Why go, why not just send money?

Why do people go over seas to help people in need? Why not just send money? This is a question that is asked all too often. It’s also often coupled with the question, “why don’t you just help people here (locally)?” First of all, do not be dismayed at any criticism you might receive for wanting to help overseas.  Most people who are involved anywhere (either locally or internationally) tend to be both supportive and understanding of people who are doing work anywhere. And my quick answer to the last question is, “Well, why can’t we do both?” There’s no question that there are people in the United States who need help ascending from the lower class to enter into the middle class; but, the fact remains, our lower class is truly rich compared to people in many countries, and Myanmar especially. There is really no comparison. But back to the question, why not just send money- the answers were life altering for me.

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HOPE- We bring people hope! I know this sounds like a cliché, but it’s so much more significant than we could ever realize. Amos, who was one of the first orphans raised at the main orphanage where we serve, that is led by an incredible native pastor, now has his own small orphanage that he runs with his wife. It is the orphanage that is most on my heart, out of all the need that I see there from the many orphanages we visited. He told me during a conversation we had one night that “Watching us play with the orphans gave [him] hope.” He was very real with us in regards to the difficulties of caring for the kids, and he reiterated that watching us play with the kids out of our love for them was revitalizing and gave him a renewed hope. That was the most incredible thing that I could have ever heard. After all, he is the person who was there before we arrived and would stay after we left.

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MONEY WITHOUT LOVE- Imagine having your parents only give you money and never actually be there for you. How would you feel? How much stronger would you be if you had experienced the love and hope that comes from your parents actually showing up and demonstrating love through their physical presence- the warmth of their hugs, and the caring in their eyes. Hope allows people to press on, even in the most dire of situations. And there’s more.

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What is money without love? I would say it is worthless, but I also question whether it even exists. It takes love, either from the person giving or the person asking for donations, to get people to donate. It takes a person who loves people who are in need to communicate and to get people to rally behind the need. For me, this required showing up in order to first love these children to the point that I would take up their cause.

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Let’s face it; we’re desensitized to commercials on TV asking for donations and the need that people have in this world. We forget that the kids in need are real children, with real hearts, who have real pain. It doesn’t matter how much my mentor talked about the needs these kids have; even through all his tears and after everything he communicated, there was no way I could possibly understand how precious these orphans are and the extent of what their needs are without actually going myself. To further emphasize this reality, I did not initially have a super compelling reason to go. I did not feel “called” by God to go. I just rested on what the bible says, knowing that no matter what I feel, I am called to go. We all are. We’re called to go and serve both here and there. My calling came only after I was obedient to God’s word.

Wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:16,17

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LIVES CHANGED- Not only are we able to bring love, our physical presence, and hope to such precious orphans and their incredible leaders, not only are we able to bring financial support and supplies, but we’re able to come back and take up their cause! Only after having been there and seeing the need of kids who I now care for with all my heart, am I willing to come back and devote many hours of my life to their cause. Through my change of heart, my friends and family are also able to hear about who they are, and why they are so special. After hearing my story, people have offered to get involved. My hope is that eventually a few people are able to go as well to experience what I did, return, and continue to take up their cause as well so that more people who are unaware will no longer be in the dark.

Below is a video of the time that me and a few close friends spent in myanmar. Please take the time to watch the video and understand a little bit more about those precious little kids.

We are now selling stockings and wreaths for our return on December 16, 20013. We will be feeding thousands of people on Christmas day and sending clothes, as well as more financial support for the orphans! Please email me at David@Beltran.com for info, follow me on IG @BEL_TRON and check out my profile- CAUSES.COM/SOW – if you would like to contribute monthly or one time donations to our cause.

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The Flood

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For most of my life I have been comfortable with being comfortable. I am very much a man of routine; I am at ease when I have even a vague outline of where I am going or what the day will look like. As humans we all have our niches, habitats, tendencies, methods and specificities that help to create and establish levels of comfort and measures of manageable tranquility in our lives. Whether you recognize, acknowledge or feed it, this hunger for control and comfort is ingrained in all of us. Ultimately, our control of comfort can become a corruption that can destroy every fiber of our world.

God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them…”
Genesis 6:12-13 (NIV) 

After reflecting on these Scriptures in Genesis, I realized something simple yet profound: We will all experience the flood. 

At one point or another in life we will go through one if not many great floods and storms that will destroy all that was once established, teeming and comfortable in our lives and wash it away without any ascertainable reason. In these situations do you find yourself building an ark and preparing life for the future or rather, settling in the land of sheltered yesterdays? In these fragile moments, faithful obedience surpasses circumstantial evidence.

