Praise Him

praise

Psalm 150:6 “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.”

Praise is what they do…that’s what I thought about adults in the church as a child.  Growing up I would hear women and men talk about the goodness of God and what he’s done for them. I thought now why are they talking so much and who needs to know.  They called it testifying.

As I heard those testimonials people would weep, cry out loud and sometimes do a little dance.  At times I would even see people run around the church screaming about what God has brought them through or how good God is.  The reality is – it wasn’t just at church. I would see my mother, grandparents, and other family members having the same reaction at home. Just think people at home praising God. It would happen based on a conversation at the dinner table, listening to a song or singing (which we always did a lot of) as a family.

Now, praise is what I do!  As I’ve grown older I find myself doing the same things.  Now my children are looking at me saying “Mom what’s going on? Why are you shouting and crying?  Who did something to you?”  But when you see the goodness of God work in your life and other people’s lives all you can do sometimes is scream Hallelujah!  Too, I might even break out into my dance to praise and worship Him.

I often tell them if you can shout and go crazy when your team makes a touch down, makes the basket or scores the point passing the goalie that is good. It shows that your team has had an opportunity to take the lead or catch up. In the end they may even have a victory of winning the game. But realize it is a game.  One of many you will have in life.

As I speak to them, I want them to know there is nothing in this life that comes even close to the victories you can have in Christ Jesus. I want them to know that every breath that they take, step that they make, wiggle in their wobble is all because of Him.  As they mature and grow they see me, their grandmother, aunts and uncles continue to shout and praise God at what may be the weirdest times.  As they experience God in their lives I pray that they have that same reaction for God.  As they think and see what God will have brought them through and what he’s done in their life I am sure they will praise Him in their own special way.

What am I saying, just like you don’t care when people look at you weird when you’re shouting at a game, you shouldn’t care when the Holy Spirit consumes you and you just feel like dancing. Praise is what we are required to do and it is what I do.  The word of God says in Psalms 35:28 And my tongue shall speak of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.  To God be the glory for He is worthy of all praise and worship!

 

Dear God,
Thank you for waking me up today and giving me the spirit of celebration. I truly feel blessed and am shouting hallelujah for the things that You have brought me through. I know You didn’t have to, but You did. My prayer is that I will continue to praise you and that my praise will be infectious to others. That I will never be ashamed of my testimony and that I will share about the goodness of You all my life.
Amen

 

 

You Never Know

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Matthew 25:35 KJV – “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:”

I had an experience as a young child that has had a lasting impact and I will never forget it.  Years ago I fed people who were hungry in the park with my mother and sister on Sunday’s. We would go to church and then quickly leave to prepare for service in the park. We would have a church service.
 
On Saturday my mom would plan and prepare food for those she knew would be coming to the park on Sunday.  It was important to her for the food to be nutritious and good.   You could see that for many they needed a hot Sunday meal. That was always the best part of Sunday for me.  I could see the smiles on people’s faces and the relationships that were built in Christ.  It was powerful to see people Sunday after Sunday giving their life to Christ. It’s an image permanently placed on my memory wall.   
 
I was always told to treat people the way you want to be treated, because you never know where you could end up. I’m only saying that because just like I saw people in the park, some of whom, didn’t have a home I found myself in the very same place in my life. My mother had gotten blacklisted and couldn’t get a job and we lost everything that I knew of or thought mattered. We were only homeless for a couple of months but it felt like a lifetime to me.  During that time it was just me and my mother.  We had each other.
 
Our relationship with Christ grew stronger and our relationship as mother and daughter grew even stronger. There were moments when I wanted to cry but I didn’t want to feel that in front of my mom. I wanted to be strong and be a support to my mother. I had seen her sacrifice so much for me and my siblings.  Struggling to make ends meet as a single mom and make it in a city where being single is not always that easy. 
 
She put God first and then family. She always told me to pray my way through stuff and that’s what we did. People never knew what the smile on my face really hid.  I had a secret.  They didn’t know my story.  They didn’t know how hard it was and what I was going through.  But, God knew. I had my Lord and Savior right there comforting me. 
 
When I no longer had my home, my room, my bed, I had my God.  So when you are out helping people that you view as less fortunate remember this please; do it from a humble place, a gracious place, a loving place.  A place where they see God through you. And know, that they will not always be in that situation. And be mindful, that things could change and you could be in there very shoes.

Dear God,
Thank you for the grace and mercy You continue to show me each and every day. As I go through this day please allow me to show your love and kindness through my actions towards others. I pray that I will step out of  my comfort zone and help someone in need. 
Amen

Why Me?

