Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks For Your Encouragement

Tis the season for giving thanks! As we celebrate the US Thanksgiving holiday, the whole country is focused right now on giving thanks, roasting that turkey, families getting together, sharing, eating, laughing, and having a good time. All our troubles will be temporarily forgotten and we we spend the day giving thanks.

I strive to be forever thankful and one particular message I received via email encouraged us to give thanks for three things everyday from now on. "Try this: every morning, say out loud three things you're thankful for. I mean it. Even if you're having a really rough time in your life. If you think about it, there are always things to be grateful for - your husband. Your wife. Your children. Your health. Your faith. The roof over your head. The dollar in your pocket. Get in the habit of giving thanks... not just on Thanksgiving... but every day." That might be a monumental task for us, but it ought to be a way of life, simply because we know full well the benefits of leading a thankful life.

You have been a blessing to my life and if I have neglected to say so, please pardon me. I thank you for your prayers, your words of encouragement, your tolerating my mess ups, your putting up with my annoyance, your listening to my complaints, sorrows, joys, your celebrating special moments, and especially, I thank God for you because each of you play a special role in making me a better person. Sincere thanks always.

I cherish your thoughtful words that make me smile and give me hope that this world has some really special people. Please allow God to continue using you to make a difference in the lives of others - be thankful and spread some hope!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Have I Done? (The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength)

We are all so very familiar with the true statement, “be careful when you pray for patience because in order to demonstrate patience you have to go through some stuff”. What have I done? Well, I took it upon myself to encourage you, dear Readers, to have hope in the midst of life’s storms, and what would you know? Circumstances in my life have hit home and I am forced to either have hope or despair.
You may remember how much we have been surrounded by sickness and death of our loved ones- some of you have been there at all times, some of you have shed a tear or two on our behalf, some of you have sent cards, some of you have given of your financial means, some of you have been a source of strength and comfort – in all this I am more than confident and I am so convinced that I need to live a life of real faith, trusting in God, knowing and believing that His promises are faithful. The harder I try, the more the Evil One seeks to attack. The beauty and the wisdom in all his attacks, is that I know and am aware of what Satan is trying to do, so I scoff at him, depend on your prayers, and do my utmost to hold on for dear life to my Lord and Master even when the pain is too much to bear. I desire to help you to have hope, to trust in God, to truly believe that His words are true, and if I have to live it to be in a position to better help you, then so be it! You honestly don't need me to tell you about hope as I am yet to have gone through some of the stuff the Apostle Paul went through in his lifetime. I would encourage you to read it for yourself and since we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we can truly say “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory ….” 2 Corinthians 4:8-17 [Emphasis mine]

I love those words and especially knowing that it is coming from a man who has suffered so much for the cause of Christ. My sufferings do not compare with that of the Apostle Paul. His persecution did not come about because his loved ones were sick and dying. He was beaten, imprisoned, threatened, shipwrecked, and all because He was defending the gospel. Have hope, Dear Readers, have hope. All that we go through, no matter how painful, are but light afflictions when compared to the glory that awaits us.

[I wrote the piece below on July 30 and didn’t get around to sharing. Thank you for reading, and for your encouragement.]

The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength

A week ago, I was in Freeport, Grand Bahama, attending a lectureship of the Caribbean churches of Christ. The theme is the title of this writing – “The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength”. I was even more thankful to have had an all expense paid trip. Today, I am sitting on the floor in my living room gradually healing from the news that my beloved Aunt and Mother passed away last night. If you have been traveling with me on this road, you would remember that she had three strokes in one year. The third one was last December - couple days before she was scheduled to fly to Orlando to be with us. [I still have her ticket in hand]

God sure has a way of asking us to show out! Here I am embarking on this journey to encourage others (and myself) to have hope in God and in what He is capable of doing, yet I feel like I am under the assault of the evil one. Yet, I am aware that my sufferings do not compare in the very least to those of God’s servant, Job. [I shared the story of Job with my children yesterday morning, trying to encourage them to always give God the glory no matter the situation. I do find it interesting that they get so frustrated so young in life. Will they be able to handle life as adults, I wonder!]

Aunt Vera’s death was anticipated, and over the past couple weeks, I tried to figure out how I would react to the news. While in Freeport, I had a vivid dream that my sister called and told she was dead and the phone fell out of my hand and I was in tears. I woke up and the message light was blinking on the phone. Did I listen to the message? No, I called my sister immediately and was relieved. Last night on the way home from Bible class my sister called and after she established where I was, she gave me the sad news. I was quiet, sadness welled up inside, and I just needed to use the bathroom. I am not afraid to cry, but in my house, it is difficult to as these wonderful boys come around and you can’t help but smile at them – just seeing their caring ways always break down my resolve and I have to smile. I cried myself to sleep last night and woke up early and went walking. For most of the day, I stayed home in a prayerful, reflective mood.

