Monday, March 27, 2017
Dear #Lord, God of All Creation, Thank you for creating #womankind. We honor you for such a special and sacred #gift. * In a world that often neglects the celebration of #women or strives to corrupt the relationships of women or attempts to create competition amongst men and women, we thank you for #unity, #Christ-esteem and #self-awareness. * In a society that often cancels the footprints of female #hiddenfigures, we thank you for seeing us and granting us your heavenly applause, cooperation, character, gifts, humility and visibility. * Thank you for every woman that has, that is and that will impact the #world in #positive, #practical and #profound ways. * Thank you for historic and modern day #femalemagic. * We praise you for access to your throne room in prayer and the opportunity to enjoy fellowship with you. Thank you for knowing us, for loving us, for creating us, for correcting us and for equipping us. * You made a memorable mark on the world with your masterful portrait of Strength. Beauty. Intelligence. Class. Fortitude. Compassion. Gentleness. Grace. and Grit. * We celebrate you for fashioning women of all ages, skin tones, religions, of diverse geographical and socio-economic backgrounds. * We are your bouquet. Be pleased with the fragrance of our collective impact and with the aroma of our lives. * You could have completed creation after creating mankind, but you didn't stop there. You saw a rib in Adam and made something wonderful to share the journey with him. We sure do thank you! You decided to use more paint on your divine paintbrush that would forever change the landscape of humanity. You clothed that rib with more of yourself. We believe you looked at us (and at every face of every girl and woman created and yet to be created) and said, "That's good!" * We celebrate your #ingenuity, your #sensitivity, your #creativity and your #intentionality in fashioning each of us. *For packaging us to be protected by the heart-we thank you. *For equipping us to influence with the mind-we thank you. *For empowering us to connect with emotions-we thank you. *For giving us free will and stewardship of our own bodies-we thank you. *For allowing us to nurture and to love others, we thank you. *For the portrait that you have created in our body, mind and spirit-we thank you. * You created us to enjoy #life beyond our own lives and to recognize your beauty in others. Thank you that you care for women collectively and individually. You concern yourself with our beginning and new beginnings. You are a God of comprehension and reinvention. We give you praise! * *We ask that you would give us the daily strength to live life in ways that honor your name. *We ask that you will help all women to only measure ourselves in your Word and not by societal standards or by one another. *We pray for a revival in the hearts of all women and a passion to know you in a greater way. We pray for greater unity and support of one another. *We pray for every need of all girls and of all maturing women. Thank you for meeting us at our point of need. You are the God who remembered Hannah, the God who used Rahab despite her past, the God who protected Esther and the God who gave Jairus' daughter life again. * We pray that you will remember every #girl and every #woman in need of your #touch, your #protection, your #breath and your #blessing. * Thank you for Women's month. * May our #celebration of you and one another never end. * In your name, the only name that will not fail, we pray....AMEN!
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Today one of my dearest friends will celebrate her mother's #birthday and will attend her father's #funeral. My heart aches for her and for all that are bookended by joy and sorrow. We all know how that feels. If not, just keep on living. (Join me in praying for all that are hurting and bereaved.) 😥😳😞 Have you ever felt like you had to walk through the valley in mountainous seasons in life? Feeling somewhere between one of these. 😃😊😥😜😀😚😫😊😔 How is it possible to have a funeral on someone's birthday? To have cupcakes and caskets? It is very possible because celebrations of life are happening constantly. Happiness and sadness can live on the same street. People are being born and people are dying and the world is pausing to celebrate in joy or in tears. Yikes! Is the first thing I thought when I learned of the birthday and funeral date but then it made since because life is just that way. Life has bumps and bruises but does not stop. ****Benedictions are happening but so are invocations! Every day is someone's birthday and death date and every day we are celebrating and suffering. That's real life! It hurts and yet it's hopeful. I recall a day that I witnessed a firing on the way to a birthday party for the one that was fired. Awwww mannn! That was tough but life moves on. We can either be frozen by pain or allow it to propel us to new levels of gratitude and maturity in Christ. I HAVE SEEN THE WORLD FIRE PEOPLE AND THE LORD HIRE PEOPLE. WATCH HIM WORK IN TENDER AND TOUGH MOMENTS. Life is filled with "ouch" and "ahhh" or “ahhhhh” and “awwww” moments. We are all walking, ever changing emojis. 😀😱😥☺💃😤😨😔😂😥😉💃😊 One moment we are happy, then sad or shocked, the next moment we smile, then we laugh or dance and sometimes we repeat that cycle after a good cry and find joy again. One phone call or life circumstance can change the mood of the day. Everyone's journey is different, but we all come face to face with our own mortality and reminders that time is 'filled with swift transition.' We must take time to reflect, remember and take in real moments, good and bad. They are all apart of the human experience. One writer said, “ The struggle is a part of your story.” How true that is! One moment we are blowing up balloons and welcoming guests to a party and one moment we are welcoming guests to a funeral and sprinkling flowers over a grave. LIFE IS PARADOXICAL! We may have a great day at work on Monday and a terrible day on Tuesday or an awesome morning and a terrible afternoon all on the same day. We may get a promotion one month and a pink slip shortly thereafter. You may be popular, sought after and admired one day and ostracized, criticized and bullied the next. Just ask Jesus who was welcomed and called "Hosanna" by the same people who would shout "Crucify him!" Life makes no promises that each day will be perfect, understandable or even comfortable, but God assures us that "He will never leave us nor forsake us." Hebrews 13:5 It is important to fix our eyes on God as life is always changing. He is the author and finisher of our faith and remains our stability in unstable times. We must look to Him and not be shaken. Hebrews 12:2, Psalm 16:8 As our friend watches God sustain her today with one foot in joy and one foot in sorrow, let us watch God sustain each of us as well whenever we are confronted with both joy and sorrow at the same time. God delights in meeting us at our point of need. I believe my lifetime commitment will be to keep telling the world that God celebrates and suffers with us. We