Friday, May 25, 2012

Countdown to Haiti - 1 Day

"Love your neighbor as yourself."

The two greatest commandments: Love God. Love people. Do we really practice this? I'm not talking about the way the world defines these verses. The attitude that anything and everything goes and nothing can be wrong because its all about how you fell is stupid. 

I'm talking about the love Jesus described in His word. Love is patient, kind, etc. It's humble, setting others above yourself. It's unconditional and unbiased. It's accepting people for who they are and where they are at but caring too much to allow them to stay there. It's iron sharpening iron, making each other better. It's authentic and vulnerable and honest. It's the church being the hands and feet of Christ, demonstrating the love of the Creator for His creation.

We leave tomorrow for Haiti. It's hard to believe that the time has finally come. Over the months, it's been a distant point on the horizon. It finally caught up. My prayer is that our team will love one another and that lasting friendships emerge from this trip. I hope we lean on each other for encouragement and challenges. I pray we don't return the same.

I'm also praying for the Haitians we will meet and interact with, that we will make the most of every OPPORTUNITY! I'm praying we will love on kids whose parents abandoned them because of circumstances or death. I'm praying that we will encourage the missionaries already on site who have dedicated their lives to these people. I pray that the adults and families trapped in a cycle of voodoo  would see Jesus is the only way. And, I pray we will strengthen believers.

Pray for us. Pray with us. Be a part of what God does this week!

Pictured above is part of our team at our Haiti fundraiser: Jonathan, Christy, Mike, Emily, Erin, Vanessa, Brandon, Bill, Brad, Heath, Stephen, Meera, Laura, and Kariss

Linking up with Gypsy Mama.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Countdown to Haiti - 2 Days

As I count down the days until we board the plane for this tiny country, I want to share with you ways the Lord is working in me to prepare to serve in Haiti. Today's focus? "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength."

I need a double dose of Popeye's spinach for this trip. Exhausted physically, I'm worried I'll be the weak link.

What a blessing to have friends who remind me that the Lord works in our weakness! I made the mistake of drinking coffee Tuesday night before our young adults service having not eaten anything, and I had trouble sitting still the whole service. Afterwards, my hands shook, I felt dizzy and tired and wired all at the same time. Anticipation and anxiousness and exhaustion all weighed heavy. I wasn't sure how to make it through this week. But I was energized being around people I love doing what I love in a place that is home.

Several of my friends reminded me of this verse. "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9. 

Come to find out, several of my Haiti teammates have had trying weeks at work and other situations have drained them physically and mentally. This excites me!! The Lord uses us most when we are weakest. Nothing that happens next week will be a result of our ability. We won't be able to boast in our strength. But that's ok because that is when Christ gets the most glory in our lives!

Focusing on my weakness is selfish! I'm excited for what the Lord is going to do. I'm praying for energy. I'm going to rely on my team. And, I'm going to boast in my weakness because I can't wait to see what big things the Lord has up His very large sleeve.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Countdown to Haiti - 3 Days

As I count down the days until we board the plane for this tiny country, I want to share with you ways the Lord is working in me to prepare to serve in Haiti. Today's focus? "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength."


My brain ALWAYS goes 90 miles to nothing. Even when I sleep. I sometimes wish there was an off-switch. As I prepare to leave, it is running twice that speed, and I think the enemy is attacking me more in this area than all the others.

Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Currently, my brain is sitting on a runway waiting for the rest of me to board the plane so I can leave for Haiti. But, I'm not there yet. There are people counting on me at work to finish projects and finish them well. I can't do that to the best of my ability if I am already checked out.

So, I feel guilty. Where's the balance between preparing myself to leave, yet being completely present at work or at my other responsibilities?

Again, I don't know the answer. I'm praying for a focused mind to finish strong this week, to think of my coworkers and do my best so I don't leave them completely short-handed next week. I need to remember that my work is a reflection of my character. I want to autograph everything I do with excellence.

