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A friend that sticks closer

For this blog, I want to share about two things… loving others… and being grateful for those who love you.

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of spending time with a friend who visited from out of town. We don’t often get to see each other due to distance and we don’t even get to talk much on the phone or chat through messengers… Life seems to get the better of us both in one way or another. But every few months, my friend journeys for 4.5 hours to visit with me and my son and our close friends.

We will call him ‘T’. T has been in my life for a long time. He’s been there through all of the times I’ve moved to different apartments. He’s been there when my car broke down and I needed a ride. He’s been there through almost all of my ups and downs during the last 5 or 6 years.

This last trip, as he has done almost every other time he has come to visit, he takes over my kitchen and essentially cooks up ‘a storm’. As he spent all day in the kitchen on Saturday..making some time consuming savory dishes, I couldn’t help but to recall all of the times, he did that. He is the type of friend that would come to your house, bring  or buy a wad of groceries and just make a whole lot of food for you. And he has done this every time that he has visited my house…wherever I am living. He’s the type of friend who doesn’t seem to mind if you have a bed or a carpet, as long as he has a place to crash. And he’s the type of friend who selflessly gives of his time without fret or complaint. Although a short visit, he was able to make dinner for a vegetarian, a couple of picky eaters and me. And made enough leftovers for about 2 weeks.

Why am I going on about this? T was my guest. In all fairness, he drove 4.5 hours to see us. I should have been the one to cook and serve. Instead he took the opportunity to serve us.

As a single mom who has very little time to prepare fancy meals, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the fact that T took it upon himself to make us food. But there is also something to be said for the fact that he was willing to take the time to drive all the way from his city to spend time with me and his other friends.

In my estimation, this is what real friendship looks like. And I am truly grateful to have him in my life.

I wanted to share about this, because I think it’s important to be grateful for the people that God has placed in your life. Sometimes we can get so carried away about what our friends are not doing in our lives that we forget to think about what they are doing. If we have friends who care enough to be present in our lives. Who take the time to be there for us…, who use their gifts and talents and try to make the day a little brighter, a little less stressful… we should thank God for these people. And we should also let them know that we appreciate them.

On the other hand, I think many of us could take a page out of T’s book. We could try a little harder to go the extra mile… and take a trip now and again to see friends who are not very close by. We could put aside some of our ‘busy-ness’ (which is essentially used spending time on social media) and just make time for the people that God has placed in our lives. Can you cook? There’s a friend somewhere in your life that doesn’t like or have time to cook. Perhaps you can make him/her something. Can you do laundry or do you like cleaning? There’s a friend somewhere in your life who hates folding clothes or who hasn’t been able to clean in a long time. Perhaps you can drop by for a few hours and help out. We shouldn’t always expect or want for others to treat us well, when we don’t even make the effort of treating others well. Distance should never stop us from exercising the love of God. The word of God tells us that ‘there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (Prov 18:24).

I don’t know about you, but I welcome such friends in my life and I aim to be that friend to those who are in my life.

Always remember that despite where you are, or how much you have or what’s going on in your own personal life, you can always be a good friend to those whom God has placed in your life.

 

 

 

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Be grateful

I’m still here!

Spent the last few days in the hospital with my son running diagnostics and trying to understand some things. While I was there, I had the opportunity to sit next to a few people and their children. Many of whom were complaining about things. I’d like to say these things were ‘First World problems’ 🙂 Stuff such as ‘why are they taking so long, I have a hair appointment!’. One woman exclaimed to another who appeared to be her sister, ‘He never does the dishes! It bothers me!’…. Yeah First World problems.

But one of the things that really stood out to me was this woman scolding her son (probably) 2 year old son because he kept running around the sitting area in circles. She was not impressed and appeared to be very impatient. Now I’m all for discipline. But I couldn’t help but think about my own child and his issues. Every time he reaches a milestone, I am so excited that I take photos and videos, I message my best friends to let them know. Even after 15 months, he still isn’t walking on his own. But as he cruises around the house and as he uses his little choo-choo walker toy, I’m amazed and I am grateful because 15 months ago, even 7 months ago, the reports about his health were not promising. Every single day I am grateful that he is alive and getting stronger.

