Wisdom Fruit: A Journey in Proverbs 3: Oh, what JOY

Proverbs 3:13

“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.” Proverbs‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It’s all about Joy this beautiful Monday morning. I’m focused on just this one verse because JOY is the byproduct of wisdom. Joyful meaning FULL of JOY- Completely filled with well-being and happiness.

It comes when we:
1 – Find Wisdom
2 – Gain Understanding

Most of the time we have to look for something in order to find something. Very rarely does something just fall in our laps, but to find anything, even wisdom, we have to look or ask for it.


When we are looking/seeking, God wants our wholehearted attention as mentioned earlier in Proverbs. We must seek Him and His wisdom with our whole hearts. ( Jer. 29:13) When we ask Him for wisdom, James 1:5-6 says we are to ask boldly in faith, nothing wavering, and He will generously give it to us.

We gain understanding as we get and apply God’s wisdom. Proverbs 2:1-3 tells us to apply our hearts, concentrate on understanding, cry out for insight and ask for understanding. Finding wisdom and gaining understanding is not passive, but takes intentional, consistent effort. But in acquiring wisdom and understanding, we experience deep abiding joy that makes everything worthwhile. Joy is one of the fruit of the Spirit and it is something that God desires us to always have in abundance!

When we have joy, we also have strength! The Joy of the Lord is our strength! When we have joy, we don’t mind working hard and it helps us endure seeming impossible tasks. The Bible tells us that Jesus endured the cross when He thought about the Joy of reconciling us back to Him. God wants us to have abundant unspeakable joy!

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

21 Days of Grace – Day 17

John 1:14

John 1:14 (NIV)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Here, we see the love of God demonstrated so completely. Jesus, the Word of God, took on human form to dwell with us. Not just an angelic momentary visitation, sighting, or conversation like in the Old Testament, but Jesus actually lived among us, fellowshipping, teaching, ministering and touching us. And John says even though we have seen him as a man, we have also seen His divine nature, His glory , via miracles, his resurrection and walking so closely with Him attesting to His oneness with God.

And the very expression of Jesus (the Word) is FULL of GRACE ( empowering favor, benevolence, mercy kindness) and TRUTH (Jesus declared the truth only with all sincerity and integrity). How wonderful that we can go to His Word today and receive that grace and truth.

21 Days of Grace – Day 10

Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.

It is God’s grace alone that saves us. Earlier in this passage, we are told that it is His great love for us, even when we were dead in sin, that He made us alive in Christ. It is His gift to us. We can’t earn it, we just have to receive this grace BY FAITH. In this passage, Paul also recognizes man’s natural tendency to brag about our performance and he shut it down.

God’s abundant grace and gift of salvation are free to all who have faith in Christ and receive it! Ephesians 2:10 then says ““For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God then empowers us to do the work which in turn glorifies Him.

Fervent Love 

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8 

Fervent Love 

Last year on Valentine’s Day, I read this scripture and was captivated with the phrase “fervent charity” or fervent love! The scripture exhorts us to, “Above all things” over everything, HAVE fervent love, that is, display passionate intensity of love, among ourselves! FOR that love SHALL – not maybe or perhaps- cover or overlook a multitude of sin. 

When you are busy displaying love to your family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, neighbors, you don’t sweat the small stuff. By this shall all men know we are His disciples, the LOVE we have for one another. We love God and others because He FIRST loved us! His love never ever fails. 

That is why Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:17-19 that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which surpasseth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” We can forgive easily when we have the Love of God flowing in our hearts. It covers, indeed, overcomes, flushes out any ill-will, discontent, anger, regret and SIN in our hearts. 

Let’s us remember with deep gratitude, the “greater love” Christ displayed for us and let us be that conduit of grace and fervent Love  to one another!  Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Building Trust in Me 


Seven  years ago, this little $9 phone was my lifeline for an entire year.  When I found it this week, a flood of emotions came as memories rushed to greet this old friend. You see, this little phone helped me to start believing in myself again. 

 The 2 1/2 years following my lovely mother’s earthly departure, I lost 8-10 phones.  I lost so many, my phone carrier cancelled my insurance and I started to buy these cheap dealios. During that time I was also leaving my debit and credit cards everywhere: Gas stations, grocery stores, retail, fast foods joints, but God led me to find those cards every single time. My phones were not so lucky. 

A dear friend ( who is ultra neat, careful, together) told me that when her Mom died she found herself uncharacteristically absentminded.  BUT, I was already the absentminded professor, so this new forgetfulness was on steroids.  The vast chasm that my Mom left behind in my heart and mind made me lose my bearing. I was in an altered universe and maintaining sound footing became my constant survival focus.  I was adrift at times and it found hard to make decisions – like my compass was off and needed recalibrating.  I don’t know how I managed looking back , because I was consulting and had 2 small children. But I heard God say, try to keep your phone for a year. 

