Monday, December 31, 2018

The Year In Review

I've never done this before, but I think I will because it gives you a chance to know me. I also wanted you to know that regardless of how your year went - whether it was the best or worst year of your life, that you are never alone. God is with you each step of the way. Lean on Him for wisdom, understanding, and direction because he cares about every aspect of your life. As I answered these questions, I know with assurance that God is with me in the ordinary moments of life. It is He who is molding me into the person I'm becoming even at this stage of the game.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Pretty on the Outside, Rotten on the Inside

It was usually when I felt the most ordinary that I would find myself confused. When I started my first real job out of college with the title of Network Administrator, I was a newlywed, and three months pregnant. Marriage was good, I was expecting, and the pay in my new job was in line with my expectations. Life was good, and it showed on my face. As I walked around the office, I noticed that many had family photos or mementos on their desks. We had just received our wedding proofs, so I had an excess of wedding photos. Seeing that it was a regular practice to have pictures in your personal space, I placed one of my wedding photos in my cubicle.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Where I Belong

Being hit with feelings of introspection recently, I penned the following as a guest post for The Journey.

It was another long bicoastal airplane ride, this time to help my daughter relocate; a joyful yet taxing time combined with the stress of traveling. Usually when I travel, if anything can go wrong it does. So I make my lists and check them twice: leave at least 2 hours in advance, check in online, and print out my boarding pass. Also, I double check that I have my ID, charge my phone and ensure that my toiletries are the right size. I also won’t wear a belt but will wear easily removable shoes. Once at the airport I wind my way through slow moving lines. Finally, as I go through TSA, my hair and back are routinely patted adding to my agitation. So many things to keep in mind and so many things to overlook that without meaning to, traveling becomes a stressful event.

My treat, once I’ve made it to the gate, is to purchase a popular women’s magazine to read in flight. I’m drawn in by the sleek elegance of the cover with its promise of unexplored worlds between its covers. I look forward to absorbing these insights as we make our way through the skies; a peaceful oasis regardless of turbulence or touchy neighbors.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Fires Around Me

When we moved to California, I discovered the phenomenon of the Santa Ana winds and the fires they cause. Apparently, family members and close friends did also, because once they saw the fires on TV, we received calls regarding our safety. Usually, the fires were up North or in rural mountainous areas, so we were never in harm's way.

The National Weather Service defines Santa Ana winds as "strong downslope winds that blow through the mountain passes in California. These winds, which can easily exceed 40 miles per hour (18 m/s), are warm and dry and can severely exacerbate brush or forest fires, especially under drought conditions ("

Monday, November 5, 2018

Women of the Word - Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

Natasha and I connected digitally over a year ago. In the social media world, we ended up in similar groups. I reached out to her well before her most recent work came to fruition however writing is time-consuming especially if it's a ministry, so we never had a chance to connect until now. I've listened to Natasha and heard her heart for God. I know that her love for God runs deep which shows up as fruit in her life. She is a living example of abiding in Christ. This month, we veer off script as Natasha talks about her most recent ministry impacting tool. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Natasha Sistrunk Robinson.
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

Monday, October 29, 2018

Living Right and Standing Tall

"In all the years I've worked with people, I've yet to meet someone whose life was all messed up because he or she kept God's commands ."(Joe Stowell)

This quote really struck me because of its truthfulness. Many people want lives that reap the result of God's commands, but they don't want to believe or follow God's commandments.

So we are in a free for all - everyone doing what they want and hoping that they come out fine. Sometimes people look for the easy way out and rationalize, that if it's not explicitly stated in the Bible, then it can't be done.

Monday, October 22, 2018

High Stakes Low Stakes

As a parent, I remember when I first heard the phrase "high stakes testing." It was presented in a pressure-filled manner so that parents would approach state tests seriously. However, because I always took education seriously and knew how my children were doing in school, I approached these tests as low stakes tests - just another test that they would master. I felt that the pressure would be a hindrance, so flipped it on his head and treated the tests as normal, because children are primed to take tests as a way to indicate learning.

