A spiritual house

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“As you come to him, the living stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” –1 Peter 2:4-5

I recently brought my youth I teach through a series titled “living loved” and we focused on the life of Jesus from His birth to when He performed His first miracle. One thing they kept bringing up was if Jesus was always all knowing from birth. And I stressed that just as Luke 2:52 says, Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man just like we need to do. He wasn’t born with all this biblical knowledge and spiritual maturity, He needed to grow in  it. The same is true for us.

Sometimes we want to rush the process of being molded and built into a spiritual house but it takes work. It takes willingness of heart and spirit in order to become who God has called us to be. We need to be content in the process allowing God to build, to add, to take away, that we would be mighty soldiers for the kingdom of God. I’ve learned what God does through us on earth is for spiritual kingdom purposes. Whatever your current walk of life, God is using it to prepare you for future preordained plans. So my encouragement for you today is to allow God to build you up which may sometimes look like a breaking down. God is the holy potter that wants you to explore with Him what needs to go and what needs to grow in order for you to be built into a spiritual house.

Love is patient, Love is kind.

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Being that Valentine’s day just passed, I want to address the huge elephant in the room. The one in the form of bubbly hearts, expensive chocolates, even pricier roses, and cuddly teddy bears. One thing you should know about me is I love valentines day; not for the excuse to eat chocolate but because it’s a great reminder to show love and be love. And to put it simply, we all need reminders. We need to be reminded to be kind and patient. But mostly, we need to be reminded to love even when it’s hardest to love because that’s when it counts. But what exactly is love? Not that artificial, high caloric, sugar drenched love made by humans on valentines day but that real, authentic, raw, unconditional love.

The other day I was watching a movie on Netflix that really got me thinking about human love versus godly love. In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul the apostle was writing a letter to the church at Corinth. In this letter, he addresses many things the Corinthians were concerned about. One of those things was love. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, it says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always, hopes, always perseveres.”
I’m sure you’ve heard or read this somewhere. But I believe God wants to remind you what you have forgotten or maybe what you haven’t known. Let’s break down these verses and really reflect on the nature of Gods love and how we can reflect the love of Christ.

  1. Love is humble and zealous. That means you lay down your own desire and eagerly desire the well-being of the one you love.
  2. Love is self-less and slow to anger. This means it isn’t selfish or quick tempered. Next time you do or say something to someone, question your intentions. Is it for personal gain or godly reward?
  3. Love does not keep a checklist of what people have done to you. It is forgiving.
  4. Love is always honest. It isn’t merited on human standards but on biblical truth.

Godly love is without conditions. This simply means whatever you do cannot exempt you from the love of God. In the same way, our love for others should not be contingent upon what they can do for us or what we’ve done for them. It should rest on who our foundation should be: Jesus Christ. 1 John 4:8-9 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” We need to love as if we are living through Jesus. This means we must be his hands and feet, his heart and ears. But this can only happen when you place God as “the one” for you before a wife, a husband, a girlfriend, or a fiancé. Knowing the love of God first hand places you in a position to spread love the godly way. Let us strive to love as God loves us.

Watch my spoken word poem “The One” on youtube here

Meet Maria

I kind of squealed a “let’s go see the horses guys” before walking off to be extra touristy with my iPhone 6+ in the middle of the campo in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. Thank goodness a few of my team members followed behind me as I snapped a gazillion photos of the less than mediocre brown horses patiently eating yummy grass. Being born and raised in New York City, you don’t see horses just lounging around. You catch the occasional police officer perched on top of a horse but for me it’s a rare sight. So the inner city girl was joyous each time I saw one of these majestic animals. I must have driven my teammates insane with the “oh my gosh, I love horses” for the hundredth time. But thankfully they were patient with this city girl.


As I walked away from the horses, we all walked down the broken streets of colorful homes. Everything seemed pretty silent until I stopped to say hello to a few kids sitting outside. After introducing myself, they all seemed pretty intrigued. Before I knew it, my team and I were walking down the street & a whole crowd of about 12-15 kids gathered around us. It was amazing! They asked tons of questions like where we were from & how long we were staying. Ironically enough, they knew we were with the church without us having to say anything.


As I spoke with them & asked them questions, I noticed the cutest little hotdog (or a dachshund for you dog lovers) waddling past me. Because there are so many stray dogs in Cuba, I knew better than to pet just any dog. But when I saw the cutest little lady following behind this even cuter dog, I asked if it was hers and she said yes. So I leaned in to pet my new little dog friend Suzy. Too bad Suzy was not at all friendly. She was too scared of this super smiley New Yorker chasing after her to pet her than anything else. So I settled with not petting her & began to speak with her owner whose name is Maria.

After a few introductions, Maria asked us what we were doing in Cuba & I shared we were working with the church just up the street. Because it is still illegal to have or build churches in Cuba, the Cuban people turn a portion of their homes into a church. So I pointed her in that direction & she wanted to know more. One thing led to the next & I asked her if she had ever heard of Jesus Christ. As she leaned in closer, her eyes full of questions, she shook her head no.

