13 August 2010

New Blog Posts

Hey everyone, if you didn't already know, I changed blog hosts. This means that you will need to go to the new blog page to continue to get the rss feed. I have a couple new posts up, please check them out and start following from the new blog host. www.findinggodinamerica.com

26 July 2010

New Blog Post

For those of you that don't know, the Finding God In America blog has moved to another server. It is now on WordPress so you will have to change your rss feed, etc. to continue to receive the blog. The url is the same www.findinggodinamerica.com, so you can go there and tell me what you think. As always, you can see what is happening with Right Side Up Ministries by visiting our web page www.rightsideupministries.org. We just finished a skatepark in MS and we are now heading back to Haiti for another week of service.

28 June 2010

New Blog Server

And so it goes! The process that I thought would take me a week or two only took me a day. I have decided to switch over to Wordpress for all of my blogging needs. There are many factors that went into the situation, but the primary reason is that Wordpress appears to have more options and expansion opportunities, as well as, better templates and an overall more professional look. The downside is that I cannot carry my domain over for free. I now have to pay a yearly subscription to use my own domain name. I have started the process, which at this point has not been working. Until it does start working the domain is http://www.findinggodinamerica.wordpress.com. Hopefully findinggodinamerica.com will start working. I believe it is just a matter of time for the domain to get transferred from one nameserver to another. I am also looking to find a way to bring all of my past blogs from blogger into my Wordpress blog. If anyone knows how to do this I would greatly appreciate the help. I hope that you enjoy the blog and its new look.

23 April 2010

Today it Begins

Here's a quick rundown of this weekend and the events that will soon be taking place.

What are we doing?
In the next hour I will be constructing, hopefully with help, our weekend "Haiti Home" which I and two interns from Mississippi Gulf Coast Youth for Christ will be calling home. We will spend our two nights sleeping in it and our days hanging out in it, except the two of them have to work crazy hours tomorrow, but I will be there. This might very well be the craziest thing I have ever done. Well, maybe not the craziest, but it definitely ranks up there. Did I mention it is raining? And when I say raining I really mean intense downpour! That's cool though, because the idea is for people to get a picture of what life is like for those who are living in homes similar to the picture above. We're staying in this for 36 hours.

Why are we doing this?
Simple, because "The love of Christ compels us..." 2Cor 5:14. Because people are in need and we NEED to do something about it. The truth is, between 1.3 and 1.8 million people are displaced after the earthquake on January 12th. This means they have no place to live. It means either their house cracked or shifted, or it fell completely to the ground. Either way, it is unsafe! That is as many people as live in Philadelphia or two Indianapolis' or three Atlanta's. In short, it's a lot of people and somebody has to do something. We are raising funds to return to Haiti to help in this process. Our goal is $6,000.00, and if we reach that goal any extra raised will go to aHomeInHaiti.org and other organizations working on the housing crisis in Haiti.

How can I help?
Glad you asked! There are a few ways you can get involved.
1) Help get the word out- Tell all your friends about what we are doing and send them to the RSUM website for more info.
2) Pledge to the cause- Help us raise the funds we need to return. You can pledge a single amount or you can pledge by the hour. Either way you choose works for us.
3) Come visit us on location- We will be at 1501 24th Ave in Gulfport, MS, between the Youth for Christ office and the Xtreme Teen Center.
4) A Home In Haiti- You can send a tent to Haiti. Just visit aHomeInHaiti.org. You can send a tent, purchase a tent, or donate toward the purchase of a tent.

There are so many ways to get involved with the relief efforts in Haiti. Our goal is to return to Haiti to help, as well as to keep awareness alive about the overwhelming need that is in Haiti right now. Rainy season is here and people are sleeping in make shift homes, "Haiti Homes", like the ones above. We are determined to do what we can to help. We are committed to helping the people of Haiti stay dry, safe, fed, and clothed. Please take a moment and pray about how you can help.

You can help financially by clicking the "Donate" button below. Online gifts ARE NOT tax deductible at this time. for a tax receipt please visit the Right Side Up Ministries website and click on "Contact Us"

20 April 2010

Help Haiti Fund-Raiser

What are we doing?
Here's the rundown- April 23rd-April 25th we will be constructing a "Haiti Home" out of scrap wood, tarps and sheets. We will be staying in the "Haiti Home" for 36 hours to raise funds to help Right Side Up Ministries return to Haiti.

How can I help?
Glad you asked! There are a few ways you can get involved.
1) Help get the word out- Tell all your friends about what we are doing and send them to the RSUM website for more info.
2) Pledge to the cause- Help us raise the funds we need to return. You can pledge a single amount or you can pledge by the hour. Either way you choose works for us.
3) Come visit us on location- We will be at 1501 24th Ave in Gulfport, MS, between the Youth for Christ office and the Xtreme Teen Center.
4) A Home In Haiti- You can send a tent to Haiti. Just visit aHomeInHaiti.org. You can send a tent, purchase a tent, or donate toward the purchase of a tent.

There are so many ways to get involved with the relief efforts in Haiti. Our goal is to return to Haiti to help, as well as to keep awareness alive about the overwhelming need that is in Haiti right now. Rainy season is here and people are sleeping in make shift homes, "Haiti Homes", like the ones above. We are determined to do what we can to help. We are committed to helping the people of Haiti stay dry, safe, fed, and clothed. Please take a moment and pray about how you can help.

You can help financially by clicking the "Donate" button below. Online gifts ARE NOT tax deductible at this time. for a tax receipt please visit the Right Side Up Ministries website and click on "Contact Us"

25 March 2010

Not A Wall Runner Througher

Recently I posted an update that asked, "When you come up against something big in life do you tend to face it or run? I tend to run." 

I based this question out of Romans7:15, "For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do."

As I have spent time lately in prayer, meditation, and study of the Bible I have come to some harsh realities in my own life. One is my response to the above question. I tend to run. It isn't pretty, but if I am going to be honest, it's the truth. When I come up against a wall, I tend to run the other way. I am not a wall climber, runner througher, or knocker downer. It just doesn't come natural to me. I just don't seem to have the tendency or ability. 

I have some things in my life that are head on issues that I need to face. We all have them, for that matter. But what we don't all have is the desire to avoid them. I have an uncanny ability, on a somewhat consistent basis, to work around the big stuff. I have learned to function in life without dealing with these things head on. It needs to change, and here is why- I have a strong desire to do amazing things for God. I want to succeed at this ministry thing. I want to run my course with success! 

A big misconception I have had is that if I'm called into ministry, God will automatically make me a success. I was told many times that if it's God's will, He'll make it work, despite my actions. This is simply just not true and I am learning this more and more each day.

I have seen many truly successful people, and one thing they all have in common is the ability to face problems and tough situations head on. They have a natural ability programmed in their DNA that allows them the bust through any wall that they may come up against. They can look at a problem and see it as an opportunity to succeed. I see it as an opportunity to fail. Call it pessimism, negativity, or what have you. I call it a core root issue. I see it as a huge problem and the main reason why I cannot do more in ministry. I see it as a major barrier to becoming a huge success.

Don't get me wrong, I do face the problems in my life quite frequently.  I am not saying I don't, but merely pointed out my natural tendency to avoid them. Let's put it this way, if I can, in any way, avoid the problem, I will. Through this I have missed God, struggled way too long with things, and just plain made life difficult.

With so much coming for myself and Right Side Up Ministries in the future, I felt a need to get this out, to make it public. By doing so I hope to put my life on the accountability platform. The Bible tells us that if we make light of our sins we bring them out of darkness and are able to be cleansed. Change is possible, even in the most impossible, life proven habits. We can break through the toughest issues if we are willing to get it out and let it go. 

If you have the same tendency I do I want you to know that God is able to help. He is able to get you through this struggle. The first step is to let it out into the light and then start making a conscience decision to go another way. That is, after all, the true definition of repentance. Repent of not facing your giants today and let God form you into a warrior worthy of your calling.

What are your biggest struggles in life? Are they things that you are willing to share with others?