cannot assume that we are void of His presence just because He allows suffering. Neither should we denounce opportunities to celebrate. Even so, may we night lose sight in celebration that suffering exists. Dr. E.K. Bailey use to say, "Don't get depressed because the ferris wheel of life will go up again and don't become arrogant because it will go down again." In other words, life is cyclical so keep watching it go round and round and hold on in faith. Are you joyful? Are you sorrowful? Are you experiencing both at the same time? GOD CAN HANDLE OUR BLUES AND OUR BLISS! God knows where you are and He is right there. I will say this again- Life is paradoxical. It isn't always black or white. It doesn't always feel practical, but the Lord is awake and aware. We have a present Shepherd that never abandons His sheep. -Psalm 23 We have nothing to fear. He #leads and #lifts. He #guides and #grooms. He #directs and #delivers. He #protects and #provides. He #feeds and #follows. He #humbles and He #helps. He #corrects and #cares. He #gives fresh water and green pastures. He gives a #path and a promise. 🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌 May He chase us into His presence. There we may find #rest that is eternal and joy forever more. Are you #happy? Don’t allow anyone to make you feel bad about feeling good. Dance. Sing. Celebrate. 💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃 Embrace these sweet moments and cherish them. Are you #weary, #sad or #overwhelmed? It's ok to not be ok. Dr. Robert Smith Jr., in the tragic loss of his dear son who was murdered in the recent years, shared these words. They are piercing and true, "God helps us to make sense out of nonsense." He said at the funeral of his youngest son, Tony Smith, "Job stood over 10 caskets. I only stand over 1." Wow! What a reminder of #grace even when life hurts. God cares at the beginning of life and at the end...at the end of seasons and at the beginning of new paths. If we could ask Job about life between celebration and lamentation, I know he would give us great encouragement. God took his health and family. God #suffered with Him. God blessed Him with better health and more children. God #celebrated with Him. He lived 146 years and God was faithful in wonderful times and in woeful moments. The same is true in our lives as well. God grants Himself in fruitfulness and in famine. He is faithful in sickness and in health. He is there in wealth and in lack, in popularity and in isolation and He meets every need. I know myself because I have seen God in public moments that lifted and in private moments that broke me and in public moments that broke me and in private moments that lifted me. God grants grace when we are confronted or presented with caskets and cupcakes. My good friend ended tonight saying, "Mom had a beautiful birthday and we had a good time. The funeral went well and we are sustained by prayer." How is this possible? Because with #God all things are possible- even birthdays on funeral days. The God of all creation loves and He laments. My bereaved friend can rejoice and so can we because hope lives here. Her dearly departed father has gone from life to better life and was celebrated on the day her mother was born. So her father got a birthday too! Both of them will now know life in new ways because God loves them. One has the grace of a new year on earth and one has the grace of new life in heaven. You and I are recipients of that grace as well. Why? Because we are loved by God. One of my favorite songs reminds me of the love of Christ in all seasons. "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so....yes Jesus loves me...." Take a moment and encourage yourself with the truth of God's Word. #God and his #word stands #forever. Isaiah 40:8 Will you #trust Him when life is #sweet and #sorrowful? Dear Father, Meet us at our point of need and grant your power and peace. Thank you for your fresh presence and your pursuit in our #celebration and in our #suffering. We love you and thank you for joy that is not circumstantial but sure! In your name. Amen.
Monday, February 13, 2017
Happy Valentine's Day!💖💖💖 Sooooo, tell the truth...we all know that people either really love or really hate Valentine's Day. Right? What does Valentine's day mean to you? Is it just another day? A day of love that feels like magic or a dread? For some it is filled with surprises, laughter,sizzling hot romance🔥💥🔥,candy, cards, flowers🌸🌹🌾, dinner with their loving spouse or significant other. For some it is a day of fun or a special time of pampering or of feeling appreciated. For some it is a day that is over rated or forced by advertisers or a day when no one can reach the sky high expectations of the one they love. For some it is a day of single's empowerment and self appreciation or a day to celebrate your own loving, relationships or precious family time shared. For some it is giving notes or candy in class or candy grams on college campuses. For some it is often a lonely day that makes many feel excluded, alone, under celebrated and forgotten. In certain seasons we all have wanted to either kiss the day or to fast forward through the day. I recall incredible and terrible Valentine's days. What has been your best Valentine's day? What has been your worst? My best Valentine's days as a single person were in high school participating in candy and song- grams that allowed us to visit classes singing to students who wanted to honor their friends. 💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞 Other great memories came in college were receiving candy in the mail from my parents and years later beginning a tradition as a single woman of having lunch with a date or friends, getting surprises through the day or buying myself or buying others candy, picking up balloons or a special gift if I were not dating so I could still enjoy the day of fun. In that process I became addicted to the celebration of life. 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕 💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜 Life is short. I'm committed to 'turning up' often in expressions of love or with encouragement or celebrations of others because everyday is a gift. 🎁 A gift that is not promised. 💕 A trip to the Godiva shop was by far the best tradition that I enjoyed as a single woman and I enjoy keeping that tradition in marriage as well.(No harm in not breaking some traditions). Lol! 😛 💕 The worst Valentine's days for me were the ones where I allowed the lack of gifts or the absence of a date to consume my thought life. This day can make you feel less than and at times, can serve as a megaphone silently screaming to those that feel alone or unloved if they are not "attached" or are not married...or so I thought. 💕 It is easy to assume that being with someone is better than not being with anyone. Not true! 💕 I recall the heart break one year of being told that "I got you a sweater since you have picked up weight...you didn't need any candy." O.M.G. The horror!!!!