An Unmerited Gift

During the past several months, I have been doing a lot of reading.  One book that I decided to re-read is by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages for Singles. I decided to re-read it because I have been spending more time getting to know myself better. I’ve had more time to think, reflect, and lean into what God is speaking to me. He still speaks even during a pandemic.

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By nature, I am a learner. I love learning and finding out more information, especially as it pertains to my spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health. I want to grow and develop in all areas of my life. In order to do this, I thought that I may need to review the five love languages and learn how my personality type expresses and receives unconditional love. I needed to learn the art of communication. I don’t know about you, but I need to improve in this area. 

The five love languages that are discussed in Gary Chapman’s book are words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. As I was reading and turning each page, I tried to connect with the words on the page. The author defines each love language and then gives examples of each.

 When I got to the chapter that discussed the love language of “gifts,” I started thinking about my life and my personality. I have always been someone who likes to give and receive gifts. I especially like to give and receive gifts “just because.” It doesn’t have to be a special time of the year for me, a giver. I just enjoy giving and receiving gifts.

 After I finished reading the book, I took the five love languages profile assessment that is located in the back of the book. I wanted to find out my secondary love language as well. According to my profile score, my primary love language is “gifts” and my secondary love language is “acts of service.” 

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As I closed the book, I thought about the word “gift.” A gift can be defined as a present, a sacrifice, anything given voluntarily; at no cost. This is exactly what God did when He gave us the gift of His Son Jesus Christ. John 3:16 reminds us for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

In Luke 2:6 and 11 we find the following words…

V.6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

V. 11 For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

What a wonderful gift from God our Father. As we enjoy the many gifts that we have gotten this year, let us be reminded of the wonderful unmerited gift of Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation. Immanuel. God is with US!

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How will you share this amazing gift with others?

A Short Word of Thanks

Just wanted to take this time to extend a word of thanks to each and everyone of you. I am so grateful and humbled that you made the choice to connect with me on my website, “Testimony T.E.A. with Lisa B.” It really means a lot to me that you take time to read the words that God has placed on my heart every week.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24, NIV

Thank you for your comments. Thank you for your likes. And thank you for subscribing and following me. I would have never thought that God would use me, Lisa Ann Brown from Harvey, Illinois to bring a message of hope, inspiration, and encouragement to others through His Word. Thanks again for connecting with me. I greatly appreciate your presence in my life and will continue to Thank. Exalt. and Adore. Him!

Many Blessings!

Lisa B.

A Daddy’s Love: Abba Father

I will always remember the date, December 17, 1976. This is the date that my father, Abe Brown passed away. It was a cold, dark night. He was driving home, lost control of the car, and crashed into a light pole on I-94 in Chicago, Illinois. I was only six years old and my little brother was just four. We had just lost our daddy at such a young age, so close to Christmas, and in such a terrible way. My mom tells me that our Christmas presents were in the trunk of my daddy’s car; a yellow Cadillac with white leather seats.

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I remember my momma waking us up in the middle of the night and sitting us on the gold carpet stairs. We were dressed in our blue and white pajamas. I remember being so sleepy and wondering why she had woken us up. As we sat on the stairs, she began to hold our hands and tell us that our daddy would not be coming home anymore; that he had died in a car accident. Tears streamed down our faces as we tried to comprehend what our mother had just told us. Daddy was gone forever, just like that. We would not hear his voice anymore. We wouldn’t be able to play airplane with him anymore. My brother wouldn’t be able to wash the car with him on the weekends. And we wouldn’t get to run and hide behind the green recliner when we heard the garage door go up. My brother and I would like to hide from our father and have him find us when he came home from work. I can hear his deep voice saying, “Where are my kids?” We would jump out from behind the chair and run into his arms.

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As the years went by, I tried to deal and cope with the loss of my father the best way that I could. I remember at one point in high school, being angry with God for taking my father away from me. I questioned His love for me. How could a loving God take my father away from me? Why did he have to leave the earth so soon? What did I do to deserve this? It just wasn’t fair.

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Time went on and I was getting older and becoming a young adult. Doing life without a father was challenging. I looked to men for validation, safety, protection, and security. As a grown woman, I started to have trust and abandonment issues. I protected myself. I was not vulnerable in relationships or friendships. I never wanted to get close to anyone for fear of losing them.

