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Sunday, April 6, 2014

On Bridges and Stories.

A bit over three years ago the life of my family was radically changed. In an absolute whirlwind of events we experienced what was the hardest but most blessed time of our lives. We were obedient to God, obedient to the point of losing our "security", Nate's full-time ministry job. It was hard and unpredictable but we did not fear because we knew God was leading us somewhere, doing a new thing in our family and in our hearts. We would not be content anymore with anything less than the presence of God overflowing in our lives. You could take every earthly possession away from us and we knew we would still lack nothing because we had Christ. We were very aware of our spiritual poverty, our deep need for a Savior, and at the same time God began breaking our hearts for those living in physical poverty here and abroad.

For the first time in my Christian walk I felt like I really knew Jesus. His heart. I began to see him in faces of the poor and broken. To this day I feel his presence most when I am in the midst of those that society has deemed "poor" or "unwanted"…those who are often forgotten and cast aside. 

It was at this time that Nate traveled to Haiti again, and since then he's taken our first born daughter. I have traveled to Chauffard a couple of times and Nate just returned home from another trip last week. Aurora and I will go again in the summer, and in the future the whole Mundell fam will visit the mountain together. I can't wait for that day. 

Fast forward to now: we are working on raising our support to work full time with CPI Haiti. We thank you for your prayers and financial gifts as we step out in this opportunity that God has given us. 

Our heart is in Haiti. There is not a single hour of any given day that someone in our family is not talking about Haiti. My favorite moments are often initiated by Aurora, our seven year old daughter, and usually begin with "Mommy, when I went to Haiti I remember……" It is precious to hear her relive her memories. 

I have begged God to move us to Haiti. Over and over and over again. BEGGED HIM. Pleaded. Bargained. If you know us in real life you know we would sell every last thing we own and pack only a few books and live in a tent on the mountain. We are in LOVE with Haiti and even more so the people who live there. Our kids would do great. They are little traveling gypsies, content with just being together. We homeschool so their education would not be interrupted. To me, in my {small, human} brain it only makes sense that God should say "Yes, Ida. Have your way! GO and live there!". Yet, he hasn't. He has made it very clear that for now we are to stay here. 

Really, God!? Can't I have MY way?! The past few years God has been redefining my calling, my purpose on this earth. Some days I struggle with wanting MY WAY so much that I can't see past myself to see His bigger picture. 

However; the past few months God has been gracious and allowed me opportunities to see why he has me here. Here in my beautiful Lakeland, Florida. I really do love this place. 

I am a bridge. 

I am a storyteller. 

And so are YOU. To the team that just came down from the mountain…you are now a BRIDGE. Bridging God's heart for the poor to hearts in the US. Bridging Chauffard to Lakeland. Bridging spiritual poverty and physical poverty and realizing that we are not great, American "fixers" who lend pity to the poor…but we are ALL POOR and in need of a Savior. Whether that be physical poverty or spiritual poverty…. we all have a deep need and it's for Christ. 

On being a bridge: Last December I got to invite one of my very best friends on an adventure. Bridging my Lakeland loves to my Haiti loves. She said yes. We were sitting on the steps of our bunkhouse in Chauffard. Then he came running up. It was Wilson! Kim's sponsored child. The child whose picture is stuck to Kim's refrigerator. The child that Kim's family has prayed for and talked about and wondered about. Kim was now looking at him in person, in Haiti. This was one of the greatest moments of my entire life. This "bridge" between here and there, between us and them, between Kim and Wilson. Wilson came to life that week. Kim did, too. Through tears we loaded in the back of the truck to head back to the city. Wilson ran after our truck as fast as he could, right on the edge of the mountain. Kim, like any good mother, yelled out "Be careful, Wilson! I will see you again!".  And now Kim is a bridge…between here and Wilson. She has stories that need to be told that only she can tell. 






I am a storyteller. God has let me live some pretty cool adventures. I know that I am not to keep those stories to myself. I am to share about His goodness and faithfulness. I am to be HONEST when telling my stories, sharing about the hard times, the bad times, and how God steadied me through it all. I am to tell stories to bring nations together, to unite communities. Haiti to here. Here to Haiti. My stories matter. YOU are a storyteller, too. Your stories matter and have the potential to change lives. You have stories that ONLY you can tell. 

