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2015: Taking My Praise With Me!

As we approach 2015, I have read quite a few posts about what people will leave behind. Naturally, they want to leave the hurt, the pain and sorrow, disappointment, betrayals and all negativity behind.    I also started to ponder over what I would leave behind, but then I started to consider what I would take with me.   As I enter into 2015, I am taking my praise with me!

I am entering 2015 with praise and I am excited about all God has in store for me.   2014 has been a great year for me even in spite of some challenges and circumstances that came my way. Through it all, I made the decision to trust God and give Him praise even during the times when I was struggling, hurt and brokenhearted.  In the midst of tears flowing and wondering why I was going through what I was going through, I would tell God that I trusted Him and that I was going to praise Him no matter how I was feeling!  As down as I would feel at times, I would continue to praise Him because I knew that my joy was on the way. I knew that He had never left me or forsaken me. I knew He was restoring what was  broken and He was still blessing me.  I continued to praise Him even when I didn’t feel up to it and I continued to praise Him even when I thought He was silent in my circumstances!

I am definitely taking my praise into 2015. My praise gives me hope and peace. My praise tells God that I trust Him in all areas of my life.  My praise allows me to rejoice in Jesus who died just for me.

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

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I pray, in the wonderful name of Jesus, that you enter 2015 with praise, and that you have a Happy and Blessed New Year!  I pray you shout for joy, because His love endures forever!

Release (Let Go)

In the beginning of 2013, I wrote three words down in one of my journals.  They were Release, Restore and Rejoice!  Although I try to stay away from making New Year’s resolutions,  I guess I could consider these words as my resolutions for this year.  As we enter into the last few months of 2013, God has reminded me of these words in order for me to reflect on where I am now.  Today’s post is on the word Release and upcoming posts will tie in Restore and Rejoice!

“Release” means to escape from confinement or to be set free!  It also means to allow something to move or to flow freely.  Ask yourself this question, what or who are you holding on to that is not allowing you to move freely in your relationship with God?   What is restricting you from moving forward? Notice that I asked what are “you” holding on to!

Sometimes we find ourselves trapped  because we continue to hold on to what is familiar or what feels comfortable in our lives.   Our mindset is not to change because we feel everything is okay just as it is.   We hold on to crutches such as past hurts, failures, disappointments, and rejections.   Sometimes we think just because we messed up in the past that we can’t do any better or that we are not deserving of anything better. We, unfortunately, allow ourselves to think that just because we have failed  a few times in this life, that we will never get it right. Or we allow ourselves to think that just because it is comfortable or familiar to us, that we do not need a change.  So, what do we do?  We continue to do the same things and we continue to hold onto the past as if there is no hope for a better outcome or a better future.

God does not want us to hold on to past hurts and failures.  He does not want us to feel restricted or confined.   It is time to release and let go!  There are times we will not forgive ourselves even though God has already forgiven us!  It is time to forgive ourselves, forgive others and move on!  It is time to walk freely in the blessings God has for us! God wants us to lean and depend on Him. He wants us to draw closer to Him; to feel His love and feel His presence in our lives.  How can we do this if we continue to hold on to things that weigh us down or hold us back?  Jeremiah 29:11-13 says:

“For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart.”

God has a future filled with His promises just waiting for you.  Are you hindering yourself from receiving all of your blessings?  Are you holding onto some things you should have released a long time ago?  Release and turn them over to God. Psalm 55:22 says “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” 

As we get ready to close out another year in just a few short months, think about what it is you need to release.  Spend time in prayer and meditate on God’s word.  Are there some  issues and fears that you don’t need to take over into another year with you?  Fears, doubts, hesitations and past failures will restrict you from moving forward.  It’s time to release and let go!

crutches

PRAYER

Dear Lord, grant me discernment and guide me as I let go of those things that are restricting me in my walk with You.  Set me free from things that I am holding on to that are preventing me from moving forward.   I am releasing the crutches of failure, hurt, negativity and disappointment.  I am leaning, depending and trusting on You. Lord, help me to forgive myself. Thank You, Lord, for Your grace and mercy in my life; thank You for forgiving me.  Today, I am releasing and letting go. I am moving forward!  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed! (John 8:36)

Where Did The Time Go?

Just a few months ago I was eagerly anticipating my youngest daughter’s graduation from high school.  When that day and that moment arrived,  my heart was filled with mixed emotions.  I was a proud mother to see her stand before her graduating class and deliver the commencement address; but I also knew it was time to let her go.  I kept asking God where did the time go?  It seems like You just gave her to me and now. . .

And now, here  we are already in September and she has completed 2 weeks in college.  Where did the time go? I now have two in college and one beginning  his Senior year in high school.   I have watched my three children grow from babies into young adults and I can’t help but to marvel as to how the time has flown by.

