I Know Who I Am

I know who I am…that may sound silly…of course you know who you are…you’ve been you for nearly 7 decades…that’s almost laughable…why would I even make a statement like that? Because…there was a ME that I thought I was…that I wasn’t…Does that make sense? There was a ME who felt victimized by life and people and circumstances…there was a ME who longed to be accepted by others…that ME who hid because she was afraid that if that other ME showed up…no one would want ME as a friend…so I created a ME that would fit in…that would be liked and received by all of THEM…you know THEM…THEM…they are the people that I thought I had to be connected to…they would prove to all the OTHERS that I had worth and value…and that I was good enough to be with THEM…I lived my life like that for so many years…that I didn’t know who ME was…I lived my life as an actor in a play that I had created…allowing ME and THEM to write the script…and WE created my narrative…I even seemed successful at it..the ME that I was then…seemed like she was doing well…but the real ME was slowly dying…until HE…stopped it…until HE placed a sign over my heart that said…closing…final act…the play had ended…HE took away the power from ME AND THEM…because HE was truly the ONLY POWER…and HE began showing ME…ME…and do you know what? I liked this ME…she was funny..and smart…and more powerful than I ever thought she could be…with all of her flaws and failures…HE showed ME what I had been missing by not surrendering to HIS script…HE writes so much better than THEY do…and HE writes much better than I do too..I am so proud of the ME that HE designed…I see life authentically now…and when I encounter THEM…I am ME…Authentically ME..oh…it took time…and tears…and turmoil…to allow HIM TO UNCOVER ME…but…after the process… guess what I found? I found that THEM didn’t know who THEY were either…WE ALL needed HIM…now that I have HIM…HE keeps reminding ME…who ME really is..yes sometimes…life and circumstances and people still victimize ME and try to make ME forget…but…HE…opens HIS mouth…and knocks on the door of my heart…and says…I am HIS beloved…and HE is mine…and I welcome HIM in…and HE sits with ME…and we talk…and the ME that HE designed is affirmed and restored and she refuses to settle for any other ME…than the one HE created her to be…I KNOW who I am…Do you KNOW who YOU are?

“We have become His poetry, a recreated people that will fulfill the destiny He has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!” Ephesians 2:10 TPT

Father…thank you..for the process of discovering who I really am in you…for giving me identity in you…for realigning my hopes for restoring my worth…for finding me behind my mask…and gently removing it so that I could breathe in new life in you…I am forever grateful… and Lord with your power I will live to help others find who they really are in you too…in Jesus name

He Knows My Name

He knows my name…how can the God of the universe…the One who flung the moon and the sun….who hung the stars…who tells the ocean where to go…who numbers the sand on all the beaches in the world…who never confuses night from day…who gives the birds different songs to sing…who paints the sky with His huge hand…who places a tiny seed in a woman and creates all Humanity…HOW??? HOW CAN HE KNOW MY NAME? Why would He care to know it? He cares? Really? Have you ever been in a life cycle that caused you to question…does the God who created everything really care about little…old…me? Does He really know what I am going through? I am sure that at some time…the answer would be YES…AND EMPHATIC YES…I have wondered…YES…I HAVE WONDERED…But…do you know what I discovered in those moments of disconnect? I have discovered that it was ME..who had FORGOTTEN my name…it was me who had drifted from the “green pastures”…it was me who had fallen into an identity crisis…and the God who holds the entire universe on it’s axis…the One who called nothing into something…the One who dispatches the wind..and subdues the storm…He whispers…He seeks me…His Love begins a search and rescue…and YES…HE CALLS ME BY NAME…HE FINDS ME…

IN HIS WRITTEN WORD…IN HIS PREACHED WORD…IN A CALL OR A TEXT FROM A FRIEND…IN A SONG…OR SIMPLY SITTING QUIETLY AND OBSERVING HIS CREATION…HE FINDS ME…AND HE CALLS ME BACK TO THE SAFETY OF HIS ARMS…YES…HE KNOWS MY NAME…AND HE KNOWS YOURS TOO…HE WILL LEAVE THE 99 TO FIND THE 1…AND HE CALLS…HE WHISPERS…COME BACK TO THE SAFETY OF MY FOLD…I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD…AND MY SHEEP KNOW MY VOICE…I HAVE NAMED THEM…AND WHEN THEY FORGET WHO THEY ARE…I REMIND THEM…WHO THEY BELONG TO…AND IDENTITY IS RESTORED…AND PEACE RETURNS…I AM REASSURED…HE INDEED KNOWS MY NAME! AND HE KNOWS YOURS TOO…HIS LOVE ALWAYS FINDS ME AND IT WILL ALWAYS FIND YOU TOO!

