5 faith builders

Our family entered an intense lesson on learning to trust God when my husband was laid off from his job this past summer. In the flesh I felt I was supposed to be scared or fearful, but this wasn’t the case. I was angry about the situation and we did have a period of adjusting to this news and life change. However, there was an underlying sense of peace I couldn’t ignore. As much as I was sometimes tempted to fear, I would just breath and I knew it would all be okay because in reality it already was because we serve a mighty God. The job my husband previously had required weekend work and only one day off which he spent at school. Needless to say, a lot of demands fell on my shoulder and life was stretched. So when he was able to be home we began to thrive. We finally got to spend time together as a family and begin dreaming and working better together. We began to re prioritize and work on building an even better foundation- personally, spiritually and all around.

We were also about to do something we had put on the backburner for a long time. We were both baptized by immersion on November 17th. During this intense lesson on trusting God , we also realized we needed to be immediately obedient  to Him  and his commands for us. Learning to act when the Holy Spirit moves us is something that is a big deal. Within a month of our baptism, we received the following completely unexpected:

1. Someone mailed us an unaddressed envelope with a gift card enclosed

2. Someone passed along an unaddressed card with a monetary gift enclosed in the amount of a bill we needed to pay

3. A family member passed along their Christmas bonus

4. Someone gifted us with tickets to a ballet. Just days before this, we considered purchasing tickets for me to take our daughter but we decided against it. The tickets were for the same day and time we were considering.

5. We were gifted tickets to a sold out program we were unable to gain tickets for and the tickets were for the same night and the correct number of seats we needed.

We did not ask for any of this and it wasn’t coincidence. God knows our hearts, is the ultimate provider and pays attention to detail.

Life is not meant for us to do alone and we don’t have to live it stressed out. Learn to depend on the Creator of it all.

Struggle

I’d say that for atleast the past year my heart has been burdended for those that struggle. Who are those that struggle? I have come to realize that it is everyone. It is all people. Whether our struggle is financial, emotional, spiritual, marital or a mixture, we all are facing some issue that causes us to either have faith to get through it or causes us to turn away – or maybe we respond differently to each struggle we are faced with? I grew up in Bartlett, a suburb of Memphis and you pretty much saw the same people, saw nice cars, saw well dressed kids in school, etc. But over the years, I started to notice that it was changing. You’d see a little lesser nice car, more people lined up outside the Goodwill store, kids in a little more worn clothing. You even saw pan handlers move into the area. I began to realize – rather late in life that my struggles weren’t really as horrible or hard as others struggles. I’ve never slept on the street, I’ve never gone hungry to bed and I’ve never not had clothing on my back or a place to take a shower. I began to pray for the Lord to open my eyes to people – from all walks of life and not just people who lived in “Bartlett.” My husband got a job close to Downtown Memphis a little over 2 years ago and there is definately a different face to people and what their struggles are in that area of Memphis. My husband and I shared a car for about a year and I’d have to take him to work several days out of the week. I began to really enjoy those mornings and evenings I’d drop him off or pick him up because it meant that I got to see people walking the street, people who were homeless and it wasn’t long before the Lord used Klove to really speak to me and I began to pray for these people. These people – that bothers me – why would we naturally classify them any differently? Because their struggle is outward and not only inward? Why have a blind eye or a view of higher stance because we might be able to tuck away our struggles? I am thankful for the struggles that I have had – and I have had some deep and painful ones. I am thankful because it has given me a chance to know what it means to show compassion to someone and how to look at someone and see the good in them. People want to be loved, people want to be shown compassion, people want to be given mercy and know that they are forgiven. We are all people in need of shelter, food, water, clothing and most importantly Jesus Christ. I am thankful.

Cry out to Jesus

I graduated high school in 2004 and since then, I have had college experiences, have gotten married, have had 2 children, have gone through financial, marital, relational hardships. I have had my faith tested in almost every area imaginable and I have been stretched so far that my growing pains didn’t hurt, they physically forced me to get in a fetal position before the Lord and weep before Him. Which by the way, even though it doesn’t feel like it while you’re in that stage, brokeness is an awesome thing because you can be rebuilt on a stronger, firmer foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Although I have decided to follow Jesus and I do strive to turn to Him when struggles, hardships, bad days, misfortunes, stressful times come my way, it doesn’t mean I am immune from anger, sadness, rage, bitterness, unhappiness or being overtaken by any other fleshly desire. There are times I have to pray myself through a hard situation, times when I have to cry on the shoulder of my beloved family or friend, times I have to sit with the Lord and be still before Him.

