Good Days and Bad Days

Some days are bad. Some days are good. You know what I mean.

Some days it feels like someone or something is doing everything in its power to destroy you. (Yeah, that’s the Devil.. check out John 10:10)

In each day, as it unfolds, things surprise you. Some times it’s good things, and other days, well they could be better. Maybe it’s not even that some days are bad days, but they aren’t good.

What we need to be reminded of on all of the days is that God is good. And when you choose to believe in that unchangeable, undeniable truth, your outlook on the days change. Your life changes. Your attitude and how you treat people changes. The words you say and the things you do, they all change.

When you choose to believe that God is who he says he is (John 14:6), you are given peace. You realize that the situation you’re in is temporary and you can trust that God will work it out for His glory and for His good. Everything changes because it is no longer about you. Your happiness and your peace and your joy no longer depend on what kind of day your having. Or your circumstances. Or your illnesses because truth is, those things will fail you but God never will. You know what the Bible says…God will work (ALL) things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). It’s no longer about you…but everything you do now points towards God and reflects him and his goodness and it shines through you.

These days that you use to call good days or bad days are no longer your days at all. They are a gift. Another day with the opportunity to praise God and follow Him and see what God has in store for you and those around you.

God is good, all the time. Choose to believe it and see your life change.

Keep looking up, friend.

JOHN 10:10 – The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. (Jesus’) purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

JOHN 14:6 –  Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

ROMANS 8:28 – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Be on Guard

((Matthew 16:5-12))

I should start off by saying that this is not the typical approach to this story. Most of the time, the lesson focuses on false teachings. While I do think that is a great lesson, that’s not what was on my heart to share.

This passage starts out by Jesus telling the disciples to “be on guard” (to guard themselves). Instead of the disciples taking Jesus’ command and doing it, they start to second guess it. They wondered why Jesus was telling them to be on guard and began to go through every possible scenario.

After talking among themselves, they all came to agreement as to why Jesus was giving them a command; they forgot the bread to eat. They forgot the bread and now Jesus is giving them commands. He’s punishing them, right? Jesus goes on to explain that they have it all wrong. He says, “how is it that you don’t understand I’m not talking about bread?”

He gives us commands to help guide us. He gives us commands to help us grow closer to Christ. He gives us commands as a reminder that it is a relationship between you and Jesus that requires a constant nurturing and a yearning to grow closer to him.

Truth is, if we aren’t seeking Christ, if we aren’t praying or reading our bible, if we aren’t spreading the gospel, if we don’t have our minds set on the things of God, then we are leaving room for Satan to work. And when we second guess God or when we question him and his commands like the disciples in this story, we are giving the enemy a foothold. We are allowing the enemy to remind us of our insecurities.

So instead of questioning Jesus’ commands and second guessing them, we need to have faith and obey. Jesus could provide the bread easily, and the disciples knew that. They were lacking in faith and failed to realize that Jesus gives us commands to protect us.

I encourage you to take the command that Jesus gave the disciples and be on guard. Be on guard for those who need to hear the good news. Be on guard for what God is doing in your life. Be on guard so that when you see an opportunity, you will know if it is of God. Be on guard for when Christ comes. Be on guard to decipher the truth. Be on guard to defend Jesus and his commands. Don’t allow Satan to have a foothold. Seek God diligently and deliberately.

Be on guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. (1 Cor. 16:13)

With the recent storm tragedies that have happened, I’ve seen several angry questions thrown at God via social media. “What kind of loving God does that?” “Why would God take away a families and children?” “Why?!”

**I’m trying to be very cautious with the words I choose to use because this is a tragedy…there’s no way around that.**

But when I see people throwing these angry thoughts at God, I wonder what He’s thinking. I wonder what His plans are in this. Was it really in God’s plan for a mother to lose her two sons in a tornado? Was it really God’s plan for a girl to watch her boyfriend be crushed by a wall that he saved her from? Was all of this in God’s plan? Because scripture says He works all things together for the good of those who love God and according to His purpose. (Check out Romans 8:28)

So I began to think… what if instead of us proposing questions to God, and we took the time to listen. One of my favorite verses is “Be still and know that I am God.” (See Psalm 46:10)

Be still and know that He is Lord. Know that He has everything under control. That He has a plan. So what is it? Why would God do this? Or allow this to happen? Whenever I was contemplating on this idea, a question came to mind that made me sick.

