Author's Note: This is not a political post. I have purposed not to write politically on my blog because politics is so polarizing. Politics will cause you to lose and gain friends quickly because everyone has an opinion and most think that their opinion is correct. Well, today we won’t have to agree or disagree about the political climate in America today because while this post is about President Barack Obama it is not about his policies, but about his family.
Growing up in a predominately black community, there were not a lot of examples of good marriage and family. Most of the kids in my neighborhoods were being raised by single moms, by a grandparent – usually the Grandmom, or some other female head of household. I knew very few kids that were living with both their Mom and Dad in the same house. Growing up, there was not a whole lot of healthy love and affection displayed on TV shows with actors who looked like me. Until the Cosby Show. The Cosby Show transformed not only how America saw black families but it also redefined how we as black people saw ourselves. We had an example for ourselves of what love in a black family could look like. Cliff and Claire were great parents with great educations and great careers and they really loved their children. But the Cosby Show was just a TV show and while I knew that there are living examples of this type of loving, well-educated, well-spoken, well-read family in the black community it was like a well-kept secret that was almost too good to share, at least that is how it felt to me. We all wanted some aspect of that life – The Cosby Show life – whether it was Cliff and Claire’s love for one another or the love they had for their children or just their life in general – there was something wonderful about seeing an image on TV that reflected the good we (black people) could be. But again, it was just a TV show.
When Barack Obama became the first black president of these United States, almost immediately he began to show the world what real love should look like. Having matured by this time, I realized that finding, keeping and displaying real love was not just a black issue. Growing up in a black community “us” was all I knew, but in 2008 I was an adult who knew that America’s divorce rate was hovering around 50% and I also knew that in certain communities, including the black community, the divorce rate was much higher, if we married at all. But just like Cliff and Claire did in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, President and Mrs. Obama defied the stereotypes for love, marriage, family, and education.
Almost immediately, I could see that President Obama was completely and totally in love with his wife Michelle. Even after years of being together, you could tell that if she ran to the moon he’d be right behind her. After years of being together, their public displays of affection were akin to two teenagers in love – she could not keep her eyes off him and he could not keep his eyes off her. It was so beautiful and so influential. With Hollywood A-listers getting divorces like new dresses; women deciding to just become single moms because they were tired of waiting for the right one; and men deciding that they’d rather play the field than settle down, Barack and Michelle were showing the world a different view. They were showing the world that you could be educated (they both graduated Harvard Law), well read, well spoken, be black and love your family. They showed the world that the stereotypes regarding marriage in the black community and in America can be broken. The Obamas showed us that a husband and wife can both be successful and cheer each other on. They showed us that PDA (Public Displays of Affection) with our family is not just possible, it’s actually cool. The Obamas showed us that we don’t have to sacrifice family for our career, we just need to work hard at achieving greatness in both because we can have a successful career, a wonderful family and not have to compromise on either. The Obamas showed us – not just Black people – but all of us that a good marriage is possible even after 20+ years. For the last 8 years, I have watched the Obamas not just for political reasons, but because I absolutely love their love. They displayed the perfect balance of cool, charm, grace, and poise no matter where they were all the while, showing the world that being happily married with a beautiful family is not just on TV but it’s happening in real life and it’s on display for all of us to see.
Today, as President Obama and his family leave the White House for the last time as the First Family of these United States, I am thankful for the example that Obamas have set for marriage, education and family. It is an example that I will never forget.
On Sunday, June 8th I received the right hand of fellowship from my Minnesota church, Tree of Life and while I still love my Connecticut church, I am thankful to have great Godly leaders here in Minnesota. Our Pastors – Warren and Nadine Carey – have been such a tremendous blessing and the church has been a tremendous blessing as well. The church has rallied around us both while in transition and even now that we are in our home. Whether it was a word, a hug, a prayer, or simply just love – our church family here in Minnesota has been here for us. I had no idea when we left Connecticut that God was sending us to this amazing church, but I am so thankful that He did.
I am humbled by God’s grace and His attention to detail in all things. When God told me to leave Connecticut and come to Minnesota I looked online for a church but none fit us. The reason none fit us was because we were/are supposed to be at Tree of Life. I cannot even tell you how thankful I am that God cares about every single detail of how things work in our lives.
I pray that as you obey God, that you too will see His hand in every single area of your life.
When 2016 began, I was thankful for a New Year but trying hard to stay in faith. I obeyed God and left my job, but I felt like I was losing everything. All that I knew was that I was going to follow God, but I did not know where He was taking me. When I entered 2016, I remembered all the great things – seemingly impossible things – that God did for me and I was encouraged that something would happen. As we entered the New Year, I had no idea what was to come, I just knew that I needed to follow God like never before.
As I stood on the cusp of 2016, not knowing what exactly the year had in store I was hopeful and I stand at the end of 2016 knowing that I put my hope in the right place – in God. For me, 2016 was full of the unthinkable and while that may seem like a bad thing, the truth is that it is not a bad thing at all. In January 2016, I could have never imagined leaving Connecticut, the East Coast and all that I knew because God said to go. In January 2016, I could have never imagined living in a lake house – it was unthinkable – not unattainable, simply unthinkable (something I had not thought of, but in my heart I dreamed about). In January 2016, it was unthinkable that I would get on a plane being completely unsure of what would happen once I got off. In January 2016, I did not think I would be where I am today, but here I am.
