Book Review: Miracle on Voodoo Mountain

Let me just tell you this:

Tears were shed over this book.

Miracle on Voodoo Mountain took me back to the country that forever changed my life, Haiti.

I wish I could put into words all of the emotions I felt on that beautiful island country, but I could never quite describe it well enough. Instead let me recommend this book to you, so that way you can get a glimpse of the work God is doing through missions around the world.

In her book Miracle on Voodoo Mountain, Megan Boudreaux takes you on her journey to reach the children of Haiti. She answered the call of God after she visited Haiti on a business trip after the horrible earthquake that wrecked Port-au-Prince in 2010.

Having been to Haiti before, I could picture the places, the poverty, and the people she mentioned throughout her book.

I could picture the places. I saw the government buildings she mentions, including the palace. I saw the homes that have are nothing more than concrete walls and roofs and dirt floors. I could picture the busy roads and the insane amount of traffic with no laws of any kind. I could see the orphanages with cots for beds and no food and no money to get any.

I could picture the poverty. Building after building of closed businesses line the streets. People slave in the fields just to provide a couple of dollars for their family for a day. Roads lay ruined from disasters and rain. Anything that can be put in your mouth becomes a snack including styrofoam.

But most importantly, I could picture the people. Hungry eyes. Hurting hearts. Hopeless souls. People that need Jesus. I could picture the mothers who let their children roam the streets. I could picture the 14 year old girl who is already 6 months pregnant, most likely the result of being raped. I could picture the boys and girls with no parents who ride down a mountain every day just to get a basket of fresh water. I could picture the people who more than food, water, or any other physical need need Jesus more than anything else.

And that’s what this book is all about. It’s about changing a life one at a time and showing each person the love of Jesus.

If you want some perspective of what Jesus is doing around the world through average people like you and me, pick up the book. You won’t regret it.

Beauty and the Bible

About a year ago, I noticed this thing called Bible journaling during my incessant Pinterest scrolling. Yes, I’m a little obsessed with Pinterest. Okay, maybe a lot obsessed. But as a teacher, there are so many good things to be found on there. Plus the e-cards are always good for a laugh. But let me get back to the point of today’s post.

I noticed these colorful concoctions popping up on my Pinterest page and as I took a closer look, I realized these beautiful images were drawn in a Bible.

Insert shocked emoji here.

Growing up in conservative Christian circles, I absolutely could not believe that this kind of thing was being done in a Bible. How is that possibly okay? The Bible is holy. Is scribbling all over it really showing it the respect it deserves?

I quickly wrote off the idea of this kind of art in a Bible, but just a few weeks ago, the idea popped up again, this time thanks to Instagram. I saw beautiful images depicting what the Bible verses really said and I was drawn closer to God’s Word as a result of this.

So I began researching whether or not this is okay. After studying my Bible, reading many articles, and praying over this issue, I came to the conclusion that I would start Bible journaling to help me grow in my personal walk with God.

Maybe you’re struggling with whether or not it’s okay to create art like this in your Bible. Let me share with you some things to think about when considering this for yourself:

  1. Why are you journaling in your Bible?
  2. When are you journaling in your Bible?
  3. How is journaling in your Bible helping you grow in your walk with God?

Now I’m not saying this will answer all your questions, but hopefully it will inspire you to dig into your own personal stance on this topic.

Also, come back later to see some of my Journaling Bible pages.

Spectator Christianity

It’s 2016. He walks up to the track, running shoes ready. The training’s been done. This is it the final moment. Usain Bolt will now determine that he is the fastest man in the world.

You may remember watching this race or possibly another favorite event from the Olympics. It could be the swimming legend Michael Phelps, volleyball stars Misty May-Traenor and Kerri Lee-Walsh, or gymnast Gabby Douglas. Most Americans have someone they are pulling for when watching the world games, but that’s all we are doing watching.

Isn’t that similar for some of us in the Christian life?

Some of us are caught up in spectator Christianity. We have pastors, leaders, and other great teachers and role models we look up to. We cheer them on. We expect them to win. We expect them to train properly. After all the Bible does describe the Christian life as a race. Check out Hebrews 12:1.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

We are all athletes in the Christian life. God has called us to run the Christian life, and He doesn’t want us to live like we are not even part of the team. We often live not just as losers, but like we aren’t even participants. We sit idly by, thankless for how Jesus rescued us from sin, death, and hell.

