songforanewday

Knowing You, Meeting Me

Brave Words

 

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I last updated! I hope the month is starting off well for you all.

Today, I want to talk about words – well, duh. That’s pretty much all we do here. We read and write words. I’m not talking just any words; I want to talk about bad words. Well….one bad word.

Daddy.

I didn’t realize how much that word still hurt me until this past Sunday. We were in the midst of an amazing worship service when our dutiful and awesome worship leader sang, “What kind of father would hear his children cry and turn away?” She was trying to convey the nature of our perfect Heavenly Father. That makes sense. However, I can’t even explain what that did to me. I lost my footing so badly that I pulled a muscle in my right leg.

My family likes to believe I’m holding onto anger. That isn’t true. The fact that my first memory is of the day my dad left? Yeah…that is true. It doesn’t make him a bad guy, just human. And regardless of who was at fault, I didn’t talk to him again until I was 14. Suffice it to say, Daddy became a bit of a bad word to me.

I can remember people telling me that God was my father and that I would be ok. And, to a very large degree, that has proven to be true.

That is, until I pull away.

How many of you know you can’t run with a pulled muscle in your leg? So, when the message of the day came from Joshua 1:1-9, I couldn’t do anything but sit there and listen….and cry…a lot (which I don’t really do anymore).

Be strong and courageous.

That is mentioned three different times within that passage. I will be with you. “But, what if I feel all alone?” Be strong and courageous, for I will never leave you or forsake you. “But, what if people don’t like me?” Be strong and courageous.  “But…what if my own family doesn’t want me?” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!

To say that an omniscient God knows things I don’t is a gross understatement. But, what I have come to realize is that since all my battles have already been won for me, I have nothing to worry about.

In my bedroom is a singing Doc McStuffins Doc and Lambie set (the parents and babysitters of the Disney Junior generation and will follow me. The rest of you….pretend). My husband and I bought it for our 5 & 6 year old daughters. It’s theirs, but, they can’t have it yet. They have to work for it first. I want a clean room and chores and good behavior before it comes out of the box. In the same way, when I ask them to do something new (like when we moved out of Pennsylvania), if I tell them not to be afraid, it’s because I know what waits for us. I know what’s at the end of the journey and I know they will love it when we arrive (which all four of them did).

God isn’t asking me for my bravery because He’s planning to push me into a battle with a wet noddle for a sword, He asks because He knows He is with me and because He knows what is at the end.

I suppose this was more about bravery than my bad word. But, in a lot of ways those two things are connected. My past makes it hard for me to trust people. But, my God gives me the strength to.

Did I mention, though I started  writing this earlier, the end of my day was kinda awful?  Be strong and courageous.  

Ok…fine. The alternator on my car died on the highway, but I will be strong and courageous. I sometimes feel like I’m being passed over while my friends seem to get blessed all the time, but I will trust that You are with me. I have no idea what to make of anything You are doing right now, but I will remember that You will never leave me or forsake me. You are faithful when I am faithless so I will trust that you will get me from this….these battles and into my Promised Land. And, I will sing Your praises on the way.

I’ll keep the rest of you posted on the details…

~Mo

 

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Worshipper Me

One of my favorite songs right now, is one written by the phenomenal Freda Battle. It’s a pretty simple song with a pretty powerful punch. Here are the words:

Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that’s within me

Every day is a joy to know You as Savior and Lord

I’m reminded as I reflect on Your goodness

Your love and mercy endure forevermore

Oh, bless the name of Jesus

Oh, oh my soul, bless the name of the Lord

Oh , oh, oh, oh, bless the name of Jesus,

Oh, my soul, bless the name of the Lord

Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, the Prince of Peace

The God who heals all disease and removes all my iniquities

See? Not that complicated. I’ll bet you already have it memorized. But, I could – and have – listened to this song for hours on end. Why? Simple – I understand it.

Back in 2000, I was going to a Christian college. I grew up in a Christian home, but decided that I wanted to know if I really believed in God or just was trained to believe in God. Actually, that’s not entirely true. There was a boy (duh) that was feeling like that and even though I did have my own questions, when he decided he was an atheist, I decided that I was an atheist. It didn’t’ go so well.

My (literal) week as an atheist went something like this:

Me: I don’t believe in You anymore, God!

God: Then, why are you talking to Me?

