Early Perceptions of God

A dear group of friends and I are having a discussion today (as we do most days) and my friend Juli said the following: “I remember that before I was a ‘born again Christian’, I used to believe that by default God loved me, no matter what.”  She went on to say that at different churches, she learned things that she is now needing to unlearn. We all began to chime in saying we have felt the same way.

When she said this, it really struck a chord with me and took me back to my own childhood.  I remember very clearly feeling that not only did God love me tremendously, but I was and am somehow, very special to Him too.  I never felt it was to the exclusion of anyone else, in fact, it had nothing to do with others.  It was just me, and Him, and in that context, He absolutely adores me, period.

Some of the ideas I have had throughout my life, I am only now beginning to give voice to, with certain people. I have oftentimes felt that the God I felt drawn to, close to and loved by privately, was an altogether different person from the one I was taught about in church.  The one from church was wishy washy and temperamental.  He might strike me down at any given moment.  He was scary, never laughed, was very far away and too busy to be bothered with my stuff on a daily or even weekly basis.  As my daughter Jaiela says, the god from church needed a certain level and type of prayer, fasting and effort to even hear you, let alone answer your prayers.  In order to get an answer from this god, there’s a certain amount of time one must wait to hear back from him, if they ever heard anything back at all.  It was all so strange.

The God I know and love is the one I met in the innermost parts of my being.  He made me know I was and am special to Him.  He isn’t angry with me at all.  He’s not waiting for me to mess up so that He can strike me down.  He loves me without conditions.  I can’t do anything to diminish or increase His love for me.  He just loves me, and you, plain and simple.

I wonder if my friends and I are alone in our experiences and feelings.  Outside of all the teaching, good or otherwise, what were your feelings about Him?  Have you always seen Him as distant, or close?  If you don’t know, I pray you come to know Him soon, in a real and tangible way.  No one has or will ever love you more.

 

 

 

 

Culture of Honor

Where love languages are concerned, I always tie between two- acts of service and quality time.  I cannot choose one over the other.  Coming alongside me to help and chat with me as I wash dishes screams love.

In Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, it is noted that most often, people love others based on their own love language(s).  I know this is true for me because I am very often seeking to do something for someone and spend time with loved ones. It fills me to overflowing.

I am naturally a romantic, mushy, sappy type.  I love that too and at times crave that kind of experience to be directed my way, but I don’t always get it.  Rather than complain and constantly feel sorry for myself over it, I seek ways to teach my husband and children how to love me the way that most directly and clearly speaks to my heart.  We are in such a moment in time these days.

Around Valentine’s Day, in 2017, I decided to get sappy and romantic with my family.  From February 1st thru the 14th, I wrote each of them something that I love about them.  I enjoyed doing it and had no problem at all coming up with something for 14 days. This is just one example of the types of things I do to love my family and show them I am thinking of them and care. As much fun as I had doing it, I realized a few days ago, lol, that not one of them thought to reciprocate.

I realized that while it comes easily to me to honor those dear to me, it isn’t so for everyone, and because I want to raise thoughtful children, I brought this to their attention.  In as loving a way as possible, I discussed the importance of honoring others and admitted that there are and have been times when I have felt that I was “for them” and they were for themselves as well, leaving me out of the equation.  I told them that I would like to change that and teach them to be more aware of others, especially those closest to them.  I mean really, don’t cry, slob and snot if something happens to me and tell me how much you love and care for me then, tell me and show me now!

In trying to think of ways to help my family, Abba gave me a wonderful idea that I call, Culture of Honor.  There are seven in my household and seven days in a week, so for now, once a month (for one week), we are honoring each person in various ways.

I am enjoying seeing how they are choosing to show honor to one another. One child took over washing dishes another was doing.  One made another’s bed, bought another their favorite thing from the store, etc., many acts of kindness have taken place this week.  My prayer is that this will teach them to remember others and the important roles they play in our lives, and, honor them for it.

