Let there be Light

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:3-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

My previous post mentions that “Let it Shine” is my theme for 2018. God dropped this little nugget as I restarted my Bible reading in Gen1 and I had to share it! This is just the tip of the iceberg for me and I plan to study it out. If you have insights please also share!

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When we first read this scripture Gen 1:3 we are tempted to think of the light as the sun and moon. Especially when it says God called the light Day and the darkness Night. But in Gen 1:14-19 we see that the sun, moon and stars are not created until the 4th day!

““Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” Genesis‬ ‭1:14-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

So then what was that Light that God created from the darkness, that preceded the Sun, moon and stars? James 4:6 tells us that God made this light to shine in our hearts so we could the glory of God that is seen in Jesus!

As glorious as the sun, moon and stars are – especially as they reveal themselves to us every morning and evening- they are not as splendid as God’s first created light that reveals the glory of God that is seen IN Jesus.

Let that sink in….

The very first thing that God created, Light, He makes to shine in our hearts for the purpose of knowing the Glory of God.

This original first light precedes and goes beyond the physical, natural lights that we see via God’s creation of the sun, moon and stars. It precedes the foundation of the world! As one commentary noted “Light was created first and attached to the sun and luminaries on Day4 Thus the sun is merely an obedient light-bearer and its magnificence is only understood in relation to its Creator.”

Jesus is the source of that light, THE creative force, that allows us to supernaturally know the Glory of God. Wow! Wow! Wow!

Remember when Moses asked God to see His glory? God tells Moses that he cannot “see” His face, His glory and live.

“And he said, “Please, show me Your glory. .., But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”” Exodus‬ ‭33:18, 20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God instructs Moses to stand by a rock and when He (His glory) passes by God hides him in the cleft of the rock, covers him with His hand and then takes His hand away and allows Moses to see His back but not His face. Moses was completely transformed physically and spiritually by this encounter with just the backside of God’s glory!

Jesus is the light of the world. When we receive Him, God makes this transformative light shine in our hearts and as we allow it to shine through us, it transforms others. This is that creative power that sparked creation itself.

My 2018 prayer today is to connect with Jesus more intimately so that I don’t hinder the flow of His light to shine through me. Lord, Help me to align my thoughts, actions, plans etc with Yours so that I am that conduit and vessel of that light. Thank you for clarity of purpose and creative ability and resulting actions to execute your will in its various manifestations that give praise and glory to Your name! In Jesus name!

Things That Matter: People Matter

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People matter.   I was talking with my sister recently about an important issue, and I said to her glibly, “I guess I should be talking to the folks that matter.”  Upon its utterance, I immediately corrected myself saying, “Well, everybody matters! To me, anyway.”  And just then, like Morgan Freeman’s character in “Bruce Almighty”, a man walked by and said with a beautiful big smile, “That’s right! Everybody matters!” He didn’t slow down, but pointed and kept smiling at me in approval.  People matter.

People matter.  Today, we find ourselves categorizing, stratifying, slicing and dicing folks into statistics and numbers, by ability, aptitude,  or mere words:  the 1%, the 99%, the talented 10th, low-mod-mid-high income, race, ethnicity, disabled, urban, suburban, at risk, wealthy, blue-blood, blue collar, white collar, illegals, conservative, liberal, C-Suite, earners, takers and on and on and on. Many corporations/governments/communities  take it a step further and make decisions on allowable percentage of “casualties.”  This language deliberately erases the faces of REAL MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN,  so that they are dehumanized and marginalized – therefore worthy of less treatment, less resources, less of everything;  even life itself.  Consider that the terms abortion and capital punishment sanitize the killing of human beings.   People matter.

People matter.  We matter because we are divinely created by the hand of God.  Psalms 139 tells us how intimately acquainted God is with everything about us, but in verse 14 it says:   “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well”.   God’s invitation of relationship is extended to ALL of us – not just some.  He gives to EACH of us freely, as we are willing to receive.  We see His great love for us, when He gave everything He had through His son Jesus, so that we have restored and completely reconciled relationship with Him. People matter to God.  People matter.

People matter to me also because I saw that people mattered to my parents.  They extended themselves inconveniently many times to take care of a need, be a listening ear, a hand to hold, give counsel when needed.  People matter.

People matter. Resist the temptation to refer to PEOPLE as a number, statistic, a category, a group, an issue, a label, and instead,  put a fearfully and wonderfully made face on it and remember that EVERYBODY MATTERS.

