what I learned from the Shepherds

what I learned from the Shepherds

I’ve never seen an angel (that I’m aware of, though I’ve often wondered about a few people who moved in and out of my life very swiftly—and left huge blessings in their wake). To be honest, I’m not sure what I would do if I saw one.

From Scripture it seems that perhaps they are more terrifying than we tend to think. The pretty gal with the glowing hair and fluttering wings? Not so much.

Since one of the names we are given in Scripture of the Creator is “God of Angel Armies” I would guess that an angel might look a bit more like an army general.

In the book of Luke (Luke 2:8-21) we hear about the angels who announce the Messiah’s birth to a group of shepherds. Apparently this was a surprising turn of events as the shepherds were the unlearned of the Jewish society.  Continue reading

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THE DAY GOD SENT ME A NOTE

I was sixteen that year, finished with high school and praying, “God, what should I do with my life?” It was a natural progression. God had shown up when I was twelve and by the time I was thirteen, I had been dipped down, down into the baptismal waters. Now three years had pasted in quietness and my heart was burning to know something.

My closest friend, Brianna, lived several miles away and many days we would walk and meet partway between our houses, at a little gazebo on the side of the road beside a large golf course.

The Day God Sent Me A Note @natashametzler Continue reading

one thing you can do when it feels like control has been ripped from your grasp

Living in Haiti brought all kinds of challenges. Learning how to stand on my own two feet in another culture was a lesson all in itself. One that was much harder than I anticipated!

I am a giver– In other words, I give way long before I stand firm. Literally. In Haiti, people will push (without malice) and crowd and my tendency is to take three steps back and give whatever they ask. At times, this left me standing at the side of the road while my husband accidentally drove off without me.

Oh, how he scolded when this would happen. “Hold your ground,” he would say in frustration, “tell them no! and don’t let go of the vehicle.”

Nice idea but not very applicable when it goes against the very grain of my existence.

Finally, he gave up lecturing me and turned on them. I was slightly behind in my Creole-speaking abilities but I caught the gist, You are all personally responsible to make sure my wife is taken care of when we are going places. You will not push her, squish her or otherwise cause her to move away from a secure place. She is my WIFE. I will not drive your ambulance or run your errands if I have to worry about her being knocked off the vehicle.

Turns out that worked pretty well.

Willim and Arnold, teenage boys who hung around the mission regularly, made it their personal responsibility to take care of me on trips. They stood on both sides and pushed others away. I thought they were a little rude. My husband thanked them and actually paid them money for the fine job they did.

But even I hit a cutoff point eventually.

It was during church (which grated me to the core) that someone walked by my kitchen window, sliced through my screen and stole… my dish soap.

And I cried. Huge blistering tears.

I could try and defend my over-reaction… after all, it was rather hard to come by dish soap. The Haitians in that area use mostly ivory bar soap to wash their dishes and it was this one luxury that I insisted on. And trust me, I didn’t insist on much! It was this silly thing that kept Haiti from being completely foreign and difficult.

And, we didn’t have money to buy more. We kept ourselves on a strict budget and gave away all the extra of the allowance the mission provided for food and monthly expenses. I know the Haitians could not understand that we were literally living broke, our personal income barely covering the expenses back home, but I sure knew it.

But the truth is that it was just dish soap. 

Somewhere in the middle of my tears, I felt the Lord speak. He just asked this question but it left me wrapped tight inside.

Tasha, why are you so injured by this event?

It took awhile for me to understand the reason. It wasn’t the dish soap, as nice as it was to have it. It wasn’t the inability to buy more for the next two weeks. It was the feeling of lost control. 

I had stiffened my back at being pushed out of the vehicle more times than I could count. I was used to the eyes watching me every minute, even while I was in my own house. I adapted well to the climate, to the social changes… but this broke a line that I had unknowingly set: this thief stole more than just my dish soap, he or she had stolen my ability to control what was sitting in my own house. 

And with this realization came a deeper, truer, more difficult reality:

I was withholding control from God. Still. 

I had left my home, gave up my job and my friends and my family– claiming so strongly that I was giving all control to Christ– but I was still withholding. Still clinging tight to my rights to control my own life.

And there is only one thing to do when your eyes are opened to such startling facts:

Wipe the tears of self-pity and kneel.

Of all the lessons I learned while living in Haiti, I think this was the most practical.

I lose control of life all the time. It is constantly, repeatedly, ripped from my grasp. Each and every time my mind flashes back to my sobs over dish soap and the feeling of those tile floors when I knelt in my kitchen and surrendered again.

Because the only way to regain control is to surrender. 