All too often, we get comfortable with those closest to us, so much so, that we completely take them for granted.  I don’t want to do this or be treated like this and I don’t want my children to do it either. So, we are seeking to change this and make some wonderful memories while we’re at it. People are very happy with how others are choosing to honor them and there’s a sense of excitement when thinking of what to do for others as well. We also plan to choose others outside our household to honor.  It will be fun to surprise people and honor them.  I am very grateful that instead of stewing in anger, resentment, and self pity, my Abba gave me a solution- Culture of Honor.  Who could you choose to catch off guard and honor today? Go for it, and tell me about it!

 

God Is In The Details

It’s been a while since I last wrote.  I am now on the last bit of a 5-6 week long vacation with my children and this is the very first time I could really sit still and write.  I had such high hopes for working on books and this blog during this time, oh well…

I like how Ephesians 4:6 (among many other verses) debunks this idea of separation that seems to permeate the Church- the whole secular vs. sacred, etc…  The Mirror translation version of this verse reads, “There is only one God.  He remains the ultimate Father of the universe.  We are because He is. He is present in all; He is above all, through all and in all. This translation then references Acts 17: 24-28 which reads, “He is not far from each one of us; in Him we live and move and have our being. We are indeed His offspring.”

I love how God is literally present in all.  There’s no place left out of all.  Even in Psalm (139:8) it says, “If I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there.”

Sometimes, when I get prophetic words for people, I take for granted that God is all in the details.  Literally, I know nothing and couldn’t speak to people at all unless God gave me the words, but I suppose, what I mean is, it’s easy to think I am just being quirky, weird or not hearing properly.  Let me tell you a few stories from our vacation.

A few days ago, I had a hair appointment and I wasn’t feeling well.  I prayed that I wouldn’t be contagious and harm the woman doing my hair as I wasn’t aware of exactly what was going on.  I just knew I didn’t feel right.  After praying for her and myself, I got ready to leave and suddenly felt compelled to bring her some of the ginger ale I’d made for those of us who have a cough. Side note- I make a lot of my own things from scratch.  Typically, ginger ale in stores that aren’t holistic have absolutely no ginger in them at all, so I make my own. Check those ingredients!

As I put some ginger ale aside, I thought to myself and even said aloud to my daughter that I was being completely weird, bringing ginger ale that no one asked for, to a hair appointment.  When I got there, I asked her if she liked ginger ale.  She said yes and made another affirmative comment about ginger ale that I don’t remember. I told her that I’d brought her some that I’d made.  She was happy and said she would drink it right away.  I then over heard her telling another client about it as I went to hang up my coat.

A bit later, she came to me saying that another client brought her some (store bought) ginger ale as well.  That’s when I realized she wasn’t joking when she said she really liked it.  This is easy to dismiss, but think of it.  I’d prayed fervently for her, before my appointment.  I’d made ginger ale the day before, in order to help myself and other family members having issues and keep the ones with no issues from having any.  The Lord instructs me to share some with her, knowing I’m just weird enough to do it, and not only would it help protect her from my germs, but she loves the drink in general, and let me tell you, my ginger ale is most certainly superior to what you’d find in the store. 🙂 That’s God, all up in the details.  He is so sweet.

Then, let’s go right quick to Orlando, where I almost missed giving words to two beautiful young women.  I’d actually left, turned around and came back to speak to them.  I don’t remember all that I said.  I’m not sure I’d share even if I did really, but suffice it to say, the seemingly random word I gave one woman in particular was so poignant for her, that by the end of it all, she’d teared up and gave me a sweet hug.

In a different location in Orlando, again, what seemed random and inconsequential, meant everything to another young lady who told my daughter and I that what we spoke about was what she’d prayed about the night before.

There were others, too many to go into here in one blog post, but God was on the move, touching lives and hearts, and used little ole me and my daughter to do it.  How magnificent!!

All this to say, God is in everything.  He is so amazingly crafty in how He weaves one thing into another and makes us know that we aren’t alone.  He sees and cares for us deeply, more deeply than we can imagine.  I am enjoying this process of recapping various experiences with Him.  He is so good!

