Family Matters

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to celebrate with my aunt. It was her birthday. It was so nice to see my father’s side of the family; especially since I hadn’t seen them for approximately two years. We all met at Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant located in Dunwoody, GA. The long table was filled with family and friends. I was so grateful to be in the presence of these family members because I had just recently met them in the year of 2015. Getting to know my father’s side of the family has been and is such a blessing. 

Photo by Engin Akyurt/pexels.com

We ordered all kinds of appetizers and entrees: mozzarella marinara, stuffed mushrooms, chicken marsala, chicken piccata, and some other pasta dishes. The food was delicious but more importantly, was the fun and fellowship that was had that day. Laughter filled the air and time with the family was met with stories, laughs, jokes, and good family conversation. After eating, we sang happy birthday to my aunt as she blew out the candle on her warm dessert, an apple crostada.

Photo by regina Ferraz/pexels.com

The festivities didn’t stop there. After singing “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” to my aunt, we left the restaurant and headed over to a family member’s house. There we talked, watched tv, sang “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” again and watched as my aunt blew out the candles on her red velvet birthday cake. Sitting around eating cake and ice cream with the family felt so good. I enjoyed watching my aunt open her presents and read her birthday cards. It brought joy to my heart to be around family. In some way, it made me feel close to my father who passed away when I was only 6 years old.

Photo by Michelle Leman/pexels.com

As I drove home, I began to think about how important family is and how much it matters. After all, God instituted family. He created us to be relational beings. It’s of great importance that we connect and love on our family; that we cherish, value, treasure and appreciate those people that make up our family. 

I am so grateful to get to know my daddy’s side of the family and get close to them. I am also thankful that I made a decision to be a part of the family of God; the household of faith. Being a part of His family is simply amazing and comes with so many benefits. As members of His family, God is our Father. We get to experience His love, our needs are met, we have eternal life, we have an eternal inheritance and He has bestowed upon us spiritual gifts and a purpose.

For it is written…

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. I John 3:1

So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people and especially to those who are in the household of faith. Galatians 6:10

Photo by August de Richelieu/pexels.com

Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who call out Abba, Father. So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:6-7

Let us lead others to Christ in a way that is filled with love and grace.

Family really does matter!

Acknowledge Him

As an educator, I love the season of summer. Summer is a time when I don’t have to go to work and can do whatever I want, when I want. The only person that I am responsible for is me and that is a great feeling. I get the opportunity to focus, take care of myself, and get some good rest and relaxation. I can be free of stress. (pretty much)

Photo by Khanh Le/ pexels.com

One thing that I enjoy doing every morning during the summer months is going to the gym to work out. I love to take strength and cardio classes at my local gym in Peachtree City, GA. The instructors are friendly and the classes are fun and challenging. I also get the chance to connect with others. What a great way to start off the day by getting the adrenaline/epinephrine flowing in my body. After a good workout, I feel like I can take on whatever comes my way for that day.

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This particular Monday, I got up to go to my Body Pump class. I was moving a little slowly but did manage to make it to the class. I was moving slowly because I was a little tired, my knees were hurting and I wasn’t in the right headspace. I wasn’t sure why I felt the way that I did but that was my truth that day.

I arrived at the gym about fifteen minutes before class like I usually do. I walked in, scanned my card and was greeted by the manager with a “GOOD MORNING” and a smile. I continued to walk through the gym and walked up the stairs. A friendly young lady turned to me and greeted me with a “GOOD MORNING” and a smile. There was a class before mine that was still in session, so I waited patiently outside the door with a group of 5 people. As I was waiting, a short older woman turned to me and greeted me with a “GOOD MORNING” and a smile.

Photo by Tim Mossholder / pexels.com

Wow! I had never in my life encountered so many people who had spoken to me in that short amount of time; from walking through the fitness center door to now standing in a group of people waiting to take a Body Pump class. The smiles and acknowledgement/greeting made me feel good inside. I was starting to be in the right headspace now. I was glad that I had responded with a smile and a “GOOD MORNING.”

