Listen! Mute Your Mic

I love the profession of teaching. I have always wanted to be a teacher since the age of six. I remember going to work with my momma and sitting in the back of the classroom watching her teach 25 second-graders at Brunswick Elementary School located in Gary, Indiana. She would stand in front of the classroom, teach the students, and make sure that they were doing their assignments. I would think to myself what a noble calling to be an educator. 

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Well, my dream came true and 27 years later, I am still in the teaching profession. And, by the way, I am loving it just as much as the first day that I walked into the classroom to teach first grade. I will always remember my first day of school in Palm Beach County Schools in West Palm Beach, Florida. It was filled with so much joy and excitement. I remember smiling ear to ear, happy that I was now a licensed teacher in the state of Florida.

I am now a first-grade teacher in Atlanta Public Schools. Distance learning has been a challenge for parents, students, and myself. However, we work together and make it work, and for that, I am grateful. 

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One phrase that I often find myself saying when I am teaching my students is, “MUTE your mic.” I always have to remind my students. I have to make sure that when they come in and join Zoom, that they come in on MUTE. When they don’t come in on mute, I am able to hear all the background noise. I find myself always telling them to please stay on mute while I am teaching. I constantly remind them of this expectation.

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As I was teaching my first graders, I thought about this word, mute, and what it means; one of its many definitions. Mute means to refrain from speech, be silent. When I am teaching, it is of great importance that my students mute their mics. They need to be able to hear me and receive instruction in all subject areas during our time together online. If they talk while I am teaching, they will miss out on learning the state standard and my instruction. They won’t be able to do the assignment correctly and will not do well on the test. 

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God calls us to listen and heed His voice. He wants us to mute our mics and listen for his instruction(s). He wants to teach us and give us instructions that are for our good. He wants to guide, lead, and direct us. These instructions can be ones that relate to our financial, relational, professional, spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. For me, this means not watching tv so much. Instead, I can spend time in His word and write in my devotional journal. It also means saying no to things that I am not led to do. It may also mean taking a break from social media for a while to get focused and listen to Him speak.

John 10:27 says… My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.

Are you able to hear and listen to the Holy Spirit? Listening requires more than just an awareness. It requires us to be intentionally focused. He wants to instruct us. In what way(s) can you mute your mic? Listen up, He’s speaking!

The Perfect Gentleman: Jesus Christ

God is such a gentleman.

He always opens doors for me.

(lambmarie/pinterest)

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I just love living down south. The weather is beautiful and you can definitely buy a lot of house for a little money. I especially like the way people speak to you in passing, even if you don’t know them. I remember when I first experienced this. It was in 1988 when I went off to college at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama. I would be walking down the street and hear someone say, “Hi, how are you?” I was thinking to myself that I didn’t know them, but would acknowledge them and answer them back. I also noticed that men would open and hold the door for you, pull out your chair, and even walk on the outside of the sidewalk when I would go out on a date. Wow, what a beautiful thing!

Just the other day, I had a wonderful experience. I was in Sprouts grocery store to pick up a few items. I didn’t get a cart because I knew I was just going to get a few things. However, one of the items was a little heavy. It was a case of water. I had my baked granola in one hand and my bag of white grapefruit in the other hand. Not to mention, I was trying to carry my phone and my wallet, without dropping my phone. Anyway, I did manage to make it to the checkout lane without dropping anything and boy was I happy. As the line started to move, I had to scoot the case of water with my foot because I had things in both of my hands.

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Just as I was about to muster up enough strength and energy to lift the case of water, I heard a deep voice. The man behind me asked if I needed help. I turned around, smiled, and told him that I did. I thanked him for putting the case of water on the cash register checkout counter and was so relieved that I did not have to bend down and pick up the heavy case of bottled water. My back was a little sore from taking a strength class at Onelife Fitness earlier that morning, so this kind gesture was right on time! 