An Unconscionable Love

All five of my children have gone to the library, which has afforded me a very rare moment to be (physically) alone.  Naturally, I immediately set out to cleaning and straightening a few things, and, talking to God.  These days, I sometimes don’t feel able to do much more than ask Him to help me.  I need help loving people when they are at their worst.  I need help in being gracious when I want to go completely ballistic, telling people off in a manner that I feel they are so deserving. I need help in having compassion for those who are oblivious to their need to change destructive behaviors and patterns.  I need help minding my life, attitudes, behaviors, thoughts and business, instead of concerning myself with that of others around me.  My stuff is a lot, all on it’s own.

All this led me to consider Jesus.  Seriously, how did Jesus do this?  How could he look with love and compassion, blessing and healing those who would later scream, “Crucify him!!!”  How did he do that?  How could he smile, eat, drink, laugh and hang out with people who were utterly selfish, self serving, cruel, rude and more?  How could he hand over the money bag to a man that he knew would steal from them all and eventually, literally sell him out?  How could he not look at Judas, in this case, and not punch him square in the face?  My God! How did Jesus do all this?!

I sit here and consider myself and others, and how when we are betrayed or hurt, we feel as if we are the only ones who have these feelings.  We feel justified and sometimes go to great lengths to ensure that justice is served in one way or another.  We hope they pay for what they did to us, all the while, we are blind to our own offenses against others and God.

We want to see everyone “pay the piper”, except us, of course.  We want that ‘get out of jail free’ card. When it comes to us, we want mercy and compassion.  The same mercy and compassion we deem others unfit to receive, from us, and God.  Lord help us.  My prayer is that we truly learn to love as Jesus loves.  To seek after the best for others, not just ourselves.  The Bible says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  We weren’t looking for him.  We didn’t want or choose him.  He chose and still chooses us.  Good and bad.  Ugly and pretty.  Nice and nasty.  We are immeasurably, irrevocably, and deeply loved.  Abba, help us to love as you do- with no limits or conditions.

Rambling and Thanking God For My Tribe

This year in November, around Thanksgiving to be exact, will mark 3 years that we have been a part of Heaven’s Invasion.  I am absolutely floored when I sit and consider all that God has done in such a short period of time.

I remember the first time I went.  Heaven’s Invasion was having a Thanksgiving potluck before service, and Gary Fishman was to be there from the Bronx.  He’d invited me and asked me to speak about something.

I remember my oldest and I going and being excited.  We sat at a table with Scott whose enormous frame, standing at well over 6 feet, did nothing at all to deter us from striking up conversation and feeling totally comfortable with him.

I remember hearing others share a bit, and then, when it was my turn, Russ, who I didn’t know at the time, looked at me and said my name and asked me to come up.  His familiarity with my name alone shocked me, as I’d expected him to have to ask Gary for my name.

I remember the service and worship just felt like home.  In that moment, I knew that this was where I belonged, although I was attending another church Sunday mornings.  I would continue to attend Heaven’s Invasion, Sunday nights until the Lord directed me further.

Eventually, the Lord led me to leave the church I attended in the mornings and planted me firmly at Heaven’s Invasion.  Through Heaven’s Invasion, I gained more family, through the different events held by Kingdom Training Institute, Calvary Tabernacle and The Sanctuary Fellowship in the Bronx.

I have learned the hard way, as most have, that I needed to be very discerning about who I allowed in, how deeply I allowed people in and who I could and couldn’t share things with.  I learned to still be free to be me, but to keep my eyes open.

Now, I am learning to open up in an environment with people where I am safe. I remember meeting my Evelin.  I felt like I had known her all my life, and, after being around her a second time, I told her that she was going to be my friend.  I just knew it.  After being hurt so much in the past, because of my own poor choices, I felt I’d outgrown the term “best friends”, but she truly is one of my very best friends.  I can readily admit that now.  Also, we have a little core group now and I can confidently add that term to JuLissa and Lisandra as well.  In truth, what we have is far deeper than the term that has a bit of a kiddie feel to it.  These women mean everything to me.  These are a few of the women, with whom I feel no walls.  Thankfully, there are many others as well.