 

why-me

Romans 8:28 (NIV) – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I have been through some tough times in my life. As a child I had numerous health challenges that have continued to manifest as I have grown into an adult.  My family is really close and there are a lot of us. Death of family members has been a constant reminder of the importance of life.  I have had many other challenges, a broken marriage, loss of job, and the list could go on. There are times I find myself wondering “why” and asking God why me? I know I am not the only one who has trials and tribulations.  However, when its you, it’s hard to think differently.  

Often as people get to know me and hear about my life they respond by saying, “so much at such a young age,”  Others have said, “God must have some great work for you to do” or “He knows that you are strong.”  There was a time when I wasn’t able to receive that message. As I have grown more mature and wiser in my faith walk with Christ I now can share my testimony and say “But God!” instead of “why me”? 

Because I realize if it wasn’t for God and his grace and mercy – my life could and would be a different story. As I look back I can see that each time I went through the trial – He was there.  Every time I cried a tear – at the mention of His name I felt the comforter rock me. When the burden felt to heavy, I learned how to pray and leave it there at the altar.  Yes, I know that I can lean and depend on my God!  There truly is nothing you can say that will take me away from my God. He is merciful and His love endures forever!  

I want my journey to inspire others.  My strength is not my own.  Truly, I could not do this without Him.  So when you feel yourself facing tough issues and you begin asking God why me? Just know he isn’t finished with you yet and remember He is the burden bearer.

Dear God,
Thank you for the grace and mercy You have shown me. I come to You with an open heart and mind as I face challenging times. I just ask that you allow me to remember that.  Too, give me the courage and conviction to share my testimony of your goodness  with others.

Amen

Roller-coaster of Life

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Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

 
I remember my very first roller coaster ride.  I told my mom with a lot of confidence that I could do it all by myself.  I didn’t need or want her to ride with me.  I got in the line, gave my ticket, sat with someone I didn’t know, my belt was checked to see if it was secure, the door closed and we began to lurch away.  What a ride!  I was ready to stop after the first high peak, and surely after the many dips.  So, I can say I have never been one to enjoy roller coasters. 
 
The uneasiness in my stomach and the nervousness felt when approaching each and every peak, that is not for me.  As I have grown and matured I have found there is only one roller coaster I don’t mind,  and that is life’s roller coaster.   You know I have had a different experience since I came to know and be in relationship with my heavenly Father.   I have come to know the manufacturer of life’s roller coaster and He designed something just for me.  
 
So, when I get on the ride Jesus Christ is right their taking my ticket and making sure my seat belt is fastened securely. When I approached the first peak of life as an adult, I looked to my right and Jesus was right there on the ride by my side making sure that I was safe and secure.  To my great joy He is always there with arms open as I sway and lean in and out on this roller coaster of life.  Each day I begin and end with him.  He takes my ticket in prayer and throughout the day as I whisper and sometimes shout His name, He is there.  At the end of our roller coaster He is right there. 
 
Now just imagine what it’s like when you are on life’s roller coaster without Jesus Christ?  It’s not as fun nor is it exciting.  If you want to really enjoy the ride/journey of life, get in line with Jesus, take the ticket and be guaranteed of the best and greatest ride on the roller coaster of life that only He can give you! 

 

Dear God,

I just want to give You all the praise and glory for being with me each and every day.  I know at times it’s  scary for me, but I am comforted to know that You are with me. I ask that You give me the strength, the courage, and wisdom to continue on this roller coaster of life.

Amen

 

Words Have Power

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Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

The things we say…think about it. We all have done it at some point either spoken life or death into a situation or person.  As I have gotten older I now realize how powerful the words I choose to use are.  Now I think about it.  Looking back I know I have beat myself up with the words I have said about me and the situations I have faced. 

Often I find myself reminding my children to watch what they are saying.  I remind them, because the words that come out of their mouth have much more power than they could ever imagine. Even a child can speak words of how good they are, how smart they are, how they will ace the test, be friends with the bully, cheer up the child who is sad, say something kind to their sister or brother rather than the usual tension and exchange that can happen with young siblings. 

As they walk in life they can change their vocabulary and speak words that will bring prosperity, joy, healing, and hope into their lives, amidst the chaos they face in this world today. So, think about it, what are the words you say when you’re talking about yourself? What are the words you say when you talk about your spouse? What are the words you say when you talk to and about your children? What are the words you use each day? Think about it will the words you use usher in life or death? I challenge you to join me starting today.  What will you say about yourself, what is the one good thing you say about a situation or a person you encounter today that may be causing you a bit of grief?  Life happens but you have power – use it!  

Dear God,

Thank you for another glorious day and a chance to spread a good word. I ask that when I am feeling defeated, that you give me the power to continue to speak life over my situation.

