings or circumstances.

“Hey Chelsea, is that a new shirt?” -Words

“Oh my goodness, I knew I should not have worn this shirt today!  Argh, out of all things I could have picked…” -My filling

I fill my empty jar with “what I think they meant…”

“I need you to get this done today.” -Words

“Great, they are already disappointed in me!  I am so embarrassed, they probably think I am incapable of accomplishing even the smallest of tasks…” -My filling.

Words are constantly being spoken.  I think our minds may combust if we tried to fathom how many words a person may hear in a lifetime.  Suffice it to say, with all the words floating around, there is plenty of room to fill these empty jars with some pretty dangerous lies.  How does one avoid conflict, disappointment, and roller coasters of emotions from all the words?!

I’ll never forget a scene between Trey and I, when I was not filling his jar of words with the truth he was intending to communicate.  It was in the midst of that conversation he gently stopped and said, “Chelsea, I need you to hear my words…”

How often in this word crazed social world does our heavenly Father cry out to us, “My daughter, I need you to hear my words…”

Stop listening to all that is going on around you, and paying so much attention to the words of others, turn and listen to my words!  We have been given The Word which became flesh to live among us (John 1:14).  When we hear His Words we allow our hearts to be slowly chipped away and our empty word jars are filled with truth…

“Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth.” John 17:17

When we hear His Words our minds see clearly as we focus on the truth and are not clouded by the words that flow from others.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

When we hear His Words, they become our delight.  They are sweeter than any other, and they become our greatest treasure.

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103

Let us change the beginning quote, words are not empty jars simply waiting to be filled.  Instead, Words are an empty jar, let us strive to have His Words fill every space!

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Does He Know?

It’s been a while since we have shared about our lovely canine Creole.  Yes, the Great Dane purchased via Craigslist, whom left his first home in Alabama to join our home in Haiti.  We have been graced with the presence of this wonderful canine friend for more than a year now!  This is truly hard to believe.  I remember it like it was yesterday…

There I stood at baggage claim in Port-au-Prince wondering where in the world I was supposed to find my “faithful furry friend.”  I knew he was boarded on the plane because the flight attendant gave me a cute little sticker that said “Puppy on Board.”  However, we landed far from U.S. soil and all of a sudden my cute little sticker did not hold much meaning in the ever crowded, slightly overwhelming airport.  My mind raced at the baggage claim as I wondered where in the world I was supposed to find our dog, when all of a sudden I began to hear several people in the crowd say, “Aww…look…”

It was then, nestled in between suitcases covered with hot pink duct-tape and other distinguishable markings our Crazy Canine Creole came around on the baggage claim!  “That ones mine,” I exclaimed as two onlookers grabbed his crate and helped me hoist it on my cart with the rest of my luggage.  We did it, we had arrived in Haiti, all in one piece, and were ready to make our way up the mountain to introduce him to his new home sweet home.

A lot has changed for Creole as he has embraced his Haitian lifestyle.  He does not get to go on walks through the park, or chow down on fancy left overs.  Instead, he enjoys his evening prowls around the mission campus, and his fair share of day old bread his owners forgot to put in the fridge (and of course PLENTY of dogfood).  The past few months have been quite different for Trey and I as we prepare for Baby Boy Salter, and we are beginning to see some differences from our canine friend as well.

Does he know things are changing in our home?!  Great Danes are people dogs, they cannot stand to be alone.  Throughout the past couple of weeks Creole has been incredibly hungry for our attention.  We have a great fenced in area in our backyard where he can play and rest all day while we are gone.  However, he has found a way of escape and regularly jumps out to follow us when he hears the door to our house open.  Not only is he escaping his outdoor quarters to be with us, but he is very protective on the home front.

Even as I write this blog he has gotten off of his pillow SEVERAL times to investigate any and all outdoor noises.  He is VERY alert as to who may be coming anywhere close to our house.  He is familiar with our friends, but does not like it when strangers approach.  Are his “protective instincts” showing through?  While I don’t mind a good bark every now and again (I know our dog would never hurt anyone) it would be nice if I had a bit of a warning before he did it.  I’m convinced I’m going to be on the floor one day due to jumping out of my skin from his silence crashing barks.  Along with his attention craving, overprotective nature, he is becoming quite moody!

When I have to discipline him for leaving his fence or getting into food in the kitchen, he pouts!  There is no way to make this stuff up.  He will literally sit down and turn his back on us to show his disapproval.  Or, better yet, he will intentionally place himself in front of me, and refuse to look at me.  Seriously?!  These unique behaviors continue to occur as the days progress, I seriously think he knows something is up around this place and he’s trying to figure out where he fits.