So I got this little phone-the same brand that I had  bought a few times before and I found that I had kept it for 3 months. Then this extended to 6 months.   Folks were giving me the side-eye  or arched eyebrow, when I pulled out this phone.  My kids begged me to get a new phone. But I  wanted to be faithful with THIS phone as directed.   When  I had finally kept it for a full year, I was euphoric because I realized that a bridge had been built to connect me to normal mindfulness. I could trust “ME” again. (But God’s faith in me was sure) 

I replaced that cheap phone with a better one, and was able to keep it until I upgraded again. I know it may appear slight,  but this small feat leveraged my confidence in a BIG way! As Ben Franklin said “Small strokes fell great oaks.” God truly had delivered me in this area and my trust in me had a sure footing because it was rooted in Christ.  

Lord knows, my confidence has wavered (does waver) and taken some brutal hits many times since then. But seeing this little cell phone was like God sending a message from the past of His great faithfulness and love for me. Just like mustard seed faith can move mountains, in His economy, “my little” becomes much in His hands!   

The More Excellent Way 


Morning reflections: Happy Wednesday! 

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.”Luke‬ ‭6:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬ http://bible.com/116/luk.6.27.nlt

I read this verse in Luke 6, and it really hit me that God’s love is unconditional so He commands us to love the same way. The whole chapter is compelling but this verses stood out to me this morning because of my recent posts about presidential candidate, DT. His remarks were (are) so offensive to me, and yet God loves him so unconditionally and therefore I should too. As I stepped off my high horse, I realized that as a beneficiary of God’s grace and love, I should be a conduit of God’s grace and love to EVERYONE. We all need God’s grace.  

Politics/ Social Justice has always been a concern of mine – especially given the hateful dark rhetoric that perpetuates the Political climate today. But as MLK said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

Love is the winning strategy that assures certain victory because it NEVER FAILS! I Cor 13:7-8 says Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. It is the more excellent way (I Cor 12:31) 

My snide remarks about DT on FB did NOT reflect the character or desire of God, who reminded me this morning that I am His child first! So while I may post about issues I am passionate about I can do so with grace and love that God has so graciously extended to me. 

Remembering my mother

  
It is with a very full heart that I remember my dear mother on the 10th anniversary of her passing. She was that fairy dust that lingered eternally everywhere she went leaving it better, more interesting and happier! She could take anything and make it fun and so so beautiful! She smiled and laughed ALOT! She loved all my friends who became her extended daughters and sons. She fiercely loved her children and knew and celebrated the uniqueness of eachShe could pick the perfect Christmas gift for my husband James Zimmerman. lol! 

She never panicked. She was the original steel magnolia, solution oriented, elegant, fire and ice. She was a champion for the disenfranchised, advocate for the voiceless, a civil Rights leader honored by the State NAACP. She never turned anyone away. 

As fabulous as she was, she did not spend large amounts of time on herself apart from her weekly appointments with Wyona Battle, because her hair was her crown of glory. She was the hardest working board member, and many times at events she was setting up, decorating and making it all look effortless as she wielded her wand! She was an avid crossword enthusiast, read fluffy books and magazines, Legacy Howard U grad, Ivy League grad school, and high school valedictorian. 

 She was a woman of great FAITH, Intercessor and rose early to pray and read the Bible every morning! We found many journals of her prayers that she wrote down for all of us calling us by name to petition Jesus Christ on our behalf. Estelle Elayne Butler Bryant was born on 3/3/33 and I really still can’t believe that she is no longer with us because she is still so vibrant in my heart and mind! I love you and miss you my darling dearest Mother !

Lifetime love

Lifetime love

They were married almost 62 years, and as she fell ill, she told him “thank you for giving me such a wonderful life” and he said “thank you for making my life wonderful.” 

I was thinking about commitment and remembered a note I wrote on Facebook after interviewing two octogenarians for an oral history project I was working on.  I was moved to tears many times hearing them tell their stories even though the topic was unrelated. I thought I’d share a glimpse of what REAL commitment looks like, sounds like, talks like.  What “til death do us part” means….

I am so grateful for the journey that led me to this particular life event. 

(the link to the original note is in red above, but is posted below)

Lifetime Love

March 22, 2009 at 3:50pm

I’m learning about lifetime love -I’m talking about love between married couples that starts before “I do” and literally lasts until “Death do us part.” This lesson started to unfold just in the last month or so, as I started a new project documenting a black banking legacy, conducting oral histories of folks who are in their late 70’s, 80’s and yes, 90’s. It is amazing how God works in the strangest ways, and certainly at the start of this venture I didn’t think that “lifetime Love” was on the agenda. I’m learning more and more that love is always on God’s mind, you can find it anywhere, everywhere because it is the essence of who He is. 