“To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:3

Lord…when I forget who I am…when I wander away from your side…when I fall into the place of despair that attempts to redefine who I am…I am grateful for your rod and your staff that gently nudges me back to your fold…and reconfirms how your love will always find me…I am grateful that you know my name…and that you love to call me to your side…thank you for being My Good Shepherd…

I Am The Church

Our church recently purchased a building…a beautiful building…that we rehabbed and made an amazing place to worship God…

I have been a member of this church for the past eight years.. I walked through the doors the second week of it’s existence…services were first held in a movie theater…yes…a movie theater๐Ÿ˜’…I remember thinking…”Jesus…please don’t crack the sky now…Lord..I’m worshipping you and the smell of popcorn is everywhere…how can this be right”? Where is the steeple? There is no discernable altar…No communion table…

But…Lord..I have never felt your Spirit more…so I stayed…I knew that God was there…and He wanted to do a new thing in me…

We worshipped in this theater for a little while…and then migrated to a local high school…

I have always been connected to a church that “looked” like a church…they were always well established..but this…was new…I had gone from a”church building member” to a “tent dweller”…we stayed in this school for a little over six years…this experience has changed my perspective of what church really is…it is not about a building…but it is more about the hearts of the people…My personal doctrine was flipped upside down…for years I focused on the external…how I looked…what I wore… and how well I understood the “culture” of the church…if you knew protocol…you were seen as a “good church member”…my theology shifted when I recognized that I AM THE CHURCH…that it is not about brick and mortar…but about a heart filled with the knowledge of a loving God… and a life that heralds His Word…so wherever my feet go…in whatever domain I may influence…I AM THE CHURCH..I thank God for our new church…the building….but I thank Him more for fully teaching me that His spirit is not contained in a building…but instead in the hearts of His people….my theology has been corrected…how much I love, worship and serve God has nothing to do with brick and mortar…protocol or culture…but it’s all about my heart…that is where His Spirit truly resides..contained in each one of us…is the church..

So…people may NEVER go to a church…but because I am one…whenever they are in my presence…they are in attendance…๐Ÿ˜Š

1Peter 2:5

You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Lord…as I go through the day..as I meet people…as I engage with others…remind me..that I am a lively stone that is part of an invincible building called the church…let me present always as a church that you have rule over…in Jesus name

The Gift I Didn’t Know I Needed

Last night was my Christmas party with some of my sister/friends…I love our connection…I love the thread that God uses to keep us together…I marvel at how differently similar we are…our origins are as far as the north is from the south…but our hearts are synchronized by the rhythm of our Father…as we sat in the restaurant grouped together at several tables…I began to admire the strength of these fearless women…how each one walks through the uncertainty of life with a tenacity that encourages me to refuse to give up…I know these women…not by what they do…but by who they are…we have a “being relationship“…not a “doing relationship“…there is no performance involved in our connection…we can simply “be”…

be happy…be sad…be full..be empty…be focused…be off course…be relentless…be weak…

This fearless group makes allowances to simply “be“…a judgment free zone…where tears and wild laughter are both embraced…we love each other because He assigned us to each other…He seamlessly stitched our hearts together…

They help me…when life is hard…they have become “my soft place to land”…

We celebrated Christmas last night…but…my heart celebrated the God of Christmas…the One who came to deliver…to comfort…to reconcile…to restore…as I looked around that room last night…I saw all of that there…deliverance…comfort…

reconciliation…restoration…it was all there…in the faces…in the voices…in the lives…in the Sisterhood…as we ended our evening…and said our goodbyes..as we walked out with our gifts…I glanced around quickly at each one of them…I had gifts in my hand…but the God of Christmas gave me a much greater gift…a heart giftSisterhood…women who not only love Him…but love me too…and…oh how I love them…Sisterhood…the gift that I didn’t know I needed…priceless…thank you Lord…Merry Christmas๐ŸŽ

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Lord…thank you for the gift of sisterhood…thank you for a safe place to simply be…thank you for women who are comfortable simply being…thank you for allowing us to grow…and develop without having to perform…thank you for teaching us unconditional love through the gift of sisterhood…in Jesus name

We Always Triumph

I love how with Christ…we always win…even when we think we are losing…He has exacted a plan that will cause us to triumph…

We celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday…and as I sat with my daughter and her family…we laughed and talked…our lives are busy…and having these close intimate moments do not happen often anymore…she is my oldest child..and she and I have weathered difficult times together…times that her brother did not share…we were the dynamic duo for several years…it was just the two of us against the world…we would snuggle together in a house that was too cold in the winter…and we would sleep on the couch downstairs in that same house in the summer…because it was too hot to sleep upstairs…she walked blocks with me because as a single mom….I couldn’t even afford public transportation…we dreamed together of a life that was less stressful…and where our home would be one that we could be proud of…