11 March 2010

Haiti: Expenses and Explanations

It has been just over a week since our return form Haiti. My mind has had some time to process what we experienced during our week, but I am still not able to process everything that I would like to.However, I am able to more clearly communicate some ideas of what our future will look like in Haiti.

I am currently planning a second trip to Haiti. I hope to leave on March 22nd. The plan is to stay in Haiti for four weeks. During this four week time I will be assisting in the requisition and distribution of temporary housing, i.e. tarps and tents. I will also assist in the distribution of food and supplies to remote and virtually unassisted villages in Haiti. I am also working on acquiring contacts for shoes and clothing which I will distribute to a number of the fourteen orphanages we visited on our last trip. All I need to do is find the stuff I need so I can get it out to those who need it.

The key to working in Haiti is to find out who has what and working my way into the system so I can start gaining access to  the large amount of supplies that are already in country. I know it sounds easy, but in reality, it can prove to be quite difficult. Many governments and organizations have supplies in country, but for fear of finding items on the black market, they keep tight reigns on what they have. It's there, I just need to get my hands on it.

This next trip is going to be much more expensive than the last. $6,000.00 expensive.  To put it into perspective, it cost three of us around $3,000.00 to go on the first trip, minus personal expenses for travel food, immunizations, etc. So here is a basic breakdown of the expenses needed to make this trip happen.

- Personal expenses while gone:     $500.00/m
- Safe place to stay in Haiti:            $400.00/m
- Interpreter                                   $560.00/m
- Transportation                             $2,240.00/m
- Airfare                                        $800.00    
Total                                            $4,500.00

- Extra/ emergency funds               $900.00
- tithe to local Haiti church             $600.00   
Total                                            $1,500.00

Grand Total                                $6,000.00

One great lesson that Tim Williams taught me on our first trip was that putting money into the local economy was important. This is why we purchased many of our supplies that we gave out to the orphanages. It filled a need and put money into the local economy.

I recently read an article about the upcoming rebuild/ reconstruction phase of Haiti. In the article they talk about the need to restrict the involvement of organizational/ volunteer work in Haiti. At first glance I was offended. "How dare they not want organizational/ volunteer workers? Don't they know how much money we will save them?" Then it hit me, volunteer work takes away from paid work for the locals, and money that would otherwise go into the local economy. I realized the importance of the local economy having a shot in the arm with locals making a regular wage. With unemployment so high before the earthquake, Haiti could really use the economic boost that this rebuild effort can bring.

This is why I have so much going into interpreters and transportation. I don't just want to go to Haiti, do what I do, and leave as cheaply as possible. I want to be a blessing to Haiti and right now one way to bless them would be to employ everybody that I can. These are real needs that I have while I am there that I may be able to get around if I worked really hard at it, but I want to help in a real way. This means hiring locals for interpreter and transportation needs. If you add it up, it is only $20/day for an interpreter and $80/day for transportation. All in all, not very expensive, but a big boost for those that I hire.

I have been contacted by three different people we worked with while in Haiti acquiring about my return so they can have work. I know that I cannot hire all three at once, but the plan is to hire all three of them periodically while I'm there. I have interpreter and transportation needs while there and I know these people are the best for what I need. This is the best way that Right Side Up Ministries can have the biggest impact in Haiti. To give people a handout will help them for the moment, but to employ them will help them in the long term.

I have come to realize that the biggest mistake of nonprofit organizations and volunteers in the long term recovery is to rely solely on volunteer work rather than to hire locals. Sure it costs more to hire the locals than to work with volunteers, but the goal of Right Side Up Ministries it to have a  long term impact in Haiti. We want to help people get back on their feet. All three of the people we worked with daily in Haiti had real jobs that no longer exist. They will remain unemployed until there are some serious rebuilding efforts put into action.

So, in conclusion, this is what it will cost for me to return to Haiti for a one month stay. This is what it will cost for each additional month that I return. I know that it is a large amount, but as you can see, it is money well spent.

If you would like to help this next phase of RSUM in Haiti simply click the "DONATE" button below or visit the RSUM web page for more info.

Online donations are NOT tax deductible at this time!
For more info or for a tax deductible donation please visit the RSUM page.

03 March 2010

Some Post Thoughts on Haiti

I read a blog by Anne Jackson called "Unfinishedness" that has opened a floodgate of emotions about Haiti. I still have not had time to fully digest all that I experienced there. My heart and mind are having a hard time lining up. My heart breaks for those I left behind, the ones who are working so hard for a better life. I never met people so strong and resilient. It seems that no matter what they come up against, they fight and move on. Extreme poverty is nothing new to Haiti. They have been poor for as long as anyone knows. Missionaries have been there for decades helping ease the pains of a badly dealt hand of cards. I have had two of my new friends contact me since I  have been home and as I think of them and their situation it becomes increasingly difficult to choke back the tears that my heart longs to get out.

If I were asked to put my experience in one word, that word would be pathetic. Not for the Haitian people, but rather for those of us who have lived so close and have done so little. I once read an article about why people of other nations seem to have a hatred for the U.S. and it concluded that it was based on our wealth to giving ratio. In the eyes of other countries we have so much wealth but do so little to change the plight of so many in the world. I won't say if I agree with this or not, but I will say that perception IS reality for those on the outside, which means we could probably be doing a whole bunch more.

I know some may say, "What about all those in the U.S. that are going hungry and living in poverty? Why don't you do something about that first, then go help another nation?" My responding question is this, "Why don't you?" I am no expert, but I have seen a pattern that disturbs me. Most people that I know who complain about any given topic and their dislike of any given situation are DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO CHANGE THE SITUATION! I'm not writing this to start an argument or enrage people, but instead, I write this as a plea for Americans to think outside of our borders. I know that times are difficult. I know that we have our own needs in this country, but what I saw in Haiti is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for me to live so close to a people who are hurting so much without doing everything I can to make a difference.

I talked to people who lost everything. They lost their home, their job, their car, their family, and their sense of stability. I was there when a 4.4 aftershock killed another 200 people. It seemed so slight that I managed to sleep through it. It shows the instability of life in Haiti. It shows the uncertainty of the future of Haiti. Yet, through all of this, I heard people worshiping God in the middle of such destruction. I heard people praising God that He was still with Haiti. I saw a woman who had a stroke praising God, not because she was healed,  but because she had less pain than before we came. I saw a man jumping up and down with such joy yelling, "Praise Jesus!" in creole because we brought him some tarps so they could have some protection from the weather. I held the had of little children who had no parents to hold them, and though we couldn't communicate with words, we did through physical contact. I saw the joy on a kids face when he received a bicycle from an American who saw a need and did something. This same child sat with his right foot bandaged, unable to use the bike at this time because he had to have two of his toes amputated. I saw a child with scabies so  bad that he had dozens of open, oozing sores all over his body and all he could do was sit there and cry and scratch because there was no medical treatment. Say what you want about our health care system, but at least a child like this could have a chance at treatment here. I saw things that I never expected to see and it moved my heart to make a difference.

Like Anne Jackson, I too cannot sign off on Haiti as completed in my life. I cannot stop thinking about Haiti, feeling for Haiti, and hurting for Haiti. I will be returning by the end of the month to spend at least four weeks there. I don't know if this will create the conclusion that I am seeking. I don't know if I will have a huge impact on Haiti, but I can be assured that I will impact those who God has brought into my path. I can do everything I possibly can to make a small change in a country with seemingly no direction and a people with little hope for a better future.