That also means that when Friday at 5pm rolls around, I need to leave what I am incapable of completing in capable hands and focus on Haiti. The Lord knows exactly how He wants to use me in Haiti. I selfishly want to prepare. While I'm here, I need to be 100% here. Not because I'm proving something to my boss or my coworkers. Not because I'm the only one who can accomplish these projects, because others are more than capable. But, I have been given a responsibility, and the Lord says to do it with my whole heart and mind. I'm doing it for Him, all for His glory.

Saturday at 9:15am, I will board a plane and focus my mind on loving the Haitians because everything else pales in comparison. I'll leave the worries and stress and other responsibilities in the hands a big God and pray that He does big things on this trip.

But, let's be honest...Friday at 5 needs to hurry up!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Countdown to Haiti - 4 Days

As I count down the days until we board the plane for this tiny country, I want to share with you ways the Lord is working in me to prepare to serve in Haiti. Today's focus? "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength."

The soul of a person is the core of who they are - their character, personality, talents, desires, and dreams. In our preparation for this trip, soul equates to spiritual preparation. We have memorized verses, talked about the best ways to share the Gospel, and talked about how to meet the Haitians where they're at within their culture.  Live what I believe. Be ready to give an account for the hope that is in me. Love others in such a way that they can see Jesus in me.

While I was working on my book, I spent time in Manitou Springs, Colorado studying with DiAnn Mills, Jerry B. Jenkins, and Doc Hensley. I'll never forget the encouragement and challenge Jerry gave me as he read my story...

"Kariss, my generation has a tendency to throw money at problems to solve them. But your generation? You go. You aren't content to sit still. It's the difference between doing church and being the church. Both our generations have a lot to learn from one another." Man, how convicting. But, it's true.

It's time for the church to be the church, time for His body to be active.We are commanded to share the Gospel, to help the less fortunate. We live in a country overflowing with plenty while half the world starves. I wish I had answers. There isn't an easy fix, but we can all do something.

How can we fix a culture that is trapped in confusion and chaos in a week?

Quick answer? I can’t. My team can’t. But, we can be faithful. We can focus on reaching one. We can go. My prayer is that the Lord will grow me and that I won't abdicate my responsibility and privilege to be His hands and feet to a broken world.

But, that never comes without sacrifice. Inevitably on these short-term mission trips, we go to serve and return changed.  These trips are part of the refining process, a beautiful part of the story that the Lord uses to transform us more into His likeness and give us His heart. The change that will come as a result of this trip scares me. I know after seeing how these people live, I will never be able to return to the naivety of my comfortable, American lifestyle.

I once heard that if we had but a drop of the Lord’s compassion, it would break our hearts. I’m praying that the Lord will break my heart for what breaks His. As Hosea 6:1-3, says, the Lord breaks us so that He can bind up our wounds, revive us, and restore us. All for His glory.

No matter how He chooses to transform me, bring it on! I pray for life change on the part of the Haitians, whether we get to see tangible results or not. And, I pray that none of my team returns the same. I wanna give it all I got. Love with all I am. Lord, I'm Yours. Have Your way.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Countdown to Haiti - 5 Days

After months of early mornings, trip logistics, prayer, and team bonding, we have almost reached the finish line. During that time, our leaders have encouraged us to prepare in several ways - mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally. Haiti isn't a walk in the park. It has "challenge" written all over it.

As we have reached single digits, 2 verses have run through my mind over and over. In the Shema in the Old Testament, it says, "Love the Lord you God with all you heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."(Deut. 6:5) In Colorado, I memorized these words in English...and in Hebrew. In Jesus' day, Jews would say this every morning before starting their day and every evening as they ended it. In Luke 10:27, Jesus adds another element to this trio...your mind. 

As I count down the days until we board the plane for this tiny country, I want to share with you ways the Lord is working in me to prepare to serve in Haiti. Today's focus?


I've spent the last year researching and studying Haiti, and a book has since been born from that research. In the process, I fell in love with a people I've never met and a place I've never seen. Our team leaders have cautioned us that the mentality in Haiti is "hurry up and wait." Over the past weeks, I've attempted to smother expecatations of what I will see, hear, and do.

