Monday, December 25, 2017

Simple Pleasures Bring the Greatest Joy

Simple pleasures bring the greatest joys.

The assembling together of saints regardless of the denomination and basking in the worshipful adoration of the knowledge that our lives are in His hands while heartily singing songs. Recently, I was moved by this song that I had never heard before - I, the Lord of Sea and Sky. The singing of this hymn was a simple pleasure.

Monday, December 11, 2017

20 Incredible Bible Verses about God’s Strength

I can't complain. I've written a lot lately simply because of this blog. It is only by God's strength that I have been able to do so. When I want to quit, He alone strengthens me. When I'm unsure of what to write, He nudges my thoughts. When I am weak, He is strong.

God’s strength is part of God’s character, illustrated in His acts towards us and directly through his promises. God’s strength, unlike ours, has the power to consistently strengthen us as it is part of our relationship with Him. Even while we are weak. God sympathizes with our weakness and even asks that we place our burdens on Him as He goes with us through this journey called life because He has the ability to sustain us. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Writing About Writing a Prayer

Sometimes when we are stretched or challenged we become more beautiful. The assignment was to write a morning prayer and the only requirement was that it was 700 words or more.

When I initially wrote the prayer it was far less than the required word count. While my prayer was acceptable to God as He has no such requirement, the word count forced me to go deeper as if I was actually spending time in prayer with God. It revealed my heart as I started typing what was in me. My fingers were going faster than my mind as I thought about how my mom prayed every morning for us and how those prayers became the springboard for my own. There was no rhyme or rhythm just a heavenly desire to bring the important things to an Awesome God at the start of my day. As I wrote, I felt vulnerable yet renewed. And I thought if the simple requirement of a word count could make me pour out my heart on paper how much

Monday, December 4, 2017

Women of the Word - Alida Sharp

I met Alida online at the beginning of my blogging journey. Back then she and her husband were missionaries in Russia; she is now currently ministering and serving a Belize. She has shared her heart and God's as she wrote about her time in Russia, her children, weddings, births, disappointments, and triumphs all with the central theme of serving God in every aspect of her life. It's a treat to end this year of this series with Alida's thoughts and it is a testament to God's faithfulness. Since I started this series in the Spring of this year, I have met 9 women to date for whom God's Word is their source. I'm sure there are much more out there and in the new year, I will continue to share their insights with you. I hope you are enriched as I have been. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Alida Sharp.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sports Bras and Spiritual Protection

When I first started running as an adult, I tried to be cheap and not invest in the proper equipment; if I could cut corners, I did. One day while running with my regular undergarments I discovered why 'the girls' needed proper protection. The constant pounding on the pavement mimicked the up and down motion of the girls and it was nothing short of uncomfortable. It was the first and last time I made that mistake. These days having the right sports bra is a top priority. I can't run if I don't have one - it's that simple.

The original Sportsbra with the creators
Lisa Lindahl left, and her manufacturing partner, Hinda Miller. (Courtesy of Lisa Lindahl)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Providence Not Coincidence

Photo by Andrew Worley on Unsplash
Something happens every morning in a parent's brain when they are dropping their young charges to school. It seems that parents collectively lose their minds - horns honking, speed racing, cutting off each other to get as close to the drop off point, irritability when driving, poor decision making. Does any of this resonate with you? Though I enjoy the little bit of time I have in the car with my child, it's all the stuff swirling outside that is hectic and chaotic. I'm an early riser, but this particular task of dropping children to school, I never look forward to.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Give Thanks

Give thanks - it almost sounds like a command: give thanks, or else!

Or else what?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Notes From My Daughter - A Thanksgiving Prayer for Every Day

Notes From My Daughter are occasional notes from my second daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes but I am always blown away. Did this child come from me? Read on!
There are some things we never ask God for because it never crosses our minds to do. Before we eat, we’re taught to say grace and thank God for our food. In my lifetime, I’ve never heard a prayer after the meal that went, “Now God, please help me to digest this food as it travels from my esophagus through the rest of my digestive system,” even though that is the process that will take place next. Within us, there are a lot of unseen ongoing mechanisms that sustain our lives that we never acknowledge as God’s handiwork. 
For example:
- Open nostrils that moisturize and heat air as air travels to our lungs
- Skin replenishing itself, maintaining a necessary barrier between our internal organs and the world
- Connective tissue remaining attached to our skeletal frame for efficient movement

As living beings, we are all miraculous simply because of the

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thank God for Wake Up Calls

In college as a member of the track team, we traveled to out of state track meets where oftentimes we had to stay overnight. Back then, no one had cell phones and oftentimes these travels presented a whole new world to me. Our coach was in charge, so we followed his lead. Once we were assigned our rooms, he always told us to call the front desk and get a wake-up call. I'm sure this was new to many but we followed his instruction like it was gospel.

Of course, since many of us were on our own for the first time we stayed up late, watched TV and in general played the fool, not being entirely focused on the purpose of our trip which was to compete and do our best the following day.

Monday, November 13, 2017

What Do You Need Him to Be?

Have you ever read a book that changed you? If you've read such a book you will notice that upon each successive reading, you were transformed again because you noticed something new. Some books can do this but as an avid reader, I know that they're not as timeless or alive as the Bible. No book has impacted or changed me like the Bible.

