Honoring the journey to wholeness

                When I started this blog, I knew I wanted to speak to women. I wanted to remind my sisters that wholeness is possible, necessary even. What I didn’t know or understand then was hoe much more I needed to learn and grow, how much I needed to learn how to love H.E.R. myself. This journey to wholeness has been one of the hardest, most painful, most challenging work of heart that I have ever done. And, with all the growth I have achieved and all that I have learned, I admit that I have yet still more work to do. This journey will never end, and I am okay with that. I am here to tell you that this journey is not for the faint of heart, or for anyone who is unwilling to be honest and transparent with themselves. But the most important thing is that you must want to be whole, and you have to want it for yourself. Living from a place of health and wholeness allows you the ability to live, learn, love and serve in a far greater capacity that you could imagine. It allows you to fully embrace who you are, flaws and all, and see the beauty and find happiness. It empowers you to love yourself completely, which then enables you to love other openly, and with more compassion and less judgment.

                I have personally been walking the journey and doing the heart work necessary to come to a place where I genuinely love and honor the woman that I am, the woman God created and called me to be. And, because I am healed in some areas and still healing in others, I feel restoration and see restoration in my life. The most amazing feeling is soul restoration. For a long time, I felt disconnected from myself, from my true center, and from my Creator. My personal time and prayer time felt shallow, hollow even at times, but that didn’t stop me from praying or seeking. If anything, it pushed me to press deeper and seek more fervently. I now have a new understanding of Jacob, who wouldn’t let go of the man of God, as well as a deeper appreciation for the determination of the woman with the issue of blood, who pressed her way through the crowds for her healing. In many ways, I identified with her. The more I realized that I needed healing, the more determined I became to get it. I wanted what that woman, and every other woman who is hurting and in needed of healing wants – FREEDOM. I had no idea that I was living in bondage, enslaved to heartache, heartbreak, and fear. But I was, and I was able to see it and work through it because I was open to growth and allowing God to uncover my hidden chains. I had to be honest with God and with myself, and then I had to be honest with people in my life, both past and present. The hardest part about heart work is acknowledging your mistakes and then making amends and apologizing for them. It is an incredibly humbling process. I wrote letters and apologies to people I didn’t realize in the moment I had wronged. But, because I was willing to do the work and own my mistakes, and be transparent, a relationship was restored, a special one at that. Not only did I have internal restoration, I received external restoration, and that brought such joy to me that I cannot begin to describe.

                Now that I personally know the benefits of loving H.E.R., I can encourage others and share wisdom with my sisters about how you can find freedom for your mind, body, and soul. I want you to be healed, empowered, and restored now more than ever, because I know how it feels to be free, to feel that weight lifted. And it all starts with seeking healing for yourself.

 

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”

~ August Wilson

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Personal Power

INVICTUSOut of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.


In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of change 

My head is bloody, but unbowed.


Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.


It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

(William Ernest Henley)
    The first time I read this poem, I thought the author was being arrogant and controlling. It was only after watching the documentary film, I Am Not Your Negro, that I felt the need to revisit the words of this poem and really ponder what Henley was trying to convey. What I discovered was what takes most of us a long time to understand and embrace. A profound yet simple truth that is indelibly tied to how we view and experience life. It’s this: Life happens. And, majority of the time, we have little control over what happens, how it happens, or why it happens. There are circumstances and experiences that we have absolutely no control over — death, heartbreak, opinions, illness, etc. However, we are able to exert influence over how those circumstances and experiences impact who we are and the people we become. This poem talks about weathering the hardest storms of life, and how we have the power to emerge from those situations unharmed. Not unchanged, but with minimal to no permanent damage. We always have two choices when faced with tough times: we either act or we react. How we choose to posture ourselves in the face of profound moments that wear on our very souls is what makes us “the captains of (our) souls.” We all possess the capability to influence our future, as well as the capacity to decide how we will respond to the unpredictability of life through our emotions. You see, the soul is the seat of the emotions, some of the most fleeting things known to man. But we have a choice when faced with situations that stir up our emotions — either we rule our emotions, or our emotions rule us. We can be emotional volcanos that explode with every life encounter, or we can captain our souls, and steer those same emotions toward something positive and productive. Life happens either way, and every situation affords us the opportunity to grow and mature into better people. 

    Henley was on to something. Every person is created with the capacity to become formidable creatures, and learning the lessons of life provides the space for us to grow into resilient people who weather the storms of life with strength and inner peace. Life may knock us around, but, as we build resiliency, we build an “unconquerable soul.” We learn how to endure, to perservere, and to survive the storm, and then come out on the other side thriving. 

