Rising

Sitting down to write this new blog post has been a long time in the making. As I type this I began to chuckle because it was a thought in my head for a year and a half now. That was my last blog entry and it was just before a turbulent time began in our home. I have to be honest and transparent, never did I think that it would be a long season in between the posts. But here I am stepping out in faith again and believing that this entry will encourage someone.

I have often pondered life’s journey and the turns and twists that can develop as we move forward and how those times if we allow it can produce endurance and character. I have said in past blog posts that when a time of testing comes it is an opportunity for those spiritual muscles that developed atrophy to be awakened. It’s painful and in many cases at first and our natural human tendency is to get out of it as quickly as possible. But what if that very thing that you are facing acts at a catalyst to produce something in you that may have been lacking, intends to make you stronger, and shift your perspective.

As I have walked through this last year and a half many of those very things have taken place within me. Many times it wasn’t pretty by any means and it was a very challenging on many levels. Walking through the challenges of dealing with a chronic illness was something I had never faced before. I am a wife, dog mom, business owner, running enthusiast, artist, dancer, and the list goes on. I could breeze through things very quickly and was on to the next thing sometimes not even taking a break. All of which came to an abrupt halt in December of 2019. After months of various testing and even misdiagnosis it finally came back that I have Lyme disease and Epstein bar. I had no recollection of being bit by a tick at any point. And it was unclear if it happened a long time ago and laid dormant before manifesting symptoms or if was from a recent time.

It has been a growth journey for my husband and I spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I had to make a decision daily in the midst of physical pain and emotional pain that I had to move forward the best I could. There were days where it hurt to walk or do most of anything but I knew I had to get out of the bed even when I didn’t feel like I could. At the time I could no longer work in the salon as I had done for many years so I began working my Skincare & Body care business for 30 minutes a day. That is all that I could do at the time because of the cognitive issues I was having due to the bacteria and parasites from the Lyme and Epstein bar that had entered my brain. It would take me forever to do the trainings because I had a challenging time keeping up mentally coupled with exhaustion from inconsistent sleep. But despite that I still chose to get up and do what I could when I could.

The life that I was living appeared at the time to be something that could be a distant memory of what is considered normal. But for myself I knew that was a lie and an attempt to derail my progress. So everyday I did a little or tried to do at least one thing and with each passing day. Some days were easier and some harder but I moved forward the best that I could. I would listen to my bible and worship music drawing strength and encouragement in both. Holding onto those things that I knew to be true in the midst of the pain, heartache, and the drastic change in my quality of life. There were days when it came easy and days it was more challenging. I didn’t do it perfectly and I won’t pretend like I did. I knew who my Father was even in the midst of the pain and I knew that He wouldn’t scold me in the midst of tears running down my face as I cried out to Him. I found myself in a place of vulnerability with Him that I had not been in before. Feeling weak and tired and in many ways being tempted to question my faith I reminded myself of the love, faithfulness, wonders, and miracles I had seen Him do in mine and my husband’s life over the years.

Everyday I would rise, continue to move forward, and live! And those accusatory voices that continued to try and remind me of who I am not and bring up things from my past that I had done to possibly bring all this on were silenced! “Keep going my love, I’ve got you” rang in my ears. It produced an endurance and a deeper closeness with God. It’s been a year and a half now and I still rise daily secure in that love but also living and enjoying the moments of laughter and joy, while still walking out my journey of healing. Gaining new discoveries, new perspective, new wisdom, and rediscovering strength and victory running through my veins.

Walking By Faith and not by Sight

 

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There comes a time in any Christian Believers life when the act of walking by Faith and not by sight is put to the test. Do we really believe the word of God as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:7. My husband and I have had many opportunities to live this out over the years. It has looked like many different things over the years for us. But some of the biggest opportunities to walk this out is when He calls on us to relocate. In the last almost twelve years of our marriage it seems to be between South Carolina and North Carolina.

When He speaks to us that it is time to uproot and move there is always an excitement as well as an anticipation of the unknown. Each time this happens we always discover that some of the Faith muscles that we thought we had developed got a bit of atrophy as we hadn’t exercised them in awhile. He begins to exercise them and as with the start of a workout routine your muscles are sore. But as you continue to workout and exercise those muscles they become stronger and stronger and they no longer are sore. He exercises our Faith muscles and makes us stronger.

My husband and I were living in Greenville, South Carolina and God called us to relocate to Greensboro, North Carolina. This was quite a bit of an unexpected transition, however my husband and I have always been willing to go wherever He calls us to go no matter how uncomfortable it may be or how comfortable we are. And I just want to mention we both had gotten very comfortable in Greenville, South Carolina. My husband worked for a local ministry there and I was working and running my own business as a Hairstylist. We were also building family and community in the church we attended there as well as serving as leaders of a small group.

God put it on our hearts not to renew our lease where we lived back in June. We began looking for the new place that we would live. Our prayer was for a place that was bigger so that we could entertain and love on our family, friends, and neighbors. So we began to look for that place. As time went on it seemed the more we looked the more the doors were not opening up for us to find a place. We would call on a place and either not get a return phone call or the place was rented out. I will be transparent and tell you this was a bit frustrating for me at times as I like to plan. But I couldn’t plan this next step.