02 March 2010

Haiti Concluded

Made it back home. I don't really know how I feel about being back in the U.S. I can tell you that I do feel guilty every time I spend money on things I don't really need, like coffee or junk food. We ate at Panera Bread today after getting a Venti coffee at Starbucks. I didn't think about it until we were in the car on our way down the road about my friends in Haiti who will be sleeping in the streets tonight. If I'm not careful the guilt will become overwhelming. I realize there is only so much that we can do, but until I am finished with my part I can't stop thinking about the little things. The things like good coffee, good food, clean water, a roof over my head, and a hot shower. They have a name for this kind of guilt, I don't know what it is, but I have it. I'm tired and ready to go to bed. I am glad to be home, but can't wait to get back to Haiti. There is so much to be done there. There are tents to acquire, food to distribute, shoes to put on kids feet, and people to pray with and for. I have much to do the next two weeks. I have tents to find, tickets to buy, supplies to gather, and money to raise. It's all worth it when I think about all those beautiful smiling faces on all those children we saw. Each one deserves to live better. Each one deserves to have the basics of survival. I know that we can't help them all, but the ones we can help will be helped. That is my commitment to God, and to Haiti.

Our last two days in Haiti were busy. We went to Pastor Fermin's church in the morning. We all had a chance to speak, and of course, I took advantage of the opportunity and preached. It was only fifteen minutes, so I was respectful of time. After that we set up for our third and final clinic. We saw around 200 people in five ours. Once again I took my interpreter, Jasmine, and we went hut to hut and spoke to as many as would listen. We had dozens of people ask us to pray for them for strength, provision, and healing. We prayed for some to accept Jesus for the first time or for their hearts to be rededicated. The time we spent in the hot sun was well worth it.

Yesterday morning we went back to the orphanage where the lady with the stroke was. We had a couple hundred pounds of food for them, along with some tarps, water, and laundry soap. When the pastor saw us coming with our hands full of supplies he started jumping up and down with his hands raised up yelling "Thank you Jesus" in creole. It was hard to choke back the tears. the little girl on the right in the pink dress came up to me and grabbed my hand and held it the entire time we were there. She made it so hard to leave. Now, when I think about my last moments in Haiti I see this beautiful little girls face and wish that I had the means to adopt her and give her a better life. One thing I learned on this trip to Haiti is that it takes no time at all for you to fall in love with every child you come across. They are all so amazing and cute. I miss them the most of all.

Alan and I came back last night. We drove all night to get to Mississippi by this afternoon and he took off again to drive to Indianapolis. David stayed behind. He will be there until the 15th of March. I am currently planning another trip to Haiti that will leave in two or three weeks. I plan to stay in Haiti for an entire month. This will be the biggest step of faith yet for me and Right Side Up Ministries, but I know God wants this. I know in a couple days I will start to think straight and be able to put things in a clearer perspective, but until then, this is the best that I have to offer. I will digest the past week and put some things down in words and hopefully be able to put it into a synopsis of sorts. Until then, God Bless and thank you for all your support during our trip to Haiti.

27 February 2010

Haiti Day 6

It's raining in Haiti. I can't stop thinking about all the children that are sleeping outside in the rain. I want so badly to have shelter for all the people that we come across. We have had three translators working with us this week and non of them have water proof shelter. We were able today to give a tent to one of them and will have another one in a tent at the end of our time here.

We still have not received the tents we were told we would have, but we did get thirty tarps from Samaritans Purse. They were also able to give us the contact numbers to several other organizations that will be able to help us in the future. We will be able to put some great stuff together for our return trip. We have also made many local contacts, which will help us a great deal.

Today was day two of our clinic. We saw around 250 people in six hours. I had the opportunity today to go tent to tent and door to door to talk with people and let them know that we were here and what we are doing. I had the opportunity to pray with people for comfort, strength, healing, and provision. Most of the people we talked to were Christians.

We skipped breakfast this morning so we could leave early but our Tap Tap broke down and we had to get a new one. Our old one came back this afternoon, then broke while we were on the road back to camp. Our driver ran out and had another one within twenty minutes so we were able to make it home in time for dinner. It was a true Haiti experience that I don't think I wan to experience again.

Tomorrow is busy again, we are speaking at a local church in the morning, running another clinic in the afternoon, taking supplies to a couple orphanages after that, then packing to leave on Monday. I don't want to leave, but I know it will create an opportunity to do better ministry the next time we come. Until tomorrow night, God Bless.

26 February 2010

Haiti Day 5

Today was a long and hot day. We held a medical clinic in a small tent city near where we are staying. We saw 200 people in our clinic today. It was a loud, hot, high paced day. We ended up one translater short so my guy was moved into a more needed spot which prevented me from walking through the tent city and talking to the people. I still tried to communicate, but when all you can say is "what is your name?" "my name is Scott" "Hello" "Thank you" and "smile" it limits the communication. Most of the people we saw were children who had fevers, were dehydrated, and malnourished. It was sad to here the medical team telling mother after mother to feed their children regularly, or to give them bottled water, and to feed themselves so they would have breast milk to feed their babies. I can't get over the lack of knowledge of basic life skills or the lack of resources to keep a community relatively healthy. I have been totally spoiled by my middle class suburbia mentality.

I have been in third world countries before, but never anything like this. I have never seen this much poverty with my own eyes. I can honestly say that I will never look at world poverty the same again. The need is so overwhelming that it can cause us to want to just give up and go home, but in the end that is not an option. There is no way we could leave without doing EVERYTHING we can to help. That is why getting tents is such a high priority. When you look at where the people are sleeping it breaks your heart, but when you see the children living the same way it rips your heart to pieces. The photo above on the right is of a woman who recently had a stroke. This was the first medical treatment she has received. The bed she is sitting on is the same bed she sleeps in. Notice the mattress, it is a piece of memory foam, that's it. The picture below on the left is of a pair of bunk beds that the children sleep on. No protection what so ever. There is a building on the property, but it was damaged in the quake and continues to sustain damage with each aftershock. The locals will not sleep inside for fear of "the big one!" Every time the earth shakes they wonder if this is it. With rainy season around the corner it makes it difficult. On one hand they want stay dry, but on the other, they are willing to live outside in the rain if it means they will live. Time is running out for the Haitian people to have a dry place to live.

We have been promised a bunch of blankets, food, and fifty tents. We have also obtained an old wheelchair for the lady in the picture above so she can move around a bit easier. Our goal this weekend is to get tents to the twelve orphanages that we visited, distribute the food we have received, and get the wheel chair to the woman who needs it. We are expecting a big turn out for the medical clinic tomorrow. Please be praying for our team and the people we are working with, along with the numerous humanitarian workers we are camped with here in Haiti. I will be returning Monday, but only in body. I can't imagine I will ever leave this place in my heart. I will be back and will make a difference, that I can promise you.

25 February 2010

Haiti Day 3 & 4

Yesterday was intensely hot. It seemed like such a long day. We only went to three orphanages instead of our scheduled five. It was the first time that we drove through some of the hardest hit areas. The destruction is unbelievable. Words cannot describe what we drove through and what we saw. I can’t wait to get pictures posted.
One orphanage we went to had a three story building that collapsed. The miraculous part is that the kids where in the building when it came down and not one of them was seriously injured. Three hours later, we were told, "the earth brought forth water.” They had started to set up in an outside concrete courtyard area when suddenly the well started to push water out. In a matter of minutes they were flooded and had to move everything to the mountains. They eventually moved back, but after the overnight earthquakes of this past week they decided to move to the mountains again. They have little to no water proof shelter when the rains come. My heart is broken at the thought of these beautiful kids living and sleeping in the rain. It will be hard, even with tents, but it big step that needs to take place. If you had seen these kids and heard their story I promise you that you would have done everything in your power to help them. We spent an hour there delivering food and teaching the kids how to play “Duck, Duck,Goose”. This is only one of the many stories that we have been a part of this week.
Today was the hardest day yet. Emotionally it hurt. We went to an orphanage that was is good condition and seemed to have things under hand. The hardest thing for them is that every building in their place has to be torn down and rebuilt. They all sustained some kind of damage in the quake. Even though they were in better shape than most, they still need a lot of help. They feed forty neighborhood kids along with the fifty they have in the orphanage. These kids are so amazing. They run around laughing and smiling. They love to be hugged and held. The hardest part was when we had to leave.
The next place we went to was the hardest for most of us. We had to drive through a river to get to the orphanage. When I say river I really mean a swift moving stream that was about ten feet wide. No bridge, just water running over the road. Our tap-tap driver was a bit apprehensive about driving through it, but in the end, he gave in and drove through. They had beds, cots, and bunk beds sitting outside with no shelter at all. There was an elderly woman who recently had a stroke and had not yet received any medical attention. As the medical personal took care of her and a few of the children we hung out with the older boys and kicked a flat basketball around like a soccer ball. The orphanage backs up to an ice factory with a river running between the two properties. The river looks like a trash dump with a stream of water running down the middle of it. They just seem to through all of their  trash over the fence and into the river. It's hard to describe how it makes me feel to see that people live like this. When we left it was clear to me that we had to work harder on getting these tents. We are also looking for a wheel chair for the woman who had a stroke so she can at least get around better than before. It is a difficult situation, but it will get better.
Tomorrow will prove to be a productive day. We are looking for our tents, as well as getting our hands on some blankets and a wheel chair. We are also getting some blue tarp from Samaritans Purse so we can put some tarps up to help with some kind of shelter. We still have more orphanages to visit and hope to have a clinic going Sunday afternoon in a local tent city. Please be praying for everything to line up by the time we leave, that we will have shelter, medical supplies, and food to all that we have on our list. Hopefully our internet will continue to work so I can update tomorrow. Until then, God Bless!

