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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Remember…

G.I.F.T.

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.

His Peace

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:3-4, NIV)

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The Lord promises to keep us in perfect peace when our mind is stayed on Him; firm and unwavering. Perfect peace signifies a state of completeness, fulfillment, wholeness, and well-being. We are to trust in Him always which requires us to have a firm belief in the reliability of Him who created us.

I have to admit, I struggle to apply this scripture to circumstances in my life at times. It is difficult for me to keep my mind on Him when so much is going on in this world of unrest. I find my mind staying on all kinds of things: the pandemic, the number of deaths that is rising day by day, the unfair treatment of people of color, how teaching and learning will look for my first graders when we start school with face to face instruction, my finances and so much more. How can I keep my mind on the Lord? Is this even possible? I think so and this is what I do that helps me.

One thing I find myself doing is turning off the tv. While it is important to keep up with current events, it is of great importance that we limit how much tv we watch. Turning off the tv and being still helps me to connect back to Him. I find myself going outside and sitting on my patio, looking up at the beautiful sky, listening to the sounds of the birds, going to sit on the bench across the street from my house in front of the fountain and watching the water, and feeling the sun shine on my beautiful face. This points me back to Him who is shalom; peace. I find peace in the things that He has created. 

After I connect back to Him, I am reminded of His goodness and how much he loves me. I begin to focus on our relationship instead of what is going on around me. In order to truly have peace, we must continue to pour into our relationship with our Lord. I spent time with him today on my patio. What will you do today to strengthen your relationship with Him? Finding peace is possible even during times like these. The peace of the Holy Spirit is able to transcend all distractions and chaos. Let’s allow God to give us His peace! 

P Praise Him in advance

E Enter into HIS presence daily

A Adore HIM for who HE is

C Come to HIM with Thanksgiving

E Exercise your faith

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Are you searching for peace today? Keep your mind on the only one that can give you real peace. Put your trust in Him.

Work It Out!

I look forward to the weekend; especially after a long hard week of teaching. My little first graders take a lot out of me. It is so nice to be able to attend the 8:30 am strength class (Power) at my gym (Onelife Fitness) in Peachtree City, Georgia. The group fitness class is only forty-five minutes, but during that time, we work on legs, arms, shoulders, back, and even have enough time to get to our core. I wish the class was an hour like it used to be because I need a little more time on my core area. You see, I love baking and eating sweets! 

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However, there are days when I wake up on Saturday and don’t feel like going. Somehow I end up pressing my way and pushing myself to make it to the gym. I am glad that I do. I end up feeling so much stronger and feel like I can take on the world and anything that may come my way that day. 

Just the other day, I was looking in my full-length mirror combing my hair and saw a bicep muscle pop out of my arm as I pulled the comb through my hair. I also noticed that my leg muscles had started to form. Even the muscles in my shoulders had started to have a nice and defined shape to them. A big smile came on my face. I was so elated because I was finally seeing some results and the hard work was paying off. I stood in the mirror longer than usual to do my hair and looked at my muscles that were starting to develop.

This reminded me of how important it is to work out and exercise our spiritual muscles. Just like we take care of ourselves physically, we must also take care of ourselves spiritually. We must get stronger spiritually. If we do this, we will not get knocked off of our square when trials, troubles, situations, and circumstances come our way. Developing our spiritual muscles will help us get through the storms. 

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Here are some ways that I develop my spiritual muscles.

Photo by Alexis Brown / unsplash.com
  1. Daily prayer
  2. Spend quiet time with Him
  3. Write in my devotional journal
  4. Attend online/drive-in worship service
  5. Read the WORD
  6. Join a Life Group/do life in community
  7. Read spiritual growth books

Are you growing stronger? How are you developing your spiritual muscles?

Let’s go to work! It’s time to exercise!

Bills and a Blessing: A Check in the Mail

Saturday’s Story for HIS glory

By a Christ Follower from IL.