It wasn’t until I accepted Jesus as my LORD and personal Savior, that I began to heal. I did not have my father for a long time on this earth, but now, I had my Heavenly Father. I knew that He would never leave me and that He loves me unconditionally. His love for me is vast. I found my safety and security in Him, my Heavenly Father. I am safe knowing that I am going to be alright no matter what. I am secure knowing that I can fall apart and He will be right there to put me back together. And while I miss and will always love Abe Brown, I am grateful for the loving relationship that I have with God, the Father. He will never leave me nor forsake me and the same goes for you. He loves us!

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Join me in celebrating our Daddy’s love. I call Him Abba Father because we have an intimate, loving, and personal relationship. Here are some scriptures that speak to our Daddy’s love…

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I John 4:16 

God is love.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Psalm 136:26

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

Psalm 86:15

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Patience: The Fruit of the Spirit

“Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it into positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.”  Roy T. Bennett

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One of my least favorite things to do is wait. To me, patience requires so much. I just can’t seem to wait in line at the grocery store, wait for someone to finish talking before I interrupt them and say what I want to say, wait in line to get my car washed, or wait for my computer to restart. Now that takes forever. Waiting and having patience is just so hard for me.

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Several weeks ago, my friend asked me to pick her daughter up from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport. She was coming home for Thanksgiving break from college, my alma mater, Tuskegee University. I was glad to help. As I arrived at Delta terminal to pick up her daughter, I thought about how the years had passed. Deja was all grown up now. She wasn’t that two-year-old little baby girl that had come with her mom to visit me in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I still remember her having on her little navy snowsuit and boots, playing in the white fluffy snow that had fallen on the ground. She was now a freshman in college; a beautiful young woman with a bright future ahead of her.

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 As we drove down I-85 and got closer to the house, I asked Deja what she would like to eat. I had food in the refrigerator but hadn’t cooked. I began to name the places that were around my house: Wendy’s, Zaxby’s, Mc Donald’s, and Bojangles. It was Sunday, so Chick-Fil-A was closed. She decided that she wanted McDonald’s. As I turned into McDonald’s, I noticed the drive-thru line. It was around the building. I asked her if she wanted to go in, but we quickly realized that was not an option. The inside was closed. I didn’t feel like driving around to find another place to get something to eat, so I decided to stay in line and wait and be patient.

As we were waiting in the drive-thru behind all the cars, I started to think about patience and how God had been dealing with me in this area. You see, I know what the scripture says in Galatians 5:22-23; But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. It’s one thing to know the scripture, but it’s another thing to walk and live it out. This is an area of growth for me.

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As believers, we must join the Holy Spirit in the work that He is doing in our lives. He is doing the work in us and we must walk and depend on Him. We cannot achieve these things on our own. You and I need His help in order to achieve these character traits; the ones that are found in Jesus Christ. As we join our lives to Him, He is able to produce these qualities in us. Our connection enables us to grow. We become more like Christ.

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I have decided to join in the work that He is doing in my life. What about you? I am working on patience. Which one of these qualities do you want the Holy Spirit to produce in you? Remember, God is working in the waiting!

Hope in HIM

Have you ever put your hope in someone or something? Maybe you hoped that your favorite NFL football team would win the game. Or, perhaps you hoped that you would meet someone at a friend’s birthday party. Or, maybe you hoped that you would get the job that you interviewed for. I have hoped for all of the things that are mentioned above and I imagine that one of these examples resonates with you as well.

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May of 2019 was a time when I put hope into practice. I had left one school district and was trying to secure a teaching position in another district. I had the summer months to try and find a teaching position within this new district. It was the end of May and I still did not have a position. I had gone on several interviews, but no one had called me back and offered me a teaching position at their school. During this time, my friend, Erica was so supportive and encouraging. She would call and ask how my job search was going and would always offer a word of encouragement before getting off of the telephone. I appreciated her encouragement and support, but I was starting to feel a little discouraged, nervous, and sad. I knew that the bills would have to be paid whether I had a job or not. 