I can tell you without hesitation that 2016 was one of the most challenging years of my entire life. I cried more than I probably ever have. I prayed more than I ever have. I cried out to God more than I thought was humanly possible. I did things most people would never do. I often look back and see all the bumps in the road, all the places where I did not do so well, all the opportunities I missed and all the friendships I lost. However, when I look back through the right lens – God’s lens – I see all of things I achieved, all the of ways He made, all the times He carried me, all the times He heard me, all the times He spoke to me, all the people He moved because they were no longer for me and all the great opportunities He still has in store for me.
Now that I stand here at the cusp of 2017, looking back at what God did for me and through me in 2015 and 2016, not only am I encouraged, but I am also excited to see what God does in 2017. God outdid Himself in my life in 2015 and again in 2016, so if the last 2 years are a preview of what He is about to do, I anxiously await what He will do in 2017!
Today, before this year is out take a moment to look at your life through God’s lens – see what He sees about your life thus far and about your life to come, then live through His lens. God really wants the best for us – His children. That will not always look the way we think it should look and it won’t always go the way we think it should go, but if we have the faith to believe nothing will be impossible for us.
My prayer for you friends is that you will allow God to do bold things through your life. I pray that God shows Himself strong for you every single day. I pray that you are prosperous and healthy and I pray that your family is prosperous and healthy. I pray that you will let your light shine so that all men will know that you belong to the King!
Happy New Year!
In the busyness of life, it can be easy to get distracted and lose focus of what matters. It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle and be too busy to pray, too busy to read the word, and too busy to cultivate our walk with the Lord. But, as believers, we should always make cultivating our relationship with God our central focus. We have to make time to sit at the feet of Jesus like Mary did and not be so consumed like Martha.
You remember the story of Mary and Martha. Martha invited Jesus into her home and she got busy preparing in the kitchen to serve her guests. As Martha fussed in the kitchen, her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. Martha was furious because she thought Mary should have been helping her in the kitchen, but Jesus told Martha that Mary was doing the right thing. "As they were traveling along, Jesus went into a village. A woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary. Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to him talk. But Martha was upset about all the work she had to do. So she asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself? Tell her to help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things. There’s only one thing you need. Mary has made the right choice, and that one thing will not be taken away from her.” ~ Luke 10:38-41 God's Word Translation
Often times, we get like Martha so caught up in serving our families, serving on our jobs, and in our churches that we miss the chief thing - the first thing - intimacy with Jesus. That is what Jesus was telling Martha and what He is reminding us today - that while we have work, family, business and so much more happening in our daily lives, we must still make time to sit at the feet of Jesus. We must make time to commune with Him. It is in Him that we receive our strength; it is in Him that we have our hope; it is in Him that we live, move and have our being and He must be our chief priority.
Today, if you recognize that you've become more like Martha and less like Mary, take the opportunity to recalibrate your life, your thoughts, and your priorities to make Him first. Recalibrate and live with Jesus at the center of your life.
Sometimes you must trust God through the tears. Trusting God when you don’t fully understand what He is doing and why He is allowing things to occur can be frustrating and fear invoking. The word says in Isaiah 55:8, "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” While God is concerned about what’s happening for you in the moment, He’s also just as concerned with what is coming in your life, who you will affect, and so much more.
I told someone once that God is like an air traffic controller -- He sees you and all people around you – You land too soon and you may delay someone else. You move too late and someone connected to you may miss their victory. God knows exactly where you need to be and when you need to be there. He knows when and why we need to be delayed (or leave sooner) and His timing is perfect. God’s timing is never “off” and He knows exactly what He is doing.
I received a greater revelation of this just the other day. While trying to leave for work my normal way, I was delayed by someone else’s timetable and I thought for certain I was going to be late and miss my connections. The Lord spoke clearly to me and said “trust me,” and while I heard Him say that I was just annoyed and did not want to miss my connection. I pressed through and did what He led me to do – go to a different station to pick up my connection – and when I arrived I was right on time. The moral of the story is that sometimes you will be delayed getting where you need to go. Sometimes you will find yourself wondering why you are late when you started out your journey early. Know this, if you trust God’s timing even when it seems off, you will get to where you need to go right on time.
Love & Blessings,
One of the lessons I have learned is that forgiveness is important to God and important to the process of getting to the next level. The Word of God makes it very clear that forgiveness is important, in fact, Jesus said in the book of Matthew that “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). So, forgiveness is a vital part of our process as believers in Jesus and Jesus makes it very clear that to be forgiven, we must also forgive. Yet, I know firsthand how difficult forgiveness can be, especially when the people you should forgive have been trusted with your heart or your finances or even your children. It can also be especially difficult to forgive someone who is not apologetic about their behavior because in their minds they have done nothing wrong.
I have heard so many people say that forgiveness is not about the person you need to forgive, it’s about you and they are correct. In the scripture verse above Jesus never said that you need to forgive them to their face or tell them that you forgive them. He did not say that you need to wait until they apologize or until they recognize their wrong. He said to forgive and you will be forgiven, so it is not about the person who hurt you, it is about you. Forgiveness is about you being free of the sting of what happened; it is about you being available in your heart, mind, and spirit to really enjoy the freedom Christ brought for you when He died on the cross. Forgiveness releases you from the bondage of what they did to you. Forgiveness not only allows you to release them, but it also releases you from the pain of what they did. It allows you to walk away clear, knowing that you have done what you needed to do.