Photo by Sharon Mc Cutcheon/ unsplash.com

I had been teaching for over 15 years in Minneapolis Public Schools in North Minneapolis and was pretty secure, financially. I enjoyed living in my Brooklyn Park, Minnesota townhouse that I had purchased about five years ago and also enjoyed driving my new arctic white Mercedes Benz, 300 4Matic. Well, it was new to me, even though it was a 3 year old pre-owned car with 30,000 miles on it. Life seemed to be going just fine and I was in a good place and space. I was happy and content.

My life in Brooklyn Park was good and I was at peace. I was close to the Cub grocery store, my church, Blue Oaks, and Lifetime Fitness where I enjoyed working out. I was also close to a shopping mall in Maple Grove called The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes that had all the stores that I liked.  I would often go shopping at Talbots, Black and White Market, Ann Taylor, DSW, Marshalls, and T.J. Maxx. I found myself shopping more than I needed to and as a result of this, I accumulated a lot of bills. 

One Saturday evening I decided to do my bills. I walked into my second bedroom which had a desk and a comfy office chair and began to look at my bills. I got my blue checkbook and stamps out of my purse and proceeded to peruse all of the bills that were on my desk. I opened up my checkbook, looked at my balance, and wondered how I was going to pay all of these bills at once. I put them in piles according to the date in which they were due. It was the first of the month and my mortgage was due, the association fee, the cable bill, the electricity bill, my Discover card, and one of those department store bills. 

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I glanced at the balance in my checkbook again, looked at the balances of the bills, and wondered what I was going to do. How was I going to pay this month’s bills? Could I just put a little on each one and then make sure that my mortgage was paid? I just couldn’t figure it out. I sat there for hours trying to work it out and make sense of everything. After two hours and much frustration of trying to figure it out, I got up out of the chair and said to myself; I can’t figure it out. I am getting ready to take a nice hot shower, put on my red pajamas, and go to bed. I’ll look at them another day.

Well, I got up the following day, went to church at Blue Oaks, and did my lesson plans later that evening. I didn’t think about the bills on Sunday and decided to look at them Monday when I got home from work. I had a great day at school and was glad because I knew what task lay ahead when I got home. Before pulling up into my driveway, I stopped by my mailbox to check the mail. As I was going through my mail, I noticed an envelope from my US Bank mortgage company. What could this be? I got to my house, took off my coat, and sat down at the dining room table so I could go through my mail. I opened all the other mail before opening the letter from the mortgage company. At this point, I did not feel like seeing another bill. I opened up the envelope and it was a check for $111.95. I couldn’t believe it! Two days ago, I was sitting at my desk trying to figure out how I was going to pay my monthly bills. Now, I had an extra $111.95 and was ready to look at my bills again.

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I went upstairs to use my black Dell computer to deposit my check, started writing checks for the stack of bills that I had, and put a stamp on each envelope. I then began to balance my checkbook. To my surprise, I was able to pay all of my bills for the month and even had a little extra. Once again, God had come through and had provided. The little check in the mail was an unexpected blessing. Minneapolis Public Schools was my resource, but God is my SOURCE. That day I came to know God as one of His many names; Jehovah Jireh, my provider! 

Down the Drain: The Pouring out of Spirits

Saturday’s Story for HIS glory

By a Christ Follower from IL.

Photo by Chris F. / pexels.com

As I drove home from North Minneapolis to Eagan, I remember thinking to myself, I can’t wait until I get home to eat dinner and have a drink. I had a long day of teaching and really needed to relax. My feet and head hurt badly and both were throbbing, especially my feet since I had a bunion on each foot. However, the drive from North Minneapolis to Eagan was about 40 minutes depending on the time of the day and traffic. It was around 4:00 p.m., so the traffic wasn’t too bad and boy was I glad.

The closer I got to my house on Vermillion Court Drive, the more excited I became. All of a sudden, I was driving around the curved road, almost to my house and I felt in my spirit a directive from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had convicted me and told me to take all of my alcohol out of the kitchen cabinets and pour the contents of the bottles down the drain. I wasn’t sure that I had heard correctly, but then I felt a small nudge again. Was the Holy Spirit really telling me to pour all of my liquor down the drain? I just spent over $50 at Wine and Spirits purchasing some of it the day before; what a waste of money. There was a battle within me and at this point, I needed to make a decision. Was I going to be obedient or disobedient? Was I going to hear, listen, and obey?