I have seen that if you remain tied to a dock of comfort, God will inevitably send a storm to sever those ties and send you out to sea. For some of us it happens suddenly, for others it is more of a process. As creatures of comfort, we often find it difficult to depart from our dock because it represents the measurable outcomes and controllable circumstances that we so desire in our lives.

Then there is that confronting, obstructive Scripture in Matthew 16:25 (NIV) “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” 

Does God really want us to lose our life, our comfort and our ease? Yes, because what He has is more, is greater, is better than anything we can perceive. God wants to redefine what it means to be comforted until all we need is Him. Jesus asks us to put everything afloat upon God, and go out to sea on the great swelling tide of His purpose. It is out at sea where eyes are truly opened, faith is fully formed and character is eternally shaped. If our faith, security and hope are on board with Jesus we are not to spend all our time in calm waters just inside the harbor, full of joy but always tied to the dock. We must echo the obedience of Noah and build an ark to weather our own storms and embark upon the sea of God’s promises.

In verses 6:22 and 7:5 of Genesis (NIV) it reiterates the same vital point and difference between Noah and a lot of us, “And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.”
Noah did all. It is a dangerous, sometimes fatal mistake to refuse direction, to refuse to follow and fully obey on this voyage. The counterfeit of obedience is a state of mind where you create your own opportunities to sacrifice yourself, and your zeal and enthusiasm are mistaken for discernment.

“But Samuel replied:
‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.'”
1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV)

It is easier to sacrifice yourself than to fulfill your spiritual destiny. Fulfilling your destiny means doing the hard work. It means getting up every morning to gather the wood to build that ark, and preparing to live for the future rather than the past. Beware of paying attention or going back to where you once were on the shore of yesterday’s comforts when God wants to take you somewhere that you have never been before.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 
Romans 12:2 (NIV)

The Next Step

After reading and carefully reflecting on the Book of James, I find myself circling around the same question: “Will I take the next step?”

I think a common and widely held misconception of Christians is that people think once we put our faith in Jesus Christ all our problems are suddenly solved, we are immediately better people, and are signed, sealed and delivered. In reality, one moment of faith is just the beginning of a process. That measure of faith we exhibit when we declare, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior,” seems so significant at the time and it is in its own right, but it is merely the first step on a path to true and lasting change.

In Luke 9:61 (NIV) it reads, “Lord, I will follow you, but…” 
…And there it is. That word that always gets in our way. It hinders, binds and prevents us from taking the call that is beckoning us forward–“but.”

Even if you are not a Christian, I think everyone can agree that actions (in most cases) speak louder than words. Regardless of our status, duration, or devotion as followers of Christ, if we always hold onto our “but’s” (pardon the pun) we will never experience the wondrous abandonment of truly following Christ.

This simple truth applies to so much in life; it is a glaring reality staring us in the face regardless of our beliefs or religion. It is the truth that even the brightest ideas, the most noble motives, the most significant moments of our faith, without action mean nothing… There are examples of this all around us as well as nowhere at all. It reminds us that if a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he or she has to risk everything and leap headfirst into the dark. This “darkness” is a sea of unknown outcomes, sacrifices, and sometimes painful losses. We are so scared of experiencing these possibilities that we can’t see through the fog of present day trials; we fail to grasp that we may enter into a land of opportunity, reward and blessing on the other side. You may find that soon, the “dark” you thought you plunged into will transform into a brighter light than you have ever seen or experienced.

What if Martin Luther King, Jr. never picked up his pen, John Lennon never learned to play guitar or Benjamin Franklin never flew a kite? Our future is often shaped by the smallest sparks, the smallest decisions and the smallest of accomplishments. The decisions you make in the present will determine the choices you have in the future.

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” 
James 2:26 (NIV) 

How significant is this verse in James to you? The comparison he makes with our body and spirit really stresses and warns us how vital–no–how much of a life or death sentence it is to put action to our faith.

For Christians, Jesus demands this unrestrained, adventurous spirit in placing our trust in Him. In the spiritual realm, Jesus demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense, and leap based on faith in Him alone. This is scary for beings that are so consumed, mesmerized and enslaved by the common sense of this world. The notion that we must leap without knowing where we will land according to our own experiences and 5 senses cripples us with fear. Let me tell you, from experiences past and those to come, once you obey you will immediately find that what He says is as solidly consistent as common sense.