It seems like it was just yesterday when I was taking them to  daycare and kindergarten.  I must admit the thought of my children not being home every night has been tough at times.  Over the years I have gotten comfortable in knowing they were safe and secure in their rooms and close by if I needed to look in on them.  Now,  I’m watching my son go out in the evenings to hang out with his friends knowing that within less than a year he will also be on his way to college.  There is so much going on in the world these days, that it’s only natural you want to protect your loved ones at all times, especially your children.  You want to keep them close by as if nothing could happen to them at home, school,  church or in places we call familiar.

The Sunday afternoon I had to leave Cecily at a college 4 hours from home, I had my emotions in check (or at least I thought I did!) I was so busy running around trying to make sure she had everything she needed before we left, that I did not have much time to think about getting emotional.  Just two years before I had taken her sister to school and figured I know how this works now; I can handle it! I’m a big girl! I’ve got this all under control!

Well, I’m sure you can guess what happened. As soon as it came time to give our hugs goodbye, I realized this was it. This was the moment of letting go!   Where did the 18 years go?  When I saw Cecily hugging her brother and sister goodbye, the tears just started to flow.  I could not stop them!  As I hugged her and the tears continued to flow, I said another prayer over my child and her new journey in life.  I gave thanks to the Lord for blessing me with her.  I  told Him that I was trusting Him even more to keep watch over her.

 You see, I needed this reassurance for me more so than I needed it for Cecily. For the past 18 years I’ve known this day would come. I’ve known that my assignment was to raise Cecily as best I could and to encourage her to have her own relationship with God.  He tells us in Isaiah 55 (NIV)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

523

Cecily Elise Matthews, although I am marveling at how fast the time has flown by, I know you are in God’s hands and you will continue to flourish.  He has a greater purpose and plan for you and it will be fulfilled.  Because of this, I am ok with the letting go and allowing you to grow and prosper according to His divine will. You are a blessing to me and I am blessed because you call me mommy!

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The link below is a post I had the opportunity to write when my oldest daughter graduated from high school 2 years ago. The words “Take Courage” still resonate within me today.  Thanks, to my sister Change Agents, Renee and Roslyn! Love you both!

http://doubleportioninspiration.blogspot.com/2011/06/take-courage.html

He Knows All About Me!

13 For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139)

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite Psalms.   It clearly tells me that God knows all about me.  He knew me  even before my mother and father met.  When I really take time to think on that, I can’t help but to be in awe of how amazing my God is!  The scripture above  tells me that He knit me together in my mother’s womb.  The word knit means to unite, bond, fuse or even to mend.  To me, that means He took the time to consider how He wanted me to look physically; not just at birth but as I would grow older.  He  took the time to consider how He wanted me to sound when I would speak.  He knew what He wanted my smile to look like on my face.  He decided the shape of my eyes and what color they would be.  He took time to consider my height and how I would walk.  He took the time to make me just the way He wanted me to be!

Psalm 139 states He created my inmost being!  Not only did He knit me together in the physical, He also took the time to consider my behavior, my thoughts, my dreams and my desires!  He went so far as to put me together to know how I would deal with  a broken heart, neglect, abandonment and abuse.  Even before He allowed me to be birthed, God reached down into the depths of my soul and He created me!

He created me in such a fashion that I cannot hide from Him.  I cannot hide from His love even when it is hard for me to love myself.  I cannot hide from His grace and His mercy, even when I mess up along the way.  I cannot hide from His comfort, when the tears are streaming down my face.  I cannot hide from Him when I am angry or disappointed, because He is the One who is always there to give me peace.   He knows all about me!

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  your works are wonderful,  I know that full well. (Psalm 139)

Dear Lord, I thank You for taking the time to create me the way You want me to be.  I know that I am still a work in progress, but you already know what the finished product of me will be. I am thankful that You were mindful of me and you have given me this life with all the joys and heartaches to make me stronger in You. I am thankful that you are always with me and that you know my thoughts even before I think them.  Father, I am thankful that I cannot hide from you because where would I be without you on my side!  Thank you Dear Lord, for letting me know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made!  You know this because You know all about me!  You created me to be your daughter! In Jesus, name I am forever grateful!

The Lord’s Special Day!

Don't give up

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of going to dinner with a dear friend and her 8-year-old daughter, Layla.  Before our food came to the table, I asked Layla if she would say the blessing.  Without hesitation she gave me this big grin and asked us to bow our heads.  It was if she knew I was going to ask her to pray.   We bowed our heads and Layla proceeded to thank the Lord for His special day.  She said it was a great day and everything was good because it was His special day.  You could hear the joy in Layla’s voice telling God about His special day.  I can’t tell you how many times she said to the Lord that it was His special day but as you can see it was enough for me to write about it. ( And, yes, she did eventually bless the food!)

