Are You Chasing God; Or Running From The Devil?!

So here is a thought……

What is your inspiration in this journey of being a better, more complete person (aka a Christian)? Is it fear or freedom?

As for me, I’d like to believe that my inspiration is freedom. But it wasn’t always this way. Once I accepted Christ as my Savior, if I could be completely honest, not much changed. Sure my faith grew over time, because I learned to lay my burdens on the Lord, and allowed Him to carry my the burdens of my cross more often, rather than worrying myself to death.

But still, there wasn’t  some epic change in my heart or in my life.

Eventhough, I now had direct access to Jesus Christ himself, and access to the greatest book ever written, I was still being ruled by fear.

Fear of messing up the whole “Christian thing”, and backsliding into old bad habits. Fear of not being a “good enough Christian”. Fear of not being a “good” example to the world looking on at my Christian experience. Fear of not knowing enough bible scriptures or praise and worship songs ( Don’t act like yall never mothed the words to a song in church, knowing full and well, you don’t know that song!). Fear of not fitting in, within my church. Fear of people knowing my past, and judging me based on it.  Overall fear of being fraudulent and found out.

Looking back on those fears, I know now that it was nothing but the devil messing with my mind, and trying to keep me limited in my Christ experience. Because, my heart was pure and my actions were as close to a “good” Christian as you can get (aside from indulging in a little rachet TV). I’m more mature and seasoned now in this walk, and can look back at my younger more vulnerable self and see that instead of seeking God, what I was doing at that time was fleeing the devil.

If you have read some of my past post on this blog, you know I am not shy about my bouts of struggle within my Christian journey. However, what time and God has opened up my eye to  is that: Being a Christian should be a beautiful and liberating experience. It should be the freedom that releases us from the pain, disappointment and burdens of our past. Once we accept Christ as our savior, we should be proud to step into His grace, and the remnants of our past mistakes should no longer color our vision, or burden us with guilt or fear.

So often we focus on what we should not be engaging in as Christians that we neglect the works we have been called by the Lord to do. We shun ourselves from the very people/places that God wants us to lend our gifts, because we are so focused on trying to perfect Christianity.

The question becomes, are you chasing God or running from the devil.

Think of the mere image of running from someone/something. It’s freighting, and tiring. There is no rest and you’re so overcome by fear that you over exert yourself, and eventually burnout and that very thing or person claims victory by catching you.  It’s in the same vain that we may find ourselves running from the devil. We become so overcome by the fear of the devil that we keep looking back trying to make sure Satan is not gaining ground; and before we know it he has us.

Now imagine and adverse concept: the idea of chasing something/someone. There is no overwhelming fear, but rather just the right amount of excitement to keep us moving forward. The trill of the chase is exciting, fun, and invigorating.  And that’s exactly what our journey with the Lord should be like.

I don’t want my Christian journey here on earth to be limited to fear. I don’t want fear to be the fence that keeps inside the terms of my Christianity. Sure, we should all fear the LORD but even that fear should be loved based.

I accept the freedom that comes with chasing God. I am no longer a prisoner of my past. Or unwilling to explore life from a fun, exciting and energized perspective. One of the first thing we learn as Christians is to not be worldly. Well, I agree. However, I also encourage fellow Christians to embrace the beauty of earth, and remember: everything the sun touches is yours ( a little lion king humor)….enjoy it!

Be blessed, be encouraged.

Incredibly Simple And Creamy Mac And Cheese

Happy Resurrection weekend. I am busy loving on my family, and honoring the Lord. However, I wanted to stop by the blog to share something with my extended family here at JnF. It’s a recipe for what is possibly a Easter dinner staple: Mac and Cheese. Well, I am all about simplifying a dish without sacrificing it’s taste quality. Less time in the kitchen means more time with our loved ones and with the Lord. While, I usually make my Mac and Cheese in 3 parts; which includes boiling the pasta elbows, making the creamy sauce in a separate pot, and bring all ingredients together in the oven; well this recipe takes place all in one pot, and there is no baking involved!!! 🙂

First I boiled some water, then added the pasta. The pasta began to get sort of soft, and the water all but disappeared. At that point I added about 1 cup evaporated milk, a dash of salt and pepper, garlic powder, a dab of olive oil, and I stirred in a egg.

Now that I had my base of creaminess on the pasta, I let it come to a slow boil. I began to add about 3 cups of Extra Sharp Shredded Cheddar Cheese.  Add the cheese slowly, stirring at the same time. The results will be this, creamy, flavorful mac and cheese:

Jesus-And-Food-Mac-And Cheese

I’d like to leave you with this:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:

While we were still sinners, Christ dies for us.  (Romans 5:8)

He is risen!!!