(Side eye)👀😱😤 The day was based on how other people 'made' me feel. Clearly, being with someone (or perhaps I should say, by just being with anyone) on Valentine's day is not a guarantee on having a great day. Don't settle! 💕 I recall determining that my happiness on Valentine's day or any day could not be predicated on the opinions of others, on relationships or my fantasies and neither could it be "fixed" by someone being by my side. It was time for a perspective change! 💖💋💖💋💖💋💖💋💖💋💖💋💖💋💖💋💋💖💋 I needed an upgrade in my heart, mind, esteem and spirit! Ever been there? Glory for change!🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌 I was fully in control of how I felt and reacted and even in choosing whom I would date or how content I would feel on days like this. I hade to be made over from the inside out and I was. 💕 No one had the power to make this day terrible or awesome. God is the only One that could give me inner peace that could not rise and fall based on dates, candy or the presence or absence of a relationship. 💕 Although I couldn't control or always predict how life would be each day, I could determine if I would be content and open or resentful, sad and depressed. I could choose if I would have a great day or a self induced pity party. 💕 God did something marvelous! He changed the way I saw myself and that changed the way I allowed myself to be treated. 💕 You do know that God majors in changing names and natures? Ask Abram. Ask Sarai. Ask Jacob. Ask Saul. 💕 Ask me! He has certainly done a new thing in my life and in yours. A new life includes new values and perspectives. My view of Valentine's day changed and so did my view of myself and the world.🌎 If we don't love ourselves, why would we desire anyone else to do the same? 💕 Many years before meeting my husband and yet many years after enjoying some great and enduring some not so great Valentine's days, I started finding ways to make the day of love more joyful for others and myself. Little did I know that it would soon become a day that I stopped dreading and became a day that felt like a birthday. A birthday? Yes. Because a new mindset is a beautiful birth- a rebirth! 🎈🎈💚💖💜🎈🎈💚🎈💜💋🎈💋 💖🎈💚💖🎈💜💖🎈💚💖🎈💖🎈💖🎈💚🎈💜🎈💜💋💚 💕 Giving candy to widows, giving treats to children and seniors, rendering acts of kindness to strangers at grocery stores, malls or in my own family made the day more special. 💕 Representing our church or ministry in the community also became a sweet part of some of my new Valentine's traditions as well as simply enjoying time alone in blissful contentment doing some of my favorite things or heading to dinner with loved ones or friends. 💕 You know what else? It took the focus off of my lofty ideas and diverted from a day of selfishness. It became a day of purpose. Well, with the exception of my consistent desire to have an occasional spa treatment, a Godiva strawberry and some Turtles. 😊😊😊(Gotta love that chocolate, caramel and nut combination of goodness and a good massage and all things Godiva sometimes. Listen, I do believe in self care. Nothing wrong with ministering to ourselves.) 💕 But it moved from a day that was only about me and was no longer solely about me or about who gave or didn't give to me, who showed me love or made me feel special, but about the love that I could show to others. 💕 The joy of people feeling remembered or surprised by a small gesture, a hug, a few pieces of candy, a note, a flower or a pop up visit or gift humbled me and showed me that love transcends all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and social statuses. 💕 My heart became full watching others enjoy being acknowledged, remembered and appreciated. Who in your life needs to be reminded that they matter? Who is in your family, on your street, in your church, on your job or in your community that you can show love to today? My husband has made Valentine's day special for many years. He is my every day Valentine! I. Love. Me. Some. Him.💞💞💞💞😘😘😘😘😘😘 He is my closest friend, pastor, potential pusher, accountability partner, love and confidant. 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕 Being married now makes the day sweeter, but I'm so glad I found great Valentine's days long before marriage because no person can give us complete happiness. That has to come from within. When the right one comes along, and when the time is right, they will, they enhance what is already there and yet maximize the joy by adding new love, new traditions and new moments to cherish created together. 💕 That makes every day Valentine's day to me. Rev. Tim Robinson is a safe keeper of my heart and we are in it to win it. I love that my hubby knows the candy that makes me smile, the words that make me tear and seeing his own personal touch on the day simply because he knows I Lovvve it melts my heart.💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓 I use more words than he does, but his kindness and daily expressions transcend words and special days. When he speaks- it counts! He is not a 'fru fru' person, but accepts that his wife is. 💕 Giving to one another, giving to others individually and together and quality time makes me fulfilled. Making someone else's day makes me even happier. Making his day fuels my soul. 💕 I see now that Valentine's day has to be more than a day of fluff for me. In giving to others life and this day have become more purposeful. 💕 Some years we could afford big boxes of candy, teddy bears, flower arrangements and an elaborate dinner. Some years we could not. Some years all we could do was to give each other a note or share a small box of candy or even wait until the candy went on sale the next day. Lol! #Real talk! 💕 You know what? The best Valentine's days as a married couple were not the times that we spent the most, but the times that we simply enjoyed the peaceful contentment of belonging and of knowing real love with one another and in loving on others. 💕 In full disclosure, the most memorable Valentine's day was a day that our car broke down on the way to a romantic dinner and we had to be towed by AAA. Once we were home we walked to a nearby place to have dinner. It was frustrating for a bit but sweet as the night continued and hilarious in reflection. 💕 It would have been a disastrous day for some but it was wonderful to me because we were together, we still had a romantic dinner (and walk) 😉. 💕 The day was filled with adding joy to others at work and seeing God's grace on display in the middle of life happening. 💕 Our car tires were flat but our love tank was full. What is on flat in your life? What is on full? Celebrate the fullness in the midst of 'flatness-joy in the midst of pain.' 💕 Today, see grace all around! In others, in service and in your life. It's easy to miss when life is great or when we have an unspoken script of what the day should look like. Life lenses change when we are not the only object of our own generosity. 💕 Take a breath. Enjoy belonging. Enjoy being. Enjoy blessing. 💕 Belonging is possible to married couples, singles, men, women and children. Being loved is as well. Jesus ensured it. He loves each of us so much that He proved it by dying for us. (John 3:16) 💕 Did you know that YOU are to die for? And your life matters. Jesus gave His life so that our lives could have abundant life. That's love! Real love. Non-manufactured love. A love that never fails. A love with no shade and no exclusion. 