Light Shine Bright

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

                A year after Freddie Gray’s death, we are still fighting for freedom. We realize that freedom isn’t free. The cost of freedom is high, really high. The pursuit of freedom will cost you everything in the fight to be “free.” And those who fight for freedom in any area understand this. Immigrants understand that freedom costs you the comfort of home. The slaves of the 1800s understood that freedom cost the lives of their loved ones. Jesus understood that freedom cost both his human life and his connection with God the Father, albeit a temporary separation. And, in spite of all this, there are many souls and voices yet crying out for freedom. So why can’t they seem to find it?

I remember visiting the Statue of Liberty as a child with my mother and brother, not really grasping the weight, and significance of such a monument that continues to stand as a symbol of hope for all those who wish to attain “a better life.” When the monument was first built, America was seen as a land of promise and hope for those who wanted to make more of their lives, and leave a better legacy for their children. The same is true for the Gospel, something we have somehow lost sight of. Listen again, and see if you hear it.

[Matthew 11:28-30 ESV] Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

[Isa 61:1 ESV] The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…

            Can you hear it? Can you see it? We are all familiar with the excerpt from Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus” that is etched on the pedestal on which Lady Liberty stands, but we are not familiar with the poem in its entirety.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

            Lady Liberty is calling out to the outsiders, the outcasts, “the homeless,” those who are searching for a place to call home, to be free. And so is Christ in Matthew 28.

“Give me your tired, your poor…”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden…”

“…He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…”

You see, just as the Statue of Liberty stands as a monument, a symbol of hope to immigrants traveling to a foreign land in search of freedom and a fresh start, the cross stands as another monument and symbol of hope for those traveling this side of eternity in search of freedom and redemption. Etched in the nail prints in His hands and feet are the words of Matthew 11 and Isaiah 61. I can see in my mind’s eye, a tablet at the foot of the cross on Good Friday, leaned against it, with the words written, “Come and find rest for your souls.” While Emma Lazarus, hundreds of years later, penned the words, I hear the voice of Christ echoed in the words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” The message of the Cross is hope – hope for freedom; hope for healing and forgiveness and a fresh start; hope for transformation; hope for grace and mercy. The Cross is the spiritual Statue of Liberty. And, as we encounter and embrace and accept all the hope that the Cross offers, we, too, become the manifestation of that hope in a world that is dying and in need of that same hope.

[Matthew 5:14-16 ESV] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and pit under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

            We are called to be the torch carried by the cross. As we seek to mirror the life and ministry of Christ, we allow Him to shine through us and influence the lives around us. And how do we do that? By acting with compassion and love and grace. That same hope that the cross offers, that is the hope that we must offer to those around us. We are called to be the visible manifestation of the invisible God, through our hands and feet and mouths. We are commissioned to be the ambassadors of His grace and mercy, of the redeeming power of His love active and alive in the life of the one who chooses to trust Him with all they have.

“From her beacon-hand glows worldwide welcome.”

            We are Jesus’ spiritual welcome wagon, greeting people in love and inviting them to participate in and embrace the rest that comes with an intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe. The price for freedom has already been paid. There is nothing more that is required of us but to enter that rest in the presence of a Creator so incredibly enamored with us that He took care of the tab for our freedom for the rest of eternity. And yet we fail time and again, because we somehow have been deceived into believing that we are allowed to determine whether or not someone is “worthy” of God’s rest. This is not the way of the Cross, nor is it the message or the purpose of the cross. It is not our place or within our authority to disperse the infinite grace provided by the cross. It is available to all who believe and embrace it. Our place is to love and embrace all, without a second thought to whether or not they are “worthy.” The truth is that none of us is “worthy,” and yet God sent His Son to die and pay the price for our freedom anyway.

Marianne Williamson said it best:

“We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

            Our purpose is to shine in such a way that it draws out the light that is already in others, to be the glow that beacons the world to draw closer, and catch fire. The things that bring us together are the things that are similar in all of us. Each light is unique, and yet it shines brightly and encourages others to embrace the unique light that lives within their hearts and souls. And when we find the light in one another, we find home and freedom that can only come from the Creator, in Whom we are all one.

SHALOM.