Me: Uh…ummm…

God: And, we both know you hear Me. So, you’re either not an atheist, or you’re crazy. You pick and get back to me.

Me: Oh, crap.

I wish I could tell you I was making this up, but, there are people who were there who still (as of this past weekend in fact) like to joke about it. It doesn’t bother me. In fact, I love to remember that because it reminds me how far I’ve come.

God was right, I’m not an atheist and I never was. I am a worshipper. Worship is the stuff that makes me get up in the morning. The day we found out my son, Kameron (now 9) had cancer (he wasn’t even 2 at the time), the first thing I did was cry, the second thing I did was worship. That’s always been my go to reaction. Something bad happens – first I cry second I worship. In my entire life – even when I tried to walk away from Him – God didn’t walk away from me. He’s held me in the palm of His hand my entire life and He’s doing the same with my family. This is why it wasn’t a surprise to know that my son’s tumor shrank faster than it was supposed to and his 18 month chemo plan was finished inside of 10.

In the words of a fabulous songwriter, William Murphy, “praise is what I do”. There have been times – including during the chemo…and the autism…and the celiac disease – that people have wondered how I can still believe and turn to God. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” What that means to me is that even when my kid is sick because he’s had poison injected into his body, even when my husband has trouble finding a job, even when my mom dies, even then, my Heavenly Daddy is there to take care of us.

“For this I give You praise” (“For Every Mountain” –  Kurt Carr)

I sing because I get it. I praise because I understand. I ran away and came groveling back expecting to be reprimanded and told how much I “knew better”. But, that’s not what happened. The loving arms of my God welcomed me back and set me at a place of honor. And now? Now He’s using who I am to bring glory to Him. I love that! I get to write and to sing and to – through Him – be the very best version of me.

I’m not perfect. I’ve messed up and I’ve even been an (albeit very bad) atheist. But, it’s not my past that gets to define me. Dare I say, it’s not even my present that has to define me. It’s the words that are written on my destiny by my Creator. The words that say, “you are mine and that’s why you are enough”.

So, like I said, I’m a worshipper. It’s not what I do, it’s the DNA that makes me who I am. And now, I get to walk that out. I even get to take my cheesy dancing husband (who, btw, wasn’t the boy, but knew the boy and did know I wasn’t the atheist I claimed to be) with me. He has no rhythm, but I love him anyway. I have enough rhythm for both of us. LOL.

I guess February has been the month of me encouraging you. It’s been me letting you know that your life isn’t over and that your future is just beginning. God’s love is bigger than your past. My best friend likes to say, “your destiny stands in need of you”. Take God’s hand, find out who you are – and who you aren’t – and go get it.

See you next month,

Mo

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More Than Gold

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

“This, this is for all those girls

Boys all over the world.

Whatever you’ve been told

You’re worth more than gold

So, hold head up high

It’s your time to shine

From the inside out it shows

You’re worth more than gold.”

Gold – Britt Nicole

 

Today, I am feeling inspired. I have this amazing little sister. Well, she’s not exactly my little sister. She’s my friend’s daughter that I love like a sister. Every time I see her, she greets me with a smile and a hug and makes me feel like the entire world is stopping to love me. Not many people on the planet have that power. This awesome girl does – it’s one of the many many reasons I love her so much.

It’s not just her incredible hugs that inspire me; it’s who she is. This girl has been through so much and still she has the biggest heart of almost anyone I know. She has every reason on the planet to be jaded, and yet she just floors me with who she is. I quite literally thank God for her presence in my life.

But, here’s the thing – sometimes, I get the feeling that she doesn’t know how phenomenal she is, which I find completely tragic! She’s a teenager, and other teenagers can be mean, so I know that the brave face she tries to put on sometimes is just a really good act. I’m sure that you know exactly what I’m talking about.

So, what to do? I suppose the first place to start is the same place I always do – the Bible. Ok, so Jeremiah 29:11 is obvious – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” I love that! God takes His time to not only form us in our mother’s womb, but to plan out an amazing life for us! Even more, if we were the only one who needed His salvation, He would still consider it worth the cost. If. You. Were. The. Only. One. That’s love. In Luke 15:3-7, Jesus tells a parable about a shepherd who went out to look for one lost sheep out of 100 because He had love for each sheep and considered each to be priceless. Ok – by the same logic, each of us is priceless. Each of us is a crucial and necessary piece of God’s puzzle designed with precision and intent. That should make us feel pretty amazing!!