I know that it can be painful to think about what someone else has done to you and it can be hard to let that go. It’s easier to hold onto something and to seemingly hold your pain over someone else’s head but it’s causing you harm, blocking your prayers, and hindering you from the greater God wants to do in your life. I know this because a few years ago, God began to deal with me on this very subject. People I allowed in my life took advantage of me in so many ways, they’d taken my gifts, my love, and more and that hurt me, but for me to move on with my life in freedom, I needed to forgive them. So, for a few months I read through and prayed through a book called O Lord, Forgive Them: 30 Days of Praying for Your Enemies by Zari Banks. The book is designed as a 30-day devotional, but my first time reading through it, it took me nearly double the time because as I prayed through the book the Lord dealt with me on how I allowed the hurt inflicted on me by others to stop me from pursuing my dreams. He dealt with me on the hurt I had for people living and dead and how I did not want to forgive them because I wanted something to be angry about and I wanted to have something to hold over those who had hurt me. I felt justified in my unforgiveness because they did not deserve it, but then the Lord said to me, “but do you deserve forgiveness?” That cut like a knife deep in my heart because the truth is I did not deserve forgiveness, it is only be His mercy and death on the cross that I am even allowed to be forgiven. So, every day I battled through and prayed for those who hurt me and by the end of it, I was in a much better place. I was no longer holding onto past hurts and infractions done to me and I was finally free of the pain and sting of unforgiveness. I could see how the unforgiveness I held onto affected my relationships because I held back based on the hurt places I had been in, but now I was free and did not have to change who I was because I was afraid of being hurt again. My walk through forgiveness had not only allowed me to forgive those who hurt me, but it allowed God to heal me completely so that I could be free to be me.
Today, I implore you that if you are reading this and know that you have some people you need to forgive, don’t wait. Get your freedom today and forgive them, your life will be so much better for it.
Love, Peace & Prayers for YOU!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Now that we are settled in our home, I want to walk you through what God did for us. Detailed below is the beginning of week two of our journey. I am so thankful for those who watched my videos, but the blog posts will provide more insight for the times I could not record a video.
Our first week in Minnesota we stayed at the LaQuinta Hotel in Bloomington, MN for the entire first week (7 nights) and I was truly thankful for how God provided for that week. He told me before I left to book a room for the week, but I did not know how I was going to pay for it. All the way to Minnesota, I prayed and prayed believing that God would provide for us. I knew that He would provide because He had provided for our flights, even Malachi’s flight at the last minute, so I knew He would not leave us stranded.
During that first week, I recorded a video and applied for positions in the region. I also had my first job interview. I was confident that I would get this position because during the phone interview I had before I left Connecticut I was given every assurance that I was the right fit we just needed to formally meet. I thought that the interview went well and I was excited to receive a formal offer. The person who would have been my manager made it very clear that she wanted me for the position, and while I do not usually get excited about a job unless I have a formal offer, I walked out of the interview believing that the job was mine and the official offer was just a formality. I was supposed to get a call from the manager with my offer that Tuesday (the interview was on Friday) and when Tuesday came I did not hear from her and I grew concerned. We had one more night at the hotel and I had no clue where we were going to go.
Tuesday night, I did not worry, I just believed that God would move – somehow, someway I just believed that God would move. After all, I was praying with my prayer partner every single day and I just knew that God would move by morning. The next day, I woke up and prayed with my prayer partner, I was nervous but I still believed. Later, my friend Troy reached out to me on Facebook and agreed with me in prayer for more time at the hotel. By this time, it was almost noon so I called to the front desk and asked about late checkout; Late checkout was at 2pm so they allowed us to stay until then. As I talked with Troy, he offered me other options like sitting in the lobby and waiting for God to move. I heard him, but by now I was in full panic mode because it was now noon and I had no idea where we were going to go. I cried and said to God that I could not believe He brought us all the way to Minnesota to just leave us stranded. I was trying to stay in faith, but this was a new level for me. There was nothing I could do to make this work on my own, I absolutely needed God to do something. I did not have enough money to stay another week at the LaQuinta and I did not have enough money to go to another hotel. I felt totally helpless to do anything for myself, but I believed that God would not leave me here, I just could not see how He was going to make it work. I knew that I needed Him to move on our behalf, but I had no idea what that would look like, I just knew that I needed us to either stay at this hotel or move to another hotel.
We packed our bags because I was not sure what to do and I figured I could always unpack if we were staying at the LaQuinta. I continued to cry and I sent a text to my friend who was on her way to the hotel. When my friend arrived, she came up to the room and told me that she had an idea. She said she had funds for another week at this hotel or she could use her Marriot Rewards points to get us a room we just needed to find one. I could feel myself breathe when she provided the option to me. I felt like I had been holding my breath waiting to see how God was going to move and when my friend said she would help us again, I was so thankful because God had spoken to her heart and provided for her to help us with another hotel stay. She stood in our LaQuinta hotel room browsing local Marriott hotels on her phone while Malachi and I finished packing up. By the time, we were done, she booked us 5 nights at the Town Place and Suites in Eden Prairie. We pack up her car and headed over to the Town Place.