He Sees You

We all have moments when we feel invisible, when we feel like all we want is for someone to “see” us and to acknowledge that we exist. We even have moments when we are so wrapped up in ourselves, in what we are struggling with, that we are blinded to the needs and feelings of those around us. I have a few of those moments this week. I struggled with fighting not to lose my physical voice this week. I would wake up in the morning with a scratchy throat and as hoarse as ever. This right after I had signed up to participate in the Christmas choir at my church in two weeks. For three mornings, I woke up hoarse and frustrated. I drank lots of tea and water, trying to coax my voice back to normal. I even tried whiskey in my tea one night (side note: that was one of the nastiest things I have ever tasted! Talk about desperate.) Anyway, by the third day, I was tired of being hoarse, and fighting to get my voice. I couldn’t sing in the car on the way to work because my voice was gone. I had trouble talking to my patients at work because I spoke too loud, I would strain my voice. I was over it. But in the midst of it all, God kept reminding me that He saw me and He had me covered. Well, on the morning of day three, I went to the Starbucks drive thru for tea, and they were out of the flavor that I wanted. I am slightly ashamed to say that I threw a mini-tantrum in my car. So I ordered tea, but not the one I wanted, and I fussed in my hoarse voice in my car through the drive thru, and out of the drive thru, and pretty much the rest of the way to work. I was tired and frustrated and that was just too much for me. And then I received a text message from a dear friend who had just hosted a seminar on soul care the weekend prior. Attached was a YouTube video of a performance of a simple song that we sang during our time of worship at the seminar. The words simply said:

I find that I’m safe and warm in Your loving arms

I find that I’m safe and warm in Your loving arms

You see me, You know me, You love me

Through and through

You see me, You know me, You love me

Through and through

 

That’s right – He saw me. He saw me, frustrated, tired, fussing like a five-year-old about my tea that I didn’t get, and He still loved me, through and through. She had no idea what life she was speaking into my space in that moment. I had been fighting not just with my physical person, but with my emotional person throughout the week. And, every time I brought my crazy emotions and laid them at His feet so that He could shed His light and truth on them, I was gently reminded that He sees me, He knows me, and He loves me through and through. And, in that moment when I was having my own personal meltdown, He tapped me on my shoulder to tell me that it was going to be okay because He sees me, He knows me, and He loves me – wholly, completely, deeply. Through and through. As soon as I heard that, all the uproar and upset and frustration that I felt just melted away. I was safe in His arms, and He loved me, with all my shortcomings and weaknesses. Beloved, that is the message that I pray with all my heart that you grab on to. No matter what is going on in your life right now, whatever is stressing you out or causing you heartache, please hear and know that you, too, can find that you are safe and warm in the loving arms of your Creator. Why? Because He sees you and He knows you and He loves you THROUGH AND THROUGH. That means that nothing about you is hidden from Him, and He still loves you wholly, completely, and unconditionally. I want to speak that life into your souls today. Nothing can separate you from His loving arms, absolutely nothing. Nothing you can say, nothing you can do, no mistakes that you have made, nothing that you have not done, NOTHING. His love is unconditional, because His very nature is Love. Walk through this week knowing and embracing the fact that, no matter what you may face or encounter this week, you are safe and warm in the loving arms of a loving Creator who sees, knows, and loves you, through and through.

 

[Rom 8:35-39 NLT]

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

**Take time to watch this and I pray that it blesses and encourages you.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/5Y7h6K13z0I” target=”_blank”>Through and Through — Song

Positively ME

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I thought that I would be talking about purpose for tonight’s post, but instead I feel that I should share from my heart and be transparent. This past weekend I attended a women’s conference that was themed around being seen, being heard, and being known by God. For me, the most incredible part was that I could be me, with all my shortcomings and weaknesses, and be accepted and loved and encouraged in a safe space with other women who were seeking God and yet willing to admit those same shortcomings and weaknesses. It was a very comforting and cathartic experience for me. You see, I have always been a strong woman. I have a strong personality, and it is something that has become a double-edged sword for me. Those who have been around me for an extended period of time, have come to see me as a formidable source of strength and encouragement for other people. And, most days, I embrace that.  However, the unfortunate drawback of being the strong person in your inner circle is that they often forget that you are human too. So, when you have a moment of weakness, it becomes this monumental occurrence, instead of one human expressing a moment of weakness to another human who is equally susceptible to moments of weakness.