Oh, but what if life isn’t so great all the time? We aren’t promised that it will be. But, we are promised the love of a God that will “never leave or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). Even more, Deuteronomy 31:6 reiterates this thought: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I have four kids. I love them all. They are amazing and incredible. They each have their own personalities and quirks and idiosyncrasies that remind me of their individuality and uniqueness and remind me of how aware of God’s presence in my life I am. They are my world. Even though I love them differently, I love them equally. If something happened to one of them, I wouldn’t be happy because I’d have the other three. All four are very necessary pieces of my existence.

For that matter, so is my little sister.

So, what was the point of all this? Bragging rights? Yeah…admittedly, a little of that. But, even more, I need you to know how very much you are loved. It’s not enough for me to just live the life of a Sunday morning Christian if my life doesn’t constantly remind you that you’re worth more than gold. If I haven’t done that, I haven’t completed my mission. No matter who you are or what you’ve done or where you come from or who has forgotten about you – and this part is really important – YOU ARE LOVED UNCONDITIONALLY! You have a God who finds you more beautiful than all the stars He put in the sky. He is dazzled by your smile and amazed at your feats. He cries when you’re sad. Your prayers don’t fall on deaf ears (more on that another day). You. Are. Loved.

I know that you may not always feel that way and I know some people like to make you feel otherwise. They’re lying. You’re amazing. And, I don’t have to know you to know that. So, consider this a reminder of how incredibly special and wondrous you are. If the God who hung the sun in the sky declares you enough and worth it, who is anyone else to tell you otherwise?

Yeah…I didn’t think so.

Be blessed and feel loved!

~ Mo

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Feeling Sleepy

“I’m tired, I’m worn my heart is heavy

From the work it takes to keep on breathing

I’ve made mistakes; I’ve let my hope fail

My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world

And I know that You can give me rest

So, I cry out with all that I have left

 

Let me see redemption win

Let me know the struggle ends

That You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn

I want to know a song can rise

From the ashes of a broken life

And all that’s dead inside can be reborn

‘Cause I’m worn; yes, I’m worn

 

–          “Worn” Tenth Avenue North

If you read anything from my old blog (which I just recently transferred here), then you know that I try to be as real and honest as I can be in my writing. Today is the kind of day that I just want to write from where I am.

I’m married. I have four kids. My oldest has autism, ADHD, a bit of anxiety and to top it off, Celiac Disease. YAY! Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. But, my life is exhausting. I have great people around me that are very supportive. But, I also have naysayers that like to throw rocks at me because they know I won’t return the favor.

In short – I’m worn.

I’m a Christian – no surprise there. I haven’t hidden it from the blog nor written about much of anything – if anything – else. I’m not just the go to church on Sunday and forget about God on Monday kind of Christian, but the type that is in relationship with the God of the Christian Bible. Every decision I make – and, particularly the ones I don’t make – is filtered through the fact that I am a Christian.

When other people are feeling worn, they typically come to me for advice because I love to encourage. I have a mental storage box of stories, scripture and song that I can break out at will for the right situation. Lately, I’ve felt a bit empty. I am running on fumes. It’s as though I’m on the highway trying desperately to keep up with the flow of traffic, but I know my gas light is on and at any moment I’m going to just stop.

I’m worn.

So, now what? I’m not the first mom to have a lot on her plate and I certainly won’t be the last. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, we read, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (NASB). I often say, “It is by the grace of God I made it through this day!” Apparently, I’m not wrong. I’m worn. And that’s ok.

This is not the best blog piece I’ve ever written and to be honest it probably isn’t the worst. I’m learning that I don’t have to rely on my own strength (which is good because I have none!!!!) “I know I need to lift my eyes up, but I’m just too weak, life just won’t let up. And I know that You can give me rest, so I cry out with all that I have left.” That I CAN do. I don’t know if I have it in me to finish cleaning my house or doing the laundry, but I can give myself a few moments to let the love of my Savior wash over me and restore me.

Jehovah Jireh is my provider. Right now, I need strength. I need to get through this day, this week, this month. I need to get to the next phase of my life and make it there in one piece. The wonderful thing is that I don’t have to do it on my own. Psalm 23:4 ”Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me.” Not my strength, but Yours.