On storytelling: 

Our daughter returned home from Haiti overflowing with stories. We want our kids to know that their voice matters, that they can use their voices to tell stories that will change lives. Aurora planned a "snacks and stories" night so she could talk to her friends about her big trip. We invited all of her friends and packed our tiny bungalow full of kids and their parents. Aurora prepared her note cards and told the most memorable stories from her trip. I did not edit her. I let her totally rock her night, 6 year old style. Adults and children were impacted by her stories, and that led to Aurora's friends gaining a passion to learn more about Haiti and the kids that live there. Several families signed up for child sponsorship and others decided to go on a trip with us. Lives changed here and in Haiti. All because Aurora ate snacks and shared stories with her friends.

Storytelling can change lives. Always tell your stories. Invite people into your world and show and tell them what God is doing in you.

Do I still want to live in Haiti? Everyday. However; I know that I am right where I belong and that what I'm doing here, building bridges and telling stories, has eternal worth. 

Do you have a story to share? I'd love to hear it. I'm serious. If you're local we can meet at Mitchell's. If you're far away you can type your story in the comments. 

Use your voice to impact people. You won't regret it. And if you'd like to hear more about CPI Haiti I'd love to come tell some stories. Email me at IdaMundell@gmail.com to invite me to share stories with your community. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

On Jumping Through Hoops.

I sat in my children's dentist waiting area this morning wishing I had grabbed a second cup of coffee before our day took off. The kids went back for a cleaning and I picked up one of the parenting magazines sitting on a side table. Beautiful faces and charming things danced across the pages. Articles on how to have the "greatest" kids filled each column. Advice from "pro mothers" to "amateur mothers" on how to have the best post-baby body and how to fake it if your body is less than perfect. Words on top of words on top of words all pointing to how to be the best, prettiest, smartest, coolest mom on the block. Then more words about the "must have toys and gadgets" so your children can also climb the ladder of greatness amongst their peers…because it would just be tragic if your 4 year old was the only one that didn't have the latest smart kid app loaded on their iPad.

I closed the magazine and in my mind I saw women jumping through hoops. Hoops of performance. Hoops of greatness. Hoops of beauty. Hoops of satisfaction. Hoops labeled "enough"...but the sad thing was that after each woman gave everything she had to jump through the hoops she hit the ground and realized that someone in front of her had already jumped through another hoop. This began an awful game of racing to the next hoop in hopes to jump the highest, faster than the other women. Each new hoop hung higher than the one before it. Each woman was striving to make the jump but no one was ever strong enough to keep it up.

They were never enough to keep up with the mom in front of them. They were never enough to make the jumps.

{Yes. This all flashed in my mind. No. I did not suck down any laughing gas from the dentist.}

Then the faces of beautiful women in my life flashed in my mind. Women who think their worth is measured in how high they can jump. Women who give everything they have to be "the greatest". Women who have hit the ground in tears because after so many years of running and jumping they have reached the conclusion that they are not enough. 

Ladies, crashing at NOT ENOUGH is the best place to be. 

What I am about to say is not popular, but if you know me you know I don't care.

WE ARE NOT ENOUGH.

We are not smart enough, pretty enough, engaged enough, cool enough, rich enough, thoughtful enough, loving enough, or good enough.

When your eyes are on the world and not on your Father this revelation will crush you. You see, there will always be another woman who can do it better. Someone who can jump through the hoops while wearing stilettos and baking homemade GMO-free granola bars while you wear your ratty, smelly Toms and split a cookie from Mitchell's with your kids. (Um…did I just give myself away?) 

When you're focused on jumping through culture's hoops of bigger, better and best your Father is beckoning you to come lay down at smaller, lower, and least. 

This world, our culture, is like a 3 ringed circus, the music always humming in our heads telling us that we are in a race of greatness and that only when we are the greatest will we feel satisfied. The world lies to us and tells us that we can be the greatest if we spend all of ourselves jumping through the hoops. The world yells "jump through the hoops to be enough!"

Our Father tells a different story.  He makes it clear that without Christ we will NEVER be enough, no matter how high we can jump. 

So, embrace the place of not enough. Stop the jumping. Know that you need Christ. Let him fill the empty spaces with His grace. Only He is enough.

"God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs." -Matt. 5:3


Monday, November 18, 2013

"Why do you go back?"

"Why do you go back?"

It's the question I had to ask. It was burning deep as the tears fell down my cheeks.


This question of "why" came out this afternoon as I sat and enjoyed conversation, a sharing of hearts, community with a 71 year old woman.

I am 29. She is 71.

We are more alike than different. We are part of the same body. I need her and she needs me, and we both know that we desperately need Jesus. We all know that a body needs all of it's parts to function as it should. It's time we stop trying to one-up one another and start to really love each other.

