Red Rover, Red Rover…


God, I hear You calling and I’m trying desperately to catch up with You; to walk beside You, to synchronize my steps with Yours. But, I’m continually running into obstacles.

As if on cue from satan himself, out of the shadows step the demons of doubt, fear and deprecation. red rover red rover croppedThey stand in front of me and block my path, arms locked together as if to engage me in a game of Red Rover.

“Red rover, red rover, send Brenda right over,” they chide, demonic laughter filling the air and assaulting my confidence and my faith. I can’t help but shiver as their Goliath-sized shadows hijack the sun’s warmth as well as its light. It becomes a battle just to see.

And, yet, their purpose is dreadfully clear. They have come to intimidate, threaten, frighten, scare, bully, coerce, terrorize, daunt and taunt me; to keep me frozen in place and far away from the purpose that You prepared for me before the first word of Creation was ever uttered.

“Red rover, red rover, send Brenda right over.”

My mind starts to reel; to unravel like a runaway spool of thread. I can either run away and live the rest of my life knowing that I gave up on You or I can face this thing head on.  I breathe deep and step back a few steps so that I can gain more momentum. There is no way I’m giving up, I mutter to myself. I will simply close my eyes and run with all my might, straight through their arms and into Yours.  

But, oh sweet Lord, the growls of my opponents are becoming louder and more obnoxious. And, as much as I want to walk with You–to fulfill my purpose–I can’t help but notice how grotesquely strong they look. How on earth will ever be break their hold, I ask myself, and, with no immediate answer, I shrink back in defeat without ever taking a step.

Defeated. Beaten. Overwhelmed and overcome.  I look down at my feet frozen in place as the enemies’ taunts crescendo in victory.  They win. Again.

The only thing I have left now is to pray. But I don’t even know where to start. I am so ashamed that I once again let the enemy defeat me, to hold me back. With the words “I’m sorry, Lord” rising up through my spirit, I begin to hear a still small voice. It is a warm, familiar and very quiet voice, but still somehow louder than the enemy’s raucous heckling. I immediately recognize that it is You.

“Get up, child,” You whisper sweetly. “Get up, but don’t try to run with all your might; this time, child, run with Mine.”

Your words, gentle and powerful at the same time, send a surge of encouragement and pronounced strength coursing through my spirit, mind and body. I rise up into a crouch position just like that of an Olympic sprinter and, with the sound of cheering angels ringing in my ears, I open my eyes. I see the band of demons still outstretched before me and I see their mouths moving. It sure looks like they are still talking trash, but the words filling the air about me are beautiful, peaceful, encouraging.

“It’s over, It’s over, Brenda come on over.”

I can no longer contain myself and, even though I still see the demons, I take off running toward the beautiful sound. And, as I run faster and harder than I dreamed possible, the heavenly cheers grow louder and louder and the demons grow smaller and smaller until I finally burst though their evil stronghold with the fortitude and power of a wrecking ball.

I hold up my arms in victory and as the dust settles around me, I see You standing there in all your Glory.Victory Photo 1-John-4-4-You-Are-Of-God-beige-copy You smile a knowing smile. You’ve been here all the while; waiting on me; cheering me on.

Lord, thank You, for never giving up on me, even when I give up on You; for having faith in me, when my own faith waivers. Thank You for sending Your spirit to intervene when the enemy lines look too strong to break through and for helping me to stand firm when I feel weak. Thank you, Lord, for Your willingness to keep reminding me that, with Your help, I DO have the strength and power to run full steam ahead into Your will and purpose, for it is there that You dwell and it is there I wish to dwell also.  With all that I am, I praise You. Amen and Ehmen.

 

A Revival of Mind, Body and Soil


Happy 2020!

As Christmas wound down and New Year’s Day quickly approached, I started thinking about writing a New Year’s post as I have done in year’s past. There is just something about standing on the ledge of a new year—and, in this case, a new decade—that begs for a time of reflection.