I remember a conversation that I had with my brother, Jason in mid-May. I had gone to Carmel, Indiana to celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday. We actually surprised her, which was something that was really hard to do. My aunt and uncle came from Macon, Georgia to help us celebrate. Instead of jumping out of the closet and yelling HAPPY BIRTHDAY!, we walked out of my brother’s office and said happy birthday. Momma was so surprised. The joy on her face was indescribable. She was smiling ear to ear. It even looked like tears were about to fall from her eyes. We had so much fun watching my mom open her presents, release her 80th birthday balloons into the air, read her beautiful birthday cards, and put on her black and gold 80th birthday crown. The cake and ice cream was simply delicious. The weather was sunny, warm, and beautiful. The weekend could not have been better. I was so grateful to God that He had allowed my momma to see another year; the BIG 80!

It was time for me to leave and my brother was taking me to Indianapolis Airport to catch my flight back to Atlanta, Georgia. I remember being in the kitchen when my brother turned to me and asked me if I had found a job yet. I told him that I didn’t and replied that I have HOPE. After I said that, I asked him if he was ready to go to the airport. He replied that he was. We walked through the house to the garage and got into the car. I was hopeful that I would have a job by the beginning of August; the new school year.

The hope that I had was not like a wish. I was not wishing that I would be hired by the time August came around. One of my former pastors from Minnesota defined hope like this…earnest expectation that God will show up. Hope can also be defined as…to expect with confidence or to desire something with confident expectation of its fulfillment. When I told my brother I had hope, (that I would get a teaching position) I meant that I was confident and expected God to fulfill my request; that He would move and show up at just the right time. My hope was in Jesus Christ. I expected and was confident that God was going to move on my behalf. In Psalms 42:5, we find the following words… Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior, and my God. This is a reminder that our hope is in Christ and what He did on the cross. And because of this act of love, we can be assured that we are in His hands and that everything will work out for our good!

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As believers, our hope is in HIM; the One that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. (Ephesians 3:20)

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Thanks, gratitude, and appreciation are all words that come to mind around this time of the year. Actually, every day should be a day of thanksgiving; God has been good to me and I know that He has been good to you as well. All we need to do is look back over our lives and see His favor and grace that has sustained us. His love endures forever.

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In I Corinthians 15:57-58, you will find the following words…

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

In I Thessalonians 5:16-18, you will find the following words…

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I remember living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was cold during the winter and relatively warm/ hot in the summer. I lived, worked, and worshipped in the city of Minneapolis. In fact, my church, New Salem was right across the street from my three bedroom house. Being able to walk across the street to the church was very convenient and I loved it.

Minneapolis, Minnesota
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On Wednesdays, I would attend a weekly Bible Study. I always loved attending Bible Study because it would give me more “WORD” in order to make it through the week. This particular Wednesday, Pastor McAfee was talking and teaching about prayer. He encouraged us to write a constructed prayer. After Bible Study, I went home and began working on my prayer. This is what I came up with and thought that it would be fitting to share at this time.

My Constructed Prayer

New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Dear Heavenly and most gracious Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus thanking you for allowing me to see another day.

Lord, I thank you for your mercies that are fresh and new each and every morning. Lord, I thank you because you have made me the head and not the tail; I am above and not beneath, and for that, I thank you. (Deut. 28:13)

Father, I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: (Psalm 139:14 ) Father God, I am confident of this one thing; that He who has begun a good work in me will perform it until the coming of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6 )

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 And for that, I praise you.

Father, I thank you for your Word, because there is life in your Word; there is power in your Word. Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. (Psalm 19:105 )

Father, it is written in your Word that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. (Isaiah 54:17 ) I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus who loved me (Romans 8:37 ) and that greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4 )

God, I know that you are bigger than any circumstance or situation that I may find myself in. And that though he slay me, yet will I trust in you. (Job 13:15 ) Your Word says that all things work together for good to them that love You, to them who are called according to Your purpose. (Romans 8:28 ) I believe Your Word; Your Word is truth, and I will stand on it. 

Dear Jesus, I love You. I praise You. I magnify Your Holy and righteous name. And because of my love for You, I will bless You at all times and your praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 43:1 )

In the matchless name of Jesus, I pray, AMEN!

What is your prayer of thanksgiving? Take some time to construct a prayer of thanksgiving. Let’s thank Him each and every day! He’s WORTHY!

A Chance to REST

Last month was an amazing month. I got a chance to see my old college friends from fall 1988 at Tuskegee University. They came to Atlanta and stayed with me. They were celebrating their 50th birthdays and Tuskegee’s virtual homecoming. They began to arrive on Thursday and left Monday evening. We had planned this weekend for months and it turned out even better than we could have hoped for.