On the basis of our senses, what Jesus requires of you might seem mad. Again and again you will come right up to what Jesus wants, but every time you will turn back at the true point of testing, until you are determined to abandon yourself in total surrender. Whenever that time comes, take the leap. What you will find on the other side will fill your spirit with the amazing truth that you acted on the words of God.

Trust in Him, trust in His timing or simply make the determination to trust. Take that step you know you should take but are perhaps too afraid to based on what YOU think might happen. God meets us in those moments of doubt and lifts us up on eagle’s wings and carries us into His invincible future… a future that is brighter than any of us could ever imagine.
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Embrace rejection

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There is a problem that comes with perfection on earth in the inability of everyone here to accept things that are in fact good. And you might say, “well what is good for one person may not be good for another person.” While this hypothetical may be valid due to it’s ambiguity, there are in fact things that are unequivocally good for all people. The bible talks about fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

What is important to note is the inability (especially among the teachers of the law) that people had in accepting Jesus’ teachings when he was here on earth. In fact, He had a lot of resistance, even though there could be no one person and no plan more perfect. The reality is that even the most perfect plans meet resistance and ultimately rejection.

And this is with a perfect plan! How about plans that are not so perfect?  We need to carry over the same principle and be prepared for that. If there is one quality that the most effectual people on earth have had, it is their indifference to rejection. These people realized that failure was not real, but in everything here on earth, there is an effect. In every result that one person may consider to be a failure, the most successful people would consider it a victory as a lesson learned. I, myself, need to learn that my plans can not be perfect, but even if they were, they would face rejection all the same.

I’m a perfectionist and I like for everything that I do to yield the most results. The problem with that is the fear that doing something will yield minimal results. But I’m coming to realize that results of any kind are beneficial; in fact, monumental success stories are made up of smaller milestones. I’ve come to realize that even the best plans face rejection, as there are certain people who can comprehend your plan and others who will resist with all their effort.

I plan to embrace rejection. Many people already know me as someone who isn’t affected by rejection in my ability to continue pressing forward without a change in attitude. The problem is that unless I feel compelled to do so, I will avoid a circumstance in which I feel I am likely to face rejection. I need to alter this behavior dramatically so that this fear does not limit the plan God has for my life. I have decided to make a new goal for myself that will have a new focus on doing more things in which I expect rejection, without compromising. I  will tackle these things with an open heart and open mind as if I expect them to happen, and allow God to surprise me when the odds were against me. Overall, I plan to plan less, and do more. I will embrace the rejection of my plans and appreciate the results of my labor, so that when I execute plans that God puts on my heart, that execution is not hindered by the fear of rejection.

Attack your discomforts- Next steps

Even subtle discomforts are like walls in a canyon.  We may find ourselves confined to their direction unless we realize that we can learn to climb over them and get a better vantage point.

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This article details one technique to take charge of our spiritual walk and helps to prepare ourselves for the blessings God wants us to receive.

Months after first rededicating my life, I find myself continuing to learn what God truly wants for my life. I started by giving it all up.  All my weakness as well as all of my strengths- I gave it all to God.  And I found new strengths to overcome things that used to have complete control over my life. In fact, there is no doubt that God has made me stronger than I’ve ever been over my past weaknesses. And yet, I didn’t and couldn’t possibly earn my righteousness, but right standing was given to me by His grace, and His grace alone. Jesus said, “…go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, not sacrifice (Mat 9:13).The first step is to get up, and GO! Seek after him! “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

Initially, God’s spirit was obvious to me.  I was able to discern what He wanted by overwhelming discomfort, and doing just what my discomfort was trying to hinder me from doing. For instance, I wanted to say something spiritual in a crowd and the devil tried hindering my growth through fear. After realizing that and breaking free, God’s spirit in me was able to grow past that point in my life and into new territory- a territory that is free and not so obviously bound by fear. And now, as I’ve settled into this new territory, the next step was not so immediately clear.

The next step forward is counter-intuitive- deceptive in other words, as the devil takes any opportunity to hinder our spiritual growth. As followers of Christ, we believe that God wants to bless us, and He does. The question is what sort of blessings are we after? Do we want more spiritual responsibility or is our idea of blessings the ability to lounge around and play Smash Brothers all day? In other words, are we consoling ourselves through comfort or are we breaking free areas of our discomfort? In fact, the bible is very clear on this issue in regards to taking up our cross as well as throughout the book of 1 Peter.  A good question to ask is always, “How am I not bringing glory to God?” If by being lazy, we are chastised at work or at home, we allow the devil to provoke us as well as forego the blessings that would follow from otherwise being self-disciplined. The next question is “I know what I want to do, but what do I need to do?”