23 February 2010

Haiti Day 2

Last night was a bit on the interesting side, at least that's what I heard this morning. We had two earthquakes in the middle of the night. Apparently dogs were barking and children were screaming. Our team is sleeping in tents right next to where the children in the orphanage sleep and somehow I managed to sleep right through all of it. I didn't hear a thing until the morning when I saw all the children and their caregivers sleeping under the big mango tree out in front of the building. Everybody here was alright. Apparently I was REALLY tired and not even two earthquakes could wake me up!

Today was a good day. We spent the day taking food and medical supplies to five orphanages. We were able to hug and love some little ones along the way. We also had a chance to hear the stories of many of the people who run the orphanages. We met a baby girl who was born the day of the earthquake and saw a pair of twins born just days after. To see these children and how they have to live is heart breaking. It makes it hard to leave soon. We have many pictures, and even some video, but will probably wait to post it until we return.

The hardest thing about today was seeing the children that live at the orphanage were we are staying. They were all children that were hurt during the earthquake. They had casts and braces on different parts of their bodies. They really seemed to like us being around though. We could tell by the huge smiles they all seemed to have on their faces as we hung out with them. It really makes me think about what I consider a rough time  in my life.

We drove through some very hard hit areas today. Haiti has always been a dirty, trashed out place, but the impact of this earthquake has made things worse. Many people just seem to wonder around during the day and find any place they can to sleep at night. Tent cities are full of people sleeping under ripped tarps, sheets, and blankets, non of which are waterproof. Nobody will sleep inside, and the few who venture in at night are quickly run out with after shocks. There is a heaviness of fear and uncertainty about Haiti. They are a resilient people, but you can see they have taken a heavy hit in their armor. The locals that we have talked to share their fear openly. The director of one of the orphanages told us today he was uncertain about moving the children into buildings because they say there will likely be another big quake. This has struck fear in the Haitian people and makes me wonder if they will ever let life get back to normal.

On a lighter note, every night the children where we stay, and their caregivers, go into one of the buildings and sing songs and praise God. It is such a huge comfort for me to be around while they are singing. There is such a peace that comes over this place while they sing. I know that the Bible tells us to praise God in ALL situations, and it's easy to talk about, but how many of us could honestly say that we could do that. I know it is hard for me and I have never faced anything like this. To see the people's spirits so high is a huge boost in our spirits. It shows that even with the fear that they live with right now, they are sure of better things to come.

The biggest needs we saw today, outside of food, water, and medical supplies, was shelter. There is a huge need for dry shelter with the upcoming rainy season. Our interpreter is sleeping outside because the "steelers", or thieves, came and stole everything they had. They have one tent, but it is too small for everyone to sleep in. He just bought a house, but they were told they could not sleep in it. We committed to get him dry shelter before we leave.

Right Side Up Ministries is working hard to be a part of the solution to this problem. We have the ability and desire to get the tents out to the people, but we lack a connection to supply them. We are working on lining everything up for  another visit this month. We will be back in the U.S. on March 1st and we will begin to raise awareness, as well as finances, to make this next trip possible.

It is late and my eyes are getting heavy so it is time to say good night. Thank you again to all who made this trip possible. With your support we were able to touch the lives of hundreds of orphans today.

22 February 2010

Haiti Day 1

Tonight will be short. I am completely exhausted. It has been a long 36 hours of packing, travel, setting up camp, and now writing this. We arrived without a glitch. The airport was a bit of a mad house, but those familiar with Haiti say it has always been that way. We loaded all our belongings and ourselves into these small, beat up, little pickups and drove to the camp we are staying in. As we drove through town you couldn't help but notice the devastation all around. I am told that some of this has always been that way, but some has not. We drove by two tent cities on the way, one looking upscale, with nice matching quonset hut looking tents, and the other, just a sea of sheets and tarps tied together in a makeshift, patch quilt looking manner. As we drove on further we saw a water distribution spot where hundreds of people where grabbing and fighting over cases of water. Not long after that we turned down a road, labeled such only because that is its intended use, and came back to the compound we are staying in. Yes I said compound, complete with armed guards and all. We unloaded our stuff, set up our tents, ate dinner, and then went to our first daily meeting. We talked a little about what we would be doing and what we could expect out of the week. Now I am struggling to keep my eyes open as I write this, just waiting until things calm down enough so I can sleep without being woke up. The sounds of the night are those such as a 5 ton military truck just pulled into our compound to unload a shipment of water that just arrived in port and a building full of people singing and worshiping God as loudly as they please. Not complaining, just sharing. I love to hear them singing and to see a huge truck full of water is an exciting sight as well. That's about it for today. Tomorrow starts early as we head into some orphanages to bring food, supplies, and the love of Jesus to the Haitian people. Until tomorrow night, Be blessed and thank God for the comfort and security from which you are able to read this from. Don't forget to pray for the people of Haiti and our team of eight. We have a busy week ahead and can't wait to see how it goes.

20 February 2010

Thoughts on My Trip to Haiti Pt. 3

It is now less than 48 hours until we fly out for Haiti. It is hard to describe how it feels to finally be heading out. All the anticipation is coming to a head as we head out for Florida tomorrow night.

I really have no idea what to expect when I get there. I have heard numerous other people say the same thing just before they went. This is a tragedy that is unprecidented in my eyes. I have never even thought of going into a situation like this. To be honest, even after it first happened it never crossed my mind to go. That's usually how this stuff works for me. I watch, with everybody else, the devastation of natural disasters and think, "how sad", then I turn the TV off and go about my life.

This disaster was no different. In fact, I had a friend contact me shortly after and ask if I was going because they felt a need to give. I told them no and redirected them to other organizations that I knew that were doing stuff there. A few days later, while watching more news footage, I heard the call to go. From that day until now I haven't stopped thinking about or working toward this trip.

I heard so many people say not to go. I heard all the reasons under the sun, but when God calls it's time to go. That is what we are doing. We have a three man team going with Right Side Up Ministries. We are meeting another team of six members from Tim Williams Healing Hands International Ministries in Florida. We will be working with orphanages, bring them food and supplies. We will also be a part of a small medical team that will be helping those with medical needs. What else are you doing you ask? I have no idea. This is what I know and what we are working to make happen.

What to expect! I keep asking myself this, what can I expect? My mind races to find a scenario that I can relate with so I know what to expect. I can't! I've been to Mississippi after Katrina, Texas after Ike, and Atlanta after the floods, but nothing seems to compare to 212,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. Nothing seems to compare to make shift tent cities with 70+ thousand people living under tarps during rainy season. I am convinced that nothing can fully prepare us for the devastation we will see. The only comfort that I have is that God is in control. He knows what we are going to do, what we are going to see, and what we are going to say. He has prepared us before hand for such a moment as this. Our job is to trust Him, spend time with Him, and let Him direct our steps on this trip.

