Wow! Wow! Wow! That’s all I can say about my time spent in Houston this past weekend at the 2018 National TLSM Single Moms Conference. As hundreds of single moms, single mom supporters, volunteers, and ministry leaders converged upon Houston’s First Baptist Church on Friday afternoon you could feel the excitement. There was an expectation in the air. As the worship team took the alter the roof of the church could have come off as praises to the Father went up with so much passion and energy.
First up was none other than Mercy Lokulutu. She brought a dynamic and challenging yet encouraging word on being rooted in Christ. As she touched upon fear and anxiety I began to feel the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart. Mercy did an alter call and, if I’m being candid, I almost let pride keep me from going to the alter. I’m so glad I defied the accusser and went down to receive prayer. You see what many of you don’t know, and what I’ve never shared on this blog is that for many years, often silently, I have battled both fear and anxiety. Indeed, one of the first scriptures I memorized as a young Christian was 2 Timothy 1:7, “God does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, of love and of sound mind.” I don’t know if you’ve ever fought those things, but boy does my heart go out to you if you have. Know that there is no shame in admitting that is an area you struggle and that there is freedom in Jesus. For years I was bound by shame embarrassed that I didn’t have it all together. The truth is no one does. None of us ever arrive and are all a continual construction zone being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
Friday night ended with a Mexican Fiesta after party complete with a mariachi band. Saturday was jammed pack with keynote sessions featuring Karol Ladd and Jennifer Maggio, breakout sessions and getting to chat with so many mommas that came to my vendor booth. Thank you all to who came by to say hello and drink an Arnold Palmer with me! You all have forever imprinted my life and I’m so humbled to have been a part.
Luke 24 (NASB) – But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; 5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? 6 He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” 8 And they remembered His words, 9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles.11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
When Jesus laid hanging on that cross at Calvary the accuser thought he had defeated the Messiah, and indeed the world. What the accuser didn’t know is that the prophecy of Yeshua rising on the third day would indeed be fulfilled. On Friday, the enemy thought he had won, oh but then came Sunday and the resurrection of the Son of Yahweh. The enemy must have rejoiced for those few days. Thinking he’d overcome the world. To some onlookers they may have thought Yeshua had been defeated. They didn’t have the benefit we do of knowing how it all ends with victory for the Kingdom.
I don’t know where you’re at today, but what I do know is there is NO PRICE Yeshua didn’t pay on that rugged tree. Maybe you’re looking at your life or a situation and it appears hopeless. As you gaze with your natural eyes defeat seems so apparent. Oh beloved, what the accuser meant for your harm Yeshua is going to use for your good. Let’s look at the example of Joseph in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” What the enemy meant for Joseph’s harm (being sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, being imprisoned) Yahweh used for good. He wants to use your current less than desirable situation to bring you from the prison to the palace just as He did for Joseph. We are reminded that Yahweh is no respecter of person in Acts 10:34, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said, ‘I truly understand that God is not one to show favoritism.’ ” If He did it for Joseph, He can do it for you too if you would but believe and surrender. The Father always wants to make lemonade out of our lemons, but sometimes this doesn’t come as quickly as it could because there are times we’re determined to sit and keep on tasting those lemons. What does tasting those lemons look like? It looks like hanging on to bitterness because someone hurt you. It looks like refusing to forgive someone because you never got the apology you felt you were owed. It looks like refusing to be a peacemaker with that person you’ve held a grudge against for so long you have forgotten why you had a grudge in the first place. It looks like you leaving and going to another church because the Pastor did what he should do and rebuked you for your sin. Quit minimizing what Yeshua did on the cross by sucking on those lemons and surrender those hurts at the foot of the cross & leave them there. He gave His very life for it.
Peace in the storm. We hear about this concept usually when life has thrown us a sucker punch and the very air we breathe has been knocked out of us. When the unexpected and upsetting occurs we are reminded that Yahweh is our peace in the storm. I know He is mine.
Can I be transparent? Life has been some serious hills and valleys the last few months. Health issues, friends who are like family moving states away, turmoil in some relationships, loss of loved ones and a car accident to top it all off. Through it all the Father has made His presence evident! He’s giving doctors wisdom to figure out what’s been going on with my body. He’s given man wisdom to make phone apps that allow video texting so I can still see my friend despite her living 8 hours away. Yahweh is walking me through forgiving those who have hurt me. He is so faithful!