What if God is asking us the questions? What if God is asking us, “Is this really what it takes? Do I have to send disaster so that you will stop thinking of yourself for a moment? Do I have to send disaster so that you will love on others? Do I have to shake up your world so you’ll look to me? Do I have to send disaster for the church to come together and help people? Do I have to create tragedy for Me to be seen?”

So does He? Is that what it takes? Christians, we need to step it up. We need to make it a point to show Christ in everything we say and do and not wait for everything to be shaken up.

Our God is NOT dead. He WILL do what he has to do to be heard and to be known. God may shake us up, but He will NOT destroy us.

Let’s share His message of hope and make it a point to show love and show Christ today.

But God

I love to hear stories about how Jesus has worked in someone’s life. About how Jesus has completely flipped someone’s life around. About how someone has put the slightest bit of faith in Jesus Christ and he literally moves a mountain in their life. Ya know, a lot of people think that for Jesus to work in your life you have to know all the right things to say & do all the right things.. But I don’t think that’s how it works. Every story I have ever heard or read about how Jesus has worked in someone’s life always has some form of the phrase “but God.” Let me explain.

When things are great, you don’t need someone to lean on, someone to depend on, or someone to be your strength. There is always a problem. I flunked out of college, I was beaten, I was an alcoholic, I did this, this was done to me…, I couldn’t forgive… but God taught me how to. But God showed me love. But God showed me mercy. But God loved me.

Without a problem, there would be no room for a miracle. We have to have faith. See, when there’s a problem and we’ve tried everything—absolutely everything, we turn to God. We find joy when we forget about what we want and start working to what He wants. And that’s when the “But God” moment happens!

If you’re doing what you’re doing for Jesus, it’s going to work out the way He has planned. I’m not saying it will be easy because you won’t find that in the Bible anywhere. What I am saying is that He is not only willing and able, but that He wants and desires to help us!

So when I’m listening to someone’s testimony–or how God has been working in their life, sometimes it’s not what they wanted—or so they thought. But what I’ve been learning is that God is sovereign. He has a plan that is good and perfect. He loves us and wants the best for us.

So I challenge you. Those of you who are going through a difficult time, or are leaving one, or maybe everything is going okay right now…I challenge you to put a little faith in the God who loves you; the God who crafted you with His own hands, and see what happens.

Believe that God will do what He says He’s going to do because He will. He promises that He has a plan for your life; plans to prosper and not to harm. Plans that promise a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).

I love you all. Humbled that you’ve read this. I’d love to hear a “But God” story from you! Send me an email:

Ashley, Layla, & I woke up late again with 10 minutes before breakfast. We scurried in to find out we were having eggs, pineapple, peanut butter & bread, and bananas again. After the “surprise” supper we had the night before, we were thankful for this. We ate and headed out to the porch for our morning devotional. We talked about how Christ sets us free from our bondage to sin. Free from grief. Free from all that’s bad. Christ has truly set us free. We know the kids that we had contact with in Haiti were hurting. They’re orphans. We wanted to show them that they are free. That Christ really has a spot for them in his arms. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to love on these precious children.

We headed to the school where we acted out Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego. Joe was telling the story while the rest acted it out. Layla, Ashley, and I made a beastly fire, if I do say so myself. The kids giggled the whole time and loved the story, yet again. We laughed and sang songs then it was time for them to get back to school. Which meant we were back to the scorching heat, gravel, and concrete.

Today, we’d almost finished laying the entire foundation of the newer half of the orphanage. After a hot couple of hours and laying gravel & concrete, we headed back to the cafeteria to eat lunch. We ate spaghetti. Apparently, mine was the only plate that had peppers in it because my mouth was on fire! I was downing as much water as possible while Ashley is laughing and singing Alicia Keys’ Girl On Fire. Then John & Will decided that they’d try to eat the hot peppers. Even the missionaries were saying it wasn’t a good idea!