So, I guess this is a little more to the introduction of me. I’ll write more “happy” later. In the meantime, know that if you are feeling worn, there is a very big very loving Father God who desires to let you rest in His loving-kindness. My advice to you? Go take a rest!

zzzzzzzzzz

~Mo

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Getting to Know Me

Hello, again. Even though, I found a nifty tool to import my Blogger blog to this WordPress one, I know that my last post wasn’t of the usual introductory kind (my last post having been pre-import) so, here goes. For starters, my name is Monique, and, as I said in my last post, I have a lot of nicknames. The one I go by most frequently is “Mo”. As of next Saturday (February 23) I will have been married to my best friend for ten years (YAY US!). I like to celebrate that fact, because I think marriage is a rarity anymore – at least lasting marriage. Between Hollywood and The Bachelor, I don’t think it’s an institution many take seriously anymore. That, however, is not something I plan on getting into today.

My husband, Lee, and I have four kids – two boys and two girls. They are beautiful, smart, funny, sweet, sensitive amazing kids (you’d think I was a little biased, no?) and we are completely blessed to have them. Our oldest, Kameron, was diagnosed with autism when he was 4. People still offer their sympathies when I say that. The thing is, Kameron is cuddly, ferociously funny, deeply feeling and empathetic and technologically brilliant. YOU may be sorry, but I certainly am not. God gave me my son just the way he is and I wouldn’t change him for anything.

God…yeah…that’s probably the most important thing to know about me (as if it wasn’t obvious from my last post). I love God. Not in that Sunday morning, Christmas, Easter kinda way, but in that, “this is the air I breathe” kinda way. Specifically, I am a Bible-believing Christian who does her very best to be a little bit more loving like Jesus every day. Some days, I’m not so good at it. For a long time, I’d let my many imperfections get the best of me. For a Bible-believing Christian who can quote Scripture pretty well, sometimes it’s easy for me to forget one of the most important verses I need to remember.

Romans 8:1-2   “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

For years, I struggled with fear of abandonment. There are those who don’t like it when I talk about this, because they think it comes from a place of un-forgiveness. I was raised by my mom following my parents’ divorce when I was a baby. I didn’t see my dad again until I was 14. The fact that I’m past that doesn’t change the fact that it affected me. What I “learned” from that experience is that I was expendable. I “learned” that in other ways, too. People I thought loved me would walk in and out of my life at their leisure. So, I became terrified of vulnerability and relationships. For a long time, it was hard not to see God through that same fear.

I tried to be “good”, even though the Bible tells us in Romans 3:10, “As it is written, there is no one righteous, not even one.” That should have been freeing, but it only made me feel worse. No matter how hard I tried, I could never be good enough (Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God).

Here’s the thing I have figured out since then – I was right. No, in my own strength, I will never be good enough. No matter how well I sing on Sunday, how many inspirational blogs I post or books I write or songs I (hope to eventually) record, I will never be good enough. If I could be I wouldn’t need a Savior.

And, I do.

I’ve also learned (ok, well, figured out I have to remember) that as long as I wake up each morning and continue to breathe, there is still time. It’s funny that so many of the verses I memorized as a child – and really didn’t take hold then – mean so much to me now. For example:

Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”

I’m. Not. Done. Yet.

Remember the movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights? One of my favorite parts of that movie is when Robin misses in the archery contest and then flips through the script to proclaim, “Wait a minute! I get another shot!” Well, so do I. I’ve missed the mark. We all have. But, through the grace of our loving God, we get another shot. My goal is to spend every day making it the best shot yet.

And, that, in a (very long) nutshell, is me.

~Mo

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My Daughter’s Nickname

Do you have a nickname? I probably have about 15. A few of my nicknames are just shortened forms of my real name, while others are used only by a select few and typically are based on some inside joke. There is only one person on the planet that calls me Moglifoofoo and we both know exactly why that is. It speaks to who we are. No one who was just a casual acquaintance would dare even call me “MoMo”.  That is a name reserved for the best of the best, my absolute dearest, those close enough to be considered family. I’m sure the same is true for you.

I got to thinking about nicknames last week because of a story told to me about my six year old daughter, Regan, by her Kindergarten teacher. Both my girls go to a WONDERFUL Christian school, my husband’s alma mater. When we met for parent teacher conferences last week, she asked us about Regan’s nicknames as we were wrapping up. “Have you noticed how Regan has been writing REV (pronounced re-vee) instead of Regan on her papers?” We had been wondering about that, as a matter of fact. So, she told us the story of Regan explaining the change.

