God with “us”

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Immanuel// God with Us

I sat with the words, God with “us” all night as I wrestled with how to construct my feelings. I, like many of you, have felt the need to monitor my news and social media consumption due to the events and injustices in the world. I found myself being in an emotional rollercoaster going from anger to sadness, yet God allowed these words to give me a sense of comfort.

God with us is not just me, not just you but “us”, a collective group of people. Not specific to one race or gender; but all of us.

When the angel told the virgin Mary, she would give birth to a son and He will be called Immanuel. This was to show how God, in human form, would send His son, Jesus, to be with us. He walked this earth and was amongst a collective group of people – many of which were considered the least of these.  Jesus was with the people and for the people. He didn’t come for just one specific type of person, but for all of us.

In light of the injustices of the world, I have struggled with words. I have struggled some nights to sleep in peace and pray because what is happening in the world has been consistently happening. I have been tired.

Tired of seeing little black boys and girls lose a father. Tired of seeing young, black boys dying.  Tired of living in a world that overlooks me because of the color God gifted me with. Just plain tired.

Yet what I have observed this time around has been the beauty of silence being broken and called out. Some people who have overlooked those of us with black and brown skin, have realized (or surrendered) the sin of their nature and have spoken up to educate and acknowledge what is still happening in our country.

As I watched the diversity of those protesting and saw the diversity of people posting and educating their followers while highlighting black voices, it overwhelmed me. And for once the name Immanuel became more than a Biblical story of Him walking this earth with “us”, it also became a picture of the power of “us”.

The power of us working together to amplify black voices and highlight systematic racism which has crippled our brothers and sisters. It became an understanding of how a collective diverse group can ring louder than the voice of just one.

God with us became truer because God is for all His children and with all of His children. And if we would collectively come together to do what is right and to love all of His creation maybe just maybe then we can confidently have liberty and justice for all.

What COVID-19 Is Teaching Me?

My heart goes out to all those who have been impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19. This is a challenging time within this world. As we seek to understand the severity of what is happening, we should all take cautionary measures as outlined by the CDC.

Over the last few weeks, I have been praying for this world and seeking to see God in all of this. I know He is up to something and I recognize how Believers have a role to play in the midst of so much uncertainty. I believe we are called to a place of hope. I believe our gaze should be on God while we will safely power through these times.

I wanted to share with you four main thoughts that have been on my heart and I hope it will encourage you through this turbulent time:

  • Let’s monitor our media consumption: Let’s stay informed with updates as needed but let’s not allow an overload of information to cause fear to erupt. We need to know what is happening, yet we need to create a quiet space for God to speak to us. We can seek to educate ourselves but we can’t neglect how much we need God. So I have to ask, are you reading your Word as much as you are keeping up with the news? Again, I believe it is important to stay informed but let’s not miss what God is saying to us right now.
  • Love your neighbors: What if we as Believers responded with a heart to serve and not discriminate against those who are ill or self-quarantined for precautionary measures. The Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) so as the people in our world are having to adjust to new temporary standards, I believe there is no better way to display God’s love than by serving and asking “what can I do for you?” Let’s use wisdom and get creative in how we serve them, but let’s serve those who need us. Let’s show up for others and spread His love. Let’s not shame people for what they are experiencing during this time instead we should be committed to love and extending grace.
  • Keep faith on the front line: As others fear, let’s encourage through our faith.  2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us how God has not given us a spirit of fear. It doesn’t mean we will never experience fear but we don’t allow it to cripple us. This is a critical time for us to hold on to our faith knowing that He is with us and we will get through this with Him on our side.
  • The power of the spread: This virus has taken the world by storm. Businesses are selling out of essentials, travels are being banned, schools are being closed and people are in a state of panic because of what they could be impacted by. As I observe the chaos around us, I wondered what it would be like if the Gospel Message could spread as quickly as the COVID-19? As Believers, we have been impacted by this Message; yet are we doing enough to spread it? The Gospel Message should be contagious and we should carry it with us wherever we go. It should cause a change in how we lead our businesses, help keep people in a place of peace and it should remind us how we have nothing to fear with God on our side.

Friends, I am praying and believing for this virus to cease and stop impacting the lives of those we love. I am praying for healing for those who currently have the virus and the medical professions who need the strength and wisdom to help treat them. And I am praying for a new level of faith to arise within each of us. There are people in need of our faith-filled words and gestures, can they count on you to respond?

Lastly, this verse has been on my heart and I think it is a sweet reminder during the days head:

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. 

Remember, God is with us. Let His Word comfort our hearts and silence our fears.