We are working hard to prepare in every way we can by getting passports, shots, rain gear, and tents. We are doing what we can to prepare spiritually by getting in the Word, praying and spending time with God. We are doing what we can to prepare mentally by learning as much as we can about the situation and what to expect, learning a little about the culture, etc. All this preparation so that we can go. So that we can be a part of a healing process instead of just watching it on TV or the internet. All this to help a people that most of us never thought twice about before January 12th, 2010.

All this preparation will mean nothing if we don't do one important thing, go! So tomorrow night we go, Monday we arrive, and next week we do. God is good and He loves the Haitian people and we are going there to show them just how much He does. We are going to show them that they are not in this alone and that we are committed to see them through every step of the way. We are going to be the hands and feet of God and to live out the Biblical church, to bring the Gospel to the world, and to bring hope and healing to a scared and hurting people.

We still need 32 people to give $50.00 to help get us there. We are going with or without it, but could really use your help to reach our goal. If you would like to help us go to Haiti you can click the DONATE button below. A donation of any size will be a huge help!

Online donations are NOT tax deductible at this time!
For more info or for a tax deductible donation please visit the RSUM page.

12 February 2010

Thoughts on My Trip to Haiti Pt. 2

Here are some new thoughts on Haiti and the upcoming trip that Right Side Up Ministries is taking there.

Good things have happened in the last 24 hours. I have made a contact and found a place to stay. We will be able to eat and sleep here. I am also waiting on confirmation for a travel partner to go along on the trip. We will be taking food and supplies to orphanages. We will also be with a small medical team, so there will be some medical stuff involved. This is a huge answer to prayer.

Next on the agenda, finalize the team list, buy tickets, and get everything in order to go. We have several needs for this trip to be a success.

1) We need reliable communication, which means a new cell phone and an international plan. 
2) We also need a new tent, one that is more waterproof than the one I currently own. (The tent will stay in Haiti when we leave.)
3) Finish up with vaccinations. OUCH!
4) Finances to bring us over the top so we can leave some for the locals to continue the work when we leave.
5) A strong prayer team to lift us up each and every day! (MOST IMPORTANT!)
6) People that will commit to help us get the word out about the trip via facebook, twitter, myspace, or any other social media site. Just briefly tell people what is going on with a link to http://www.rightsideupministries.org.

Thank you for all of your help. More details to come in the next few days. We are working on a prayer page on facebook and an email prayer team. If you would like to help us with any of the above list then visit the Right Side Up Ministries website for more info on how to help. To be a part of the email prayer team or if you have any questions email me at scott@rightsideupministries.org.

I have to say that the reality of this trip is starting to sink in. I remember driving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast just days after hurricane Katrina thinking to myself, "What have I gotten myself into?" Just this morning I had the same thought about Haiti, "What have I gotten myself into?" I can feel the butterflies in my stomach starting to reproduce like rabbits, skipping the coccoon, larva phase and jumping straight into flight. I wouldn't call it fear, just a healthy concern for the unknown. Any time you put yourself out there to follow God's lead, your comfort zone will melt away to a life stretching experience. I look forward to being stretched outside my comfort zone. Growth is not a painless process, especially when it comes to spiritual maturity, but thank God that He is able to lead us into ALL truth and use us to the farthest extent of our potential.

When was the last time that God asked you outside of your comfort zone? Are you willing to be stretched?

If you would like to help us go to Haiti you can click the DONATE button below

Online donations are NOT tax deductible at this time!
For more info or for a tax deductible donation please visit the RSUM page.

06 February 2010

Thoughts on My Trip to Haiti

"Don't go to Haiti! Unless you have a search and rescue or medical background, your only going to be in the way." I have heard this said in one way or another for weeks now. People who know more about what's going on are telling me to stay home. "You'll only be a hindrance." This is what one person said. So, what should I do?

I believe very strongly that I can, and will, have a huge impact in Haiti. Why? Because I know when God wants me to do something, and I know He wants me to do this. Thank God the Bible says that we aren't to walk by what we see, but by faith. I know this is the right thing to do.

I know that many people have made some huge mistakes recently in Haiti, especially when it comes to the children and the orphanages. I realize that, with good intentions, some have made mistakes that have put them in legal situations. It proves that heart intention doesn't always equal good results. So, as I prepare to go to Haiti in just a few short weeks, I am, to say the least, a little nervous.

At this point I have not been able to nail down any solid connections. I have to trust God in this and make plans anyway, knowing that I could very well end up alone in a foreign country. I have to prepare for the craziest, knowing that in the end, God will show up big and amazing things will happen. A huge part of living by faith is just trusting that God can do it. I think so often this is overlooked by those of us you walk our lives by faith. Sure, we trust God, but human nature takes over and we want physical proof before we act. I am guilty of it as much as anyone. For me to really walk out this faith thing I have to trust God on ALL levels. I have to know that He is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.

So, in closing Haiti looks like this. 1) I have no solid connections, YET! 2) I don't have all the finances to go, YET! 3) I don't have a travel partner, YET!. 4) I don't know what God has in store for this trip, YET! What I do know is that people in Haiti need the love of Jesus. They need a hope bigger than they can see and God is able to make all grace abound toward the people of Haiti. He just needs those who are willing to be His hands and feet.

With all that said, I am still going. I am still going to make a difference and I am still absolutely, with out a doubt sure that this is God's plan for me. I will find an organization to work with, which may happen today, or may not happen until I am in country. Either way it is on me to make the next move and I am willing to do it without knowing the next step.

Isaiah 6:8 "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'"

What are you willing to do for God without knowing the next step? Are you willing to go? Will you do it even if He doesn't tell you the next step until your foot hits the ground.

If you would like to help us go to Haiti you can click the DONATE button below

Online donations are NOT tax deductible at this time!
For more info or for a tax deductible donation please visit the RSUM page.

04 February 2010

Spiritual Lessons Learned From Skateboarding Part 1

I started skateboarding the summer before my senior year of high school. The summer after I graduated from high school is when I really got hooked. I skated everyday. I built my own mini park that we would move in and out of the street I lived on. I got my brother and any other friend I could into it. In less that two months I had convinced friends to buy boards and learn with me. We rented every video we could from Lee's Sporting Goods and completely immersed ourselves into the scene. I was so hooked that when it came time for me to go into the military the following winter I actually considered not going because I couldn't skate while I was in. Honestly, the only reason I went was because when I had visited a Marine Corps base in Okinawa, Japan while in high school I saw an eight foot half pipe on the base. I was convinced that one day I was going to skate with Tony Hawk, Steve Cabellero, and Christian Hosoi. I was also convinced that going in the military wasn't going to stop this plan. Reality hit a little over a year later when I arrived in Okinawa Japan and found out that as a service member I was NOT allowed to skate the half pipes on ANY of the military bases on the island. Bummer #1! With my heart crushed I gave up skating and the dream of fame and fortune.

Years later, after starting a similar trek in snowboarding, with grandiose ideas of fame and fortune, summers became unbearable. Their was nothing to do in the off season. So, through a brief stint with rollerblading, which I am NOT proud of, I started skating again. Suddenly my dreams came rushing back to me. This time, however, age was not on my side.Pain and injury took longer to heal, real life got in the way, and, all in all, I just plain STUNK! Heartbroken again! Bummer #2!

With the sliver of hope left in my heart, one night we started filming ourselves riding various spots. Excited to see how much like the pros I looked, we raced home, put the tape in the VCR, you remember those, right? As the tape started, anticipation climaxed. To my utter despair, however, I looked nothing like the pros. In fact, I looked nothing like a skater at all. I looked more like a disaster on a plank. Heart CRUSHED! Bummer #3!

Here I thought I was a pretty good skater. I thought, even though I couldn't go huge, I had style. It turns out, not so much. Not only did I find out that I had no style, but I also lacked the slightest shred of talent. What a gut busting night that really turned out to be. I never took skating serious again.