Susan: Regan, why do you keep writing “Rev” on your paper?
Regan: It’s my nickname!
Susan: Oh, does your middle name begin with a V?
Regan: Nope!
Susan: Do your mommy or daddy call you Rev?
Regan: No
Susan: Then, how is that your nickname?
Regan: It’s what God calls me when He talks to me.

I was dumbfounded. My daughter not only recognizes the Voice of God, but they talk enough to be on a nickname basis. God has given my daughter a nickname. What a relationship they must have! I began to wonder if this is why Recee (which is what we call her) is so content to play by herself. She interacts and plays with her friends and siblings just fine, but she is perfectly happy to enjoy the quiet space in life and – apparently – talk to her Daddy God.

In the first chapter of Jeremiah, God calls the young man to be a prophet. In perhaps one of the most famous passages in the Old Testament, Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah is reassured that his age makes no difference in verse 7: But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.

We were told, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions (Joel 2:28). Certainly, this should not be a surprise. The more and more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’m jealous. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the Voice of God – it’s been not only a guide to me, but has helped me to write the blogs that have been a support to those I care about. But, I can’t say that God has ever given me a nickname!!!

My beautiful baby – opps, I mean big – girl has yet to be jaded by the disapproving murmurs of those who told her what is unlikely or impossible. No one has yet told her she isn’t enough for this or that. All she knows – all she needs to know – is that God loves her enough to talk to her often and give her a nickname.  Oh, that we all had that child-like faith!!! Whenever Regan hears her father call for his Recee, she comes running to his arms; she feels the love of her daddy just from the way he calls her. It doesn’t matter if she was just in time-out, when Daddy calls, Recee knows he loves her. She doesn’t question it or think about it, she just knows.  Apparently, she feels the love of her Daddy God the same way.

That’s my goal for this year. I don’t want to get so caught up with what’s right in front of me, that I forget that my Abba Father takes care of me and loves me and treasures me. I don’t want to get so stressed that I don’t take the time out to spend time with my Daddy God because of everything else that “has to get done”.  I want God to give me a nickname.

Of course, that puts pressure on me. Those friends who get to call me MoMo – I spend time with them. I call them, we hang out. We do things together. We grow as a unit and have a deep relationship because of how much we’ve been through together. They are my family.

How much more does that need to be true of my Savior? Believe me when I say that my friends have done a lot for me. They were there for me when my (now 9) 2 year old son was going through cancer treatments. At the same time as my mom. 600 miles apart. They were with me when my mom later died and through my son’s autism diagnosis. Every battle I’ve had to fight in the past several years, I did with some of the best people on the planet at my side. I honor and treasure every last one of them for who they are.

But, they don’t love me like God does. They didn’t go to Calvary for me. I need to be more passionate about my relationship with my Heavenly Father than about any of the other people in my life. We need to spend more time together. That’s one of the best ways relationships are cultivated.

I want God to give me a nickname. Before Regan turns 7 in September, I want to be able to tell her how she inspired a positive change in my world – and in the world of those around me. If God gives out nicknames, I’m getting in line for mine.

How about you?

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Look to the Sky

You are God alone, from before time began
You were on Your throne, You are God alone.
And right now, in the good times and bad
You are on Your throne, You are God alone.

You are God Alone – Philips, Craig and Dean

I know normally my song choices are a little longer, but today, on this day, that’s all I’ve got. Like probably many of you, I’ve spent the day glued to the television watching endless hours of the news coverage detailing the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. All four of my children are between five and ten years old….the exact ages of the 20 babies that died at the hands of a gunman while they sat in their classrooms. 
As a parent, these stories are hard for me. Who kills kids? What possible reason could anyone have for murdering a child? Like you, I’m angered, I’m saddened, I’m confused, I’m heartbroken. As a Christian, I admit these stories are hard for me. I am sometimes more than tempted to question God. “Where were You when this guy decided it was his job to kill someone’s kid?” “How could You let this happen?” “How does this show love?” 
And then I remember, the same free will that I appreciate when I get to decide what to have for breakfast or how long I’m going to play the Sims 3, this man has. It’s easy to want to choice away from those who abuse it, but, then how do we decide? And then I’m horrified because I feel like I’m justifying a man who I wish had just stayed home today instead of taking the lives of 26 people. 
How do we find God in tragedy? 