💕 Have a day and a life that reminds others that their existence matters. 💕 Surprise someone that may feel forgotten. Bring someone out of the margins of society and simply see them. Love them. Remind someone that they belong. 💕 Someone who is divorced, has loss a loved one or has become a widow may need your call, card, flowers, understanding, hug or visit today. 💕 Rise above superficiality. 💕 Revamp the way we see the day if it is only viewed as a 'downer.' 💕 Make it a day of 'uppers.' Not a perfect day but a purposed day. Up your joy, up your esteem and up your love capacity. Up your prayer time and contentment. 💕Up the sunshine in the lives of others and up the way you give to others... give yourself away and see yourself the way God sees you. It took me over 25 years to do that but let me tell you- the journey has been worth it. 💕 If you enjoy candy, flowers, hearts, notes, all things pink or red- be you! Live it up! 💕 If not, don't sweat it! 💕 Just don't forget to think outside the box of your experience in loving on others or in having a day of purpose. There, we will always find a whole new world with more significance outside of the self absorbed "me, myself and I" syndrome that can be blinding to us all. 💕 Happy Valentine's Day!💌💌💌💌💌 Love God. Love others. Love yourself. 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕 Need some help today in showing love? Here are some suggestions, but let your creativity guide you: Carve out time to worship God today for His character.💕 Journal what you are grateful for. Pop into a homeless shelter to drop off treats today.💕 Visit an animal shelter. 💕 Adopt a pet. Volunteer in an area that you are passionate. Donate to a food pantry or clothing drive. Check on a friend in the hospital. 💕 Spread love at a nursing home or assisted living facility. 💕 Prepare or pick up a meal for someone. Take a mental health day. 💕 Surprise your boss, your staff, a volunteer team, the people that you admire or a colleague with candy or a kind note. 💕 Give out balloons, flowers or gift cards to strangers. Support a hurting family or friend. Give encouragement and support to refugees or immigrants in your city. 💕 Share the gospel. Meet someone's need without telling them that you did it. 💕 Write out affirmations to remind yourself of God's love for you. Look in the mirror and thank God for creating your life. Embrace your uniqueness, beauty and flaws. 💕 💕 Pass out thinking of you notes to friends. Enjoy coffee with a friend. Pay for someone's groceries or medicine. 💕 Bless a foster child and family. Treat yourself.💕 Donate to your favorite charity. Tell your spouse and children and or your parents and siblings what they mean to you. Make a homemade gift or card. 💕 Enjoy a picnic, pack your favorite lunch. Bless homeless sisters and brothers near you. Give and receive love without apology or shame. Laugh out loud. Sit in quiet contemplation. Snuggle. Smile. Repeat. Love outside of your comfort zone. Discover your purpose and work at it each day. 💕 Purpose propels!👊 ***Your purpose allows the world's need and your gifts to collide. What better day to live purposefully? Start now. 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕 Thank you Father for your great love. We can never deserve it or can ever fall out of your great grasp. We celebrate you today and thank you for an authentic love-an everlasting love. A love that remains. Teach us how to demonstrate love to others as you demonstrate it to us so freely. Give us purpose filled days and Christ esteem. May our love be evident in each of us. In your name we pray, amen! Amen! #Valentines Day #purpose #love #give #share #remember #faith #hope #love #care #inspire #yourvoicematters #lovewell #loveoften
Thursday, January 19, 2017
We all know what a dream deferred feels like.
America held her breath for many years and on one night exhaled.
The prayers from antiquity were answered.
My husband and I sat in our NY apartment as newlyweds a little over 8 years ago in joyful disbelief.
We felt so many things on that night when our President-Elect was announced.
We felt pride, relief, joy, thanksgiving, a concern for the safety of Obama and sheer excitement watching as the first African American President of the United States had been chosen.
It was a celebration of our democracy.
Silence, prayer and tears were the only befitting responses.
Then that sacred silence later turned into dancing and mere uncontrollable bliss.
Our only wish would have been that our great-grandparents and so many ancestors could have witnessed it, but we were beyond grateful that in our lifetime we could share in the change that had finally come to America.
Seeing the Obama family walk out and watching two adorable little black girls holding their parent's hands and waving to Americans who were so inspired was surreal. Watching a couple so very much in love waving at Americans who believed in them- looking into the faces of Americans that they believed in is something that we will never forget.
His oratorical gift was above exceptional and his mind-brilliant.
His plans of inclusion and his background of rallying communities and fighting for justice made him appealing to many.
His 'audacity to hope' gave our generation's 'lifeless body' a well needed heart transplant and resuscitation.
Knowing that our soon-to-be First lady was committed to her husband's public and private success and was accomplished in her own right and yet was very committed to her family's well-being and to the new American agenda was beyond inspiring.
By the time the inauguration rolled around, our hearts danced with gratitude for a new 'portrait' in the White House of a family that would look like ours and yet President Obama would be concerned about people of every race and background.
In both of the terms that President Obama served we sat in the seat of appreciation and awe as we saw America with new lenses.
This is not to say that everyone always agreed with him or that our household always agreed, but it has been encouraging to see millennials be heard and included in conversations, women and men of all ethnicities and age groups be represented in significant, historic roles, military families be supported, childhood obesity tackled, the cutting of the unemployment rate by 4.7%, the rescue of the auto industry that was sinking, this significant stabilization of an economy that was plummeting, the dropping of the veteran homeless percentage by 50%, the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act that would assist in ensuring that women were not paid in ways that reflected discrimination, the Affordable Healthcare Act that would aid 20 million people and the ending of war to name a few of his top achievements.
My heart aches for families who had increased health coverage costs that made it difficult to afford, but my spirit is grateful for the millions who received quality, affordable care.