The reason I mention this heartbreaking, tragic story with you is because a few years later, while reminiscing about the past desires to succeed at skating, God showed me an important lesson that I have never forgotten.He taught me about humility, ironically, through humiliation. He taught me to not think higher of myself than I should. He taught me to not let pride build up in an unhealthy way. He taught me to not think of myself so highly that I begin to be filled with pride and put myself on a pedestal.

After years of being a Christian it is easy to forget that I am not perfect. Just because I have overcome many obstacles in my life does not mean that I have the right to put myself on a spiritual pedestal. I am not as good as I think I am. I have to remember that no matter how long I have been at this, there is always something more to learn. No matter how GOOD I think I am, if I saw a video of my life it wouldn't be any better than that skate video I watched of myself. I may truly think I am right on track, but the truth is, I am probably missing some important elements, keys to my success. Thank God His grace covers those moments, but that is only through my willingness to be humble and to know that on my own I can do NOTHING!

I have big dreams in life. I have a huge vision for ministry that I am not able to succeed at on my own. If I had given skateboarding to God from the beginning maybe things would be different. Truth is, I'm not willing to make that mistake in life. I don't want to be sitting around wondering what could have been. Success will come, but only through a commitment to God and His plan for my life. It will only come through a humble approach in life, knowing that I am no better than anybody else on this earth.

I have since met Tony Hawk and am convinced, because of their connection with Christian skateboarding, I will soon meet Christian Hosoi and Steve Cabellero. God is good. He can, and still will, use my love of skateboarding for His glory. How? I'm not really sure, but I can imagine that it will be big.

What are some big dreams you have in life? Have you ever caught yourself on the  "spiritual pedestal" in life?

Remember, Right Side Up Ministries is leaving soon for Haiti. We cannot do this without your help! If you would like to help simply click the DONATE button on the right or visit us on the web at www.rightsideupministries.org.

02 February 2010

Spiritual Lessons Learned From Eating Out

"Tip? You mean I have to tip for that crappy service? I don't think so. Not a chance."

I use to say that all the time. I use to base my tip on whether or not I received "tip worthy" service. I felt justified in this because, after all, this is a performance based industry, the service industry that is. For years this was my standard, you want a tip, you serve me like nobody else ever has. One day I experienced something that forever changed my though process. What was it, you ask? I'll get to that, but first I want to tell you a little story.

I have these friends that are interns at an organization that I use to be an intern at. They are great guys, young and energetic, and really have a desire to serve God. The other night we went to eat at a large national chain restaurant. We had a great time, but the service was, well, less than stellar. In fact, it was the worst service I have ever seen at this particular chain. If you've ever been in this situation you know that when service is bad you start looking deeper into other areas for problems. You start pointing out the littlest of offenses, things that would otherwise be overlooked. The napkin didn't completely cover the fork, the glass of  ice water wasn't full enough, the bathroom is too dark, and WHO THE HECK picked this carpet? This only leads to more dissatisfaction and more frustration. Soon crazy thoughts start to enter your head like, could I get away with not paying? We ordered our food, but should we just leave? Who do I send a comment card to? Which car in the parking lot is my waiter driving, I'll show them?At this point you wonder how anything good can come out of this experience.

To be honest, most of the time I wouldn't think twice about anything good and just walk out irritated. Last night, however, was a different story. There is something about hanging out with these guys that makes me want to be on my best behavior, spiritually speaking. I don't know if it is my age or what, but I just can't help but turn moments like this into teachable moments. How old of me, right? Maybe it is just a fatherly...um...brotherly instinct. Call it what you will, but I was determined to use this evil from Satan for good.

As we sat at the table waiting, and waiting, and waiting for our checks to come the conversation turned to whether or not some of us were going to leave a tip. I really think there are justifiable moments for some of us not to leave a tip. For me, however, I cannot do that.  My thoughts went to the time God taught me about the tip. How He had drawn a parallel between wait staff earning, or deserving, a tip and us earning, or deserving, salvation. Once the line was drawn there was no turning back for me. I realized that if God would forgive me and give me the free gift of salvation, even though I didn't deserve it, then surely I could give a good tip to someone who didn't deserve it. So I settled in my heart that no matter how horrible the service is, I will always leave a GOOD tip. It's not easy, but I am determined to succeed at this. After all, these people pay their bills with this money. It's not like they're pulling down six digits waiting tables. Besides, I don't know what their day, week, month, year, or life has looked like. Maybe they have a really good reason why things went the way they did with me.Who am I to judge? I am, by no means, perfect!

As I thought about this I decided to share it with the group. I'm not certain, but I think someone may have changed their tip amount. Even if nobody did, it's not on me, I did my part. The cats out of the bag now. Once you hear, your now accountable for. Not saying this is Biblical truth or just a heart conviction on my part, but it seems to fit all criteria for a Biblical truth. What do you think? So, next time your out to eat and your getting bad service see if you are able to handle it the same way again. Check inside yourself to see of there is something you can do in this situation to bring a little joy into the life of another human being. Most people who work in the service industry know when they haven't earned a tip, so show them otherwise. Show them that you are willing to show them grace just as God has shown it to you. You never know where the starting point for change in someones life will come from, maybe it's you.

Have you ever stiffed a waiter/ waitress? What was your worst experience with service?

Don't forget, Right Side Up Ministries is going to Haiti. There is still time for you to get involved. Click the DONATE button on the right or visit the RSUM website for more info.

30 January 2010

Faith- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

My dog just got back from the vet after needing Heartworm treatment. This is extremely expensive, but worth every dime. My biggest financial supporter was directed, BY GOD, to go another direction and give the finances elsewhere. My camper is in need of repairs and finding parts are next to impossible. My truck needs breaks, transmission service and an oil change. My car insurance is due in a few weeks and finances have been anywhere but where they need to be, and now God is calling me to go to Haiti for a couple weeks. Why do I mention this? Not to complain, I assure you. I couldn't be happier or more blessed. God always makes a way he always supplies my needs.

The reason that I mention this is because if I am going to be honest about faith I need to share the good, along the bad and the ugly. The truth is that just because I have faith and just because I believe God wants the best for me does not mean that it will be all smooth sailing. Walking by faith is not a guarantee that nothing will go wrong. It means the exact opposite, otherwise, what would I have to stand in faith for? Look at Paul in 2 Cor 11:22-28:
 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? ––I speak as a fool––I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness–– besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches
Not many would argue against whether or not Paul had faith. He spent a good amount of time talking about faith. He wrote about some of the faith giants in Romans. Many say he wrote Hebrews, which is where you find the Hall of Faith in Heb. 11. Yet Paul, as he went through life, went through struggle as well. He had things that he had to be in faith for. Why did he struggle? Because God had a problem with Paul? No! The answer is in John 10:10:
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
We have an enemy. This enemy will do whatever he can to stop the work of God in your life. I would venture to say that if your not experiencing struggles, your not a threat to the enemy, the devil. Struggles are a part of our Christian life, they are a part of our walk with God. God's best for you is not to suffer, but struggles equal growth, which equals spiritual maturity, which equals victory over the enemy.

After all the struggles Paul went through he said he had learned something. He learned how to continue on the path God had him on regardless of what he came up against. Phil 4:11-13:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Not only did Paul learn how to survive through these struggles, but he also knew how to go to the next level in the midst of all this struggle. Phil 4:4:
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
That's a bold statement coming from a guy who talked about all his struggles in 2Cor 11. Also keep in mind that when Paul wrote Philippians he was in a prison where he hung by chains for most of the day. Scholars say he was knee to waist deep in human waist while hanging in shackles. And when he was let down for a short time, Philippians is what he wrote.

 I made a commitment in an earlier blog about being more active on my blog and to be myself. I go through phases of isolation, doubt, unbelief, and struggle. I have been hesitant to share my times of struggle with fear that people would get the wrong idea about who God is. Like most Christians, I want to tell everyone about the good so it makes God more appealing to others. I want people to see God for what He is, a good and loving God. The funny thing is, God doesn't need me to make Him look good. He can handle His own PR. He is more than capable of making Himself look good. He needs me to be open and honest about life. He needs me to help others find a real and true path with Him, a path that includes great times, as well as some struggles.