Without knowing it, whenever you read the Bible it is ministering to your deepest needs because that's what it was meant to do. (2 Timothy 3:16) There is nothing that you are going through that you won't find a relatable story, phrase or thought that can provide insight, foresight, and hindsight for you and your situation. As you read and your deepest needs are met in a supernatural way, you may wonder why you've never done this before. Discover the God of the Bible, who is what you need to him to be, at just the right time.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I Never Prayed for a Husband

Anecdotally, I will share that I never prayed specifically for a husband. As a 21-year-old, the desire of my heart was to serve God and make wise choices with my life. I had a fleeting desire to have a boyfriend because so many around me did, but this desire didn't take over my life. I had friends who were male and that was good. I tried having a boyfriend once: I didn't like it, and my family didn't like him so that was a no go. Talking to guys who didn't have the same beliefs as me especially when it came to purity was problematic, so I avoided those guys. Outside of the physical, it was nice to have friends and I had lots of male friends, though they weren't all Christians but friendship removed any pressure of

Monday, November 6, 2017

Women of the Word - Karen Georgia Thompson

I met Karen Georgia when my family moved to New York. Both of our families are West Indian so we ended up in the same community at the same church; she and I also attended the same high school. Through various life changes, we have maintained a connection. While I'm proud of how her professional life is personal to her, I've always enjoyed our conversations - hearing her heart, wit, knowledge, and passion. Karen Georgia is very passionate. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Reverend Karen Georgia Thompson.

Karen G. Thompson

1. As someone who studies the Bible, what are your favorite tools and resources?
KGT: I still use a lot of print resources. I use the New Revised Standard Bible mostly, and I like the Women’s Bible Commentary. If I am working on sermon material, I tend to use online library resources from the university library.

2. Old Testament, New Testament or both?
KGT: I studied Hebrew Bible in seminary so I have a particular love for the content of the OT. I love the stories of peoples' witness of God as he was present and real. I love the Psalms too. I do have a preference but I also like the journey of the emergence of the church in the NT and the examples that are present for us in the life and ministry of Jesus and his disciples. I wanted to do doctoral studies in Hebrew Bible (OT) but left seminary and went into the parish.

3. Why do you study the Bible? What was your initial motivation?
KGT: I have always had a love and affinity for interpreting the Bible, even as a child. I was reading the Bible as a child of 5 and 6, wrestling with the creation narratives and studying the genealogies. I went to Sunday School every Sunday, twice most Sundays and we were challenged to memorize Bible verses. I also attended a Christian school where the Bible was a central part of school life. I have a deep appreciation for the Bible which has grown over the years. I also realize that as my theology has evolved so has my use of the Bible and tools for its interpretation. I continue to study the Bible because the interpretation of the Biblical narratives is important to me and I want to ensure that my use of the text for sermons and in my ministry is consistent with new insights and current scholarship.

4. How does inspiration work for you? How do you know that what you're writing or understanding is as if God is moving the pen and you're just the vehicle?
KGT: Good question! One of the things I have said over the years which holds true is: "the day that I think I can write a sermon on my own, or get into the pulpit of my own accord, is the day I will leave the ministry."
The process of sermon preparation, sermon writing, Bible study and all things spiritual start with a conversation with God. There is usually that moment where it feels like there is “struggle”, that time and space where God is speaking and I am putting self aside to hear. I find that when I write I feel like I am a third party listening and somewhat awed by what I am hearing/writing.
The sermon is usually applicable to my life. As preachers say, "the sermon is for me and then for the congregation.” God speaks and moves in mysterious ways. It is also about the response of people to the preached word. There is always someone who affirms that the word was for them. This is always mystifying to me.

5. How do you handle complex topics that may not align with popular views? (Can you give an example?)
KGT: I can give a range of topics from social justice issues like racism to others like the ordination of women and the ordination and presentation of LGBTQ persons. With topics like these, there has to be sensitivity and it is important to know a variety of views on the subject.
I was at a church in NY that was dealing with the inclusion of LGBTQ persons. This was major and so there were a variety of ways in which the subject was approached. We did a seminar series on the issue as well as Bible study. Not all topics are easily dealt with from the pulpit as a minister. I no longer have a congregation so I am always sensitive to what I address from a pulpit to which I am invited but I do not compromise on truth-telling.

6. When confronted by the truth of scripture, even for difficult topics, how does it re-orient you?
KGT: I believe that the scripture is a place where God is revealed and that God speaks to us in a variety of ways and through a variety of mediums. Scripture is a place to start. I believe our experiences of God at work in our lives and in the world assists in the interpretation of scripture. As a preacher, I start with the scripture, then look at how revelations have come through time.

7. Tell us a little bit about yourself, current projects you are working on and where you can be found.
KGT: I currently serve as the Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the United Church of Christ [UCC]. My call is to facilitate the relational connections between the UCC and other denominations, and ecumenical and interfaith organizations. The organizations are domestic and global.
This year is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation so there are related projects. I manage and write our agreements and deal with the dialogues the UCC is a part of. I have a preaching schedule and extensive travel overseas, so there is that as well. I am an advocate for racial justice globally. I have several projects in that area and am looking forward to ways in which I can impact change globally. Additional information on the Reformation can be found on the Bible Gateway site.

Here is additional information from Karen Georgia's bio: Karen Georgia was ordained in 1999 at the General Baptist State Convention in North Carolina and was credentialed through Privilege of Call as a UCC Minister in 2003 by the New York Metropolitan Association. She has a broad range of professional experiences including serving as a local church Pastor, Associate Minister, Director of Christian Education, Director of Family Ministries, an Adjunct Professor and as the Executive Director of two private non-profit organizations. Karen earned a BA from Brooklyn College in New York, a Masters in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC., and a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York.

8. How do you deal with discouragement and doubt? (Bonus question)
KGT: Prayer. I talk to God all the time. As Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17: "Pray without ceasing." Writing. I journal a lot which is important for me and a part of my spiritual discipline. I find that when I am centered - meditating, reading, praying, writing and connected to God, the doubt and discouragement are not present.


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Thursday, November 2, 2017

What If Praying is Like Breathing?

What if praying is like breathing? With every breath we take, we are engaging in a life-sustaining activity.

