“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9)

“We must become the change we want to see.” Gandhi

Israel had just lost Moses, the greatest leader, ever. Moses was a prophet and talked to God in a form no other man had seen. Moses was used as an instrument of God and forced Pharaoh to free the Israelites. The fledgling Israelite nation witnessed many acts of God while wandering forty years through the wilderness, including manna from heaven. Of the original group that left Egypt, only a handful of the adults remained. Responsibility was then handed over to Joshua, who had to have some reservations about how he could fill such large shoes. So God commanded him, giving him courage to lead.

Recently, I had the dubious pleasure of reading a post on Facebook, spewing venom about President Obama. While I am not a person who really cares about politics, I thought her comments unfair and harsh. But, I refrained from commenting, thinking that would only give the situation more attention than it warranted. No use fanning the flame. But then someone else commented and summed up the matter nicely, dousing the flame altogether: If you don’t like what he’s doing, run for office and become president yourself! I thought, “Wow – good point!” She pointed out that while she does not agree 100% with President Obama, he has a tough job.

She put the responsibility for change, square in the lap of the original author of the post. Sometimes, we get so caught up in looking at what others are NOT doing that we forget what we CAN do. We always have choices and therefore, a measure of control. If you hate a situation, change it. If you can’t change it, deal with it. We cannot control others behavior. We cannot control a lot of events that happen in our lives. But we can control how we deal with it. We rail and we rant and cry because we feel like matters are out of our control. It’s not fair that we don’t have more control, we think. But we have more power than we realize. Rather than assign blame, which gets us nowhere, ask “How much control do I have? What can I do?”

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

I vaguely recall an episode of the Simpsons where Bart and Lisa sat in the back of the car and he kept poking her. The dialogue went something like this: Poke. “Quit it.” Poke. “Quit it.” It just went on and on. The poke er never got tired of aggravating the poke ee. Although Bart was only poking his sister to bug her, sometimes God pokes us to get our attention and stir us to action.

One Sunday, as we were heading home from church, I polled the kids to see what they wanted to eat. One wanted McDonalds and the other White Castle. I really wanted them to choose just one so we would only have to make one stop but this once, I gave in. I reasoned that we could go through McDonalds drive thru first and then actually eat at White Castle, as they had a “kids eat free” special. So we followed through with our plan; I stepped up to the counter at White Castle and gave my order, asking the young lady about the kids special. She looked confused and asked me to wait while she spoke to a manager. I was confused, too. What was the problem?

She turned to the manager and said, “She has two kids, so she gets two meals, right?” The manager said, “Yes.” And that’s how I found myself with an extra meal, sitting in White Castle. Wow. I couldn’t believe the luck. The kids could eat more, I could take the remains for lunch the next day or we could eat it later – it was just extra food. Cool. As the kids ate, an elderly, homeless man sat next to them, talking and playing with them. He was sweet and they seemed to enjoy his company rather than fear him. He seemed harmless enough.

It suddenly occurred to me that the extra food was not just extra food for us. It was for him. The whole chain of events that deviated from our normal pattern and brought us to eat inside White Castle, rather than drive thru – even indulging the kids by taking them to two separate restaurants, now made sense. Scary sense. Wow. Could God be using me?

So I offered him the food. He politely declined and continued to play with the kids. Okay. Did I get it wrong? Still, I felt something poking at me – disturbing me, stirring me into action. It would not let me rest. Poke. Do it, a voice urged. Poke. Do it. I know, Lord, I reasoned. But he rejected me! I don’t want to risk offending him. Poke. But he doesn’t want it, Lord. Poke. Seriously. Mentally, I’m wiping my face in frustration. Clearly, God is asking me to do something that this fella doesn’t want or need. Perhaps I am mistaken. Maybe he just looks homeless.

We finished our meal and I gathered up our mess, realizing we had exactly the makings of the extra meal left over. Untouched. One drink, two burgers and an order of fries – which, he didn’t want. Okay. I put the left over meal in a bag to take with us. By this time, the elderly man was at the door. Poke. That gentle but persistent nudging gave me the courage and incentive to give it one last try. I held out the bag to him, hopefully – fearful but praying that he wouldn’t reject me again and make a scene. Please let me get it right. I really didn’t want to offend him but I didn’t want to take the chance that I missed the opportunity to obey God. The man reached out and took the bag and thanked me, saying bye to the children as we left.

Whew. I breathed a sigh of relief. And then said a prayer of gratitude as I realized God used me to bless someone! I got it right! Yay! I did a little dance inside my head. I obeyed the voice of the Lord and that made me happy. Yeah. See, I’m not looking to change the world. I don’t have any political ambitions or look to make an impact globally, nationally, or locally. This is in my control. Here is my power. How I choose to live my life daily. How I impact my family and my fellow man. How I leave my mark on this world. I do have power. I have responsibility. I have courage.