The Lord gives us a new day every morning when He so graciously wakes us up.  With each day, He gives us another chance to correct the wrongs we have done and seek forgiveness. Everyday, He gives us another chance to let our family and friends know that we love them.   He gives us another chance to spend time in His presence and to worship Him.  For the last couple of weeks, I have looked at each day differently.   I knew before that particular evening that I am not promised each new day, but something hit deep inside me when Layla kept saying it was the Lord’s special day.  It was not just another Monday.  It was not either of our birthdays.  The restaurant where we were dining was not at all spectacular.  But, as Layla so eloquently spoke it, it was the Lord’s special day!  We were blessed to be enjoying each other’s company.  We were blessed to be able to talk about the Lord. And most importantly, we were blessed because it was the Lord’s special day.

The Bible says

Genesis 1:5  And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Lamentations 2:22-23  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.

Psalm 19:1-2 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night uttereth knowledge.

Genesis 2:1-3 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all his work which He made. And God blessed the seventh day, sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.

Psalm 118:24  This is the day which the Lord hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it.

The Lord blesses us with His special day every morning! We need to embrace each day with joy and gratefulness.  Mondays should be no different from Fridays simply because He creates each day.  I am thankful each day that He wakes me up no matter what comes my way.  Each day is His special day and He gives me another opportunity each time He wakes me up in the morning.

At the end of our meal, Layla, asked to pray again!  She still had more she wanted to speak to the Lord about His special day. This time she prayed for her parents, her grandparents and all of her friends, and she prayed for me.   It was obvious Layla had a good day and although it was about to come to an end, she was excited about the next day.  She was excited about the next day because she knew it was going to be the Lord’s special day!

He Won’t Let You Give Up!

Psalm 116

1-6 I love God because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy. He listened so intently as I laid out my case before him. Death stared me in the face, hell was hard on my heels. Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn; then I called out to God for help: “Please, God!” I cried out. “Save my life!” God is gracious—it is he who makes things right, our most compassionate God. God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me. 7-8 I said to myself, “Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings. Soul, you’ve been rescued from death; Eye, you’ve been rescued from tears;  And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling.” (The Message Bible)

Are you feeling like you are ready to give up on yourself? Are you ready to give up on your hopes and your dreams?  Have you experienced so many disappointments that you just don’t care anymore? Do you feel like you are a disappointment?  When you reach these points in your life, what do you do? Sometimes your closest friends and family don’t understand how you feel or what you are going through.

Has someone betrayed you? Don’t give up!  Jesus was betrayed too but He did not let this stop Him from what He had to do.  Have the doctors given you a bad medical report? Don’t give up! God is a healer! Ask Him to heal your body.  Are you out of work and can’t seem to make ends meet?  Don’t give up! Trust God to supply your every need. Have you made poor choices and bad decisions that have pushed you into a dark corner? Don’t give up!  God’s love for you is unconditional.  His love is full of grace and mercy. Ask Him to forgive you and then seek Him for direction.

God wants you to know He is with you.  Take all of your troubles to Him. Let Him hear your cries and let Him wipe away all of your tears. He truly cares about you and your outcome.  Don’t give up!  Allow Him to bless your soul and your spirit. Let Him save you!  Tell God you trust Him.  He won’t let you give up!

Jesus said “Peace I Leave With You”

7 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV

lakes-hills-trees-

This is what Jesus said to the disciples before He was to be crucified. He said. ” Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you”!  Jesus left  peace with the disciples knowing peace would comfort them and encourage them along the way.

This is what the Lord wants you to have as you embrace this New Year. He wants you to know that He has blessed you with peace.  He tells us His peace is not the peace that comes from others in the world.  His peace is more than a parting  greeting of good-bye; it is more than an ” I will see you later. ”

What the Lord wants you to know is that He has left you with peace during the good times, peace during the bad times, peace during your struggles, peace when you face disappointments and yes, even peace when you have to confront your enemy and your own negativity.

In 2012, most of us faced some hardships and a few challenges.  However, in order to move forward and to prosper in the New Year, we need to have the peace the Lord has left just for us. There are some negative people and even negative mindsets that we should have left behind and not allowed to enter into the New Year with us!   We can’t erase bad things that have happened and it may even take time for us to forgive others and to move on. But God wants us to be blessed! He wants us to be encouraged and He wants us to be victorious.  He wants us to have peace in all that we do and in all that we may go through in this New Year.

Philippians 4: 7 says ” And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  In all the trying and hurtful times we have gone through in 2012 and in all we have held onto from past years, we should not allow the enemy to rob us of our peace. We must embrace this gift of peace and take it with us wherever we go in this New Year and in this life.  We must take it with us on our jobs; we must take it with us to our schools; we must take it with us to the malls and theaters. Wherever we go, we need to take the peace of God with us. The peace of God should be deep within our hearts and minds.  And as Jesus said, “Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”  He said this because He was leaving us with peace to handle whatever comes our way.

In the Book of Numbers Chapter 6 verses 24-26 the Lord gave Moses a blessing to give to Aaron and his sons.  I will leave you with my edited version of the words from this blessing.

“May the The Lord bless you and keep you in 2013. May the Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you in 2013. May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace in 2013”.

As you face each day and as trials come your way, do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  He has already given you peace in every situation.