The encounters that day with those three people got me thinking. I started to think about my relationship with Christ. I thought about how important it was that I continue to acknowledge Him every morning when I wake up, thanking Him for allowing me to see another day. (one that is not promised) I started to remember that our God wants us to invite Him into our day and be involved in every detail of our lives. When we acknowledge Him, we are saying that we know Him personally and are in relationship with Him. He wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him; one that is deep and not at the surface level.

Photo by Clement Eastwood / pexels.com

Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us…

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

Holy Spirit, we acknowledge You this day and are so grateful for Your presence!

In what way(s) do you acknowledge Him before you start your day?

He Has Us Covered

June 20, 2021 (Father’s Day) was a very exciting day for me. It was the day that my church (Impact Church in East Point, GA.) would be opening their doors for us to go back to our in person services. I was so excited that I didn’t sleep well that entire Saturday night. I tossed and turned, watched tv, and even retwisted my hair. My eyes and body were wide awake like it was 11:00 in the morning. By the way, it was 2:00 am.

I was finally able to go back to sleep around 4:45 am., knowing that I had to get up at 6:30 to get ready so I could make it to the 8:00 am experience. I am a morning person. I woke up, took my shower, got dressed and left the house around 7:20 am. The drive was met with few cars on the road at that time and a little drizzling rain. The rain and clouds did not dampen my spirit. I was ready for some corporate worship!

Photo by David Marcy / unspalsh.com

As I pulled into the parking lot of the church, I was met with waves from my friends/my church crew. One of my friends greeted me at my car door saying “good morning” and held his umbrella over my head so I could get out of the car without getting wet. I wasn’t sure where my umbrella was but was glad that my friend was there with his to cover me as we walked to the entrance of the church.

As we were walking, I thought about how God covers and protects us. An umbrella is a canopy designed to protect us against rain or sunlight. It was important for me to position myself just right so I wouldn’t get wet from the rain. And so it is with God, that we get in position, in His daily presence. Our Heavenly Father is here to provide spiritual protection from things seen and unseen. He wants to nurture and care for us. 

Psalm 32:1  How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Psalm 91:4  He will cover you with His feathers and under his wings you will find refuge.

Photo by Geetanjal Khanna / unspalsh.com

Let us get under the Almighty hand of God and watch Him cover us. Because of our relationship with Him, He has us covered!

Let us stay covered, connected, and in community!

Revive: Bring Back to Life

Those who really know me know that I love to plant flowers, bushes, herbs, and vegetables. (almost anything) I enjoy being outside and feeling the sun shine on my face. There’s just something about putting my hands in the dirt and putting things in the ground that brings me joy. I love to see things grow and take delight in taking care of whatever I am growing; whether it is in a planter or in the ground.

A couple of weeks ago, it was really hot in Georgia. (in the 90’s) Because of this, I had to make sure that I watered my plants and flowers daily; sometimes twice a day because of the hot sun. I usually water them in the morning before I go to work at 6:20 a.m. and when I get home around 3:35 p.m.

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff / pexels.com

One day, I went to work and forgot to water my flowers and plants. By the time that I got home, my flowers had started to droop. The soil was very dry and hard and my flowers looked like they were dead or dying. I rushed to get my green watering can, hoping that I could revive my flowers. I went inside and did some work and after an hour, peeked out the blinds to look at my flowers. To my surprise, they had been revived! They had come back to life. The water brought them back to life and boy was I glad!

There are times in our lives when we need to be revived; we need to come back to life. The weight of the world can get us down but at that time, we need to awaken our faith. (revive our faith) For some of us, reviving our faith may look like serving and helping others. For others of us, it may look like joining a life group or watching sermons over and over again. It may also look like praying and reading our Bible more or memorizing scriptures. For me, it is reading my Bible more. How about you? Whatever it is, let’s move forward and begin. 

Photo by Nappy / pexels.com

For it is written…

The humble have seen it and are glad; You who seek God, let your heart revive.

(Psalms 69:32)

It’s time for a SPIRITUAL REVIVAL! Let us revive our faith and walk in the fullness and abundance of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ!

