Presley learned to ride her bike recently and Hope dresses up every day in ballet and dance gear. These two girls are filled with joy and are always playing together. The other day, Presley said,”mom thank you for giving me a sister. I would be so lonely and sad without her.” One of the things I so desperately wanted for Presley was to give her a sibling. My heart may have had fear about carrying another child, but my heart desperately wanted this for her. I am so glad that God provided this for her. They love each other! Hope’s saddest moment of the day is when she leaves for school and her happiest moment of the day is the moment we leave to pick presley up from school. She adores her big sister. They play well together but presley tends to be a little mother rather than a big sister. She has taught Hope to be a little bit more practical and fancier; and Hope has taught Presley to be a bit more adventurous and daring. It’s so much fun watching these two sisters grow up together!
Not moments after France was attacked red cups disappeared from social media, prayer was rekindled and accepted again in a Nation that had just recently been fighting to extinguish it from every corner.
The same people who want to abolish prayer are the same people who are fighting to accept A hurting people from foreign lands. And the majority of people fighting to keep prayer the center of a nation we call “godless” are refusing a people being slaughtered in a region that has undoubtedly been on their recent prayer list.
God answers prayers, but the answers He gives aren’t always easy. They are hard…difficult and heartbreaking at times. It’s not always easy accepting the answer God gives. It wasn’t easy when I accepted His answer that He was calling my mom home; and it wasn’t easy as I watched her leave this earth. But what I learned from her death and what I always remember in difficult times is that
When His answers are difficult they are still good. And when His answers are heartbreaking they are still redeemable . And when His answers are scary they are still sovereign.
He asks us to do the difficult- to reach out and help those who are hurting. He asks us to trust, not in mortal men, but in the One who saves. He asks us, “how much meaning is behind your prayers? Do you want to save a hurting people enough to get into the trenches with them? Walk next to them? Live among them and help heal their broken hearts? Do you trust Me enough to make it right? Do you have the courage?”
Courage doesn’t always seem practical. It wrestles with danger and is in limbo with self-sacrifice. A daring man is not courageous, just foolish. God does not ask us to be daring, he asks us to be strong, to be courageous.
Our pathway to freedom came through courage. Courage placed our ancestor’s feet on American soil. And courage has hung our flag and stuck its rod into a cratered moon, a dying land, and among the rubble of an open grave. If we continue to walk the line that our Nation is “One Nation Under God” then we must have the courage to act on it….and what a comfort that must be for both Christians and Muslims escaping the same fate.
God has shattered any pre-conceived notion that I have had about what His will is. I have prayed for opened doors, closed doors, road blocks, and easy paths. But wrapped in a prayer can be a laying out of my will enveloped in a sea of demands made by me.
“Do this God, and I will know it’s your will and leading”
“Allow for opened doors, and I will know the way to your will, God.”
I have been on both sides of closed and opened doors; and the one thing I have learned is that neither one is a guarantee that God’s will for us is on either side of it. I have walked through open doors just to have them be closed later. I’ve detoured around closed doors just to be brought back around to the front again with a yearning to enter.
Opened doors do not always hold an open invitation to walk through them.
Closed doors do not always shatter dreams and cast out a refusal to enter.
And so how can we really “know” where God is leading? What is His will?
I have been lead to places and have had opportunities arise just to realize that God meant it as a stepping stone to a much bigger plan.
God’s will does not always work the way we want…with a perfect formula or within a perfect script.
I know of many times in my life where God’s will has been difficult to grasp…without a clear and open path to those desires of the heart.
Sometimes it’s been as easy as a closed or open door, but most of the time it is not.
For me, most of the time there are several detours, discouraging events along a hard fought road to doing to his will; living out his calling and purpose for my life.
I have found that when I throw out a statement “show me your will, God” after an opportunity has presented itself I feel more inclined to look for “signs” that I am doing His will. It is when I persevere through a commitment to walking in a daily relationship with Christ that I hear him more clearly. It is God that is doing the leading, the pruning, the guiding…way before an opportunity presents itself.
God’s plan for us rises above our perception.
Even in my own reasoning for what I think God’s will is, ultimately, His purpose is far beyond my insight or what I think His will is.