God is God, and I am not! Great words to live by. When struggle comes it is not my place to question God, but instead, to trust Him for the answer out of the struggle. I know this phase I am in is only a phase and standing in faith means, like Paul, I too can praise Him, even in the difficult times. I too can know without a doubt that God loves me and will see me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Faith is putting your faith in God above your faith in what you see. Be bold today, trust God!

Have you ever been mad at God? Have you ever blamed God for a situation in life only to later find out is was all on you?

Right Side Up Ministries is going to Haiti to help others through a pretty intense struggle. If you would like to help us go to Haiti please click the "DONATE" button to the right, or visit the RSUM website for more info.

28 January 2010

Even Just One

This is an email that I received today. I wanted to share it because it is a great example of Luke 15:7 "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety–nine just persons who need no repentance." This email comes from Dara.

"Did you hear about the 16 year old girl they pulled out alive yesterday in Haiti? She had been in a bathroom, and managed to stay alive for the last 15 days by drinking water from the bath. I was thinking about how absolutely miraculous that this girl is still alive and in relative good health, beyond the obvious dehydration. Then I started thinking about how the world has been celebrating whenever one more person is found alive- just one person in the midst of hundreds of thousands- and we celebrate with tears in our eyes that even just one more is alive. And then it clicked- that is what heaven is like when just one more person is saved. Its not the number that matters, it is the feeling of utter gratitude and amazement that one more person has been pulled from disaster and death, and brought into the land of the living. It is one more life that has a second chance at living. It is one more miracle of God. That is why even just one person matters. And that is why we should celebrate the one- even just one."
We rejoice more over the one survivor in Haiti than the thousands who are already known to be alive. We sit on the edge of our seat in anticipation when we hear that they may have found another survivor. Our anticipation and excitement quickly turns to tears and rejoicing when we get our first glimpse at a survivor as they are pulled out. It's not wrong, just human. It's not that we don't celebrate the life of those alive, we are just reminded about the frailness of life and rejoice at those who beat the odds. As the miracles continue to happen, let's not forget where they come from. Let us not forget who orchestrates such miracles as these. As miraculous as it is to see this girl still alive after fifteen days, it is even more miraculous to think that we have an opportunity to be in a relationship with the One who created us. Why? Because we are reminded of the frailness of our spiritual life and rejoice for the one who comes to know Jesus just beat all the odds. So together, let's celebrate one-even just  one.

Have you ever "beat the odds" in your life? What made it possible for you to overcome?

If you would like to help Right Side Up Ministries be a part of the healing process in Haiti please click the DONATE button on the right or visit the RSUM website.

27 January 2010


Let's face it, Americans are opinionated. We have an opinion about everything from the Apple iPad, to the health care system, to the price of oil, to whether or not our favorite star was on the best or worst dressed list at the Emmy's. Opinion, opinion, opinion! It's what we're all about.

Recently, while reading some articles about Haiti I caught myself starting to form an opinion. How American of me, right? Let's take a tragedy like this and form an opinion about it. Which government is doing more, who got there first, who is doing the best at fighting the social injustices of Haiti, who is finally going to do something about child trafficking?

The problem I noticed about my opinion was that the next day when I watched the news again nothing had changed. The very thing I had formed an opinion about had not changed one bit. Suddenly it hit me, "my opinion DOESN'T change the world." Stellar epiphany, one that more Americans would benefit from, if you want my OPINION!

I recently read a blog by Shaun King where he talked about the new word for Haiti being "organize". It suddenly hit me, you can't organize if all you are carrying are your opinions. Organization isn't dependent on your opinions to operate, but instead on your actions. We need to do something to make a change. I heard in church on Sunday that your intentions don't determine your destination, your directions do. If I take an honest look at my opinionated life I see an army of opinions lined up behind good intentions that never lead to a desired destination. Opinions=intentions, such a novel thought to come from my mind. So its not opinions+intentions that=destination. WOW! So if that is the case then what am I missing? Action! I need to put an action to my opinion, which, ironically, in my opinion, creates a solution. Put solution with direction and you have a destination.

My question is this, are you going to be "opinionated" and watch everyone around you do something so you can form your opinion and complain about it, or are you going to be "solutionated" and be the one everybody else is complaining about? I don't know about you, but for me, I want to be doing the solution. Let's become solution oriented and get something done. Let's start a new movement and call it SOLUTIONATED! Say it with me, "I am going to be SOLUTIONATED, not opinionated!" There, that wasn't so hard was it? Now it's time to get involved and make a difference.

What are you doing to get involved? Could you do more?

Here's some people doing something about it. These are people who are "Solutionated":

Shaun King- from The Courageous Church
Chance Craven-from Its Chance
Drew Benton-from Project Live Love

These are only a couple people doing something big. If your doing something big let me know. Leave a link to a web page so I can see what your doing to get involved. Who knows, maybe I will get involved with you.

If you'd like to help us get involved in Haiti you can donate to the Right Side Up Ministries trip by clicking on the donate button on the right or by visiting the RSUM website.

25 January 2010

Spiritual Lessons Learned from Lorelei

Lorelei is my niece and is almost three years old. She is adorable and has quite a large vocabulary for a kid her age. She's a pretty smart kid, which means she is more than capable of doing everything herself, knowing everything she needs to know, and can make her own decisions on everything important in life... at least in her own eyes. If you've ever been around a two-something kid you know this is the age of independence.  This is the age where they want to go potty by themselves, eat by themselves, get dressed by themselves, and the list goes on. This is also the age where if any of the above is not allowed then sudden fits of rage resulting in screaming, crying, throwing hands in the air, and (my personal favorite) throwing their bodies around in ways that will only result in harm to themselves. I like to refer to this stage as whiney-pants-itis. This necessary stage of childhood growth can be more than a little taxing on the grownups who are subject to the daily onslot of tantrum after tantrum. The funniest thing about my niece is that sometimes, well most times, she starts to whine before she is even told no. It's like she is anticipating the worst before it ever happens. She is so determined in her two year old little mind that her parents are out to get her and they will never let her have anything that will make her happy. The thing she hasn't figured out yet is that if she would have not started whining or throwing a fit she probably would have received whatever it is that she desired. If she would just slow down and relax, use words in a normal tone, and be calm about her approach she would have a much higher chance of success. Why? Is it because my sister and brother in-law want to make things hard on her? No, absolutely not, but instead they wish to teach her there is a proper way to do things. They want to let her know that you can succeed with your desires if you go about it in the proper way. They also want to teach her that sometimes, no matter how cute she is, things cannot work out the way she wants. Sometimes her safety and protection have to come before her own perceived happiness.

Sounds a whole bunch like us in our relationship with God. We come to Him expecting the worst, so we come to Him with the wrong heart or intent. We come to Him expecting Him to say no to everything that we want in our lives. It's like it is bred into our DNA to expect the worst from God. Recently I suffered from whiney-pants-itis with God. Not in a "violently throwing myself to the ground while screaming at the top of my lungs" kind of tantrum, but rather an "I don't want to do that, why am I here doing nothing, I want a new life" tantrum. The worst part of this tantrum is that I was so comfortable doing it that I didn't even notice it was happening. I didn't even notice that I was out of line or acting in a whining, woe is me, self-pity way. I didn't even catch that I was freaking out, expecting the worst, and acting a fool before I even talked with God. So many times kids get mad at their parents without either side saying a word. They get upset for no real reason, just an imaginary issue that never existed to start with. This was my approach to God.

Throwing a fit with God will lead to nothing productive. Not because God wants to ignore me or doesn't want me to have what I want. It has more to do with the approach that I take with God. One thing I noticed with Lorelei is that when she starts whining prematurely she has no faith in my sister that she will get what she wants. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and [that] He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” My tantrum before I ask is not faith. It has absolutely nothing to with faith in God. On the contrary, it has everything to do with my own insecurities and uncertainties with God. It shows God what I really trust and rely in, which is not Him. Like my niece, I put all my trust in what I think I know and not in what is really true.