We unconsciously breathe every second of every day to propel us through. When you breathe in, or inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward. This increases the space in your chest cavity, into which your lungs expand. When you breathe out or exhale, your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward into the chest cavity. The intercostal muscles between the ribs

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sanctified not Sanctimonious

Social Media is this generation's technology tool that many struggle with how best to use. To provide context, in my generation, it was the TV. Social media has brought down leaders, rebuked citizens, notified us of prominent deaths prior to regular news outlets, shared the gospel, and highlighted areas that warranted our attention. But one of the things it has also done is made us all more self-focused to the point that reality is blurred. We see most people boasting - about their families, their accomplishments and their good deeds online. Sometimes I feel like a voyeur because so much of what is posted is not for public consumption. A lot of it feels like bragging, even humble bragging which is just a

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Making Your Marriage Last Through Hard Times

I have a friend that I chat with regularly who has been married for 43 years. That’s a lifetime! I always enjoy our times together because whenever the conversation turns to anything marriage-related she smiles because she’s been through it all, and then she always reassures me. The things that come up are not earth-shattering, just things that are par for the course but that can become burdensome if our perspective is skewed. Things like dealing with adult children, or the empty nest phase, or just day-to-day stuff.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Sound of New Beginnings

As a little girl in the Caribbean, I never experienced the distinctive beauty of four seasons. So in my fertile imagination as an avid reader, I imagined what each season was like and how I would experience it if given a chance. When my family moved to New York in the spring of 1978, with its promise of new beginnings came my opportunity to confirm my thoughts about the seasons.

When we emigrated, there was nothing spring-like about that time of year except the calendar, since New York had recently experienced one of the worst snowstorms in its history. I distinctly remember the cold, being woefully underdressed and ultimately frostbitten. I saw other kids playing outside at recess though there were piles of melting snow around the playground and instantly decided that spring was not what I envisioned and therefore it was not for me.

Friday, October 20, 2017

10 Most Popular Christian Hymns (and Why We Love Them)

I love hymns. The lyrics usually minister to my soul, the melodies are moving, and the repetition – verse chorus, verse chorus, verse, chorus or a slight variation of this theme are soothing. There’s a solemnity and dedication that underlies most hymns that makes me pause as they usually bring me to a place of introspection and reflection on life and what it means to serve a big God no matter what life throws at me. In this day and age, you might be made to feel that hymns are for old folks, but that’s not true.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

How Are We to Deal With Evil?

How are we to deal with evil? Evil is showing its ugly face in the form of random shootings, sexual assault, abuses of power, riots. I've grabbed these categories all from recent news events. Who can forget waking up to hearing there was shooting in Las Vegas with approximately 60 casualties and numerous injuries? My chiropractor's daughter was supposed to have been in attendance but sold her tickets, but my brother's boss was one of the people fleeing the arena for their lives.

Then there was the revelation of a major Hollywood producer whose actions finally

Monday, October 16, 2017

Moved By Faith

There was once a man who had great authority - a Roman Centurion, whose servant was ill. It would appear that he was so ill, conventional medicine at the time was having no effect on his healing. This great leader had a chance meeting with another Great Leader - Jesus.

In his encounter with Jesus, he asked Jesus to speak the word, so that his servant could be healed. His servant wasn't with him but this great leader knew that the other Great Leader was a healer by miracles; His reputation had preceded him.

When Jesus heard the great leader's request, he was so amazed that He exclaimed: "I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!"

After speaking further on this man's faith, Jesus uttered these profound words: “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And in that same moment, his servant was restored to

Monday, October 9, 2017

And Still, Be Still

Stillness. Quietness. Peacefulness. The absence of movement and sound. Something we crave yet we can't seem to find the time to Be. Still. Hush. Be Quiet. Be Still.

Be still, in the morning as you take your first breath before you open your eyes and check the time.

Be still, before the day's tasks get the best of you.

Be still, As you listen to your child's last-minute request or hear the fear in his voice as he faces the day.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Blessings or Not?

Children are a gift from God; a reward from Him. In the KJV it says ".....and the fruit of the womb is his reward." When we think of children we forget the gift part; we forget the feeling of receiving a gift - that feeling of unexpected glee and joy while simultaneously feeling undeserving of such a gift. It's equivalent to the feeling that you have on your birthday and you are presented with gifts because of the special person that you are.

More often than not we don't initially ascribe positive words or thoughts to children. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Women of the Word - Trillia Newbell

Trillia oozes joy - it's in her writing, her picture and her tweets. She is an author, blogger, and speaker in addition to being a wife and mother. I discovered Trillia many years ago through her writing and there was something in her writing that was relatable to me. (I think we would be good friends in real life)! I am thrilled to introduce this month's Woman of the Word - Trillia Newbell.

Trillia Newbell

Monday, September 25, 2017

Taking Back What Is Yours

In a popular video, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is adamant that her time is not wasted so she redirects the questioner's rambling in response to her question again and again with the phrase “Reclaiming my time,” an invocation of House procedural rules. This axiom became the basis for many memes but there's truth in the phrase "reclaiming my time" as it sounds an awful lot like redeeming the time and has a similar meaning.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Is Marriage Really Such Hard Work?

When marriage and work are in the same sentence, marriage usually gets a bum rap and is given a negative connotation. As a sanity check, I asked my husband who has been married to me for 28 years - "Would you say marriage is hard work?" He said, "Hard????" with a puzzled look on his face.  Perhaps our thoughts around work need to be adjusted so we can stop making marriage seem so burdensome.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Isn't This the Point?

When we relocated to California, I joined the gym. This might have been because I was bored, homesick or going crazy with all of the adjustments. My husband came home with this offer from one of his co-workers and thought it would be good for me. Also, it was an excellent deal, monetarily speaking, so I bit the bullet and joined. I don't believe in wasting money (paying for something and never using it), so once I joined the gym, I created time in my schedule to go to the gym.