Love your Seasons of Transition

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” Ecclesiastics 3:1

Earlier this year, after the longish winter,  I fell in love with Spring as never before – and now this November baby is  back in love with Fall again.   Just a few weeks ago I lamented that a month into autumn, the leaves were still green.   It seemed August/September’s lack of rain caused many leaves to go brown and fall prematurely.  But now, in the past week – like a male peacock preening, Fall displayed its plumage triumphantly! And while there ARE less leaves, the remaining leaves have peeled off chlorophyll’s green mask and unveiled their glorious authentic colors as temperatures cool and daylight shortens.Image

The profusion of color as the leaves turn in the Fall is on its best display during rainy grey mornings.   There’s something about the yellows, oranges, reds, maroons and eggplants against that grey palette of the skies that takes my breath away.  The rain darkens the bark of the trees and makes the leaves a little translucent.  The diffused lighting of the cloudy grey skies softly passes through the leaves making them glow against the elegant dancing arches of the darkened tree branches.  Oh yes, Fall is best viewed on inconvenient slightly cold rainy days.  

This morning my daughter begged me to stop my comments about the foliage and exclaiming aloud how beautiful everything was.  I could not promise her that I could hold in my joy if some pop of red/orange color revealed itself in the landscape.   I am completely smitten again with my first love, Fall.  

Fall, like Spring, is a season of transition.  Lots and lots of change is occurring, and only Mother Nature and God who created it all  can predict the rate of change and how the transformation occurs.  After I commented about how the landscape was mostly green last week,  my daughter impatiently remarked “Mom, the leaves can change at any time – it doesn’t’ have to be slow.  Things can change very quickly.” She nailed it!  Change happens when IT is ready.   

I then began to wonder why,  if I’m smitten with transitional seasons of Fall and Spring, why don’t I embrace and fall in love with my own seasons of transitions and change.   Don’t just endure, but embrace, celebrate and flow with the transitions.   God’s grace is in abundant supply in every season.  Like the transitional seasons, it can rain too much for periods of time, or get too windy for our liking.  But the rains are necessary for all living things and the wind too!  The winds may knock off all the leaves but it is also carrying and spreading the seeds of new growth on its wings bringing new life to places that a tree’s limbs just cannot reach.   And who can deny the breathtaking splendor of showers of falling yellow, orange and red leaves as the wind blows.

So embrace and celebrate the transitions in your live – let God’s grace empower you to use every inconvenience as an agent of growth and new life. Let the wind blow you around and spread your glory.  It really is beautiful in every season. May God open your eyes to the beauty of your ever changing life. 

Under construction/Under contract

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I was driving my daughter to school today and realized that a brand new house located on a plot that we have been driving by for at least 2 years is finally under contract.   Last November (2012) I wrote a Facebook post noting that after almost a year of wondering what they were building on that once wooded plot, in about 2-3 weeks I noticed the house taking shape (first image in pic). In that post I wrote the following:

“I have been driving by this intersection for at least a year. It was a vacant lot and then it seems they worked and dug for about 6-8 months with a fence around it with all kinds of equipment. I had no idea what they were putting there. Now in the last month, this house began to take shape. First the framing and now quickly it is taking its form for all to see. I was reminded today, that this is exactly how God works. The foundation building is a lengthy process done in secret. Many people don’t know what is going on but He does. It is messy work and can inconvenience others in the process. But when that is done, our lives start to take shape revealing in time what we are becoming. Consider the cost, pay attention to the foundations for which the rest of your life is built. Jesus is the chief cornerstone. He is that rock, that sure foundation.”

In February of this year, they finished the landscaping etc and listed the house for $1.7 million (it is absolutely beautiful inside) and I thought to myself, “I sure hope they get the asking price (especially since it was not brick but that’s my Louisiana roots speaking)”  Well, after a little over 3 months later it is under contract (second image in the pic) and I was really happy!!!  I almost felt like it was my house because I used to park by that wooded lot and pray sometimes.   Yes, it took a while for that foundation to be built because something of great value was being built to last.  It was really messy  over 2 years ago, but look at it now!  I saw the time, toil and work put into it!  I realize that I have been impatient with God’s process in my life especially as I am trying to transition into another career.   People looking for value  will pay for it.  It just takes a little time for that marriage of mutual respect/values/senergy to be made.  God does not want you to settle for less than what He has for you.  Jerimiah 29:11 says

“For I know the 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.”

Lessons from my mother:Real Beauty

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My mother ‘s salt and pepper hair after her first bout with cancer and my mother before cancer. Always beautiful!

Thinking about my mother this morning – about how her life continues to speak to me. One thing that I find myself thinking about is that she never considered herself to be a great beauty. She always said her sisters and many of her friends were always better looking, but that she didn’t mind at all. She said that she always focused on being the best person she could be.