We arrived at the Town Place hotel and we found out that the hotel had free breakfast along with a full kitchen. There was only one queen bed and a pull-out couch, but the room also had a separate office with a TV. Malachi was not happy about the pull-out couch, but he sucked it up as soon as he realized he could play his game and not have to share a TV with me. While Malachi was thankful not to have to share a TV with me, I was thankful that I did not have to go outside to pray in the mornings as I could just come into the office and pray without disturbing Malachi’s sleep. The Lord had come through for us just like He said He would. He provided a place for us for 5 more nights. I was so thankful that the Lord had come through for us and preserved us for another week. That day, my faith in God grew even more and what I learned from this experience is that when you ask God to increase your faith, you should be prepared to be given the opportunity for your faith to grow.
I woke up that morning, Election Day 2016, knowing that I needed to fast. I needed God to move and I needed answers, so I decided to turn over my plate and pray throughout the day even though I was going to be at work. We arrived at the Super 8 the night before for either the 4th or 5th time and had lugged our suitcases and bags from my cousin’s truck to our room. By now, I felt like the people at the front desk knew us and while it was nice to be known, I was ready for the hotel hopping part of our journey to be over. I was very thankful for God’s daily provision, but I was also ready for this season to be over.
The Saturday before, we went to visit a beautiful lake home that we could move into with very little notice. The home was fully furnished and even included dishes, utensils, and beds for us to sleep in. The only thing that stopped us from taking possession of the home was the money for the 1st month’s rent and security deposit. Since I had just started my new job the week before, I knew that I would not have it on my own until the end of November. In October, I applied for emergency assistance with the county to help us with the security deposit and first month’s rent of an apartment. When I applied, I was still looking for a place so our application was on hold. Before we went to see the house, I called and let the county know that we found a place. Even though I only saw photos online, I believed that everything would go well and that God would not let this beautiful place get dangled in front of my eyes only for me to find out it was not what I thought it was. That Saturday, I fell in love with the lake home and I was ready to move in, but I still had not heard back from the county so we had to leave and go back to the hotel.
That Tuesday, when I decided to fast, it seemed like everything that could go wrong was going wrong. We woke up at 4:30 in the morning so that Malachi could get to school on time. We needed to take 3 buses from the hotel to his school. We got on our first bus with no problem and for some reason the bus took an alternate route that dropped us off on the highway (it is the weirdest thing but Minnesota has bus stops on the highway). The stop was named the same, but instead of getting off on the street where we’d gotten off so many times before, we had to get off on the highway. What I did not realize at the time was that we needed to go down and get to the other side of the highway to get to the second bus. We ended up missing the second bus and there was not another bus going that way until the afternoon, so I ended up taking him back to the hotel so that I could go to work. I was frustrated, tired and cold. We walked down the stairs from the highway and as we walked the three blocks to the bus that would take us back to the hotel, Malachi fell and hurt his hand and we were both at our wits end. After he got up, he said he was OK and I cried. I was done and I just wanted this to be over. When we arrived back at the hotel I left Malachi there with specific instructions and I left the hotel again so that I could take the bus to work. I arrived at work on time and I was thankful that the events earlier didn’t prevent me from getting to work on time, but I was wiped out and ready for a nap. I grabbed a cup of coffee so that I could keep my eyes open, but I continued to fast from food through the morning.
I sat in training at work trying to keep my eyes open and learn all that was being taught to me. I was also attempting to keep my mind stayed on Jesus. About 11 am, my phone rang and it was a representative from Hennepin County calling about my application for emergency assistance. I was finally able to talk with them a short time later and I was told that my emergency assistance application was approved and payment would be made to my new landlord for the security deposit and first month’s rent. My landlord agreed to let us move into the house that same night. I was so excited and thankful and my entire countenance changed.
That afternoon, I sent a text to my friend Jackie and she agreed to take us to our new home when I got off work. I felt like I was on cloud 9 the entire afternoon and I was so thrilled to be finally moving into our home. It was like a whirlwind, I remember very little of what happened at work that afternoon because I was so ecstatic about moving into my home. Everything seemed to be happening at lightning speed. I arrived at the hotel, we grabbed our luggage, bags, etc. and we headed to our new home. I signed my lease and we were in, just like that. I could not believe how quickly this all took place, but I was so thankful that I was able to sleep in my own bed.
After nearly three months of hotel hopping and living on blind faith, God showed up and delivered exactly what He promised and more. I wanted to live on the water, and God delivered a home on the water for less than I could have ever imagined. I was so thankful that He heard my cry and my prayer and provided just like He said He would. If God is telling you to do something, whatever it may be, obey Him and let Him lead you. It may not be easy, but nothing worth having is ever easy but it will always be worth it.
In Faith & Love,
My Grandmother and Great-Grandmother used to tell me "It's always darkest before the dawn," and recently I was reminded of this by my Aunt. When we find ourselves right at the brink of what we've been believing God for and what we've been dreaming about, it often gets "dark" with perceived issues and problems, but the Word tells us to "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." (Phil 4:4). So when your situation appears to be dark, don't forget that it is always darkest before the dawn and don't forget to rejoice in the Lord always. Your change is coming; the dawn is on its way, don't give up now because you are closer than you think you are. #FaithIt #RejoiceintheLord #BelieveGod #TrustGod
I once was young, now I'm a graybeard— not once have I seen an abandoned believer, or his kids out roaming the streets. Every day he's out giving and lending, his children making him proud.