Be blessed,


Speak to Me

“…For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!”  Romans 8:18

A Facebook friend, an acquaintance really, posted recently that she was in a lot of pain and needed encouragement. This scripture immediately came to mind. I thought twice about sending it, not wanting to seem like I was making light of her pain. I genuinely wanted to help and I’ve learned by now that when a scripture pops into my head, it’s usually relevant to the situation or meant to minister to someone. It’s how God sometimes speaks to me and through me. Still, I hesitated – would it seem a well-meaning, feel-good gesture but still fall flat? A little doubtful of my reception, I followed His leading.

So I replied with, what I refer to as, my FUBU scripture. For Us, By Us. Yeah, it’s misquoted but you get my drift. The acronym helps me to remember. When I recall it to my mind, it sounds something like this: Whatever you’re going through is gonna seem like nothing – like a light affliction – compared to what God’s going to do IN us, By us, For us, Thru US! When I think about it something inside me dances! To think that God is going to use me, work through me, complete a work in me – WOW. That really gets me revved. It usually works to encourage me and distract me from my present plight. My mind goes off on a tangent, thinking about my future potential. I think about the pendulum swinging from very bad, as bad as it gets – to good, very good, as good as anything could ever be. It’s one of my favorite scriptures and has ministered to me many, many times. It gives me hope.

My Facebook friend replied, very simply, on my wall: Thank you. Which I took to mean that, hopefully, the scripture encouraged, instead of offending. But the brevity of her reply left me in doubt. Did it really help or was she merely being polite? I wondered. Did I get it wrong, did I miss God’s leading or was I just being overly sensitive?

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

Did his word really achieve the purpose for which it was sent? Hmmm. But a funny thing happened on the way to posting that scripture. Instead of initially replying to her post, I wound up posting it on my wall, like it was my status instead of a reply. I wanted to delete it altogether, because it was a mistake, or so I thought. I rectified the matter by replying to her post so that she knew the scripture was meant for her. And after I received her thank you, I noticed a reply to my wall post from another Facebook friend.

As it turned out, it was just what SHE needed to hear. She was going through a tough time and when she saw the scripture, it ministered to her. She was in tears and so, nearly, was I when I saw her reply. His word did accomplish its purpose. It did not return to him empty. I was glad I obeyed his leading as it led to healing for someone, maybe not my intended recipient, but certainly God’s. It was a happy surprise and an unexpected benefit – I knew then that God spoke to me and he used me to encourage my friend. Not coincidence but providence.

So how do you know when God is speaking to you? For me, it’s been a gradual realization. Over time, I’ve learned to trust his leading, mainly because of the many times it was ignored. It started out with reading my Bible. At first, out of curiosity, and gradually, because of a thirst for more knowledge. Then a scholarly looking gentleman came to my church. He fascinated me. He was known as “The Walking Bible” because he could quote any scripture, verbatim, just from memory. In fact, he testified that he read the Bible twice a year, cover to cover, just to refresh his memory. Sadly, (sigh) I am not him. But I have always admired him and aspire to be like him. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover a few times and can usually get you in the general vicinity of the scripture. I may even recall the name of the book. But chapter and verse? Not so much.

After studying for a few years, I noticed that scriptures would pop into my head. The first time it got my attention, I was talking to a friend. As the scriptures came to me, they were all relevant to our conversation. I got goose bumps as I relayed them to her. I felt like they must be meant, specifically, for her. With a certain amount of trepidation, I confessed that I believed God was speaking through me. Gulp. Seriously. I didn’t want to be crazy. I felt that only nutty people walked around saying they heard the voice of the Lord. But it was true. I realized that he was using these scriptures to speak to me. Before I could really think I was going off the deep end, I came across a verse that shed some light on my situation:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” John 14:26

The Holy Spirit was giving me the ability to recall these scriptures and bring them to mind whenever I needed them. Whew. Me not crazy. What a relief. Still, knowing that he’s actually speaking and actually obeying that voice is a bit of a stretch. At times, I haven’t trusted myself to be able to discern the difference between his voice and mine. But I’ve learned to apply two simple tests: Is it something he would say? Studying God’s word helped to teach me about the mind and will of God. The second test: Is the action required good, true, kind? If I can answer yes to those questions, I will usually follow through. Every time I obey his voice and he proves himself, I am encouraged to obey him again.