To be surrounded on so many fronts with such love and support seems like I’m cheating at times. And the changes!!  I never in a million years imagined I’d be doing much of anything I am doing now.  I am regularly prophesying over people where ever I am.  This includes phone calls I have to make to businesses for home repairs and services.  I love it when I’m asked at the end of a call with Verizon or some other company if I have any other questions or comments.  That’s oftentimes my cue to unleash God’s love on the unsuspecting representative.  I can’t tell you how many times, after prophesying over a representative from one company or another, how they open up, sometimes crying, and start to share a bit of their lives with me.  What an honor!!

As I look back, in just shy of 2 years, I have gained a solid foundation in the prophetic, became a worship leader, youth leader and an ordained minister to boot!  When connected with the right people, God can do some crazy things, crazy fast!! I feel both, new and different, and completely comfortable and at home with my life as it has become, and it’s still changing!  There’s so much more to come!  God has said it and I just feel it!

I pray that you are connected to the ones God would have you connected with.  This is what life is supposed to be like in His Kingdom-family, fellowship, discipleship, love.  I so enjoy doing life with my core group.  I pray that you have this too!

 

 

Encounters That Wreck You

I’m not sure what exactly brought it on but several days ago, I had an encounter with the Lord that led me to eventually make some declarations over my upcoming birth.  Between that and the encounter, I felt so fully encapsulated in Him, His love, His peace, His joy, that I have been a bit wrecked since.  I don’t want to do anything, go anywhere, do much talking or anything.  I just want to be- with Him.  I don’t want to come out of the space I am in with Him.  I feel this is the perfect position to give birth from. How glorious and holy…

Have you ever had an experience with Him that completely wrecked you and just about rendered you unavailable on a natural level of being?  I, like some I know of, want to learn how to function in every day life “under His influence” like this because there’s just nothing like it.  I don’t want to leave.

If you’ve not had such an encounter with Him, ask Him for it.  I join you in asking, knowing that because He is a good Father, He will give it to you.  This isn’t something to miss out on.  You don’t have to wait to get to Heaven to experience Heaven or Him.  Experience both now and later.  You won’t be sorry.

Seeing Children As Gifts and Rewards

Without having a sonogram, I am pretty certain that I am now carrying twins. Truthfully though, whether I am carrying twins or not, I couldn’t be more excited. For as long as I can remember, I have always loved and valued children. I see each as a real treasure, as psalm 127:3 says, they are a gift from the Lord, a reward. I am honored that my Abba has entrusted me with so many, some that I have given birth to, others I have not.

I have always been a mama.  I used to feed kids in my neighborhood as a child and now, as an adult, I still do.  As I grew in my teen years, I often kept cousins, nieces and nephews. I remember having such a wonderful time with them all. Even now, I have several boys and girls from the neighborhood, who come over often to sit, ride hoverboards back and forth in the family room, eat, drink tea, paint, make lip balm and more.  I love every moment of it.  I enjoy playing with them, hearing their stories and just spending time with them.

As I sit here typing this, I can’t help but smile as I listen to my four children outside.  At least one is shoveling snow.  I keep hearing screams of delight and then, they all come in the door and my oldest tells them to line up at the door, take their shoes off and gives other instructions.  As I hear them, I just sit here smiling like a fool wondering how I became so fortunate to have them for a time.  God must have great trust in me to have entrusted these jewels into my care.

I can’t help but feel a bit sad when I come across someone who, upon seeing that I am pregnant, gives me a look of pity, especially one who is familiar with the ages of my other children (18, 13, 9 and 3).  They feel for me as they consider what I’m guessing is only negative things and I feel for them because if they have children, it feels like they didn’t or don’t fully enjoy the experience of being a parent.  They see the world through their negative experiences and can’t fathom doing it all over again, whereas, I’m looking forward to it all, as is my entire household.