There are many participants at the gym, but two types stand out. There's a fellow that has been a member as long as I have - he is on the larger side; after all these years he remains on the larger side. Recently within the past six months, there was a lady who was also on the larger side who worked out with an intensity I rarely saw.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My Immigrant Experience

When I came to America in 1978, besides what was portrayed in books and my limited TV intake, I had no idea what to expect.

Subconsciously, I thought everyone was rich until my older brother told me there were lots of poor homeless people right where we lived. Subconsciously I thought I could easily acquire the foods I was used to and they would taste the same, but I soon realized that there were ethnic neighborhoods where we could shop. As far as things tasting the same - they never did, but I adjusted. Subconsciously, I thought everyone had two parents and a family similar to mine; I soon learned that I was viewed as an aberration.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review - A Bigger Table by John Pavlovitz

A Bigger Table by John Pavlovitz is written by a pastor who reached his tipping point at the culmination of last year's presidential election. He compares the confines of the Ameican Church to the Church that was initially established in the book of Acts and finds a huge disconnect especially because the election highlighted such a divide in the American church. It is in this disconnect that he questions all the tenets of his faith -  his idea of God, what does it mean to really love as Christ commanded us, and the internal conflict of preaching one thing and living another.

He is not alone in his thoughts, as many resonated with me. Thoughts in this book are expressed eloquently through the author's life and his experience as a pastor. He so eloquently states that doubting and questioning your faith is not a bad thing, as a matter of fact, it may be necessary to deepening your walk. "Doubt isn't the sign of a dead faith, not necessarily even a sickly one. It is often the sign of a faith that is allowing itself to be tested, one that is brave enough to see if it can hold up under stress. God is more than big enough to withstand the weight of your vacillating belief, your part-time skepticism, and even your full blown faith crises."

If you are numbed by the lack of love you feel in your Christian walk today, this book is for you. The subtitle of this book could be - Challenge: Are you willing to love like Jesus did?
This book challenges what has become conventional thinking around the church. Some tough questions that he addresses are: Why are LGBTQ individuals automatically excluded from the Christian community? Black people? Poor people? Aren't they people just like the rest of us? Why are churches so segregated? What biases do we have that prevent us from reaching out to the least of theses? Are we putting principles over people?

The author is white so as a Black woman, I give him kudos for recognizing the position he's in and being bold enough to challenge the status quo. Radical love whether black or white will do that to you. Building a bigger table is messy as we find seats for all who want to partake. This is a book about humanity and one man's view of how he's trying to live out God's love.

If you are looking to broaden your views on Christianity, I recommend this book.


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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Dear Newlywed.........

Dear Newlywed;

At a recent wedding I asked another newlywed, "How's married life?" and she said it was the same as before she got married.
Nothing really changed. I hope that you, dear newlywed, are experiencing the newness of marriage. I hearken back to Biblical times where when a man took a wife he embarked on making his wife happy for an entire year. (Deuteronomy 24:5) This baseline expectation of happiness and newness is a great place to start from. Expect the best. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Assume the best intentions from each other. Be kind. Pray together. Communicate honestly. Value each other. Support each other. Expect the best but don't become a prisoner to your expectations as you will surely be disappointed. The greater the expectation the greater the disappointment so let go of unrealistic expectations yet remain open to the possibilities. It's not contradictory but the ebb and flow of life.

As a newlywed it probably won't take much to make you happy - you have each other what more could you ask for? You have your freedom and the ability as a couple to enjoy each other in every sense of the word. There is a joy and an awe in the realization that you're charting a new course together - enjoy it. It won't all be smooth sailing, but the more you communicate, the more you make the effort to hear each other, the greater the chance of minimizing the bumps. But there will be bumps - life has a way of doing that. Bumps may show up in the obvious places(jobs, cars, money, health) or in situations that you least expect, for example, a difference of opinion on the most inane thing. Either way, after being dejected and despondent, be honest, hold hands and navigate it together.

Don't lose yourself in your marriage. Expand and explore your interests - it makes for a more interesting life.

Take care of your body. Learn your body, learn your cycles become very familiar with who you are so that when you have to make decisions they are knowledge based instead of fear based.

Your in laws are in your life forever - it's much easier to get along with your new family than to have animosity. Treat them as you would your own family since that is what they now are. If you don't like your family, this is an opportunity to create a new extended family. Embrace it.

Be intentional about your marriage but don't be a nuisance. Your marriage is not the destination; there's so much more living ahead of you. You now have the benefit of not trying to figure everything out alone.

Ultimately, I want you to know that you're going to be all right. You're in this thing called life together and you will figure it out. You will figure out schedules, love languages, decorating schemes, how to argue (or not), which church to attend, careers, health insurance, bank accounts, where to live, what to do for fun, children (if and when they come), you will figure it all out because you have each other, you believe in each other and you have a firm foundation of faith in God.

All the best; I'm rooting for you.

Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. Matthew 19:4-6

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 
1 Peter 4:8


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Monday, September 4, 2017

Women of the Word - Deidra Riggs

I became aware of Diedra through her book One: Unity in a Divided World. I wanted to know who this brave soul was who dared to tackle such a touchy topic and one that's so close to my heart. So I reached out, she responded and I'm so happy she did. May you be encouraged as I was by her heart. Meet this month's Woman of the Word, Deidra Riggs.

Deidra Riggs

1. As someone who studies the Bible, what are your favorite tools and resources?

DR: See note about resources, below.