Choosing to Worship

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If you know anything about me, you will know how much I love to worship. Singing was a passion of mine as a child and since then I have kept a love of music on my heart. I am that friend who will send you worship songs that speak to your situation or random songs that the Lord has placed on my heart. I love finding new songs to add to my playlist.

This year, I have declared 2020 will be my year of worship. It will be the year where I will choose to worship no matter the circumstance or the location, I am committed to worship the One who has changed my life for the better.

I love the story of Jesus’s birth and how when the wise men were so in awe to be chosen to see Him that they feel down and worshipped Him (Matthew 2:11). Isn’t that a beautiful visual?  It was their first response to Him as soon as they saw Him.

That’s my desire for this year, I don’t want to turn to Google to help me figure it out, I don’t want to turn to my friends to have them congratulate me, I want to worship the King of Kings before I do anything else.

This year will have its peaks and valleys, maybe you’ve already experienced them, but I want to encourage you to choose to worship no matter what this year brings. I believe through our choice to worship, God will help change our perspective and see Him working in the midst of our situations.

I desire for God to marvel at our faith this year because of our decision and desire to worship Him through it all.

Drop a comment below and let me know your word for this year. And if you are interested in hearing, my favorite song right now, click here to listen and be prepared to worship!

The Woman from Shunem

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Later Elisha asked Gehazi, “What can we do for her?”

Gehazi replied, “She doesn’t have a son, and her husband is an old man.”

 “Call her back again,” Elisha told him. When the woman returned, Elisha said to her as she stood in the doorway, “Next year at this time you will be holding a son in your arms!”

“No, my lord!” she cried. “O man of God, don’t deceive me and get my hopes up like that.”

But sure enough, the woman soon became pregnant. 

-2 King 4:14-17

I love this story of the woman of Shunem. The Bible never tells us her name but I love her heart to serve. In this story, the wealthy woman and her husband had invited Elisha to stay at their home whenever he would pass by. Because of their generosity, Elisha wanted to bless them; however, the woman told Elisha’s servant that she was well taken care of and therefore she did not make a specific request. However, the servant saw an opportunity for Elisha to bless her anyways.

Her response to this blessing makes me wonder if this son was something that she longed for. Something that maybe she stopped believing God for or it could very well have been a blessing she never knew she needed.

The servant saw an unspoken request. He saw an opportunity. He saw something that she could not get for herself, that money couldn’t buy it.

I love how sometimes the greatest blessings are those things that we don’t even ask for.

I think about how when a coworker has a big event happen in their lives whether it be the birth of a baby or death of a loved one; how we rally together and deliver food without ever being asked. We know there is a need and we want to help provide for it.

I think we are all believing God for something. Maybe you’ve given up on a dream and stopped believing God for it. Regardless of where you are, I believe that He is still in the blessing business and wants to meet your needs, He wants to meet you where you are. For some blessings, it may take longer to come to pass but God will always provide even for the things we don’t even know to pray for yet.

I encourage you to read the rest of the story in your quiet time and see the dedication of this mom to her son but I want to leave you with this thought: Never miss an opportunity to serve someone because you never know how your generosity will pour back into you. Elisha was so filled with gratitude because of her heart to serve that he didn’t want to leave without blessing her and even with the blessing looked dead (read 2 King 4:18-37), he still honored her.

Our acts of service will not only bless those we are serving but in return, we will receive blessings we may not even know we need.

Today’s prayer: Father, thank you for always providing for us. I want to specifically cover those who have stopped dreaming, those who have stopped believing you for great things. I ask that you set a fire down in their souls and remind them of the great plans you have for them. I believe this is a time to believe you for bold requests. Increase our faith in you and give us the endurance to circle our desires in prayer.

Help My Unbelief!

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And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” – Mark 9:21-24 (ESV)

As I read these verses, I had so much respect for the father who was able to acknowledge his spiritual weakness and ask for Jesus’ help to change his heart to one who believes in spite of the circumstances.

I imagine that this father lost hope. His son had dealt with an unclean spirit since he was a child and the disciples had just failed at an attempt to cast out the spirit. This was personal, it was something that was likely hard for him to see his son go through and not be able to do anything about it. Yet in this vulnerable moment, he asks for Jesus’ help not only for his son but for his personal spiritual journey.

I began to wonder how many of us have also lost hope. Maybe you came into 2018, believing Jesus for something miraculous; yet it is now the middle of October and you’ve lost hope that it will indeed come to pass.

I believe Jesus knows our heart’s desires and knows that we are human and get weary in our waiting but I want to encourage you to be vulnerable and ask Him to help you in your unbelief. To help you in the moments where you struggle to believe that He can do what He has promised.  I believe He will honor that moment and provide the hope needed to keep standing and believing on what He says is true.