Yesterday…as we seamlessly reconnected all of the loose ends that time and space exact…I found myself quietly thanking God for the triumphs she and I have had…I have watched God shape her into this incredibly talented…compassionate woman…who wears the hats of wife…mother…teacher…gifted psalmist…and a genuinely sweet person…I remembered those difficult days…when our future seemed so uncertain…and when after a failed relationship…I felt defeated…I wasn’t sure how my sweet girl would navigate through this world that I felt I had created for her…I remember the guilt and often the despair of giving her a life I was not happy with…but yesterday as I reflected…as I watched this awesome woman of God…I heard the gospel being preached through her life…”Now thanks be unto God which always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place” 2 Corinthians 2:14…so many years ago…I wasn’t sure if my daughter and I were winning…actually…it seemed like we were losing…there were dark moments…and times of despair…but…GOD…through His great mercy…shouted at me yesterday…on that special day that we set aside to give thanks…He said…”Mary…you and your daughter…are winning…you always were and with me…you always will”…I hope wherever you are in your journey today…no matter how bleak it looks right now…that you will remember what He says to each of His daughters daily….”you’re winning…you always were…and with Me…you always will!” Remember that….keep it close to your heart…we win…we never lose…even if we feel like we are…we’re not…we WIN!

“Now thanks be unto God which always causes us to triumph in Christ and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

Lord…thank you for giving us great victories…for lifting us above our circumstances…for creating in us all that we need to live triumphant lives…in Jesus name

Stories

What holds you back? What stops you from being great? What keeps you stuck? What STORIES are you rehearsing? Our pastor is teaching this wonderful series on being “exhausted”…not so much in the physical sense…though it absolutely impacts that as well…but more spiritual and emotional…He reminded us of the STORIES that we rehearse over and over in our minds that exhaust us…it may be a negative thing that someone spoke to us that created a new perception of ourselves…it may be a careless declaration of who they thought we were…so many reckless words that created lasting destruction in our souls…

Loser…Stupid…Worthless…Liar…Cheater…Idiot…Mistake…you fill in your WORD…the WORD…becomes a SENTENCE…then a PARAGRAPH and finally a STORY…YOUR STORY…it shapes and frames our lives…it speaks louder than the voice of God in our lives…because we give strength to the story each time we rehearse it…it becomes stronger than the STORY that God has written for us…and we begin to live the lie of the new STORY…if we believe that we are losers…we don’t even try…if we believe we are stupid we refuse to be challenged …if we believe we are worthless we reach for little…if we believe we are liars…we spin the truth…if we believe we are cheaters…we use people…if we believe we are idiots…we live reckless lives…if we believe we are mistakes…we learn to settle for less…whatever your word is…it begins to teach you exactly how to live it…and it causes indescribable pain…and clouded vision…it exhausts you…I don’t know what STORIES you have filed and catalogued in your memory bank…but I know I am learning to search for the malware in my soul…and am applying the antivirus of the WORD OF GOD…I am asking God to rewrite the STORIES…I will believe what YOU say about me…I will allow YOU to restore what I’ve lost…I confess that at times I have allowed the enemy of my soul to believe that what he has written has more weight than the true Author…I know that my STORY is great…and that my value is immense…my worth is rich and my future is bright…because that is who the AUTHOR is…and every book that He writes is a best seller…today…I choose to only allow His pen on the pages of my life…How about you?

“Lord I confess that I have listened to stories that have caused me to lose who I really am…I have given more weight to what others have said than what You know…Lord forgive me…restore the me that You know…and lead me to the life that you desire me to have…in Jesus name.”

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

God Has Not Forgotten You

God has not forgotten you…

Have you ever felt like God has forgotten you? That somehow He has closed His ears to your voice…That everyone else has grabbed His attention… that you like the little kid who was last to be chosen for the team… stand with you head held down and your heart crestfallen…He didn’t pick me…what’s wrong with me…what did I do that caused Him to walk past me…and like that small child…you begin to feel the sting of tears welling up in your eyes…and the inner voice begins to speak…if only I was smarter…if only I hadn’t done that…if only I had listened more…if only I had been better…maybe He’s mad at me…maybe He doesn’t love me as much as He said He did…maybe if I was more like her…maybe He would have chosen me…maybe my prayer would have been answered…and as the tears find their way down your face…you feel a quiet stirring deep in your soul…whispering…”I heard you…I hear you…rest in me…I always choose you…I answer you in the way that is best for you…you may not understand the delay or the pause that has made you discouraged…but trust that I do…trust that you are right where I have placed you… be at peace with this place…there are lessons to be learned here…a new grace to be found here…and a deeper love for me to be gained here…I have not forgotten you”

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Lord…when I feel like you have abandoned me…please embrace my heart with your love…remind me that if I feel distant from you…it is me that has moved…not you…thank you for always loving me…even when I don’t feel you…in Jesus name