What I found to be so profound and such a blessing this weekend was that I was allowed to own the fact that there are things in my life that I struggle with from time to time, and be met with unadulterated compassion. I can be really hard on myself. It’s true that I am my own worst critic in life, but here, in this space with these women of faith with feet of clay like mine, I found genuine grace. When I admitted that I struggle with feeling like a failure, I wasn’t met with spiritual clichés or dismissed altogether. I looked into the eyes of my sister in the faith as I shared from my heart, and discovered that I was not alone in the way I felt, or the struggles that I face in life. I realized that, more than anything, I simply want to be accepted for who I am, with all my flaws and struggles and moments of weakness. I want to be able to look into the eyes of at least one person in my life who appreciates my strengths, but makes room and provides a safe space, full of grace and unconditional love, for my weaknesses. And this weekend, I reconnected fully to my First Love. This weekend, the unconditional love that I have been seeking after all my life materialized right in front of me once more, and I encountered Love in a way that I have never encountered before.

You see, the abundant life that Christ spoke about was an abundance that flowed from the inside out. There is a God encounter so profound, so life-changing, and so deep that it draws out of your heart and soul such a sense of connection to your Creator that nothing can shake your confidence in His love for you. This weekend, I fell in love all over again with the Man who gave His life for me. I had been going through life, encountering people and things and places that saw how strong I could be, and chose to only see that. I suffered in silence, in private, without a second thought, because I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be human. I had been robbed of the very thing that brought me life – my humanness. I couldn’t be emotional, or sensitive. I couldn’t be upset or fall apart. I couldn’t live, because other people’s lives crowded out my ability to live fully and authentically. But the most important thing I learned about myself this weekend, and my relationship with my Creator, is that I don’t have to do anything but be me with Him, and that’s enough. I don’t have to be strong, or smart, or brave all the time. I don’t have to be articulate or profound. I don’t have to be flawless or have it all together. Because He sees me just the way that I am, every strength and weakness; every mountain and every valley; everything I am proud of and everything that I have allowed to cause me to feel shame. He sees me, ALL OF ME, and He still loves me UNCONDITIONALLY. I don’t have to put on a brave face or put on a show in order for Him to accept me or want to spend time with Him. He sees ME, He loves ME, He knows all about ME, and He wants me just the same. Not only that, but He thinks I’m AMAZING! He’s enamored with me, obsessed with being in relationship with me, so much so that He sacrificed a part of who He is in order to bridge the gap, mend the rift that was torn when Adam and Eve fell in Eden. Just for me! He sees my heart and soul, and says she’s beautiful, an incredible work of art. This is the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I don’t know where you are in life, or what has happened in your life that has you worn down and torn down. But this one thing I know for certain: Your Creator sees you, flaws and all. He knows you, inside and out. And He wants to have a deeply, intimate relationship with you, where His all-encompassing love can wrap you up so tight that it mends all the broken places. Because, the truth is, I am broken just like you, and I have been more broken in the past. But the love of Jesus has made all the difference. He loves me, and you, enough, to walk with us on the journey to wholeness. And it doesn’t require that you do anything before coming to Him. You don’t have to get yourself together before you come to Jesus, because that’s His job, to put you back together, whole and healthy and complete. Don’t hide from Him because you think that you are unworthy; He doesn’t care about that. He will do the work with you, so long as you are willing to do the heart work with Him. Take it from me – there is no other love like the love that He will pour onto your soul. The warmth and healing and restoration that takes place in the presence of a loving and compassionate Creator is the most incredible encounter you will ever have in your lifetime.

I’m broken, and I’m okay with that. It may make other people uncomfortable, but I wasn’t created to make other people comfortable with who I am. I was created to reflect the glory of God in the earth. He is more than about to redeem and restore the broken places in my heart and in my life, where I have been humbled and brought low by the trials of life, and raise me to a place where I can openly share about the pain and turmoil that He was able to turn around and use for my good and the good of others. I’m so glad that He sees me and knows me and wants me, ALL OF ME. And the same goes for you, dear one.

 

SELAH.

You Are Special

I want you to meet a dear friend of mine – Punchinello the Wemmick. Yes, that’s his name, and a Wemmick is a person made of wood, kind of like Pinnochio. But Punchinello has a problem. He is not what the other Wemmicks would consider a good Wemmick. He’s not the prettiest Wemmick, and he’s a bit clumsy it seems. And, in a town where the inhabitants walk around all day giving gold stars and grey dots, this doesn’t bode well for Punchinello. Since he wasn’t quite the best Wemmick, it earned him A LOT of grey dots. I mean, he was covered in grey dots from all the other Wemmicks who looked down on him because he didn’t fit THEIR definition of a Good Wemmick. Poor Punchinello felt that he was beyond all hope… until he met Lucia. She was different from all the other Wemmicks in that she didn’t have any gold stars or grey dots on her. None. And when Punchinello questioned her about why that was, her response was that she spent time every day with Eli, the woodcarver who made the Wemmicks who lived in that little town. When Punchinello further inquired as to why she did this, she encouraged him to go see Eli for himself. Everything in Punchinello told him that Eli wouldn’t want to see him because of all his flaws and the fact that he was covered in grey dots. But what he found out when he mustered up the courage to climb the hill to Eli’s cottage was quite the opposite. Watch and see what happened…

“Punchinello?” The voice was deep and strong. Punchinello stopped. “Punchinello! How good to see you. Come and let me have a look at you.”