Father, thank you that you can meet us where we are. Thank you for understanding how our doubts can get in the way but Father help us to be an overcomer from doubt and seek you to help us through those moments so that we will continue to stand on your promises; regardless of the circumstance. Amen

The Pearl of Africa

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Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all.” -Proverbs 3:5-7 MSG

I’ve always wanted to go to Africa. It has been on my bucket list of places to go for a while now. As much as I had always desired to go, there was a fear that always prohibited me from doing so. The fear of the unknown but more so the fear of being out of my comfort zone.

When it came down to deciding on a mission trip with my church, I kept feeling the nudge towards Uganda. The ministry we would be supporting greatly aligned with the desires of my heart.

The week before I left, I listened to a pastor talk about his experience in Africa. While there, he met a man who said: “In America, you all believe in God but in my country, we depend on God.”

Wow! Those words have yet to leave my heart.

As I spent days in Africa, I quickly saw how dependent they were on Him for everything. They trusted Him with so much confidence. It is through conversations with the women where you see how their faith was so bold as they believed that God would truly provide all their needs.

As I walked into a home and saw how they lacked some necessities and wondered how they were making it through; I would hear the mom unknowingly encouraging me in her faith of dependence. She didn’t seem worried because she knew that He would provide as He had done before.

As I laid my head on the bed one night, I wondered how many times have I truly depended on God? The reality of it pained me because I was able to count the number of times.

God wants us to lean on Him for everything. To stop trying to figure it out on our own but trust that He already has the details worked out on our behalf.

It is my prayer that this experience would build my faith. I came into 2018 believing this very thing; that God will grant me bold faith to believe in God opportunities.

Will you join me, today? As we get ready to welcome August this week, it is my prayer that we will also welcome a refreshed sense of faith believing that if He said it, He will do it. There’s no need to worry about the how but to prepare for what He has already said.

Abba Father, help me in my unbelief. There are so many days where I cannot even pray for things because my faith has wavered, but Lord I ask that you help me to be more dependent on you. That I will lean on you to direct, guide and strengthen my life. I no longer want to be a woman who just believes in you but a woman who is solely dependent on you. Amen.

 

 

Wait Expectantly

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Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord

Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly- Psalm 5:3

There’s something special about the morning. The quietness before all of the day’s hustle. The reminder of how we’ve been given another day on earth, another day to choose joy; yet it’s another day to press into God.

I have found that to start my morning with Jesus (and a cup of coffee) sets the tone for the day ahead. It’s my protected time to open my Bible with no distractions and truly tune into whatever the Lord wants to say.

What better way to start your day than with our Heavenly Father. I desire His Holy Spirit to teach me more about His word, I desire to be filled and reminded throughout my day, but friends, I desire to know Him better and to seek Him.

He desires for us to bring our requests to Him and to wait for Him to provide. My biggest mistakes come from going ahead of God and not waiting. No one enjoys the wait; yet when we choose to wait, at just the right time He will bring whatever it is to pass. At just the right time, He will provide.

I love how this Psalm ends with “expectantly”, which means the excitement for what’s to come. Whenever I book a trip, I remain in a place of excitement for the trip ahead. It doesn’t matter if the trip is just around the corner or if I have to wait six months to hop on the plane, I stay excited because I know it is coming. 

Why do we approach our requests to God any differently? The airlines can cancel the route, the weather can completely cancel out the trip; yet I disregard all of that and remain excited because the trip is booked and therefore, I know I’m going.

Is our God not more faithful than anything in this world? Yet, I have been guilty of asking and being unsure if it will come to pass. I believe when we bring our requests to God, we can stay in a place of excitement because God will work out the details for our good. It doesn’t matter when it will happen, we have to remain full of faith that at the right time, it will.

God wants more believers to devote themselves to dwelling in Him and remaining excited about what He can and will do in our lives.

Will you make a decision to stay in a place of faith and expectancy?

 

 

 

 

Lessons from The Walk of Emmaus

Girl walking in a forest.

Have you ever been so focused on the tasks at hand that you lose sight as to why you’re doing it? With all of the chaos in the world, we often get so caught up in the noise that we lose sight of what’s important for the heart. Work and life commitments can tend to drown out our day which makes us lose sight of the very person who should be the center of it all.

This isn’t something new because I was reminded of two followers of Jesus during their walk to Emmaus after His resurrection.

  “That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him.”-Luke 24:13-16 (NLT).

I wonder how often Jesus has been right beside us and we haven’t even noticed. We often say that He is omnipresent but in moments of uncertainty, we ask Him why He isn’t there.

I think of the times where I’ve cried out to Jesus and asked Him to seem more present in my life because I couldn’t recognize Him or see Him moving in my situations. But what if He has been there the whole time but yet, I’ve been too focused on the issue and not enough on seeking Him.