Flash forward to my mom, who has diabetes and suffered a stroke at 48, and can hardly walk until this day, I have to be grateful for the fact that I can walk and run and dance in circles if I want to. You see, on one hand, my little Man, is fighting to prove to everyone and himself that he can walk and so each day we take baby steps together. My mom, 58+ years old, has lost her motor function, and to be honest, she walks at the same level of my son.

When I thought of that this morning, I began to just make up songs of gratitude because even though there are things around me that aren’t ok, I am grateful for the little things that I am able to do.

Walking, sitting, standing, jumping in the car, putting on makeup, tapping buttons on our smartphones….

Let’s move on to some unrelated things, like thanking God for the things that we do have. Like friends and family who care, food in our house, the benefits of living in Canada…

You see for every complaint you can possibly make, there is also something that you can be grateful for.

My encouragement to you today is therefore, to really just think on the things that you do have instead of what you don’t, and think of the things that you can do instead of what you can’t. And be grateful for those things. Don’t let the devil influence you to focus on the negatives. Every time you feel you will open up your mouth to complain about something, just say “thank you Lord”. Trust me, something will come to you that you can be grateful for. And giving thanks to God really shifts the atmosphere and allows him to work in our lives.

 

Be blessed and have a great grateful weekend.

The Secret to a Great Life

To close off this week, I want to talk about one last thing I got out of the Encounter Weekend.

At the end of the Encounter, I watched about 70 women get up and testify about what God had done for them that weekend. They all had different stories. And while I could empathize with each of these women and what they had gone through in their lives prior to the encounter, I realized something…

Everybody has a story.

There are days when I think that all hell is breaking loose in my life or that things are just really crappy. But when you listen to these women, if you truly want to compare your pain… you will realize that ‘you got it good’. No matter what you are going through, someone always has it worse.

For every testimony I heard, I couldn’t help but realize how blessed I am. I might not have a perfect life, but I am blessed.

At the end of all those testimonies, I was truly happy for each of those women and what God had done in their lives. But I was also had a deeper appreciation for everything that God has done in my life.

I am grateful for every time He blocked me from dating people that were going to be the death of me (even when I didn’t think they were).

I am grateful for every time He protected me from harm.
I am grateful for every time He provided, He healed, He delivered.

I am grateful for the things that He has done, that didn’t make sense at the time. And perhaps still don’t.

In this very moment, I realize that the reason why we are always so cranky and we feel so crappy is because we allow the mirrors to be focused on us and all on the negatives in our lives.

Turn the mirrors outward and let it reflect on someone else and you will start to feel a little more grateful.

The secret to a great life? It’s not necessarily found in a self help book. It’s not in buying more stuff and getting more money. The secret …is continuous gratitude.

Get your ‘cute’ back!

I had the awesome privilege of spending an amazing Encounter weekend with my Sis. This weekend was incredible for me in so many ways. Many of you would remember my first testimony from my first Encounter where God gave me a totally heart transplant. My second encounter was not as great as I was not entirely focused. This time though, I was ready to kick devil butt. And he was in turn ready to keep me from receiving from God. I will try to elaborate more on what I received in this last encounter throughout the week, As God leads. But for now I just wanted to share a general message I heard.

Often we don’t realize the toll the world can have on us. On Friday when I got to the encounter, I noticed that many of the women who came were either frowning or angry. Or heavy laden. We don’t always realize that this is the toll of being in the world. I mean you can put on tons of makeup to cover up the stress on your face, but the fact remains that the experiences of this world can make us angry, bitter, cranky and just plain ol’ ugly!

Nobody likes ‘ugly’. And this is why it is always good to hide yourself in the presence of God for a while.

he that dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the almighty- psalm 91:1

The encounter weekends, enable you to do that. You see while the world can make you ugly…. Jesus can make you pretty again. And so if you can find time to just be in His presence, He will always refresh you, and keep the ‘ugly’ away.

My proof of this was seen at the encounter. On Friday night, about 90 women came into a room with all sorts of problems, looking weary and depressed … And on Sunday morning, they were all glowing. They got their ‘cute’ back.