She was always VERY popular because she really was a GREAT person to be around. My mother made more friends at Howard in that first week when she brought us there for my freshmen year than I did. Other freshman and students would say, “I met your mother and she said to look out for you. What a nice lady — she really encouraged me too. “

My mother was a doer… for all her glamour, she was many times the last person to get ready for an event because she was normally there putting it together. She never compromised on the hair (every week at John Jays with Wyona) but while others were getting their nails done, she was doing her own because she would have been helping make sure the arrangements were just so. That includes my wedding.

It came as a shocker that she never thought she was pretty because she was always fabulous to me whether she was a size 6 before she stopped smoking or 12-14 when she stopped smoking, when she had red/light brown hair before cancer, to salt and pepper hair after cancer. She kept pressing, moving, doing, cheering the next person on and bringing laughter in the room. In this my mother taught me that real beauty REALLY REALLY does come from within.  It is who you ARE, not what you look like..

Remembering my mother today and all that she continues to teach me.

Absolute Power of a Song: True Story

ImageLast night, I received the text  (featured in the above photo) from my son,just minutes before going into our church’s First Wednesday service AND I was responsible for leading worship. I would normally ignore this text, since my son plays pranks, but I distinctly remember him being pressed to “go running” after we got home around 5:15 and him ending on the neighborhood playground playing basketball. I  frantically called him and couldn’t get an answer.  I called my husband who was doing something and refused to discuss this pressing concern.

I was deeply troubled but decided to go inside to the service.  Thankfully, they were praying when I came in, and then there was a technical difficulty with the cord to the piano, so I would not have to “be on”.  While we waited, someone shared a testimony and our pastor followed with a brief word of encouragement, so that in just those 3-4 minutes I heard the song come in my heart, ” Bless the Lord, O my soul”(Tye Tribett).  Well we sang that song, followed by a worship song and I tell you that I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT MY SON’S TEXT!!!  The Pastor then exhorted us about the power of a song-   the song of Moses(deliverance)  and the Song of the Lamb (victory)!    I was very encouraged and only remembered that stupid text when saw my son when I got home.   Of course, it was a random trend on Instagram to send a text to alarm your parents and then post the results. I couldn’t even get mad for almost causing me the stress.

This morning I realized that I had in fact “lived” last nights exhortation – that as the Pastor was preaching about the power of a song, it was unfolding in my life when I made the decision to follow God instead of giving in to confusion…

I was reminded that  we get distracted all the time by things that “seem” devastating — diverting our attention, depleting our energy,AND producing unfounded doubts about our circumstances, families, careers etc.  In those moments, lift up a song, a praise before reacting!  The power of praise lies in the fact that all of our attention is directed to an almighty GOD who deeply loves us and empowers us to do the greater works.  It absolutely works, every single time… and even if the circumstance is, in fact, a challenging one, you arise from that praise knowing that you have an Almighty God who is working things out for your good.   And THAT is GREAT NEWS!!

Follow me

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I just got another email from Twitter, LinkedIn, and suggestions from Facebook to follow some “thought leader”, a friend on Twitter,  a page, a brand.   And it struck me that we receive so many requests these days to follow someone– and without too much thought because they seem familiar, we will “follow” them to where ever they want to take us. And with a click of a button, we are following a rabbit hole via a random thought on twitter, a new experience from a service provider, music from a new artist, or a provocative article or blog post on a subject we maybe interested in.

It gets even more interesting still, that information gatherers like Google, and social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are gathering data and making assumptions about YOU based on who you “follow” and what you may have clicked on no matter how random it is. Based on many of our half-hearted commitments to follow,  this information is sold to others to then draw you to “follow” them.  This is superficial.

But really following someone, some thing, some message takes a lot more commitment than pushing a button.  Really following someone is getting out of your seat, leaving your familiar places to pursue where the other person is going. It takes time. It takes action. It takes resources. It can be risky. It requires faith.   Sometimes you don’t even know where the other person is going, but really following has faith that where ever that destination is, is where YOU need to be.

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Well, Jesus was one of the first to say “Follow me”.  He called/beckoned His disciples using those words and they immediately left all to follow Him.  There doesn’t appear to be too much discussion, but somehow when He spoke, the words ignited a passion to leave all, risk all to have it all. Real following requires real discipleship.