~ Psalm 37:24-25 The Message Bible.
On August 31st, 2016, I started a journey of faith that would take me to new depths in Christ. This was the day that my son and I boarded a plane for our new home – Minnesota. I was completely excited and completely nervous all at the same time. You see this move was truly a faith move for me. Let me go back a little.
In April, I was at the 2016 Grow Your Dreams Conference in Virginia Beach, Va. I was sitting there listening to the speaker and I heard the Lord clearly and boldly tell me to MOVE. The voice was so clear and so bold that I remember looking around to see if someone actually needed me to move, but no one near me was looking my way or trying to get by me. Judging by the way the others were looking – at the speaker – I was the only one who heard it. I knew then that it was God speaking to me directly so I wrote it down and decided I would begin to pray about it. After arriving back in Connecticut, I asked the Lord where He wanted me to go and He told me Minnesota. Now, this was not as much of a surprise to me as it was others I told because for years the Lord showed me Minnesota in the strangest places – license plates of vehicles in Connecticut and not the same vehicle but multiples ones. He highlighted Minnesota on TV shows, movies, and in other formats. I knew Minnesota existed and I am sure that I saw and heard some of this before He began highlighting it to me but it was more pronounced now than ever. So, when I came back from Virginia and asked God where He wanted me to move to, Minnesota was confirmation for me. I then asked the Lord when He wanted me to go and He gave me a date – August 31st. There was another date but I allowed fear to get the best of me and I missed it. After missing that first date, the Lord sent a lot of confirmations to let me know that this was the right move. I told the Lord that if he wanted me to go, He needed to provide the flight because I did not have the funds. Not long after I said that to Him, God sent someone along to pay for my flight and eventually Malachi’s flight too (you can see the entirety of this on my YouTube channel). And on August 31st, we were on a plane to Minnesota.
Since stepping on that plane on August 31st, I have learned so much about faith. Before we left, the Lord told me to book a hotel room for a week and I did but I did not know how I would pay for it. But I believed God so before we left and throughout our trip, I prayed and asked God to provide. After we landed, I met my friend at the airport and she took me to the hotel and she paid for the week we were scheduled to stay in the hotel. I should preface that this was our first time meeting face to face and prior to this we were in the Grow Your Dreams Network Facebook group together, but I did not know her outside of the group. After the first week, I still did not have a job and I still did not have enough funds to cover another week at the hotel so we needed to check out. By this time, I connected with some other faith-filled believers who were praying with me for another housing situation but I was frantic and in tears. I could not believe that God would bring us all this way and take care of the first week in a hotel only to leave us stranded. But that was not what God had in mind, God provided for another week at an even better hotel than the first one. And I was able to get Malachi enrolled in school and on his way to a successful senior year. After those 5 days were up, we had to again move on and each time we had to move, it became easier to trust God for the next provision because I could see the pattern of how He was providing. I could also, in most instances, see how He was going to provide for us. What I mean by that is I could plan for it or I could see how we would make it to the next place, because between my friend and I we would use our points, etc to ensure that Malachi and I had a room. Even when we did not know, God would speak to her and she would get an idea and we’d be on our way to the next place. I will admit to you, I did not like the moving around at all. I was used to be stable and being able to sit down and breathe, but it seemed like the minute I got comfortable where we were, we had to transition again. I was thankful for every new place, but I was also ready to be settled.
Along this journey, I cried a lot – I cried because we were not settled. I cried because I felt like I had no choice but to live in hotels. I cried when we would get to a hotel and it would not be like it was in the photos. As time went on, we continued moving around and then all of a sudden every brook and well that had been flowing with provision before was suddenly dried up. I was still tithing, still sowing, still giving but there was little to no provision for a hotel and we had to check out of where we were. I stayed as calm as I could and we went about the day as if I knew where we were going that night. Malachi went to school and I hung out at Starbucks believing God for provision. That night at 10:30, we finally had the funds for a room for the night but we had no idea where we would go for the next day but I took it and believed God would move on our behalf because as the bible says, “never have I seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread” and I knew we would not be begging bread I just did not know how the provision for the next night would come. On the inside, I was OK for the most part but when someone would ask me where Malachi and I were going I could not hold it in – I cried. I was in full faith totally believing that God would provide, but not being able to answer people when they asked made me think I was not a good mom or crazy for relying on God like I did. I just knew that we had this place for the night and I had to trust God even in the midst of tears. The next day while driving Malachi to school using my friend’s car, God provided. He laid us on the heart of my cousin who sent us funds enough to go to another hotel for 3 nights. While we were there, I received the provision for our next hotel because I obeyed the Lord and did what He said to do. Throughout this process, God has been faithful but I had to learn to trust Him even in the midst of tears.