This year, however, I just wasn’t mentally there at the time. I really can’t explain why. It is simply the way it was.

However, as the month has marched on, a post that has been percolating for several months has now bubbled to the top and I think is quite fitting to kick off this fresh, budding new year and decade.

It is a true tale about a tree.

Not just any tree, mind you, but a mini bonsai tree that God has used to teach me more about Him as well as myself, especially during the last half of 2019.

The story actually started about four years ago when I paid my first of two visits to the Monastery of the monastary of the holy spirit 1Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. After discovering this spiritual haven nestled in the woods on the outskirts of Atlanta, I scheduled a personal retreat weekend in anticipation of snuggling up to God and reconnecting with Him and the purpose that He has laid before me. I was hoping for a little more direction and a whole lot of inspiration.

Needless to say, He did not disappoint. He never does. Seriously, when He said, “Seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened,” He really meant it. After all, He is literally a God of His Word.

So, as I planted myself in the silence of that holy and beautiful place, He met me and monastary of the holy spirit 2filled me with more love, wisdom and inspiration than I ever imagined possible. I left revived, rejuvenated and ready to continue on my path, pen in hand, just as I had hoped and expected.

But, I also left with something else that I had not anticipated—a beautiful little bonsai tree straight from the monk’s green house and garden center. I had read about the garden center in one of the monastery brochures, but nothing prepared me for the impressive display of mini trees I actually saw there. It was like walking into a magical indoor forest. Apparently, the monks have been crafting these little beauties for decades, and I felt compelled to buy one as a memento of my trip. I picked out a small one that was reasonably priced and carefully transported it back home.

Once home, I found just the place for it on the sill of the garden window in my kitchen. There, I thought, it would get plenty of sun and, since the water faucet is right there, it might also have a better chance of me actually remembering to water it.

That last part was super important as I don’t have the best track record with plants. Not only is my thumb not green, my plants often aren’t either. Therefore, the closeness to the water source is more crucial than you might think.

Unfortunately, even its proximity to the water source didn’t work so well. Turns out you still have to DO something, and as my job got super crazy and I was working 80-plus hour weeks, that something happened less and less. I could barely remember to water and feed the dog, much less my little tree, which was now down to just a few cluster of leaves. Somehow, though, it survived.

Even after I left that job some two and a half years ago and I did better about watering my little tree, it still didn’t seem to really grow and eventually faded into the background of my kitchen window and my thoughts.

Until this past September, that is, as I readied myself bonsai tree beforeto head back to the monastery for a little of what I like to call “me and Thee time.” As I hung up the phone after making my reservations, I stood in the kitchen staring at my pitiful little barren tree and began making plans to shop for a new tree and start over. But, as I planned away, God interrupted me.

In that still small voice that I will forever be thankful for, these words came booming through deep in my spirit:

No, no, no. Dear Child, don’t you see? You are like that tree. When you don’t feed and nourish yourself spiritually, your fruitfulness and growth may stop, but I NEVER give up on you just as you should not give up on your tree. You are both special, one-of-kind creations that I love with all My heart and cannot be replaced. Come, let me replenish you and revive your mind, body and soil.”

That’s right, where you would normally expect to hear the word soul, I heard God say soil, and, in that very instant, I knew exactly what I was supposed to do. And, it was NOT to buy a brand new plant, but to repot the one I had in renewed soil, just as God was about to do with me on my weekend retreat—a beautiful Spirit-infused weekend which I really need to write about soon.

For now, however, I hope you’ll continue to indulge me in the story of my tree.

As the weekend came to a close, I popped over to the monastery garden center and spoke with one of the monks. I told him about my struggling tree and he suggested a small bag of new potting soil and some bonsai food. He explained why bonsais need repotting in fresh, nutrient-rich soil and how often to feed it after it has been repotted. He also reminded me to water it every single day as bonsai soil is designed to not only allow water to quickly drain from the soil, but to also allow fresh air to continually enter.