Broken Pieces

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva / pexels.com

I love having company. Having people come visit and stay awhile in my home brings me so much joy. I thank God for the spirit of hospitality. I am grateful that I GET to make others feel comfortable, welcomed, and loved in my home. There is definitely joy in serving others. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

(I Peter 4:9-10)

Tuskegee University/White Hall

A couple of weeks ago some college friends came to visit. They flew into Atlanta from California and Dallas. We went down to Tuskegee University to pick up my friend’s daughter. The weather was warm and sunny that weekend. We had a wonderful time laughing, talking, and singing on the way down to Tuskegee, Alabama. It felt like old times at Olivia Davidson Hall; the dorm that I lived in my freshman year at Skegee, Fall 1988.

shrimp and key lime waffle

The night before they left, we got in a little late. We had done a lot of running around and it was really hot that day. (in the 90’s)  We had gone to the mall and to two restaurants, The Real Milk and Honey and The Sugar Factory located in Atlanta, Georgia. I was very tired after the long day, so when we got home, I told everyone “good night,” went upstairs, took my shower and got ready for bed. I needed to get my rest because I had to go to work the next day and teach my little first graders. Before going to bed, I said my prayers, and wrote in my women’s prayer/devotional journal. 

Within about 15 minutes of getting in the bed, I heard a loud CRASH! It sounded like someone had dropped a glass or bowl or something. I got out of bed and walked slowly down the stairs. As I got to the end of the stairs, I glanced on the floor and saw that my white, creme, and gold vase was shattered into pieces; big and little broken pieces. My friend proceeded to tell me how it happened and her daughter apologized for breaking the vase. She went to the pantry and got the dustpan and broom. She picked up the big pieces with her hands and swept up the smaller pieces. 

As I watched her put the broken pieces of my vase into the garbage can one by one, I began to think about “brokenness” as it relates to our Christianity. Words that come to my mind as it relates to brokenness include: imperfection, heartbreak, or flawed. One of the definitions of the word “broken,” includes… having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.

We are all broken in one way or another. The good news is that we have a Savior that wants to make us whole again. He is the only one that can heal our broken state and make us whole; the state of being perfectly well in body, soul, (mind, will, and emotions) and spirit.

My new vase.

For it is written…

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 

(Psalm 34:18)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

(Psalms 147:3)

Let us surrender to God and allow Him to make us whole.

The goal is to be whole!

Connect to the Source

The alarm went off at 5:50 am. It was time to get up and get ready for work. I began my day by thanking God for waking me up and allowing me to see another day. After that, I picked my phone up off of the nightstand and began to log in for work. I tried a couple of times but it didn’t work. I troubleshooted by turning my phone off and waiting a few seconds and then turned it back on. I still got the same message, “not connected to the server.” I thought in my head that I would just wait until I got to work to sign in. I just needed to be there by 7:15 am. and that shouldn’t be a problem.

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff / pexels.com

I began to get dressed and turned on the tv like I always do. I like to watch the news while I am getting dressed so I can know what the weather will be like as well as the traffic; especially since I work in Atlanta. The traffic in Atlanta is something else. The tv came on but the picture was stuck and I was unable to change the channel. I tried changing it with the voice command control as well as manually. Nothing worked, so I picked up my phone and dialed the cable company. To my dismay, there was an outage in my area and it affected my cable and internet. I couldn’t watch the news to see what was going on in Atlanta nor could I log in for my job with Atlanta Public Schools. I felt so lost without the connection to the internet.

Photo by Brett Sayles / pexels.com

 That’s how it is when we are not connected to our source. We feel lost and helpless and unable to do anything. John 15:5-7 says the following words…I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko / pexels.com

To “abide” means to remain or stay connected to. As believers, we are called to abide in Him; to stay close to Him. (like a branch attached to a vine) We must continue to read and study God’s word. We must abide in His love, listen and obey. When we do this, we will bear much fruit. And when we bear much fruit, we will please and glorify our Heavenly Father.