The two followers of Jesus were so concerned with all that had happened that when Jesus walked with them, they were still too caught up in the moment to notice.

“By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!”– Luke 24:28-31 (NLT).

How sad would it be for Jesus to appear to us and show how He’s been there the entire time but yet we’ve been too occupied with other things?

I’m not sure how the followers felt once they realized it was Jesus. During their entire walk, they were trying to figure out why He was no longer in the tomb. They were too blinded to see that He wasn’t in the tomb because He was right beside them.

It crushes my heart to imagine Jesus walking next to me and I’m too busy to acknowledge Him. How often has this been the case in your life? Maybe you are praying for Him to show up and move in your situation but failing to acknowledge that He’s right here.

My prayer is that we stop wondering where He is and instead acknowledge that He is here and ever-present.

Lord, I want to meet you right where you are even if I don’t feel or hear you next to me, I want to always acknowledge your presence for I know that you are with me.

For I Know The Plans

Wooden Cross and Defocused Lights

Last weekend was by far one of the hardest weekends I’ve experienced in a long time. Throughout all of the pain and tears, I initially started to worry and fear began to creep it’s uninvited head into my life. As I fought against the anxiety of the unknown and the constant notifications on my phone, I knew that I needed to make a decision.

I could either continue in this hectic mindset or begin to pray and still myself for a moment. I chose the latter and it was the best decision I could make.

At times I would struggle with hearing the voice of God but not this time. He comforted me, loud and clear. He reminded me “For I know the plans.

I’ve read this scripture time and time again but have never been made to trust it as much I had to last weekend (and honestly all this week). With so much uncertainty and questioning “why and how could this happen”, I began to stay comforted by five words within the Bible.

These five words were repeatedly impressed in my mind.

It reminded me that through it all, whether I understood it or not, God is still in control. He is still the author of our lives. I may not understand the details but it’s not for me to know. As someone who is a planner at heart, this is tough, but I was comforted and found peace in not knowing the details.

It was only when my natural mind wandered away from the Word that I became consumed with the details but as long as I declared those five words it was reminder that this is still His plan. He is going to work it all out for the good. And I (surprisingly) found comfort in the midst of a storm. This planner was ok with not figuring it all out. I declared:

It may seem impossible but God’s got it.

It may seem unfair but God has a greater plan

It may seem like a storm but God will provide a rainbow

It may seem tough but through it all He will give us peace

God, I thank you for still being in the midst through the difficult times and providing peace where there has been confusion.

This, my friends, is what faith is all about. Being certain through the uncertainties and letting go of trying to figure it all out.

Where do you turn with things get tough? I pray that you find comfort in God’s Word regardless of the season you’re in. Rest in his promises and trust what He says. He will give you a word that can sustain you regardless of what you’re facing today. He reminds us that:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).”

It may seem tough now but God doesn’t waste any experience. He is still in control.

 

 

What’s Your Vision?

AdobeStock_28014010.jpeg Friday night, I hosted a vision board party with a few of my friends. I had talked to them individually about goals and their purpose but it was my first time doing a vision board party so I wasn’t sure what to expect or how to facilitate. Initially I wasn’t even sure if anyone would be interested. All I knew was that it was on my heart too strong to ignore it.

In 2016,  I really began to pray fervently about my purpose. However while I was praying and receiving signs, I also began to pray for those around me. I always say that I look forward to the day where we are all living the life God called us to live.The day where everyone around me is walking in their purpose.

So on Friday night, we ate our appetizers and got situated with our boards and magazines in hand. I looked up for a moment to see these women working earnestly to capture their visions.

I love that every woman had great plans that fit their personalities and styles. Some plans were things that will take time to produce, others were things that would take discipline and conquering fears but what I loved is that to manifest each board, will require bold faith. It would require each of us to remember that although it may seem impossible given our current circumstances, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). As long as our eyes stay gazed towards God and things ahead and as long as our ears are tuned into God’s voice, we will be on the right path.

I don’t know what will happen as a result of these boards but it is my prayer that faith would be built, peace received and when they close their eyes, they will see exactly who God created them to be.

I could have easily ignored the idea of a vision board party because it can seem a little elementary but it was my prayer that it would spark creativity and motivation but also give each of us an opportunity to know exactly what to believe God for -not just for ourselves but for our sisters in Christ.

I’m believing for God to do amazing things in each of their lives. Not just through the vision board but in their hearts. I’m hopeful that God will change and build these women to be who they were created to be. It is my prayer that they won’t play a tug of war game with God but completely surrender their plans to him and confidently declare: “Not my will but your will be done (Luke 22:42).”