When You Lose Control of Your Life @natashametzler

things i love about my husband {20} Creole

28 days of intentionally honoring my spouse

We speak another language, my husband and I.

We learned it together, sitting at our kitchen table in Haiti with sweat dripping down our backs.

We followed scribbled letters on a broken piece of blackboard and wrote notes in 19 cent notebooks from Walmart, purchased the fall before our move.

I learned the written words long before my husband did. I sat with him as he struggled and fought through the book learning that he hates so much. I watched him determinedly choose to die-to-self day after day after day, and do the thing he disliked simply because it was what God called us to.

@natashametzler

And I smiled in awe as he mastered the spoken language long before his book-learned wife could even begin to communicate with the Haitians. He’s a lot smarter than me, this man of mine. While I could open the Creole Bible and read to myself, he could sit down with a Creole-speaking person and tell them about the love of Jesus.

I love that about him. 

And I love that now, years later, we can speak to each other in another language. I love that we mix Creole and English and that mwen remen ou means the same as I love you to both of us.

And I love that every time I hear my husband speak to me in Creole, I can picture that long kitchen table and feel the sweat on my back, and I know that he pictures and feels the same thing.

It’s shared history. And it’s priceless.

@natashametzler

The Challenge:

Do you speak another language with your husband? It might not be a “technical” language, but perhaps you have certain phrases, certain inside jokes, certain memories that are all your own?

Have you taken time to acknowledge and love the shared history between you?

 

…for the healing of the nations.

It’s been over a month since the Connecticut shootings and I see all these debates online. Gun control. Mental illness.  People reaching and stretching for reasons. It’s because there was access to a gun. It’s because we haven’t correctly diagnosed and helped those with mental illness. It’s because we don’t pray in school. It’s because it has become politically incorrect to read the Bible. It’s because… It’s because… 

 We want reasons. We strive to find them, anywhere, somewhere.

And the truth is that it’s all those reasons and none of them, wrapped up tight and deposited on the front steps of a public school in Connecticut.

...for the healing of the nations.

There are two forces in this world. There is God, calling, drawing, beckoning us to love and forgiveness and grace. And there is the enemy trying to destroy us and everything around us.

I’ve lived in places where spiritual warfare is so real and present you can taste it.

During our year in Haiti, Good Friday came and brought its own glimpse of horror. Drums beat and the voodoo doctors hosted parties all over the countryside. I fell asleep to the drumming that night and woke up at 2 in the morning to a pounding at the door. My skin crawled. It was an ambulance call.

My husband came home with an ashen face. Rousseau, the caretaker at the mission, didn’t speak for a long time. When he did, all he said was, “There are evil, evil men in this world.”

I didn’t see the body before they buried it. The pregnant mother who was cut to shreds with a machete.

I think, in the end, it was Rousseau who said it best. There are evil, evil men in this world. And I ache in mourning over it. For the people they will hurt. For the lostness of their souls. For the innocent blood spilled.

I’m no fool. There is no law that will keep tragedies from happening. Should we have laws? Absolutely. Should we question and look at how America has functioned in the past and see what we can change? Absolutely.

But evil is present and will continue to be.

And I know of only one hope:

Sunday morning.

After Good Friday and the murder, Saturday was closed and dark and horrible. I sat in the mission house and cried and wished that I could go away- far, far away- from all the terribleness. I felt shivers that slipped up my spine and jumped at every noise. I wanted to hate and I feared. That woman lived right down the road. I bought things from her at market each week. I had been waiting for her baby to come so I could hold it. My hands shook when I cooked dinner that night.

We received another ambulance call. This time for a woman in labor. We brought her to the hospital, went home and went to bed at 7 o’clock that evening.

The next morning, I woke up to light. It felt like I was taking my first deep breath in over twenty-four hours. My husband was awake beside me and he said, quietly, “It’s Easter. Christ arose.”

And I wept again.

We didn’t go to church because there was another ambulance run. This time to take the new mother home with her little baby girl. She slid into the Kubota and handed the infant to me. I cuddled that baby close, kissed her head. “Li bel anpil,” I whispered, beautiful. 

The woman laughed. It was such a pretty sound. I looked at her, at the way her dark skin glistened and her teeth flashed white and her eyes sparkled in the glory of new motherhood. When we stopped at her hut, built of palm fronds with dirt floors and just a bed and fire-pit, she leaned over and kissed my cheek. Her husband tenderly helped her from the vehicle and then scooped up the infant from my arms. He beamed at me.

They were so happy.

There is blistering evil in the world. There is glorious beauty in the world.

