I think the hardest thing for me was learning to love myself. I’m 27 & God is showing me how to do this. He’s showing me the ins and outs of my heart & it’s been an adventure to say the least. The kind that is breathtaking but takes time to get to that beautiful mountain top view. He’s teaching me who I am. He’s showing me myself through His eyes. He’s demonstrating how to have healthy boundaries and even healthier relationships. I’m learning loving yourself takes intention. It takes purpose. It’s the same way when you love someone else. It’s not by accident or by mistake. You have to choose everyday to learn who you are. Loving yourself isn’t an overnight success. It’s a life long process of learning what it means to be comfortable in your own skin, in your words, in hearing the sound of your own laughter, and allowing yourself to feel all of those feelings that encompass your emotions. It’s a daily decision of picking up your cross and learning what that cross entails. It’s learning to meet yourself exactly where you are. Loving yourself is the greatest lesson you’ll ever learn because you are heavenly royalty. Spread love the Christ way.
6:45 AM alarm nudges me awake. So I wake up. Shower. Pray. Make lunch. Get ready. And rush out the door. This is my Monday through Friday morning schedule. 10 times out of 10, I’m always running late. But the odd thing is, before this job, I was an on-time punctual kinda girl. At the onset of this job, I was that girl. The kind that shows up bright eyed and fresh faced half an hour early with a smile on my face. The kind that sings through the Monday morning blues and laughs through the Thursday afternoon anticipation. But something shifted the more time I spent at this office and while I am filled with gratitude to have had this job, my morning glow has faded. I’ve become that always-rushing-to-work typical New Yorker. And I hate it.
I hate rushing past the freshly bloomed tulips on the corner. I hate looking down at the concrete as my feet hit the pavement. I hate missing the clear blue skies after a rainy yesterday. I hate missing the faces waiting for the infamous G train. I hate ignoring the guy drawing on the train or the girl painting her face with concealer with a dog between her feet. I hate not being in the moment.
As I was quickly walking down to the train this morning at the exact time I had to be at work, my head was full of thoughts. My round eyes caught the sight of the orange and yellow tulips but I didn’t take it in. My legs were doing a fast dance with the rain as if I were competing in a salsa show. And my brain was full to the brim with thought after thought and it was exhausting. The kind of exhausted that grabs you after you’ve jogged 5 miles on an 85 degree sunny morning.
In a split second, I had the most challenging thought I’ve had in a while. I felt Jesus ask me, “What if I were walking with you right now?” Just like that, I slowed down and pictured Jesus walking to the right of me. God challenged me in that moment to be in the here-and-now; in the present. And as I became intentional about walking with Jesus, I felt such peace. There is something powerful about walking with a friend and allowing yourself to be in the moment. You see and hear things differently. You experience life in a whole new light.
I walked down the stairs into the subway station and I saw the girl with the lavender hair. I heard the conductors voice loud and clear, “Next stop, metropolitan avenue.” I saw the rain drops quickly falling. I was in the present not threatened by my every thought. In that moment, all that mattered was I was walking with Jesus. When Jesus was with His disciples, He walked with them. They talked and walked. They laughed and walked. They walked together. They were doing life together as they walked. They were all in the moment, in the here-and-now, in the present. They didn’t allow life’s demands to cloud their relationship with the Lord. They were intentional about spending time with Jesus. In the same way, we have to be intentional. We have to make time at this time, right now.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from group therapy, which is a requirement for my group therapy class; it’s how powerful it is to bask in the moment. In the moment is where working through happens. In the here-and-now is where you can feel what you feel. In the present is where you have the potential for growth, for healing, for love.
My question to you today is: if you were walking with Jesus, would that change your pace?
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.
- Love is humble and zealous. That means you lay down your own desire and eagerly desire the well-being of the one you love.
- 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?
- Love does not keep a checklist of what people have done to you. It is forgiving.
- 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
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24
This is a dangerous prayer. David was so bold when he asked God to search him. I’m in a season of God revealing to me things within me that need work; things that do not lead to the way everlasting and it’s hard. You feel bare and naked. You feel exposed. But here David is giving God access because without that invitation, God is not going to force His way in. God is patient and has given you free will for a reason. So if you don’t give Him access to search you, healing won’t happen. Now God doesn’t need to search you, He already knows your heart. But David is saying, “Okay God, you can come in. I invite you in to help me, to mold me, and ultimately to heal me.”
Because the moment you give God that invitation, you are on the road to healing. You are on the road to wholeness. David says, “Lead me in the way everlasting.” What he’s saying is that he can’t get himself to wholeness. Another yoga class or deep breathing exercise is not gonna get him on the right path. Another bible study class or life group isn’t going to open the door to fulfillment. Another diet or self help book isn’t going to set him on the straight and narrow. But Jesus is. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” These things might help but you need to allow God to search you so that He can heal you from the inside out.
Jesus can bring light where there is darkness. He can set you on the right road when you are lost. He can guide you out of the lies and into the truth. And the truth is, we all need work. I know I do! We are all a project only God can take on and bring to full completion. The bible says God brings every good work He begins in us to completion; you know why? Because He loves you, He cares for you, and He’s concerned about the smallest details of your life. He wants you healed that others may be Healed too. The way everlasting is to say “Hey, Jesus, come on in. There’s more than enough room for you.”
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.
“I said, “Here I am. Send me.”” – Isaiah 6:8 NLT
An entire week later & I am officially back from Cuba. I think it’s safe to say I didn’t want to be back, I wanted to be caught in the whirlwind of Cuba & it’s love. But sadly, I have to face reality. Although I’ll be sharing a more in depth post, I want to share a little journal entry I wrote from my second day in Cuba along with a gazillion photos!
It is now my second day in Cuba and it’s nothing like I thought it would be. Although I tried to come with zero expectations, a thought of “what if” always creeps in. I came with a belief that poverty ruled this country but what I have found is a people rich with humility, simplicity, and love. I have found a country rich in culture and wealthy in personality. In the U.S., there is a huge market for entertainment in the churches. Although that’s amazing, there is something so profound and yet so pure in the churches here. I see the gospel in its purest form that even if words are not spoken, the gospel speaks on its own. It speaks volumes through its makeshift “home” churches and tattered hymn books. Before coming to Cuba, I believed I needed to change my church to attract more people but in doing so, the mission of God was lost in translation. The gospel need not be made attractive, it stands on its own; we are simply vessels God has chosen to translate that message in the form of love. This is what I have found in the heart of Cuba; to love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and to love people as yourself.
This was in the pastors home.
If you’d like to watch a little video I put together , click here !
- “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
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