Punchinello turned slowly and looked at the large bearded craftsman. “You know my name?” the little Wemmick asked.

“Of course I do. I made you.” Eli stooped down and picked him up and set him on the bench.

“Hmm,” the maker spoke thoughtfully as he inspected the gray circles. “Looks like you’ve been given some bad marks.”

“I didn’t mean to, Eli. I really tried hard.”

“Oh, you don’t have to defend yourself to me, child. I don’t care what the other Wemmicks think.”

“You don’t?”

“No, and you shouldn’t either. Who are they to give stars or dots? They’re Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn’t matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special.”

Punchinello laughed. “Me, special? Why? I can’t walk fast. I can’t jump. My paint is peeling.

Why do I matter to you?”

Eli looked at Punchinello, put his hands on those small wooden shoulders, and spoke very slowly. “Because you’re mine. That’s why you matter to me.”

Punchinello had never had anyone look at him like this – much less his maker. He didn’t know what to say.

“Every day I’ve been hoping you’d come,” Eli explained.

“I came because I met someone who had no marks.”

“I know. She told me about you.”

“Why don’t the stickers stay on her?”

“Because she has decided that what I think is more important than what they think. The stickers only stick if you let them.”

“What?”

“The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about the stickers.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“You will, but it will take time. You’ve got a lot of marks. For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.” Eli lifted Punchinello off the bench and set him on the ground. “Remember,” Eli said as the Wemmick walked out the door. “You are special because I made you. And I don’t make mistakes.” Punchinello didn’t stop, but in his heart he thought, “I think he really means it.” And when he did, a dot fell to the ground.

 

The first time I heard “You Are Special” by Max Lucado, I instantly identified with Punchinello. But, then again, don’t we all? In a world and society where everyone wants to put you in a a category, to stamp you with a label that dictates who you are and what you are worth in this world, it’s really hard to not let the gold stars and grey dots of this life stick to our souls. As much as we would like to say that we are tough and that we have thick skin, it makes no difference. Unless we take the time to go to our Maker and let Him tell us how special we are to Him. Because the reality is that He doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of you, and neither should you.

A few years back, I attended a multicultural student leadership conference, and one of the speakers at the conference spoke about something that I will never forget. It was one simple question: “What is your noun?” The question was really about who you see when you look in the mirror, how you define that person that you see reflected back to you. Is she a woman? Is she an African American, a Caucasian, a Latina, an Asian? Is she tall or short? Is she beautiful or ugly? Is she a professional? What is that first thing, that first noun that comes to mind when you look at yourself in your mirror? I had to think about that. Over the years that noun has evolved, but I can tell you one thing for certain. I decided, from that moment on, that I would speak life to the woman that I saw in the mirror every day, and I would teach her to see a daughter of the King, created in His image and likeness.

Beloved, there are so many voices around us trying to tell us who we are, who they think we ought to be. But they are not our Creator. Only our Creator can truly tell us who we are and who He created us to be. David proclaimed that he was thankful for being fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139.14). That is what we ought to see when we look at our reflection – someone fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our Creator, someone who loves us endlessly and unconditionally. And the only way the labels of this world will begin to fall off of our souls, is if we take the time to climb the hill and step into the cottage of our Maker, and let Him remind us of how special we are to Him. Your past doesn’t have to define you. Your mistakes don’t have to define you. Your life choices up to this point do not have to define who you are destined to become in the future. No one and nothing but your Maker can really tell you how valuable and priceless and magnificent you are. You possess profound power within you, simply because you were created with it already built into your being! But the only way you are going to tap into that boundless power is to spent time talking to the Source of that power, the One who created you with purpose, on purpose, and for a purpose.