I know the Lord is waiting to do his powerful will – I only need to allow Him and I am surely trying. Every time I think of what I could have become had it not for Aunt Vera, I can’t help but be full of gratitude which leads to tears. She was truly a vessel used by the Lord to save me, and for that I am eternally indebted.

The joy of the Lord is truly our strength and despite all the unfortunate events that happen in our lives, we must hold on to God and never despair. It might be comforting for us to consider that someone is enduring more than we are – just go to the cross and think of all that Jesus suffered. In real life, I know a brother (in his early 30s) who lost both parents a week apart and later found out he is plagued with the same illness that took his parents – cancer. For the last two years he has undergone treatments upon treatments and the cancer seem to enjoy his body as it keep popping up in different places. Yet, I am told, he is in good spirits. He is taking his licks and giving God the glory because he is a believer in the great Physician.

My flight to Freeport was delayed for the entire day in Fort Lauderdale, and I took it in good stride. I was traveling alone, I received a meal voucher, and I was glad they discovered the problem on the ground and fixing in before take off. Other people on the other hand, were anxious to get home. One irate lady actually moved a representative to tears! Later, I came upon a lady in the restroom with a bare-footed three year old girl and couldn’t help but ask about her shoes (since the restroom can be so filthy). The Mom smiled and said her daughter took them off. She further informed me that their flight was delayed from the night before, and the child was tired of wearing her shoes. Yes, they were in the airport lounge from Thursday night into Friday evening and were still waiting when I left after 6:00 pm. Let’s face it! What did we, delayed for a little over eight hours, have to complain about?

Dear Readers, I know I’m rambling, but don’t miss the message. As we read, study, and understand God’s words, let us use those words in our lives to comfort us when trials get dark on every hand. His word is true and He means exactly what He says. Trust Him. Hope in Him. He will turn our darkness into dancing; we are more than conquerors, and we might be down, but we are not out. Take it to Him on bended knees, with an open and contrite heart, knowing that “the prayer of a righteous man availeth much”. We can then rejoice in tribulations and sufferings counting it all joy.

Aunt Vera will be laid to rest in a couple weeks; I shall cry myself to sleep again tonight. I know whom I have believed and I’m persuaded that He is able………. Join me in singing that song!

September 18, 2009

We traveled to Jamaica for the funeral on August 8. We returned home on Monday, August 17, and the next day my three year old was hospitalized – while in Jamaica, an insect bit him close to his left eye leaving it swollen and infected. The doctor took care of him, and we got out of the hospital two days later (in time for Meet The Teacher).

Notwithstanding the emotional turmoil, stress, and anxiety that come when we see our loved ones gone, we also spent a small fortune on travel and funeral expenses. In all this, God has been awesome, like He faithfully promised He would. Our church family was so generous with their love, their prayers, and their monetary gifts. We had to make some sacrifices, some cut backs, but we can truly say, “thanks be to God”.

I serve a living Savior and I want the world to know that He is faithful in all that He promises. I am standing on those promises.

It is my prayer that we live more hopeful lives in the Lord. Be encouraged.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Handsome Strong Men

Happy Father's Day!

I love men. Got your attention, didn’t I? Well, yes, I really do love men! God made them just perfect. They are so different than us – they are rough, we are soft and tender; they are strong, we pretend to be; they are logical, we are more on the emotional side! We balance each other and that is why God made us to fit perfectly together.

A happy belated Father’s Day to all Fathers reading this – I pray that you are being appreciated and living up to your responsibilities as you enjoy the precious blessings from God. I know your task is great, and I pray you have a good woman by your side, sharing the beautiful joy of bringing up your children. If you do not, and, right now you are somehow feeling unappreciative, rejoice that God is on your side. He will reward you and your children in due season.

It pains my heart when I observe good men being decapitated by women whom they love and who profess to love in return. Ladies, we do have changing emotions and are sometimes overly fragile, but we should not use that as an excuse to disrespect our men. Sure, some of them might be deserving in our own eyes, but we should not try to play God and mete out punishment. Our words should be seasoned with love, encouragement, gratitude, peace, and joy.

Picture this: Worship services are over and everyone meeting and greeting in the foyer. Out came wife number one all emotional, because husband didn’t pick up the child from the nursery, “Why didn’t you get Sophie out of the nursery? I can’t trust you take care of one little thing. Don’t leave her in the nursery if you are not going to go pick her up.” Loud enough for a number of people to hear! The very controlled, patient handsome husband attempted a response, but she launched into more assaults with her words and body language, so he shook his head and walked off – obviously embarrassed!

Why was all that necessary? Where was the control on the part of the beautiful wife? Why talk to the love of your life in that manner and in a crowd? I know that sometimes we don’t even realize what we are saying and doing. We are just reacting out of our emotions. I have been there (and perhaps sometimes still do) and have been short or outright disrespectful to my handsome man in a public setting. He does the godly thing by not responding in a harsh manner. I have also been blessed to have my beautiful sister pull me aside and make me aware of my actions. Honestly, sometimes I wasn’t aware that my responses came across so harshly to the observer. We need to become more aware of the effects our speech has on our handsome men.