So I now have a secret for how to get your cute back. Get into the presence of God. Don’t just do it once in a while. Do it everyday. I believe the results are better than any peel, any face lift, any hairdo.

…he restoreth my soul- a verse in psalm 23

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You’re doing okay

Each of us has his/her own set of issues. But if we ever consider the grander scheme of things, we are doing okay.

You might be feeling as if you don’t have enough money for a dress…but there’s someone out there who doesn’t have enough money for food today
You might be feeling a cramp here or there…but someone out there has been hooked up to a machine fighting for their life.
You might feel like you don’t have anyone to keep you company at night, but somewhere out there is a woman who fears for her life because of the abuse she is enduring…
You might feel like your kids or your parents are too much…but somewhere out there is a woman or family out there trying desperately to have kids or a kid out there desperately needing a parent.

Where ever you are in life, you’re good. It may not look good for you…but you are doing better than others.

We often magnify the smaller problems that we face over the many blessings we have….

Count your blessings…. . You’re doing okay. Continually make that declaration to yourself and to others: I’m doing okay.

Grace to live through the day

The more I become a part of this corporate 9-5 lifestyle, the more I dread getting up on Mondays. It’s not that I hate my job, but the supposed two days off for the weekend which are meant for “rest” never really works out that way. Somehow the weekends are spent cleaning, cooking and catching up on other chores and errands that I haven’t been able to do during the week. So when Monday comes around again…I am not too happy about it, simply because I really didn’t get a chance to ‘rest’.

To help with this problem…I painted my room….Candied Yam/Sweet Potato!

That does help some. Additionally I try to keep this little thought in mind regularly:

Every morning, present yourself unto God as one who is alive rather than dead. He is pleased when we are grateful and He will gladly give you more grace to live through the day. (Rephrased from the Deeper Christian Life by Andrew Murray)

When you can wake up and just go straight to the foot of the Cross and say “Daddy, here I am…alive!”, there is a feeling of thanksgiving. There’s  will be no grumbling or murmuring about the day. There should be no long deep sighs. There will be no depressed feelings. Instead, there will be a grand recognition, that you’ve made it throughout the night. And the same God who gave grace to keep you through the night, will give grace to keep you through the day. Even Monday.

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.- 2 Cor 12:9

A God who over answers prays

 

What are you asking for? Yesterday at church the pastor asked us this question. As I listened I realized that for one particular area of my life I wasn’t asking for anything specific. And funny enough, I realized that I was  receiving exactly what I was praying for- nothing specific.
As the pastor continued to share his experience about God’s marvelous hand, He said something else that really challenged me. He said that God over answers prayers.

As I began to study this during my morning quiet time, I realized that there is not a single instance where God didn’t over answer prayer. When Hannah wanted a child and she cried out to God, he superseded her expectations. When David was troubled about whether he could win any battle, often God would show up in an unexpected way. In fact, any example in the bible shows that when men pray, God Answers. The question is are we praying? Are we asking God to meet our needs? All of our needs. Not just those basic needs! But the nitty gritty things! Like the purchase of something nice for yourself! Or ten dollars to buy that Tim hortons drink!
There is a scripture that says that:
Are not all ministering spirits sent forth to help those who will inherit salvations? Hebrews 1:4
I had a vision once that all of these angels are just sitting around watching heavenly soccer because the believers had stopped praying. Can you imagine being employed to minister to the needs of people and the people won’t ask for anything?
God  is ready to pour out His good measure and grace! But he can’t do it unless we ask. It isn’t that he doesn’t know out hearts, but he wants us to ask Him so that we get use to Him as our Father. If we don’t ask, we don’t receive.
The bible teaches us that we have not because we ask not. Why aren’t we asking? Is it that we are afraid that God would disappoint us? Is it that we think that our requests are too big for Him?
God is ready to over answer our prayers. We should not stop asking until we have received!

Testimony #4: My Real Estate Agent

This testimony is about the leading of the Holy Spirit.

A few days ago, God ministered to me that everything happens in the right season and time. If it hasn’t happened, it’s not because He doesn’t want me to have it. It’s because He’s perfecting that which concerns me.