Be blessed,


The Right Stuff

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…”
(Zechariah 4:10 NLT)

It’s so important to have the right attitude – with it; we can change our reality and our future. I spent my younger years really bemoaning my lack of, well, everything. Maybe that’s an exaggeration but I just felt like I didn’t have enough of, whatever. Fill in the blank. I really didn’t appreciate a lot that I had, be it my appearance, my social status, my material possessions or my gifts and talents. Somewhere along the way, I started hearing about the “attitude of gratitude” – I could appreciate the sentiment but I still didn’t actively cultivate it. It seemed a little too simple, a little patronizing, a platitude, even. I didn’t see it as something that could change my life.

I really haven’t had many car accidents in my life, fortunately. But the big one that I had was a doozy. Not because it changed me physically, but because it caused a shift in my way of thinking. I was shook up and initially devastated over the damage to my car, but I walked away from the experience thankful. The ambulance driver helped to put it in perspective for me. In retrospect, I wonder if he was an angel. I never got his name but he was just so kind to me that I’ve never forgotten him. While I lay on the stretcher in the back of the ambulance, I felt helpless as my children looked on. That’s a position that, as a mother, you never want to be in – you always want to be able to protect your children. But I tried not to let my panic show because my kids were so small.

I thought about the mess I’d made of things, my car was damaged – how would I get to work? My kids were frightened and I was a mess. Tears welled up in my eyes and I wept, silently. The ambulance driver wiped my tears and asked gently, “Why are you crying?” I told him, “Because I’ve messed up everything!” I broke my car, I broke my head, and everything was all jacked up. He was so kind to me and my children. I don’t know why. He stroked my head and spoke words of comfort to me, letting me know to not worry about the loss of material things. That I was ok was the important thing. And he took care of my children by keeping them close to me, knowing that even seeing their mother in her bleeding state, they would be comforted. It’s been said that people will often forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Yeah. I have never forgotten his kindness and am forever grateful for him. He ministered to us during our time of need. I figured he must have been an angel.

I was cleaned up, stitched up and sent home, battered but bettered by the experience. I just saw God’s hands in the whole of it, moving on my behalf, turning what was meant for evil into something good. That’s when I knew He loved me. I saw the accident again in my mind and I saw his hand – cushioning the blow and protecting us. I thought about how much worse things could have been and I was grateful. But my kids were still pretty shook up. While I was recovering and lying in the bed, they came to me one day, relived the accident and talked about how scary it was. My son asked, “Mama, why did God let that happen to us?” I didn’t even hesitate to answer him because, just at that moment, I knew. I put into words what I had not dared to say. I was still wrapping my head around it. “Baby, God didn’t make that happen – it was God who protected us.” I saw understanding dawn in his eyes. “Mama, why did he do that?” “Because,” I simply replied, “He loves me.” I was crying again because I knew, as I voiced it, it was true.

That accident was a literal and figurative knock on the head. That’s when God truly got my attention. I imagine now how different my life would be if I hadn’t learned two lessons then: to see and be grateful for what he is doing and to trust that he loves me. Other lessons have followed but the foundation was laid in those early, essential, elementary lessons. From these lessons sprang my understanding of the Parable of the Talents (See Matthew 25:14-30) and how it is important to for us to appreciate what God has given us. Then I understood the relationship between lack and increase and the route traversed to get from one mindset to the other. In the parable the two good servants who were “faithful over a few things” (or in small matters) were rewarded by being made “ruler over many things”, or, as the scripture is often paraphrased, “ruler over much”. One day, I had a revelation. I said to myself, how do I get to the “much”? The answer came back so quickly that I knew it wasn’t me who answered. “By being faithful over the few,” or by being appreciative of the little things.

For me, it came down to attitude, meaning, how I view what God is doing in my life, followed by gratitude or how much I appreciate it. I began to see him in everything, acknowledge and appreciate him. I began to be thankful for little things. And he began to bless me with more. I realized that I would never reach the much stage unless I was thankful for what he was doing for me right now. Gratitude, I know now, is my key to unlock and release my blessings. When I am thankful, I act accordingly. I treat my blessings with reverence, knowing that God didn’t have to give them to me. I take what he has given me, thank him for it and work to increase it, rather than complain about my lack. It makes me wonder; did he just now begin to bless me? Or did I only just now begin to see? Really see Him? What if, his hand has been in my life all along, protecting me, but my eyes were too dull to see? I think about all that I may have missed – wonderful blessings that were right in front of me. And it makes me even more determined to appreciate and enjoy blessings that I have right now. I’ve found, it’s from the little things that big things grow.

