Monday, June 18, 2018

Notes From My Daughter - In Times of Doubt, God Cares

Occasional notes from my second daughter a college graduate, at the cusp of the next stage of her life. I never know what to expect when she writes, but I am always blown away. Did this child come from me? Read on!

Do you believe that God cares even when it seems He doesn't?



Monday, June 11, 2018

Do You Have Clean Ears?

It's soothing for me to clean my ears with a hairpin, even though it's recommended that we place no foreign objects in our ears.  I like knowing my ears are clean;  I never want to miss what's directed at me.

When she was younger, one of my daughters suffered from wax buildup to the point where it was painful.  One Sunday afternoon I took her to urgent care since our regular doctor was not available.  The nurse on duty reminded me of Broom Hilda in appearance; she was sturdy and no-nonsense, and she was determined to get the wax out of my daughter's ear.  To do so, she literally pinned my child down with her body so that she was steady, and used a device that resembled a large crochet hook to remove a massive wad of wax.  This all happened so quickly I didn't have time to react or protest, but when she was done, I was relieved that my daughter was no longer in pain. By the end of that visit, we both resolved to be more vigilant with


Monday, June 4, 2018

Women of the Word - Michelle Cauley

I met Michelle when I participated in a workshop that Michelle hosted at our church's annual women's retreat. Michelle's demeanor is calm, knowledgeable and engaging. We participated in an exercise where we focused on who we are in Christ, regardless of our scars. This exercise allowed many to open up, share and connect on a deeper level. So impressed was I with this activity, that I spoke with her after that session. She's a busy lady, but after connecting and later interviewing, you, like me will be pleased to have met this month's Woman of the Word - Michelle Cauley.

Michelle Cauley




Monday, May 28, 2018

The Mentors We Need as Mothers

My phone seems to have a mind of its own where it inadvertently dials random people at improbable times. One morning I noticed that it had dialed Barb.  About an hour later Barb called back, and we had a divinely inspired conversation.

You know those older women mentioned in Titus 2:3-5? Barb is one of those women; a teacher of good things. She has an unpretentious manner which makes you share without being judged; you just feel loved. We talked about parenting grown children - does it ever end? She understood what I meant.  We spoke about Proverbs 22:6 - training up a child in the way they should go and when they are old. I shared that sometimes I don't have the fortitude to withstand the training up, and then the gap of time as it


Monday, May 21, 2018

My Son and Me

This post catches me by surprise as I never expected to have this depth of emotion around the relationship I have with my son. My son already holds a special place in my heart as he was my first child and he is the only boy. My son introduced me to motherhood, and it was a really pleasant introduction. I've never had complicated pregnancies or deliveries; as a matter of fact, I gave birth to all 4 children without any pain meds (I'm either strong or stupid!). When I had my son, I can't say I knew what love was immediately, but over time I learned.

My son was a pleasant baby with an easy going disposition. He was always a foodie who ate well. As a matter of fact, because I was a new mother and he was a good eater, I didn't introduce foods properly so when he developed allergies, I was never sure what he was allergic


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Braving Imperfect Motherhood

In honor of Mother's Day, I'm posting today instead of Monday. Hallmark would have you believe that this day has only one flavor. Read on for my experience.

Before experiencing motherhood for myself, I had this expectation that I was going to be a better mother than my mother ever was. That is, if I was ever going to be a mother at all. To be clear, I had a healthy childhood and my mother did a masterful job at caring for all of her children but as far as I could see motherhood was a tiring, messy task, with little to no reward.

These thoughts were so deeply ingrained, were it up to me, I would have lived my life to ensure that children were not on my radar.



Monday, May 7, 2018

Women of the Word - Kristie Anyabwile

Kristie is a force to be reckoned with. Instead of falling prey to labels and being pigeonholed, she’s rooted her identity in her calling as a Christian, wife, mother, and servant of the local church—specifically, she notes, in that order. She supports her husband as he pastors Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia River Church, discipling other women as she writes and speaks about her own experiences as a wife, mother, and follower of Jesus (christianitytoday.com).We all need someone like Kristie in our lives, someone who knows the Word and with God's help lives out the word. She is as resourceful as she is serious but possesses a zest for life. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Kristie Anyabwile.

Kristie Anyabwile



Monday, April 30, 2018

What You Can't Cure You Endure

My phone rang while I was at the doctor's office. I immediately had an ominous feeling, and as soon as I dispensed with my greeting, I said: "What happened?" On the other line, I heard stroke, seizure, non-functioning, and hospice in a weary, matter of fact tone. My dear friend's mom is still in the land of the living for now, but she is pretty close to meeting her Maker. I hung up the phone prayerful, sad and hopeful.