My husband decided to peel me away from the coverage with a mission – grocery shopping for dinner. It only did but so much good because the whole time we were out, I was talking to one of my oldest friend about a mutual acquaintance who died on Monday of a drug overdose. I’ve known this person’s family for about 20 years so I knew the struggle she had been having for a very very long time. Finally, after holding them back all day, I finally cried.
As we pulled into our driveway, my beautiful six year old daughter looks up into the night, blissfully ignorant of all the turmoil in the world – and for that matter my heart. “Look how beautiful the sky is!” My sweet girl could find a handful of stars, which always amazes her since she could never find any in the metropolitan city we used to live in. She was completely enthralled with the beauty of God’s creation. 
“Unchangeable….Unshakable…Unstoppable, that’s what You are…..”

Even now, in the midst of this horrifying, heartbreaking disaster, God is still on the throne. He hasn’t abdicated. He hasn’t gone on vacation. He hasn’t failed. So how do we respond? We pray for those affected. We pray for our nation. We hold our children closer and remember to tell our friends and family how much we love them. And we use our intellectual capacities to see what real and tangible measures need to be put in place so that senseless things thing these do not keep occurring. We were given minds and it is our moral obligation to use them to the best of our abilities. 
In the meantime, remember to look to the sky. The moon is still out. The stars are still shining. Even if it looks bleak, there is still light. My heart is still shattered for the family I know who lost their adult child to drugs and all the families I know whose lives were forever changed in an instant. I pray for their comfort and peace. But, I know that all hope is not lost. Don’t believe me? Go outside…
…and just look up.

All of my love and prayers,
Mo
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Pressing the Reset Button

Everybody wanna be like You, they
Want power and praise like You, but
See, there is no God like our God
There’s no one like You
Who gave their life like You and
Who paid our price like You
See, there’s only one God that’s our God
There’s no one like You

“A God Like You” – Kirk Franklin

I’ve been listening to Kirk Franklin for a long time. I’m talking original Kirk Franklin and the Family album that came out on tape and everyone – myself included – learned to mime to it long time. He has long penned lyrics that have ended up being the anthem to my seasons. Whether I was listening to “Blessing in the Storm” or “He’ll Take the Pain Away”, there was a song for every hurt I endured and I was glad to have such powerful weapons in my worshipful musical arsenal. 
Lately, I’ve been going through some serious….for lack of a better way to say it, identity issues. I forgot who I am, who God called me to be and I started listening to the whispers of those around me with (logical) reasons why I was not enough of one thing or the other. In the middle of my wilderness I had reasoned that I was going to worship God anyway because He was going to eventually let me see the edge of where I was and into the Promised Land. Such a vantage point never came,so, I worshiped anyway because that is who I and what I do. I would feel better for a little while, but quickly I would get exasperated again with my surroundings and want God to rescue me from where I am.
I have to say this, though – I treasure the journey I am on because I know that there are lives I’ve touched because of the wilderness I’ve walked through. I know that the things I’ve learned and shared God has used and I am honored by that. I’m glad my bad can be used for your good. But, I have been getting to the point where I want some good to come so that can be used too!! As my mom used to say, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.
*cue the reset button*

To play on an oldie but goodie Kirk Franklin song, He is the reason why I sing. Not His ability to change what I see or where I am. But, because there’s no God like our God. I hear this song almost every Sunday when I leave church. I kept meaning to ask who sings it because I absolutely love it. Today, we went to a Harvest Party at our AMAZING CHURCH and it finally occurred to me to ask our worship pastor. Kirk Franklin. Every “duh” I’ve ever said to anyone hit me all at once. I mean, c’mon. Who else would it be? So, I came home, promptly bought it and loaded it to my phone. A little further piece of info – before we left for church, I was almost in tears because I am – no – I was tired of being judged for the choices my husband and I have made for our family. 
You became just like me, to unlock and set free, this prisoner who was deeply wounded and redeemed. The me I could not see.

Oh, yeah. That’s why I’m a worshiper. Not because of what God can do for me, but, because of what He already did for me. I know my life doesn’t end here anymore than His blessings do. But, He is “Healer, Father, Savior. Counselor, Friend, Provider. Was, Is and Forever. That’s why I just want to be where You are. I’ll travel life with You no matter how far.”