Time went on and we still were praying and believing and dreaming for that new place. Time went on so much so that it was getting close to our move out date. God put it on a sister at our churches heart to open up their home to my husband and I. They had just finished a one bedroom/one bathroom suite in their home. And as the Lord would have it that is exactly the provision He made for us. So we moved forward into this transition.

This was a change for the both of us as we were used to being in our own home and this was a home with seven other people living in it. We learned a lot in that time and got a front row seat view of what it would be it like to have a family of our own. It was a beautiful time of growth for the both of us. It was challenging but we are thankful for that time and how the Lord grew us and worked those muscles even when it hurt. We lived there for a total of four weeks.

We continued to look for that place we were dreaming of and nothing was opening up for us. We battled discouragement in this time but God always reminded us of His word and promises and we pressed forward knowing something was going to happen. One morning as I was spending time with Him and praying I asked the question of where He wanted us to go next. My husband and I went for breakfast and during that time we got a text during that time from another sister in our church saying that her and her husband wanted to open their home to us for the month of August. So after praying we realized this was our provision again from the Lord and we moved again to their home.

Just before we moved to their home my husband and I decided to go to a special place in Greenville, South Carolina and took some time to pray.  We cried out to God during this time. We both were a bit tired and a little weary as things were not exactly working out the way we wanted them to. We went to just seek His face. During this time He put a family member on our hearts that recently moved to Greensboro. She had been asking us to come up and visit for a weekend but we hadn’t been able to. We called her up and she was away and allowed us to use her home for the weekend. We really wanted to just get a weekend away together not thinking of what would take place next.

We came up that weekend and experienced a bit of an unexpected nudge from the Lord that this was where He was calling us to be. We had such a peace and contentment come over the both of us to began to organize things in preparation to move to Greensboro. We returned to Greenville on Monday and began that process. We stayed with the second family that offered up a place for us for a little more than a week and then moved up to Greensboro with our other family member and we are currently residing there. Still praying, believing, dreaming, and looking for that place of our own where we can love on and entertain people.

What’s the point of the story. Sometimes things don’t always work out the way we plan or think but in the midst of it God knows exactly what we need. Ultimately we are following Him and He has gone before us and continues to work those Faith muscles. He knows are hearts desire and the things we dream of and He cares and desire to bless us. He is not a frustrating Father and He gives good gifts to His children. We hold onto those promises and we move forward still loving Him and looking for Him in every circumstance and thanking Him in the midst of it. Growing and learning. He is good! He is worth it!

Captivated

There are moments in life that I absolutely believe God will allow you to witness and have it hold a significant place in your memory. I have been able to experience many such moments in my lifetime. These are the kind of moments when the world around us stops and everything happening in the room comes to a complete stand still. The noises and voices that occupy the room are silenced. It is as if time simply stops. The focus becomes so centered – so heightened – that absolutely nothing else matters.

Several months ago, I attended an event at a church. There was a great deal going on in the area that I was assigned to assist in. I was partnered up with a young man that I had never met before. We greeted each other warmly and began a conversation. We asked questions like, where we were from, what we do for a living, we talked about our families, and what brought us to the area. It was a sweet conversation. At the same time, there were many other people around us working together to make sure that this event went smoothly.

At one point, the door open to our assigned area, and there was great joy and delight in the voices of the behind us as they were greeting people that entered into that space. During this time, as I was still engaged in conversation with the young man, I began to notice he was present but no longer involved in the conversation. There was a noticeable quiet that came over him as he kept turning around and looking over his shoulder. I was intrigued as to what had captured his attention.

When I turned around, I immediately got a glimpse of who his focus was on. It was a beautiful young woman with a brilliant smile across her face that radiated the joyous spirit within her. I looked at him, and then again to the attractive young woman, and back at him again. It was as if no one else was in the room but the two of them. I felt as though I was looking from the outside in to their world. I imagined a filter, as if every voice was silenced, but he could only hear the sound of her voice. It was breathtaking. I knew that I was witnessing the stirring of his heart at her presence. You could see the longing in his eyes to pursue getting to know her. Witnessing this brought such joy to my heart, as I could sense and feel the draw of his affection for her. He was completely captivated.

The two of them began a relationship and are now planning to marry later this year. As I scrolled through their engagement pictures recently I couldn’t help but to think of this evening at the event that I was blessed to witness. Moments like this are truly gifts from Father God.

Pursue Love

1 Corinthians 14:1-Pursue Love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

This particular verse of scripture has been on my heart greatly as we came to the close of 2018. Of course I have seen it and read it countless times over the years however two words rang loudly within me one early morning the last week of December 2018. PURSUE LOVE! I felt greatly within my heart that this was the focus of God for me personally going into 2019.

I don’t want to make light of the remainder of the verse as I truly desire growth in the spiritual gifts especially the gift of prophecy which I totally believe is still alive and a vivid expression of the heart and the love of God for everyone on this earth. The gifts and prophesy according to this verse must be within the foundation of love.