One of the recent events of life that has really taken the wind out of me is the loss of my grandmother, Maria Guadalupe “Lupita” Lopez. All of my life she has lived 12 hours away from me making visits difficult at times. And though I may have only seen her once a year or once every other year we had a special bond. Despite her speaking as much English as I do Spanish she always, always found a way to show me how much she loved me. She used to always tell me I looked like a porcelain baby doll. I’ll always remember her as a woman of incredible faith who was a prayer warrior. Kind, gentle, caring…that was my Grandma Lupita.
Since Grandma Lupita entered into eternal rest, I’ve been grief stricken. I’m happy for her, but boy am I sad for me. Yeah, I know she’s in a better place. Yeah, I know heaven is where we all desire to go, but that doesn’t change the fact that I miss her. Grief is such a funny thing. One day I want to spend time with people and the next I’d prefer to be alone with my family. One day I rejoice because I know she is with her King and the next I cry because she is no longer on this Earth. Grief has no rhyme or reason. It can hit you at the most unexpected of times and come in like a flood.
As I process my own grief, I’ve thought back on how I have walked with those who are grieving. I don’t think I’ve always said or done the right thing, but what could I do or say to make their pain any better? I don’t know. In Romans 12:15 the Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” I pray that’s the kind of person I am. I never want to overlook someone’s pain, or not celebrate another’s reason to rejoice.
Father, let is be said of each of us that we lived this scripture out. Oh Lord, let love be the center of all we do. Give us grace to forgive when we’ve been hurt. Remind us daily that we need to extend the same grace and mercy You extend to us everyday to others.
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The other day I went to the local dollar store to pickup some last minute gift bags. I was super pleased when I sound an adorable set of 3 for the bargain price of $1.00. One of the bags was cute with a plaid design and said “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Perhaps when you hear that pharse it brings a certain Christmas song to mind, but what God quickened in my spirit as I read that bag is that the holidays are not the most wonderful time of the year for everybody. During the holidays this year the Father has called to my mind so many people I personally know who have lost a loved one this year, or who continue to grieve a loved one or a broken marriage.
Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. My prayer is that I don’t get so caught up in enjoying Christmas with my own family that I forget the many who are weeping during this time. As we go about our family traditions let’s stop and pray for those who are having their first holiday without their precious loved one. Let’s take a break from the busyness of the mad dash to get it all done and reach out to those around us who are hurting. God’s word says that the world will know we are Christians by our love. We need to ask ourselves how we are putting love on display not only throughout the holidays but everyday.
To the man or woman mourning the loss of a spouse and longing for just one more time to hear their voice or be in their arms, you are not forgotten. To the child remembering a parent, you are not alone. To the parent weeping for your child, God is with you. To the single parent doing the job of two parents, God sees you. To all those who are separated from a loved one due to deployment or incarcertion, don’t lose hope. God is near to each of you (Psalm 34:18).
My prayer for all those that feel like this may not be the most wonderful time of the year is that Father God would give you beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3), and that you would crawl into the loving arms of the Father and find comfort there (Matthew 5:4). God bless you and keep you always.
As I reflect on the disciples I can’t help but be in awe of Jesus. Peter denied knowing Jesus. Thomas doubted Christ’s resurrection. Judas was a thief and a traitor, and yet Jesus allowed each of these men to sit at the same table with him. He knew all their faults and how they would stumble and fail, and yet He loved them, taught them and did life with them. The Father is always willing to meet people where they’re at, are we?
I’m challenged as I think about how Jesus treated Judas no different than the other disciples. I’d like to think I could love and be kind to someone who I knew was going to betray me the way our Savior did, but could I really? I know that’s the standard we are called to, but it certainly isn’t always easy to do. When I think of how difficult it can be at times to love someone where they are I think of how the Father did that for me. I recall to memory how He looked down from heaven and loved me in my sin. He is patient with me so I too must be patient with others. 1 Peter 4:8 (ESV) reads, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” God bears with us. Let us bear with one another and show love, kindness, and mercy always.
Lord, help each of us be excessively kind. Help us to love others the way You love us. Help us to meet others where they’re at and to speak truth in love to them. Let us seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with You. Amen.