If the roles were reversed, I am sure many would start to scream “verbal abuse!”, “verbal abuse!”, “verbal abuse!” Yet, day by day our handsome men are subjected to our harsh unseasoned tongue lashing. We don’t encourage enough! We don’t praise and lift up enough! We know it is hard to find a good man, yet we don’t cherish the one we have found! We ought to be so ashamed of ourselves. We desire encouragement from our spouses - why not return the same? They sometimes pretend they don’t need to hear it, but that is simply because all their lives they were not encouraged or told how much they were appreciated.

It is amazing that I thought to write on this subject last Friday, and on Sunday, Fathers’ Day, our Senior Minister, Wesley T. Leonard, preached a stinging, encouraging message along the same lines. [Stinging to those who find themselves guilty of not doing; and encouraging to know that scripture supports the need for us to uplift, praise, and exhort our handsome men.] At the end of worship, one brother loudly proclaimed to a group of us sisters, “Did you hear that message? You need to get the tape!” I will be obedient and get the tape!!

The three points from the sermon, entitled, “The Strong Man” - Matthew 12:29-30, are as follows:

1. Men are given to reason, women to emotion. Ecclesiastes 1:25

2. Man was made in the image of God and therefore desires exhortation and praise. Ephesians 5:33

3. Men need affection from their wives – 1 Corinthians 1:1-5.

[If you are single, I am not sure what Minister Leonard had to say to you. I am yet to listen to the sermon as I was on Nursery duty. I would encourage you, as a single handsome man, to focus on serving God and pray that he remove that desire for deep affection from you until you have been united in Holy Matrimony. Easier said than done, but I know it is possible, trust God!]

I dedicate this writing to my handsome strong man. I thank you for all that you have done and continue to do. I thank God for you in my life and I want to praise you and encourage you to live a life pleasing to God. You are a hard worker and that pays the bills around here. With the help and direction of God, you have a lovely roof over our heads and we never want for food to eat. Your children shall surely call you blessed! We love you in times of laughter, times of sadness, times of great joy!!

Be encouraged, Dear Readers! My brothers, I encourage you especially to keep on being the strong man you are! I recognize your worth and appreciate you all for who you are. You all are heroes in your own special way. May God continue to bless you all!


PS: If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the sermon, let me know, they sell for $5.00 on CD.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Emotions Deactivated

Captain”, said Data, “I am feeling excited, thrilled, ….”
The captain interrupted, “I suggest you deactivate your emotions right now.”
It’s done”, Data replied.
Then the captain looked at him enviously and said, “Data, there are times when I envy you!”

Wouldn’t it be absolutely awesome if we had the ability to deactivate our emotions at times? Ladies? Are you with me here?

Data is an Android (robot that looks human) in Star Trek The Next Generation; and he is exceptionally smart and devoid of emotions, therefore he usually makes excellent deductions, especially in problem solving matters.

Problems in our lives can sometimes fall on us like hail during stormy weather or it can attack us like bugs in the summer. It is even more troublesome when you are really trying your best to do the right thing and you feel like you are being bombarded from all angles. You feel like screaming, you feel like hurting, and you probably can’t help but feel like cursing!! May I suggest you deactivate your emotions at this point! Not so easy is it? How many of us nodded our heads in the affirmative?

Yes, initially I thought that was an impossibility for us being humans and made up of mind, body, and soul. But then I consider that our awesome, all powerful, all knowing, all seeing God made us in His image. He did not hold back from us, He gave us all that we need to live controlled lives. He asked nothing of us that is impossible, so when the Apostle Paul, empowered by Jesus Himself, tells us to “...let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” [Colossians 3:15], I must believe that it is possible to deactivate my emotions! The “peace of God” mentioned here, enables us to have control over our emotions. We are even more empowered than Data, the Android, as we have the capacity to express good emotions and the power to squash those that are not good. We need to believe that we can have that type of peace in ANY situation, once we are committed to allowing God to guide us.

Never forget that God will give us the means to accomplish anything He asks of us. Our greatest responsibility lies in controlling our own emotions and emotional responses to people, events, and circumstances in our lives. Once we get this under control, we would have won half the battle! We need to develop strong relationships with God to allow Him to work through us to tackle this monumental (in our human eyes) task of keeping our emotions (the negative ones usually) in check.

When we find ourselves wishing for that “emotions deactivate button”, let us remember Jesus Christ on the cross! He had the power to speak one word to silence all those jeering Him, slapping Him, and laughing at Him. But He did not. Not because He was weak, not because He was scared, but because He was focused on His mission and maintained His peace. He kept His emotions under control, because He was determined to give us HOPE! Data deactivated his emotions and was unable to fulfill his mission. How about us? Are we going to grasp the peace that the Lord has left here for us and use it to help us on our mission? I pray we do!!