Without hesitation, I told her how Jesus died on the cross and three days later he rose again to show her that not even death could invade the love he has for her. I told her how Jesus wants to have a relationship with her. As she listened intently, I knew how much God loved this woman. He loved her so much that he sent his only son Jesus to die for her that she may have eternal life. In that moment, Maria was famous in the kingdom of God! She was famous because Christ died specifically for her. And not only her but for you too.

It was in that moment, I knew God strategically placed me on that road, on that day, in that hour, that Maria might know Jesus’ love for her. He set up a divine appointment that Jesus would divinely intercede from the throne through me. I was so humbled to know the truth of Romans 10: 14-15 which says, ““How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”” God sent me so Maria would know Him. That is the good news of the gospel; the faith of Maria in that moment activated the power of the gospel.

When I asked Maria if she wanted a bible, she eagerly said yes. I asked my leader Mark for a bible & helped her understand it a bit. With my leaders suggestion, I told her to start reading in the book of John & she said okay.


As she was getting ready to leave, she made me promise her I would come back to her home for coffee.  And so I promised her knowing God would bring me back. And thank God, two days later I walked up to her little home who’s walls were made of wood & called out, “Mariaaaaa”. Surely enough, she called back & as I made my way in, Maria’s bible was on the sofa because she had been reading it.

Maria nestled into my heart in such a profound way that I understood the power of Gods love for you, for me, and for the entire world. 

Perfect Peace

  • “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Isaiah 26:3

This year has been difficult to say the least. It’s been full of tough decisions, taking leaps of faith, and things I have no control over. From death, cancer, to trusting God to do what only He can do; One thing that has remained constant is the peace I feel in my heart. Through the chaos of life this year and its sadnesses too, I have truly had a peace that surpasses all understanding. I’m learning if a decision you have to make is of God, you will have peace.

If you keep your mind and heart focused on the things above, on Jesus Christ, peace will guard your heart no matter the waves that threaten to overwhelm you. This peace comes as a direct result of having a relationship with Christ Jesus. The peace God gives isn’t like the peace the world gives. His peace is perfect and is constant. It does not mean you won’t mourn or cry but it does mean you won’t respond to your emotions first. With the peace of God, you’ll respond to His voice before anything.

  • “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27 NIV

  • “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

  • “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Psalm 61:2 NIV

Thank You

I want to take this time to extend my heart felt thank you’s to everyone who donated to my Cuba missions trip that I will be leaving for this Saturday. And also to everyone that has prayed and is praying. I am so blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity. Because of my family, friends, and even strangers, I went over my $950 goal so thank you so much. I’ve learned many things during these past few months but there are three I’d love to share with you in this newsletter.

  1. The first thing I’ve learned is: God is faithful  – More than a few months ago, when this trip was just a small thought on my heart, I had a God given dream. In that dream, my father was giving me a $700 bill in my right hand. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a $700 bill. As the weeks went on, I thought maybe my dad would be generous and give me some money but I was thinking far too small. When I decided to make the gofundme account, I was extremely humbled because I don’t ever ask for money. On the contrary, I’m usually the one paying for friends when we’re out to dinner or the movies. So taking that leap of faith was difficult. Nonetheless I did it and one night after prayer my sister texts me and says to check my gofundme account. Faithfully enough, my donations went up to a total of $755. I’ve learned what the bible says is true; Gods word never returns to him void. Whatever God says will always be accomplished. God was and is still faithful.
  2. The second thing I’ve learned is: You have to be in need for God to provide – I’ve realized being in a position of need sets the atmosphere for God to provide and fill that need. If you don’t have a need larger than yourself, you don’t need God’s intervention. It isn’t a fun place to be but how else will you see God move unless you need a miracle to be performed in your life? There needs to be a lack of something in order for it to be supplied in abundance.
  3. The third thing I’ve learned is: The center does not mean comfort – I used to think the moment I got everything I wanted, I’d be the happiest girl in the world without any cares. But I was very wrong. I’ve learned being in the center of God’s will does not mean comfort-ability. You may be exactly where God wants you but that means you are filling a need greater than yourself. Being in the center of God’s will means being stretched, refined, and poured out for others to be built up. The moment I entered the center of Gods will meant achieving the purpose of Gods intentions for my life.

When I asked God if He really called me to this missions trip, I was reminded of Isaiah 43:1. It says, “I have called you by name; you are mine.” Just as God called me to Cuba, I know God has called you to do that thing you’ve been putting off. It may be to start school again, to accept that proposal, to take that trip, to leave your current job, say yes to starting that organization; whatever it is, God has called you by name. And the moment you say yes, it won’t be easy because anything worth doing will be difficult, but you are Gods and He will lead you and teach you along the way. . .

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Step Out


A few months ago, I was faced with a really tough decision. I had applied to be a sociotherapist in a foster care agency for behaviorally challenged children and teens. More often than not, these kids are on psychiatric medications so it’s a really demanding position. But it was one of my dream jobs. My parents had been foster parents growing up so I knew the challenges these children faced in the system. I wanted to help them, to be a support system for them, & to motivate their families into positive change and growth. I prayed for these kids even before I got the job. I prayed for their freedom & their growth. I even prayed for their families & their futures. And I got the job! But now I was faced with the decision if I should take the position. . .