His plans are so much bigger than I often think. Every written plan is for his purpose, His glory, in the big picture of forever…not the momentary life we live.
May God guide you daily to knowing Him deeper so that when He does bring about an opportunity to walk in His will you might know it fully; without any hint of doubt.
He is a sweet and talented young man living in the Village Merci de Dieu in Haiti. He loves the Lord and has a heart to praise Him. It is very apparent that the Lord is working in him and through him. During the evening hours, you will hear praise music sounding throughout the village. This is because Damas and a few of his friends took it upon themselves to start up a youth group, praising Jesus during the week and twice on Sunday. There are many needs within the village, both physical and spiritual.
The need for deeper knowledge in Christ is not determined by the borders and boundaries of where we live. We are all in desperate need of the hope that comes from the knowledge of who Christ is.
Damas is sharing the love of Christ through his music…music that comes from an old drum, a beat up piece of tin, and an electric keyboard.
Some of these items could be donated here in the states and taken down on the next trip in November; or it could be way of donating money. If you have a love for music, or knowledge to lend, it would be greatly appreciated.
This would be a great opportunity for your church youth group to come together and raise money for Damas.
If you would like to help Damas by donating any of these items please let me know or you can donate online noting it “damas music” at
I felt guilt
I felt shame
I felt unworthy and overwhelmed.
I could not bring myself to eat the food that was set before me, but knew if I didn’t then I would offend the one who gave so graciously and sacrificially.
Darline Palmer is a beautiful woman, inside and out, living in Merci De Dieu Village. She touched my heart and soul for life…and I’m quite certain God intended it to be that way. I have said before, “we go to Haiti to bless and in return are blessed far greater by the people there.” It was no different this last trip and I know that my husband and step-mom would agree.
Darline has nothing, at least by American standards, and yet opened her home to us so that she could serve us a meal. She said she felt blessed by God and in return wanted to bless us with a meal because that is what God called her to do.
She wanted to bless outwardly what she felt inwardly.
A new mom, 10 days post-partum cesarean section, worked all morning pouring herself into making a delicious home- cooked meal for us. As I sat at her table I swallowed hard and breathed deep as tears filled my eyes I felt guilt- I felt shame- I felt unworthy and overwhelmed.
I knew I didn’t need this meal, not in the way that the tiny bodies of her children needed it. I could not bring myself to eat the food she set before us, but also knew if I didn’t eat I would offend her causing her shame and embarrassment.
I questioned myself for a few minutes. I could not bare to waste a single bite, but then wondered if I left most of it untouched would she be able to give it to her children?
She walked around the room with a newborn baby in one arm and a servant’s heart in the other.
What was even more heart-wrenching was the fact that I knew where the money came from that paid for our meal…how she earned it.
I knew that, at 9 months pregnant, she sat hours upon hours in the scorching heat hand embroidering beautiful artwork onto a piece of cloth so that she might be able to provide for her family through the Threads of Blessing program.
I knew the amount of money that sat in the envelope she had received the day before and I understood the amount of money she had just spent on this beautiful meal for us.
I sat and grieved. She gave what, in her words, God called her to give.She gave in the midst of
-not knowing where her next meal would come from
-not knowing if her husband would be able to find work in a city where men and women fight to live- life.
She stepped out in obedience. She stepped out in faith trusting God- that he would provide for her family despite her questions and “what ifs.” She walked forward in grace extending a heart of thankfulness. She sacrificed for the sake of saying “thank you” because she felt God calling her to pour grace upon us.
As we sat at her table, She told us of her days before and after the earthquake. How her family was forced into one of the many “tent cities.” How she had to sit outside the tent because on most days the temperature inside the tent reached 120. She lost everything.
She shared about God’s faithfulness to her during this time. How she continued to put her hope and trust in the One who would eventually answer her plea with the blessing of moving her into Merci de Dieu Village.
She says she continues to trust God. She continues to put her hope in Him despite the every day circumstances surrounding her. She continues to wait, persevering in prayer, as her husband tries to find a job…to make a living.
I left her house that Sunday afternoon asking myself, “have I ever truly given- Sacrificing for another?