As a Believer and minister with some conservative and some liberal views, there were times when I felt proud to support our President and sometimes when I just couldn't.
At the end of the day we have to sleep with ourselves.
What I appreciate is having seen God use him for such a time as this.
There is only one Messiah and it's Jesus.
Our admiration for no president must seep over into exaltation because presidents are human and fallen as we all are.
However, my life is made seeing this family make an impact that can never be smeared out of History. Boys and girls have another model to add to existing models.
I grew up not seeing African Americans on greeting cards, limited in tv roles, not very many brown dolls, if any, and certainly not a First Family that had brown eyes, brown skin, ethnic hair or families that shared many similar life experiences until that moment.
In many ways we felt like we were all living vicariously through them as Black Americans and their success was important to all of us. We would often give God praise that this, in the words of the late great, Maya Angelou, "was the dream and the hope of the slave."
Some found, "Yes we can" and "Yes we did," offensively irritating but many of us knew that this was an era where Black votes and Non -black votes increased significantly and reminded the entire nation of the power of our voices in our voting...and the thirst for change. Change was demanded and anticipated. Life as we knew it was no longer good enough.
We wanted an America in reality that she appeared to be, in the words of Dr. M. L. King, 'on paper.'
In these 8 years we have watched our Commander in Chief make great decisions, colossal mistakes, ground breaking and historic moves, some that we supported and some that we did not.
Yet, we have seen him be a global ambassador who has not been committed to perfectionism but to progress.
Steady, risk taking progress.
This Administration has not been committed to busyness but to bettering the lives of others in intentional and significant ways. Every president will receive the baton with a new set of burdens and blessings and expectations, but we are grateful for fruitful progression.
As we embark upon a new era, I want to thank our 44th President for:
1. Being a president that we did not have to always agree with.
2. Being a Christian man of integrity.
3. Being a man who protected and prioritized his family and openly displayed love to his wife and children.
4. Being a president who was concerned about all Americans and especially those that have been historically overlooked, undervalued or marginalized.
5. Being committed to being the President to all Americans.
6. Being committed to sharing the spotlight and celebrating those around him who worked diligently.
7. Being a leader who remembered that this office was not about him, but about the people that he served.
8. Being a leader that has dignity, resilience and respect for others and himself and rose above criticism carefully.
9. Being a leader who acknowledged his faults and sought to improve his weaknesses.
10. Being a leader of authenticity, sacrifice and courage who did the ground work long before he got into the highest office in the land that proved his love for people and communities and his desire to impact with words and deeds even when the cameras were no longer rolling.
We celebrate America's past and yet history keeps moving.
Today America will gain a new President.
Join me in praying for all living Presidents, our out going President and our incoming President.
Despite our political affiliations, it is my prayer that each of us will continue our civic duties and will respect one another's views even if they differ because at the end of the day we are all Americans and can continue to impact change.
I shared a post of my heart concern for this past election season in social media recently and I want to share it with each of you.
We can't allow political differences to keep us from moving forward or from reconciling.
Christ came to reconcile us. Let us offer that to others. Where reconciliation is not possible, may grace and a holy anger abound.
May we together approach the future seeking justice, loving mercy and walking humbly before our God. Micah 6:8
Dear Father, thank you for our beloved country, but remind us that it does not belong to us, it belongs to you.
Forgive us as a country for the great divide that keeps us from reconciling with others.
Thank you for the past, present and future.
Make us one.
We thank you for the way that you have used President Obama and we pray that you will use President Trump.
May all of their efforts bring you glory.
Grant wisdom, insight, and direction as you have done in ages past.
All presidents and people must bow at your feet and we honor you because you are the only One that reigns over an unshakable Kingdom. We place our 'unknown future in the hands of an all-knowing God.'
We. Trust. In. You. God.
In your name, amen!
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Happy new year!
It's wonderful to wake up in a new year that God has preordained.
We are almost finished with the first day of the year- the first day of the rest of our lives.
In our planning and resolution setting, let us be sure to plan to pursue God. Wishing you a year of spiritual success.
Looking forward to this new year and super excited about many things that are coming up, but I'm finding it necessary to reflect upon 2016 a bit and then to hit the ground running in this glorious new year.
Glad you can join me here.
Kissing 2016 goodbye.
Was 2016 awesome? In many ways, but certainly not perfect- no year is.
Isn't it nice to have awe-inspired moments even in a not so awesome year?
Many moments left me inspired, humbled and amazed at God's hand and His willingness for us to participate in His activity. He is the one that's awesome because He is the perfect One that holds our imperfect journeys in His mighty right hand. I have found that it is unrealistic to expect each year and day to bring perfection or a false sense of happiness for happiness sake. Happiness is not something that God ever promised. It is something we all have convinced ourselves that we deserve, need or want, but the world will have tribulations and we will experience sorrow despite many moments of gratification. The good news is that we have God's promises that are irrevocable.
What is your favorite biblical promise or a biblical promise that helped you to stay faith filled and faithful in the last year?
Remember that God NEVER turns His back on Himself, His word or His children.
It is important not to assume that the world is coming to an end or that God is missing in action just because life happens.
In a fallen world, there will be trouble but Christ has overcome the world.
Therefore, even when we don't see it coming, we have to know that trouble can raise its head at any time and we can bow in defeat or buckle up and face it with God's help.
That's what so many of us made a decision to do this year. We buckled up for the ride!
Everything that each of us face and will face has been conquered by Christ. So we can look back and look ahead with peace.
Was this a disastrous year? Nope! By no means. Disastrous moments but not a disastrous year.
A great year? On many days, Oh Yes!!! My heart danced on many occasions. Overwhelmed by life's gifts and so many mountainous moments. I tried to savor the flavor of those days.
God was more gracious than I (or any of us deserve).
I would say 2016 was a paradoxical year somewhere between paradise and perplexity.
It was a year of purpose, pursuits, pain and power.