There is a God who promises that He is coming back. That He descended into hell and now holds the keys to death and Hades. He promises that in eternity there is a tree that bears leaves that will be the healing of the nations.

Oh, glorious Father, come.  Heal our nation.

Faces I Remember {a Haiti story}

Faces I Remember @ natashametzler.com

Their faces haunt me.

The man with the skin burned right off his back. The boy with the bones sticking out of his leg. The man bent over near double, carrying sticks to sell for food. The blind woman whose rough hands patted my face. The baby with sores and scars covering his legs.

Yet, it is her face that I cannot escape from tonight.

It was early afternoon when my husband called me from where I was hanging laundry, “Ambulance run,” he said, waving a hand toward the Kubota. I tossed the still damp clothes back inside the house and locked the door behind me. A worker jumped on the back of the vehicle and I slid into the seat.

It was a long ways. Houses spread further apart. Hills grew taller. Cement walls gave way to woven palm fronds. On and on.

When we finally crossed the last ditch and eased inside the compound, I knew we had arrived much quicker than they expected. Frantic running. An older woman rushing with a dress toward the half-naked girl, the one laying on the mat and moaning.

The children came, saw our faces and stopped. A two-year-old started screaming crazily, rushing inside a shelter and burying his head into a pile of rags.

“He’s never seen a white person,” they tried to explain. I ached to go and hold him, to calm his fears. But they left him cry.

“Vini!” A man called, motioning us onward. I jumped out to help direct my husband as he backed the vehicle up to the woman. They had pulled a loose white shift over her pregnant body. Her eyes were red and a moan bit out as she rubbed a hand over her stomach. With pulling and tugging, we got her lifted onto the bed of the vehicle.

The return ride was slow. They asked us to stop and scooped water from the dirty creek. I did not look to see what they did with it. Finally, the hospital came into sight and they banged on the roof, asking us to pause again. I stood and glanced at the girl sprawled in the dump box. My breath caught and I spun back around,

“She’s not in labor,” I nearly screeched at my husband. We had clearly heard the term, “nine months” and assumed she was simply having her baby. She was not. “Go, go.” I waved Amos onward, slipping to stand and glance back again. It was a seizure and blood was dripping down her chin.

The next few minutes rushed hard together. Hollering for doctors. People pressing close and me standing, pushing them back, trying to let the poor woman breathe. The doctor ripping the woman’s dress up, finding the soft skin of her bottom to push a needle in. Amos picking up the laughing teenage boy by the back of the neck and whipping him around to give the girl privacy. Helping the nurse tie the woman’s tongue down so she would stop choking. Listening to the crowding youngsters get lectured by my husband as he pushed them backward, away from the vehicle.

Phone calls. Trying to understand with our limited language abilities. It was clear that she required a c-section but there were no surgeons here. We pushed the last of the kids away, helped tie a sheet over the back to give her shade from the 100 degree sun. Her eyes rolling back and unconsciousness taking over. Amos, frustrated, “Where is the truck?” he asked over and over into the phone. It slammed down and he shook his head. “We’re going in the Kubota.” Taking off, leaving one hospital for another. Hoping to meet an ambulance at the main road.

Prayers spilling as I watched the woman’s stomach move. Her baby was still alive, but would it continue to live? Could an ambulance get her to a hospital that had a surgeon?

I wanted shake my fists heavenward. Is it not enough, God, that I cannot bear a child? Must I watch one die? 

There is no ambulance. We wait. When the girl begins to stir and her moans intensify, Amos says, “Enough.” He puts the utility vehicle in gear. It was not meant to drive miles on the highway, but we drive. It maxes out at 30 miles an hour and the trip takes forever.

Finally, the hospital is in view. We rush and question and the guard stands at the door and shakes his head.

I stare, mouth gaping. You cannot stand there while she dies! I want to scream. The seizures are back and her breath is so shallow, I’m leaning over her praying between each movement.

I hear my husband, arguing. “We have money,” he is saying in Creole, “it’s not here but we’ll come back and pay.”

Money? My fingernails bite into my palm. They won’t let her in because of money? Her head snaps back and I reach up shaking fingers and start praying out loud, “God, you formed this woman with your own hands. She is precious, beautiful,” my voice trails and I realized how true it is. For the first time I look close. She is young, much younger than me. Her eyes spaced perfectly, straight white teeth, small upturned nose.

Tears drip from my chin as I cradle her head in my arms. Everyone is gone. The excitement over. The hospital refused her and she will not make it. I cling to her hand as my husband continues arguing and making phone calls. His voice fades and I realize he has left as well.

My prayers stop being thought out and turn into muttered Spirit-led words. Every few sentences drop into, Let her and the baby live. 