While driving home, I began to think about my experience that day. I began thinking about the gentleman that I had encountered and how he had helped me; how he had made my day go a little smoother and easier. Then, I began to think about Jesus and how He is the PERFECT gentleman; how being in a relationship with Him makes my life easier to navigate. He does the heavy lifting!

 In Matthew 11:28-29, you will find the following words…”Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”This is the great invitation where He is calling all to Himself.

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He bids us to come to Him. He is a gentleman and will not force us to come. He is gracious, loving, and welcoming, the perfect gentleman that wants a personal relationship with you and me!

The Savior

Christ the gentle One

Meets our daily needs always

Omnipotent One

Join me in exalting the true and perfect gentleman; One who opens doors that we cannot see!

Salt: A Flavoring Agent

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy cooking. Some of my favorite dishes to cook are macaroni and cheese, turkey meatloaf, black-eyed peas, collard greens, and cabbage. I especially like cooking now since I recently purchased the Ninja Foodi Grill.  It has 5 functions: grill, air crisp, bake, roast and dehydrate. I find myself using it very often. What a great investment!

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For me, cooking is very therapeutic; good for my emotional well being. It brings out my creativity, which in turn brings me happiness and satisfaction. While I am in the kitchen cooking, I am usually playing some music in the background. I love to sing while I am cooking. It enhances my mood. I just love smelling the aroma of the food throughout the house when I cook.

Just the other day I was in the grocery store shopping for some seasonings. I had run out of salt, parsley, garlic powder, and pepper. I needed these seasonings in order to cook dinner, especially salt. I was going to cook chicken wings and make some fresh sweet potato fries. Both of these foods were going to be cooked in my Ninja Foodi Grill. 

I got the chicken wings out of the freezer, thawed them out, and began to season them. After I finished seasoning the chicken wings, I cut up the sweet potatoes and began to season them as well. I made sure to use enough seasoning because I wanted to make sure that they were really full of flavor; not too much salt but just enough for them to taste good!

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I put the seasoned chicken wings and sweet potato fries into the air fryer. Within ten minutes, they were done and ready to be eaten. I bit into one of the chicken wings. It was crispy on the outside and juicy in the inside. It was delicious and had the right amount of seasoning and flavor. The salt really brought out the flavor in both the wings and the potatoes. I really enjoyed my dinner and washed it down with a big, tall glass of bottled water.

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This cooking experience reminded me of a couple of scriptures in the Bible that reference the word salt. Salt is a preservative. It creates thirst. It adds flavor and it cleanses.  In Matthew 5:13, you will find the following words…You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. Another scripture that references the word salt is found in Colossians 4:6… Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

 As Christians, we are called to be the salt of the earth. This means that when we come in contact with others, our words should be ones that are positive and seasoned with grace. Our conversations with others should be filled with words that are gracious, edifying, and respectful; flavorful and tasty. 

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Let us affect the world around us by being the salt of the earth by drawing others to Him. We have a wonderful opportunity each and every day to be the flavor that the world needs; a flavoring agent. Join me in creating a thirst for Christ in the world! We can be just what the world needs!

Are you being salt? Are you helping others taste and see that the LORD is good?

Singles’ Perspective Sunday

Guest Blog

The Single Perspective

Single Thoughts for the Single Community

By Kanefus R. Walker

Singleness: Are You Called or Choosing?

Have you ever wondered what your God-given purpose might be? Has it ever crossed your mind that your status as a single person may be a calling? Do you view singleness as a calling? 

Have you been in a relationship that appeared to be leading down a serious road and you opted out to remain single? If so, what made you choose the single life? Do you view singleness as a choice? 

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For years I saw myself, as many others do, having the societal life of a career, home, spouse and children. Maybe not necessarily in that order, but to have all of that, especially by the time I was 50-years-old.  Yet, with each passing year, my yearning for some of those began to diminish in many ways.  Sure, the little girl in me wanted my daddy to walk me down the aisle and give me away to the man of my dreams.  Yes, the young woman in me wanted to experience childbirth and motherhood and all of the great and not-so-good things that come with that role. 