Thank you all for reading and responding. God bless!!


By the way, Data can easily deactivate his emotions, but I failed to tell you that those emotions aren’t just negative ones, he is also devoid of love and can be extremely cold ……. Jesus Christ provides the right balance we need in our lives. Take hold, Dear Readers, of the HOPE - Help Overflowing Powerful and Eternal – we have in Christ.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What State Are You In?

The first time I did it, I promised myself, I would never do it again. Then a couple years later, in relocating from New York to Orlando, we were forced to do it. Again, I promised myself I would never do it again! Only too recently, upon the death of my husband’s Grandmother, and with funeral services scheduled to take place in New York, we did it yet again! Yep! You guessed it, “a road trip”. This trip should ideally take eighteen hours if you only stop to refuel, but with us older, and somewhat unfit people and young children, we projected twenty-two hours. We managed to do it in nineteen hours and Lorraine has not stopped chiding us for speeding. [Really though, the traffic was light and we had no meals in a restaurant, so NOT much speeding was done.] Despite the sadness of the occasion, driving together was of great benefit. We were able to spend time together in extremely close, confined space, and the children enjoyed being in the different states.

On the journey I noticed that once we crossed into a new state, the signs pointing to the welcome center are quite evident. Everyone was advertising the merits of their individual states and luring us to spend some time and some money. The disparity in the gas prices were also quite evident ranging from $1.71 to $2.25. All this leads me to ask this question, what state are you in right now?

What State Are You In? Almost fifteen hours into the journey, my friend, Cynthia, texted me to ask “What state are you in?” My immediate response was, “We are in Sleepy State”, because although we got some “shut eye” I wanted to sleep. My three year old woke up in Sleepy State and mumbled, “Mom, I want my bed”. Even the toddler recognized that that was no way to get a good sleep! Nevertheless, we were preserved. God gave us the energy and the strength to continue on the journey.

As the world around us seem to be crumbling, people are going penniless, families, and friends are dying, and it just seem like morality is hurriedly escaping through the front door, we will sometimes find ourselves in various states. We may not see the welcome center sign when we are in the “State of Despair”, all we might see is darkness. Don’t miss the sign … “ye though I walk through the valley of the shadows of death, I’ll fear no ill, for though art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”. [Psalms 23:4] Imprint those words on our minds and bring to remembrance as we go through the State of Despair. Accelerate and speed if we must to hurriedly get out of that state.

Ooops! Now we have traveled to the “State of Discontent”. We just can’t seem to get it right. Things are not going our way and we long for something better in our lives. Please don’t slow down in this state, keep the speed limit, but get out on the wings of “they that wait up on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” [Isaiah 40:31]. Did you remember that we can ask the Lord to teach us how to wait? Yes, He Will!!

Dear Readers, aren’t you glad you made it through the Discontent State? Stop!! Don’t go that way to the “State of Sadness”! Now, now, now!! What are we going to do? Being sad is okay, but we don’t want to stay that way for too long. Take the bathroom break, wash your hands, and your face, get back in the car and read the sign written by King David, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” [Psalms 30:11] God will help us to move on through our state of sadness. It is up to us to put that car into drive and press that gas pedal to get out!

Why did we make that wrong turn to the “State of Loneliness”? It is late in the night and no one is on the road with us. Do we feel lost? Turn the radio dial and listen to the news, perhaps, something happened that we didn’t hear about. It just doesn’t feel right. Why must we be so lonely? It sure is taking a long time to get out of this State of Loneliness! Then again, King David found himself in that state and scribbled the sign that said, "Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life." [Psalms 142:4]. Okay, it can’t get anymore lonely! Everyone in our cars has fallen asleep and we are the one driving so must stay awake. My goodness! It sure is lonely on this highway!! We MUST find our way out of this State of Loneliness. LOOK OUT! Our exit is coming up! Read the sign "... God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." [Hebrews 13:5]. Praise God, we are not alone! We were never alone!! Our great Protector has (and will) always been with us - we only forgot! What a relief!!

In this country alone we have fifty states, and we can drive to all but one. In life, we know we have so many different states of mind that we often find ourselves in, so I could go on and on and on….. but I will stop here and encourage us to move over, put down roots, and take up residence in the “State of Leave It All To God” remembering King David’s poignant thoughts expressed on the billboard of Psalm 137:

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You
[Psalms 137:1-12]

“OH NO!” We still haven’t reached our destination! Please take the next and only right, and I guarantee that we will be in a better State…..if only we stay on the narrow road that leads to LIFE!! [Matthew 7:13-14]

I thank you all for your prayers, love, and tangible show of care and concern. Grandma Sophia has been laid to rest and as always, it was good to see (and meet) family members.