 

Touching Tuesday: The Gift of Friendship

 

Do you know what it is to walk into a room and not know anyone?

Not even a single soul. It’s a pretty weird, and uncomfortable feeling. Now imagine going through life like that, with not a single friend.

Just alone.

Friends are necessary in life. Having someone to call a friend is a blessing. Being a friend to someone is a gift. We don’t realize how much we need a friend until we don’t have one. Family is great. However, sometimes you just desire someone who can relate to you, and not be necessarily “related to you”. The truth is sometimes family lets us down, and our friendships will be the saving grace we need in though times.

I desire to be a good friend.

Up until recently, I can honestly say I did not have much friends. I had my family, and my associates. I kept up a barrier between me and anyone that was not family of some sort. Perhaps, trust issues, or perhaps I wanted to keep this veneer front of perfection up. I didn’t want outsiders to come too close and see that my simple life was actually a hot mess. But then, my entire world turned upside down. I found myself, by myself. Sure I had my close family members. But at some point you don’t want to become a burden to your family. Then, I found myself in the presence of people willing to hear my story, and willing to be a shoulder to lean and cry on. That was something I was not used to. It was amazing. Like a self cleansing therapy. What’s more important, is that I knew those people were not judging me. They listened with a open heart. Looking back I don’t know where I would have been without the help of friends. The closer I let my friends in, the more I realized we all had our own common share of “mess” going on in our lives. I listened to their burdens, and was their shoulder in times of need. Because of that I now know more than ever that friendship is a give and take. Sometimes you will give love, and times you just have to be vulnerable enough to take the love.

Jesus had a few  friendships. However, one of my favorites is the one he had with Mary Magdalena. It was an uncommon friendship. However, we often find our best and deepest friendships in uncommon connections. The very thing that tends to separate us, is often the tread that keeps us connected.

I encourage anyone and everyone that is blessed enough to have a true friend, to hold on to that friendship. Be kind to that friendship, and be a server in that friendship. Nourish it and love on it to ensure it grows into a good tree that may enhance the garden that is your life.

Be blessed, be encouraged.

Monday Mantra: Endure For The Greater Good

A real note from the editor:

I’m tired.

I’ve been patient. I’ve been humble. I have prayed. Talked to God. Written to God. Read the word. Worked on myself. Been kind to the unkind.

And still nothing.

Yes, I am growing in faith, and yes, I am becoming a better person. But the fruits of my labor are scarce. I look around and I am disheartened to say the least. Because, I see so much happiness, so much joy around me. And I am happy for my family and friends, but a part of me can’t help but to wonder when is my happiness coming. I feel as though I have to work hard for every little bit that I have. Nothing has ever come easy to me. Sure that’s a great character builder, but at some point the only thing that one can be, is tired. Sometimes, I feel like giving up. Why keep trying when the results will continue to be the same.

The only thing that keeps me going is a message I’d like to share with you all:

Endure for the greater good.

I don’t know where these trials and tribulations will take me, but I know I will continue to endure. And I hope those who feel just as spent as I do will endure as well. Let this be our #MondayMantra:

Endure for the greater good.

Romans 5:3-4

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that the suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

Touching Tuesday: Love your sister, Love your brother!

God makes no mistake.

Every follicle on our heads was well thought out; every cell, well orchestrated. Equally as true, is that every relationship/friendship in our lives are purposeful. Your mother was chosen on purpose; your father was deliberately chosen just for you. The same for every sister, brother, cousin, aunty and uncle.

God never promised the ride would be easy, He only promised to never leaves us. Just the same, not every relationship, be it with a family member or peer, will be easy. Some people will bring out the worst in us. And guess what sometimes, that is their assignment. That fear of seeing ourselves, in such an unpleasant light will bring us to make the choice to distant ourselves from that person. However, is that God’s plan? Often, people are planted into our lives to help us grow. We must remember growth of any sort is not easy; in fact it’s painful. The growing pains are designed to help us become better versions of ourselves.

The key is to remember God makes no mistakes.

You may not like how a family member or friend treated you, but their existence in your life is necessary and serves a purpose. Don’t get so wrapped up in what they did, or how they did you wrong, that you miss the purpose for which they were planted into your life. A person, who you find it hard to communicate with, is there to transform you into a better communicator. A person who may have violated you, was placed in your life to expose you to a vulnerability that otherwise you may have never experienced, and therefore bring you closer to God.

