God, Give me Strength to make it Today!

Do you have a day on the calendar that you wish would go away?! A day you think should be removed completely from the calendar year?! Make that date just go away, so it never happens again?! Maybe the day of your wedding with the ex. Or the day a parent passed away. Or even worse the day you lost a child. I have such a date during the calendar year – and that day is TODAY.

Two years ago today, I woke up to my phone ringing. It was my best friend Donald’s room mate calling me in complete panic. I had spent every day for the last 6 months in their apartment after the radio show and I knew that this call was not a good one…

Donald and I in Mrs. Martin's 3rd grade class photo.

I met Donald when we moved to Winter Park in pre-school. He is the most charming, loving and caring person I have ever met!! Our families were close so we did just about everything together. Growing up we played street hockey, video games, sprayed people with super soakers in the neighborhoods… we were kids who had a great life, families and time together! As we got older Donald was one of the few people from my childhood who remained close. My freshmen year of high school Donald came to my house before homecoming for pictures before going out and meeting all our friends. Even as I met my husband, Donald was still one of my dearest friends and was in our wedding party on the big day! Donald has taught me what being a great friend is!!

That made this day two years ago only that much harder. The call I got shattered my world. I picked up the phone to hear my best friend’s room mate in panic crying that he thought Donald was gone. I have never felt so empty in my life. I had no idea what to do. I have lost friends and family members before but no one in my life like Donald. He was my go-to friend. The friend you call who you know will always pick up and let you come over if you want. Or will help you move all day long. Who comes to all your work events to show their support. That was Donald. He tells me he is proud of me more than any other person has in my life. When I felt defeated from work he would freestyle rap about me and make me feel special and good. Every person needs a friend like Donald!

With Donald on my 25th Birthday!!

When I woke up today, I was depressed, I was miserable. I wanted today to go away. I wanted to act like this day never happened. But it did! Today did happen. And instead of crying and cursing God – I need to celebrate. Donald is in a perfect place – HEAVEN! I wish I was in Heaven not dealing with the stress, burden and pain of life! Donald is at peace and I should be too!

Not only that but this is the time God can do big things…. I can’t handle today on my own. The loss of Donald is too big for me. I can easily never get out of bed today…. just lay there sobbing, crying, cursing God. Just waiting for the sun to rise again the next day where I can pretend like this one never happened… until it creeps up again next year. And that is exactly how I felt this morning till I spent some time in worship and prayer. Now I remember Donald is at peace. Now I remember I will see Donald one day in Heaven. Now I remember how much God has done through his horrific tragedy. Had Donald never passed I would not be a missionary. Before Donald died I was in a dark place myself much of the time. I had battled with depression for years. When Donald took his life it felt like it could be easier for me to do it too. Jesus saved me from those thoughts and feelings. The day Donald died I put my trust in Jesus. I knew His stories… I just never followed them or lived my life according. Now I know the importance of accepting Jesus in your heart! And Donald does too because he is in Heaven with God!! And now I feel devoted to making everyone a follower of Jesus so that we can all be in Heaven and feel God’s grace daily!

This morning I was a train wreck…. but God has delivered me from that. If life is perfect God can’t do big things in your life… but when life is hard… when you want to give up… when everyone has left you… when you know you can’t live another day… that is when God can show up and doing AMAZING things!! So when you hit your hard day… the day you just want to go away and never live again… TURN TO GOD!!! God will give you the strengths in those times you never knew you had. But you have to pray, you can pray angry or sad whatever you are feeling but pray God delivers you from that and can move you to a place of peace. Today instead of crying in my bed – I know God is at work! He is at work in my heart, in the hearts of everyone who knew and loved Donald and in the heart of every one who struggles with massive pain and loss.

With the DeVane's at the 2nd Annual Donald DeVane Memorial Classic

So many people will say that if they could change the most horrible thing that ever happened in the lives they would…. but they wouldn’t change what God did to them during those times! Find hope and love in your hard times… it is there! Harness your pain into something good… I am going to focus my energy on the Donald DeVane Memorial Golf Tournament today… something that will carry on his wonderful legacy for years and help other people who are in a place of darkness!! Ask God to help you turn your pain into more love… it’s hard I know! and it doesn’t come easy, I know! Today I woke up and life was terrible… But I gave my burdens to God and He can handle them!!