God blesses us based on our ability to handle those blessings. “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” (Matthew 13:12). This is because of our ability or inability to handle what is before us.

So what is generally on our plates? We have both things that bring us comfort as well as things that are just not fun at all and are in fact uncomfortable. Do we think that by sitting around and watching movies all day that God will bless us?  How would we be able to handle further blessings if we can’t even handle what we have? Become a person who takes care of the many things that you would rather not do, and God will give you much more.

This is not just about blessings but about spiritual growth. Grow!!! Seek after your discomforts and annihilate them. Discomforts can be walls in a canyon. They can dictate where you go if you’re not willing to stand up and climb over them; however, when you do, you’ll have a much better vantage point to determine the best possible course of action. Do not let your discomforts dictate the decisions and direction that you take in your life. Break free from the bonds of significant and even subtle discomfort, and grow to see God’s plan for your life more clearly.

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Keep Reaching


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In February of 2013 I was inspired to write letters for my community, describing in a few words my experience and relationship with God. My intention was, and is simple–to write to people on the basis of which my heart was won: love.

In the Bible one of my favorite collection of verses is 1 Corinthians 4-8 (NIV):

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

Love never fails…”

With this in mind, please read this. My prayer is that it will open your heart, mind, and soul to the extraordinary, endless, and scandalous love of our God, who is with you always.

Dear Neighbor,

Hello, my name is Taylor. I never used to be this guy but I want to tell you, you are loved. You are loved by our creator, our father, our savior.

I know a lot of you may disagree and it’s ok if you do but please, consider this: He’s waiting with open arms… waiting for you to come home. It’s easy to say He’s not real, to blame Him for everything wrong in this world; I know this because I did it. I think that being fearful about something you don’t fully understand is a natural tendency, it’s human nature. Hiding behind drugs, alcohol, sex, wealth, fame, pride, anger, deception–it’s all so empty. They won’t lead to answers; they won’t heal your hurting. Again, I know this through experience, through crashing and burning time and time again. Living a life without a purpose is a rudderless ship, aimless, destructive, and going nowhere. It’s a never-ending egg hunt to fill a void in hopes that it will lead us to a measure of peace and fulfillment that seems just out of reach.

I didn’t write this to start an argument, I wrote this to urge you to keep reaching, keep moving, keep hope alive. I wrote this to ultimately remind you that you are loved.

Please, have a blessed day, remind your family and friends that you love them, pour words of encouragement, integrity and honor into them. Light up their hearts. Remember that this life is a vapor, here for one moment and gone the next… so live the life you always dreamed of. It’s never too late to remove the stone and live again. Please know that I will be praying for you, I love you and most of all, God loves you.

God Bless,
Taylor

Pain, growth, and family life transformed

This post goes over two things in particular- what happens when a person who believes in God is not fed scripture, and the incredible things that can happen to a person when applying the word of God.

My first few weeks as a Christian were incredible. I imagined myself as a tiny little sprout and realized that this period in my spiritual life was a delicate one. So I sought to keep the majority of sins out of my life, keeping disciplined in areas I’ve previously never been able to exercise control over.  This newly gained control in my life allowed my to get into the word the majority of mornings and at night to write out a devotional on paper without feeling any sort of shame for breaking promises I’ve made to God. Things were going extremely well until I took an innocent trip to mammoth with my brother, friends and their family who are basically a second family of mine.

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It was a family trip; it’s not like I drank at all or did anything wrong, all that was really needed was for me to be separated from the word for a few days. Before I recommitted my life, I’ve always known that if I ever wanted to get close to God, there it was; all I had to do was open to the gospel (Matthew to John) in particular, and I would be renewed in my faith. The bible would always be a place where I could fill my spiritual cup; but, parting from it for a while is really all all it took, especially at this more delicate time in my spiritual growth.

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The devil doesn’t need temptation or anything else; all he needs is time, and distractions. I was distracted for about five days up in mammoth and got back home where a lot of things had sort of hit the fan.

My dad had gone to Mexico to visit his father who was in horrible pain suffering from gangrene on both his feet. He was in his nineties and was not in a position to heal properly even if the amputation did take place. Many years had passed since my dad had last seen his own. My grandfather died a few days after my own father arrived in Mexico. Needless to say, my dad spent a few weeks in Mexico spending time with family he hadn’t seen in a long time, including my grandmother.

In the meanwhile, this was during a time when I had barely started working for my parents again. And with my father gone, there was a lot to be done. Things got crazy, absolutely crazy, and at the time, I hadn’t yet grown to the person I am today, spiritually.