I couldn’t wait to get home! I was so excited to repot and literally breathe new life into my tree. I even thought about posting about it so that everyone could share in the miracle that God was about to perform.

“But, then again, perhaps I should wait just to be sure,” I thought to myself and closed my laptop as quickly as I had opened it.

I repotted the tree just as instructed and watched excitedly and expectantly. My tree, however, did not flourish overnight. In fact, it was quite the opposite, and, over the coming days and weeks, the few leaves it did have fell away until I was left with what looked like a twig sticking up out of the soil. A twig, y’all. No leaves, no nothing.

I was not just disappointed, I was devastated and oh so glad that I had chosen not to post about the miracle that God was sure to perform. Sadly, I didn’t take a photo of it either. After all, it was twig, y’all. No leaves, no nothing.

Still something inside of me wouldn’t let me give up. I continued to water and feed that little twig until finally, a couple of weeks later, I noticed a tiny little green bud bursting through a bleak nub on my tiny dried up little tree. Then another. And another. And another. And another. Until my little tree, in just a few short weeks, was starting to look like the tree I had purchased some four years earlier.

As a matter of fact, it is still growing and flourishing, and, this morning as I gazed on in utter amazement, I heard that still small voice again deep in my spirit.

Bonsai Tree New 1

“Don’t you see, dear Child, sometimes the old things must fall away to make room for new growth and for new revival to take place. I’m proud that, even when it looked like all hope was lost, you tended the twig and trusted in Me. Remember, dear one, your human perspective is very limited. You cannot see as I see. You cannot see what is happening behind the scenes and, even if you could, your human mind could not understand. Your job is to trust Me and to continue abiding in Me as I abide in you.”

“For I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; but apart Me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5

“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Revelation 21:5

Happy sigh. Thank you, Father, for continuing to love me, to seek me and to tend my spirit and soil/soul, despite my stubbornness and propensity for drifting away and forgetting to fully trust in You. Thank you, Father, for planting eternity and a desire to know You in my heart. Help me to keep the soil of my heart refreshed so that Your roots in me grow stronger and stronger, allowing me to flourish like my little bonsai and to continue to become the fruitful one that You created me to be. I love you, Father. Forever.

Amen and Ehmen.

All Is ‘Whale’ With My Soul


As I lay in bed trying my best NOT to wake up early this morning it was as if God started tugging at the covers. The tighter I pulled them around my shoulders, creating a cozy little comfort zone, the harder he tugged. He often does this when I have been absent from our special morning time together for longer than I should or if I’m dragging my feet on something He has asked me to do. God’s not big on earthly comfort zones and, though I usually fuss about it at the time, I really am thankful that he doesn’t let me kick back too long.

This morning it was about digging deeper into some things I just keep putting off. Truth be told, I often put things off, sometimes for a very long time, years in fact.  Fear of failure and rejection, says I. Disobedience and distrust, says He.

As I lay there silently arguing with him and preoccupying myself with a game on my phone, His still, small voice grew louder to the point that I could no longer ignore Him and, just as I gave in and put my phone away, I heard him whisper the name Jonah.

Jonah? Like the guy that got swallowed by the whale? That Jonah?

Jonah, I heard again, as I reached over to pick up my Bible. Flipping through the Old Testament, I finally landed on the book of Jonah and began to read. And the more I read, the more I began to understand. Never in my life had I seen myself in this particularly story, but here in this moment, on the pages of my own bible, Jonah, it seemed, was synonymous with B-R-E-N-D-A.

Like Jonah, I have been running from certain aspects of God’s calling on my life and, as I read his reflections as he was entombed inside the belly of that great fish, I felt compelled to read the words aloud.