How about you?
Was it a great year? Purpose driven year?
Sad year? Disappointing year? Or a combination?
Some years seem incredible.
Some years are heavy.
Many of us had both and yet can resolve that God used every detail of the year for our good.
There is no way I could capture the entire year, but some of my favorite moments included Wow moments:
In my lifetime I got a chance to see an American first family that looks like me.
Many celebrations that reminded us that God honors Kingdom work long after one's earthly transition.
The fulfillment of a partnership with Cross Spring Ministries and The Rollings Foundation in the establishment of a joint water well project in South Africa. Cross Spring was established in the recent years and our mission is to provide the Living Water (of the gospel of Christ) and to partner with others in providing physical water in areas that desperately need physical water both locally and globally. Thank you Rollings Foundation for our first joint effort. (Learn more about them and how you too can partner by building an international water well at www.rollings foundation.org.)
We are grateful to have established a water well together in Sodwana so that families may be nourished and empowered. Please learn more about their ministry and how they are sustaining communities with their water wells, vegetable gardens and other impacting initiatives. Your partnership with them will advance the Kingdom in many ways.
A Cross Spring tshirt line created in partnership with She-looks designs. The tees provide messages of hope and reflect our faith.
Thank you to each of you for your support.
I've enjoyed seeing many supporters rock their t-shirts. They may be purchased year round at www.cokieshabaileyrobinson.com or on Instagram at iliveicreate. Thank you She-looks for an incredible year.
Preaching, teaching, sharing in ministry moments in pulpits that I never would have imagined were more WoW moments. I give God praise for every good and perfect gift.
Thank you to every Pastor that partnered with me in ministry initiatives, that invited this ministry by opening your pulpit on Sundays and Wednesdays or by inviting the teaching or mentoring ministry to your church, retreat, leadership session, women's team or conference. I THANK YOU!!!!! Sharing in the gospel ministry gives my soul air and I want to serve Him in that capacity until He calls me home. Outside of being a wife, serving in ministry is my greatest joy.
Aren't we thankful, fellow ministers, for this calling and God's commitment to placing His 'treasure in trashcans.' I'm thankful for the calling and sending. A special thank you to tremendous souls that I have encountered. You've blessed me richly.
There are too many memories to share but my spirit soars recalling all of the congregations that welcomed me into your families. God bless you.
Families are important. My life as an evangelist has expanded my view of family but I also cherish time with our biological family.
My husband and I celebrated 9 years of marriage. He is my heart and hero. Thankful for life's triumphs and challenges shared together. What joy to walk hand and hand as we are committed to simply becoming one each day.
I can't believe we will celebrate 10 years this year. Count down to forever!
Watching my 10 year old niece cook a full breakfast all by herself. I AM SO NOT READY FOR THIS! That is a great 2016 memory.
Hearing the wonder in the voice of my 4 year old niece when "Santa" who is also known as "Uncle Tim," called her on Christmas Eve.
Yay! She still believes it's Santa really calling. How precious is that! Her sister on the other hand is over it. Lol! They bring great joy to my life.
Family is everything to me.
Our family outings are always memorable and this year it went to another level when we celebrated our nieces baptism. Oh what a cherished memory. No other decision in life is greater than choosing Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. We enjoyed this momentous occasion as a family.
Can you tell that I am a proud auntie?
Thank God for family. We enjoy celebrating all Seasons together. They are my greatest support system, prayer partners and cheering squad.
Never apologize for lots of family time. You only get one family and one lifetime.
Marrying Mr. and Mrs. Anthony and Daphne Wilson and our cousins, Doctors Aubrey and Pamela Todd.
2 great couples.
2 beautiful ceremonies.
Thank you for the honor to stand with you and my husband on your important days in life and love.
Rev. Tim and I love you and enjoy being apart of your journey.
Mentoring seminarians, young ministers, leaders in training and church staff members around the world gives me great joy. Thank you for candid conversations, sharing your stories, being open to be challenged and your confidence. Grateful to be one of the voices cheering for you on your journey and thank you for sharpening me as well.
Hearing preaching from Pastor Ralph West regularly and being sharpened by preaching friends made the year equally special.
No itinerant minister should rely on their own preaching for their sole and soul development.
I'm grateful for refreshers for refreshers, for mentors for mentors and most grateful for the Word of God that cuts, challenges and encourages. Thankful for a devotional life that God expanded this year and every year.
Expanded territory and exposure. Lots of time in airports, airplanes, schools, seminaries and churches seeing old friends, meeting kind passengers, great pastors, staffs, congregants and strangers that became new friends and churches and conferences that became new homes.
To God Be The Glory!
Thank God for WOW moments.
They year wasn't just about WOW moments. It also had a lot of Waiting moments.
There are things God gave me. Then He told me to wait until it bloomed fully.
There are other things that God gave me that He took back and gave to me again.
Then, there are things that God said 'not yet' to.
I must admit that there are also things that God just simply said, "No. Not ever."
A year of heart break and heart expansion.
Glory to God for His heart care in waiting.
Waiting is hard but necessary.
What did you learn in the waiting room?
What are you waiting for now?
What are you thankful for that God did not allow?
I praise God for moments of waiting that God uses to sit us in silence and yearn to Hear his voice.
Wait for it!
Waiting helps us not to rush ahead of God and allows time to confirm if our desires match up with God's dream for our lives. It also allows us time to grow and be nurtured. Waiting often comes because God is redirecting us or offers more time to develop in character and prayer. Sometimes waiting helps us to become ready for the next season and prepares the people in the next season for us and sometimes, it is to prepare us to accept the 'no' that God is or will allow for our good.
I haven't always been able to rejoice in waiting, but today I am thankful for what the waiting is producing and has produced.
GOD KNOWS WHAT HE'S DOING.
Waiting is work.
Waiting is worship.
Waiting allows God to move you into destiny in His time and closer to Him. Don't get stuck in your current reality.