Jesus Loves Me…This I Know

Have you ever felt the presence of God so strongly that the tears refused to stop flowing? You can sense His firm embrace on your life…you can hear His voice speaking with words of love and affirmation…the questions that seemed unanswerable are now simple…burdens that dropped you to your knees… are now lighter than feathers…people who seemed difficult fade into the glory of His presence…I can’t explain the unexplainable…I can’t describe the indescribable…I only know how amazing it feels when the God of all creation stops to remind you how very special you are to Him…how your prayers summon Him to your side…how your sorrows stir His compassion…how your burdens become His as He graciously lifts them from your shoulders and places them on His…I become aware of the great weight of His glory…His beauty in my life becomes crystal clear…These moments with Him I want to last forever…I linger with Him…and He gently eases me back into my day…I walk away lighter…lifted…prepared to face whatever is awaiting me…to command the blessings of the God who loves me enough to sit with me and restore my hope…repair my vision…and reestablish my purpose…did I tell you that I love Him? I am fully persuaded that He always and dearly loves me…have you had moments like that with Him?…oh…I hope so…they are precious…and life sustaining…these are the times that give me assurance of the words of the first gospel song I ever learned….”Jesus loves me…THIS I KNOW…for the bible tells me so…little ones to Him belong…they are weak…but He is strong…Yes Jesus loves me…Yes Jesus loves me…Yes Jesus loves me for the bible tells me so”…..

Colossians 3:12a TPT

“You are always and dearly loved by God”

Lord…thank you for sitting with me…for embracing me…for loving me pass hurts…and failures…through darkness and valleys…thank you for your unconditional love that always finds me and gives me peace…in Jesus name

My Strength

Psalm 28:7 King James Version (KJV)
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

Have you ever thought about this scripture? I mean really thought about it? I was walking through the pages of my life when I stopped and thought about each time…God was my strength…how when I was collapsed in a heap of jumbled emotions…He came along and gently lifted my broken soul…when I was a much younger woman and had no real moral compass…He sent His people to bring direction…when the cold hand of death knocked on my door and spirited away a loved one or dear friend…He allowed me to fall into His arms and weep in His chest…He stayed with me and gently rocked me to sleep…and when the wounds of betrayal and deception assaulted my heart…He sat as a compassionate physician and poured His healing balm on that broken heart and He whispered “grace words” that inspired me to continue on…when sitting in a crowded room….and I still felt alone…He sat alongside me…and said…”I am with you“…when challenged financially..somehow…(I still don’t know how)…He provided…when I was sick…He nursed me back to health…when I was confused…He course corrected my wayward mind…He has been my strength…when I didn’t even know He was there…He is my strength as I sit here and reminisce about all the roles He plays in my life… and He will be my strength as the calendar of my days tick away…He ALONE is my strength…somehow…today…this truth has given me amazing peace…My hope is that it summoned peace into your heart today, too๐Ÿ’•

Lord…thank you for this wonderful reminder…no matter what thing is happening in my life…I don’t have to search for strength…because you are my strength…you are my strong tower…thank you for allowing me to run in whenever I need to…I am grateful for your great love toward me…In Jesus Name

An Unoffendable Life

Offense…the very word stings when it rolls off of your tongue…it hurts…it wounds…it creates a new narrative…what once was…is no longer…a friendship…a marriage…it happens…in families…on jobs…in neighborhoods…in communities…in governments…and even in the church…something is said…an action is taken that someone did not like…what once was loving and kind is now cold and uncaring…it erects walls…and denies access to pieces of your heart…it removes the love of God and replaces it with the bile of anger…moments that were good are forgotten…and only the dross of offense is digested…the words…the actions…the feelings are repeated over and over again…they consume your consciousness and invade your dreams…offense must first be acknowledged…because we can not be healed from what we do not admit…then we must release it…to the God who can remove the pain and begin to pour His oil of forgiveness on the deep wound in our hearts…He massages it with His word…He cleanses it with His grace and He restores it’s equilibrium…offenses will come..some intentional..and some unintentional…they will make you cry…and cause you to question why…but they will not change your heart…if you quickly send your pain heavenward..if you will relinquish your rights and embrace His righteousness…oh…it may take some time…because forgiveness is a process…but if you are determined to live an unoffendable life…if you truly desire to forgive like Christ…you will find yourself reaching out to the hand that slapped yours…you will discover a power that had laid dormant… until you realized that it was there…He wants us to prove to an offended world…that by His power…by His Spirit…with our undistracted obedience…an unoffendable life can be achieved….I am intentionally pressing in to find it…How about you?

“You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity.”

Colossians 3:12-14 TPT

Lord…teach me your ways…show me how to live an unoffendable life…help me to love the unloveable…when I am offended let me quickly forgive and… when I offend…make my heart pliable and quick to begin the process of reconciliation…make my heart like yours…in Jesus name