Mark 10:28-30 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,  But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 

Trust Peter to always speak up. In Matthew, he adds a question to his declaration of having left all to follow Christ.  He says “what do we get?”    But look at Jesus’ heart — He is always seeking to give  us exponentially  more than whatever we give up to follow Him in this life.   But even more telling is that the disciplines did not ask Him this when they first left all to follow Him.  In those first words Jesus spoke to them, “Follow Me”, they had already found everything worth living for.

Laissez les bon temps rouler! What shall I render

I am refreshing /updating this note I wrote after Ash Wednesday 2009.  It still blesses me because it refocuses my mind in the Lenten season as a dedication and cultivation of my relationship with Christ right before He paid the ultimate price for our salvation and ultimate reconciliation with our Heavenly Father.  

“Laissez les bon temps rouler!” Let the Good Times Roll right into Lent

As a native of Louisiana,  Ash Wednesday was a huge deal because of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) whose whole existence is based on the big day of revelry and excess before the Lenten season begins.  Let’s live it up, before we have to give up everything.  What shall I give up is really tired, old, deficit thinking. The Good Book says obedience is better than sacrifice.  Obedience is a forward looking act of your will – acting on a requirement.   All sacrifice should come from a place of obedience rather than convenience.    This Lenten season, I am challenged to think deliberately of how I will prioritize my time to honor and cultivate my relationship with God in every area.

what shall I render


Ps 116:12 says in the Amplified version: “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? [How can I repay Him for all His bountiful dealings?]” 

The Lenten journey is marked by sacrifice – in recognition of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness before he began his ministry, facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance.

Many times we “give up” things, to sacrifice as Jesus did – to discipline our bodies and ultimately conquer it’s desires so we can focus on our purpose, goals etc. It’s very self-focused about getting ourselves right before God.

But this passage provokes me to ask the question ” What shall I GIVE, rather than “give up” — it is directed as an act of thanksgiving for God’s goodness rather than my own failures and struggles.  We don’t have stop having a good time during Lent, we can celebrate and honor our relationship with Him!

Of course, we can never repay God for what He has done for us – but psalmist offers a few suggestions in the following verses 13+. It’s a wonderful place to start

1. Thank God for His Blessings and partake of His saving grace

  • Ps 116:13 says: “I will lift up the cup of salvation and deliverance and call on the name of the Lord. Per one of the commentaries: To take the cup of salvation was in itself an act of worship, and it was accompanied with other forms of adoration, hence the Psalmist says, and call upon the name of the LORD. He means that he will utter blessings and thanksgivings and prayers, and then drink of the cup which the Lord had filled with his saving grace.

2. Boldly commit to do what you have vowed before God, and proclaim His goodness to others. 

  • Verse 14. “I will pay my vows to the Lord, yes, in the presence of all His people.
  • Another commentary writes: The Psalmist has already stated his resolution, to devote himself to the worship of God evermore, and here he commences the performance of that resolve. The vows which he had made in anguish, he now determines to fulfil. “I will pay my vows unto the Lord.” He does so at once, “now,” and that publicly, “in the presence of all his people.” Good resolutions cannot be carried out too speedily; vows become debts, and debts should be paid.

In this age of lack of commitment and betraying on ones word, “Do what you said you would do – no excuses, and don’t be ashamed of witnesses.” It’s liberating to live out your faith, to you and those around you. 

3. Rededicate your service to God, and as we do this we are free AND stay free

  • vs: 16 says: “O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid; You have loosed my bonds .   As explained, David in paying his vows rededicates himself unto God; the offering which he brings is himself, as he cries, O LORD, truly I am thy servant. We are liberated when we declare that we belong to an all mighty, all knowing, omni-present God. We can really boldly say, ” I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me”

4: Continue to give thanks to God for everything and seek Him on ALL things. 

  • vs: 17 says “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call on the name of the Lord.”   This posture reminds me that there is always a reason to give thanks even if I’m not feeling any gratitude at the present time. It is not about me but who God is. Think of how we teach our children to say thank you – many times because they are so focused on the gift. But acknowledging the giver is just as important. That’s why sometimes its a sacrifice, not conditional on how we feel at the moment but always celebrating the sovereignty and graciousness of God.

As Matthew 6:33 reminds us, as we seek Him first, everything else is taken care of. 

There will be times for introspection in this Lenten journey, that’s a necessary part of our daily walk. But God always encourages us that He is also focused on our destiny, our future, the limitless possibilities of walking with Him.

What shall I render means that I  ALWAYS have something to GIVE. In Christ, we are earthen vessels of HIS limitless GRACE, unsurpassed PEACE, unspeakable JOY. – conduits of His Love. Let this Lenten season be filled with the awesomeness of and gratitude for Christ’s great sacrifice, His ministry to others – especially the least of these, His great love for us. 

