Because the Lord is so merciful, he keeps us from falling. Life can present us with a slippery slope of trials and challenges. Temptations can lead us on a downward spiral. Emotional challenges can cause us to lose our footing.
In all of this, thank you, Lord, for your unfailing love! Despite what we face, what happens to us and sometimes even what we bring on ourselves– when we call out to him in our distress, he will always hear us. His eyes are on his children, and he listens for our cry. And because his mercy is everlasting, just like he caught Peter before the waves could overtake him, he will do the same for you and me.
This is such a beloved verse. To know that I can do anything through Christ, that’s good news! I can land the job, get the promotion, succeed and thrive in this life—through Christ. And surely, I can.
But I think Paul wanted us to grasp a greater truth. He had just spoken about how he made it in situations when he had plenty and when he had nothing. Rich or poor, full or hungry, his solution was the same—Christ. He was saying, “Hey y’all! I found the secret to happiness and satisfaction in life, and it’s Christ!” Whether on the mountain of victory or the valley of suffering, I’ll emerge triumphantly because Christ will give me strength. He will be my strength.
I challenge us today to trust our stories to the Master Author, knowing that every page was written before we were ever born. I pray God gives us the grace to enjoy the story as we live it in real time. And when we reach a difficult chapter, a plot twist or cliff hanger, I pray he reminds us that he will be our strength. And because of that, there is nothing we can’t do. We will have victory in this, yes even this, through Christ.
Thank you for always being with us. There’s no place we can go to escape your presence. Your eyes are always on us. Your ears are always open. Your arm of strength is always ready to fight for us. Your plan will always prevail. We know this God, but if we fully internalized it, how much more peace would we experience? Thank you for teaching us more and more every day to trust you and believe your every word. And when we forget what you’ve taught us, thank you for reminding us again. Your patience never runs out. Your love is unfailing. Your mercy is forever. I pray this prayer with love and adoration and in Jesus’ wonderful name,
Before the year ends, I want to thank everyone who took the time to read my blog this year. Your support, messages, and kind words have encouraged me more than you know. I pray that something you read was a blessing to you. As we leave 2021 in the past and look forward to greeting a brand-new year, I just want to offer a prayer of blessing for my readers.
It’s a privilege and a blessing to be here at the close of another year. For the past 12 months you’ve watched over us, protected us and blessed us. You were so generous with your gifts. When things were unstable, you stood firm. When times were dark, you were the light. For everything we lost, we learned that you would always make up the difference. You were always more than enough.
I’m asking you to bless those who’ve read any portion of my blog this year. Bless their families, their finances, their health. Give them wisdom and peace and joy. Keep them safe and in the center of your will. Above all else, give them a closer relationship with you. Give them confidence in you as they embark on the journey of a new year. This year has not been easy, and the prospect of the unknown can seem daunting. Remove any fear and anxiety that may be taunting them. Remind them that when they walk with you, they can laugh without fear of the future.
Let them be full of faith, always abounding, always growing, bearing much fruit and bringing glory to your name. Let them always remember how much you love them. Whatever you have in store for 2022, thank you in advance.
In Jesus’ name,
Thanks again to each of you and if it’s in the Lord’s will, I’ll see you in 2022❤
It’s officially winter and it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
I love the holidays, but I’m more of a sun and fun girl. But my least favorite season—fall. I kind of hate it. Leaves dying, cold weather inevitably coming. To say I hate it is a little dramatic, but I’ve always thought fall was overrated.
I remember driving one day this fall and realizing the leaves on a specific type of tree had turned a brilliant orange. Others were red, green or yellow. But the orange stood out to me. I’m thirty?? years old and I’ve never seen them this shade. I’ve always thought the fall colors were beautiful, but cliché as it may sound, I felt like I was seeing them anew. It was so much so that I asked a few of my family and friends if the leaves looked different to them this year. It looked like the color saturation you see with a social media filter. For weeks, every time I drove I paid attention. I took alternative routes to see what the trees looked like in other areas. It was absolutely beautiful and it gave me a new respect for fall. Still, I couldn’t figure out why it looked so different, until I realized it wasn’t the trees.
It was me. I’m different this year.
I’ve been working on gratitude, being more present and savoring the moments. I guess it was a success because I found myself enthralled by something I used to be indifferent towards.
I’ve found myself looking at things a little differently lately. I don’t know if it’s because of an approaching birthday, the ever raging pandemic, the innumerable ways my life has changed, or all of the above. Either way, things are different and I am different. The past two years have taught me a lot. Don’t take the small moments for granted. Savor your happiness. Find joy. Seek peace. Wisdom is more valuable than money. One of the most impactful lessons has been an old faithful. Gratitude.
In my lowest and highest moments this year, and I’ve had my share of both, there was always something to be grateful for. During one of my more difficult times I began listing five things I was grateful for during my nightly prayers. Some days my list went over five. Some days it was challenging because I honestly didn’t feel grateful. So I started listing small things like, being able to smell my favorite scent or something that made me laugh or smile that day. That caused a shift for me.
When I started looking for things to be grateful for, I started finding things to be grateful for.
This is a gentle reminder for anyone reading (mostly for myself) that when looking at your situation, it helps to use a filter. Look through a lens of gratitude and see what changes. Notice the difference in color, contrast and tone. Does it look any different? Is there anything you missed at first glance?