When we traveled to Jamaica in December, we visited a close relative who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer but who appeared to have this struggle behind her. It seemed like all the conventional treatments were working, albeit slowly. But since December she had gotten progressively worse. While hoping for a miracle,


Monday, April 23, 2018

Don't Let Another Wounded Soldier Die

The Girl - this is what she became.  She no longer had a name - everyone called her The Girl.  The Girl attended church and was a member of the Youth Choir.  The Youth Choir really blessed others when they sang, but as these things go, not everyone believed or lived what they sang.  The choir director could only do so much to ascertain a person's spiritual condition.

The Girl got pregnant. They were many cries of "How could this happen?"  "She sang every Sunday", and "Oh my goodness."  To hear it being told all of the ones condemning her were near perfect in their youth and never made any mistakes.  The Girl left the church and as far as I knew never came back.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Book Review - Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted by Shannan Martin

I'm not sure what prompted me to buy this book but as I read it I was glad I did. I've never lived on a farm, nor do I  have an innate love for pickles and brine but I could relate to the author's description of the joy and liberty of what trusting God feels like.

Shannan used her life and circumstances to demonstrate what faith can look like. For the author it was stepping out of her comfort zone by living in an area some would deem unsafe with no blue ribbon schools in sight, leaving high paying corporate jobs with no future sense of a prized stability, adopting children from every walk of life and ultimately being happy with where God had placed her. It was not a superficial happy either - like "o gee look at me, I'm happy in spite of my circumstances." Instead, it's a happiness where she saw the truths of God's word borne out in her life. So much so, I'm convinced that if this book were not written no one would believe her because her life now seems counter to everything that we thought would make us happy.

As Christians, we're not of this world; we ought to have a different


Monday, April 9, 2018

Community that Motivates

I have struggled with the concept of being a part of a community since relocating. Prior to moving, my family and I were part of a vibrant community where we felt seen, known and heard. There was no real protocol that governed our interactions except our connectedness. If someone was sick, we ministered to them.

There were instances where we cleaned a sick person's house since this would not have happened otherwise. There was no judgment - only a willingness to help and share a burden. If there was job loss we prayed and helped in practical ways. We were all inadvertently responsible for each other's children. I knew that other parents would discipline my children without wondering if they had crossed a line; I did the same for theirs.  And there were good times. Because we were there for each other, it seemed that there was always an opportunity to eat and fellowship with each other. The fellowship and simply doing life together strengthened our bond. The biggest thing we had in common was our faith and from there it snowballed in a beautiful way.




Monday, April 2, 2018

Women of the Word - Cintia Listenbee

As an encourager, I was looking for fellow encouragers online. I kept looking until I found this gem: Cintia Listenbee at simplycintia.com. Cintia has an economy of words that ministers to your heart. From Brazil, her culture is evident in her writing. I love learning about her customs while she shares her faith. Cintia is also multilingual, so infrequently some posts are written in Portuguese (which I allow Google to translate). Regardless of language or culture, her strong faith emanates from a blog post. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Cintia Listenbee.

Cintia Listenbee



Thursday, March 29, 2018

Maundy Thursday - It's All About Love

Source: ImageBank
This week is considered Holy Week. Do not take this for granted for they are many who still do not realize the significance of this week and the actual events that transpired. I'll never forget the time at work when I told one of my employees about Good Friday. He was not familiar with the term and the meaning of the day. Back then I felt nervous sharing, but I shared anyway.

But today is Thursday and this day is often called Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy is unique and has a gravitas that rolls off the tongue. Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, which translates to “commandment.” The commandment given that day occurred at the Last Supper that Jesus had with


Monday, March 26, 2018

The Heart of Giving Series - A Change is in Order

(Image credit: Steven Depolo, flickr creative commons)
We can't take it with us, yet many hoard it as if we can. We can't out give God so it seems many don't make the effort. Somewhere between these two extremes, we wrestle with our attitude to giving our money.

When I started this series, I thought about my church experience over my lifetime. There's usually an unplanned need that precipitates a giving challenge or there's a noticeable lack in giving regardless of the income levels of the congregation. So I wanted to ensure that I had the right heart attitude around giving based on what the Bible says. I wanted to discover why Christians seemed to be entrenched in the financial principles of the world vs. the giving principles in the Bible (there are at least 250 verses if


Monday, March 12, 2018

The Heart of Giving Series - What It Looks Like When You Give to God

So far we've looked at giving and we've seen that how we give matters. We've seen that it can become second nature but yet we don't always do this regardless of the benefits. In this post, I'd like to explore the mechanics around giving regardless of your income level. I think many struggle with this question: "How do I give to a God I cannot see?"