2. Old Testament, New Testament or both? 
DR: Both.

3. Why do you study the Bible? What was your initial motivation? 
DR: My very first motivation to reading the Bible was fear. I grew up hearing a lot about being “left behind” and also hearing predictions about the end of the world. As a child, those concepts terrified me. I was constantly afraid I’d make God mad enough to stop loving me and so, I was endlessly trying to work my way into God’s good graces. I was always trying to please God. One way I worked to earn God’s love was to read the Bible from cover to cover, and then start over again.
Fear was the wrong motivation for me, and it’s the wrong motivation for anyone. Sadly, however, using fear as a motivator is highly effective, even though the end result is most often so wrong. For example, in the very Bible I was reading from cover-to-cover, out of fear that God would stop loving me and someday leave me behind, God says, “Fear not,” 365 times. But it didn’t register for me. I was plowing my way through the pages, not really understanding what I was reading, and feeling further and further from God (and, therefore, more fearful) as a result.
Finally — thanks be to God! — I made the decision to stop reading/studying the Bible. No more “quiet time.” No more devotions. No more reading from Genesis to Revelation. Of course, it seemed then as if I had the word “sinner” stamped on my forehead in big, bold letters for all the world to see. But over time, I felt myself rising above fear and into grace. It’s a longer story than what I’m sharing here, but for me, part of my freedom was letting go of the Bible and all of the expectations we place on ourselves for how we should relate to it.
All of that happened a very long time ago. In the years that have followed, my relationship with the Bible is one that I understand through the work of the Holy Spirit. In a mysterious way — in other words, in a way that is difficult to describe — the Word of God (which to me, is synonymous with the Son of God) reads and studies and knows me and, through the Holy Spirit (as promised), teaches me and reminds me of everything Jesus taught from beginning to end.
This does not mean I never open my Bible anymore. I do. In fact, it is quite difficult for me to read the Bible aloud without crying. However, the words “study” or “read” when referring to the Bible feel inadequate. I believe the Bible is a living document. When I open it, it consumes me, so I take it in small doses. A sentence or two at a time is sometimes more than I can handle. But that’s not out of fear. It’s something different; something very intimate and alive and full of grace.

4. How does inspiration work for you? How do you know that what you're writing or understanding is as if God is moving the pen and you're just the vehicle? 
DR: To be clear, I should start by saying, I don’t always know. However, I do sometimes have a physiological response in which my heart pounds in my chest — so much so that I can see my shirt moving as a result.

5. How do you handle complex topics that may not align with popular views? Can you give an example? 
DR: Before a radio interview, or a panel discussion, or some other public conversation, I say to myself, “You know what you believe. You know what you believe. You know what you believe.” I am aware that some things I say may be misinterpreted or misunderstood. I also know people may disagree with what I have to say and where I stand at this moment. But, I have to be true to me.
I also know we are all on a journey. In my own story, I can see where I once held a view of some topics that are the complete opposite of my current perspective. And there is no telling how I’ll see things, thirty years from now. I want to keep that in mind about myself and about others. I want to give us all grace for the journey. I want to hope the best for us. There is room at the table for all of our viewpoints. I believe that will all my heart. Instead of being so quick to condemn and judge and blackball those whose viewpoints are different from our own, I pray we learn how to make space for one another and allow the Holy Spirit to work among us, in spite of our differences.

6. When confronted by the truth of scripture, even for difficult topics, how does it re-orient you? 
DR: The most difficult topic of all, in my opinion, is this: “…love your enemies…” That one truth is constantly reorienting me — from the co-worker who gets on my last nerve to the neo-Nazis marching with Tiki torches on a college campus one summer night.
We all have people we would label, “enemy.” But the Truth about that is we only really have one, true enemy, and it is not each other. As long as we look to one another as the enemy, the true Enemy gets off, free and clear. When I focus on loving even those who wish to end my bodily existence, I am re-oriented to the Truth that God loves them the same as God loves me. My prayers for them change. My hopes for them change. My understanding of them changes. My love and compassion for them grows. THAT is the exact opposite of the true Enemy’s plan.

7. Tell us a little bit about yourself, current projects you are working on and where you can be found. 
DR: I released my second book, ONE: Unity in a Divided World, earlier this year. I work full-time in the marketing department of a national insurance company. My husband and I have two adult children, and we live in an empty nest with our two dogs. I am a prolific Instagrammer, and you can follow me at @deidrariggs, or sign up for my newsletter at

8. How do you deal with discouragement and doubt? (Bonus question) 
DR: When I find myself discouraged, it’s often because I’ve become disengaged from the moment I’m in. I’m either thinking back to a time that has passed, or I’m projecting ahead to a time that is yet to come. I can’t change the past, nor can I predict the future and when, in my head, I go back to the past, I go without God. Same with projecting into the future: God isn’t in my made-up ideas of what the future holds for me. This isn’t to say I don’t learn from the mistakes of my past. Nor does it mean I don’t have dreams for the future — I am an expert dreamer! But, when I visit the past or the future and find myself discouraged as a result, I am reminded to return this present moment, where God is with me and I am with God. There are a few ways I find to do this: meditation, running, and yoga.
Doubt is a different animal. As a child, my doubts fed my fears. I doubted God’s love for me. I doubted my ability to please God. I doubted lots of things. My reaction to this was to try to take control of the situation, believing I could manage the results (for example: if I read the Bible from cover-to-cover, I’ll be good enough for God). I held on tightly to this idea that I could control the outcome. But living tight-fisted doesn’t allow much room for God to move. Now, when I’m faced with doubts (and I’ve had some very serious experiences of this, which is a story for a different day), I have learned to trust that God is in my doubting, God will not abandon me in my doubting, and God is on the other side of my doubting. God is not afraid of my doubts. My doubts and fears are no match for God. When I surrender to my doubts — daring to ask unthinkable questions and to entertain unbearable thoughts — I always end up closer to God.