So, I suppose, my prayer this week is for parents far and wide who still have opportunities to truly enjoy their children, no matter what age they are currently.  Let’s not take people for granted.  Children have a lot to give, teach and share.  Let’s not miss out on it all because we are so busy doing adult things.  Let’s be like Jesus and allow them to come to us.  Let’s enjoy them as the beautiful gifts they truly are for us all.

Checking In

Just wanted to send out a quick post to say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, I love you and wish you all the best!!

I have been literally lying in bed, smiling at the Lord and sweet talking Him as I grow more and more in love with Him and His ways.  (((Insert le blissful sigh)))  He is so sweet and kind.  And as a side note, I am seeing so much more angelic activity and angels these days, it’s astonishing!!!  I even laughed at myself though as I spoke sweetly to the Lord and saw flashes of the most dazzling light whiz by but I paid them no mind and just kept right on talking to Him.  He is my focus.

Also, like most, I have been spending time with family and friends and enjoying all that this season brings.  I have been extremely low key with regards to gifts and all so that’s been fun and refreshing as well.  People talk about how gifts are not the primary focus but tend to get all stressed out with just that.  Thankfully, I was able to do my shopping for most of the things I needed online. Even if I was tempted to go out and shop, it just ain’t happening with my ever blossoming belly and subsequently complaining back. 🙂

For some reason, I tend to get really private and quiet about things at times and I think it’s time to share a little more of what’s happening with me for those who would be interested.

For the last month, I’ve been blogging in video form, which is known as vlogging.  The focus of my vlog is pretty much a chronicling of my pregnancy.  There are many who do this on youtube but mine is different because for one, it’s me, and I’m different. Also, mine has a bit of a twist or two as it is unassisted pregnancy and birth and there’s an additional little surprise that we may be in for when it’s all said and done.

So, for my men folk, no worries about any tmi/naked bits, nothing like that at all is included.  🙂 I posted my latest vlog today and it includes a special guest.  Here’s the link to the first one for anyone interested in viewing them. They are all public, so if you choose to watch the others, you will see them listed and if you’re interested in receiving notice of them as I post them, you can subscribe to be notified right away.

So that’s it for now. May you be blessed beyond imagination, now and in the coming new year!

 

Defy the Enemy. Get and Keep Your Joy

I am about ready to burst, and some say I look like it too, hahaha!  I don’t mean with babies though, I mean with joy!!  I am finding myself consistently overwhelmed with joy as I just look to the Lord and then look at all that He is doing in my life and the lives of others.

I am currently finishing up a devotional on joy and it has been pretty good.  I’m not one to do devotionals or read the Bible just to check off some imaginary (or real) checklist, I want it to always be applicable, meaningful and impact my life.  If I find it is kind of boring and I’m just going through it to say I did it, I will stop.  God is never boring and neither is His Word.  I refuse to settle for less just to be able to say I do something each day.

Anyway, the devotional stresses that joy is our right as God’s children.  We can literally have joy in any and every season we go through in life if only we will look to God.  Many a Christian can quote Nehemiah’s “The joy of the Lord is my strength!” or Psalm 16:11’s “In His presence there is fullness of joy”, but how many can say they experience this reality on a regular basis?  This is where we should be as believers, allowing our Heavenly Father to fill us and be our joy, peace and strength.  Anything that we go to in lieu of His presence, for the purpose of gaining peace is not only not going to last, but it can and will become an idol in our lives.  I don’t want anything to take His place and position in my life, because there is truly nothing like Him in the entire universe. When I allow Him to fill the space in me that only He can fill, I truly feel I am seated with Him in heavenly places and man, there is nothing that can compare to it!

Also, I am finding Him to be more and more of a complete show off.  You take a step in a direction that He is wanting and wham, surprise after surprise of provision, gifts, and so much more overtake you all along the way.  It’s the best!!!  I can’t imagine living any other way.

