Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 In Reflection (Wow, Wait and Woa!)

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.
John 16:33

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.

Opportunities to stand with other ministry families and global leaders in prayer partnerships.

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

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 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.
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.
What's yours?

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.

I'm thankful for many lessons that I will list and many more.

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:

Reject perfectionism.
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.

Suffer well.
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.

Be teachable.
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.
Transition 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.
Have boundaries.
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.
Seek reconciliation.

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.

Resist mediocrity.
Resist pride.

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.

Love hard.

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.

Follow Him.

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 celebrate you and speak truth.
Friends are prayerful, authentic and fun.
Friends allow you to evolve.
Friends listen.
Friends hold your heart.
Friends share in your joy.
Friends share the sunshine and rain. 
Friends advise.
Friends are mentees  who enhance the journey and enjoy quality time over quantity.
Friends lighten the load.
Friends share shenanigans.

Friends pick up where they left off.
Friends are prayerful and active on your journey.
Friends are mentors.

Friends hear you even when you're silent.

Friends are faithful.
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. 

1 comment:

Andra said...

Blessings to you in the New Year! Thank you for all of the encouraging words on this blog.