Let us try to remain in the State of Hope, knowing that our Righteous God knows just what we need! We praise and thank Him!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Such Comfort

Live, Love, Laugh

I am feeling so guilty right now. I have broken my promise to write every week and for that I am repentant. It is amazing how terrible I felt knowing that I was not keeping to my promise. And you might think it is a small thing, but to me, a commitment is a commitment. Too often we make commitments, big or small, and we do not follow through. Can you identify with me here for a minute? Well, just imagine how God feels when we do not live up to our promises to Him. He gives us such comforting words, and when the need for comfort arises in our lives, we turn to other people, other things, and other places. Take God at His word, Dear Readers, and “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) Such comfort!!

Live, love, laugh was the theme of our Ladies’ Motivational Weekend two weeks ago. Our congregation hosted the event and over 120 sisters gathered together to share and fellowship with each other on Saturday (the main event), April 4, 2009. Debbie Houston out of Rochester New York was the Keynote Speaker and she sure gave us a revival in our souls. One main thought she delivered and that I wish to share here is this:

"We serve a Sovereign God. Because of this undeniable fact, God has the right to allow us to go through some stuff. God is good no matter what we go through. We should learn to live, to love, to laugh, despite the hard circumstances; and this can only be achieved by having a confrontation with God. Get face to face with God, and submit ourselves to His warm embrace. God is our all powerful God and the sooner we believe this and live life to the fullest, the better equipped we will be to deal with our grief, persecution, and despair."

The Friday night before, we had a fun time singing, and fellowshipping with one another. We learnt that laughing will burn up calories, so we have been laughing since.

We were blessed to have received a revival in our lives, and I pray that we will call on the name of the Lord so that He can help us to stay alive in Christ. The smell of death is all around my family, but I have to keep on living, loving, and laughing as I know that my God is able! Now I must live what I have been preaching – hope in the midst of all our sorrows!!

And a child shall lead them

Last weekend we went to the youth convention, Lads to Leaders and Leaderettes, right here in Orlando. My boys participated in song leading and Bible Reading and we walked away with three trophies in Girls Songs of Praise, Girls Speech, and Boys Speech. This Convention was such a blessing. Seeing all the young people from Kindergarten up to high school enjoy singing, speaking, reading, performing (puppet theatre) for the Lord, was incredulous! They are the future of our congregations, and it is a wise thing that we are training them to fulfill those roles. I thank our leadership at our congregation for facilitating this training. This points to a future of hope for our churches, and we ought to encourage and uplift our youth at all times.

Thankful that God never gets tired of hearing our prayers!

After 11 p.m. last night, I was making final preparations for bed, and it would seem that every two to three minutes one of my boys would come calling, “Mom, my brother did this” or “Mom, can I have some water, please?” or “Mom, can you read me a book, please?” or “Mom, I can’t go to sleep!” (that was my three year old). Noticed the time I mentioned in the beginning? Yes, dear readers, it gets tiring and especially at that time of night! I’m human, and I am so thankful that God never gets tired of hearing my pleas, like I do with my children. Lately, we have been calling on Him a lot for help in our sorrows. This past Monday (4/13), my husband’s maternal grandmother departed this life. She was such a blessing and she served her family well. Many Sundays we would have dinner with her and she would always have enough for us to take home. Even when we don’t visit, she would call to say she made dinner. This she did not only for us, but for others of the family, and many at her congregation. To lose “Mom”, as we all called her, is to lose a wonderful blessing! God will sustain us, we know, but your prayers are most welcomed. Thanks to you who have already put through a call, send an email, or verbally expressed your condolences. As you pray, just thank God on our behalf for all that He sends our way. My Aunt/Mom is still low and we expect that she will go anytime now. We know that God knows just how much we are able to bear, so we rest in His comforting arms.

I encourage you to live a life full of hope!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A New Beginning-Be Comforted

  • “Loss is life’s Long Non-Negotiable side: It is a time when we learn, unconditionally, that we are powerless over things we thought we had a grip on. But it doesn’t stop there, because every ending brings a new beginning”
    Stephanie Ericcson (used without permission)

    I was comforted to read this on a bookmark of the late Ryan Peralto, CD, former JLP Minister of Government in Kingston, Jamaica. “Every ending brings a new beginning” spells hope for me. I am in a strange place right now as I deal with the loss of my baby sister. She will be remembered always with a smile, and I will try to not wallow in too much sadness. It hurts so much and in such a strange way that words cannot aptly describe what I’m feeling. Nevertheless, I am fully aware that her death served some wonderful purposes, and these can be the “new beginning” for many of us. This, my dear Readers, is cause for celebration and hope!

