On days when bad things happen to good people

I remember the first time I wondered, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”.  It was the day an older girl in my youth group tragically passed away in a car accident.  It was the same day I realized that I needed a relationship with God because I wouldn’t always be able to handle things myself.

I remember the second time I wondered the same thing.  It was the day my friend Hannah came to my house and told me that she had been diagnosed with bone cancer.  It was four years later when one of my Young Life girls was diagnosed with cancer that I realized God could use Hannah’s death to help me minister to someone else.  For the first time, I recognized the good that could come out of tragedy as I was able to empathize with a group of high school girls.

Today I’m wondering the same thing while grieving the loss of an incredible man, Donald Leonetti.  He loved his family and his community.  He gave so much of his life and his finances away.  He brought passion, laughter and life to any room.  He always encouraged me and he printed and designed great t-shirts (and normally cut me an awesome deal).

Donald Leonetti

Donald and Jenni serving as Young Life leaders at tacky prom

While I’m grieving senseless violence and the loss of a great man, I’m reading Ephesians.  I’m seeing in scripture why bad things happen to good people.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
Ephesians 2:1-3

God has never been out to get any of my good friends that have gone through hard things.  But there is sin in this world and there are people choosing to live in this sin and follow the prince of the power of the air instead of Jesus, the prince of peace.  Because of this sin, sometimes bad things happen to the best of people and we’re all reminded how broken this world is.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved
Ephesians 2:4-5

God loves us.  He sees beyond our sin.  He saves us.  He gives us a way to be free from sin.  He gives us a new way to walk through life.  He gives us life forever.

Today I’m grieving the death of a man on this earth, but I’m rejoicing that God is transforming this world.  As we’re reminded of the reality of sin and brokenness today, may we be even more reminded by the depth of God’s love for us that he does not leave us here.

Donald Leonetti

Donald, thank you for showing the world what it looks like to live life well.  You loved to the max, and we’re forever thankful for that.

For those who are sinning and cause others pain, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23:34

Responding to love

On July 9, 2012 JR took me out on our first date.

On August 12, 2012 we were sitting on the dock at Town Lake when he said the words “I love you.”

I was in shock.  I managed to ruin the romantic moment by pestering him with questions for the next thirty minutes.  What do you mean you love me?  Have you thought about this before or did those words just come out?  What does that mean to you?  Don’t you think this is fast?

I ended the question pestering with this, “Now that we’ve spent thirty minutes defining what you meant, would you mind saying it one more time?”  He repeated “I love you, Ali.”

My response, “Thank you.”  JR drove back to Dallas the next day thinking he had totally freaked me out and I would probably break up with him.

The next day I met with my friend Jennie and shared with her the events of the previous night.  She basically scolded me for my response.  She knew that I was over analyzing everything and that I was afraid to let myself feel love for a man.  In her car I realized that I did love JR, but I had just been too chicken to do anything about it.

It was two weeks later when I saw him again that I was able to say the words to him, “I love you, JR.”

He fell in love first.  He stated his feelings first.  Because he loved me, I felt free enough to open myself and love him too.

Contact Work Together

As we dated and were engaged, JR made at least 30 trips in a 10 month period to see me. He chased me down in Houston, Los Angeles, and all over the state of Florida.  There was no doubt in my mind this man loved me.  The more evident it was that he loved me, the easier it became for me to respond in the same way.  Loving JR became a natural response to the way I had been loved.

First Anniversary Dinner

I view a lot of my relationship with God in the same way.  I’m not following a set of rules.  I’m not being bossed around.  I’m responding in a natural way to the way I have been loved.

Paul seems to think this way about God.  When he’s writing to the Ephesians he prays,

“that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”
Ephesians 3:18

“that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe”
Ephesians 1:18-19

Why does he want us to know these things?  Because when we know how deeply we are loved by Christ, it becomes the natural response of our heart to love him back.  When we know there is hope in Him, that we have an inheritance in heaven, and that in Him we have great power, it becomes easier to trust Him with our whole lives.

I’m praying today that you will KNOW the depth of God’s love for you.  As you know that love, may your natural response be to love him with your whole heart.


community brew link up


A Harvest of Blessing


Ever had a week where you just needed it to end with a good laugh?  Yeah, me too.

Today at work I had the privilege of babysitting this sweet little nugget so her dad could keep working while her mom went to the doctor.

Baby at work


While several coworkers surrounded my desk loving on this sweet little thing, one of them asked me, “Did you mean to put on two different sandals today?”



No, I absolutely did not mean to put on two TOTALLY different shoes.  The scary thing is that I drove to work in that exact same mental state.  By the way, it was 10:30 am before I realized what I had done and I’d been walking all over our building.

To avoid creating a new fashion trend, I quickly called JR and asked him to help solve my situation.  We both barely got words out on the phone because we were laughing so hard.

I felt like a real life Cinderella today, which is fitting because she has always been my favorite Disney princess.  Here is my prince charming solving my problems.

Prince Charming


Sometimes we need a good embarrassing moment to give us a healthy serving of humble pie.  I needed it today to remember to keep life entertaining and laugh often.

Maybe you need a healthy laugh and a sign of joy, I hope this helped with that.  Whatever you need to end this week, I hope you find it.

Things that may help: Free Slurpee day today at 7-eleven and Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A

Nothing says Happy Friday like free food.  #amiright?