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What are some ways that you stay connected to Christ? Let us continue to stay close and connected to Him and bear MUCH fruit! HE is our source!

Shelter from the Storm

I live down south in Georgia where the storms can get pretty scary at times. You can look out of the window and see the tree limbs blowing back and forth, see the dark sky, see the crackling of lightning, hear the roar of thunder, and see the rain hit the ground really hard. The pouring rain makes the ground saturated and trees are uprooted from the ground; sometimes falling on houses and cars. I have even seen hail the size of golfballs fall to the ground during a storm in Georgia. It is an experience like no other!

Photo by Andre Furtado / pexels.com

While I was at work, I got an email as well as an emergency alert from the National Weather Service. The email came from the Atlanta Public Schools Office of Communications. The subject was SHELTER IN PLACE and the message was…DUE TO SEVERE WEATHER CONDITIONS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, ALL APS STAFF/STUDENTS SHOULD SHELTER IN PLACE AT THEIR RESPECTIVE LOCATIONS IMMEDIATELY! After reading the email message, my principal came on the intercom to tell everyone in the school to move into the hallway and take shelter. 

I immediately got up and told my students that this is a REAL tornado warning and that they need to move quickly, quietly, and get in position. The children got up and started to walk out of the classroom. They knelt down and covered their heads. After getting my first graders in position, I too, knelt down and covered my head. All of the practicing that we had done really paid off. The children did an excellent job in a real life situation and boy was I glad.

As we knelt down in the hallway on the hard floor, I began to think about the word “shelter.” A shelter is a place of protection. It hides you from danger and keeps you safe. It is a place to go to find refuge during a storm. (tempest, whirlwind) While the storm was moving through Atlanta, we took shelter from the storm. We got to a safe place in the school building away from the windows and doors. We sheltered in place and stayed in the hallway for about 45 minutes. Finally, we heard the principal come on the intercom to tell us that the tornado warning has been lifted. We made it through the storm!!!

Storms will come in our lives; this one thing is true. Let us take refuge in the One who is able to sustain us during the storm. It may be a financial, physical, family, friends, or mental storm. Whatever kind of storm it is, rest assured that our Heavenly Father is our shelter. Psalms 91:1-2 says this…

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

I remember hearing a pastor say that you are either getting ready to go in a storm, you are in a storm, or you are coming out of a storm. Whatever place you are in today, let us kneel down and take shelter in Him. Let us pray, spend time with Him, and read His Word. He is our protection from the storms of life! We can make it through the storm!

Our Helper the Holy Spirit

Last weekend we had some beautiful weather in Atlanta. The sun was shining brightly and it was in the high 70’s with a slight breeze. It was the perfect weekend to plant some flowers.

After getting my workout on, I decided to stop by the store and look at some flowers. The plan was to get flowers to go in some planters that I had in the front of the house as well as on my patio. It seemed like the perfect day to brighten up my yard and around my house.

As I walked down the aisle, I saw so many beautiful plants and colorful flowers. It was hard to choose because I saw so many that I liked. I found a couple of hanging flowers to hang from my shepherd’s hook but they were hanging too high and I was unable to reach them. I am only 4’10.

I looked around and saw a friendly looking man. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind helping me by reaching and getting me the hanging basket of red petunias. He did and seemed happy to help. As I continued to look around, I saw another beautiful hanging purple plant that I really liked; that one was also out of my reach. It was on the top shelf of a cart. 

As a lady approached the cart, I opened my mouth again and asked for help. She smiled and reached and got the plant down for me. She actually struck up a conservation with me regarding a shirt that I had on; my Tuskegee University 1881 tank top. After we finished talking about college and growing older, she said, “Have a joyous day!!”

After conversing with the pleasant older woman, I checked out with a cart of beautiful flowers: petunias, geraniums, marigolds and some other pretty flowers. While walking to the car, I thought about all of the help that I needed while I was in the store. That got me to thinking about this sermon series that the pastor of Transformation Church (Pastor Mike) in Tulsa, Oklahoma has been teaching about. Pastor Mike has been teaching about the Holy Spirit, OUR HELPER.