For the backyard bible study with the orphanage kids, a couple of our girls told the story of Zacchaeus wanting to see the Lord. They explained that Zacchaeus wanted so badly just to see the Lord that he climbed into a tree and shouted to him. Despite that Zacchaeus was a tax collector and had stolen from everyone in the town, Jesus went to see him and went home with him. I loved being reminded of how easily Jesus forgives. After the story, we played several games before we all broke off playing with our own little friends. Layla & I got our hair braided again today. We sat under the tree of life and chatted with the kids as much as the language barrier allowed.

My friend, Rena could speak a little English. He asked if I had any brothers or sisters. I told him I did not, and proceeded to ask him the same question. He named off 3 sisters and a brother. I was excited and asked him where they were so I could meet them. He looked at me and I saw through his eyes that he’d gone through more than I ever have. He simply pointed up towards the sky. My heart broke for him knowing he’d lost his parents and every one of his siblings in the earthquake. I couldn’t say anything so I just hugged him. Rena reminded me that one day I could meet them in heaven. He was the stronger of the two of us at that moment; he had just showed me that even if everything hasn’t gone right, it doesn’t mean we have the right to blame God or be mad at God. Even if we’re hurting, it doesn’t mean we can’t still have joy because Rena is a 15-year-old orphan full of joy.

We went and played with the kids again after dinner. The kids wanted to see me flip and I even began teaching some of them how to do it. We all taught them how to “Howl.” My favorite part of the day definitely came down to tonight. The sky was starting to change into the deeper shades of blue, the stars were coming out, and the breeze began to cool us down. Al asked us after we sang worship songs what we would update our Facebook status to if we had the chance. Without a silent second, Layla says, “God is in Haiti.”

What she said was absolutely truthful, and none of us even needed to verbally agree…it was just known. God is everywhere, but He chose to reveal himself to us through this trip. As Chris Ratley explained, God is showing us that Jesus can completely satisfy. These people have very little, yet they’re so loving. They have no AC, not running water, no closet full of clothes, no phones, gizmos, or gadgets. They have each other and quite honestly, I don’t think they’d have it any other way. These precious people were teaching us very important lessons.

Someone in the circle said that they’d pointed out the moon to a little girl named Ann. Ann’s response to the big glowing figure hanging in the sky was “that’s God.” & it is! We have all these memories that we’re making with beautiful scenes in the background and we have no other response except that it’s God!

He chooses to show Himself through His creation and His people…through His word and worship and through community. Jesus shows up in other people and what they say to you, in opportunities, in problems, and in difficulties. When you have an open mind and a willing heart, Jesus shows up. It’s so amazing that the people we came here to serve want to serve us. It’s God’s way of showing us about his love. Genuine love.

Our rat friend came and visited everyone this morning for a wake up call. We’d told everyone about our rat episode last night and they explained that they didn’t come to our rescue because they thought it was only a bug. We headed into the cafeteria all giggling at the rat story we told from last night. They served us the famous Haitian breakfast; spaghetti. Their spaghetti consists of noodles and your choice of ketchup or hot sauce. After our spicy spaghetti breakfast, we headed to the orphanage to see what the work plan was for the day. Pastor Joseway explained that the orphanage was much too small so they wanted to double it’s size and put the girls in one half and the boys in the other. Our job for the week was to lay down the foundation of the orphanage. In America, this could probably be done pretty quickly, but not in Haiti. Our strength seemed to have been zapped when they told us all the work that had to be done, but as we headed to the school we saw the kids with huge smiles on their faces, our strength was doubled.