2016 Brought WOW moments and Waiting moments, but also brought some "Like Woa" moments.
These are moments when you feel like you are breathless. Slipping. Speechless.
Have you ever felt like, "Ummm, this is too much for me to handle?"
Some moments make you feel like throwing up your hands and saying, "Wait A moment."
Losing a beloved Uncle to cancer.
This was a major blow this year.
There was joy in being asked to be prepare his eulogy but great grief in watching his decline and death. We rejoice that He is out of pain and has no cancer in heaven. Glory for the hope of the resurrection in Christ!
Watching friends suffer with cancer and friends dealing with the loss of a child.
Preaching on days with a broken heart.
Overcoming physical and professional challenges.
Experiencing how taxing spiritual warfare can be.
'Funeralizing' personal hopes to give way for new hopes that God ordained.
Experiencing strain in friendships and seeing some be dissolved.
The frustrations involved in this year's election.
Life with a limp. We all have one.
Limps are thorns in the flesh but I'm grateful that limps cause us to rely on God more. Limps don't make us losers.
Isn't it ironic that God teaches us how to often stand still in seasons when we also have to keep it moving?
Standing and moving simultaneously is not physically possible but spiritually it is.
God teaches us to stand in His power and to walk in His authority.
Perhaps you may glean as I have gleaned from the great teacher of life.
Thank you 2016 for these lessons that I either lived or observed in others:
It stems from fear not from excellence.
Know who you are. Embrace your gifts and weaknesses. Don't dim your light and do not entertain competitors. Pray for them.
Don't settle for substitutes.
I love Splenda. I eat it in oatmeal and drink coffee with it, but I can not accept a 'Splenda' gospel. I have become intolerant of the world's acceptance of self help over the gospel. I am also frustrated and saddened by churches and ministries that offer and accept a watered down theology that exalt feelings, appearances, images, preferences, popularity, crafts and giftedness over biblical truths. Stand up for the gospel-even when it is not popular. Defend the gospel.
When life overwhelms your heart with joy-allow it the overflow. We can be so quick to move on to the next moment that we forget to cherish or to allow joy. Embrace it!
When it's time to leave the mountain- press on in faith! Life can't only be on the mountain. Accept mountain and valley moments. Learn from both.
Spiritual warfare is real. Stay prayed up! Be guarded and girded! We can not fight spiritual battles with weapons of the flesh.
Mind over matter. There are things we are equipped to do that we will not do out of fear. Make up your mind to just do it. Leap!
Know that depression is real. This is a huge elephant in the room of the global church and in most families, but let's deal with it.
Don't you think for a minute that Christians are exempt.
I have spoken with many strong Believers who struggle with depression and nothing irritates me more than people who view depression as a way of giving into the enemy. Yes, the enemy can play a huge part in discouragement but depression is caused by so many other things that are often overlooked by super saints who have never known it.
It can knock in life's transitions, seasons of discouragement, due to grief, due to genetics, burn out, in sickness, when we are faced with unexpected decisions that we can not control, when we desire to be in a different place in life or when life feels overwhelming.
We must make silent voices of the suffering heard and see depression not as a badge of dishonor but as a way for us to identify with our own humanity and a means to identify with others.
Christ suffered and so do we.
We may not all have the same struggles but we certainly have a thorn in our flesh or vices or areas where we need more power, attention or help. Do not resist or reject help or hearing the muted voices of the silent screamers around you. Everyone is going through something that you may not know of.
I have had to acknowledge to myself a call to suffer that God has given me.
I have known sickness in many seasons of my life, some that I have discussed and some that I have not, but I no longer look it this as something that is a problem. I look at it as a means that God has chosen to grace my life to give Him glory. We may ask God to allow us to serve Him in greater ways but we can not choose how He will do so. Know that suffering honors the Lord and is the badge of all Christians.
All things can be overcome with Christ but we must also find ways to swim in choppy waters of seasons of sadness or uncertainty and not see discouragement as despair.
Find a life vest and float if you have to but don't give up. Swim!
Seek wholeness for your body, mind and spirit. Self care is stewardship.
I stand amazed at how much God accomplishes when we are weak. Our strength is made perfect only through Him and in our weakness.
Know that strength is unisex.
Never defeat or apologize and be humble and gracious. Your gifts and gender are no mistake.
Be flexible. I am schedule driven, feel secure in stability and like anticipating. That is often a problem when a schedule or season changes for those of us that are stressed by unforeseen change.
We must be flexible because God knows how days and hours and even seasons will end up we don't.
We must allow Him to change and rearrange because He is at work.
He does not have to consult us.
Adapt. If you and I learn to adapt we will breathe easier.
Stop looking at who is not there for you and appreciate who is right there. God can use people that you never expected to bless you life. Don't miss them.
Value prayer. Live life prayerfully. It fuels the journey.
When life hurts you can't always fast forward through it. You have to endure.
Allow others to share the load of life.
Know that God can break you privately and bless you publicly and that certainly goes both ways. He can also break you publicly and bless you privately.
Know that everything isn't personal.
Change with change.
Ask, "What is God doing?"
Go where doors are opening and appreciate closed doors. Learn from every experience and value people and lessons in all seasons.
Be thankful. It keeps your heart pure.
Don't make a god of offended feelings.
Live in victory.
Don't compare life to the lives of others. Many can't see their value because they measure life by others or by illusions in social media. Don't do it. Live your life without the obsession of being greater or equal to others. Just live and shine your own God given light.
Be happy for other people. It is an incredible means to enjoy life and shared journeys.
Look beyond your own life and impact others. Helping others reach their dreams is real living.
Accept when you have to stay when you want to go and when you have to go when you want to stay.
Don't entertain drama.
Smile in the storm.
Know who and whose you are.
Live in a state of preparation.
Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.
Don't limit God.
Don't limit yourself.