The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands. Psalm 138:8

So recently, this summer I realized that I had to move out of where I was. I hate change. I hate moving more. It’s so much work. But it had come time for me to find an apartment, and after a few years of living the ‘student life’, I really just wanted to have some place to hang my ‘own’ hat.

I hadn’t intended on moving out this month, because a. I couldn’t afford it. And b. I wanted to be done writing my thesis and graduating before I took off. Plus, I didn’t know where I would find a job. As I said yesterday, I was applying for jobs all over the world (i wasn’t joking about that!). So all in all, I was thinking I’d move in October.

But unforeseen circumstances pushed me to find a place. I began looking in my city. I really wanted to stay connected to my church for the time, so I was hoping that I’d find a place near the area. Mind you, i had no idea how I was going to pay for it. But I went looking for a place, and I wanted somewhere in the suburban part of the city.

It was the most frustrating venture I have had (apart from the other traumas that have been occurring). I just couldn’t find anything I liked. I can be pretty picky I’ve been told.

I got up on Wednesday morning and I decided to do my devotions by the river, because I have not spent much time outdoors this summer because of my research and then not feeling well and stuff. It was at the river that the Holy Spirit ministered to me.

“You’ve been doing this on your own. Tell me when you’re ready for my help”. 

Realizing that I had let the spirit of Pride in yet again, and became Ms Independent, I prayed. The Holy Spirit then asked me what it was that I really wanted in this house and what I wanted to pay. At the time I didn’t have the job, but I pulled up a number. And then I made a list. I wanted this apartment to be:

In a quiet, quaint area. I didn’t want white walls. I don’t want to live in this particular city anymore, but I want to be close enough to my church.  I wanted a large kitchen with two sinks! (I don’t get why some apartments only have one sink). I wanted my stove and fridge to match. And I needed a large countertop for when I am cooking. Oh. I wanted a sunroom. Because I like an area where I can do my devotions when it’s not cold. I wanted to be close to a river or lake….

I went on and on. At one point I felt bad for wanting so much. But i deserved it. And whether I had money or not, I know that my Father knew I deserved it and it was time.

Well whadduya know?!! The Holy Spirit became my Real Estate Agent. Once I was done yapping, I heard Him say,

“Okay I will let you know when I’ve found that. It’s probably not in this city though.”

As soon as I got back from the lake, I heard Him tell me to look at Kijiji in the next city. And it was like BAM. The first house that popped up on Kijiji had everything I had ask for at the price I had wanted! Even the Sunroom!!!

How awesome is our God? Just totally!!!

So my friend and I went to see the place and I immediately fell in love with it. It was just God’s perfect will. The owner actually told me that she had only put it up on Kijiji because she was only able to do all the cleaning that weekend.

I’m telling you, God answers prayers. And if we let Him take the lead and guide us, He will perfect that which concerns us. He’s just good like that. He literally became my real estate agent and He directed me to the right place at the right time. He gives the DESIRES OF YOUR HEART. But we have to believe Him and rely totally on Him and we have to tell Him what we want! He knows, but He wants us to tell Him.

So yea, I got my perfect place! And oh yea, all the financial details were taken care of miraculously.

I believe that He will do something miraculously for you too!

Encourage yourself!

No time for pity parties… says God. I’ve given you everything you need to encourage yourself.

 Ephesians: 5 …be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Fill yourself up with the Holy Spirit
  • Sing psalms, hymns, spiritual songs
  • Make music IN YOUR HEARTS.
  • Give thanks for everything.

There are times when you’re going to need to encourage yourself in the Lord. You can’t expect anyone else to do it for you. You can’t afford to let life stop you and put you in the ’emotional pit’ because you’re alone. In the times you feel that way, put on your armor of praise. Make a new song… and make yourself happy. Begin to speak in tongues. Your flesh wouldn’t want to at first. But who cares what your natural self wants? Your spirit needs to be ignited, encouraged!