But my heart is expectant.

These people have nothing, yet they know how to survive. They've suffered more than I could ever imagine, yet there is a rememnant that gives credit to the Lord for the little they have. Despite chaos, there is always hope. My heart is expectant that these people will someday embrace that hope, that they will taste it in a real way, and that the mentality of their culture to run to voodoo when God works too slowly will change.

I have no illusions that this can be done in a week. I know we aren't superheroes who will swoop in and miraculously set things right. I do know that we serve a God who is in control and who loves these people. I do know while we are there, we can make a difference in one life and that person can touch someone else who touches someone else who touches someone else.

These short term mission trips aren't about gratifying ourselves, though you inescapably grow through the process. They are about helping to change one life. They are about helping the missionaries down there have grown weary. They are about meeting a need. They are about pointing to a God who holds the Haitians in His hand. He is the Haitian God as much as He is the American God. There is no partiality with Him, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I pray for our team as we prepare, that our hearts will be expectant and watchful for the life we can touch, the kids we can love on, and hope that someday this whole country will see a God who loves them.

The last part of that verse in Luke is the reason we go to Haiti... the reason I believe God can and will do big things. "Love your neighbor as yourself." It's time to be His hands and feet. It's time to show His love.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Learning the Haitian Perspective

It's that time! Today's word...


I'm a Dallasite by birth, but too often I wonder if I belong.

We are a materialistic culture. If a pair of shoes that slips between our toes costs $30, that's cheap, and we should count ourselves lucky to have found such a great sale. If a meal that I could make at home for a couple of dollars costs close to 20 in a restaurant, we say, "It's not that bad. You're paying for quality food! Totally worth it."

But, is it really worth it?

Sometimes, I can't help but sit quietly, questioning how I can justify spending that much on something that most of the world doesn't have. 

In just over a weeks time, I leave for the poorest country in the western hemisphere. It is a country that has faced a series of natural disasters, a corrupt political system, and a sense of hopelessness. After researching this country over the course of the last year, my stomach turns when I complain about something I must have. I cringe when I hand a cashier my card for something that costs more than its worth in the long run.

And I wonder what the Lord thinks of our decisions while others struggle to find clean water or food for their families on any given day. Is the "American way" right or wrong? I'll leave that to you and the Lord. As for me, I want to care about what the Lord cares about - the poor, the orphans, the widows, those less fortunate. I want to develop an eternal mindset, rather than one centered on my comfort.

I don't have an easy answer or course of action. I just know that before even stepping foot in Haiti, this country has changed my PERSPECTIVE.

Linking up with the Gypsy Mama.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Role Play

Time for 5 minute Friday, where I join other writers to stop, drop, and write unedited, purely for the joy of it. Today's word...
The true character of a man is apparent when he does that which he does not want to do in order to become who he has always dreamed of being.

My last three years are a succession of roles I never dreamed I would play.

I HATE teaching. I would rather hang out with kids/ teens and mix in life lessons along the way that are applicable and spark passion and change Who really needs to know the square root of pie or that a circle is just a series of angles all smashed together. However, after a rejection and more redirection than I can count, I donned the role of TEACHER, and, in the process, grew like a weed. It challenged me.

In college, I promised myself that I would NEVER be one of those writers that my college classmates dreamed of being. You know the ones...they live in an awful apartment that smells like feet and starve because they tell themselves that words sustain them more than bread. They don't have time for relationships or people because they are languishing over the next best seller that they just can't seem to finish. Well, I moved home and became one of those freelance writers, writing how-to columns on lawn care and what to buy your valentine. I became that struggling CREATIVE. But, in the process, I found the nerve to finish a book that I can be proud of.

When the the company stopped producing those articles, I went in desperate search of a job. I donned the title of NANNY for a short time after swearing never to work with kids who weren't my own again. This little darling stole my heart all while driving me crazy as she teethed  and learned to walk. And during this, the Lord continued to teach me to wait.

