Losing to Gain

I was blessed to speak at my church this Sunday on the thought, “Losing to Gain.”  Click on the link below to hear a short segment of this message.  What have you had to lose since following Christ?  What has been your perspective on your lost?  What have you gained?

When God Changes Your Mind…Celebrating 14 Years of Marriage

I never set out for all of this to happen, at least not so soon and not quite like this.  Him? All of them?

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No they were not in my real life plans.  I left for the University with big bags and big dreams.  I had declared that I would not become a Mrs. until I earned my PhD.  Yes I was on a mission, my mission. Then I met this young man name Tyrone at the 22 Illini bus stop on 2nd and Chalmers in Champaign.  I had no clue that this meeting would forever change my life.

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I came home that faithful winter break my junior year of college.  I was full on the outside but was empty and hurting on the inside. Salvation had been a long time coming.  The church was having a revival and my soul desperately desired to be revived.  I had been running, and when I stepped foot in that church I stopped.  It was then that God began to change my mind.

I went to the altar and said Yes to Jesus.  3 years later on August 11, 2001, I went back to that same altar and said yes to Tyrone.  The vows I uttered were poetic but for the record, I had no clue what I was really saying yes to.

  • I did not know I was saying yes to Jesus at another level inviting Him to use my marriage as a tool to go beneath the surface and do some spiritual deep cleaning.
  • I did not know that I was saying yes Jesus please begin a deeper process of changing my mind, changing my agenda, changing my plans and changing my heart.
  •  I did not know I was saying yes Jesus use this marital relationship to prune me, to show me the depth of my selfishness and pride, and teach me true submission.
  • I did not know I was saying yes God, overthrow our five year plan and let the babies start coming after year one, and continue to come for that matter!

The” for worse” part came sooner than thought.  We had some extreme lows (full display of flesh, hair loss, income reduction, sick babies, shed tears, and anger) but these lows created a greater surrender, pressing out a “yes God go ahead and change our minds because you know best.”

The beauty and the challenge of getting married young is that you get to “grow up” together.  We have seen God perform surgery on our hearts on more than one occasion over the last 14 years.  God has birthed beauty from great pain and closeness when the enemy sought to tear us apart.  My love for this man has gone deeper than I thought possible.  All of my initial plans have not been accomplished but here I am 14 years later thanking God that He changed my mind!

 

Rose Colored Glasses

 

This is another post from my 2012 archives but still very relevant.  Hope it blesses you!

We were sitting at the table having a lighthearted conversation over lunch when Joel asked me what I was like when I was younger.  Before I could give him a long poetic answer as to how wonderful, special & loveable I was as a child, his sister blurts out, “SHE WAS A HEATHEN!”  I was shocked and totally caught off guard by her response.  I have had previous conversations with Naomi about my past and explained to her that I did not always serve Jesus, I did not acknowledge the one true God so this made me a heathen.  I didn’t expect her to repeat this, at least not now.  Not in in my moment to shine, not in my moment of bragging to my first born man child as to how special his mommy was.

Isn’t it so tempting and easy to look back at our past through rose colored glasses?  If we are not careful, we allow the enemy to trick us into believing that it was better back then.  This can grow seeds of discontentment leaving us longing for a yesterday that really wasn’t all that wonderful, especially if we didn’t know Christ.  How often do we look at our present life and think it was so much better back then…but was it really?  We need the truth of God’s word to remind us how much better things are TODAY because we know Him. Even if we don’t have the perfect spouse, perfect job, perfect children, perfect home, etc… things are absolutely positively better because we know JESUS!

In what areas of your life have you allowed discontentment to creep in, leaving you longing for yesterday?  Do you feel like you look back at your past through distorted lens?  What can you be thankful for TODAY?  How is your life better today, have you thanked God for the change?

 

But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:62

 

 

 

Paleo Friendly Jamaican Recipes

I was blessed to be born on the beautiful island of Jamaica.  August 6th was Jamaican Independence Day.  In honor of this day, I have included some links to yummy Jamaican recipes.

I come from a line of Jamaican women who cook really well.  They however, rarely follow recipes but the food is always ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!  My mom came over this week to teach my first born how to cook some basic Jamaican food (perhaps she can capture some measurements from Grandma).

 In the meantime I recently found the website Cook like a Jamaican.  They have a host of delicious recipes that can easily be altered to become Paleo friendly.

Visit this link for Jamaican Curry Chicken Recipe.  I typically omit the potatoes when making curry chicken.  This dish is traditionally served with rice.  However to make it more paleo friendly you can serve it with cauliflower rice and a salad.