Saturday was reserved for a day at the spa at Chateau Elan Spa & Resort. I remember being so excited about going to the spa and getting some rest and relaxation, and of course, a spa treatment. (Chateau Elan Sea Salt Glow) I was glad that they rented a car. For me, that meant that I did not have to drive. I was happy to climb in the back seat of the SUV and rest and not worry about driving the entire weekend. A big smile came upon my face as we drove on I-85N heading to Braselton, GA, about an hour away. I took off my shoes, sat down in the back seat with my legs up, listening to some good old music, enjoying the ride. I had my snacks and water and I was in my happy place. 

We arrived in Braselton a little early before check-in time and decided to take a walk on the trail; the Serenity Nature Trail. Other people were out walking on the trails and we even saw people playing rounds of golf. As we walked down the trail, observing the beautiful colors of the leaves on the trees, we started to reminisce about old times at Tuskegee. Laughter filled the air as we told stories from our years starting in August of 1988. My college years were some of the best years of my life at “Skegee.” 

After our walk, we went back to the hotel to change into our football jerseys. I had asked my friends to pack their jerseys so we could take some jersey pictures together.  I was representing the Chicago Bears and my other two friends were representing the Dallas Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders. We had fun taking pictures; each of us trying to hold our stomach in so the pictures would look good. Now that was another fun and funny moment! We couldn’t keep a straight face.

We headed to the spa after taking our pictures in our jerseys. I really enjoyed my spa treatment. My whole body was relaxed and I felt like a totally different person. I should have done a 90-minute treatment instead of a 60-minute treatment, but I was thankful for the 60-minute experience. My friends enjoyed their treatment as well. We all had a new attitude!

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As I lay in the bed relaxing after my massage, I began to think about how I had an opportunity to rest. I was able to rest when I was in the backseat of the SUV when my friends were driving and when I was on the massage table at the spa. The idea of rest suggests freedom from activity or labor, peace of mind or spirit or to take relief or respite. Just like I was able to rest, you can too. God gives us all a chance to rest in Him; He wants to help us. He wants us to invite Him into every area of our lives; now that is some kind of relationship!

Matthew 11:28 says…Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

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Join me in the pursuit of Him who is able to give you real rest. When you rest you can…

R Receive revelation

E Expect to hear from God

S Strengthen your relationship with Him

T Trust that He is working it out behind the scenes (for your good)

An Opened Hand and Heart

The word generous connotes the idea of showing a readiness to give more of something; showing kindness towards others. Being generous is one of the characteristics of our Heavenly Father, so as believers we too should exhibit generosity towards others. John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.

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Last Saturday, I found myself doing my regular routine of cleaning my house with the music playing loudly in the background. I vacuumed the upstairs bedrooms, swept the hardwood floors in the living and dining room, cleaned the three bathrooms, and washed two loads of clothes. The house was spic and span. You could eat off the floor. The house smelled like Hawaiian breeze and lemon because I had lemon oil in my diffuser that was plugged in and I had just changed my AirWick plugs to my favorite scent, Hawaiian Breeze. I felt like I had really accomplished something that day because all of this was done by 10:00 a.m. I had the rest of the day to just do whatever I wanted.

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I began walking around the living room, observing that everything was in its place. I thought about how it is a new season and maybe with a new season, there should be a new and different look to the interior of my home. I started moving and rearranging pillows, vases, baskets, and stools in the living and dining room. I even walked upstairs and began shifting things around in my bedroom and loft.

As I continued to shift things around, I thought about if I really needed all that I had; maybe it is time to get rid of some stuff. I walked slowly to the pantry and got out a white plastic garbage bag. I began to put some things into the bag. I would put some things in and take things back out. It seemed hard at times to give things away. I had grown attached to some of the items and didn’t want to part with them. After going back and forth about what to keep and give away, I ended up having two bags of items to donate to the Goodwill Store down the street from my house. ( glass vases, wall art, glass bowls, patio chair cushions, gray corner table, and a large area rug)

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During this process, I started thinking about the importance of generosity and how we as Christians, are called to live a life that is full of generosity; displaying a willingness and readiness to give warm-heartedly. Matthew 10:42 says that He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor. Generosity is a core value of the life of a Christian.