My reality is, I am single at 50-years-old without the career, the home, the spouse or the children.  Guess what? That is truly okay.  And I had to get to the point of it being okay because it wasn’t always.  I have learned to appreciate this state and wake up each day attempting to make it better than the day before.  No every day is not roses and champagne but it is not doom and gloom either.  Do with it what you like.  Whatever is going to make where you are, where you need to be.

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It is a calling or choice? For me, I honestly haven’t found that out.  One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible is Philippians 4:11 which states Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  We only get this one life so it is meant to be enjoyed.  So, as I go through the next leg of this journey as a solo act, maybe singleness as a calling or choice will be revealed.  Either way my goal is to be happy and that is definitely a choice.

A Promise Keeper

Last year around this time I had been pretty busy visiting friends for the holidays. I had driven to Tennessee to spend Christmas with my friend. The drive was very picturesque. I loved looking at the beautiful hills and mountains as I was driving. The weather was great and I was looking forward to visiting Tennessee for the very first time.

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I got to the hotel and checked in. After that, I went to visit my friend. We had a great time eating, laughing, opening presents, and conversing. It was great to meet her family. I stayed a couple of days and then headed back to Atlanta. I was able to get a day of rest and then I was off to Columbia, Maryland to visit another friend for the new year, 2020. I was excited about my next trip and looked forward to boarding the plane and being able to get a quick nap in during the short flight.

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The trip to Maryland didn’t go as planned. My friend ended up catching the flu, her son had a cold, her mom caught the flu and I got sick as well. I was pretty disappointed but tried to make the best of it. I stayed a couple of days at her house in the basement. The last couple of days of my stay, I decided to stay at a hotel. Before checking into the hotel, I made sure that I had some cold and cough medicine and lots of fluids. It’s one thing to be sick when you are at home, but it’s quite another thing to be sick, out of town, and in a hotel.

The last day before I was scheduled to leave, I began to feel better. I guess sleeping all-day and taking medicine and drinking fluids worked. I began to get my strength and appetite back. I was glad to be able to get dressed and see a little bit of Maryland. The weather was beautiful for that time of the year. The sun was shining and it was in the low 50’s. I took an Uber to Columbia Mall and ate at a seafood restaurant in the mall. The food was delicious. I especially loved the crabcakes and hushpuppies. I was full and decided to skip dessert, which was a first for me.

Zoe Schaeffer / unsplash.com

I got back to the hotel and began to write in my journal, reflecting over the year. The nice, big, comfy king-size bed was the perfect place to read, meditate, pray, and write. I remember pulling out my phone and watching the online New Year’s Eve Night Watch Service. It was held at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta. The theme was, “Do Something New in 2020.” I was thinking that I am going to be “stronger” in the new year. That word just happened to be the word for the year that Pastor Mike of Transformation Church (Tulsa, Oklahoma) said to his congregation on Sunday, January 5, 2020. 

The year 2020 was a very different year. It definitely had its challenges, but I did get stronger. I got stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, relationally, and spiritually. I was able to withstand whatever came my way. I exercised my faith muscles. I got stronger in the LORD and He kept me. He is a God that sees and hears all and is moved by our faith.

Let’s take a look at these scriptures…

In Psalms 121:5 you will find the following words…The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The word shade in that scripture refers to protection from harm both day and night. A keeper is like a guard or a protector. 

Isaiah 26:3 says… You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in you.

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He kept me. He kept you. He continues to keep us. He is the keeper of our souls. He is a promise keeper. His Word does not return void; it accomplishes what it was set out to do. Thanks be unto God for keeping us!

How has God kept you? What promises has He kept?

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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JOY TO THE WORLD THE LORD HAS COME!

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)