The universal church is comprised of those who belong to Christ and who have trusted Him for salvation. These members of the universal church should seek fellowship and edification in a local church, which is where our giving typically occurs. Therefore when you give to God, you are giving to His representation here on Earth - the body of Christ.

The actual meaning of the word church is not a building but a group of people. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is


Monday, March 5, 2018

Women of the Word - Ngina Otiende

I became familiar with Ngina (pronounced Ngay-na) through a popular marriage blogger. Ngina is a marriage blogger and author with a niche geared to newlyweds for whom the ideal of marriage does not live up to their reality. She provides practical, actionable resources to help the newlywed wife draw closer to God and her husband, one intentional choice at a time. Because she is from the continent of Africa, I also appreciated how her cultural background was interspersed in her writing since many things are written from a vanilla perspective. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Ngina Otiende.

Ngina Otiende



Monday, February 26, 2018

The Heart of Giving Series - Stewardship: What Does it Really Mean?

As a child in Sunday School, I learned the parable of the talents which goes like this: Before going on a trip, the master divided up his talents (i.e. a considerable amount of money) between three of his servants. Of his three servants, he gave one five talents, one two talents, and another one talent. The servant with the five talents invested them wisely and his five talents became ten. The same for the one with the two - his two talents became four. But the servant who got one talent hid it out of fear from his master and did nothing with it. The master was upset and gave that one talent to the servant who had the most.

This story was always used to exemplify the


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Will We Really Be Reunited When We Get To Heaven?

Yesterday I woke up to the news that Billy Graham had passed and my first thought was that he'd finally see Ruth, his longtime wife, again.

Currently, they are a number of people in my life that are elderly and/or near death and I keep thinking of the great reunion that will happen when they get to heaven. Then recently within our circle of friends, a family lost their second child at the age of three to a chronic heart condition. This is the same condition that took their first child at around the same age. That family is grieving but again, I keep thinking of the sibling reunion in heaven (among other things). And then I often ponder my mother's heavenly existence and if she has reconnected with her son (my brother) and other relatives.




Monday, February 19, 2018

The Heart of Giving Series - Biblical Foundations About Tithes and Offerings

Do you have your offering? This was a question I heard every Sunday morning just before I left for church. My answer was usually yes but I can assure you that I had it only because my parents gave it to me and it was something that Christians did. I fear that many still have this limited understanding around their giving, so today we're going to dig into what the Bible says and hopefully come away with a better understanding around giving.

Before the Mosaic Law was established, there was an understanding that sacrifices or offerings should be given to God.

The first instance in the Bible was Cain and


Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Labor of Love

After birthing four children, I know intrinsically what is to labor for love. There's the initial excitement, then the arduous waiting while watching your body go through so many physical changes. Then there's the inevitable delivery where you're slightly afraid but you know that at the end of the process a new life will emerge from you. Throughout the entire process this new life is front and center - whether you are uncomfortable or have an uneventful pregnancy your only concern is for the life inside of you.

Writing a book is also a labor of love. The conception and gestation period were much shorter than in the natural as the thought for this book came about when my eldest daughter was embarking on her marriage journey last year. As her mother, she sought out so much advice from me that her impending nuptials provided an opportunity to share what I have learned over the years. There was the initial excitement, the daily discipline of writing, working with others, and then learning new processes so that this book could come to fruition.



Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Heart of Giving Series - Joy

Giving to a church has gotten a bad rap in most Christian circles. Too many feel uncomfortable giving to a church so they just don't give. Instead, many hold on to their portion.

Typically on most Sundays at any house of worship, a collection plate is passed around near the end of the service, some short recitation is said, there's a prayer and then the collection plate is passed. Some churches play music and everyone kind of dances as they walk forward to give their tithes/offerings. I've even seen churches make a point of collecting money twice - one for tithes and one for offerings. (I have to say that this was a head-scratcher!) Sometimes there's a musical performance as the offering box is passed. Sometimes the atmosphere is solemn, sometimes festive. Some churches display weekly giving on a board or it's printed in the weekly bulletin. In my experience, if there's a particular need it's usually


Monday, February 5, 2018

Women of the Word - Jozanne Marie

When we first moved to Los Angeles in 2007 we attended cultural events as a way of getting to know our new city better. In 2013, I was reading the LA Times when I saw a review of the play Beautiful. Here's an excerpt from that Critic's Choice review:
"If Jozanne Marie can’t persuade you to let go of that old grudge you’ve been nursing, nobody can. In her stunning and courageous autobiographical one-woman show, “Beautiful,” produced by the Latino Theatre Company, she describes a childhood blighted by betrayal and abuse, redeemed by forgiveness.
Born in Jamaica, a child of rape, Marie had the luck to be taken in by her warm, fiercely protective grandmother whom she called Mummy. Other adults in her life proved unworthy, often monstrously so, of her trust."