Note: These resources have been helpful in my journey of faith:

1. The Message Bible, by Eugene Peterson

2. On Being podcast

3. This episode of The Liturgists podcast

4. Jesus and the Disinherited, by Howard Thurman

5. Pray as You Go app for Android and iPhone

6. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon

7. Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L’Engle

8. Writing in a journal


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Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Beauty of Grief

Grief is a complex emotion. To grieve indicates loss usually of something or someone precious and dear. There are no pat answers to grief and no one prescribed way to handle grief. There is a time to mourn and a time to rejoice (Ecclesiastes 3:4), so while there's no time frame there's a limit to grief. When Naomi lost her husband and subsequently her sons it seemed as if her world was falling apart. She was in a strange land, with no immediate family and two daughters in law - Ruth, and Orpah. In her grief, she decided it was best to go back home but Ruth chose to stay with her. Ruth chose to leave her country and cling to, travel with her mother in law. Ruth was also alone, for her husband, Naomi's son had died. So it was a circle of grief. But grief provided the impetus to go home, for Naomi, and may have allowed Ruth to connect with her. Ruth clung to Naomi (Ruth 1:14).

Grief isn't all bad. It gave these two women courage to travel alone and return to Bethlehem. It provided clarity and a little foolhardiness as it was rare for two women to be traveling alone over a lengthy period of time in those days. This journey may have taken anywhere from seven to ten days and it involved steep elevations and river crossings. All of that physical activity may have dulled the grief that both felt as they could only rely on God and each other. We know how the story of Naomi and Ruth ends, but they both had to go through their grief to get to the other side.

The anniversary of my mother's passing is September 1st and while sometimes I feel lost, the majority of the time since my mother's passing I have felt purposeful. Her death has lit a fire under my butt that reinforces that life is too short, life is for living, and there's no need to be afraid to try anything. Yes in a strange way my mother's death has given me a new lease on life. Since her passing, I have experienced a range of emotions. For example, when my mother was transitioning, and I saw how unmoored my dad was becoming I crazily thought that if my husband and I could die at the same time it would be good. Losing a life partner is difficult. There were established routines, and in death, there are no more.

I'm sure Naomi felt unsure of herself with the loss of her husband. And then when she thought she was getting a handle on things, her sons died. Even in grief, life goes on. In your grief, you may initially feel like Naomi - like the Lord has raised his fist to you; it's OK to acknowledge this feeling. But life goes on - there's still aspirations, dreams and hope while still dealing with the mundane and the minutiae. Life goes on. Hopefully, someone comes along to provide support, until you are able to do the same for others. Keep busy. Give all of your anguish to God for he understands. Allow grief to change your perspective on life and become more appreciative of every day you are given.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalms 30:5

How has the loss of someone changed you? May it ultimately change you for the better.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Something May Have To Break for you to Become Unstuck

As I stood washing dishes, staring out the window, enjoying the beauty and stillness of the morning, I inadvertently placed a glass inside a mug. When I went to rinse this glass out, I realized it was stuck inside the mug. Stuck. It wouldn't budge. I tried shifting it. Nothing. Stuck. Immovable. I couldn't believe how the glass got stuck in this mug so quickly. Just like that, it was stuck. I asked my daughter to release it. Nothing. It was stuck. I asked my husband "the genius" to take a stab at it. He tried soap, heat, water. It remained stuck.

This mug and glass sat in the sink for three days as each person tried different ingenious methods that should work. Stuck. Just like that. Stuck.

Sometimes our lives become stuck. We're going through life - we have a degree of wisdom and knowledge, we have good friends and a great support system, we're secure in our relationship with the Lord, we're doing all of the right things but just like that, we think we're past the time where we get stuck, but just like that we become stuck. Sometimes we don't even see it coming and even if we do, there's not much we can do to prevent it. Because life is like that - we don't have all the answers but we're making progress. Literally, anything has the potential to make us become stuck - a good friend may have said something that triggered a memory; your child did something totally unexpected; you fell off the curb and injured yourself. We all have the potential to become stuck.

The glass got stuck in my favorite mug which has an inscription about faith - what it is and what it's not about taking the next step and pressing on. How ironic. The glass wasn't a bad glass but in its constrained state neither the glass or mug could fulfill their purpose. Something had to give.

On the third day, I decided that this situation had to be remedied and that I was not going to lose my favorite mug in the process. I had to separate what I needed from what I determined was going to be disposed of and in this case, the glass that created this situation could be disposed of as it had little value to me. Well, I valued the glass less than the mug. So I gently tapped the whole concoction against the sink. One time. Still Stuck. Twice. Still Stuck. A third time just a bit harder and this time the glass shattered into tiny pieces.

My faith mug was restored and the glass was shattered. The thing that caused the unyielding and unwavering state had to be broken and shattered so that the mug could be restored.

Relief. The broken shards of glass were removed so as to cause no further damage. Unstuck. Freedom. Purpose. Growth

In becoming unstuck God breaks the thing that's holding us back. He may tap us once and give us hints but we don't see what He's trying to do; we don't initially corporate with His plan but only the Right Person can make us unstuck.  It may take some time but you have to desire to be unstuck so that you can be used for the purpose you are designed for. Determine that it's worth it for you to become unstuck.

Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Psalms 119:37
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? Isaiah 43:19

Have you determined that you want to be unstuck?


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Monday, August 21, 2017

Black and White

Black and white. Black or white. This seems to be the line of demarcation, particularly where we live. There's an unspoken narrative around these colors that goes something like this:
Black - bad; criminal; fighting for equal rights; less than; minority; a problem; burdensome.
White - good; controls all the power structures including the church; responsible for slavery but won't accept the scars from this pain; always assumed to be well-meaning and good.
These associations have crept into every facet of our society including the church. In the 60s we had overt racism and now we have covert racism - where it's systemic and impacts the very fabric of all of our lives.