As were walking with the morning sun beating down and the Lion King tree of life behind us, Al played the ukulele. One by one the kids ran up to us holding our hands and singing along. At the school, we opened up with someone screaming “Ah Gee Gee!” Then all the kids echoed almost immediately, “Ah Jah Jah!” It was only to keep the kids attention span, but they said it all the time! We did another skit from the Bible; The Prodigal Son. John, Rhett, and Will acted it out hilariously and the kids loved it. We sang some worship songs and loved on the kids in their matching school uniforms, and then it was time to go to the work site.

We had 3 shovels, 2 big rock piles, and 1 cement pile. We had to fill in the huge holes with rocks and then put the cement on top. We’d fill up a bucket with rocks, pass it down the line of people, dump it in the hole, throw the bucket back and start over again. The same process happened with the cement except it was a lot more messy! Instead of passing the bucket back, Chris would yell “Will!” (Which is now interchangeable with “duck!”) He’d toss the bucket to Will, barely missing our heads and slopping concrete all over us. This caused for even more laughs to be tacked onto the grunting that the heavy buckets made us yell out.

After several hours of concrete, gravel, and water breaks, we headed to lunch. We had ham & cheese sandwhiches, fresh pineapple, and fresh mango. We had the hardest time eating the mangos. It looked like we were all eating for the very first time. Like a baby eating sweet potatoes. We prepared the lesson for the afternoon where we acted out Daniel and the Lion’s den. All the in between moments where we rested, we are sat together singing songs of praise to the God we love. It kept us humble and our eyes on Jesus leaving no room for negativity or complaints.

As we got ready to head out for the afternoon ministry, we were reminded to apply more sunscreen. The sunscreen was being applied to a pre-existing funk on our skin which consisted of dirt, sweat, concrete and more sunscreen. After the lesson, we played with the children. A little girl named Annie came and sat in my lap as I was sitting in the wheelbarow. She fell asleep in my arms under the tree of life with Joe playing guitar and everyone playing with children around us. This was my favorite moment on the entire trip. I got to be a mommy for a little while to a little girl who doesn’t have one.

After Annie was taken back inside, we all played with bubbles and played catch. Dolly and I made at least half a dozen bracelets for each wrist. I couldn’t believe that day 3 was already winding down. As we got ready for supper, we talked about how we were starting to have withdrawals from air conditioning and cheeseburgers. So Ashely & I prayed for cheeseburgers and began to write in our journals. As we were writing, Lucy (one of the cooks) came over and introduced herself and demanded that we listen to her sing Here I Am To Worship. It was such a great reminder of why we were there…of why we do what we do. “Here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down. Here I am to say that You’re my God.”

For dinner, they said we were going to have “something special”, and I can assure you that it was definitely something special. We ate cow tongue, cow tail, and I don’t even want to know what else. We prayed for cheeseburgers and we got this. God sure has a sense of humor! But then they came out with a glorious gift straight from the heavens; a cake! Best darn cake I ever did eat

We met outside on the porch for our nightly meeting. It was raining, but they said it was only “dripping.” It was definitely raining. We continued to learn about God. We learned/talked about what it means that God’s holy. It means that he’s set apart. No one has ever been or will ever be like him. There’s no set of beautiful words that can describe Him. We can try and come up with eloquent phrases, but nothing comes close. He’s holy.

I woke up around 5AM freezing and searching for a blanket. I have no idea how or why, but it happened. Katie came and woke us up for breakfast around 7:30. We slowly got out of bed realizing we were in Haiti. We ate bread with peanut butter, eggs, and bananas. I really love that they respect us with everything they have to offer. They set up the “cafeteria” for us with red tablecloths in a shaded room right beside where they’d labored over the food for hours.

After breakfast we got dressed in our skirts and slacks and headed to church. The church was located right behind the orphanage. Everyone was dressed in his or her Sunday best. They looked so happy; happy to be there and happy to see us there. Niki & Layla gave their testimony then our whole group sang Mighty To Save in front of the congregation. I smiled from the inside out as we sang the bridge; “Shine your light and let the whole world see.” It painted a picture of why we were there! Because He is mighty to save. He gave us this peace, hope, and joy in abundance and we want to share what we have with everyone. Even the people of Haiti.