So over the next week as many of us will be celebrating Mardi Gras or not,  also plan for your Lenten journey.  And while sugar may be off the menu for the next 46 days,  giving our time, service, and thanksgiving to God is going to be the best sugar substitute.  

Unmerited Favor (Musings from Spring of 2009)

This a re-post from a note I penned in Facebook in late Spring 2009.  (you can find the original post Here 

Found a brief note I had written to myself on the back of an ATM receipt immediately after arriving home from my trip to the Middle East in mid February of this year 2009. It was entitled “ The Grace of God” – unmerited favor.

I jotted down 2 distinct times in my life where I experienced a profound sense of God’s grace – a distinct knowing or acknowledgement in my heart that I was the recipient of favor that was unmerited, unearned, unsolicited and feeing greatly humbled and unworthy of it. It was a knowing that I was profoundly loved and cared for by God Himself and wondering why.

My first remembrance was when I was 16 yrs old at a retreat that my Catholic all-girl school required for rising seniors. Unbeknownst to us, they had asked our parents (one or both) to write letters to us, which we then read during a one on one reflection time with the priest. Because I was not Catholic, and not particularly religious other than singing sometimes in my church’s youth choir (AME Church)- it was more of a discussion.

The retreat was held at a beautiful simple place in the woods and we were in a peaceful contemplative room. I can’t remember how the conversation started but I remember being handed my letters – my Mom and Dad wrote separate letters as requested. The letters were not lengthy, but they packed all the love they had in every sentence. As I read the letters I was overwhelmed with the feeling of being blessed. Not in the trite way that Christian folks say it now, because I really felt that I had literally been touched by God Himself. Tears started to well up in my eyes and the priest gently asked about what was going on. I told him that I was not worthy to be so blessed but I knew I was. I told him that I didn’t have a perfect life, but that I knew I had a great life with generous, wonderful parents who loved me unconditionally. I felt unworthy of this blessing – understanding that most folks don’t have this life. I knew I didn’t deserve any of it, but for some reason God had placed me in this environment just because. Everybody knows their parents love them, but somehow I KNEW it was from GOD. Before this time, my only thoughts about God were making sure He knew I didn’t need a personal visitation from the Virgin Mary. (That was really popular back then –No thank you. )

Fast forward to 2009

The second time of experiencing a profound sense of God’s unmerited favor was just a few months ago as I traveled to the airport leaving Dubai UAE. I knew that God had arranged the trip when I least expected it, did nothing to earn it, was completely unsolicited, and yet He wanted me to go. In fact, I entered into the New Year with huge challenges before me: drying up contracts, promising job interviews that the economy shut down, finishing up school applications for my kids for next year wondering how it was going to be paid and really REALLY missing my mother. Out of the blue, I was asked by a friend to attend this conference with her in Kuwait which was starting in 3 weeks with a few days afterward to see Dubai – I thought she was joking. Did she remember that I studied the subject matter in grad school? No – God just laid it on her heart to ask me to go.

God literally took me out of my circumstances and sent me half way around the world to relax with a skyline view in Dubai – no conditions. Like the first time when I was 16, tears welled up in my eyes because I knew that God had chosen me. In every view of the Arabian Gulf in Kuwait and then the Dubai skyline, I saw the hand of God in the gift of my friend. Through her willingness to obey God’s voice, I heard His voice saying I was very dear to Him, and that He wanted to show me so in a deliberately profound way. It also wasn’t just about me either – others were blessed to by this favor toward me.

What I know for sure it that God uses us as the vessels to bless others. We go day in and day out ignoring, discounting, and sometimes berating the conduits of God’s blessings in our lives and the lives of those around us. We need to cherish and honor these relationships, everyone that we come in contact with. We need so see them for the gift from God that they are and seek to share that gift to others. Grace comes in the smile of stranger, the hug of a child, a beautiful bloom in an unexpected place, a random compliment from your spouse. It is really all around us, if we have eyes to see.

Jesus did not wait till we deserved salvation to give His life for us – He extended grace when we needed it. Unlike Will Smith’s character in Seven Pounds, He is not going through our records and proving our character to see if we deserve the gift of life, grace, healing, provision. No- He says come to Him as you are, where ever you are, however you are.—and He’lll do the work in you as we allow Him access. In fact, He says “Come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy in the time of need”

And sometimes, when you are least expecting it – He sends a fresh breeze of His grace and perhaps a fresh rain, to water and cool the dry places of our souls. Just because He can.

On the Arabian Gulf at dusk

On the Arabian Gulf at dusk