We are primed to deal with problems, Jesus told us it would be so. He said, "in this world, we will have tribulations but to be of good cheer for I have overcome the world (John 16:33)." He was letting us know that we should expect problems - no matter their shape, hue or size.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Difference Between Hope and Faith

When my children were younger, I delighted in preparing their favorite meal. Though they had differing palates, whenever I promised to make macaroni and cheese, there was an eagerness that permeated the air. This delicacy wasn’t from the box; each ingredient was assembled into a bubbly, delicious covered dish. They couldn’t wait to sit down for dinner.

Looking forward to their favorite meal was hope. Simultaneously, because my children trusted me, they believed that macaroni and cheese would be ready at dinner time--this was faith.

Hope, in its simplest form, is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Faith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. The Hebrew word for hope, tiqvah, means something we hold onto. The Greek word for faith is pistis, which connotes faithfulness, conviction, and commitment, a reliance on God. Based on the definitions alone, hope and faith are often intertwined; hope is the soil in which we exercise our faith.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Examine Yourself

Yesterday being the first Sunday of the month was Communion Sunday in many churches. It's a time during the service where the Lord's Supper is celebrated and 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 is read to provide a framework around this symbolic meal.

As this passage was read recently, the phrase "let a man examine himself" resonated with me. It stopped me in my tracks and forced me to take a more in-depth look at myself. I had to take time to examine myself, to self-reflect. There is a thoughtfulness to my approach.  When I understand the significance of this meal, I am grateful. Though solemn, it's a celebration, not a funeral.

Let a man examine himself. This phrase was said in the context of partaking in a ceremonial meal that represented something sacred and holy - the Lord's Supper; A Love Feast; a fellowship with no sense of rush. A unifying event. Though God says to come as you are a heart examination needs to take place in order to partake. We are encouraged to understand the reasons for the Lord's Supper and its implications for us.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Book Review - The Way Back by Phil Cooke and Jonathan Bock

As I read this book, I was so convicted that practically every other page is highlighted. The full title of the book is The Way Back; How Christians Blew Our Credibility and How We Get It Back.

The premise is that in America, Christianity is losing its impact and influence on the culture. This is not a new statement and as illustrated in the book has happened in the past; history has a way of repeating itself.

The authors are Christians in the entertainment industry. They see first hand the degradation of our culture, but they are in positions to exert their influence.

I tend to shy away from how-to books because they tend to minimize the process; if it were so simple once shared everyone would change. So it's not so much a how-to book as it is a "how come?" book. This book provides insight into our current cultural state and then imparts suggested steps for navigating to the next level.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Women of the Word - Christina Patterson

When I see someone boldly living out their faith online I take notice. The landscape is cluttered but bright lights shine and that is what Christina does. She is a beloved woman of God and wants you to experience His love. When she speaks, she is radiant. I was encouraged by her words on doubt and I think you will be too. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Christina Patterson.

Christina Patterson

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Book Review - A Year of Living Kindly by Donna Cameron

This book found me; I didn't go looking for it, and it's message resonates with me deeply. In the Bible we are told to "Be kind one to another... (Ephesians 4:32)." In A Year of Living Kindly, the author recognized that something was missing from her life and challenged herself to be kind for a year.

This book is the result of how kindness changed her and the insights learned along the way. Many of us think that the opposite of kindness is unkindness, but the author discovered that for her the opposite of kind was nice.

"Being kind - truly kind is hard. Nice requires little effort. I can be nice while also being indifferent, critical and even sarcastic. But I can't be kind and be any of those things. Being kind means caring; it means making an effort; it means thinking about the impact I'm having in an interaction and making it rich and meaningful - giving them what they need at that moment without wondering if I get anything in return. It means letting go of my judgement and accepting people as they are. Kindness demands that I reach out and take a risk."

Monday, September 24, 2018

Increasing Your Effectiveness in Prayer

Prayer. Pray. When we pray we talk to God and that talking, that communion is what we call prayer. Praying is one of those things that you can always improve upon, like communication in a relationship. Even with excellent communication, as you learn another facet of the person you're communicating with, your constant interactions will reveal your new knowledge. There's always room for growth in our relationships and our relationship with God is no different. My church recently completed a weekly Bible study on prayer, and I was tremendously blessed. Here are some thoughts from The Battle Plan for Prayer that can increase your effectiveness as you communicate with God.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Lord, Change My Vision

Lord, change my vision so that I see the way you do.