You don't owe everyone an explanation.
Know when to speak up and when to be quiet.
You don't have to get other people's permission to serve the Lord.
Hear Him and Heed the instructions.
Start well. Finish well. Dream well.
Don't believe everything you see or make assumptions about what you don't see.
Everybody doesn't have to know everything.
Know what is sacred and what to protect.
Know when to trust and when not to trust.
Wounds can make all of us paranoid.
Let someone in and trust God in relationships but guard against naivety.
There in authentic relationships gems may be found.
Don't seek or pretend to be God for others.
Lead them into encounters with God and into growth in community not a codependent relationship with you.
Beware. A stretching is coming. Without stretching we can not grow. Allow it.
Some people admire your thoughts and views until you disagree with them. Try to preserve relationships even when there are differences in a godly way that honors God. If it is not possible, press on! God allows some relationships for only a season. Learn from them and give the benediction on relationships when needed.
Learn from others.
In full disclosure, I've often witnessed and been apart of friendships, mentorships or relationships that were one sided. Some people only want to give advice. They don't want to take it.
Some want encouragement but not accountability.
Some want you to learn from them but can't imagine them learning from you.
This was a year of learning.
Always be open to learning and seeing life through the lenses of others.
Not one person, organization, ethnic group, political party or economic group has all the answers.
Make time to nurture relationships. Life moves so fast but since it is a vapor, we all need to make time for the people we love. Social media and texting can not be the only means that we keep in touch with people that we care about. Time in each other's presence is key. We can miss what is happening in other lives without real contact. I want to do better in this area in the new year. You can not see a full view of someone's heart or situation by only being a virtual friend. I have spent time with many people, but there is always more effort that we can give relationships.
I've seen great social media pages that do not reflect the hurt happening behind the scenes. We must take time for God and other people.
We must also give ourselves permission to retreat. No one can be turned on all of the time.
Stand on your convictions...even if it makes you stand alone.
Know when to get in a battle and when it's not worth it.
We live in a world where people love blowing up more than they love digging deep, investing or loving people or their calling.
Don't fall for it. Be authentic. Be accessible. Give yourself away. Strive for substance over a false sense of importance.
Write out a life mission statement and stay true to your own assignments.
Let God bend you. You won't break.
You were built to stand.
This was a year of power!
Know victory from the inside out.
Get connected to the source of God's power.
Decrease so God may increase.
Experience new awakenings.
Be open to however God enlarges in your life.
Value the beauty in relationships with children.
Be open to the surprise of a new calling.
Know when to pullback from people and projects. Know when to push to get the job done.
Have an inner circle.
Surround yourself with truthful people who can help you grow.
Have some deep water friends of prayer.
Enjoy fans and followers but don't confuse them with friends.
Cherish friends who walk with you in sunshine and the rain.
Be a good friend to friends and to yourself.
Be open to new relationships but let them develop in time not overnight.
Take care of your body.
Eat well. Exercise. Vacation. See a doctor, counselor or therapist as needed.
Remain a student because there is always something to learn. Go back to school. Stay hungry for knowledge.
Don't resent seasons of sacrifice.
Less is more.
Downsize to upsize.
Invest in tomorrow on today.
You don't have to fall out when you have to make tough decisions.
Maturity makes a difference.
Make your pain a platform not a stumbling block. Know that it is purposed.
Use it to become better, not bitter.
Be who you were born to be not who others expect you to be.
Make following God a lifetime commitment.
The best satisfaction is when you can know that you did not choose good things over better things. There are some things we can simply not agree to do because it will not allow us to fully obey God.
We can not be productive trying to do everything, but must focus in on the specific things that we are called to do in each season and resist the temptation to try to please everyone.
You may lose popularity but will gain peace.
Make wise choices, not choices based on emotionalism, sentimentality or to appease. Know your limits.
Live with open hands.
Know that God is the navigator of all of our lives and He can be trusted.
So what if you fail or fall.
Get up and try again.
Don't be paralyzed in fear.
Make mistakes. Learn from them.
Steward the time on the bench.
Then get in the game and play like your life depends on it.
Don't be a passive player.
Grow. On. Through. It.
Where ever you are on your journey be sure to cherish the address of the past but don't get stuck there.
In the words of Pastor Stephen Brown, "Looking back is helpful, but getting stuck living backward is harmful. Know where you have come from. Remember how you got there. Know that what it took to get you there won't be what it takes to keep you there."
Let us Move forward.
Here come new beginnings!
Two dear childhood friends of mine became engaged on the last day of 2016.
The bride to be is one of my best friends and a sister beloved for over 30 years.
As she and her groom to be prepare for the days ahead it is special to know their story of the past, but to also see God's hand upon them in the present is beyond wonderful. We are looking to the future with hope with them.
The picture announcing their engagement in social media recently epitomizes the portrait of newness.
It announces that old things (mindsets, plans, perspectives and singleness as they knew it) has passed away.
May you and I join them in anticipating God's mercies and love in this wondrous new year and look for new beginnings. Say goodbye to the old and hello to the new. Hello destiny!!!!
Welcome 2017, we've been waiting to meet you.
Thank you Lord for a new year.
We honor you for last year's lessons and for your provision.
Grant us more of yourself. Teach us to serve you and surrender to you daily.
Thank you for celebration, suffering and service. Be glorified in all things.
We trust you with the future.
In Jesus name, amen.
2016 owes me nothing! Thanks friends for making it a year to remember. You are the MVP's.
2017, start your engines!
Friends share the sunshine and rain.
Friends are mentees who enhance the journey and enjoy quality time over quantity.
Friends share shenanigans.
Friends pick up where they left off.
Friends are prayerful and active on your journey.
Friends are mentors.
Friends make each year a year to remember.
This is a good year to be a friend and to enjoy friendships.
Multiply the joy and divide the sorrow.
Don't forget to be a good friend to yourself.
Have a great new year.