She and her husband, in their "retirement", have spent away their years doing work in Africa. Most recently they have started a school. A private, christian school which is frowned upon by the government. It's also frowned upon by some of their family and friends here in the states.

She has lost friends, the support of family, reputation, and people look at her like she has three heads. She has sacrificed time, money, and presence. Because she knows He is worth it...

While in Africa she has been robbed, pistol whipped, ran off the road by a barricade of vehicles, and taken to near death on more than one occasion. She has watched as a thug shoved an AK47 to her husband's stomach and then looked out from her peripheral to see that she also had one pointed at her own head. Then they were taken down a narrow road into the deepest slums and almost killed. She thought that was it...the end of her time on this earth.

All of this RECENTLY. Remember...she is 71 years old.

She laughs during the retelling of these stories. Laughs with an assurance that only comes when you know who you are in Christ. 

She said she could tell me many more stories like these. Many more near death stories. I tell her we need to hear them. The body needs to hear her stories. We need her. She is valuable.

So I asked. I had to know.  I asked the question that was burning deep:

"Why do you go back?"

When family forsakes you and "friends" smile and nod but gossip hate behind your back. When your children beg you to stay and think you're a moron for going. When even those in the body of Christ question you because they would rather watch you enjoy your retirement and die a safe and predictable death.

When you've been hit with guns and hands and screamed at.  When you've been taken down a narrow road that almost led to your death.

WHY?

HOW?

Without any hesitation my new friend looks at me, and with strength that only comes from Christ, she says:

"Do you think a few thugs with a gun will ever stop me from bringing the gospel to those kids? I am angry that they think they will stop the gospel. They won't stop me. I will probably die in Africa and I will die happy sharing the gospel." 

I can't breath.

She adds:

"IF God is real, IF the gospel is real, then I will continue to take a gun to the head...and He IS real...so I go back."

I have no words. I just ask you to pray for my friend Nancy as she lives the gospel. Here is a link to Nancy's school, Kiriti Joy.

Nancy received word from Africa just TODAY that if she does not have 13 more school desks in the school the government will shut her down. A desk is only $56.00. Perhaps you were looking for a Christmas gift for a friend? Maybe you could give 1 or 2 in honor of the teachers in your life?

You can donate $56 for a desk by clicking here. If you are local I can also pick up your check or cash and deliver it to Nancy.

I am humbled to be part of the body and SO thankful for woman like Nancy who risk it all for the gospel. Because when we really know Him we know it is worth it.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Haiti Day 1



The whole morning has been exhilarating. From the feelings that come with leaving my husband and children behind, to flying through the sunrise, to the chaos that was the Port Au Prince airport...and now we are here. Haiti. What will happen when my feet land where my heart has been for the past 3.5 years? I'm a truck ride up the mountain away from finding out. 

Port Au Prince is like a zoo. Or a circus. Or a little of both. Sights and sounds and people everywhere. Cars and bikes and feet moving all at once in every direction. Right now all I can think is this: Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw the crowds. I have never seen crowds like I see now in Port Au Prince and Petionville. Never. NYC or DC or Disney in the summer...never crowds like I see now. The colors and the chaos and the cars and the crowds.....whoa. My heart beats fast. I want to walk the streets and hold hands and hear stories and share burdens. 

Children are just getting out of school and their sweet, dark faces shine. Their prim and proper uniforms are enhanced by the bows in their braids and the lace on their socks. The children smile warmly at us white people in the back of our big pick-up truck. The adults mostly stare. Some smile and some eyes dig deep into mine. They look like they have walked a long, hard road. I want to walk beside them on this road. Do they know there is hope? I want to tell them. 

I cannot imagine what chaos ensued during and after the earthquake. My heart beats fast and faster as I think of what that must have been like for these people. It was already chaotic. There was already no structure. No real security. I see piles. Piles still from the day the earth shook hard. I feel sick thinking of the children looking for parents and the parents who lost their children and the families who will never know what happened to their own. 

I can't help but think this: I could have been born here. It could have been my babies buried early under piles rubble while I wander through the dust and ashes screaming their names. It is only by God's grace that I was born in America. Only His grace that my children sleep in beds tonight while our brothers and sisters here in Haiti sleep in piles of rubble. God, don't let me forget this or them. 