How much more am I called to give…To pour grace into others?”
I have a budget for giving. She gave what she didn’t have to give.
My giving is not sacrificial. My giving is me giving up a luxury- a date night, a meal out to dinner, a pedicure. She gave out of obedience in fullness of trusting in the One who has always provided for her.
I will always be grateful for the kindness she showed, the grace she walked in as her daughter washed our hands after the meal she spent an afternoon preparing for us- She not only served our bodies…she served our hearts forever..
It’s no secret that Hope is her own person. She does things on her own terms, in her own time. She isn’t as advanced in her vocabulary as Presley was at this age, but she excels in gross motor skills by leaps and bounds from where Presley was. Every evening I say a prayer with Hope that focuses on what we are thankful for. I start off by saying,
“Dear Jesus, thank you for mommy, daddy, Presley, and Hope, and….” …at which point she usually chimes in with “tank you for oranges and bananas, amen.” This evening, for the first time, she extended her list (and her vocabulary) to….
“tank you for doors, and tank you for drawers. Tank you for Presley. And tank you for Presley’s room, and tank you for Presley’s bed. And tank you for oranges and chicken. Ummmmm, And mommy room and mommy door. And tank you for Friends. And friends play. Ummmmm tank you for books and butterflies. And tank you for spiders.amen”
Half of these words I didn’t even know she knew!!! An evening I would like to remember 🙂
Every September 11th I see two little words stamped across social media and my tv screen…”never forget.” It’s highly unlikely that any of us will ever forget what we were doing that day or where we were at. It would be like telling a friend to never forget the passing of their loved one. Many of us use the words “never forget” along with a cluster of photographs or video clips showing the horrors of that day. We do not need to see the images of that day over and over again to remember the magnitude of that dreadful day. I do not need to see pictures of my mom in her last days or visit her grave daily to remember the devastation I felt on the day she died. It’s embedded within me. It’s an experience that shaped my life and who I am. Much like 9/11. I remember having a similar feeling of grief after 9/11 that resembled the feeling of sadness I felt when I found out my mom had terminal cancer. “Never Forget”, but Always Remember”…because there is a lot more to remember than to forget. Always remember…the feelings of despair that brought a nation to its knees,
when racial lines were shattered,
and police officers were seen as Heroes for knowingly sacrificing their lives,
when Congress came together as a united people who stood for the people,
And churches filled with people who once claimed they didn’t need God, but now In their brokenness reached out for hope.
A war was fought by men who watched their beloved land under attack. And A nation rebuilt their lives and built up a broken city under the umbrella of God’s redemptive love.
It is ok to forget the horror and move forward in healing. To look at the photos from that day will bring only a fleeting moment of sadness and terror. It will not change again a nation that has forgotten God in all Its healing. For 9/11 to have been more than just “a day of terror” a changing within the heart of a nation had to of happened. A changing of a heart that says we need the healing of Scripture that claims God as Lord. It’s ok to show pictures of a rebuilt city, a life renewed, a story of bravery that came out of the ashes of that day. God, and only God, can bring redemption to a day of despair. Only God can bring forth beauty from the ashes that engulfed us that day.
15 years ago, after working my way through the grief of losing my mom, I remember writing in my prayer journal… “please don’t let me forget what I’ve learned.” I was deathly afraid of moving forward forgetting what I had learned…having everything be for “not.” Because I wanted to be changed by God and not the event.
The reality is, you do move forward, you do forget, and you do heal. The key is allowing God to change you from the inside out in the midst of your grief and pain; and then moving forward with grace in what you have learned. Sometimes in our healing we drift away from lessons learned during our brokenness. Going back to pictures of that day may bring about a feeling, but it won’t bring about a life change. There’s so much going on in America that crushes the spirit….Christians seen as hateful, police officers seen as murderers, republicans seen as intolerant, democrats seen as liars, children being consumed by the weight of a fallen world. We look to God when we fall as a nation, and then abolish Him once we are standing on our own again. We throw out claims that He’s not good because He’s not seen as present in a world that seems lost. But yet, we aren’t present for Him until we desperately need him. Shame on us America for forgetting what we learned and remembering only the event…the grief that was caught in the images of that day.