If They Only Knew by Trish

Recently I turned the big 4-0. My husband, Marc, and I had an amazing time in Miami for my birthday weekend where we were able to rest, take in the sights, and spend quality time together in such a beautiful city. It was everything I could have wanted. 

One night while driving around the city, we were listening to some worship music and I could not stop the tears from falling. I began crying and turned my head to the window so as to hide the nonstop flow of tears. As best as I could I tried keeping the sobs in, but I was overcome with gratitude and whatever song was playing was only cultivating the appreciation in my heart for God and all He has done for me.  God has been so good to me and I could never say thank you enough. While life is far from perfect, it is not short of God’s blessings and His faithfulness to me!

Marc said something to me and I managed to answer him without turning my head. He thought something was wrong and when I turned my head he was obviously curious as to why I was crying. All I could say was, “I’m just grateful.” I went on to say that people have no idea my story and all that God has done for me.

Earlier that day we had visited a friend in South Florida who my family actually lived with at one time in our life. We faced a devastating season in our lives and were forced out of our home not because of finances, but because of racial persecution in our small town. We packed up a U-Haul without knowing where we would sleep that night. My Mom said, “I can either take you kids to stay with family until I get on my feet or we can stay together in a family shelter.”  I remember knowing in my heart that I didn’t care where we slept as long as we weren’t separated.  As we put the final things into our moving truck to take to storage, our sweet friend drove by. When she learned of our situation, she opened her home without negotiation and we lived with her and her dear husband for a short period of time until we found our permanent home in the lovely town of Mt Pleasant. The name spoke for itself, our new season was one of pleasant restoration.

Sometimes you have to look back at where you’ve come from to offer God another “Thank you” for saving you and providing for you! At the age of 40 I’m mindful of my single mother who was on welfare, raising two biracial children in a community during a time that wasn’t as accepting as it is today. Statistics would assume I would be a product of the “system” but God’s love trumps any and all systems and statistics.

My tears were not of sadness, sorrow or pity, they were tears of joy and gratitude. My story is not more important than yours because we all have one, and all of our stories matter. It has led us to who and where we are today. 

If you only knew my story, you’d know why I love Jesus like I do. If you only knew, you’d know why quitting in life is not an option. If you only knew, you’d know why I am grateful for the past 40 years and look forward to the many years of His faithfulness to be revealed all the more in my life. 

Friendships That Last by Sonya

Friendships are key and a lot of times they are a reflection of who you are. I am finding as I get older that true friendships, which are solid, are a treasure. I truly treasure my friendships as they are the people that carry me through the hard times and celebrate the good times. We are not meant to go through life alone and Jesus always surrounded himself with close friends. His disciples were is backbone to help him in everyday life. Friendships build that community for you and they shape the person you are.​

Since friendships do have such an impact and influence in our lives and that is why it is wise to choose friends that will build you up and guide you to God’s truth and love. Proverbs speaks a lot about friendships and what type of friendships to have.  Proverbs 27: 6 says, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” Just think, your true friends that stick with you are the ones you can trust to be honest with you about areas you need to maybe grow in as a person. Those friends may share things that you need to work on and hold you accountable, and it can be hard to hear like a wound you’ve gotten when you fall, but it is worth the pain to refine you into the person God desires. Now opposite are those friends that can be deceitful and only looking out for themselves trying to tear you down.  These friends may seem they have your best interest at heart, like kisses you feel love from, but in the end they just want to take advantage of you. The enemy wants nothing more than to see you fail and that love is meaningless. Unlike a sincere friend who is always wanting the best from you and sees “you” for “you.”​

Therefore, pray and ask God to give you wisdom on your friendships.   It is so important because the type of friends you are invested in does speak volumes of your life. Proverbs 27:9 and 17, “the heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Having that wise friend that brings out the best in you is key and gives you strength! Don’t settle for anything less when you look for friendships because these genuine friends are built to last.  Look to those biblical friendships as they are a reflection of who you are and what you value. It takes time to find and invest in those lasting friendships but it is worth it to know you have friends that have your back! ​

Taking Care of Business by Bombi

Putting the needs of others before your own can be an honorable thing.  Sometimes though, the lines can get blurred. Like when you’re a parent, or in ministry, or you are in a place or position where you are constantly meeting needs, you might find you’ve forgotten your own needs. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you had a good night’s sleep, or ate a proper meal, or even had a full glass of water.

“But I want to be more like Jesus!” I feel you, I do too. But if we are giving for a living, we need to remember to fill up. What I mean by fill up is to take care of ourselves in the natural and in the spiritual. Even God rested on the 7th day of His work. If rest was necessary to God it’s necessary to you. 