These are times I have to open my Bible and seek what His word says so I can gain truth in a world filled with lies and deception.

Madelyn recently memorized a Bible verse and it happens to be Luke 6:27 Love other people and be kind.

Why do I bring this up? Because WE ALL need encouragement. The people who are pressed and trimmed on the exterior, the people who air their dirty laundry out, the people who volunteer for all good causes, the people who run businesses, the people who drive a van without AC, the people who drive nice cars with all the luxuries.

We are all in need of Jesus, in need of love, in need of what only He can offer. We are in need of Him so desperately that we are called to die to ourself each and everyday and walk anew in His likeness.

I’m not great at memorizing Scripture, I’m not great at theology and my vocabulary really isn’t that extensive. But I will say this – Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, let’s WALK TOGETHER united before Christ and encourage each other to fall at the feet of Jesus each and every single day.

I encourage you to listen to Christian music. I struggled with this for a long time, I mean every girl from the South can enjoy a good Country song, right? I’m not saying NEVER  to listen to anything other than Christian music but most certainly, I encoruage you to make that a priority station in your car or the bulk of your CD collection. Why? Because in listening to lyrics that are filled with Scripture, you are getting filled with truth, you are being encouraged in your good or bad day, you are pressing onward as a soilder of the living God.

Why am I so passionate this morning about all of this? Because I have experienced loss, I have experienced pain, I have grieved with many, for many and personally. Lives are being lost – whether physically gone from this world or whether emotionally absent from their lives each day, lives are being lost and it is time to reclaim the power of Christ and to walk united in America as a new creation in Christ Jesus.

Life is unique. We are all created differently, we are all walking different lives, we have different strengths and weaknesses and I urge you to accept yourself for who Christ made you to be. Work on your weaknesses and build your strengths, be careful to not bash another person or be jealous of their strength that is your weakness. Do not be boastful or proud but love. Show compassion.

Sometimes it is best to not say anything at all and let your actions speak for themselves.

So, if all you can do is deliver dinner to someones house with a smile on your face, do it.

If all you can do is say hello, have a great day, do it.

We are so fast to judge. It is so easy to look at someone who is overweight and say gosh, look at that person trying to ride a bike but you know, that person might have just lost 100 lbs so they COULD ride a bike! Let’s not be cruel, if you don’t know the person, if you don’t know their walk, be still and encourage them, regardless of what you are tempted to think or what judgement you are tempted to throw their way.

This lengthy posting is prompted because last night I discovered a high school classmate took her own life. A true beauty queen, a girl who I was more of an aquantience with but did share smiles in the hall and chatter in the class with.

Isn’t life more than unwholesome talk, slander, judgement and being overtaken and led by the desires of our flesh?

Let’s … cry … weep … out to JESUS!

How God provided for me

Most of you do not know that I do not have health insurance. Unfortunately, the option is not available to us for a few reasons. In the past couple of months, I have had a health issue arise and prolonged going to the doctor because I simply could not afford to self pay at a private doctor’s office and I did not completely understand how centers like Christ Community Health Center worked. Being transparent, I was also scared of being treated poorly in a public clinic. (probably because Memphians talk so poorly about our city and because movies portray public health clinics in a negative light) I felt convinced that was not the right way to think about the ministry of Christ Community or any other similar organization.

I knew that I wasn’t any better of a person because I might have a little something nicer to wear or because I have a home and am not homeless. But still, the thought of going teriffied me.

After a few months of my health issue not getting better and my realizing that I HAD to get help and after exhausting all of my resources, I knew I would have to make an appointment and go to the Christ Community Health Center.

Here was my experience:  I walked into a very modern, well decorated, clean, friendly waiting room to be greeted by friendly, smiling staff and to share laughs and smiles with nurses, doctor’s and lab workers. I was treated with the utmost care, I was given a complete and thorough exam, I was treated with compassion, with tender words and with concern. I was wished a great day on my way out and a we look forward to seeing you again.

If I’m honest, their facility is nicer than some doctor’s offices I have been to and their staff was much more inviting and informative than some private offices.

Now, God’s greatness doesn’t end with me just having a nice visit and being able to get the treatment I need but because the center has been granted special funding for certain needs women have, my visit and my treatment are/will be completely free. How great is our God?!

I share this for a few reasons:

1. God is faithful. He always provides. Sometimes it’s just not in the traditional American way or the way we think it should be.

2. If you are fearful someone will judge you because you have to go to a public clinic, don’t be ridiculous like I was. Go get the help you need.

3. If you are the one speaking negatively about people who walk into public health services, I challenge you to only let positive come from your mouth.