I was also really excited to find the site Jamaican It Paleo.  Plantains fried in coconut oil is a regular in my house. It satisfies that sweet tooth!

I love love love Jamaican beef patties, they bring back many fond memories of going to Morant Bay when I was a child and getting a beef patty after we were finished shopping at the market.  Here is a recipe for a paleo beef patty.

Do you enjoy Jamaican food?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Spiritual Deep Cleaning

Note:  I first wrote this post in 2012 but thought it was worth reposting today.

I was on a mission to clean my house the day before my 34thbirthday.  I thought this was an appropriate birthday gift for myself.  Forget the flowers and candy, I just wanted to sit on my birthday and look at a clean house with everything in order.  While I was on my mission, my tenacious two year old had his own agenda.  He was looking for some candy.  He knew that I often kept gum in my room, out of their reach.  As I was cleaning, he was searching.  I stepped out of my room for a few minutes and when I returned, Elijah had moved the ottoman from the front of my bed in hopes that he would find gum there.  Instead of finding his treasure, he found a mess of clothing and random things that had fallen on the ground and had been covered by the ottoman.  When I walked in the room, I looked at the mess, and did what any sleep deprived, mission oriented, I just want my house to “look” clean if only for a day mother of five would do. .. I pushed the ottoman back in its proper position and hid the mess again.  PERFECT.  As I pushed the ottoman back in its ‘proper’ place, I muttered to myself, “I just don’t want to deal with this today.” My focus was to clean the surface…only what could be seen.

 

How often have we taken this approach with our walk with Christ?   We come to the Lord and we cry out, “Lord clean me, wash me, mold me.”  All the things that sound good, the things we think God wants to hear.   But as He begins to clean (purify) us, He pulls away the spiritual ottoman if you will that have been covering our mess.  God uses different methods to expose our mess and to keep us accountable.  He uses His word (written and spoken), our spiritual leaders, brothers and sisters in Christ, and by directly speaking to us. Of course this is not an exhaustive list. Sadly we often do what I did the day before my birthday. We push the ottoman back to cover the mess.  Too much work to be purified.  We want to remain on the surface. Lord don’t start shifting stuff and showing me how “dirty” I am, my imperfections.  It is more comfortable to appear “clean” as opposed to allowing the Lord to go beneath the surface with us.

But consider this, I would have had to be the one to clean up the exposed mess in my room that day.  However, it is not the same when God shows us our mess.  He doesn’t expect us to clean ourselves, He does the job for us!  He just wants us to humble ourselves and surrender to the process.  We don’t have to get it right on our own!  Isn’t this awesome news?!   Are you resisting the deep cleaning that the Lord wants to do in you?  Allow Him to do it, you won’t regret it!

 

Psalm 51:7

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;   wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

 

Disobedience Opens the Door to the Enemy

God’s word and my personal experiences have taught me that disobedience opens the door for the enemy to oppress me.   Disobedience is an invitation to God to lift His hand of protection from my life.  Daniel 1 says that the Lord gave the enemy the victory over His people because of their disobedience.  Also in Judges 13 we see the Lord allowing His people to be taken over by the Philistines because of their disobedience.  These are just two of many examples in scripture.

It is not realistic to think I can insulate myself from trouble because it comes knocking on everyone’s door.  However, I want to walk in obedience so that when trouble comes knocking it is Jesus that answers the door.  When He answers, I ALWAYS WIN.  I do not want to evict Jesus through my disobedience.  I desperately need His protection.  I cannot do life on my own.  I cannot fight the devil in my own strength.  I just can’t.  He is a real enemy.  When trouble comes my money, my degree, my connections, NONE of them can provide a lasting protection.

For the record, the enemy is ALWAYS on the attack.  He is a relentless foe.  He is so serious about doing his job well…to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  I cannot afford to be left uncovered.  There were seasons of my life where I walked in disobedience and the scars were there to prove it.  There were painful consequences that I had to deal with even after receiving Jesus’ forgiveness. The price that I had to pay for disobedience was not worth the pain.

God always requires obedience.  We don’t get to pick and choose when or what we obey. A pattern of disobedience brings consequences.  There is no way around it.  God puts restrictions and instructs us for our own good and ultimately to bring Him glory.   The beautiful thing about God is that He asks us to obey but also gives us the grace to do it.  He wants His children to close the door to the enemy and claim the victory we already have in Him!  There are tremendous rewards now and later for those that obey.

Are you being attacked by the enemy?  Do you feel like you have the victory or are you being devoured?  Are you walking in obedience?  If not repent, receive God’s forgiveness and grace and begin to do ALL you know you should do.

And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:17(NLT)