My reset button. There truly is no God like our God. You might disagree with me. But, when I look at where I was 15, 10, 5 years ago…when I remember where I was this morning, I know THERE’S NO ONE LIKE YOU!! That is the one and only reason I will ever need to listen to the same song for two hours because my spirit so resonates with this. I am a worshiper. It is how I was created. It is who I am and have always been. That much is clear. But, when I remember the core of the reason I worship is because He is God, everything else falls into place. Everything else simply…
…resets.

#betterthantheeasybutton

❤ Mo
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Living in the Land of Fear

Today, I went from thinking about trust to fear. Fear is something that, in some ways, needs to be talked about so that we recognize it for what it is and move past it before it enslaves us and controls our lives. Romans 8:15 is a verse I love to use in my writing because it speaks to so many situations. The New Living Translation of this verse reads, So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’” 

If that’s true, why are we so afraid all the time?

It’s interesting to me how much we grow to fear God. We use all sorts of names and adjectives to describe our Creator. Father. Love. Protector. That doesn’t sound like someone to be scared of to me. Not that we should take God’s sovereignty, power or deity for granted. But, so often we, especially those of us who grew up in the church, approach God like we’re contestants on a game show where He is the prize.

“And, now it’s time for Answer My Prayer the only game show that gives you direct access to the King of Kings! Answer correctly and live righteously and you can win the car, the washing machine AND the dream vacation! But, get three answers wrong and you will live the rest of your life in shame and total agony! Let’s meet today’s contestants!”

As funny as that sounds, I KNOW some of you understand what I mean. We’re so afraid of what we look like, what people think of us or what God sees us doing, that we miss out on the big picture. 1 John 4:18 says, Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. I know many Christians who, because of how tightly they hold on to fear, have not fully experienced His perfect love.

I grew up in a single parent home. My mother, who went home to be with God almost four years ago, was a strong Christian who raised my brother and me in the church. As much as those who loved me tried the right thing, they were human. In that humanness, they failed from time to time; we all do. We say the wrong things and do the wrong things and our choices lead to bad feelings in others. Somewhere during my teenage years, I started feeling really insecure. I wondered if I could hear from God because some people led me to believe that I couldn’t. I wondered if I could sing (which many people have always told me I can) because, if I sang at the wrong time (I pretty much sang non-stop), people would get exasperated and frustrated with me. I learned to be so careful of my word choices because I was terrified that people would find me unintelligent if I said the wrong thing. THEN, I panicked more because saying the right thing led some to believe I was ashamed of being black. My entire world was one giant balancing act measuring this action/consequence against that action/consequence to see which one would have less damaging results on my eternal future.

Sounds a bit paranoid, doesn’t it?

But, we live like that every day!!! When one of my best friends send me a text message saying, “God told me to give you this verse, John 16:24, ‘Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.’” I love the way the New Living Translation reads, “You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

That should have made me excited. Instead, I was paralyzed with fear. What do I ask for? How do I get God to answer my prayer? Maybe, I should ask for something that will be good for Him. So, I sent my prayer request to God with a list of all the reasons it was a good idea. It was more like a meeting in a boardroom with me trying to get God to pick my idea over a host of other ideas from other people. So, I began to think of ways to hyper-spiritualize my life. Every move I made, I was over-analyzing trying to see if what I was doing made me more or less “desirable” to God. I tried to prove to God that I believed He could come through for me. If I didn’t see results, I chastised myself for not having enough faith. It was a year and a half of utter madness, heartbreak and frustration. Nothing I did was enough, I felt, and I was letting God down by not being enough.

There’s only one problem, and it’s a pretty big one…

God didn’t ask me to draw up a business plan and bring it to Him to see if it deserved a stamp of approval. He asked me what I wanted. There are desires we have that are so deep in our soul, the only way they got there is because God put them there. God is not in the business of taking candy from babies. He doesn’t want to take you to a toy store, ask you to pick something out, only to tell you, “NO”, as He points at you and laughs in your face. Our Heavenly Father has chosento be just that, our Father, our Daddy.