Jonah, Chapter 2

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. 3 You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ 5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit. 7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8 “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. 9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’ ” 10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Honestly, I think I have been in the belly of a whale for a while now. And thank God. Thank God that he hasn’t given up on me; that he still finds me worthy of my purpose.

One way or another, He will get me there. Who am I to complain about the mode of transportation?

I’m coming, Nineveh. I’m coming.

Amen and Ehmen.

Tip me over and pour me out


January 6, 2019

Dear God,

Out of obedience and Your own beckoning, I am here. I really didn’t want to put this on paper as I feel that I am beginning to sound like a broken record. Actually, more often than not, I KNOW I sound like a broken record in my prayers and pleas. I’m just glad that You can see past it, into my heart, and know my deep love for You. Though my trust obviously wavers, my love does not. I’m a work in progress and, as Your word declares, always will be until the day that I meet You in Heaven. Help me to be more moldable, teachable and trusting, dear Lord. Help me to trade in my fear and fret for unwavering trust and contented dependence.

Each time I come to a crossroads, such as when a project falls through, You always come to my rescue. It may not be in my preferred time, but it is always in Your perfect time. I KNOW this from experience. You have a stellar track record and yet, if I’m totally honest, this living on the edge, not knowing from where my next paycheck will come, wrecks me every time.

Lord, today, I just need to hear from You. I need to KNOW and to hear once again that I am on the path that you desire for me. And, if so, help me to squash my disbelief and rest in the knowledge that You will take care of me just as You have promised and proven time and time again. Help me to hang on to You and not bail or let the enemy steal this time with which You have blessed me; this time to move my purpose forward.

I NEED You, my Father. Every moment of every day. I am nothing and I am useless without You. Come close and allow me to hear Your heart. Amen and Ehmen.

Dear Child,

My desire is not that you are perfect as we both know is impossible by virtue of your humanness.

Instead I cherish the moments that you are real and honest with Me; for it is when you pour out your burdens and fears to Me that I am able to refill you with more truth and love; more fuel to keep on the path I have set before you.

While I wish you would fully trust Me, I also understand when you waver. The most important thing is that you keep coming to Me and laying your burdens at My feet; for when your burdens are at My feet, the enemy cannot use them against you. He knows that I will crush him with a single strike of My heel should he try to snatch them.

You can come to me anytime. I will not grow weary, My child.  I know that you have fears; fear is a common human condition and has been since the days of Adam and Eve. Why do you think “Fear Not and Do Not Be Afraid” appear so many times throughout My Word? You are not the first to need reassurance and you will not be the last. I’m okay with that, as long as you continue to come to Me.

I love you, child. Unconditionally and Completely. Eternally. Even when you don’t understand My ways, trust in My love for you and know that you can always approach Me anytime you desire. Everything else will fall into place. Thank you for spending time with Me this morning. Now, just breathe and watch me refill you with My goodness and faithfulness.

Message Received: Back to Work!


Work at it with all your heart scripture

Since the moment I embarked on this self-employment journey over a year ago, I have felt that this is exactly what the Lord wants for me as it requires me to fully depend on Him.
Still, if I am completely transparent, not knowing where or when my next paycheck will come can be more than a little unnerving at times.
This morning was one of those times, but instead of spending precious time worrying, I turned to God in prayer. As I prayed, I felt a nudge to open the daily bible app on my phone and this is what jumped off the screen.
Oh, sweet Jesus!
The Lord has used this verse many times in my career life and it always seems to be when I am at a crossroads or in challenging times. Needless to say His timing is always perfect. Message received.
Back to work!
Amen and Ehmen!