Singer Matthew West wrote a song called, “Hello My Name Is.” It’s a dialogue between a person and the things that try to label them and hold them back from living an abundantly free and beautiful life, things like regret, defeat, and shame. But then he says this:

I am no longer defined

By all the wreckage behind

The one who makes all things new

Has proven it’s true

Just take a look at my life

And then he goes on to declare:

Hello, my name is child of the one true King

I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, I have been set free

“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing

Hello, my name is child of the one true King

Now that’s an awesome change of self-perspective! That’s what happens when you take time to talk to the Maker and let Him remind you of who He created you to be! We don’t have to live in the shadows of our past mistakes, or even the opinions and expectations of people who haven’t the faintest clue or couldn’t care less about our true purpose and destiny. Go back to the One who loves you, who created you to be the mirror image of the Divine. Take time to talk with Him and spend time with Him, and watch the gold stars and grey dots of life fall off as they matter less and less to you in view of a Maker and Creator who loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3.) Because YOU ARE SPECIAL.013b74f3f7c64c99d5ea5f7d4397fdc582f24c782e

Hope Restored

Easter always provokes such incredible reflection and contemplation from me. For many believers in the Christian faith, it represents the cornerstone of our faith journey, the culmination of Jesus’ mission and ministry on earth. It is the pinnacle of everything that we hope for and the major event that anchors our faith. And, with all that it holds for each and every believer around the globe, it carries one more touch of sentimental value to my faith journey. This is the time and season when I, as a young child, felt the tug and touch of the Holy Spirit on my heart, and surrendered my life to Christ. The moment when you encounter Jesus in such a tangible way that it moves you to surrender is one you will never forget, no matter how young or how old you are when it happens.

I was all of seven years old, and I was at school assembly during Holy Week. The Word was being preached, and the invitation to accept Christ as Lord and Savior was extended. I don’t remember who was around me, or who was even sharing the message. But I remember feeling this sense that I wanted Jesus, and so I asked Him to take up residence in my heart and life. Now, I am the daughter of a pastor, who is in a lineage of pastors and ministers of the Gospel. Jesus was no foreign entity to me. I sat under my father’s preaching from infancy, and went to a school where the Bible was taught. But it had to be a personal decision for me. My parents dedicated me to the Lord when I was a baby, promising to do all they could to teach me the ways of the Lord. At the same time, salvation is free and something that you freely accept as a choice. So, I made a choice, one that I admit now, I barely understood what it meant beyond wanting to behave in a way that would make Jesus happy. After all, how deep can a seven year old be about the mystical nature of faith?

Anyway, I remember when I made the proclamation in service the following Easter Sunday. The congregation erupted into praise and celebration, and now I understand that the celebration that went on in Heaven was a thousand times greater than the overwhelming celebration that I witnessed as I stated, in my black and white polka dot outfit (hats, gloves, and all), that I accepted Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior. From that moment till now, I can say with conviction that that was the greatest decision I have ever made. So much has happened in the years following that confession of faith, but God has remained faithful and true. He has called me to ministry, I have preached an initial sermon, and participated in a variety of ministries as His Spirit has led me. Writing this blog is one of those outlets for me. But, even with all that, He has steadily been walking beside me.

There is a well-known poem called “Footprints” that has been the greatest illustration, to me, of the journey of faith that all of us are on. When things get tough, and you feel like God has left you alone to fend for yourself, it is often in those moments that He sees that you have gotten too weary and He picks you up in His arms and carries you until you have regained the strength to continue walking. I could tell you of times when, as I looked back over them, I know for certain that He was carrying me.

Easter is the happy ending to the greatest Love story ever written. The Man gives His life for His beloved, to redeem her and bring her back home. Who wouldn’t want to be rescued? Yes, that’s what Jesus did when He died on the cross and then rose back to life on Easter morning. His entire life was devoted to rescuing humanity from the death penalty we deserved for our sins. Love held him to the cross, when He could have called down legions of angels to deliver Him and leave us in our sin state. But a profound and overwhelming love for humanity kept him on the cross, and he carried out his mission to the end. It is because of that love, we have a new opportunity to have an intimate and thriving relationship with your Creator, direct access to Him at any time, in any place. This, as Kirk Franklin so aptly put it, is the reason why we sing. The Resurrection is the foundation for every hymn, every chorus. It is the hope that we cling to for life eternal in the heavens. It gives our life purpose and direction. It restores our sense of hope and a future. In reconnecting to the One who gave us purpose, we gain new life. I know what it means to me to be born again to new life and restored hope in Jesus. I invite you to try Jesus and see what a wonderful difference He can make in your life. I want you to know personally the incredible love of Jesus Christ in your life journey. He would love to reconnect with you today. Love and blessings on this Resurrection Sunday!!!