This was not and is not my ideal situation at all. In my mind, we were supposed to get our place after the first week of being here at the hotel and I was supposed to get the first job I interviewed for and we’d begin our happy lives in Minnesota, but that is not what transpired. Instead of being secure after just one week of trusting God, I have been in a season of continually trusting Him for every provision. The first job I interviewed for did not come through and it took what felt like weeks to finally start getting other interviews. Not to mention that since this process began the only income I had has been through the generous love gifts from friends, family, and even strangers who have been prompted to give to us by the leading of the Lord. And while I cried a lot because I did not see a way, God provided every single day for us. Not only did He provide for us, but something else amazing began happening – God began delivering me from things that I held onto over the years – hurts, unlawful soul ties, etc. The deliverance hurt but once I was delivered I felt better and I was much stronger than I was before.
Trusting God in this process has not been easy but what I found is that you can trust God and still cry. You can trust God and not fully understand. You can trust God and not like the situation you are in currently. For me, I had no other choice most times but to trust God to provide for us in a supernatural way and while I cried because there was nothing I could do (loss of total control), I knew that God would never leave us nor forsake us because that is what His word says. I knew that if God called me to be in Minnesota, He would provide for us. The further along I went in the process, the more I get tested in this faith area because I realize that it needs to be completely settled that I trust God for everything.
Trusting God at this level is not easy for anyone because it means giving up the control you are used to. It means denying what you think or how you think it should go and default to the way God wants to do it and if you are anything like me, that is hard because I like to think I am in control. Trusting God has not been easy for me in this season, but every time I see God work the process gets a little easier and the tears come a little less. I implore you that whatever God is telling you to do or whatever He is speaking to you, trust Him to help you all of the way. He will not fail you, that is what His word promises us. Be like Nike and just do it!
It has been almost a month since my last blog post and in that time so many things have occurred in my life. I started work on a new book and 2 new journals. I also spent quality time with God which is always an amazing experience. There is nothing more fulfilling than being the presence of God. But I digress. The reason for my post today is simply to encourage you. I wanted to let you know that I think you are beautiful inside and out. I wanted to remind you that God thinks you are beautiful inside and out. I know that there are moments or days when the burdens of life feel overwhelming and we don’t take the time to see the beauty of who we are. I also know that for many of us as women we find ourselves taking care of everyone else and we don’t take the time to love and appreciate who we are. I know that some of us feel less than beautiful because of our past (or even current) history, but the truth is that you and I were
Today, I want you to know that I think you are beautiful. No matter what people have told you, you are beautiful. If you are sitting on the other side of the screen thinking, “how could she possibly know if I am beautiful” let me answer you by saying that God created you in His image and likeness; as my Grandmother used to tell me, God don’t make no junk! God is beautiful and He is love – that is the image you and I were created in. So, today walk with your head held high knowing that you are beautiful. You are not what happened to you or what someone said about you – you are beautiful!
P.S. Listen to the song below!
All of my life I have struggled with my weight, even as a pre-teen and teenager I can remember being on diets and trying to eat better so that I could lose weight. I always felt that I could do better, but I just could not find a way to lose weight and stick to it. For years, I did one diet after another trying to lose the weight, but rarely lost much of anything. I realized that I was an emotional eater and after years of allowing my emotions to rule my weight, I had to get serious because I had hit a critical point in my life. I decided not to diet but to make some necessary changes in my life. One of the first things I did was to eliminate sodas, juices, and fruit drinks from my daily life. I did continue drinking coffee, but I stopped using Splenda and switched to Sugar in the Raw. I also removed milk/cream. While those changes may seem simple, what I realized is that the sodas, juices, and drinks were adding unnecessary calories to my diet. I also took a serious look at all that I had heard about Splenda and finally decided that it was not best for my body anymore, but I also knew that white sugar in my coffee was not good for me either because I realized long ago that white sugar gave me a jolt and then soon after I crashed and I felt like I was exhausted even after drinking a large coffee.
The one thing I did not do was limit myself like most diets call for you to do. I did not stop eating foods that I wanted, I simply ate less of them because I realized that one of my challenges with every diet was that I really liked food, and removing foods I liked (i.e. ice cream and chocolate) only served to be more of an issue because I would always end up overeating on cheat days or extending my cheat days to weeks which inevitably blew my diet. So, I decided to make simple changes like having one less slice of pizza or one less scoop of ice cream. I decided to eat more vegetables and incorporate more vegetables in my cooking. I also decided to stop eating out as much. I also had long since stopped using regular salt and switched to lite salt so that I would not retain water with excess sodium. After a while, I started seeing the results and now I have lost over 50 pounds.
This way of life may not work for everyone and I say way of life because I no longer diet, I have changed how I eat. I still eat out, I still eat pizza, I still eat ice cream and chocolate and I still have the occasional Swedish Fish binge, but now I try to compensate for what I eat by walking or eating less of something else. For some, this will not work because they are unable to control how/what they eat and I understand that. For a long time, I felt I needed food because it was my comfort and it was also how I expressed love through cooking for others, but I needed to change or else.
One of the other things that has helped me tremendously is the ability to listen to my body. I heard a weight-loss guru say that your body will always tell you when you are full and when I heard it I did not believe it. But the minute I began to address some of the emotions I had with eating (remember I told you I was an emotional eater), I could hear my body tell me when it was full. I could feel that my stomach had tightened after eating just a little bit and add some water to that and I was good. I no longer needed to keep eating because there was food on my plate, which meant I had to become dead to cleaning my plate because there were kids starving in Africa mindset developed from when I was a kid (you know you heard that one too). Over time I put less on the plate and I learned what was enough and what was too much for me. I still have a long way to go to my goal, but I am thankful for the changes I can see in myself, in my health and in my well-being.