The enemy does not want any of us to get this.  He wants to be able to continue to manipulate us and get us to focus on our circumstances. This can be such an emotional roller coaster.  Living that way means that you’re only as good as what’s happening around you, and who wants to be a puppet of their circumstances? Not me! So, take what’s yours beloved!  If you’re feeling off today, get in His presence, lay it all bare before Him and ask Him to give you something magnificent in exchange.  He is more than happy to do it and you?  Oh, you’re just gonna love it!

What Has Your Attention?

When I am tempted to get down and head towards depression, I now tend to get this really cool check in my spirit.  I believe it is the Lord speaking to me, asking, “What are you looking at? Where is your focus right now?”

Of the multitude of things one could be focused on in such moments, it is a sure bet that the focus is not on God and resting in His presence or Jesus’ finished work.

On Facebook, Rob Coscia said something very poignant, If you’re living in fear of people, circumstances and the future, you haven’t been listening to what God says about them.” Rob also noted 3 verses of Scripture:  Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” ( Matthew 11:28)  God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7) Lastly, he mentioned 1 John 4:18a Perfect love displaces all fear. I add to this short list, Jeremiah 29:11 in which the Lord states, “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  This verse is very familiar to most but we need to realize that we can actually ask Him what those thoughts and plans are and get a reply.  He is eager to speak to and be in relationship with His people, it’s the whole reason we were created. He wanted a family.  He wanted you.

I have been thinking about this a bit and why it is that Christians allow themselves to sink as deeply as anyone else who doesn’t know God. One thought that came up was that perhaps we don’t all truly value or understand the value of prayer and being aware of and intentionally focusing on His presence.

It isn’t easy to be in His presence and still feel sorry for oneself.  I don’t know that it is even possible to shift one’s thinking and focus, be engulfed in Him, and still be depressed.

I think, all too often people feel they have to be doing something to fix their problems.  They have to help God, after all, a lot of Christians believe that “God helps those who help themselves”.  The faulty part of this is that if we could fix all of our problems ourselves, what did Jesus die for?  Why do we need a Savior?  What do we need God for at all if we can do it all ourselves?  Now, I’m not saying just sit around and wait for everyone else to do for you or expect things to just fall into your lap.  There’s most certainly a time and place for doing things, but not to the complete dismissal of prayer and just basking in His presence.

Psalms 16:11 (NKJV) says, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Do we really believe that when we allow what we see and experience to overthrow what the Word of God says?  Jesus said his yoke is easy and his burden is light but do we really believe that when life presents us with an opportunity to take on a burden that God never intended us to bare?

A game changer for me has been this consistent and constant (and simple) awareness that I carry the fullness of the Godhead in me and with me 24/7 (John1:16). Because of this, I can engage with Him at any time.  What a wonderful reality!!!

I am one who can take empathy to heights and depths unknown, and last week, I started to really feel down as I witnessed so much pain around me.  I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper, praying and crying.  Eventually, I realized, I need to let it go because it was affecting me more than just a little.  I knew that in my own strength, I couldn’t handle it so I sat still and told the Lord that I didn’t want to keep feeling so awful.  I’d prayed in faith and believe wholeheartedly that He has already provided healing for the hearts, bodies and minds of all that I prayed for, but I didn’t have to stay there. I could have my joy restored and keep it.  So, I focused on Him and just worshiped Him and soon, everything changed. Now when I think of the people I am praying for, I simply thank God for their healing and move on with my own joy intact as I know I have constant access to rivers of living waters flowing inside of me.

I love how, when I decide to trust God and don’t try to have a back up plan to fix things myself in my own strength, it leaves room for Him to do some crazy, creative and mighty things in my life.  I have seen it so much in the last few years that for me, there is no other way.  It’s live by faith, the end.  If He said it in His Word, I have settled it in my heart to trust and believe it no matter what I see in front of me.  Just as Psalms 121 starts out, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains.  Where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth…”  So, my question to you is, what are you looking at?  Where is your focus planted?  If it isn’t on Him, no worries, make that shift, focus on Him.  Allow Him to love you through rough times and fill you with that peace that surpasses all understanding.  Joy unspeakable is yours for the taking. Get what’s yours and keep it!