My mom is an Ox. Literally she is the strongest woman I have ever met. She has been awarded woman of the year in entrepreneurship and technology by La Opinion, something like the Spanish LA Times. She has worked 7 days a week for about 25 years, spent about ten years without taking a vacation, and even worked on the same day as one of her pregnancies, having five kids in total.  Granted, I just read a letter from Columbia to that very child just yesterday. She is tough, but having worked her way into self-employment from working as a seamstress, her management style is probably tougher, and children of hers don’t get any slack at work.  In fact, my mom has very little patience for people not doing things properly and quickly. She’s also a very loving mother at the core, but that’s not the point right now. It was a tough first few weeks, to say the least.

In fact, I worked about 70 hours those first few weeks, and there were a few issues in particular that just made me incredibly disillusioned regardless of how much I wanted to help out my mom and and family. It just seemed impossible to work for my mom.

During that time, I was busy, things were crazy, and I was separated from the word. I had no spiritual nourishment, and little of the protection that it affords. I began to stumble in my walk again with certain things.  And there was one day in particular when, I just really need a drink. Worse yet, all of a sudden I began to have the worst tooth pain I’ve ever had. It was crazy.  I’ve had my wisdom teeth taken out, a root canal about a year ago, two broken noses, a dislocated clavicle and this was by far the worst. It turned out that the root canal I had about a year back was infected. I was on Vicodin and 800mg of ibuprofen, and still, the pain was unbearable. To make matters worse, I put a cup of water in the freezer and put it on my counter top before I went to bed so that I can numb my mouth in the middle of the night. One tiny grind of another tooth to the affected one would create a jarring pain that lasted for about an hour only to die down to a level of seven out of ten at best. I woke up to find that during the middle of the night, the condensation from the frozen cup of water created a pool that ruined my iPhone that sat about six inches away. This was not my best week. I went into an emergency surgery the next day to have my tooth pulled. Things became better as soon as I woke up from the laughing gas, but this was no humorous situation.

I finally made time to get back into the men’s bible study I attended and met with the guys. That night I got back into the word and learned so many things.

We need scripture. 1 Peter 2:2 “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that your have tasted that the Lord is good.” I learned that in being separated by the word of God, I was weakened spiritually. Sure, all those things could have happened to me even if I was in the word everyday, but I would have been better equipped to handle the same circumstances.

For instance, when I returned to scripture, I came a across a verse where Jesus said in Matthew 9:13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.‘ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” I decided that I was going to practice applying that scripture that week. And it came in handy that very day.

I made a few errors in contracting within those last few days, that were somewhat unavoidable, and I did my best to mitigate the damage while the customers where there, nonetheless. I was getting it good from both my parents who were chastising me for my mistake. I could have defended myself saying that there was another person who started the application in the computer system on a different date and there was no way of me knowing that the date needed to be changed, but I sat back, and gave that situation to God. 1 Peter 5:6,7 “Humble yourselves, therefor, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I ended up telling my mom, yeah, you’re right mom. Something I’ve never been able to do when being reprimanded in a way that I felt didn’t matched the level of my mistake, and in an unexpected move, my mom came over and hugged me and said that it was okay. The same occurrence has come to happen with my Dad in the last few weeks; although admittedly, it did take longer with my dad. Nonetheless, I realized something in that situation. I was able to do that because of my understanding of my salvation through God’s grace.

I may stumble according to God’s law, but through Jesus Christ I am saved and have God’s favor. He will always love me. I realize that even more now that I am stronger in the spirit, and as I have become better and better having more strength not to lust after women, at the gym for instance. I’ve never had so much strength. I stumbled in a different way for the first time in a long while just two days ago and came to a profound realization of God’s grace as I am truly his child. I felt like God instantly forgave me as I am now walking in the spirit and have sincerely accepted Jesus as my savior and choose to walk and love as he did.

In the same way, there was no reason for me to argue with my parents. I made a mistake; I didn’t need to defend myself because they’re my parents and even though I made a mistake they’re still going to love me and are going to forgive me. I didn’t have to get defensive as I once did; I just needed to realize that I need to give my situations up to God.

Jesus himself said to the Sahhedrin when asked if he was the Son of God, Matthew 26:64 “Yes, it is as you say.” He didn’t bumble around saying, well, sort of, or justify, and defend himself.  All he said was, it is as you say, trusting in our Father’s greater plan. I need to continue to practice giving things up to God, and, when people accuse my of anything, to say, it is as you say.” And allow God to demonstrate how much better things are in his hands.