Need a little spiritual guidance during grief and loss? click here!!

Orlando Sentinel Memorial on Donald published today.

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Sometimes it’s hard to Love God.

God wants to change us! The key is allowing Him to change you!! I can’t do much on my own right, seriously. Whether its a job, friendship or keeping family happy – I can easily mess it up!! Sometimes I even forget to pray before meals or I am so exhausted I say a quick half-hearted prayer and go to bed. Here is the thing I have realized. We need God! We need Him to be good friends, wives, brothers, fathers and even employees. Think about it, it’s hard sometimes to love a perfect and holy God. I literally turned my back on God after nearly losing my Mom in high school. I decided if He was going to be like that and do that to my mom then I was better off with out Him. But the truth is, He loved me and He loved my mom. The reality of the situation is that only by the grace of God was my mom saved. Yet I cursed his name for making her sick. If I can curse a loving God who saved my mom and turn my back on Him then its even easier for me to do it to the people around me. The fact is, I need God to help me love God. And if I need His help to love Him, a perfect and holy being, I definitely need his help to love fault-filled beings. Today I pray that we feel the love that God designed for us. And that not only can God help us love Him but also the people in our lives.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

Will You Choose to Open Your Eyes or Harden Your Heart?

My dear friend and brother, John Ginn, who I met on the Philippines Mission Trip wrote a post on Facebook earlier this week I really enjoyed. I asked him if I could share his post with you via my blog and he said yes, so here it is! Great job John!!

Why would anyone believe in a God whose very existence is questionable at best and who is seemingly only interested in our lives in order to determine whether we obey century-old rules written in a book of questionable authenticity? For most of us the analysis stops here, the line is drawn, and the question remains unspoken in the heart of the Christian or establishes the foundation of skepticism in the unbeliever.

However, can we legitimately conclude at this point that the existence of God is questionable and His promises outdated with no modern application? What would happen if we actually acted on His promises and believed them to be true?

One modern yet non-conventional example comes to mind: Tim Tebow. Tim believes God’s promises to be true and acts on them. More importantly, God has been true to His promises. The fact that Tim is one in six billion people and involved in a sport that is purely for entertainment purposes does not matter, God is faithful to His promise in Mathew: “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be given to you,” and in Psalms: “commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.”

The Broncos began this season with a 1-4 record. After starting Tim as quarterback they have won seven games. However when Tim is interviewed the first thing out of his mouth is “I would like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” In an interview when asked about an opponent who sacked him and then mocked him by kneeling and folding his hands, Tim stated that it was a good hit. He “seeks first the kingdom of God” by practicing humility and giving Jesus the credit instead of taking it for himself.

Complementing someone who just mocked you and humility amidst great success is not something that occurs naturally. Furthermore, a young quarterback clearly seeking first the kingdom of God and in turn experiencing great success is not a coincidence. It is one small example of how God keeps his promises and rewards those who pursue him.

God unequivocally promises in Jeremiah: “you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart,” and Jesus states in John: “whoever believes in me will not perish but have eternal life.” Will you choose to open your eyes and act on his promises?
-JG

If you want to check out John and I at Uncle Dick’s Orphanage in the Philippines, click here.

‘Blessed Redeemer’ Video: PLEASE WATCH!

Very rarely do I say “Whatever you are doing – stop now and watch this video!” In fact, I have never said those words. I post with the intent of people reading and being encouraged by the Lord and or being inspired by my journey with Christ. I don’t do this so I can talk about myself – I do it to share the love I feel from God! I pray everyone will one day feel His love and plan for our lives! So back to the point… STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND WATCH THIS VIDEO!! And maybe have a box of tissues handy! I cried and watched this over and over again!

If you read my blog then you have heard this song before. It is called ‘Blessed Redeemer’ by Casting Crowns. I used the song also for the Summit Baptism video blog.

Do Something: Want to start reading the Bible?!