Now the mountain ride begins. Bumpy is an understatement. I cannot believe my daughter did this. And she did it with complete joy. I am so proud of her right now. She is my hero. Oh, the bumps and turns. I've waited for this ride for years. To see what I've only seen in photographs. To meet the people behind the stories that have captured the attention of my family. I am going to meet our extended family. The one's we pray for everyday. Who we advocate for. Who we long for. I'm so close. 

I notice so many things from the back of this truck. My senses are fully engaged.I swear that I smell the same scents that Nate has brought back from previous trips. The good ones and the not so great ones. I see faces of extreme joy and others of deep, dark pain. I notice beautiful mansions framing extreme poverty. I hear a tongue I don't understand and I really wish i did understand. It's all brand new but it's all so familiar. 

The climb is beautiful. The mountains, the farming, the faces....breathtaking. Now closer to our final destination children are beginning to chase our truck.They giggle and wave and run hard behind us. Only one word: joy. 

I see three boys, no older than my own daughters. They are pulling a donkey loaded with fresh produce. I see young, small children carrying water jugs on their heads They warmly smile and wave. I want to walk with them. They are hard workers. Unexplainable joy shone on each face. 


I can hardly contain myself. After a few hours on the truck we are so close to our destination. This is the place I've been dreaming of and praying for and broken over for the past 3 years. I am about to embrace the woman who rocked my daughter to sleep this summer and the children who have stolen my husband's heart. The pictures that hang on our walls at home are about to be real people standing in front of me. They know my husband and daughter. I am new. I feel like I am home, though. 

We are here...

We were welcomed with a kiss on the cheek and a long, deep embrace. It's all brand new yet it seems so familiar. I am no stranger. I am "Madam Nate" and "Aurora's Mom". They know me. I know them. I am home. My face hurts from smiling. 

The women, without any effort, hoist our 55 pound bags on their heads and carry them to the bunk house. Nate told me about this welcome. It is even sweeter than I imagined. 

We settle in with our belongings and projects in the bunkhouse. We walk down to the school where a beautiful meal has prepared for us. It was delicious, even though I don't know exactly what I just ate. That's probably best.

Jennie just gave Jetna, our school principle, a bell. Just a bell to ring so the kids know school is starting. It was like Christmas but even better. Jetna, with tears in her eyes, squealed and giggled with delight and hugged each of us. It was just a bell, is what I thought. But to Jetna is was a greatly desired item that will help the flow of school each day. I will forever smile when I hear a bell. 

We returned to the bunk house to strategize our plans for the rest of the week. 

Now we get ready for sleep and our soundtrack is the sound of other tongues lifting praise to our God. 

I am home. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Kids Can Change The World.

For over 2 years my 6 year old daughter Aurora has been begging to go to Haiti. If you haven't seen this yet here's the backstory:


(This video was made by our awesome neighbor/friend/video extraordinaire Andy of Indie Atlantic Films. Thanks, Andy!)

It's finally here! My girl's dream, wish, heartbeat. The last item on her 2013 goal list:

(Precious. Aurora's New Year's goals.)


In just a couple of days Aurora and Nate will travel to Chauffard, Haiti with the CPI team and I couldn't be more excited. As a mother I am, of course, a little nervous and let's be honest...I'm totally bummed I won't be there with her for this life changing experience, but we know we will serve and travel as a whole family when the timing is right. (AKA-when baby brother is big enough to know NOT to wander off the side of the big mountain!) I am truly thrilled!

We are blessed with an amazing community of friends who have done nothing but encourage my little girl and us as her parents in this great adventure! I am so blessed by our community, or as I very simply call them "our people". We have GREAT people! Probably the greatest people on the face of the earth!

This doesn't seem extreme or "crazy" to us or to them. This doesn't seem scary or weird or abnormal. This is us allowing our daughter to follow her dreams, her heart, the Holy Spirit's leading in her life.

I've had one person ask me if it is my goal as a parent to make my children become missionaries. I laughed. My 4 year old daughter wants to be a dinosaur when she grows up. Seriously. Ask her and she will tell you "I'm going to be a pink, princess girl dinosaur!" and if she still wants to be a dinosaur when she's an adult then she will have a great career at Dino World, right down the road from us! It will be AWESOME. 

We haven't pressured Aurora to do this or begged her to become a missionary. Instead, we've created an atmosphere in our home in which our children can know and fall in love with God. We've made his Word priority and we are all constantly reminding ourselves to love our neighbor and do EVERYTHING for His glory.

We want our kids to know that God can speak to them and that they are an important part of His kingdom work. 