There are so many other tips I could give, but the point of this post is let you know that no matter where you are in your journey – whether it’s weight loss,weight gain, getting healthy or something else entirely – you have to start somewhere and plow through. You will not always do it right, there will be mistakes, missteps, and bad days, but when you find the sweet spot, don’t stop. Over time, when you look back, the success you have gained will overshadow the mistakes and you will see just how much you have changed.
In the picture below, you will see how my weight loss journey has unfolded in photos of my face. It is actually pretty amazing and had someone not encouraged me I probably would not have done it, but now I have and I am glad that I did. Feel free to do something similar and share it below.
Doing the right thing is not always easy and as a Christian, I’d love to tell you that I always do the right thing, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes doing the right thing is hard. This blog post started as the “the courage to obey” because I thought it would be easier to write about how we should do the right thing even when it hurts, but for the life of me I could not put words on the paper. I would get started and get stuck, get started and get stuck, get started and get stuck – it was a vicious cycle and I could not figure out what the problem was. I soon realized that the problem was me I was focusing on the wrong thing not the main thing. You see this was about much more than obedience because I can obey doing the wrong thing, but I am still obeying aren’t I? And when you make a choice to do the right thing no matter what that can, at times, look just like rebellion (think about Jesus turning over tables or Jesus healing on the Sabbath). What I realized is that this post needed to be about doing the right thing because while doing the right thing will lead you into a life of obedience; doing the right thing will obedience is great and necessary, doing the right thing often is often accompanied by obedience.
As a believer, there are certain things I know I should do and there are certain things I know I shouldn’t do. I know that I am supposed to read my bible, pray, fast, love my neighbor, etc. I also know that I am not supposed to lie, cheat, or steal. These are the basics, for most of us, the basics are easy, and we are good with easy. But sometimes a shift takes place and doing the right thing causes friction, frustration and downright pain. In fact, the bible lets us know that doing the right thing can cause challenges and friction (see I Peter 3:14). So, how do you do the right thing when it is not easy? How do you say “yes” to God’s will and obey him when it “feels” so much better to do what you want? (Just a quick note, doing the right thing to you and me may be different but it’s doing the right thing to God that counts).
Doing the right thing or doing things God’s way is not always easy and unfortunately we often stand in our own way with fear, doubt, and anxiety. Let me give you an example from my own life. In the past, whenever I would get frustrated by a situation or a problem, I would vent out all of my problems, typically exacerbating the issue because I would not shut up about it and because I did not shut up about it, I would also say things I did not mean, which caused things to happen that may not have happened if I had just kept my mouth shut. So, when people were mean to me, I would make the situation worse by talking to other people which always led to gossiping (the wrong thing) instead of praying (the right thing). God has been dealing with me on this because as a woman I am built to talk out my issues, but now instead of ranting to people who may or may not keep what I say to them, God has me come to Him in prayer. For me, doing the right thing in this scenario is bringing my problems to God for counsel, wisdom and instruction (because sometimes I am the problem but that is a whole different blog post). However, when I am upset and frustrated in the heat of the moment I just want to say everything that is on my mind in the loudest, meanest voice I can muster, but I know that is not the right thing to do (and I know that because when I do slip God convicts me immediately). For me, doing the right thing when I am upset defies every behavior I grew with and around, yet when I do it God’s way, I not only feel better, but the sting of whatever problem I had goes away and the resolution to the matter comes quickly.
So how do you effectively do the right thing? First, know what God says about your situation. In my case, it was gossiping mixed with anger. I know the bible tells me that it is not good to gossip. I also realized that God Himself gave me a conviction in my heart and spirit about it. And even if I slip, I am convicted and have a gut check every time. Second, let God be your guide. He will always give you the right way to go because He wants you to do the right thing. Third, make the choice that even when it hurts and even when it is easier to do it your way, choose God’s way – the best way.
Doing the right thing is not always going to be easy, but know this that if you trust God, trust His timing, and His plan you will see that even when it hurts, doing the right thing will prove to benefit you. Today and every day have the courage to do the right thing and if you fail one day, get right back up and try again. We are not perfect and you may not always do it the right way, but our focus is not in the fall but in the get up and as Spike Lee says “do the right thing!”
When trouble hits your life, do you feel like you're the only one? It seems like whenever we (human beings) are going through a test or a trial, we think we are the only one and that's how it feels right? But, the truth is that we are far from alone in how we feel and we're not alone in dealing with trouble hitting our lives. I'm sure if you took a poll of those closest to you, you’d find that most, if not all, of your friends, family members and acquaintances are all having some type of trouble. And the bible is full of examples of prominent people going through difficult times. Let's take a look at King David.
