Don’t just stand there

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My son, Coltrane, is 9 months old and he still hasn’t mastered crawling yet. He manages to scoot back or “wounded soldier” crawl forward. As a new mom, I have to remind myself that every child has a different timeline for achieving  certain developmental milestones. In this case, I thought that maybe he would start walking before he crawls. We’ve been practicing how to stand with his walker. His legs have become really strong and he’s working on his balance. He’s gained quite a bit of confidence and all he wants to do now is stand. I can see the pride on his face. However, when I try to move his feet, he is less likely to budge. He doesn’t really understand that there’s more to standing. He’s perfectly content to just stand there.
How many times have I just stood without any intent to walk in my spiritual life? Sometimes, I block myself from progress by believing I do all that I do in my own strength, instead of giving God all the glory. It’s as if I’m saying, “Wow, I’m a great writer! Look at me!”, without demonstrating my talent and using it for Kingdom purposes. Isaiah 42:8 NLT states,  “I am the Lord ; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.”
There are other times when I stand without walking because fear paralyzes me. During these phases, I recognize that there is a purpose, but I don’t believe that I can accomplish what the Lord has called me to do. Jesus encouraged his disciples, “Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions: “Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple”
Mark 6:7-9 MSG.
There are still other times, when I don’t move in my faith walk because I’m not diligently seeking Him or studying His Word. How are we to know when to move or how many steps to take without direction? The Word says,” My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord , and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go
(Proverbs 2:1-9 NLT)”. And also, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path (Psalms 119:105)”.
Coltrane will be ready to walk when he realizes that his legs are meant for more than standing, loses his fear of falling, and realizes that I’ll be there to guide him every step of the way. I have to remember that God is lovingly doing the same thing with me.

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Quiet Time

It is 4AM on a Monday.  It is a crisp, cool October morning and I am up. I could be snuggled up beside my son and husband in bed.  I could also take advantage of the silence and get some house cleaning done. Or, I could get a head start on my to-do list for the day ( pay bills, pump breast milk, do my hair, grocery shop, etc.).  But this morning, I’m choosing to spend it with God.

What I should say is that God chose me.  Ever since I was in college, I’ve been waking up some mornings between the hours of 3AM and 5AM. At first, I didn’t know why it was happening.  I was angry because either I had gone out the night before and had an early class, or I had just ended an all-nighter trying to finish a paper, or I was too exhausted from the day-to-day extracurriculars that I would appreciate a solid night of sleep.  Then, I don’t know how it happened, but I started to write. I may have been listening to some worship music to help get me through a paper, when the inspiration to write hit me. The only way I can describe it is that I felt as though if I didn’t get these words on the computer or piece of paper that I was going to explode.  The Lord gave me words of encouragement.  I was hesitant to share it with others, but I soon found out that these words are not just meant for myself.  Other people could be inspired by this as well.  God was using me to encourage others through a gift of writing that I didn’t even believe that I had.

On the mornings when I try to ignore this overwhelming feeling, I cannot go back to sleep and end up more tired than when I began. 

When we are too busy, but God wants to speak with us, God will interrupt our routine. Sometimes we are too enthralled in our own lives, that we forget to make time for Him.  But when He has a purpose for your life, there is no getting around it. Yesterday at church, we learned how God used dreams and visions throughout the Bible to speak to people. God desires intimacy with us. Nothing is more intimate than one-on-one, uninterrupted conversation with the Lord.  Sometimes this is done through dreams and visions, and other times it is done in the wee hours of the morning/during the night.

The Word says,

Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.”

Psalm 1: 2-3 MSG

And also, “And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” Joshua 1:8-9 MSG

When I am moved by the Holy Spirit and in the presence of God, it is undeniable.  The weight of His glory is so heavy and the urgency of this task is so great.  I have to write then and there.

Today, I desire a good night’s rest even more than I did in college, especially since becoming a mother to an almost 5 month old. But, I have learned to value this time with God.  I actually look forward to our time of intimacy, and I learn something about myself and about the Lord every time.  After it is all done, I have a sense of peace and I feel spiritually full.  Without this one-on-one time, I feel off, like something is missing. I only post these words as instruction from Him. I have always prayed to be privileged enough that the Lord use me.  I can’t be picky. So, when I’m awakened suddenly and the Lord speaks to me, I pop up and get right to work, no matter how tired I am.

How has the Lord been trying to create intimate time with you lately? How willing are you to be used by Him, whatever hour that He decides to call you?

Rich Simplicity

“A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God.  Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.” 1 Timothy 6: 6-8

One day, while talking with my coworkers, I casually mentioned that my husband gave a sermon the previous Sunday.  There had been a bad snow storm and all of those attending that Sunday could fit on one church pew.  One coworker said, “That’s ok. One day he’ll have lots of church members and drive around in a Mercedes”. I immediately replied, “That would be nice, but we don’t NEED all that”.