Mark 11:24 tells us how to receive from God, “"Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive [them], and you will have [them].” If I am  going to have anything that I ask for then I have to ask it in faith. Like I said about Lorelei, I know that if she asked without whining she would have received much more of what she wanted. Whining to God is not asking God in faith, but rather demanding in doubt and unbelief that God is going to act on your demand rather than on His Word. People say that it is arrogant to pray in "faith" for things and expect God to move. What is true arrogance is to demand something from God and expect Him to move because you've demanded it. God works with faith, “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [Him]..." God is under no obligation to you and your whiney requests, but He does have an obligation to those who come to Him in faith.

When was your last "whiney-pants-itis" moment with God? Do you think it really accomplished anything?

P.S. if you would like to help us go to Haiti please click the "DONATE" button on the right or visit the Right Side Up Ministries web page.

22 January 2010

The Truth About Haiti

This morning I was catching up on some blogs that I follow. I have a list of about 15 or 20 that I read. There's one that I have taken a particular liking to. It's by author Anne Jackson. I think I enjoy it because she is able to say things the way that I wish I could say them. The reason I mention her blog is that while reading her post about going to Haiti I came across the most disturbing picture that I have seen come out of Haiti. It is the picture of a mass grave where bodies are piled on top of each other in a large pit. It seems so uncivilized. It seems so inhumane and unthinkable. It seems in a time when the world is capable of things never before imagined that we could do better than this. It made tears well up in my eyes to think about how huge this catastrophe really is. Estimations go as high as 200,000 dead, this picture (it is very graphic) is about 50. That's a representation of .025% of the people that died! Unfathomable! I cannot picture in my mind just how many people that is. To put it in perspective- in nearly 30 combined years of war (Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan) the U.S. has lost 103,770 military personnel. In 45 seconds Haiti nearly doubled that. The saddest part... people continue to die daily from lack of essentials like food, water, and proper medical treatment. People are living in the streets under makeshift tents made of tarps or any other semi waterproof material they can find. Children at orphanages are living without food, water, or shelter. People are laying everywhere in need of medical attention that range from needing stitches to needing brain surgery. All this amongst aftershocks that continue to come and continue to knock building down and put peoples lives in danger. To put it simply, this is a war zone! You might ask, why the war analogy? (Eph 6:12) “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].” Because we are in a war. The scary part... we can't see our enemy with our eyes. I can't turn and look and see him pointing a gun at me. That doesn't change the fact that he's there and he wants nothing more than to destroy me, to destroy us! (John 10:10) "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." Don't be mistaken, this is a calculated attack on mankind from an enemy who has blinded us; from an enemy who wants nothing more than for us to point fingers everywhere and anywhere, as long as they don't point to him. The battle we fight here isn't fought in the flesh, but fought in the spirit. And it can only be won by God through our prayers and our acting on the Word and what it says. By all means, SEND people. Help those who are willing and able to go, but most importantly PRAY! Pray for Haiti, for its people, and for the thousands who are there or heading there to help. Pray for safety, provision, strength, encouragement, and hope. A hope in a God that loves them and is available to them. A God who wants nothing more than to have a relationship with each and every one of them. What's the truth about Haiti? It's a spiritual war zone and is in need of those who are willing to fight for it in the spirit! Are you willing?

If you would like to help us go to Haiti you can simply click on the DONATE button to the right or go to the Right Side Up Ministries web site. We will be leaving some time in Feb. The team will consist of 2-5 people and cost between $6,000.00 and $15,000.00. We really need your help!

If you would like to help a larger organization or people who are already in Haiti click on the links below.

Its Chance
Shaun in the City
Samaritans Purse
Guts Church

These four links are churches and organizations who are doing HUGE things in Haiti. I believe in all of them and thank God for them and there willingness to go the extra mile!

20 January 2010

Help Send Us To Haiti

OK, so here's the deal, I need your help. After the earthquake in Haiti I was able to come to terms with the fact that it was just not reasonable, or possible for me to go. Any emotion I felt I shrugged off as just that, emotion. The more I watched the news as time went on, the more I knew I was suppose to be there. Big problem! No passport! Problem solved. My renewal is in the mail as I type. Next problem- I don't have a single connection in Haiti. I am currently working on this problem, and because of my "Big problem" I have a little time to put the connection together. Next problem- finances! This could be in the "Big Problem" category as well. I have been researching plane tickets and they run anywhere from $650-$1100.  This is where you come in. You can help in a big way. To the right of this blog there is a "DONATE" button, click it to give an online donation. DISCLAIMER- there are currently no tax receipt option through online giving at this time. If you want a tax receipt you need to go to the Right Side Up Ministries website. You will see an address, as well as instruction about who to write the check out to, etc.

If you have it in your heart to help send RSUM on this trip, now is your chance. The estimated cost is $3,000.00 per person and I want to put a 2-5 person team together. If you do the math you will find that comes out to $6,000.00- $15,000.00. This is the biggest task I have taken on to this point. I know it can be done, but I need you help! Without your help this trip is not possible. I know times are tight for many of you right now, so if you can't give I am asking you to tell your friends. Get people you know involved! Direct them to this site, or to the RSUM site! You can also direct them to the RSUM Fan page on Facebook or our Twitter page. There are so many people in need in Haiti right now and I know we can make a difference. Thank you in advance for all your help.

If you may be interested in going to Haiti please email me Scott@rightsideupministries.org. Keep in mind, this is not a comfort zone trip. Be prepared to do the unimaginable and unthinkable. Nobody know what the next few weeks has in store for Haiti, so we could be walking into just about anything.

18 January 2010

Haiti Needs our Help

With the recent earthquake in Haiti I had one question for myself, "Why don't I have an updated passport?" I'm in the process of getting that done, and as soon as I have it I will be heading to Haiti. Details are not known at this time, but I will update you as they are known. In the mean time I will be raising funds to make my presence in Haiti a reality.

If you would like to help the people of Haiti, here are four ways you can help.

1) Help Right Side Up Ministries  (this is us) go to Haiti. Or click on the DONATE button to the right.
2) Help a friend of mine, Chance, go to Haiti. He's leaving with a team in less than 72 hours.
3) Help some other friends of mine at Courageous Church in Atlanta do some unique things in Haiti by clicking here.
4) Help Samaritans Purse as they work in big ways in Haiti.

Which ever way you help I just want to say thank you for your support. The people of Haiti are in desperate need of our help and with your help it possible for people to make a difference and show Jesus' love. If you are interested in going on a trip with me to Haiti please email me, scott@rightsideupministries.org.

06 January 2010

I Just Need To Be Myself

OK! So, I've been reading  about how to make my blog better. I've found many conflicting ideas. It seems for every magic idea there is an equal and opposite magic idea that will work just as well. Some say to never delete a comment, others say to delete comments that don't fit into a predetermined set of guidelines. Some say blog 7-10 times a week, we don't want our readers to be bored. Others say to blog 2-4 times a week, we don't want to over power our readers with too much to read. With all this info out there it is tough to decide the best approach, so what I've decided is to do what comes natural, be me. This idea isn't unique to me. I actually got it from a blog I read by Anne Jackson. She wrote it best, "Just Be Yourself", so that's what I intend to do. She had more points, but this is the biggie, I just need to be myself. A part of being myself is to write about the experiences that I have on the road. To write about things that I am passionate about. To write about what I see and how I feel. So, in 2010 I plan to write more, be more open, and to show more of how experience and the Bible work hand in hand. I know that my ideas, opinions, and experiences may not line up with what others say and that's OK. I don't always agree with everybody who's blog I follow so why would I expect others to agree with me all the time? Just know that what I write is from a pure desire to help others experience God in a more real way. It is my goal in 2010 to help people understand the love of God and how He showed that love through His Son Jesus. I won't always write about God, but I will always seek God's guidance before I write. I hope that you will continue to follow this adventure God has me on through 2010 and I hope through this blog that it will help you to find God in America as well.

What are some great blogs you follow? What makes them great?

Finding God In America's Blog