God makes no mistakes.

So love your brothers, love your sister, love your mother, love your father. Despite their flaws and shortcomings, embrace them, because they are who God chose for you.

Remember, all God ask of us is that we give each other love!

Sweet Tooth: Homemade Caramel (Hack)

One of my favorite desserts, is anything glazed in caramel!!

Literally.

There is a simple, yet utterly delicious way to create caramel with little to no effort. I guess this can be considered a hack, but to me it was just the norm growing up as a Belizean girl. Part of my Belizean tradition is baking cakes from scratch during the holidays. Just a simple yellow cake, which in itself would be enough, based on how flavorful and yummy it is. However, after the scratch made lemon fervent cake is completed, it’s  glazed with homemade caramel!!

Just divine.

I would be lying if I said, I was able to make the actually cake (it’s quite cumbersome, so that task is left to the older more experienced bakers in our family), but while I am working on that, I have perfected the caramel part. Not that it’s that complicated. If you can boil water, you can make this caramel recipe.

First grab a can of your favorite brand’s condense milk. Remove the paper wrap from around the can, and leave just the exposed metal can.

Pull out one of your favorite larger sauce pans and put the can directly in the middle of it. Fill the pan with water covering the can. Place on medium heat for 4-5 hours, replenishing the water as it boils out.

Tip: Try not to wait too long to replenish the water as it boils out. The reason being that you don’t want the milk to caramelized unevenly.

After 4 or 5 hours turn the stove off, and remove the can from the pot. Let it sit for about 2 hours to completely cool down.

Now grab a can opener, and what will be revealed should be liquid gold.

Yum.

 

Monday Mood: #Forgive

Today I woke with a thought in my spirit. I figured I would share:

If you think it’s weak to forgive, you’ve obviously never forgave someone before.

The strength it takes to forgive someone who has wronged us, is unmeasurable. Not even time can measure it, because when the wound is deep enough, we find ourselves needing to renew that forgiveness time after time throughout our lives.

Forgiveness is medicine to our soul. It can heal wounds that we carry, but don’t even know we are burden by. Those wounds tend to resurface time and time again in our lives, until we are willing to fully dress them in the clothe of forgiveness.

Sometimes, the most important person we must forgive is ourselves. Often we will walk through adulthood, carrying the pain of wounds from childhood that we had no choice but to endure. And we tell ourselves things like “it wasn’t your fault”, or “you were a child”, but how often do we mean it. We tend to subconsciously attack ourselves and beat ourselves up and it shows in our behavior in every area of our lives.

Forgiveness has the power to make a broken person, whole again. The moment we turn on that switch of forgiveness, a light that had previously dimmed, reestablishes itself within us. We reclaim a subtle but definitive part of our innocence.

Forgiveness is a beautiful gift, to be given and received. Feel free to offer that gift of forgiveness today, or open to receive it.

 

How To Build a Strong Prayer Life

What is your pray life looking like?

That is an important question, in this day and age that we live in. There are a million awful things occurring around us daily, and the question begs, how do we survive any of it, without a strong prayer life?!

We don’t.

Constant communication with the Lord is the only way to see our way through. But it’s not enough to be in constant communication with the Lord, what’s more important is to be in meaningful communication with the Lord. Building a strong prayer life to me, entails understanding that I am not just talking to the Lord, but that He is also talking back; and being present in mind to quiet myself enough to listen/feel for His words.

Personally, I am in a place in which I am trying my best to build a strong prayer life. Along the way, I’ve figured out some key factors that may help someone else on a similar path:

  1. Schedule your time with the Lord: We schedule everything else in life; classes, work, activities, and more. However, our most important daily appointment is with the Lord Himself. Honor that time you have scheduled for you and your Master, and protect it.
  2.  Timing is everything: My heart tends to be more full in the morning, my mind tends to be clear in the morning, and my inner peace tends to surface most in the a.m hours. Therefore, I try to schedule my time with the Lord around that time.
  3. Find your position:  I like most, have knelled to pray since I have been praying. I still do, but I also find peace in sitting and talking to the Lord with my arms extended out and turned up, ready to receive the Lords peace. That position, makes me feel like a well, ready to receive the flow of abundance.
  4. Clear your head by speaking the issues out loud: I like to think of prayer as a moment to release all my trash. So often we find it hard to pray because we have too much chatter going on in our minds. Speak to the Lord out loud about those issues, just so we can purge them from our minds, and come forth to the Lord with a clear mind. A cluttered mind will not hear the Lord. Therefore, release yourself of those thoughts, and put yourself in a position to hear with your heart the words of the Lord.
  5. Approach with a thankful heart. We all have problems. And a lot of times problems brings us to prayer. However, that doesn’t mean we must allow those problems to overshadow our willingness to be thankful and grateful for all things. Therefore, find time in your prayer life to extend a heartfelt thank you to your Father. There is always something to be thankful for.