They are not "just kids" as the world would like to label them. The world, our culture has created this, dare I say, disgusting expectation of our kids. They are expected to be lazy, entitled, immature, bratty, and materialistic. They are to be unmotivated, rebellious, and burdensome, so the world says.

Well, "world" and culture... I hate to break it to you... but you are dead wrong!

I'm not raising little nobodies who will barely scrape by in life. I am raising arrows who will be ARE a powerful part of God's great plan! I look at them and see LIFE, HOPE, COURAGE, FAITH and a reckless love for the Father. They are dangerous to the enemy and I wouldn't have it any other way.



So if God leads them to be a pink princess dinosaur or takes them to the ends of the earth, in this house we're all about making God famous and shining His light. Everywhere. Everyday.

For Aurora, she feels the call to travel and to share God's love to our friends in Haiti. We could have told her "No. You are too young. You are not ready. God is not telling you to do this." but we believe the same God that speaks to us has spoken to her and is leading her in this direction. We trust Him and we can't wait to see how this trip impacts our girl.

In Aurora's preparation for the trip she learned that there are only a few bibles in Chauffard. This broke her heart and she has a new goal:

To get a bible for EVERY KID in the area she will be visiting.


(Daddy shot this video on the good ol' i-phone. It was Aurora's idea and a family affair :-)

So far we've raised about $70 for the bibles. We are thrilled!

Parents-don't squash what God is doing in your kid's life. Let them know that they can have a real and powerful relationship with the one true God. Let them know that they are a vital part of His great plan! There's no junior Holy Spirit.  

Kids can change the world but only if we let them. 

Please join me in praying for my sweet family and the rest of the CPI team next week. I can't wait to share with you about the trip!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Crazy.

Another day passes and we ask ourselves again...

"Are we crazy?" 

I mean, really. Are we the crazy ones? Are we crazy because we don't want just another song and dance? Are we crazy because we want more truth, even when it makes us uncomfortable...especially when it makes us uncomfortable? Are we crazy because we don't want more and higher and bigger? Instead we want less and lower and smaller so that He may be glorified, not us. 

Are we crazy?

It's this maddening, frustrating feeling that I can never seem to put into the right words. How we can be here with everything plus some, and how our brothers and sisters near and far are suffering and lacking the most basic necessities. How so many of them will never hear the sweet name of Jesus. That should cut us deep. But we just sit here. We just go on with life. It doesn't move us. It doesn't hurt us. It doesn't shake us...and I'm ashamed to admit this, but there are moments that I wish we could just be here living the life, not being moved, not being shaken....but we can't...we simply can't. Must. Die. To. Self. 

Are we crazy to let that keep us up at night? Because it does. It's this sick feeling in my stomach, but a welcomed one, because it reminds me that I'm not here to live for myself. I'm here to live for Christ, and that life means death. Death to myself. To my wants. To my comforts. To my desires. To my plans.

Are we crazy because we want that? That death of self to life in Christ? I want that so badly. And every waking moment gives me the chance to try to live it out. And oh how I fail. I fail miserably but I will never stop trying.

And then this from an earlier conversation with my wonderful husband:

"We continue to cater to our own wants while neglecting the desperate needs of others."

Are we crazy because we think that is not okay?  

It's not. It's not okay. 

What do you think?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Praying Colossians 3:12-17

Praying. It's something we do everyday here and because it happens everyday it is WAY TOO EASY for me to get lazy in my prayer life. The month of April was one of the busiest seasons of my life, so it felt anyway, and in the midst of that busyness I let my prayer life suffer. Sure, I prayed everyday over our meals, over our school time, and at bedtime...but there was no real substance. That's as deep as my prayers were going and I was weary because of it. If I'm not connecting to the power source of my life what can I expect, right!?

I'm thankful for friends who lift you up during those crazy, busy seasons and challenge you to get things back in order! I'm also thankful for a God who is patient with me and offers grace in the middle of my hectic life.

The Lord has really been challenging me to pray scriptures over my family. It is so sweet to insert Nate, or the kid's names into scripture and pray God's word over them. I love it. It has been a sweet way of praying for my family.

I felt led to share one of my favorite prayers from this week. Maybe it will bless you as much as it did me? I plan to ask my awesome husband to design a pretty printable for me with the text below. It will be lovely in the kid's room and a sweet reminder for them on how they should treat one another.

Colossians 3:12-17 (my emphasis in bold)


 Since God chose you, Aurora, Eleanor, and Ezra, to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (each other.) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body (one family, our family!) you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.  Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Do you have a favorite passage of scripture you pray over your children? I'd love it hear it!