My prayer has been and continues to be Father teach me to love you more and in loving you more teach me to become love and see the love you have for others. He has loved me with everlasting love regardless of my past. He wants me to imitate Him as a Beloved child according to Ephesians 5:1. Everything in the very nature of who God radiants love. And becoming love can only take place in seeking Him by spending time with him and cherishing His word. And as I see more of him in both those areas I can’t help but want but take on the very same nature of Him.

My prayer and desire for 2019 is to Pursue Love more. To love so purely and intentionally that it reflects Jesus in everyway. Why? Because he has pursued me with the same love. And that is something absolutely worth giving my life to.

The Christmas Tree

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When I think of the beauty of a Christmas Tree, I am instantly taken back to the wonder of my childhood. I would often see a Christmas Tree and all the beautiful lights whether they were colored lights or simple white lights. The breathtaking ornaments that had the significance of a memory, or a snowman, elves, reindeer, or Santa himself. I always loved to see the Christmas Trees that were color coordinated. They always brought me a sense of joy and excitement. Although I didn’t grow up in a home that celebrated Christmas, this time of year always seemed to be a time of joy and celebration for a vast majority of people around us.

My husband and I have been married for almost eleven years and we have never put up a Christmas Tree. To be honest there was not a real desire to do so mainly because of the work involved. But something very special happened to me this summer. It was during the month of July as I was spending time with God and the anticipation of Christmas came over me. And for the very first time these words came forth from my lips “Father I would really love to put up a Christmas Tree this year.” In that moment I knew something different was happening within me. I was filled with a childlike joy at the thought of Christmas.

I remember sharing this news with my husband later that evening and he looked at me with that puzzled look on his face and the response of “REALLY?!”. I replied “YES I WOULD LOVE A CHRISTMAS TREE THIS YEAR”. His response to that was just a simple “OK”. Over the next few months I continued to mention the tree in my conversations with God. I can only describe it like a small child pulling on one of the legs of her Father and saying Daddy, Daddy…I would really like to have a Christmas Tree.

As the Holiday Season approached I remember one day going into a store to simply look at Trees and Holiday decorations. As I looked I began to notice that some of these decorations were on the costly side and the Christmas Tree was no small investment, and I will admit for a moment I was tempted to give up on having decorations or the Christmas Tree. But the confidence that God heard my request and because I know that his word says that He loves to give good gifts to His children was comforting to me in that moment.

Some weeks later I was asked post an item online for someone to sell on social media. Doing this required me to spend time on an area of social media that I normally didn’t spend much time on. But due to the consistent inquiries about the item for sale I had to check it and respond frequently. It was the same afternoon that the item sold that I saw a photograph of a Christmas Tree for sale posted. The amount listed for it was well within our budget. I sent an email inquiring if the Tree was still available and it was. Two days later my husband and I picked up our very first Christmas Tree.

I am constantly in Awe of how God is always cares for every detail of our lives. This was a huge request to me and the thought that He was wrapped up in every detail of the Christmas Tree back in the summer warms my heart with an even greater love for him. He is truly an Awesome Father!

Resting on His Shoulders


A few weeks ago I got to witness a remarkable event in the lives of two very dear friends of mine. I had the opportunity to witness an adoption proceeding. I remember getting to see the high energy and joy of my friends. This had been a lengthy process with many curves along the way but the day finally arrived. Both of their boys were dressed in their Sunday best along with the gifts they received that same morning. You could also see the joy on the faces of the women who worked diligently to ensure everything that needed to happen, legally, for this day was done. At one point there was some nervousness that entered the atmosphere as some paperwork came into question. However, it was quickly cleared up so the adoption could proceed.
There is one thing I remember the most about the day. My friend boosted his son over his head to put him onto his shoulders. The look of joy and excitement on his little face was so very priceless. His Aunt was teasing him and playing with him with sounds she was making that brought such a deep rooted laughter from within him. It was in that moment that the Lord began to speak to me. He said to me “You see how he is just resting upon his Father’s shoulders without a worry or fear of his Father dropping him or anything happening?” “This is my desire for you to be that way with me. That you would be in such a place of rest and trust that you can have the same joy you see him experiencing. Truly this is my heart for all of my children.” At that moment a blissful feeling of His great love came over me. Him loving me and the world so much that He wants us to be in a place of total peace, rest as well as incredible joy.
As we entered the courtroom to begin the hearing I could see the Father’s heart being put onto display right in front of me. Here is this beautiful young child who at one time was an orphan and homeless. This Amazing couple answered the call to bring him into their home and he was no longer an orphan or homeless. He is now a Son and part of an Amazing family. The entire purpose of why Jesus came was to reconcile us back to him, to give us Sonship, and place us into His Eternal family. And in the midst of it all He wants us to rest on His Shoulders as Beloved Children. Oh what a love!
As the adoption hearing began to close and the judge saw fit that my two friends should now become his parents. The judge called out his new last name. There was not a dry eye in the room from the case workers, both sets of grandparents, the new adopting parents, and myself. I will forever be reminded of this day and forever thankful that Father invites me to simply Rest on His Shoulders.