    1. Families we haven’t seen in years came together, and in the midst of our grief, we found reason to laugh, to talk, to catch up on lost years.
    2. Every night since March 2, neighbors and friends gather at the house to sit and comfort the family, play dominos, eat, and drink (don’t ask what they drank?).
    3. A community came together (never mind the ulterior motives for some) the Wednesday before the funeral, for the “grave digging”. This was truly a festive affair. We served over 250 plates of a full course meal and others still complained that they didn’t get fed. A small business owner came with his ice cream motor cycle and made some good money selling ice cream! We had a wonderful gathering and I was impressed to see the effect my sister had on this community where she spent her 35 years of existence.
    4. The wake was held on Friday, and I was again intrigued by the number of people who left their warm beds to come and stand for three to four hours just to show their support and love for our family (and to get something to eat). [In the midst of this excitement, my Aunt was discharged from the hospital. She is incapacitated and no longer has the ability to recognize her family. Yet, she will open her eyes and look around as if searching. It was sad to see her in that state, but I was elated that she was out of the hospital and in the company of family who loves her and will do the best for her.]
    5. The funeral on Saturday was also well attended. The little church on the hill was bursting in its seams. Over two hundred people were in attendance. The Member of Parliament for the area, together with his wife and son, took time out of his busy schedule to be in attendance. The Priest knew my sister well and spoke highly of her. The message was from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and if you have lost a loved one and still struggling to deal with it, I hope you will be comforted by these words:

    “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

    I cannot sorrow as one who has no hope. I will be comforted by the words of the Apostle Paul, and I pray that you will be too. I look forward with earnest anticipation to the coming of Christ. My sister has finished her course and has moved on. My prayer is that her loss will be a new beginning for all my people who are still alive as they come to know and to serve the one true God. Be prayerful, persistent, and patient. Be full of hope, dear Readers, even in the midst of our sorrows.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Righteous Will Not Be Forsaken

Over the last couple months, we have been hearing of much doom and gloom with our economic situation. For some of us, we are actually experiencing doom and gloom in our personal lives. I see the increases in prices when I go to the store (and you have to look closely as you never see a sign that says, “Price Increase” “Pay More”). In all this, I am confident that “ye which began a good work, will perfect it to the end”. Sunday’s sermon was on Psalm 37, where David spoke about being young and old and not see the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread. It was especially encouraging for me to be reminded that God has been good, and He will take care of me, my children, and my children’s children. Read the Psalm again, and I pray you will be encouraged as well.

Let us hold on to hope. Let us trust God to “be faithful in all that He promised”. “Great is His faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies we see, all that we have needed His hands have provided. Great is His Faithfulness, God unto us”. [Read Lamentations Chapter 3 and be blessed.]

I remember growing up and, especially during the summer months, there was literally nothing in the house to eat for days. We had used up all our credit at the corner store, and so was left to grace of God. We would get up, have a cup of something hot sweetened with sugar, and then prayerfully pray that someone would come through the door with some money or we would go a-hunting for food that grows on trees - and God usually provides. We were hungry, but not for long! We learnt to appreciate and to not waste what we have when we are blessed by God. And that is such a great lesson for us to learn. Appreciate and not waste!! We need to teach that to our children (and learn it ourselves for some of us) and exercise greater control in an effort to minimize waste, as we trust God to provide our needs.

As I remind us of the hope that we already possess in a God who is faithful, let us nurture that hope in all of us by offering a prayer, calling, visiting, lending a helping hand, sharing useful information on ways to save, to live stress free, and to encourage.

Be hopeful dear Readers, and share the love!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Comfort From Reading

“Reading broadens the mind” is a quote I truly cherish and believe. As a child from the rural (country) parts of the tiny island in the Caribbean Sea, my summers were spent at the Library, traveling to different places all over the world. It was absolutely fabulous and I did learn a lot about varied cultures.

Today, I still make time to read. Over the last couple months, I became a good friend of; but now, with budgetary constraints, I am best friend with the public library. [They will even deliver your books at no charge!].

For those of us who has a passion for reading, we can find comfort in the written word. The Bible is the ultimate source of comforting words, read these three scriptures, and let me know how you feel when done:

  • “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalms 118:6)

  • “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, 7)
On a personal note, although I might be crying fountains of water, I still know and believe that my God is the God of all comfort. I know He will comfort me in ALL my tribulation!

To those of us who do not have a great passion for reading, technology has made it so that the Bible and most other books are on some audio media (cassette, CD, DVD, video, and others). You can listen to someone else read to you at home, or in the car! What a blessing!!

I encourage us to travel the world and be encouraged by reading at least one book a week!!

Be hopeful!!

I told you about my Aunt who suffered two strokes. Well, today, she suffered another and is entirely unresponsive. We are praying for strength and wisdom to deal with what this may bring. God is ABLE….. and I do believe that to the very core of my being!!

My baby sister was hospitalized tonight and also not doing well. She has heart and kidney ailments. Again, we pray for strength and wisdom recognizing that God is ABLE….I am hopeful, no matter the outcome.

Thanks for your prayers

Monday, February 23, 2009

Life - Variety

Life sure takes some interesting twists and turns. I enjoy variety, and don’t care much for monotony. Over the last week, we have had times full of mixed emotions - happy, sad, hurtful, joyful.