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I pulled my burgundy 1992 Honda Civic into the garage, walked into the house, hung up my black winter coat, and proceeded to the kitchen. I opened the kitchen cabinets and the refrigerator and pulled out the bottles of liquor one by one and set them on the kitchen counter. With tears streaming down my face and sadness in my heart, I walked to the sink and poured each one of the bottles down the drain. I cried out to God as tears continued to flow, non-stop down the cheeks of my face. My eyes were now red and mucus and tears were flowing down my face. I finally finished pouring out the Malibu, Gin, Vodka, Kahlua, Rum, Reunite’ and Alize’ and suddenly felt peace in my spirit. I was glad that the Holy Spirit had convicted me and that I was obedient to His prompting. At that point, a sense of freedom had come over me.

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That evening, I had come to know God as a deliverer; that was over 20 years ago!

Time to Get My Mind Right

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, NAS)

Paul is urging us as believers to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, living for Him instead of our selfish desires.  He goes on to tell us this is our reasonable service.

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We are encouraged to make a traumatic change by renewing our mind; to make new again. And not to comply with the standards and ways of the world; the way the world says and does things. By doing this, we will be able to discern what His will for us is.

Phtoo by Gabriel Lamza / unsplash.com

Time to get my mind right… I find myself saying this a lot lately. After a long hard day of work, this is something I would say Friday at 4:00 pm. This weekend, I am going to get my mind right. Getting my mind right would include me taking a long, hot bubble bath, sitting on my patio gazing up at the beautiful blue sky, lighting some scented candles, and sitting on my couch with the tv off; in complete silence. I also like plugging in my diffuser and adding several drops of eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus oil has a way of making me feel calm; the smell is so relaxing. I’m sure we all have different ways we go about to get our minds right.

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As I grow and mature in my walk with Christ, the phrase begins to have a new and different meaning. I begin to look at it with my spiritual eyes. The things listed above do help me relax and I enjoy them. However, I am learning that getting my mind right really entails the renewal of my mind as Paul urges us to do in Romans 12:2. In order to do this, I must connect to God and strengthen my relationship with Him. I do this by spending time with Him, reading His Word, and praying. I need to set aside some time to devote to God and commune with Him on a daily basis. It may not be easy, but it is necessary. I must be still and know that He is God. My heart must change. I must be changed from the inside out. As I spend time with my Daddy, the Holy Spirit that resides in me begins to do a work on the inside of me. Getting my mind right means me submitting my thoughts and selfish desires to Him and allowing Him to transform my life. When my mind is right, I will be able to discern His will for the life that He has given me. I will clearly hear Him when He speaks to me. As a result of this, I will be able to walk in the fullness, love, and grace of my Heavenly Father.

Let’s restore and make our minds spiritually new. Join me in this renewal process.

R Reflect

E Evaluate your relationship with Him

N Neglect the old way of thinking / new mindset

E Enter into His presence daily

W Walk in His authority

Have you gotten your mind right? Are you walking in the fullness of His will?

Winning by Submission: A Game of Pool

On Saturday, May 18, 2019, I learned about submission through a game of pool with my 12-year-old niece, Jada one Saturday night. God has a way of speaking to us any way that he wants to; we have to recognize and listen to his voice though. (my sheep hear my voice and they listen and obey)

As we were playing a game of pool, I noticed that Jada called upon her father to help her. She was dependent on him to teach, guide, and lead her. She would say, daddy, I need your help. What should I do? And like any good father, my brother, Jason stepped right on in, leading, guiding, teaching, and coaching his daughter.

As she listened to her father, she began to hit the balls into the pockets and began to gain confidence. I had the low balls and she had the high balls. My niece started to smile, hold the cue stick tighter, and move around the table to hit the balls in the pockets with the belief on her face that she was a professional pool player.