Be blessed,


I Hope

“And hope maketh not ashamed …” Romans 5:5

“Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16

It’s been said, “I think, therefore, I am.” Well, I’d like to offer a different take on that line of thought: I hope. Therefore, I am – right where I always wanted to be. I was talking to my daughter the other day about how we are seeing the fruition of a lot of things that I wanted for them. At one time, just getting my kids through high school and paying for college seemed a distant dream. I saw a long, tough road ahead of me. But I hoped. And I planned.

A friend of mine always loves to paraphrase the scripture, “he that builds a building must first count the cost.” (Luke 14:28) Meaning, before you go on to do the great thing, you must first account for how you’re going to do it. You’ve got to have a plan of action. Plans are born of hopes. Sometimes, when I have a dream or real desire, I ask myself AND God, “How can I make this happen?” But oftentimes, it’s not so much a concrete plan, as it is pointing my feet and just moving in the right direction, keeping my eyes focused on my goal.

Now, hope and faith are connected. Hope is the budding of the desire. It is your wish. It’s the seed, sown. The route we take to reach our dream is the plan. But faith is the implementation of the plan. Faith acts on what it believes and hopes for. Abraham, also known as, The Father of the Faithful, is so called because he believed and acted on the word of God even when he could not see the end result. His faith was far sighted. He had to believe that what he was doing right now would eventually pay off, giving him what he desired AND what God had promised – descendents as numerous as the sand and stars, tracing their genesis to one man.

So I look back and see where my ambitions have brought me. What has God done for me? It’s been a heady journey. I can’t even begin to number my blessings, not just the random and unlooked for, but things I actually asked for – it boggles my mind. I’ve come to believe it was my hopes and dreams which gave me focus and determined my outcome. I was living life in the here and now but with my eye on the future. Just as no building suddenly appears, completely finished on the skyline without thought or prior planning, we cannot become the finished product without having some thought of who or where we want to be. It is our hopes and dreams that drive us; so keeping our focus on the big picture in our dealings now will pay off, eventually.

My conversation with my daughter began, innocuously enough, with a discussion about her involvement in church and choir. She really enjoys going and singing and being involved in ministry. I let her know, this was no idle occurrence but in fact, the realization of a dream. See, my sister and I had a really positive church experience growing up. We loved going to our church, which included a large family with children around our ages. And our choir, man, our choir could SANG! À cappella harmonies were our specialty. We were awesome! Church was where our friends were and our adopted family. We spent a good deal of our youth at that church during a crucial time in our lives.

It was truly a wonderful experience – we have so many great memories that we wanted the same for our children. So then, it’s really no coincidence that we achieved our objective. Our desire was fueled by watching so many children reach that milestone age, usually around fifteen or sixteen, where they don’t want to go to church anymore. They rebel against church and its teachings. They reject you, they reject family and go off to pursue their own thing. It’s really a critical time in their lives, making the difference between them being lost, sometimes forever, never to recover and between becoming successful, productive members of society. It’s that serious. I wish I were making that up. I’ve seen many young people walk away – sometimes they return after living a hard life and sometimes that hard life claims them.

So, you can see why this was so important to us – we knew the consequences and the devastation that could result from having a slack attitude regarding our kids. We hoped for more. We focused on what we truly wanted. We came up with a plan, implemented it and steered our children in the right direction. And the desired result was achieved. Not as easy as it sounds, believe me! I am forever indebted and grateful to my brother-in-law for having the same vision and actually providing an outlet for our children. He created a choir for them and kept them actively involved. He reached out to ALL the kids in that age group. Due to his efforts and persistence, these kids love church. They love to sing. They love being part of ministry. It keeps them focused and gives them purpose. Mission accomplished.

Right now, as we’re coming to the close of another school year, I’m actually closing a chapter in my life. I am seeing the dream realized in so many areas. God has done so much. I’ve made some hard choices but I am ever so glad that I did, because I am now seeing my payoff. Five years ago, starting over was terrifying. Wow. Was that really me lying in a puddle of my own tears? Yeah, it was. Was. WAS! Past tense, baby! I made it. I’ve done all that I set out to do. Picture me, pumping my fist and shouting, “YEAH!” Yeah. Back then, my dream seemed so far out of my reach. All I could do was hope and hold on. But I kept pressing forward with my hope ever before me, like a beacon, lighting the way. And look at me now.

Be blessed,


P.S. This article is dedicated to my friend and counselor who always made me feel like I would make it. I asked her once, “How can you listen to so many tragic stories?” Although my own was heartbreaking, I knew she’d heard worse. And she replied, “I also get to hear the victories, too.” So here’s to victory. And here’s to you. I know you’re reading this and celebrating with me. Thanks.