So, Creole, if you ever see this…Know you have a very unique place in our home and will not be forgotten once baby comes.  But, if you could please cut down on the jail breaks and the moodiness we would greatly appreciate it!  This pregnant momma has enough emotions to keep this house hoppin’ for quite some time, we do not need you adding to it!

Your People, Trey & Chelsea & Baby Boy Salter

 

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Peanut Butter Pick Me Up

My man and I can flat out eat, let me tell ya!  We love our sweets and salties, and all around tasty goodness.  Our time in Haiti has caused me to step out a bit into the “made from scratch” world.  Pillsbury and Betty Crocker mixes just get a tad too expensive when they are shipped overseas.  I must say, each time I step into a new recipe, I am terrified!  I have been known to mess up quite a few things that should have been quite simple…

However, I am pleased to announce, in an effort to give a little first of the week “pick-me-up” to my man last night, I stumbled upon greatness.  Let me introduce you to some Peanut Butter goodness that will indeed be worth your while!

Peanut Butter Texas Sheet Cake

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 c. butter
1 c. water
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. buttermilk

Peanut Butter Icing:

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. plus 1 T. milk
16-oz. pkg. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla extract

Cake:  Sift together flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl; set aside. Combine butter, water and peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Add to flour mixture and mix well; set aside. Combine eggs, vanilla and buttermilk; add to peanut butter mixture. Spread into a greased 15″x10″ jelly-roll pan (I used a regular cake pan and simply allowed the cake to bake a few extra minutes to completion). Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until it springs back when gently touched.

Prepare Peanut Butter Icing: Combine butter, peanut butter and milk in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in powdered sugar and vanilla to a spreading consistency. Spread Peanut Butter Icing over warm cake. Makes 15 to 20 servings.–

If you are like me, you just read through the recipe and decided “thanks, but no thanks” I’ll stick to boxed desserts.  Girlfriend, you don’t want to miss this!  As much time as it takes, you know you are truly baking when sifting & homemade icing is involved.  In an effort to not feel as though I was “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen” all afternoon, I listened to a 45 minute sermon, that I had been wanting to hear for quite some time.   So, I buckled down in the kitchen and prepared to make a mess, but all the while, hoping it turned out just right.

Note:  You will probably be able to make the cake far quicker than me, I tend to read, re-read, and then read one more time, every step to ensure I do not have a random mess-up!  One thing I’ve learned in this “made from scratch” world, every teaspoon, pinch, and sift matters.  The completion of this baking endeavor was a kitchen that smelled of peanut butter goodness and a husband that was pleasantly surprised…

“Oh my goodness, I think I am going to go blind this is so good!”  These were the exact words that came from Trey’s mouth after his first bite.  Although my intentions were not blindness, I think the cake achieved its goal.  What are you waiting for, get the flour a sifting and brace yourself for some scrumptious goodness to put a boost in your week.

P.S. The cake only gets better on day two!  That is if you can make it last that long…

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Bernadette…

Every now and again the Lord brings people across our path we will never forget.  What can seem to be “neat connections” or “random encounters” are truly God ordained meetings meant to point us towards Him and bring glory to His name.

Saturday afternoon, we had a special encounter with a precious sister, Bernadette Todd did just this for me.

Bernadette is friends with a friend of ours, Bob Brumley, who lives in Florida.  A few weeks ago Bob told us about Bernadette, he said she was coming to Haiti for a quick visit and thought we should meet.

As we sat around a table Saturday afternoon my heart broke as Bernadette vividly recalled the sight of her parents on their knees weeping, through a cracked door as a 5 year old, because they knew their daughter was sick and they could not help her.  She shared with us painful treatment after treatment that was attempted by doctors and voodoo doctors alike, only to be left without a solution.  Bernadette was told she would not live past the age of 8, due to an infantile form of Muscular Dystrophy.  Throughout her childhood Bernadette grew to believe she was a mistake, if there actually was a God, He messed up with her.

Fast forward to her college years, Bernadette had passed several obstacles the doctors never dreamed possible.  She was an intelligent woman and working hard in school when she met the man of her dreams, Jeff Todd.  There was only one problem, Jeff was a Christian; although he cared deeply for Bernadette he knew the Lord wanted him to marry a Christian.  Their first date, Bernadette’s 20th birthday, Jeff took Bernadette to church with him.