In the book of I Samuel, Saul is a King without the Lord, Before David entered the scene, Saul had unseated himself as King and while he was still over the kingdom, God’s favor had moved from Saul and God had found David favorable and fit to replace Saul as King. Saul was initially fond of David (see I Samuel 16:21), but after David was elevated, the people began to cheer about the tens of thousands that David had killed vs. Saul’s thousands and Saul became jealous, so jealous that he plotted to kill David on multiple occasions. David says to Jonathan, Saul’s son, “…What have I done? Of what am I guilty? What is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” ~ I Samuel 20:1b. David could not understand what is was that he had done to provoke such hatred from Saul. I’m sure that David felt like the only one with trouble. I am sure he felt alone, even though, his best friend Jonathan and his wife Mikal were there for him, after all Saul was not seeking to kill them.
As with David, when we are in the midst of trouble, it can feel like no one can really understands what it is that we are going through and support is great, but even with support there are times when we still feel like we are weathering the storm alone.
How often have we found ourselves in the midst of trouble looking for the solution, unsure why we are even in this trouble? And your trouble could be anything from debt to layoff to losing your home to something even more tragic, whatever the trouble, when it strikes the question usually is, “Lord, why me?” But, perhaps the answer is “Why not you?” Have you ever considered that God chose you for this trouble because he could trust you with it? Sounds absolutely nuts, right! But, for a moment let’s go back to David. There is one part that you should know, Saul’s jealousy was a setup from the beginning! Remember David had already found favor with the Lord and Saul was basically warming the seat of the throne for David (Saul was out of position and out of favor), so Saul’s jealousy was part of the process to get David where he needed to be. Have you ever thought that the trouble you (and I) are facing at this present moment is preparing us for greater?
I often say to my son, nothing worth having comes easily and if you really think about it, you know how true that is. When you get something easily you don’t care of it as well as you do something you worked hard for or toiled for. Almost no one gets to the top without encountering some kind of resistance and the higher you go, the more resistance you have to go through. So what am I telling you? I am telling you everything you are going through is going to work out for your good. In fact, the bible says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28 AMP. What I am telling you (and telling me) is that every trial, every trouble, every issue, every challenge is all going to work out for your good. God does not waste anything that happens in our lives and somewhere along the line, He will use this very trial to take you to a new level in Him or in life; or He will use it as a testimony to others or He will do both. God is not going to waste any part of our trouble at all.
Friends, we all go through trouble (trials, challenges, issues) but be encouraged that:
No, it is such a powerful 2 letter word; some of us struggle with using it, while others have no problem saying it. For me, it was a word that I struggled using, not because I did not understand it and not because I was unaware of its meaning, but simply because I was afraid to say it. When you get right down to it, I was afraid to use the word “No.” I was afraid of what people might think when they asked me to do something and my response was no. I was afraid of what people might say if I said I did not want to do something and truth be told, there are times where I still struggle to use this word. I realize that it really takes courage to say no and actually mean it.
Now, let’s be clear I am not a pushover, but there are some people whose connection to my life, make it easier to say yes and very hard to say no. However, what I am realizing is that there are times when I must say no. Here’s one example: very often I find myself taking on tasks that I shouldn’t or accepting assignments I shouldn’t because someone has asked me to do it and in doing saying yes, I have created a situation where I am overloaded and overbooked. As I analyze these situations, I am realize that it is not always that I want to say no and can’t, for me, sometimes it’s actually that I have caught their vision and I’ve already envisioned myself completing the task with great vigor, stamina and excellence. The problem I have is that the minute I see their vision and see how I can make it happen, it is usually in the conversation and I say “Yes” without reconciling all of the other things on my to-do list! Since I now recognize that this is a problem for me, I take a moment to think past the glitz I see at completion and think to the massive to-do list I have in my Evernote, then I answer in the way that is best for me. This frees me to say no and it also allows the other person the opportunity to find someone who has the time.
But there are still some instances where I can actually need courage to say no and it is in those times that I have to reconcile within myself what is best for me. I used to think that it was selfish to put me first, but I am growing to understand that it isn’t selfishness at all it is prudent. When you go on any commercial flight, one of the safety items the flight attendant tells the passengers about is about the oxygen mask. The flight attendant does their demonstration and one of the things they tell you is to put your mask on first and then help the elderly and small children. Why do you think that is? It is because you have to ensure that you have enough oxygen first, so you don’t pass out trying to help your loved ones who cannot help themselves. When I apply that same principle to my life, I realize that I have to be OK with taking care of myself first and then caring for others, because if I don’t I may not be able to take care of people the way I would like to. This does not mean that I am selfish, but it does mean that at times I must say no. I am not sure about you, but sometimes it is so hard for me to say that little word, but the more I train myself to think of me first (and all of the things that I have to do), it gets a little easier. I admit that I am not perfect at it and there are times when I know I should decline but I accept anyway. I am still a work-in-progress and I am so much better than I used to be in this area, so I am thankful for steps in the right direction.
Let me encourage you, if you are challenged with saying no, remember what you’ve read here and do not let anyone discourage you when your courage to say no fails. This is not a science, and there will be times when we say “yes” even though we should really say “no.” Guess what? We all come short, but going forward make sure that you put your oxygen mask on first (take care of you first) and then take care of those around you.
Liela Marie Fuller
Author, Mother, Friend, Believer in Jesus...Really Just Me.
Liela Marie Fuller's books on Goodreads
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Don't Stop Knocking, Don't Stop Seeking, Don't Stop Praying, Don't Stop Believing!: A Prayer Journal
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