Here I was, newly graduated from college with a bachelors degree in psychology, in school for my masters in mental health counseling, with a job that didn’t pay all that well, & I was struggling to decide whether or not to jump on this amazing  opportunity. I wrestled in prayer but for some reason I knew I couldn’t take it.

So one day as I was waiting for the bus, I saw a pamphlet on the floor. It was a windy day & oddly enough that piece of paper did not fly away. So I walked over to it & I saw these verses on the paper:

“Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters, They see the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep.” – Psalms‬ ‭107:23-24‬ ‭NKJV

Immediately I thought about the job. But that’s not all I thought about. My heart welled up & I thought of that missions trip I had been researching for months. & now I was torn. What did God want me to do?

I wish I could say I took the job but I didn’t. I declined the position & started to pray over the missions trip. And amazingly enough, God opened a door & now I know what those verses meant. God was speaking His promise into existence. God was saying, “I know you’re scared. I know you’ve never done this. I know you’ve never even taken a flight alone. And I know this would be stepping out of your comfort zone but it’s only in stepping out that you will see my glory.”

When we step out in faith, we choose to say that we don’t know what will happen but because God does, you’re gonna do it. When you step out in faith you choose to go down where there is no light & be the light. When you step out in faith, you might not know who you need to speak to but God does, so you rest in that. When you step out in faith, you walk through the open door to see Gods miracles first hand.

I am so excited to say I’ll be going on my first missions trip to Cuba in August! I won’t know anyone but I choose to step out into the middle of the ocean & let Jesus be my lifejacket. So I ask that you’d all keep me in prayer! 🙂

As always, be encouraged , be empowered, and be blessed!

Confessions of a girl and her hot chocolate

I’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks but as my procrastination and perfectionism has it, I’m just now getting around to it. It’s been an interesting start to 2016 & to put it simply, a little difficult. I’ll be the first to admit that I love to put pretty pink bows on the days when I struggle. When I struggle to read my word, to make time to pray, and to drag myself to church; I like to put a nice smile on and act as if I’m not at all pushing my feet that feel as heavy as iron. So I’ve vowed to God & to myself that I’ll be as transparent as possible in this post.

About a month ago, my grandma passed, so off I went to Puerto Rico. To be honest, I didn’t want to go. All I wanted to do was pawn off the responsibility to someone else like my sister. I didn’t want to be the “strong one”. I didn’t want to “carry the load”. I didn’t want to be the shoulder that my dad had to cry on. I didn’t want to be the very person that I’m studying to become: a counselor. But as the day got closer to get on that 3 1/2 hour flight, I prayed God would fill me up with his peace and confidence. I prayed that I would be the leader that I needed to be for my family. I prayed for strength. And ultimately, I prayed God would use this trip to reveal His greatness. And because God is so faithful, he answered every prayer.

I don’t remember much about my grandmother except that she was a devoted woman to God. I can remember maybe 3 occasions where I met with my grandmother and it all had to do with God. She wore a white veil over her head to pray. But I don’t remember kindness or love. And that’s the truth. My grandmother was a prayer warrior. She left behind a great legacy that are far and few in between. She didn’t have riches, great possessions, or wealth. But she did leave behind planted seeds of prayer. And prayers don’t have expiration dates. They don’t have death certificates. So although I didn’t know her, I know of her and what I know may not include love, kindness, or patience; she did leave behind a legacy of prayer.

As I was on this trip, I came face to face with what it means to live a set apart life. It means giving up all that your flesh loves and desires. It means choosing to pray when you don’t want to. It means dressing modestly because you love to represent God. It means not gossiping or taking part in it because it hurts God, it hurts the other person, and it hurts you . It means giving without expecting in return. And how many of us give and expect at least a thank you? I want to live a life that when I give to someone in need, they thank God first. But living a set apart life means choosing to set your sights on heavenly things above. It means choosing to intercede for those you love day and night. It means picking up your armor and choosing to fight the very real spiritual battle that is going on. Living a set apart life means accepting where someone is, not necessarily liking it, and loving them anyway. It means showing love to the least and the greatest. Jesus didn’t discriminate. He was set apart by glory and we are set apart by love.

God confronted me with the truth that He chose me, just as he chose you, because He loves me. He chose me not because of the gifts He’s given me but because He’s placed His love within me. And I’m not meant to keep that love. I’m supposed to give it away. I’m supposed to show it to others.

I’d like to say that I came back completely delving into Gods plans but the truth is, I’m a work in progress and as long as I’m here, I’ll always be a work in progress. And I can’t make any promises because I fail everyday but I hope that I can love on people because Jesus chose to love on me. I want to leave behind a legacy of not only being a prayer warrior but of someone that loved people regardless of where they are, someone who gave selflessly because that’s what Jesus would do. I want to leave behind a legacy that doesn’t draw the attention to me but points straight to God. My prayer is that my life would always reflect God and His love.

Here are some pictures from my trip to Puerto Rico 🙂

  
  

As always, I pray you are encouraged, empowered, and most of all blessed ! 🙂