The very origins of America's racial history are closely tied to the America's church history. Missions were used as a way to rationalize the genocide of the native population and later on justify recruiting them into abusive boarding schools. Missions were used in theology to rationalize the slave trade as some European Christians argued that Cain's curse was a justification to steal humans from West Africa and enslave them in the new world though there is no actual proof of this. The American founding fathers wrote the Constitution within a culturally Christian identity yet most of them, Thomas Jefferson included, dehumanized their African brothers and sisters through enslavement. Looking at the origins of this country it's hard to say that covert racism crept in like a thief in the night. In the Constitution, the founding fathers proclaimed everyone equal under the law, an idea which was quickly contradicted by protecting slavery under the law. The cognitive dissonance it takes to say you love God and yet destroy people made in God's image because you found yourself superior is significant and must be acknowledged as such. It is important to take a critical look at how people can incongruently identify as Christian culturally and yet relationally have distance between the God they claim to serve. 

America said one thing and lived out another and now is wondering why they cannot recognize their own reflection. These associations we have with people groups have a deep history to them and are supported by living institutions. These associations go against how we should treat each other as Christians, believers in Christ, yet culturally this is our normal. We are called to have a different standard, a paradigm shift, since so many cling to these entrenched views and are unaware until something like Charlottesville happens.

In church, we see what we thought was hidden seep out in our interaction with others, in particular, those not like us. We see our churches become homogeneous. There's a danger in sameness - we think everyone thinks the way we do and therefore there's no fear our shame in expressing those thoughts. The fact that so many "ethnic" churches exist is heartbreaking. Therefore, it becomes something to be celebrated when we truly see a multi-ethnic, diverse, united church - because this is not the norm.  

This phenomenon exhibited by churches and others is something called in-group bias: "It's a well-known principle in social psychology that people define themselves in terms of social groupings and are quick to denigrate others who don't fit into those groups. Others who share our particular qualities are our "in-group," and those who do not are our "out-group.""(Source:

In light of the current climate, I am challenged to be known by my fruit: to live differently think differently and act differently. To let my heart and my actions line up. To let my biases not define my life but to love and accept all because like me they are made in God's image. The thing about racism is that it feels the worse when it shows up in churches - where God's love should be evident. If you've suffered racism at work, in a road rage incident, DWB (driving while Black), being followed in a store, or just the gnawing feeling that something isn't right with a particular interaction which you know stems from the skin you're in, then sometimes you expect a safe place where you can just be and when it seems that no safe place exists, it creates a widening gap.

I posit that that safe space is the church, at least it's supposed to be. The church can accept all while at the same time speak out on societal ills. The church can be a place where healing begins. But it requires the hard work of love, faith, and forgiveness in action. I don't turn a blind eye to racism in my personal life and as such I'd like to see the church become more vocal on addressing the ills of racism - not the Black Church or the Evangelical Church or the White Church - just the Church - one body fighting against injustice. Jesus wouldn't have it any other way.

This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. 

1 John 3:11-15

Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation, he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 
Acts 10:34-36

Racism and its implications are no longer the elephants in the room; instead, these elephants are roaring demanding attention. "The church needs less lip service and more love accompanied with action. Until we are willing to confront and discipline our brothers and sisters who are knee-deep in this type of sin, and others, we will be villages in valleys, rather than cities on a hill." (Source:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Time for a New Start

All of a sudden, August 14th seems to be the date when most schools resume all over these United States (did you catch the irony in the name of this country? I digress). The Little One started high school on Monday and I am still trying to wrap my brain around it. She is my late in life child, the child of my old age, our surprise blessing. Prior to discovering I was pregnant with her, I was seeing my way across the finish line and looking forward to a respite from childrearing. This time, I'm much closer, and there will be no surprises.

She started High School with all of its promises of new beginnings, experiences, and excitement. As an older parent, I'm there for her but I'm also nudging her to embrace the good that High School has to offer. As I've prayed for all of my children, I'm more cognizant of how to intercede for her in light of what's happening around us.

I pray for peace; I pray that she has a peaceful disposition and that she is a peacemaker.
I pray that she has no anxiety and that when she becomes uneasy, she is reassured that she need not be anxious about anything.
I pray for favor with her teachers, guidance counselors, administration and any position of authority that she interacts with.
I pray that she is surrounded by good friends and that she is a bright light to all; that her light will shine.
I pray for protection from people and things that mean her harm.
I pray for bravery to combat injustice and to speak up as needed.
I pray for wisdom and discernment.
I pray for determination and strength as there will be things that she will just have to persevere through - whether it's dealing with a tough project, making a team or short-sightedness on her part.
I pray for memory to recall God's word that is hidden in her heart; to recall what she has studied.
I pray that she will be a friend to the friendless.I pray that she exudes joy.

I have prayed a variation of these prayers for my children daily as they navigated the halls of learning and will continue to do so. I found these scripture bracelets on Groupon and got her one with her favorite verse on it so she could have a visual reminder of God's promises.

We're all in need of fresh starts. This country is in need of a fresh start, just as the thousands of students who start school annually. In the midst of transition let's not forget the importance of prayer. At the beginning of this school year, let's take a moment to pray for our children, their teachers, their schools, their communities, their homes, their countries. Perhaps the Little Ones, empowered by love from praying parents, can truly initiate the fresh start we all need.

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.
See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.
Always be joyful. 
Never stop praying. 
1 Thessalonians 5:14-17

It's time for a new start; start with prayer.


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Thursday, August 10, 2017

What Love Feels Like

My husband and daughter
As the father walked his daughter down the aisle, her nervousness was assuaged by his confident reassurance. She had eyes only for her groom while steadily leaning on her Dad. This is love.