The pastor preached from Psalm 139:

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be…

The Lord had a plan for the life of Bernadette, and it was on that day she saw for the first time, she was not a mistake.  On her 20th birthday Bernadette entered a relationship with her Savior…a few short months later she became the bride of Jeff Todd!

Bernadette seeks to live her life one day at a time, and use the gifts the Lord has given her to share the gospel with the world.  Today, Jeff and Bernadette are full-time missionaries.  They travel around the world sharing their story, and urging others to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  In spite of her severe physical limitations, Bernadette’s joy is found in the Lord, it is truly contagious.

At the close of our time together, my heart was broken with a desire to choose on a DAILY basis to give all that I am to my Lord.  It is so easy to become discontent, burdened, anxious, and weary of the suffering in this world, yet we know He is working everything together for His good!

The evening after meeting with Bernadette, I spent a few minutes on Ann Voskamps blog and discovered a song by Shane and Shane.  This song is the PERFECT summary of all that my brain was trying to process after our “God encounter” with Jeff & Bernadette Todd:

 

“Momentary affliction, it’s all totally meaningful.  Every mili second of my misery in the path of obedience is producing glory to be revealed.  None of the suffering is meaningless…cancer or criticism…

Don’t look to what you see…it is all working for us an eternal weight of glory!  Do not lose heart but take these truths and day by day focus on them.  Preach them to yourselves…preach his Word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are known and cared for!” –John Piper

Bernadette, thank you for using your words and sharing your story to make an impact for the Kingdom.  Praise the Lord ,whatever our “momentary afflictions” may be, they are not meaningless!  May we push forward, daily focusing on HIS truths in order that our hearts sing with confidence because we are known and cared for!  You are a true blessing girlfriend, we can’t wait to see you again!

To find out more about Jeff and Bernadette Todd, click here!

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P.D.A

P.D.A; these three simple letters carry with them a lot of meaning.  Physical Displays of Affection!

P.D.A has had its fair share of meanings for me over the years.  As a child, it was those moments I would see in movies that made me blush.  In middle school, it was something I only dreamed about…”oh to hold hands with a boy!”  Highschool years, PDA filled the hallways and crowded my way to the lockers.  With a few exceptions, PDA has carried with it quite a few negative connotations.  However, Haiti has opened my eyes to a whole new world of PDA!

I have given and received more kisses in Haiti than all my 24 years combined!  Okay, so that may be a slight exaggeration, but nevertheless there is some serious love being shared in this country.  It is the cultural norm to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek, and once again at the close of your time together.  Tuesday and Wednesday morning I work with 8+ ladies on a jewelry project from  9 – 12.  This means 16+ kisses all before lunch time!  That is quite a bit of puckering up.  It is difficult to go anywhere in Haiti without seeing physical displays of affection.

Teenage girls, and often guys walk hand in hand or arm in arm to and from school.  Older siblings regularly hold the hand of their younger sister or brother.  Sweet friends sit and visit with arms resting on shoulders and relaxing.  Adults openly share hugs and physical contact, no questions asked.  I’ll admit, these U.S. eyes of mine have taken some time to adjust to this world of affection.

The portion of the U.S. I grew-up in frowned upon P.D.A.  However, our time here in Haiti has allowed me to see these outward signs of affection are only an outward symbol of the deep relationships that exist in this country.  A few months ago a dear sweet woman who has cooked for conferences at BHM for years experienced carbon monoxide poisoning, while she was sleeping and was rushed to the hospital.

The following morning I went to visit her and was shocked to notice every woman I had ever met in Haiti, and then some, standing outside her hospital room.  Each of these ladies arrived to the hospital the moment they heard the news, and had no intention of leaving until their friend was restored.  This was true friendship!  These ladies were not visiting their friend because it was the “right thing to do,” but they were there because they could not imagine being anywhere else.  This is one of countless examples of the deep rooted relationships I have been blessed to witness.

This precious woman is still struggling as a result of the carbon monoxide, but through it all her friends have remained by her side hand in hand, praying for her restoration.

“I want to be your hands, I want to be your feet, I’ll go where you send me…”  – Audio Adrenaline

We are the hands and feet of Christ in this world.  Let’s not overcomplicate this message, but instead be willing to use all of who we are to love those the Lord places in our path.  It is more often than not, our body communicates far more than our words ever could.  So many days it is easy for me to feel like an “outsider” here in a country different than my first, often all it takes is the simple greeting kiss or a quick hug to make all the difference in the world.

May we not allow our current views of PDA to stop us from reaching out to those the Lord blesses us to be with day by day.  Share a smile, give a hug, place your arm around a friend, you never know whose day you can change by a simple touch.

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