That day, I decided to be generous with household items and open my heart. I decided to show kindness to others. The word “heart” refers to our intellect, conscience, will, character, feelings, thoughts, and emotions. I made a decision not to live closed fisted, but to live with opened hands and an open heart. Galatians 6:9 reminds us… Do not let yourselves get tired of doing good. If we do not give up, we will get what is coming to us at the right time. (Galatians 6:9 / New Life Version)

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G   Generosity/giving

I    Is

F   Foundational

T   To our Christian walk

Have you exhibited generosity during this season? Have you been generous with your time, attention, energy, finances, or presence? Let’s open our hands and heart and live out the spiritual discipline of generosity!

A Song of Praise

Saturday is my favorite day of the week. This is the day when I don’t have to go to work and be on a schedule. I get to choose what I would like to do on this day. If I want to stay in my blue and red pajamas all day, I can. If I don’t want to comb my hair, brush my teeth, or wash my face, I don’t have to. It’s nice to have choices.

This particular Saturday, I chose not to go to the gym. Instead, I decided to just stay in the house and watch some television on my comfy, burnt orange couch. I stayed on the couch watching tv for about three hours. I was watching CNN and Lifetime; going between those two channels.

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As I was changing the channel, a song rose up in my heart and spirit. The song that I began to sing is, Thank You Lord. (I Just Want To) At first, I was just singing it in my normal talking voice. As I began to sing the next two verses,  (You’ve been so good and You made a way) I began to sing a little bit louder, clapping my hands and waving them in the air.

Shortly after, I stood up and got off of the couch and was singing even louder; the words of the song got really good to me. I started thinking about the goodness of God and how He has sustained me during the year of 2020 with all of the shifts and changes that this year has brought. 

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I began to walk around the house and sing even louder. I was convinced that my neighbors were hearing me sing, but I really didn’t care. Cold, wet tears began to roll down my cheeks. Some of you may know what happens when a song gets so good to you. You start making up your own words to the song; that is what I did. 

Here are my verses… 

You are my source.

You are my rock.

You love me so.

I just want to thank you Lord.

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After I finished singing and praising God, I felt a sense of joy and peace. He didn’t care how I sounded. I didn’t have to be in the right key. I believe that He enjoyed listening to me sing to Him; after all, I am His daughter. In Psalm 96, verses 1-4, it says…

Sing to the LORD a new song;

Sing to the LORD all the earth,

Sing to the LORD, praise His name;

Proclaim His salvation day after day

Declare His glory among the nations,

His marvelous deeds among all people.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.

What is your song of praise? What song has God placed on your heart today? Sing it loudly and boldly unto the Lord!

A Change in Seasons

My favorite season is fall. I like fall because the weather gets cool, especially since I live in Georgia where it stays hot for many months. I was so glad to see the date of September 22, 2020, arrive on the calendar; the first day of fall. It has been really hot down here in Georgia and I was ready for a change in the weather. I could finally turn off my air-conditioner and turn on my fireplace in the living room.

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During the season of fall like many of you, I enjoy putting on sweaters, boots, and leather. I love looking at the leaves on the trees change beautiful autumn colors. The orange, red, and yellow leaves are so captivating. And then, there’s my favorite drink that comes out in fall, pumpkin spiced latte. I could probably drink one of these every day.

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Fall is also the time that I enjoy going to my Homecoming at my HBCU, Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama. Driving down to Tuskegee to watch the parade, Golden Tigers play football, and see and hear the Marching Crimson Piper band is something that I take delight in. The halftime show is all of that and more; from the music that the band plays to the dancing of the band members. It is so nice to see people that I attended college with, meet new people and attend the activities that are planned for the weekend. Unfortunately, this year, I won’t be driving down to Tuskegee to attend Homecoming. Homecoming will be virtual because of Covid-19, but that’s ok. I will still enjoy the schedule of events that are lined up for the weekend.  

Tuskegee University / Homecoming 2019

As I reflect and think about the season that I am in, (spiritually) I often wonder what God is trying to teach me during this time; what is the lesson that he wants me to learn. I am reminded of what it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-4…

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven:

A time to give birth and a time to die;

A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

A time to kill and a time to heal;

A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to weep and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn and a time to dance.

This time/season has been divinely appointed. I am taking this time to get to know myself a little more. I am being still and thinking about my likes, dislikes, interest, and core values. I am learning about me and what gives my life meaning! What is God saying to you during this season?

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Let’s embrace this season and the time that we have. Let’s seek Him and allow Him to reveal what He is saying to us personally during this time.