Maybe in the past, people have been there for you. People have cuddled you and said “there, there”. But what if those people aren’t there anymore? What if you find out that you’re absolutely alone and you’re stuck in a rut? That’s when you’ve got to ‘wiggle your own big toe’. And if it doesn’t want to wiggle, you tell it that it has to. (I saw this in Kill Bill…I fell in love with the metaphorical meaning).

We should always remember that other people have lives of their own too. They also have struggles of their own, that they are facing.

Paul said “when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I did childish things. When I became a man, I put away childish things”. God is calling us to rise up and be generals in Kingdom. We’re no longer babies. In fact, there are babies that we need to be nurturing in the body of Christ. So let’s not be fooled by the enemy telling us that we need a ‘quick fill’ of encouragement from someone. Let’s not put ourselves through feeling miserable until Sunday comes. Only to feel miserable once Monday comes again. We have the spirit of God in us, and therefore we have joy unspeakable. So let’s MAKE ourselves happy.

In Jesus Name…amen.

The purpose of gratitude.

Lol. I almost started to write “day 22:…” in the title bar. 21 days truly curb the habit.

I’ve been a bit under the weather over the last few days, so I only get to write whenever I am actually awake (lots of sleeps, which is totally unlike me). But today, I just want to summarize what gratitude does. And I apologize for any typos in advance. lol

As I’ve been saying all the while, one of the easiest ways that the enemy will distract us is by trying to take our praise. Ingratitude breeds a lot of negative things… bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, hatred… you have no idea. So you will find that each day, there’s  a reason to complain. I guarantee you that something will happen that will irritate you. Complaining about the things that happen to us has become such a common thing, that we actually believe it’s normal. We call it ‘freedom of speech’, ‘ saying how you feel’.

While we have those rights, isn’t it amazing that God’s word teaches us the total opposite? Paul said

“In everything give thanks… for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus”

Why in everything? Why not some things, and then you cue out in others? It’s God’s will. And why is it His will? I dunno. When you see Him ask Him.:P

But I believe that a part of why God wants us to have a grateful heart is so that we we don’t seep into sin. I’m going to go out on a limb here, and perhaps I am not correct, but why do most marriages end in divorce these days? Why is it that people hate Obama so much? What if they had Hitler for President? Why do we see so many people angry and frustrated at every little thing these days? Perhaps it’s because we keep complaining about what we don’t have, rather than be grateful for what we do have.

Take it into the spiritual. How easy it is to complain to God and blame Him when things aren’t going our way. I realized that for a little while, half of my prayers were about what God wasn’t doing for me. How He hadn’t answered my prayers. It’s so much easier to ‘vent’ at God for what He’s not doing, rather than give thanks for what He is doing. But which parent doesn’t feel hurt when his child cusses him out for the things he missed? Which parent would want to bless a child when that child is never grateful for the good gifts that have been given?

This is why I think it’s the will of God to give thanks. It’s for our own good. It will keep our relationships on fire, it will keep us happy on the job, and it will keep our storehouses full. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be upset when bad things happen, or when things seem to not go our way. But I’ve learned in this fast, that God always always looks out for his children. He doesn’t give bad gifts, and if He seems to not be pouring out His hand… one of the reasons could be that we’ve been very ungrateful children. It could be that we’ve become angry, callous, bitter at things…and even at God.

So we’re done the 21 days of gratitude devotion. I hope you’ve learned something…anything…. But most importantly I hope that you’ve learned that God loves a grateful spirit. So how’s about we continue to walk in an attitude of gratitude on a daily basis.

Thank God for at least one thing every day. Thank him for:

Your five senses, food, your friends and family, you are where you are and not where you used to be, your house/apt, travelling mercies, financial blessings, yourself, seasons, small victories, deliverance from evil traps, that you’re making it, for love, restoration, that he’ll come through for you again, that everything will be alright, just because He’s God, that He’s with you, for angels unawares, for the cross, and for life.

So, no, the devil still continues to bring challenges and stuff for me to complain about (that’s his day job), but I am keeping my eyes on God and His goodness. I am beginning to see God’s grace, favour and love from a whole new perspective. And my testimonies will begin to roll in very soon. And yours will too. So keep me posted if your life has been changed by the 21 days of gratitude challenge.