Just like those two people helped me, the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to help us. He is waiting for us to call on Him. He wants to lead, guide, and direct us in every aspect of our lives. As believers, we have access to Him.

It is written…

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:16-18)

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. (1 John 4:15)

The Holy Spirit indwells the believer. Let us allow Him (the paraclete) to correct, convict, lead, guide, direct, help, teach, and comfort us. And let us say with assurance, “HOLY SPIRIT YOU ARE WELCOMED HERE!”

Contagious JOY!

It was SO good to get away from the city for a minute. I always enjoy spring break. It is a time for me to get some good and much needed rest and relaxation. No more Zoom, putting in grades, and staff meetings for a week; it’s a time for some good self-care and boy did I need it!

Ocean Lodge in St. Simons Island, GA.

My spring break was very enjoyable. I went solo and spent most of my time on the beach. The weather was beautiful. The sun was shining every day that I was there in St. Simons Island, Georgia. I couldn’t ask for anything more. 

As I was lying on the beach with my big blue and white beach towel, I looked out towards the water and noticed a father and his daughter. They were playing catch with a yellow ball. The daughter was probably around 10-12 years old. Her father would throw her the ball and she would catch it. They tossed the ball to each other, smiling, laughing and talking with one another. It was a beautiful thing to see and hear; laughter was in the air.

After they finished playing catch, they went to sit down on their beach towels for a minute. After sitting down for about five minutes, the father proceeded to get up and started walking. His daughter called out to him as she got up and began to follow him and say, “Hey daddy, where are you going?” He told her that he was going to the car to get a chair. 

When they came back from getting the chair from the car, the girl said, “Come on daddy, let’s play frisbee.” Her father agreed to play with her. As they tossed the frisbee to each other, they seemed to be having so much fun.  Watching them smile, laugh, and crack jokes just warmed my heart. Within a minute or two after they began to play, his other two children ran over to join in on the fun. It seemed like their laughter and joy was contagious! Now, I was watching all the children play frisbee with their father and it was a BEAUTIFUL THING to observe.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez / unsplash.com

While I continued to watch them play frisbee, I started to think…I thought about the Christian life and how important it is for us to draw others to Christ. We have the joy of the LORD and that joy should be contagious. Our walk with Christ should be one that exudes a sense of joy to others; especially in this world of darkness.

Oh, clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy. (Psalm 47:1)

Joy really is contagious. Let us spread joy to those who we encounter each day!

He Carries Us

St. Simons Island, GA.

I love going to the beach. It is SO relaxing. I was glad to have the opportunity to visit the beach during my week off for spring break. The week was filled with many walks to the beach. I enjoyed finding a good spot to lay my towel down in the sand. I love feeling the warm rays of the sun hit my face. What a way to relax after an almost five hour drive to St. Simons Island, Georgia.

After getting a slight tan, I decided to take a walk. As I walked along the beach, listening to the birds make noises and the crashing waves of the water, I glanced down at the sand. I noticed many footprints. There were footprints from dogs, birds, babies, children, and adults. The sand was also filled with seashells and twigs, along with many bike and wagon tracks.

5th street beach, St. Simons Island, GA.

Glancing down at the sand reminded me of a poem that I had learned growing up as a child. The poem is entitled, “Footprints in the Sand,” by Margaret Fishback Powers. The poem is very beautiful and encouraging. Toward the end of the poem, the author alludes to the fact that when you see only one set of footprints, that is when our Lord carried us.

My footprints in the sand at the beach.

Our LORD is always with us. Even when we feel like He is not there, He is. We are never alone. He will carry and sustain us. He promises to be with us to the end of the world. Let’s look at some of His promises…

Psalm 55:22

Cast your burdens upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Joshua 1:9

Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for, I, the LORD your God, am with you wherever you go.

Isaiah 41:13

For I am the LORD your God who holds your right hand; who says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”

Thank GOD for his sustaining power. He has us in His hands!