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

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.