Many times we find ourselves giving out of our own need. I know there have been seasons when I needed something, but I had to give it first, I needed a friend, but I had to be one first. But when all we are doing is giving and not stopping even once to fill our own cup, eventually we run empty and find ourselves stranded, and in some cases we cease to really live.

Recently my husband has turned a new leaf. He pulled out his old running shoes, put them on, and just ran. He started changing his diet and drinking more water. The result is he’s sleeping better, he’s more energized and alert. He’ smiling and laughing more. He’s happier. Even his skin is glowing! He’s filling his cup back up.  He’s taking better care of himself and I love it, because I love him. I want him to be around for as long as possible and when he takes care of himself, he’s taking care of us. He’s taking care of business.

Taking care of business shouldn’t be a thought for just your boss, or your family, kids, spouse, etc. It includes you. You are a human being with the same needs you are helping to meet in others. In the midst of your daily hard work, don’t forget to help yourself. Treat yourself. Pray for yourself. Do for yourself what you would do for your loved ones. Okay, you read this whole thing, now go take a nap J

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” Genesis 2:2 (NIV)

The Power of Prayer by Trish

Just recently I was watching the news and heard the tragic story of a little boy who went missing while playing with his cousins outdoors. The family lived near a wooded area but it was unknown if he had wandered off, or if he was kidnapped. It was a tragedy and I cannot imagine the horror this family went through. Instantly I said a prayer for his safe return. As of a couple of days ago the news broke that the little boy was found, unharmed, with only scratches from his two days in the woods where he had wandered into. 

I know there were countless prayers across the country for his safe return and it was nothing short of a miracle that this young boy survived the weather conditions, and was safely returned to his family. What if there was no one praying? God longs to hear and answer the cries of His children. He delights in the faith we place in Him. In fact, without it, it’s impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6) 

I was speaking to my best friend the other day who happens to be “Supermom,” she’s amazing! She was sharing how one night she encouraged her two young children to pray with her. As they sat down, she said, “Let’s just pray in the Spirit and if God reveals something to your heart, pray it out.” Her young son tapped her leg and said he felt like God was showing him a little boy in Africa and called him by name, saying he no longer wanted to go to church. My friend said, “Well, keep praying to see if God shows you anything else and we will believe that God will turn this young boy’s heart back to church.” We will never know the outcome of this story on this side of heaven, but I believe in my heart that a little boy in Africa is turning his affections back to God and to church and the prayer of little boy here in the U.S. was used by God for this to happen! 

Now, I know many of you reading this would say, “That is too far-fetched.” But as you nurture your relationship with God and spend time in prayer, the Holy Spirit will reveal things to you and teach you how to pray specific prayers in faith.  

I remember when I moved to Phoenix years ago. I was 18 years old and I move there with nothing but $500 in the bank, and a whole lot of faith. I was trusting God for a car, and I knew what I had to work with wasn’t much, but I trusted the Lord. Each morning my precious mentor would require me to meet at 5:00 am for prayer. I hated it at first because I wanted to sleep, but it instilled a lifestyle of prayer in me.  One morning, I felt God lay on my heart to spend 3 days praying in the Holy Spirit during my lunch break about a car. This was on a Monday and for 3 days I obeyed and prayed. In my mind I thought I was praying about a car I was going to get. 

The final day of my 3-day assignment was on a Wednesday and that night, coming home from church, I was in horrible car accident at one of the busiest intersections in downtown Phoenix. Someone running a red light struck us on my side of the vehicle.  That pushed our car over to the curb, beyond the lanes of where oncoming traffic would be. Thankfully, there wasn’t any oncoming traffic at that specific time. My side of the car was so damaged I couldn’t open my door.  I remember searching my body to see if anything was broken or cut and nothing.  I climbed out of the driver’s side and was completely fine.  My mentor was also coming home from church and saw the scene of a bad accident. I saw her car pass by and screamed her name. She turned around and drove me home that night. I walked away with only a bruise on my chest from the seatbelt, and a back that just needed a good adjustment. All parties involved were fine! As we drove home I was quiet and just thanking God for His protection when I heard God speak to my heart, “This is the car you’ve been praying over for 3 days.” I still get emotional when I think of this story.  

Sometimes we think of prayer as a checklist or something we do to “clock in” our time with God when actually prayer is for our benefit.  The Holy Spirit guides us and teaches us things to come. The Bible says that even now Jesus is at the right hand of the Father praying for us. If Jesus Himself has a prayer life, how much more do we need one? 

Prayer with the Father is so much more than making our requests known although that is part of it. It is communion and sweet fellowship with the Lover our souls. The One, who created us, knows us by name and even knows the number of hairs on our heads. He knows you, He loves you and He longs to hear your voice in prayer! 

By the way, the end of my story is sweeter still.  By Friday of that same week, God laid it on the hearts of a beautiful couple to give me my first car. God is good and His mercy endures forever!