As my gratitude practice progressed, I began to list five of God’s characteristics to thank him for. His kindness, patience, love, mercy, forgiveness, wisdom, friendship… I went on like this for a week and I never needed to repeat one.
When my circumstances aren’t overflowing with reasons to be grateful at first glance, I can look again with a different lens. And no matter the season, I can always be grateful to God for who he is. He never changes. He is always the same and because of that, I’ll always have a reason to be grateful.
How can I thank you? I’m reflecting today on specific events, dates, and seasons in my life. I wouldn’t be here today if it had not been for you. You have taken me to some high heights and through some deep lows. In my reflection, I can’t trace a time when you have neglected me. You’ve never walked away, never broken a promise. Instead, you’ve been consistent. You’ve been patient. You’ve given me freedom and joy and peace and grace without measure.
The most skilled and gifted among us have written songs and poems and think pieces about you and I can’t attempt to compete with the beauty of those tributes. I don’t have anything beautiful or profound today. I just want to thank you. Everything I am and everything I have is because of you.
I think a lot of today’s culture emphasizes “doing” at the expense of “being.” But what good is it to accumulate a beautiful list of accolades without being settled in your soul? Without being who God has called us to be, can we truly do what he has called us to do?
I think the being comes first, then the doing. Though often lived out simultaneously, the inner work takes precedence over the outward deeds. I even believe that the inner work fuels the outward deeds.
When I say “inner work,” I’m referring to heart and character, all the things that cannot be seen. Addressing things like motives and intentions make our actions more impactful. When I think about acts of kindness that have been shown to me, the motive and intention has often resonated with me even more than the actual deed.
Does God feel the same way? I think he does. Though he wants us to bring him our best, he also doesn’t desire sacrifices that are not produced from a clean heart.
God is more concerned with what the world can’t see. He looks at the heart.
So why are we so concerned with what the world sees? Is it for significance? Is it to keep up with what others are doing? Is it because we are trying to earn our worth by doing enough? Is it because we aren’t sure what would be left if we removed the surface level stuff? I’d say all of the above, but I can only speak for me. As some of my “stuff” has been stripped away, some voluntarily and some involuntarily, God is teaching me that what I do may be different, but my worth is still the same to him. Everything has changed, but at the same time, nothing has changed. He loves me no less, but I love him more.
In my doing, I also have permission to be. Be settled. Be peaceful. Be intentional. Be who I’m called to be.
My worth isn’t connected to what I do. It’s connected to who am I, which is connected to who he is. And because of that, it will never change or diminish. It’s settled. I can exhale.
A quick stroll through memory lane is all I need to revitalize my trust in you. When my path is unclear, glancing into the rearview mirror of my life reminds me of how far you’ve brought me. We have history. Whether in the distance past or just the recent days, you’ve given me uncountable blessings. You have been light and life. Sometimes I rehearse what I should forget and forget what I should rehearse. Help me to use my memory as a tool to cultivate my faith, courage and gratitude. You’ve already done so much. It’s true that if you did nothing more, I would still have enough to thank you for all eternity. But because of who you are, I know that you aren’t stopping with what you have already done. The best is still yet to come. Help me to remember that, too.
I’ve decided that the popular definition of strong is something I no longer want to identify with. When black women like me are labeled strong, it often refers more to how much pain we can tolerate, how much mistreatment and stress we can handle before breaking. (Bonus points for breaking privately, while maintaining a polished exterior.) It seems to be some sort of badge of honor, a consolation prize for pain unjustly endured.
I think that subconsciously, labeling someone strongcan dampen the labeler’s empathy for the “strong person.” Example: When statements like “I’m hurt” or “I’m struggling” are met with, “you’re strong” as though the latter negates the former. It can feel like your strength disqualifies you from help or compassion. Because you can bear something, does that mean you should have to bear it without help?
No one should be pushed to their capacity, just so that others can marvel at the vastness of their capacity. So for me, strong is over.
But shouldn’t Christians be strong in the Lord? Strong and courageous?
I’m not saying that I’m not strong. I have witnessed my own strength in situations that threatened to overwhelm me. Make no mistake, I am strong and I know this. But I am not strong in and of myself. God’s strength is perfect in my weakness. He gives me strength for the battle. He makes me strong.
But strength in society’s context lends to a more toxic definition and the true understanding gets misconstrued. It even tangles my own expectations of myself. Because of the way the label“strong Black woman” is weaponized against Black women, my choice is to distance myself from the burden, not the character trait.
If God remembers my frame, recalls that I am only made of dust and has compassion on me (Read Ps. 103)–I’m going to follow His lead and have some compassion on myself.
So for me this looks like asking for help, acknowledging my uncomfortable emotions, not feeling guilty for crying when something hurts. It looks like softness. Taking off the superwoman cape. Surrounding myself with people who handle me with care and extending the same grace to others. It looks like realizing the fullness of my potential, while fully respecting my limitations as a human.
Thank you for the blessings you so graciously shower on me. I acknowledge my imperfection, I am so undeserving. Yet in your great mercy and love, you’ve adopted me, cleaned me up, and given me a hope and a future. It’s a blessing to be included in your plan. But most of all, it’s a blessing to be included in your family. I thank you for your great gifts and your benefits. I thank you for the table you have set before me. But I understand and acknowledge that the greatest gift you’ve given me is yourself. I don’t take it lightly, God. And today, I just want to thank you.