You know I focus on the problem instead of the potential.

I see worn rugs, leaky faucets, dirty dishes and dust that multiplies faster than any miracle You performed, instead of seeing your wondrous provisions.

I see estranged relatives, angry drivers, mean kids, and weird co-workers instead of seeing them as those made in your image.

I see others who are writing books, connecting with authors, speaking at conferences and something ugly rises up in me. You called this envy and I don't like it one bit. Forgive me Lord for taking my eyes off of you.

Lord, help me to stop 'speck'tating but instead to remove the beam out of my own eyes.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Meditation and Marination

When I was a child, my Barbadian mother had a routine that you could set your clock by. Saturdays were dedicated to cleaning and preparation for Sunday, so on Saturdays, my mom spent a significant amount of time preparing and seasoning the meat for Sunday's dinner.

First, she took great care in cleaning the meat - beef chicken or lamb. She lifted skin, removed fat, removed blood and veins, and went through every nook and cranny of that meat to ensure it was clean and edible. Sometimes she would then soak the meat in lemon juice and salt. Next, she would rinse it off and season using herbs and spices: a little salt since my dad had to watch his blood pressure, Mrs. Dash, onions, garlic, thyme, pimento and any additional seasoning that would enhance the flavor profile she was going for. Finally, she would place the meat in a covered bowl and let it sit in the fridge for hours. This was a crucial step in ensuring that the meat was flavorful.

Later that evening she would cook this meat so that all that happened on Sunday after church was reheating.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Woman of the Word - My Mother

If you stay open and allow yourself to experience everything you feel, you just may realize your emotional capacity. The reality is I miss my mother. We weren't always close in that classic mother-daughter sense or the way I am with my daughters because we came at this thing called life differently. From what she shared of her upbringing with me over time it wasn't idyllic, and some parts were hard. It was hard for me to hear but also hard for her to live through. It gave me a new appreciation for my mother.

When I got married and eventually became a mother, I realized that I am who I am because of my mother. I was strict - because of my mother. I was frank and blunt - because of my mother. I was exacting - because of my mother. I liked all of those things. I disliked that I was a yeller - because of my mother. The yelling forced me to become introspective and separate the good from the bad; because overall my mother was a good mother.

And then when I was tired as a mother and only because I was a mother, I realized my mother must have also been exhausted, often.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Seven Times A Day

As I was reading Psalm 119, I became fascinated by verse 164, which says "Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments."

Recall that this is the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses, where practically every verse highlights the attributes of God's Word, all from the very personal perspective of its author.

The Word of God can literally save a life: George Wishart was the Bishop of Edinburgh in the 17th century. Wishart was condemned to death and would have been executed. But when he was on the scaffold, he made use of a custom that allowed the condemned person to choose one psalm to be sung, and he chose Psalm 119. Before two-thirds of the psalm was sung, his pardon arrived, and his life was spared. [Source:]

Back to verse 164 - what makes a person so emphatic in their declaration of praise? Well, one quick answer is already noted in the verse - it's because of God's righteous judgments. He has seen that God has always done right by Him; He has never left or abandon him.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Book Review - The Sun Does Shine by Ray Hinton

3:00 am, 10:00 am and 2:00pm. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you are on death row. This was Ray Hinton's reality for thirty years in the State of Alabama's Holman Prison. Not everyone on Death Row deserves to be there - remember that.

Ray Hinton was summarily convicted and sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit in September of 1986. His only crime was being a Black man in the state of Alabama. When the crime occurred - a murder of a store manager, he was at work 15 miles away, where his manager could vouch for his presence. With an airtight alibi, he thought he would be released. But none of that mattered. It wasn't an honest mistake; race had everything to do with it.