Monday, January 29, 2018

The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

It was a busy week so on this particular Friday night we just hung out together at home. We didn't want to watch TV or a movie (again), so I went to my everything cupboard (every mom has one of these, don't they?) and pulled out an unopened Star Wars puzzle. As I looked at this 300 piece puzzle, I pondered how I came to be in possession of this brain teaser as we are not Star Wars fans. But here we were. We were going to put this puzzle together. We started on Friday night; I ran out of steam after four pieces but the Little One had a method for solving puzzles, so she stuck it out a bit longer.

Saturday was a full day for me. As I left the house I looked at that incomplete puzzle and wondered if and when it would be completed. When I came home Saturday afternoon, the puzzle had taken shape - the border was completed, and the empty spaces inside were being filled in. It was more than fifty percent done and I was impressed. It turns out, that the puzzle drew the other family members in so that they felt compelled


Thursday, January 25, 2018

How To Respond to the Unkind Person in Your Life

Hurt happens. It happens to all of us, often when we do not anticipate it. It happens in families, it happens in friendships, it happens with co-workers, and we even hurt ourselves. The most confusing kind of hurt, though, is the hurt that happens for seemingly no reason.

Maybe for you, it's the customer service person who's supposed to be helping you out but keeps making everything more difficult with their attitude. This scenario rubs you the wrong way every time. You assume that kindness is a part of their job description without considering why they may be behaving rudely in the moment.


Monday, January 22, 2018

An Invitation to Participate in the Divine

Have you ever cried so much it felt like you couldn't cry another tear? I have. Has your heart been so broken you thought it would never heal? I have. Have the rifts in your family taken such a toll on you that you wonder if fellowship will ever be restored? I have ached for broken family relationships. Has the deep hurt of a child made you feel so helpless that all you do is cry? I have.

There are circumstances in life that are so unexplainable that force you to your knees with desperate cries to the One up above. "Why Lord, why?" "How Lord, how?" "Make a way Lord, make a way." "Heal Lord, heal." "Restore Lord, restore."



Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Best Exemplar

Source
As women, sometimes we struggle with housekeeping don't we, especially when we have a growing family. Recognizing that there's a place for neatness we try to keep everything neat all the time and this is where our unrealistic expectations begin to get the best of us. Maybe secretly we do believe that neatness is next to godliness.

We want our living rooms to be works of arts instead of actually being lived in; we want our kitchens and our bedrooms to be Pinterest worthy and there should be no toys or clothing on any of the floors. The only place that might be allowed to be messy is the laundry room - and even there we drive ourselves crazy: we should have bins for each person and each color; washed laundry should be folded into neat stacks so that family members can easily spot their clothes. In other words, even the laundry area must be neat! Who can stay sane? We set unrealistic examples for those around us while perhaps driving them and ourselves crazy.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Write it Down

God has left a deposit in my spirit at the beginning of this new year and it is that I should write my thoughts down. I do some of that via this blog, but honestly, I had gotten lazy with capturing God's thoughts as He speaks to me.

These thoughts can show up anywhere and anytime but they usually show up when I'm still, when I'm listening or when I'm at church. This can be three separate instances or they can occur simultaneously. I cultivated the habit


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Book Review - She's Still There: Rescuing the Girl In You by Chrystal Evans Hurst

There was a time for all of us before life became complicated where we reveled in the innocence of childhood. For some, this might have been a brief moment in time for others it's a time that sits clearly in a favored space in the brain.

She's Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You by Chrystal Evan Hurst is a form of encouragement geared to women with the Bible as its foundation. It encourages each of us to take the time to search out what God is trying to tell us about our purpose. That little girl is part of who you are, so don't become discouraged with where you are in life but instead, as the author says, keep persevering. This book provides biblical principles on how to do so.

It is written in a very relatable manner yet in a way that captures your attention. As many of us struggle to find our purpose, Chapter 15 (my favorite chapter) says it like this: "Your job is not to find the answer that leads to a master plan or purpose.  Your job


Monday, January 8, 2018

You Can Always Begin Again

Kidstock/Getty Images
I either learned this song - Poor Old Michael Finnegan, as a child or when I had children and I sang songs to amuse and quiet them; I'm going with the latter. Here is the first of many verses:

There was an old man named Michael Finnegan,
He grew whiskers on his chin-negan,
The wind came down and blew them off again,
Poor old Michael Finnegan, Begin Again.