Every time I take my kids to the store, they ask for stuff. Sometimes, I say, “no”, but, and this is the reason they keep on asking, sometimes, I say, “yes”. They’re not afraid to ask for new toys. They don’t make me promises that I’ll get to play with it, too (unless it’s my son, Zachary, and the toy in question is Lord of the Rings based), they just ask. They ask because they know I’m their mommy, and (here is the important part), it brings me great pleasure in doing something nice for them. Just because I love them.

So, I ask you, what is it that you want to take to God that fear is keeping you from? What are the desires of your heart that you keep locked away because you don’t think you’re good enough for a present from God? You haven’t done it before. So, go on, ask. Sometimes, God will tell you that you have to do something, sometimes He says. “wait”, sometimes He says, “no”, and sometimes, He just says, “sure, why not.” Asking doesn’t hurt anything but the fear that kept you away in the first place. Let His perfect love drive out your fear, because, it didn’t come from Him anyway. Experience a love that says, “you are enough simply because I say you are”.

Let me know how it works out. 
❤ Mo

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Spiritual Trust Exercises

I’ve been thinking a lot about trust lately. I suppose much of this has to do with the fact that I – as well as a few of my close friends – have been dealing for a few years with the sickness of a loved one. It’s no secret that my oldest son, Kameron, has autism, nor it is a secret that this can be extremely difficult to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, I love love love my boy, but there are times when it is hard not to think of my life as the one step forward, three step back dance. In these times, as I’m sure is the case with many of you, it can be hard to trust that God is with me and directing this process.

*cue the playlist*

Even though you feel alone
Even though your strength is gone
As your weary heart just tries to hold on
Even if your faith is lost
Even if its hard to trust
In a Lord, that would let the rain fall down
Trust in me now
Trust in me now 

Trust in Me Now – Anthony Evans

How often is it that music speaks to our pain in a way that we would not otherwise be able to articulate? For me, that happens frequently (although, I suppose that I have over 1,000 songs on my Blackberry kinda adds to that). This song truly speaks to me because, yeah, there are times when I feel alone. There are times when my son gets a hold of something that he’s not supposed to (he is on an extremely necessary gluten-free diet) and he gets sick and angry that my strength is gone. When he has a panic attack and screams or tantrums, my heart is unbelievably weary and it takes every ounce of God-given grace in me to hold on to the little faith I have that God will see us through this.
“Why do we need this “rain” anyway, God? Wasn’t the cancer enough? This kid is 9 and he’s had five surgeries! Where are You? Why can’t this all just be over?”

This has been a long journey for me, and believe me I have asked those questions so many times. What I’m beginning to realize is that this is my path to walk for a few reasons. First of all, without trial, there would be no reason for trust. Remember going to camp and having to do those trust fall exercises? I hated those!!! I thought that I was too big or someone would drop me on purpose. Every time, I tried to brace myself for the would be inevitable fall and it only made things harder on me and my catcher.
Here’s the thing with God – nothing you carry is too big for Him to catch if you fall back. Philippians 4:19 says, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Likewise, 2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others”. God is not in the business of building you up just to let you fall. There is a reason that some of things that come to us do – to teach us to trust in the infinite grace of a God that loves you more than there are words to define.
Secondly, trials are for other people. Remember, we’re given everything we need so that we can have plenty left to share with others. There are lessons I’ve learned during my time in being Kameron’s mom that were learned so that my friends who come to me with newly diagnosed kids can avoid some of the things I tried that failed or look into some of the things that worked. Mostly, they don’t feel alone now. They know that I’m on this road with them and that I understand their feelings. 
Remember the feeding of the 5,000 found in the gospels? A small boy gave his small lunch to Jesus and it was multiplied because of his faith and trust in Someone bigger than he.  The principle is the same with faith and trust. If we can give the little we have to God, He can multiply it so that it is enough for us and those we reach.
There is a reason for all this. Some of it is to add to my story, and some of this will one day be Kameron’s great testimony. In the meantime, I will be encouraged. God knows that this isn’t easy for me. He knows that there are days I cry because I don’t know if I have the strength to keep doing it. He knows that – to be honest – I haven’t a clue how to be this beautiful boy’s mommy. But, even though I sometimes feel alone, even though my strength is gone and I’m just trying to hold on and keep going day by day by day; even though His unmatched love is letting the rain fall down, He will get us through this. He holds all of this in the palm of His hand and He sees the end even though it feels like I’m still only at the beginning. 
He’s got this…all I have to do is fall back.
Mo
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