"You know I don't care if whether you did or didn't do it. In fact, I believe you didn't do it. But it doesn't matter. If you didn't do it, one of your brothers did. And you're going to take the rap. You want to know why?' These are the words that were said to Ray after he was arrested by a police lieutenant. He continued, "I can give you five reasons why they are going to convict you. Number 1, you're black. Number 2, a white man gonna say you shot him. Number 3, you're gonna have a white district attorney. Number 4, you're gonna have a white

Monday, August 13, 2018

Do You Want to Grow in Wisdom?

Wisdom is integral to the Christian walk; it allows us to act in the right way for the situation at hand, even though it may appear unconventional. If your teenager is snapping at you, your first thought may be to respond in kind, but then you say a quick prayer for wisdom and realize that it may be best if you say nothing. Or, perhaps you’re with your toddler in a department store, and she disappears. You could run to security, but something makes you look under the clothing racks, and there stands your child, smiling with not a care in the world. Maybe it’s time for your annual performance review at work. It’s not going as you anticipated but you are prompted to speak up calmly on your behalf, and this time your manager actually hears you.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Women of the Word - Patricia Raybon

This series is an act of faith. When I reach out to others it is because of my faith, a product of God's love that emboldens me. It is nervewracking, yet rewarding. As an avid reader and writer, I became familiar with Patricia's work because of its content - using your faith to bridge the gap with grace; in particular faith and race. The systemic racism in America is a sore spot for me and I sometimes wonder if anything I do or say can make a dent. Patricia writes about this topic gracefully (and forcefully) and dare I say, it's making a difference. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Patricia Raybon.

Patricia Raybon

Monday, July 30, 2018

Ten Ways to Pray for Your Adult Children

You've raised them, and the hard work is over. It's 'me time.' You now get to relax and live your life. Variations of these themes exist for parents who have raised children, but this is never the reality. While the early years may be labor intensive, the latter years are emotionally taxing and take an equal toll on you. As adults, our control decreases but we have a more significant opportunity for positive influence. With the backdrop of prayer, we can navigate the seasons of our lives with success.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Swipe Up; Look Up

I remember when I first became the owner of an iPhone – I was like a kid in a candy store discovering that a phone had more purposes than communication. Soon I discovered apps with their powerful allure of making my life easier. But in no time those apps became an annoying distraction with the constant ding of notifications combined with my insatiable desire to always scroll to see what’s happening. The continuous running of apps not only took a toll on me but also on my device.

It was my daughter who taught me that swiping up would close all my open windows. I’m discovering that I need to swipe up in my life and close many things that are running, which are distracting while

Monday, July 16, 2018

Guest Post - Faith Don't Fit

This guest post is a late birthday present from my son. I think it's right on time. It makes my heart sing when my children share these thoughts with me. It lets me know the hard work is not in vain. Read on and be encouraged.
What is faith? It's defined as the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not
seen in the Good Book (Hebrews 11:1). Martin Luther King Jr. described it as “taking the first step, without seeing the whole staircase." Webster defines it as a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Doing Life Together

"It is not good for man to be alone." With this bold statement, God put Adam to sleep and performed a surgery on him that created Eve - a woman. When God created Adam, He was pleased with all of his creation, up to that point, yet He recognized that someone vital was missing. He used Adam's rib to create and form Eve. How do we get a woman - a fully developed woman made for a man out of a bone? Only God could do that.

Like all of His creation, in His divine wisdom, God knew what He was doing when He made Eve for Adam. He knew the communion, and the intricacies of marriage were what Adam needed. It's fashionable to bash marriage today, but I am not from that school of thought. When Adam first saw Eve, he was awestruck! Wooo man! The Bible

Monday, June 25, 2018

When You're Bold In Prayer, You Can Rest

I decided to be bold in my prayers; I would pray about every situation especially the ones that troubled me or that appeared to be insignificant.

Then my laptop fell which distorted images that were displayed. The laptop that contains all my files and all my writings. The laptop that is central to my livelihood. As my laptop hit the floor, two things happened: my spirit sank, and then I remembered my pray declaration.

After spending a significant time worrying and beating myself up for this mishap, I stopped and I prayed something along these lines, "Lord I bring this laptop before you. You said we can come boldly to

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 ( 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 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

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

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