How?

First, we expect our leaders to fuel properly while we eat junk. Any athlete will stress the importance of a healthy, balanced diet. It’s essential to training your body to be its best. The same is true of our Christian race.

What do you need to survive? Food and water.

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the living water and the Bible is the bread of life.

We expect our leaders to study the Bible daily, but we only read ours on Sunday. We like God’s Word when it fits with our schedule and preferences, but if we don’t have time, oh well it’s not really that important to us.

Can you just skip eating and really be okay? No. Absolutely not, I know that from personal experience, but that’s a topic for another time. Your body shuts down without the proper fuel.

Without the proper fuel of God’s Word every day, you’re spiritual walk is going to shut down. You will find yourself starving spiritually. You miss out on what God wants to teach you.

Now sometimes, we just have an unhealthy diet. Maybe you do read your Bible, but what else are you feeding your soul? We all know that when it comes to our physical bodies the bad stuff tastes so good. Pizza, ice cream, burgers, pasta. Is your mouth watering yet?

But we also try to fill up on these terrible things in our Christian life, and they can only satisfy for so long. We look to bad relationships, drugs, alcohol, money, fame, immorality, pornography. We have somehow justified tasting these things that God says are sin. And we are only hurting ourselves (and your team and God) in the race.

Stick to a healthy, balanced diet. Feed yourself from God’s Word so that you have the strength and energy you need to run the race before you.

Second, we expect our leaders to train while we do practically nothing.What if athletes skipped their training? Yes, maybe they could live without going for a day. But what if it becomes two, three, four? And then next thing you know, you haven’t been to the gym for 5 years now. The athlete would obviously not be prepared to do his best in any competition. He would fail.

If we are not daily training in God’s Word, we are going to fail. God’s Word has the principles and standards we need to live out our life daily. What are some ways that we can daily train ourselves in God’s Word?

  • Be kind. Every single day. Even on those days when you feel like just snapping at everyone.
  • Be a servant. Look for other peoples’ needs instead of your own.
  • Give. Give of your time, money, and effort.
  • Love your neighbor. Even when they aren’t being loving to you, love them anyway. It’s a command.
  • Pray. Pray for everything. There’s nothing in your life that Jesus doesn’t care about.

The list could go on, but I think you get the idea. Find those ways to fuel your body from God’s Word and then practice them daily.

If you watched Usain Bolt’s race from the 2016 Olympics, you would without a doubt say he is the fastest man in the world. He was successful because of all the fuel and training he put into his running.

Shouldn’t we be just as passionate about our Christian race? Maybe it’s time to dust of those running shoes that have been sitting in the closet for awhile. Put ’em on. See what God can do with your life.

Ruining a Bad Mood

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Anyone ever had one of those days? Yep. Me too. Today for example. It seemed terrible.

Anyone who works with children knows how challenging it can be. Today was one of those challenging days. No one was listening. There were mean words, kicking, hitting, screaming, and tears. The list could go on, but I think you get the idea. Needless to say, this all left the adult in charge (me) in a very bad mood. I was just downright frustrated.

So this afternoon, I headed for a little pick-me-up:

DUNKIN DONUTS!

Can I get an “amen”? Thank the Lord for a french vanilla iced coffee no cream or sugar.

But this alone did not cure my mood.

You see, I’d been praying throughout the day that the Lord would help me to show Jesus to someone else (because that’s what I’d read about in my devotions this morning). The girls made this challenging. To me, it seemed completely impossible. I had no more magic fixes for this day.

But sitting there in that drive-through, God spoke to me through this thought, “Pay for the person’s order behind you.” I looked in my side mirror and didn’t recognize the person. I’ll probably never see her again in my life, but I did it anyway. And do you know what came over me?

Joy.

There’s no other word to explain it.

True kindness to someone else results in genuine joy.

This little act was simple, so very simple. But its results were major in my life this afternoon. It makes me think of a much more valuable act of kindness. Actually, it makes me think of an act of true love.

Many years ago, God the Father sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for my sins (and yours too). Why can I not show this kind of sacrificial love to the world around me? Jesus did it for me.