I am ready to give up hope. I have a deep fear in my belly that I will hold this woman as she dies in a hospital parking lot.

Then my husband comes back. He is breathing hard. “Truck, coming.” He says, leaning against the Kubota. The mission truck appears and they pull her from my arms and bundle her into it. “Other hospital,” Amos explains. A mission hospital with a surgeon on duty.

We drive home slowly. Stop at a fuel station and ask the man on duty to trust us to bring money back later. He looks us straight in the eye, “You are good people. I know you’ll come back.”

I cry. This strange world where people are left to die because they lack money morphs back into the place that I know and am known in.

I don’t know what happened to the baby.  No one knew if he lived or died. But the mother came home. Willim told me, with a smile on his fourteen-year-old face. I think he knew how desperately I longed for the information.

I never saw her again but I remember her face.

And I often lay awake and night and whisper prayers for her into the darkness. I pray that she’ll remember the presence of God in that hospital parking lot. Because He was there.

Rosaliqua and the Five Goudes


Rosaliqua rolled over and opened her eyes just the tiniest bit. From her spot on the floor she could see through the palm frond walls to where the family donkey was braying. She started to close her eyes against the nerve rattling sound but then she remembered! Her eyes flew open and she jumped up.

The sound of her bare feet pounding on the worn dirt bath made a nice rhythm as she raced toward the big cement building. She was so intent on running that she didn’t see the person in front of her. Umph! They collided and Rosaliqua’s seven-year-old arms went flying. She landed with a bump on her backside, just missing the hedge of kandilop cactus that lined the path.

“Mama!” Rosaliqua exclaimed.

“Tsk. Tsk.” Mama said, with a shake of her head. “A child who runs and doesn’t look must need more work to do.” She reached into the pocket of her big skirt. “Take this and stop at Madam Luke’s to buy me some coffee.” The coin dropped into Rosaliqua’s hand.

Five whole goudes! Rosaliqua stared down at the coin. Then she remembered! Usually she loved going to Madam Luke’s store but today she had other things to do.

“And don’t dawdle!” Mama shook her finger in Rosaliqua’s face. “Be home by breakfast time.”

Rosaliqua’s heart fell. She stared at the ground but then her face perked up. There was only one thing to do. “Okay!” She yelled, taking off and running the fastest she ever had! She passed the big cement building and raced down the wide rocky road. Finally, she made it to Madam Luke’s store. It was painted bright blue with huge Creole words that told all the Haitian people that she sold flour, sugar, soda and other household items.

Rosaliqua was breathing hard when she arrived, waving the coin for Madam Luke to see. “Coffee!” She yelled, pointing at the little baggies of dark crumbles. The elderly lady reached slowly for the coffee but Rosaliqua didn’t wait. She grabbed the bag, dropped the coin then turned and raced back the way she had come.

When she got to big cement building she slowed down. She slipped through the iron-gate and hurried up the stone steps to the bright green house.

“Madam Amos!” She yelled. She took a deep breath and hollered again.

The metal door opened and a face peaked out. Rosaliqua smiled at the sight of the white-skinned missionary. Blue eyes met her dark brown ones and the woman’s face lit up. “Rosie!”

But then something terrible happened! Rosaliqua was so excited to see the white missionary that she didn’t pay attention to what she was doing and the little package of coffee slipped right from her fingers onto the ground. The bag split open and the coffee splattered all over.

Rosie stared at the crumbled black crumbs and her eyes filled with tears. She was going to be in big trouble! Her Mama and Papa didn’t have a lot of money and the coffee had cost five goudes! It would take Rosie a whole day of picking millet in the fields to make that much money, if she could find someone to hire her.

Madam Amos was talking to her while she cleaned up the mess on the porch but Rosie just kept crying. Then the missionary did something that shocked Rosie. She sat down beside her and wrapped her arms around her.

Between sobs, Rosie tried to tell Madam Amos what had happened. She pointed at the coffee and said “Mama”. Then she held up five fingers. “Goudes.” She said, still crying.

The woman shook her head and smiled more. She called, “Amos!” And a big white man came to the door. The woman said something to him in English and he disappeared back inside. A minute later he came out onto the porch and reached down to take hold of Rosie’s hand. He opened her palm and set a coin in it. Then he winked at her.

Rosie stopped crying and jumped up. She wrapped her brown arms around the man’s neck. “Thank you! Thank you!” She said. Her smile was so big it almost split her face. The missionaries smiled back.

Rosaliqua said, “I’ll be back later!” Then disappeared down the path, through the big iron-gate until she was just a dark brown spot in the distance.