I’m thankful that I’m at a place in my walk where I can be satisfied knowing that most of my treasures are being stored up in heaven.  I’m still tempted to look left and right and desire things that I do not have.  However, as a believer, I know that nothing here on Earth will satisfy any desire I might have.

I know not to reject anything that God chooses to bless me with.  These are great opportunities for God to get the glory.  But, we can’t bring any of these material things with us when we die.  It’s better to store up our treasures in heaven for eternity, rather than store up earthly treasures that can be stolen, rusted, burned, molded and destroyed (Matt 6:20).

God promises devout believers a type a wealth without expiration date or chance of depreciation.  The Bible doesn’t explicitly say what these treasures will be, but we can learn how to obtain them.  Every time we do something selfless with God in mind we are building up His kingdom and our treasures in Heaven.  Our “treasures” on Earth pale in comparison to those in heaven.  He will give us exactly what we need and nothing more in order to make us fully rely on Him.  Bread to eat and shoes for travel are all we need to fulfill our purposes here on Earth. Anything else is an added bonus.

It’s really hard to believe in this type of message if you are struggling.  When we struggle, we often build up a wall against God, blaming Him for our misfortune.  It’s important to let that wall down and let God in.

Think of any relationship you’ve had with a friend or significant other.  Remember how freeing it was to finally trust that person and let them in to every intimate detail of your life?  Remember discovering the true worth of that relationship when you could be yourself and not worry about judgement or abandonment?  God wants this type of intimacy, but on a much deeper level.  He wants us to trust Him with every aspect of our lives.  Humans have limited perception and require details and tangible evidence before trusting anything.  It will be hard to trust God at first because He is impossible to see on a physical level.  Once you start to read His Word and be in constant conversation with Him through prayer, bit by bit you’ll start to see that He is more real than anything else.  His presence will become so big, that He’ll fill any void that we might have.

Never Say Never

“I will never live in NY! It’s dirty, there are no trees and it’s just too busy!”

I’m from the Eastern Shore of MD.  I enjoy crabbing and fishing.  I love to garden, and I love the water.  These hobbies not only make up the background of my childhood, but they allow me to debrief and meditate on God’s goodness.  How in the world was I going to be able to be my complete self in a world without green spaces and tranquil places?

When my husband and I were considering future places to live, I was not willing to compromise on his hometown.  He is originally from Brooklyn and is like a fish to water when there.  We were visiting some friends about 3 years ago.  They were all trying to convince me why Brooklyn would be a great place to live.  In order to appease them, I said, “Yes. I would live in Brooklyn. IF, I can be a stay-at-home mom, live near Prospect Park, and do ‘bourgeois’ stay-at-home mom things with Charisma (one of the friends trying to convince me to live there)”.  I was convinced that this would never happen because 1)New York is too expensive for us to live there. How was I going to be a stay-at-home mom? 2) I really didn’t have that close of a relationship with Charisma at the time and didn’t expect it to go anywhere.  Why would we be hanging out doing bourgeois mom stuff all of a sudden? and 3)If we could afford to live in NY, it wouldn’t be near Prospect Park because that would be even more expensive.  I’m realizing now how selfish it was for me to set up these parameters knowing how vital Brooklyn is to my husband’s ministry and sense of purpose.  I may not have understood it then, but setting up these “impossible” parameters was not going to get in the way of God’s plan!

Fast forward to Spring 2015.  My husband graduated seminary and accepted a job as a NYC Teaching Fellow. We constantly prayed that God would open doors and make it possible for us to live comfortably and that I could stay at home with our son (to be born early June).

Well God opened doors. He also opened people’s hearts.

Charisma knew of someone who needed a tenant.  It was an affordable place and was just a ten minute walk to Prospect Park. Parameter one and three had been met.

Charisma and I bonded over the past year because we wanted to be mothers.  My husband, Charisma, her husband, and I started a weekly prayer call to pray for our unborn children; their conception, healthy pregnancies, and healthy babies.  Our babies were born one week apart.  We have hung out with our babies numerous times since their births.  She has been an awesome friend and ambassador to the city. Parameter two had been met.

Friends and Family continued to pour out and bless us.  We have not wanted for anything since moving here in June. The part of Brooklyn we live in is not that bad. Prospect Park is my green space.  There is even a lake there where I can sit and admire God’s goodness in His creation. I may not be able to garden in my own back yard, but there is a 24 hr fruit stand and a community garden within walking distance.   This may not be my hometown, but God has placed so many things here to help me feel at home.  At the same time, the many different things will allow me to grow.

This lesson has taught me that I cannot change God’s plan.  If something is supposed to happen, it will happen for His glory. I praise Him for knowing what’s best for me better than I ever could.