4. We only walk our walk in life. If you aren’t walking someone elses, it’s hard to know what they are going through but easy to comment on what you would or wouldn’t do. Let’s encourage instead of tear down.

 

 

Me and Chick-fil-a

Last week, on Facebook, I saw a posting from a friend who happens to be the mother of a gay son. She was writing her response in regards to the interview the President of Chick-fil-a had in regards to being asked his view on marriage. I didn’t want to be quarrelsome, so I decided to read it and move on.

The next day I see that there is going to be an appreciaton day on August 1st at all Chick-fil-a’s nationwide. I think to myself – well, that is nice. But then I stop and I think about what is really happening. Facebook is being plastered with many comments about people thinking the ordeal is silly, stupid, unnecessary and controversial. News media is interviewing activist in the gay and lesbian community. Words are getting twisted and an answer to a question is being taken totally out of context. And that word -controversial – kept bugging the stew out of me!

I knew in my heart that I wanted to go support the company  because I felt like I was being given an opportunity to make a difference. I compared it to voting. As I saw and heard people taking the interview out of context, I had to pray for the Lord to calm me. It was a bit frustrating to witness. I kept thinking to myself – Jesus went up to Calvary and PAID MY SIN DEBT FOR ME and here it is – a chance for ME TO GO STAND with another believer to bring glory to God. I HAD to do it. My day got packed with activities and I didn’t have a chance to leave my house to go to Chick-fil-a until 9pm – knowing that they closed at 10pm and knowing I probably wouldn’t get to place my order until 15 til closing. But I went anyway.

On my 20 minute drive, I was feeling a bit crazy, checking my motives, praying and listening to K-love. I get in the turning lane and that’s where I waited my first 15 minutes. I finally get in the drive thru lane and I start observing those around me for the last 15 minutes of my wait. I saw people praying, I saw families united, laughing and sharing food together. I saw people smile at strangers, people hold hands, share desserts. For a split moment, I thought – Wow, is this what life would be like if we DAILY lived and stood by one another as brothers and sisters of the Living God?! It was a beautiful picture that was painted for me tonight and probably an image that will forever be sketched in my brain as is where I was sitting when 9/11 occurred.

My experience in deciding to participate in todays appreciation day for Chick-fil-a allowed me to gain hope. I’m thankful for that.

 

August 1 .. my New Year

Oh August, I’m so glad you’re here!! I’ve been awaiting this month for a few months now. In the past 6 months, the Lord has been preparing my heart as well as Moses’. Like most people, we struggled with the initial promptings to need to be open minded (spirit minded), to become more disciplined with prayer or intake of His word, to become disciplined with eating, physical activity or managing finances. I guess you could say we were a hot mess and desperately needed to hand over the reigns to the Lord to fully lead our family.

Have you ever felt like you were SAYING that you loved someone with all of your heart and would do ANYTHING for them but when the time came, you would make an EXCUSE ???

Well, that was me with my walk with the Lord. It was devestating the moment I realized this was true. I never intended for that to be the case. Soon, I realized that I knew a lot about the Lord but that I was seriously lacking in BELIEVING who He is and that He was capable of handling my messes!

When I finally made the decision to release all of my undisciplined self and situations I had created over to the Lord, I soon realized that I no longer had that monkey on my back. Was I actually practicing laying my problems at the feet of Jesus and not picking them back up?? This couldn’t be true, I had struggled for so long with that.

After a few days and a few weeks of realizing that those monkies never made their way back on my shoulders, I praised the Lord for allowing me to be free from that and loving me enough to carry that load for me. Of course, I knew that this was a huge milestone and I had to dig a little deeper.

I began to do some self evaluating and read Scripture. I discovered that my tendencies to want to control situations (aka control freak) was really my coping for needing to create my own security which ultimately is admitting that I was living a life based on fear. WOW, how could that have been true? I knew NOT to do that. But … I surely was.

I decided to BELIEVE that the Lord loved me enough, as unworthy as I am to carry me when I am weak. (which I’ve been recently) I decided to allow His voice to reign over mine. Does this mean I can’t be fast to speak? YESS!!! Proverbs 18:6 Fools words get them into constant quarrels, they are asking for a beating.

For me, that verse means that I need to keep my mouth shut unless I have equipped myself with a proper answer. ANDDD realizing that sometimes no response is best!!!

Trust me, I’ve done my share of not tamming my mouth and it has embarassed me, caused strain in relationships and caused grief in my heart.

I am learning that Proverbs 18:10 needs to be my daily reality. “The name of the Lord is a strong fortness, the godly run to him and are safe.”