 

There is Direction in Connection


dear godJune 11, 2017

Dear God,

It’s been a tough few weeks. Well, actually, while the situation has been tough, my reaction to it has surprised me. Never in a million years would I expect to be this calm and, dare I say even excited, about being unemployed for the first time in almost four decades. I can see Your beautiful fingerprints all over this and I know that I know that THIS is the answer to my prayers and to the many prayers spoken on my behalf during a most tumultuous year. Finally, I am forced to settle into the faith that resides inside; to nestle into Your lap and watch you work. It’s time to put my faith where my mouth is; to practice what I preach; to trust You unconditionally. I am ready, but ask that You help me along the way. I am sure I will have my moments, but I know that with You by my side, I can do anything that You lead me to do. Help me, Lord, to remember that and to keep my eyes fixed on You as I continue this exciting journey into your will and my purpose. Amen and Ehmen.

Dear Child,

You are right to see this situation as an answered prayer and am pleased that you are committing to following my lead into your future. So many of my children, you included—despite desires otherwise—tend to see living by faith as a risky investment. The fact is I Am the only sure thing you will ever encounter prior to arriving in Heaven.

Jobs end. People leave. Money and things disappear. But, I, My dear child, will always be here and am the same loving parent as I was yesterday, am today and will be tomorrow.

Brenda, it has grieved My heart to see you go through such pain and suffering with your job. It especially saddened Me to lose connection with you as you struggled to keep your head above water this past year. This was never meant to be. Remember, My dear one, that nothing can ever separate us. I simply cannot and will not allow it.

Romans, 37-39: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.…

And, so, here we sit. You are right where I want you, child—right beside Me. Close enough that you can feel My heartbeat and hear My voice. Your future of prosperity is wrapped in peace and your purpose contains more joy than you can imagine, and are all found in Me. I am the safety net for which you have always dreamed. All I ask of you is to connect with Me continually and to know that it is in that connection that I shall give you the direction and wisdom you seek. I love you, child

Today’s Prayer


Our broken hearts reach out to You. Our deflated spirits struggle to find You. Oh, how I want to stand in the face of evil times and to be the reflection of hope that You promise, but sometimes I, too, am overwhelmed by disappointments in my own life and in the lives of those around me–my friends, my family, my neighbors. I get disillusioned by the evil that lurks just beyond our walls; the darkness that all too often breaks into our most secure places. Although, Lord, it seems that evil has no boundaries, I know in my heart that it does–and that boundary is You! Hold us tight, Father. Protect us from evil, for Your name’s sake. Comfort those that are hurting and help me, Lord, in my time of need and waiting. Help me to remain thankful; to learn in the waiting, and to reflect You in all that I do. I trust in You and give my present and future to You. Mold me. Melt my heart and reshape it so its desires are your desires. My hope is in You. I love You, Abba. Amen and Ehmen.

The Doctor is In.


Note: My work high-jacked all my time and energy again, but now that I have a moment, I wanted to post the last two days of my 7-day commitment to spend time with God every morning. Though it was a long 85-hour work week and it was extremely tough on me physically at times, I can honestly say that this extra focused time on God helped carry me through with spirits intact. He is the Great Physician. Looking forward to continuing to connect with Him on the written page. Be blessed.

February 7, 2017

7:00 AM

Dear God, it is Day 6 of my commitment to meet you here daily for seven consecutive days. Unfortunately, I only have about 30 minutes this morning as I have to get to the office. Fortunately, I dear godknow that I can learn and do more in just a few minutes with you versus years without you. You are incredible and I am happy that you are in my life and in me. This morning, God, I pray to you about the way I’m feeling physically. Please help me to bring all things going on in my body back into order. My week ahead for work is intense as you know and it will be very difficult to maneuver it feeling like this. I love you, dear God, and it is in your son’s name that I pray. Amen and Ehmen.

Dear Child,

I’m sorry you are not feeling well, but you have come to the right place. You live in a fallen world and your body is susceptible to all kinds of undesirable things. But, as long as you stay close to me, I will help you navigate even the most menacing of them. Healing, my child, comes in many forms. Sometimes I simply wipe out the illness as you, yourself, have experienced. Sometimes I use medicines and physicians. Sometimes it is immediate and sometimes it takes time, as I know you have also experienced. Your job is to believe, to trust in me, and be thankful in both cases. Trust, dear child, is an area that you struggle with and that is okay. As long as you come to me, I will continue to teach you as long as it takes. We are in this together. You must always remember that.