In the middle of the role changes, I discovered my identity is not determined by what I do, but by how I react to what I must do so that I can someday be who I want to be. I am an ever-changing, always growing person. I am Kariss LaRee Lynch - believer in Christ, sometimes too passionate, loyal to a fault, defender of the underdog, ice cream lover, book worm, lover of nature, just trying to be obedient to where the Lord leads.
My identity is who God made me, quirks and all. After 3 years of trying to find my identity in position, I know my identity is in Christ.

Linking up with the Gypsy Mama.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dream Big - Roadblocks and Redirection

We'd been on the road for 8 hours, it was 11pm, and we couldn't find the lakehouse. We were in 2 different cars, trying to pull up our GPS location and talk at the same time all while driving around a lake, in the middle of no-man's-land Arkansas and losing cell reception. Lost. No direction. Confused. Our destination lay just beyond our grasp.

Too often in the search for our dreams, we lose our way, experience roadblocks, and are forced to take the back roads. We grow overwhelmed and begin to question our ability, talent, calling, you name it. We define ourselves by the road we've traveled - our past - rather than by the road we are traveling.

When we lose sight of our dreams, we drive in circles in the dark, moving too fast to see the person flagging us down on the side of the road, pointing the way home.

We forget we aren't in control. We forget that others surround us, eager to help. We forget the One who instilled our dreams in our hearts in the first place.

Know what I hear in those lost moments? I'm worthless. I'm a failure. I can't do it right. I'll never make it.

In those moments of doubt and insecurity, I remember the One waiting for me at my destination with a light on, a beacon in the darkness.

Know what He says? I know the plans I have for you. You are my beloved. I made you in My image. Use your gifts for My glory. I fashioned you uniquely. I am Sovereign over your circumstance. I know your direction. Trust Me.

© Jason Gray

When I remember what the Lord says about me in his Word, my insecurities flee, and I slow down enough to get back on track and follow the path cut by my headlights in the darkness. I may not reach my dreams on time, but one day I'll get there. I just have to remember that no matter how much the Lord redirects me or how many roadblocks He allows in my way, He knows the plans He has for me, to give me a hope and a future, to glorify Himself.

Every day, I wake up and must choose to look at who I am in light of the Great I AM.

We finally found the lakehouse when we slowed down long enough to see a friend flagging us down from the side of the road. We had the perfect weekend with more laughter than I'd shared in a long time. The frustration and confusion were worth the destination.

What roadblocks are you experiencing or have you experienced on the road to your dreams?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

5 Minute Friday - Let's Be Honest

Let's be one's really honest anymore. We choose our words carefully. Or maybe we don't. We people-please our way through work, friendships, dating, etc. all in the name of our comfort, because we just don't think anyone could handle it if we were truly, completely authentic.


Every once in a while, we run across one of those people that we can truly be ourselves with and say how it is. They've loved us at our worst, celebrated our best, and somehow they handle all the in between just fine.

They're the ones we tell how we really feel about the decision that was made at work or the first ones we text when a guy breaks our heart. They are the first line of defense when the world is caving in, and oddly enough, they are the ones honest enough to tell us the world is caving in because we called the wrong shot.

I wonder what life would be like if everyone lived vulnerable, authentic, REAL. What if we made a commitment to live real, think real, speak real, BE REAL?

We've catered to the politically correct agenda when what we believe or what we think or what needs to be said is toned down because someone else just won't like it. LAME. News can't be all things to all people. And the truth sucks. Own it, get over it, and don't be afraid to speak it.

Let's be honest....being REAL is more than showing who we are to that one person. It's living in such a way that the whole world knows who we are, where we stand, and what we believe. Speaking the truth in love. Living boldly. Loving deeply. Speaking honestly.

And living authentically. Courageously. Because we were made uniquely, stamped by the fingerprint of the Creator. And there's too much at stake not to live like it.


Linking up with Gypsy Mama.