One of my favorite things about Facebook is the opportunity it allows us to share and connect with all sorts of people in a positive way. I get lots of questions on Facebook from people about my beliefs. I always enjoy opening a message from a mom who wants her kids to know Christ but doesn’t know how to talk to them about it. Or parents who don’t know how to answer the questions their kids ask them about God. Or someone who wants to read the Bible but has no clue where to start. A lot of messages I get start by saying “This may sound like a dumb question…” but the truth is there are no dumb questions. I love all these questions because the answer leads people to God!! So please keep sending me messages!!

The question I get the most is the question about where to start reading in the Bible. My suggestion is to start in the New Testament with Mark, John and Luke. In those books you get clear descriptions of Jesus and how He lived, died and rose again.

You can go to www.everystudent.com for insight on alls sorts of things about life and God. You can literally ask questions or research things on your own through out the site.

If you would like how to know God personally, you can read the Four Spiritual Laws on www.WhitneyLaney.com I also have a Daily Devotional featured there from Campus Crusade for Christ.

Summit Beach Baptism

With my parents and husband after they were baptized in the ocean by Isaac.

What an amazing day! One of the greatest days of my life was the day I got Baptized. If there was a competition for best day of my life it would be a toss up between my wedding day and the day I was Baptized. I am sure when my husband and I have children that day will take the win. This special day however was not my Baptism day; it was my parents and husbands Baptism day! The three people I love most in this world! And the fact that they all want to make a public declaration that they are followers of Jesus is incredible! I made the decision three months ago in the Philippines to be Baptized. You can watch our Baptisms in the videos below.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. -Romans 6:4

Andrew, Mom & Dad’s Baptism: Summit @ Bethune Beach October 16, 2011

Whitney’s Baptism: Philippines July 12, 2011

What is Baptism?
Simply put, a public declaration that you are a follower of Jesus. Baptism is one of the ways God calls us to follow him.

Would you like to be Baptized?
More info from Summit here

Diary: A Divine Appointment

Journal Entry: June 28, 2011

A cute baby playing outside our broken down Jeepney in Manilla.

Driving around the Philippines and we got a flat tire. Most people would be frustrated but I used it as an opportunity to spread the word of Jesus. First I gave a track to a little old man with no shirt or shoes on who was missing his teeth. Then I started to give a track to every person who walked past our Jeepney and I noticed the little old man stop to read the track. When I saw this I waved him back over to the Jeepney and told him I came from America to spread the word of Jesus and I asked if I could share with him. He said yes but spoke poor English so I tried to explain using the correlating spot with the track which was in Tagalog for him to understand. When I got to the part where you can invite Jesus into your life, if you chose, I asked if that was something he wanted to do, and if he wanted to pray to ask Jesus to come into his heart. He said yes and he repeated the prayer in English after me to give his life over to God. I knew I was going to come to the Philippines to share the Gospel with school children and was so excited God presented the opportunity to share with this cute little old man.

A few minutes later the other Americans saw some kids playing basketball and asked the Pastors if they could go talk to them and play. As we walked down 100 yards or so to the children I noticed a family sitting on the stoop outside. It was a Grandmother, two Mothers, a Father and 3 children. I told the others to go ahead and that I wanted to speak to this family. I approached the Grandmother and asked if I could share the good news with her and her family, I explained I traveled all the way from America to share this news. She said yes and they spoke enough English that I could give the entire Gospel presentation. I then asked the entire family if they wanted to invite Jesus into their hearts right now and they all said yes. The Grandmother stopped me before we prayed to get one more family member out of the house to pray with us as well. This touched me because I knew in that moment she understand the importance of this moment in her families life. We prayed and then when I was telling their family that they are now children of God, the americans walked back up from playing basketball and it was perfect timing to tell them that they now have us all as their American brothers and sisters and that they were now our Filipino brothers and sisters. It was an amazing experience and an incredible divine appointment from God. When I was done I gave them some tracks and the Grandmother asked if she could share with her brother and one of the mothers asked if she could have more to share with her friends. I encouraged them to share the good news with everyone! It was beyond amazing. Who knew a flat tire would give me the opportunity to bring an entire family to Christ. Well I guess God knew they needed to hear it so he gave us the opportunity with the flat tire. 🙂