This means that when I feel attacked by the world and feel the need to TALK to DEFEND myself, I need to run to the Lord instead. What great discipline this is going to take but I am SO excited to get better at this. I know that it will mend relationships, prevent some future quarrels and will ultimately allow me to bring Him more glory through displaying more of His likeness.

Proverbs 18:13 “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”

2 days shy of age 26!

As I sit here anticipating my 26th birthday, I can’t help but think of where the Lord has brought me. If you know me, I’m a planner. I like to have a plan for my plan. You know, figure out Plan B incase Plan A doesn’t turn out. As I’ve grown as a follower in Christ and asked him to reveal to me the reasons behind this annoying habit I find within myself, He has lovingly shown me that the only plan I need to have is the plan to follow Him daily. God loves you and me so much that He not only showed me that I only needed to plan to follow Him but He knew I desired more comfort so He gave me instruction.

I hear His sometimes sweet and sometimes “Daddy disciplinarian” tones each day as He sweetly reminds me or nudgingly reminds me to get into His word and to soak up His wisdom through Scriptures. For me, I ask myself why I waited so long to renew my love for the Lord with the call to be obedient? It’s never been a doubt that I desired to follow Jesus or to share His name with others. But the call to be obedient DAILY and walk with Him DAILY by humbly finding myself at His feet each day is what I lacked for the past couple of years.

Life got ahold of me. You know, marriage, babies, bills, mistakes, lack of knowledge, imperfections, anger, pride, lack of willingness to do anything about it, gossip …. you know, sin = what seperates us from God.

A few months ago, as I saw in my reflection a person I didn’t recognize and a Mom and Wife I didn’t want to be, I decided I needed to get down to the nitty gritty of what was going on with my relationship with Christ. Why had I become less devoted? Why had I denied myself His presence and denied Him the glory and honor? Afterall, I was the teen “Jesus Freak” – but yes, it happened – life. Life = ability to get so wrapped up in the way the world says things should go that you get completely distracted and entangled in trying to maintain and uphold the pressures you feel from an overload of social media and annoying news anchors.

Sometimes you have to take a break – it’s ok. It doesn’t mean you failed.

Sometimes you have to cry – it’s ok. It doesn’t mean you failed.

You see, during those times that we remove ourselves from commitments to the World and show up at the throne of Grace — we have gained a priceless and eternal treasure. When we have cried and allowed ourselves to humbly fall before the throne of God – we have allowed ourselves to be wrapped tenderly in the arms of Christ. His arms are the tightest yet most gentle and loving arms ever. Although I can’t physically feel the Lord carry and hold me, I assure you that He does. He is the best Daddy in the entire World! He will even kiss your sweet forehead and say “it’s ok, sweet child of mine.”

So I sit here, thinking about the past years I denied myself forgiveness. I sit here and reflect upon the knowledge that unforgiveness to yourself is only keeping yourself a prionser. I think about the reality of how true that statement is. How unforgiveness leads to imprisonment which leads to anger, frustration, guilt, shame, confusion, fear – all of which are NOT from the Lord.

Here I am, 2 days shy of age 26 and I feel like a sweet precious child of the King of Kings who has given me new life! A life that is rededicated and focused on Him. A life that is thankful and grateful for His faithfulness to me. A heart that is overwhelmed with His greatness and belief He has in me. An overwhelming sensation of enthusiasm as I feel like I’ve won a gold medal for allowing the Lord to turn my ashes into beauty.

My friend, if you are hurting – pray.

If you don’t know how or what to pray – say JESUS!

If you don’t see light, if the life happenings have got you stuck in the mud – shout SAVE ME, Father!

I assure you, HE WILL REIGN! As He did in my life, He will in yours. God is a faithful and merciful God. He is a God that will carry you, lead you and comfort you. Most importantly, He will teach you and discipline you along the way so you can be created more into His image.

Father God, my journey with you began when I was 11 years old and I’ve been through a lot from there until now and I praise you and thank you for NEVER ever letting go of me!!!

My 26th birthday resolution to myself is to plan to love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, mind, strength and body and to continue to allow forgiveness and grace to myself when it comes to my shortcomings. I vow to take one day at a time and not to be anxious for tomorrow. I vow to put my trust and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ because I know He will not forsake me! I pledge to show compassion and mercy to those I meet because I know the Lord did not turn my ashes into beauty to not give to others what has been given to me.

Oh, my Father in Heaven, I praised you in the storm, I praise you now and I will praise you ever day until I am in Heaven with you!

 

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