How To Harness Peace Amid Turmoil

Sometimes life can be over bearing. All that can go wrong, usually goes wrong all at once. It can be too much for any one person to take on.  It is in these times that we need Jesus the most. However, it is also at these times, that we may lose sight of our way and fall wayward. In the midst of turmoil there are some very specific, yet simple things that we can all do to ensure we hold on to our peace, despite the chaos

  1. Remember, this too shall past. Keep in mind, although you may feel like you’re facing a new thing,  this is not your first rodeo. You have gone through worst, and survived. What makes you think this is any different?
  2.  If He did it before, He’ll do it again. Same God right now, same God back then!! God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. His ability does not shrink, or lessen. Therefore, the mountain you face is no more complicated a task for Him than any other thing you have experienced.
  3.  God is not a one time trick pony show. He is the beginning, the middle and the end. He has the power to turn our unfortunate circumstances into a blessing in a matter of seconds.
  4.  Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. Scripture never lies. Worrying ourselves sick through the night is never going to bring resolve or peace to our circumstances. So rest, quiet your thoughts, and reawaken with a renewed spirit and energy.
  5.  There is no testimony without a test. Know this, you are not going through this season for no reason! There is a greater purpose that will be realized. You just gotta make it thru the storm. Just remember when you see yourself to the other side, share your story, as a reminder to others in the thick of their own storm.
  6.  Embrace the mess. Our trials and tribulations teach us more than our victories and triumphs do. We rarely recall the win, but always recall the feeling of failure. There a reason for that. Those failures are bookmarks of our lives of a time when we had growing pains!
  7.  Mediate on your mission. Mediation is a relaxing mental exercise. Purging the thoughts that afflict us during meditation can bring light to our dark situation.
  8.  Have Godfidence. Know you serve a mighty God. Don’t limit Him based on your limited faith, or wavering self confidence to overcome your issues. Your hands may be tied, you may be down to your last, you may not have a fight left, but remember- God is still GOD!!!
  9.  Hold on to your joy. I believe nothing gives the Lord more joy, than to see us smiling, and being kind to our fellow man, despite what we may be facing.
  10.  Pray and  Be still.  When you have done all you can do to fix it, prayed all you can pray, just sit, be still and wait on the Lord.

 

Motivation Monday: When God is taking too long…..

God's Perfect Timing

 

What is a dream, but a promise from the Lord?

A great quote I read the other day sums up the human experience on dreaming so very keenly:

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” – The Alchemist

One of the most useful skills that the Lord equipped His children with, in  my opinion was the ability to look into our selves and formulate dreams, hopes and aspirations. All of which, if properly motivated, bring us closer to God. It is through our strong desires, the things that tug at our heartstrings that bring us closer to not only God, but also God’s promise.

After all, that is the point of it all isn’t it?

When I say get closer to God, I don’t mean that in the physical sense (although some may have that privilege), I however, am referring to that sweet spot in life, in which we are in alignment to our maker, and feel His presence and peace within us. That undeniable feeling that you’re doing exactly what you’re suppose to do, with this gift called life.

Yes, I believe that awesome feeling of fulfillment and utter contention is God manifested into our spirit.

Dreaming, hoping and aspiring in life is a direct lifeline of life itself. In times of doubt the hope of something better, can be a life saver. However, there is also that part of us that needs validation that our dreams are not just wishful thinking. We need answers, we need to see it. And fast.

What happens when we try to rush God’s hand? What happens when we try to get God on our timing instead of conforming and adjusting to His beautiful timing?

In summation, we fail.

There is no such thing as God taking too long. God’s timing is always perfect. The key is in what we do while in wait.  A dream planted in our hearts by the hand of the Lord, will never wither and die unless we are careless keepers of that dream. Being in constant communication with the Lord, through prayer and meditation, will ensure we are taking the right measures to realize our dreams and His promise. Also, having enough faith to know just as Abraham did that once a promise is spoken from the Lord, mountains will move (remember this) to see that promise come to light.

It doesn’t matter what stands in the way, all that matters is that God has undoubtedly already made a way!

 

Be blessed dreamers.