  Isaiah 41:10

Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
“For I am with you

 

Happy HIMdependence Day!


I am finding more and more truth in the old saying, “time flies” these days. In fact, the older I get, the old tick-tock seems Happy HIMdependence Day! Finalto sprout bigger and faster wings, hijacking the moments and carrying each and every one of them far, far away. If we’re lucky, the good ones land somewhere in the recesses of our memories to be retrieved and enjoyed many times in the future and the not-so-good just keep floating into the dark abyss of time never to be recalled again or, better yet, they wind up in God’s toolbox where He repurposes them and turns each into something useful.

Actually, the truth is, God promises to always use our stuff. He says so many times throughout the bible and most expressly so in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to his purpose.” Notice, He says ALL things; not just some things, but ALL things. All He really wants in return is our unwavering love, another fact that He reminds us of throughout His word, such as in Matthew 22:3, when Jesus himself spoke the greatest and foremost commandment of all: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

My prayer today is that all of us learn to love God just like that—with all our heart, soul and mind—for I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is that kind of love that leads to full trust, obedience and dependence on Him and full dependence leads to guaranteed fulfillment of the purpose for which our Father created us. And that, my dear friends, will ultimately lead to the words we all long to hear straight from the lips of our Awesome God: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done!” Oh, how incredible that will be! I know it’s almost July 4th here in the United States, but this year, I say let’s forget Independence Day and start celebrating Himdependence Day!

Amen and Ehmen!

Prayer to the Almighty Puzzle Master


Writer’s Note: This is an excerpt from my personal God Journals written several years ago as I was going through a particularly rough patch. Things were changing in my life, some painful, some confusing and all of which would turn out to be the beginning of a whole new journey for me, an exciting journey that has brought me to this place at this time, a place in which I live and breath closer to God than I ever imagined was possible. Never give up on God, my friends, because He never gives up on you! This I can promise.

Hey, God, it’s me again.puzzle pieces heart

It’s 5:11 in the morning and though I’m concerned about not getting enough sleep, I felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit that I should go get my computer and write a little this early morn. I had prayed last night for the Holy Spirit to come upon me and inspire my writing so that I am writing what you need me to write. So here I am.

When I look back on my life at the difficult times, I can always find positive things that came out of the hardships I faced. All believers can do this, if they truly have faith and trust in You. That faith and trust is what allows us to give up dwelling on the negative and firmly grasp the positive. It has been my faith and trust in You that has gotten me through this most difficult year. And, though, I am still in the midst of trials and tribulations, I can actually see Your masterful and powerful hand moving throughout my life, shifting the puzzle pieces around, snapping them in place, one at the time. It’s my faith—my  ability to see the puzzle picture of my life slowly coming together—that keeps me going.

I’m finally learning that we can’t just grab puzzle pieces from anywhere and try to force fit them into our lives, because if You didn’t put those pieces in our puzzle box, they’re simply never going to fit. And, who wants a puzzle that doesn’t fit together? No, I don’t want to create my own picture anymore. I want You, the Creator of the universe,  to be my artist, because I know that Your picture for my life is better than anything I can possibly come up with on my own. Indeed, the sooner I give You full reign and complete creative license over my life, the sooner my picture will emerge as the true work of art, the truly purposeful life I was created for.

God, I wholeheartedly, give it all to you. Right now. Take me and take my talent, work through me. I only want to write your words, words that please you, words everlasting.

Thank you for giving me these gifts. I commit them all to you.

I love you, God.

Amen and Ehmen

And our Almighty Savior says:

Isaiah 14:24: The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.

Jeremiah 29:11:  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 hope and a future.

Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Isaiah 55:8:

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything your could imagine.”