My 6 year old and my 3 old both were sick with a nasty cold. I got sick as well. The 3 year old refuses to take his medication, hence, to date he is still having a cold and a low grade fever. My 6 year old, on the other hand, does not like to be sick. He demands his medication! He is the better off for so doing.

Here’s the lesson I get from this situation with my two children. When we are feeling low and life gets the better of us, we ought to make use of the resources that God provides to help us feel better. Take our medication, use natural remedies, call on friend/confidante, talk about the problem, seek solutions, be hopeful, trusting, and, don’t be surprised when things get better. Things will get better! We need to always comfort ourselves by being convinced that “weeping endures for a moment, but joy cometh in the morning”. [We know the lesson we can learn from the attitude of my 3 year old; and as my intent is to encourage, I will not detail what will happen if we choose to behave like my sweet angel, and refuse help!. Did I tell you he has been sick for over a week now!! He spread it all around the house and now Daddy is down with the cold!!] Let us focus on spreading joy, being hopeful, live in peace, and show much love!!

On Saturday, I had three functions that I attended. My day started at 6 a.m. and ended at midnight. First, we went to Hilltop Church of Christ in Winter Haven to support our Minister’s wife who was the keynote speaker at their Ladies Day Program. Who would come to sit in front of me in the auditorium, but an old friend? I didn’t even recognize her at first, and her way of greeting me, was a hard slap on the leg! She had matured and it wasn’t long before I remembered her. That was such a blessing! Seeing her after all these years, reminded me that you never know when God have a wonderful surprise for you. It could be an unexpected cash windfall (or maybe a $20 in your pocket), a visit from an old friend, or meeting up with an old friend like I did! That was truly a blessing, and I was extremely grateful, and full of joy!

After my Minister’s wife made a powerful, encouraging presentation on the story of Esther in keeping with the theme, “A Moment in Time”, we left to attend a funeral in a neighboring city. The person being buried was the sister of our Minister’s Mother, Founder and Coordinator of our Tuesday Bible Class, and an awesome woman of the Word. We had to support her. We had to let her see that we care. We had to be there for her. In good times and in bad times, we need each other. We will cross over the hurdles faster and with more confidence when we know that someone is beside us. We can always be hopeful when we believe that God is with us and will “never leave us, nor forsake us”. What a comfort to know that “God is just a prayer away”.

My day is not over yet. Later in the evening my husband and I went to a 50th birthday celebration. What a party!!! A good friend of ours full of life and vigor, you would not guess she turned 50 on Sunday!. She is from a large family of 14 and I believe they all were present at the party. Can you imagine 14 (16 with parents) children in one house (and it is not a mansion with several wings)? I can't imagine!! Listening to the tributes paid to our friend, we could tell that, as siblings, they enjoyed each other’s company (and still do). In the Lord, we have an even larger family, and we need to enjoy each other’s company more. The whole party atmosphere was one of fun, laughter, and having a good time, celebrating and giving thanks for a life that is committed to serving God with joy, gladness, thankfulness, and praise! It was good for me to be there. I enjoyed myself and was happy to be able to share with someone who has lived for half a century on this earth. We never know how long we have on this earth, and it is entirely up to us to live, to love, to laugh, to hope, to endure! We really do need to celebrate with each other more!

From now on, let us try to make every moment in time a happy, hopeful one!!


[My boys had a party in our absence as they had other 4 other kids who came over – yes, my home was the day care center for several of us who went to the party!]

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thankful Heart

I am a firm believer that "encouragement sweetens labor". I do try to live a thankful life and to teach that to my children. Even when we are in the midst of despair, there is something we can be thankful that we possess. Hope springs from a thankful heart. No matter the circumstances, a thankful heart will look for that silver lining and be even more thankful!

The Apostle Paul in his letters never grew tire of giving thanks for the Christians he was writing to encourage.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now"
Philippians 1:3-5.

"We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel."
Colossians 1:3-6

"We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father."
1 Thessalonians 1: 2-3

"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure."
2 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Those are but a few of the thankful verses in the scriptures. Are we living thankful lives? Do we express thanks for others and for what we have? Let us try to be a more thankful people, no matter our circumstances in life.
God bless

Friday, February 6, 2009

Warmth From My Heart

Which of the four seasons are you in love with? Mine would be summer. (One reason is that I don’t have to wear a lot of clothes!) Surveys have shown that most people prefer either spring or summer over winter and autumn. This winter has been rough for many of us, especially those living up North. I live in the South, which is usually unbearably hot - even in the wintertime. Not so this winter! We have had to resort to using heat in our homes and vehicles; and whenever I think to complain about how cold it is here in Orlando, I am nudged by “conscience” and reminded that I really have nothing to complain about. I am not driving on icy roads; I am not without electric and heat because a snowstorm swept through my neighborhood. I am not freezing. I am not apprehensive about crashing or falling on the ice. Putting it all in perspective, dear friends, forty-five degrees is nothing for me to complain about!