Amen

Answering The Call

ringing phone

1 Corinthians 7:17 – But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches.

We all receive calls that we sometimes just don’t want to answer. There are the calls we receive from a bill collector, a friend, a family member that we don’t respond to for a lot of reasons. Then, there is the call we receive from God. Yea, I know you have been there. I know I am not the only one.

It’s not unusual for us to not take calls from family members and bill collectors to avoid a conversation we don’t want to have. Sometimes there may be consequences. The call from God is something that we as humans tend avoid for a longer time and with certainty there are consequences. We can come up with all kinds of excuses to avoid the calling God has on our life. I know I’m guilty of that. I’ve ran from what God has called me to do for years.

Why, because I wasn’t feeling secure in myself. I couldn’t see what God saw in me. I only saw my many flaws and short comings. God would tell me to walk up and pray for a person. Shame, uncertainty and fear would not let me move. I would freeze in my tracks. I didn’t feel equipped to do the work. We have read multiple accounts in the bible where someone was called and hesitated.

Questioning God is not unusual. Abraham was called twice by God. Once when in Ur of the Chaldee’s and a year later In Haran. Moses didn’t think he could speak to Pharaoh, He saw first-hand the power of God with the burning bush and still he had questions. When instructed to go to Pharaoh he asked “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelite’s out of Egypt (Exodus 3:11). Yet, in the end he responded to the call.

Questioning God and putting on the brakes for the calling of your life is not uncommon. What I know is that the plans God has for us always lead to our good.

Dear God,

I just want to say thank you for the many blessings I have received. Without You I would not have the strength to walk boldly into my calling. I want to pray for those who maybe struggling with answering the call You have on their life. That they be surrounded with the love and support to use their gifts to serve You.

Amen

Lord We Need You Now

 

cross

Ephesians 6:12 – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

This week’s chain of events have not only shook up the world, but at times shook up  the homes in which we live. When I learned Alton Sterling was killed in Baton Rouge, LA it made me instantly sad.  This was before I saw the manner in which he lost his life. Then the very next day to find out Philando Castile was killed.  I became angry. I couldn’t believe it was happening again and all in the same week.  As I watched the news in utter surprise my eyes began to fill up with tears of sadness and anger.  My heart ached for the families of those two men and others who were close them.

As a mother I began to think of our three sons and daughter.  We have raised them to be kind to everyone.  Since they were old enough to ask questions about what they see and experience we’ve talked about being a citizen here and what it means as they get older to be law abiding citizens.  Yet, when I saw the police officer pointing his gun at an already dying man, I began to lose hope for our nation and what our children may experience as they get older. I looked at my husband who is Caucasian and thought he’s never been stopped by law enforcement because of the color of his skin.  In that moment it became apparent to me that it’s on me to explain to our children what it takes to survive in our country as an African American.

I am so frustrated!  Why, because I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders and my kids have asked and will be asking me why do police officers kill us and treat us differently?  They have asked does daddy ever have to go through this?  For a split second, I forgot my husband and I were on the same team and share a similar world view. We have built our house on love and communication.  Yet, there was a period of time during those two days seeing the manner in which the two men lost their lives it was hard for me to see past his skin color. I felt like he could not understand where my emotions lied.

To my disbelief I then witnessed the events leading to the loss of life of police officers in Dallas. I began to cry out to God in prayer asking what would He have me/us to do? Instantly I heard a voice say, “love your neighbor.”  I live near the Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul.  My family and I frequently walk throughout the neighborhood.  As we took a walk the next day, we were passing St. Paul police officers supervising the protest in the late morning. We stopped and had conversations with them, and I could see that beneath their uniforms they are just like us – Parents, spouses, community members – they were also concerned about the situation our country is facing.  There reasons were in-twined with the work they do and they life they live outside of work.  We talked, thanked them for what they do, gave them our vote of confidence, they were willing to listen and eager to be understood.

It is important for me to say this.  Those who have taken the oath to protect and serve do the work I can not do.  I am not equipped to face that challenge.  To say I will take the bullet so another, a total stranger can live…can’t do it.   Yes, I will do it for my children.  Let’s celebrate and thank police officers for their courage and conviction. Let’s not let the 2% cause us to place judgement on the 98% remaining.  In the same way let’s do this for people who like like me.  We are all made and created by the same God.

Dear God,
I just come to You humbly and graciously giving You all the praise and the glory in our nations time of sorrow. We all are hurting right now and looking for answers. I just ask Lord that You continue to put in our  hearts a spirit of love, as we enter very tough conversations with one another. That we will continue to give each other  grace just like You have given us. I ask that You be with the family and friends of those who have lost love one’s to senseless killing. As we enter this week God please give us the courage we need to put on the full armor of God and that a hedge of protection will cover each and everyone of us.

Amen