After church, of course the kids flocked to us. After sharing a few laughs and smiles, we headed back to the compound to shower and get ready for lunch. The shower! I was worried about taking a cold shower (first world problems), but holy cow did that feel great. It was about as much water coming out as if you had accidently tapped the kitchen sink faucet. We were so thankful for those cold showers. It was so hot outside that we were supposed to be drinking 10 bottles of water a day.

We used Sunday as a day to prepare for the workweek ahead of us. That afternoon, we did a skit with the kids; David & Goliath. We had one of the kids from the orphanage be David, John played “the big, ugly” Goliath, and Chris was the narrator. Lots of laughs shared with a great message from the Word; that we have God’s awesome power living inside of us.

Until supper, we played outside with the kids. We played basketball and handclap games. I made a friend, Rena. He was as goofy as they come. Reminded me so much of Mr. Bean. John rolled his ankle playing basketball and limped off the court to the compound. I loved watching my peers fall in love with the Haitian people. I think there’s just something about mission trips where you fall in love with the people and the culture that you’re thrown into and unintentionally leave a piece of your heart there. I could see it happening from day 1 in Haiti.

We learned how the American native missionary and the Haitian missionary fell in love…they were on a mission trip the first time they met. They worked side by side for months doing the Lord’s work. Ashley & I talked about how we wanted that. We had lasagna, rice & beans, fried plantains, and fried chicken for supper. We quickly headed back to the church for youth service, which was very different from ours. It was kind of like a Christian talent show. There were dancers, singers, and skits. Although we couldn’t understand without a translator, love knows no boundaries, as Chris said. A laugh, a smile, a hug; love is known in every language.

There was a skit that I loved. Six youth members held hands representing the church. One would walk away saying “you don’t need me!” Then the whole group couldn’t talk. That person would come back and suddenly the entire group had their voice again. The next would walk away, and the group couldn’t see. That person came back and the group had sight. The next teen walked away and they all fell to their knees—they couldn’t walk! That person came back and they could stand again. It was a neat way to show that they all needed each other to function as a church body.

One thing that I am slowly learning is to have confidence in Christ. He’s so big and no matter what, he’s still going to love me. He could do powerful things for His kingdom through me. He could make my gifts/talents become eternally significant. I see it through everyone here. They’ll stand up and sing beautifully. Maybe not to the ears, but their song comes from the heart.

After we found our way back to the compound by flashlight, we all gathered around outside on the porch. God had painted the sky black with big flashes of lighting even though it wasn’t raining. We talked about the differences in churches in America and churches in Haiti, but apart from the differences we all came together to worship the one true God; creator of all things. It was a reminder of how big our God really is.

We took showers after the meeting. It was nice to get the sticky mix of bug spray and sunscreen off, but not so nice to learn that I’d forgotten my towel. After yelling for Ashley, she finally came to my rescue with a towel. In my scurry to find a towel, I’d messed with the water faucet. So when Ashley got ready to take a shower, it didn’t work. This time, Layla and I came to the rescue. It kind of went along with the skit that the kids did. We all mess up…all the time. We need each other for encouragement and to kick each other in the butt when we need it.

We were all settling down getting ready for bed when I saw a huge something run across the room. I screamed which made everyone else do the same. I explained to them that I didn’t know what it was, but I did know that it was bigger than a lizard. We all searched the room to find nothing. They all put it off deeming me to be crazy. Then we heard Katie scream as she jumped in the air. She’d seen the thing that was bigger than a lizard.

By this time, we’re all standing on top of our beds screaming and giggling at the situation. Niki ran out of the shower soap still all over her, but she was ready to kill this mysterious thing. About that time, a rat ran across the room, gliding it’s way through our line of sight, and right out our door. This rat was surely bigger than a lizard.

We hurriedly shut the door with a sigh of relief accompanied with lots of laughter. As we settled in our beds, I realized that there’s yet another reason why we need each other to function as a church body. Sometimes things can be stressful. But there’s always time to share a laugh in the unforgettable moments with God smiling down.