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It was my turn now and I continued to rely on my own understanding and experience of the game. My brother asked if I needed any help; if I wanted to know what shot he would take. I declined his help even though my niece was beating me in this game pretty badly. Frustration had overtaken me, but I was not ready to accept any assistance from someone that clearly knew the game better than me and had more experience.

Jada continued to hit the balls in the pockets as she listened and took advice from her father. I, on the other hand, continued to miss my shots as I declined his help. Music was playing in the background, so I started to sing and dance to some good old 80’s and 90’s music. Maybe the music and dancing would help improve my shot and help me focus.

It was my turn again and this time, I accepted my brother’s assistance. I began to ask him what shot I should take and what should be my strategy. He directed me to take certain shots, I listened and the balls began rolling into the pockets. I looked in awe and was amazed that I had started to catch up with Jada because I was willing to follow the lead of my brother; someone with more experience in the game of pool.

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As a result of me submitting to my brother’s leadership in this fun game of pool, I ended up winning. I was elated that I won the game, but I was even more grateful that God had chosen to speak to me through a game of pool in the family/game room downstairs in my brother’s beautiful home in Carmel, Indiana. I submitted. I got under the mission. This was a lesson well learned.

Submission to our LORD can be difficult at times, but we must remember that He knows what’s best for us and can see the end. He has the best plan for the life that He has given us. Let us wake up each day and say…not my will O’LORD, but Thy will be done! I am working on this submission thing and I invite you to journey with me as I give complete control over to Him. He is LORD… ruler, boss, and master of our lives.

Photo by Abel Marquez / unsplash.com

Have you submitted to God in every area of your life? Allow Him to be LORD over your life. Sis, let’s win! 

Trusting Him

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean to your own understanding: In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6, NAS)

The idea of trust means to have a firm belief in the strength of someone or something. We are to have a firm belief in God with all of our heart. This includes our character, intellect, conscience, will, emotions, feelings, and thoughts. We are not to rely on ourselves, but to accept and recognize the importance of God and His existence. As a result of this, He will enable and give us the power to move forward despite obstacles that may get in our way.

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There are a couple of examples that come to mind when I hear the word, trust. One thing that comes to mind is how I easily trust a chair to hold me up. I can remember walking into the doctor’s office and just sitting down in a brown four-legged chair without any hesitation. I had a firm belief that the strength of the object would hold me up. I didn’t think about it not being able to hold me up and me falling onto the floor. I just trusted and sat down. I also remember a time when I was in a friend’s classroom. We were talking about trust and he asked me to prove that I trusted him. He told me to stand up and to fall backward and that he would catch me. I glanced down at the hard cement floor that had very thin blue carpet on it. I hesitated at first, but then decided to trust that my friend of 15 years would catch me. I crossed my arms, closed my eyes, and began to slowly lean backward. I had a firm belief that as I was falling to the floor, that my friend would catch me before I hit the hard floor. He caught me and boy was I glad! I put my trust in a person.

However, trusting God at times can be difficult. It was easy for me to trust the chair and my friend, but hard for me to trust God my Savior. This is one of my favorite scriptures though. I have it written on a yellow post-it that is hanging on my bathroom mirror by my toothbrush as a reminder. Even though I have the scripture memorized and have that focus word of “trust” hanging on my mirror, I sometimes still find it hard to trust God. I find myself many times, not relying on God my Father. I rely on my experience in a certain area, my finances, my education, and intellect. As a result of this, I get stuck, stagnant, and paralyzed in my walk with Him. I am limited in my ability, but God is not. He knows all things. He is sovereign; He is the supreme authority and has complete control over everything. 

I decided to trust Him when I started this website and chose not to lean on my own understanding. I am not going to say that it was easy; actually, it was a little scary. I had to step out on faith. However, I am committed to trusting Him and acknowledging Him in this process; a process that will provide new beginnings and opportunities for growth.  I am confident that He is guiding me and enabling me to move forward with what He has placed on my heart.

He wants a personal and loving relationship with us that is based upon trust. Let us move forward in faith, trusting in Him along the entire way! He has the best plan for the life that He has given us. I will trust and obey. Will you? Join me in trusting Him!

Are you really trusting God or are you leaning to your own understanding?