I am in no way saying this act of mine today should be praised. It’s far too minuscule to even gain recognition, but if I can make a difference in one person’s life, maybe, just maybe they’ll know that there is true kindness and love to be found. And that is found in Jesus alone.

So the next time you’re tempted to be grumpy, remember the kindness of God in your life and share that kindness with someone else.

World’s Best Cup of Hot Chocolate

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So it’s not the world’s best cup of coffee. I’m convinced I haven’t discovered that yet, but I will claim to have to discovered the world’s best cup of hot chocolate. All thanks go to my mom and her best friend for the perfect creation.
And here’s how to create it.

What You’ll Need

Whole Milk
Nestle Hot Chocolate Packet with Mini Marshmallows
Mini Marshmallows
Ground Cinnamon
Canned Whipped Cream

What To Do

Find your favorite mug (or create one! more to come on this topic another day). 
Fill it 3/4 of the way full with whole milk.
Heat mug in microwave for 2-3 minutes or until desired temperature. 
Stir in hot chocolate packet.
Top with cinnamon.
Add mini marshmallows.
Top with whipped cream (be careful not to go too fast; you’ll spill milk everywhere).
Top again with cinnamon.
Enjoy the world’s best cup of hot chocolate.

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How Not to Get Lost Hiking

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Last week, I posted a humorous take on some real situations in my life. Yes, they were 100% true. You can check it out here.

Last week, I also had the opportunity to correct one of those bad decisions by taking a second trip hiking and it went much better than the first one. See the above link for the story of the first hiking trip.

So here are a few tips to help you not get lost on your next hiking experience:

  1. Look at the website ahead of time. Check for all relevant information such as trail closings, weather, difficulty, etc. And also get directions to the trail head.
  2. Pack snacks, water, and a full change clothing. You may want to throw a pocket knife in there, a small first aid kit, and a towel for swimming.
  3. Wear comfortable, durable shoes. Whether it’s your favorite sneakers, hiking boots, or sandals, this probably isn’t the time to break in a new pair of shoes. Wear something you know you can rely on.
  4. Take a map or at least a picture of the trail map. And add the emergency phone number in there just in case. You never know what kind of….adventures…you may have.
  5. Don’t leave the trail. This is a good time to add the not-so-cliche information that you’ve been told about your whole life. I seriously suggest that you adhere to this one.
  6. Pay attention to the trail markers and landmarks. Don’t follow connectors because you will never get back to your starting point on time if that’s all you do.
  7. Keep track of time. Make sure you’re not staying out too late. Leave yourself time to get back to the car.

Well, there you have it. These are obviously part of my novice hiker’s guide to trails, but I hope you can learn from some of my mistakes. Now go plan and enjoy your next hiking trip!

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A Christmas Souvenir

Night by Elie Wiesel: A Book Review

img_5345“Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.”

Can you imagine the weight of the responsibility of murdering someone’s God?

Just let that sink in for a moment.

The quote above is just a small glimpse of the sadness you will experience as you read Night by Elie Wiesel. It is one of the most somber books I’ve ever read in my entire life.
After seeing this book on list after list of recommended reads, I added it to my reading list this year. It is nothing short of a true historical phenomenon. This narrative of  Hungarian Jew’s experience in Nazi concentration camps will leave you with a perspective you never
imagined and emotions you probably haven’t experienced before.

The book begins with a young Hungarian Jew as a teenager. His perspective takes you through World War II in his country. The details of the war were not very well known in the beginning especially the secrets that the German police would hide from the average citizen. This child’s voice carries you through times and places overlooked and ignored because of the seriousness and painfulness of their nature.
Why read this book if it’s going to be so depressing in nature?

Because it’s so important.

Nazi Germany, more specifically the Holocaust, is being forgotten. Some will go so far as to say it never even happened. But the truth is that it did. People want us to forget that humans could cause such pain and torment to other humans. How could our race do this? It’s inhuman.

But in reality, it’s just human nature in its greatest depravity.

It is heartbreaking to realize the truth of this time period in history, but it’s important for us to remember those who experienced this. Shed the light on truth. Read the book. Share the reality of the Holocaust so that we can help prevent history from repeating itself again and
again.