So to my friends up north, I want to offer you some warmth from my heart (and I invite others to do the same). You are uncomfortable, you are cold, you are frustrated, you are anxious about driving in icy conditions, you are really not very happy, and you wish you were in Orlando! I hasten to remind you of something you already know - “This too shall pass”. You know it will warm up soon. The ice will melt, the electric will be on soon, and the best part is that when the warmth comes upon, we would have forgotten how cold it was. Let’s try to start now. Our mind is so powerful - you can use it right now to make yourself feel warm. Try it!! Concentrate on what needs to be done, dress properly, and try very hard to ignore the cold! I did say to try VERY HARD! It is not going to be easy, but with concerted effort, you will succeed. Don’t for one moment think that God is not there with you. He is right there with you, hugging you, keeping you warm. Warm your spirits, warm your hearts, love more, hug more, do good, and I guarantee you that your warmth will spill over and fill the whole room. Hope springs eternal – it will keep on overflowing if we consistently feed it with positive thoughts and actions.

By the way, Wednesday night we experienced temperatures of about twenty-nine degrees, and today we were up to sixty-two degrees, tomorrow they promise us seventy to seventy-two, and next week we should feel the heat at eighty degrees. It’s already getting warmer by the minute. Keep hope alive!!


Thanks for the kind responses by email. I'm touched that so many of you visited the site. Elton and Percival, I appreciate you for commenting! I'm encouraged!! I praise God for you always!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

After The Sabbathical

It is almost a year since I started this blog, and I must apologize for dropping off the blog scene. A number of unforeseen, painful events happened shortly thereafter, and I was unable to keep up a good thing. (Thanks Steven for taking the time to comment on my first post. I was looking forward to seeing you in Orlando in July.)

Many of us have been raised by family members other than our birth parents. I was raised by my paternal Grandmother, and Aunt. I spent holidays with my parents, so my Aunt was the Mother I knew. She is a wonderful, strong, caring, disciplined woman. All that I am today is due largely in part to her training and direction. Going to church (The Church of England) was a priority for her and we were compelled to go, even if she did not! I am so indebted to her for her love and guidance.

In February of 2008, returning home from Bible class, I got a call to say my Aunt/Mom had a major stroke on the 20th. I did not lose hope! I expressed all the human emotions, tears, agony, torment, then there were the endless phone calls back and forth to determine her condition. I could only pray, and called on all the God-fearing family I have in the church to pray with me. Prayers were outpouring! And the blessings came pouring down. I traveled to Jamaica to see her and upon my arrival was elated to see her walking and talking. She recovered quickly and at her follow-up visit, the doctor, gapingly said, "I can't belive that this is you who had a stroke 6 weeks ago walking into my office". My response, "God be praised! She had a lot of people praying for her".

In April of 2008, an early morning call awoken us. My husband's father had kidney failure and other complications from diabetes, and is hospitalized. He is not expected to live! Again, all the human emotions were expressed. That was a Sunday morning. In comforting my husband, I had no other recourse but to tell him bluntly, "The doctors are not God! We have seen what God can do, let's keep on praying." Again, we did not lose hope. We mobilized the praying crew. During the response segment at worship, our minister called on the elders, fellow deacons, and the entire congregation to join hands and pray. We claimed the victory on Dad's behalf. My husband traveled home, and Dad got out of the hospital, praising God, and making plans for his next trip overseas.

In October of 2008, my husband's father died. It was difficult. It was sad. It was painful. But we rejoiced. We rejoiced because we knew he died in the Lord. We rejoiced because we were thankful that God prepared us from April. We took great comfort in the knowledge that God gave us a good many months before the final blow of death. We did not have a funeral service, we had a service of thanksgiving for the life of Leonard Williams. We did not lose hope!!

One week before Christmas 2008, my aunt (airline ticket in hand with a Christmas eve travel date to spend some time with us) had a second stroke. I was in the hairdresser's chair when I received the news. I was distraught, but I did what we have grown accustomed to doing - calling on the prayer crew. I did not lose hope. I could not lose hope. I have witnessed first hand what God is able to do if only we trust him and believe in his faithfulness. I believe in the power of prayer, and I am confident that God is able. My aunt is still unable to walk or speak today, her progress is slow, but I am still hoping that God will see her through. Financially, I am not yet able to travel to visit with her, but I am not letting go of my hope and trust in God.

Friends, when all else fails - and we see from our current economic state, that so much CAN fail and HAVE failed - GOD WILL NEVER FAIL. Believe the words of Psalm 37:23-25 ... "If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand." Visualize God's hand holding you up! Isn't that a comforting feeling? Wow!! Keep hope alive in a God who is faithful in all that He promised! Be encouraged!