The groom looked on with wonder, as a tear fell from his eye; he had eyes for no one else. This is love.

"Who gives this woman to be wed? My wife and I do."  Yet another act of love, parents releasing what was held dear to her groom who will hold her dearly.

Love is more than butterflies in the stomach. It's valuing a person and treating them as you would yourself or better. It's being selfless which typically breeds more selfless love. It's forgiving often. It's not holding on to stuff. It's seeing the good in others - and always expecting the best even when they show otherwise. The element of love makes being patient and kind doable.  When you are loved, you cannot help but love in return. Love removes the rough edges and smooths out your flaws.

Love is knowledge. Love is sure. Love provides comfort like a roof over your head.
"Love knows no reasons, love knows no lies. Love defies all reasons, love has no eyes. But love is not blind, love sees but doesn't mind." — Hemant Kumar

So just love.
"My mother's last word to me clanks inside me like an iron bell that someone beats at dinner time: love, love, love, love, love." — Cheryl Strayed

Love provides a feeling of invincibility and hope.
"I strongly believe that love is the answer and that it can mend even the deepest unseen wounds. Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen and yes, love can make change." — Somaly Mam
Love is what drives everything.
"There are four questions of value in life: what is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love." — Johnny Depp

This is why a wedding ceremony is a celebration of love; it encapsulates love in the past leading to an expression of love in the present which is the underlying support for love in the future. This is what love feels like. Simply love.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love
1 Corinthians 13:13


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Monday, August 7, 2017

Women of the Word - Tyra Lane-Kingsland

This series has birthed some God ordained divine connections. Tyra is one such connection. As a blogger, I spend significant time online not just writing but reading other blogs. I'm always looking for like minded Christian bloggers online and when I read Inspired To Live fully I knew I was reading a kindred spirit. I reached out and I was blessed with this interview. Even in initially chatting with her, she encouraged me to continue with this series, to do the hard things, especially if God has placed it on my heart. I'm so grateful for her and I know you will be too. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Tyra Lane-Kingsland.

Tyra Lane-Kingsland

1. As someone who studies the Bible, what are your favorite tools and resources?
TLK: Armed with my journal, pen, iPhone, Blue Letter Bible App and Scofield Study Bible, I am eager and excited to jump into the Word. I do a lot of note taking on my iPhone but at heart, I’m a writer so old fashioned pen and paper work well for me. The Blue Letter Bible App is great because it has built in commentary, concordance, and dictionary.

2. Old Testament, New Testament or both?
TLK: For me both are vital. The Old Testament illustrates so much of God’s character. We see Him as Judge and Creator and we see His unfailing love for mankind. At the same time, the New Testament gives us a very clear picture of how we ought to live our lives today as modeled directly through the life of Jesus.

3. Why do you study the Bible? What was your initial motivation?
TLK: My reasons for studying the Bible are many but two primary reasons are to hear from God and to get guidance for daily living. Just as I enjoy hearing from relatives and friends, I like to hear what God is saying and I can hear directly from Him through His Word. Additionally, life’s many demands and the tug of culture can pull us away from living out the faith we profess. So in order to keep my mind and behavior in alignment with my values, I have to STAY in that Word!

My initial motivation to begin studying the Word started before I was saved. I was reading the Left Behind book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. In those books, they would mention scriptures so I opened the Bible just to see it in context and I was so intrigued it made me curious to find out more.

4. How does inspiration work for you? How do you know that what you're writing or understanding is as if God is moving the pen and you're just the vehicle? 
TLK: Because I spend so much time listening to the Father, I find that He’s always speaking to me. Often He speaks to me through nature or when reading the Word a single word or phrase will stand out. When He illuminates an image or word I’ll do a word study on it. And I know it's Him because He’ll confirm the word again and again through out the week.

5. How do you handle complex topics that may not align with popular views? (Can you give an example?) 
TLK: God has called me to deliver some tough truths so I often find myself having to share that which may be unpopular or uncomfortable. But God reminded me that I’m not here to just make friends or to have people like me but to declare His truth. So I present the truth in love and share my personal stories related to the issue. An example of this would be the charge to honor God by honoring the physical temple. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we are reminded that this body is not our own and we are to honor it yet most of us make decisions daily to defile the temple by what we eat. And we see a preponderance of this occurring in the church. It is an uncomfortable issue to tackle but I am committed to sharing the truth in ways that can be easily implemented so people can begin to honor Him with their food choices.

6. When confronted by the truth of scripture, even for difficult topics, how does it re-orient you? 
TLK: The truth keeps me headed True North. And for me, that is continuing to walk in paths of righteousness for His namesake.  I’m not just doing this for myself but I recognize that I’ve got my children and the women I serve observing my walk.

7. Tell us a little bit about yourself, current projects you are working on and where you can be found.
TLK: At my core, I am an encourager so any day I can be found inspiring hearts; from my children to women on the playground, I’m usually sharing some nugget the Holy Spirit sends through my lips. I am an author, blogger, speaker and Women’s Group Leader. I am currently promoting my newly released book, Purposeful Parenting. It is not just for parents but is a story on how adults can transform their hearts so that they can give children the love they need and deserve. You can find the book here
I can be found inspiring hearts to live fully mind, body and spirit @
And on these Social Media platforms:

8. How do you deal with discouragement and doubt? (Bonus question)
TLK: When doubtful or discouraged I saturate myself in truth. I listen to music that exhorts the truth, I take my eye off whatever the issue is, I take my eye off myself and I place it back on what God said about it. I may even blog about it as a means of ministering to others and to myself. I also have a few women in my circle that provide wise counsel and remind me of things the Lord has previously told me.


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