2 different stories have anchored themselves in my memory- one from an 89 yr old gentleman and the other from a lovely reserved woman in her mid 80’s. Both had lost their spouses recently, in 2008, and in both instances, as they shared their stories about their banking experiences their relationship with the spouse came up with all the love and longing, as if it were yesterday. 

The gentleman said when he first saw, met his wife, he proposed on the first day – He was newly arrived in Washington DC to participate in the GI’s promise of college education at Howard – Howard was full so he went to American University instead even tho’ he still lived in Howard’s dorms.  He went to get a bite to eat and said he knew when he saw her over 60 yrs ago that she was his wife and so he told her so. She brushed him off time and time again, as he would frequent where she worked as a waitress, hostess. At one point, she told him to leave her alone which he did for about 2-3 weeks. Then he got a call from her inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner at her parents house. He gladly accepted and when he went over there he proposed to her again, asked her father and they were married several months later.   All of this happened in a period of months! They were married almost 62 years, and as she fell ill, she told him “thank you for giving me such a wonderful life” and he said “thank you for making my life wonderful.” Upon hearing those words spoken so tenderly and lovingly, my heart swelled and I was speechless. This was a lifetime love story. When I asked how he knew she was the one – he just replied, I knew. The decision was made and that was that. 

The woman I interviewed had a similar story. She met her husband because he just happened to ride down (from Wash DC ) to North Carolina with a friend who was smitten with her sister. Upon seeing her, he was also taken and asked her if he could come down to visit her. She sort of brushed him off too, but he kept visiting her since his friend kept making that drive down to North Carolina. He was persistent and almost made the drive every weekend. He started coming by himself. He was on a mission one weekend, because even Hurricane Camille and the flooding that ensued could not keep him away. He proposed that weekend and they were married a few months later on New Years Day 1955. She followed him to Washington DC where they made a life together for over 52 years. The faith, the love, the mutual respect was so evident in her voice. 

I learned that things were not perfect, but in both instances, their commitment to each other and mutual respect and love endured the imperfections. The honor and pride that they took in their respective spouses and celebrating the decision & commitment itself made so long ago was at the heart of these lifetime love stories. They took seriously (held sacred) the covenant and the vows they made to each other before witnesses and before God. 

So many times we get stuck in “what have you done for me lately” syndrome. This works/performance-based “love” is doomed to failure if one’s performance slips. What is implied is, ” I’m with you” for better, richer, and in health. If perchance, things gets worse, poorer and in sickness then I’m not so sure how that is going to work for me. 

This culture shuns commitment, makes light of marriage vows — it welcomes those contingency clauses that help us wiggle out of commitment – to limit exposure. Tell me this… How do limit exposure on a life time commitment??? Breaking a lifetime covenant should be costly… it should be punitive, and it should make us think twice (or 70 x 70) before rendering void a sacred commitment. 

But these beautiful stories so poignantly illustrate that, lifetime love is a decision you make. It is built on foundational principals of respect, honor, humility, gentleness, hard work, humor and resolute commitment to honor your word. This is why we love to see Obama’s – we see the mutual respect, the honor, the gentleness, that commitment, and yes the LOVE. It’s empowering to see people really love each other, and honor and respect they have for one another. 

We have all seen the tumultuous winds of changing circumstances, changing personalities, broken promises, and so forth try to tear down or weaken the vows we made to each other. There will be other trials ahead of us, but God has shown me thru the lives of these two wonderful people what lifetime love looks like — and that is what I want! Lifetime love also means lifetime learning and so, I’m really hoping that I learn the lesson that their lives are teaching.

Someone is determined to be a blessing to me

Yes – It’s true.  Absolutely true.  I don’t know exactly what to do with it because I feel most unworthy.  She is a long time friend from college, though our friendship started after that time when we went to church together and we were in our mid 20s.   She thinks so highly of me, and reminds of things I said or done that I have no recollection of doing over our long friendship together.   We are VERY low maintenance friends. We don’t demand much of each others time and speak about 6 times a years – sometimes more, sometimes less. But mostly we laugh together (REALLY REALLY laugh) and serve together. I can call her anytime and ask her to do something (and vice versa) and with little hesitation do we respond and help for that period of time.  Lately, as my 50th birthday approaches, she has called me at least twice a month since August to find out what I’m doing to celebrate, how can she help, what dates am I thinking about so that she can clear her schedule, inviting me to whatever she is doing if I am not celebrating in a big way.  She called just this week to say that she would like to treat me to dinner if I’m not celebrating!!!  She is determined to bless me, to honor a significant time in my life.  I am greatly moved and quite overwhelmed by her desire to bless me.

This morning as I pondered her desire to be a blessing to me, it occurred to me this is how God is.   He is always waiting for opportunities to bless us, to honor our relationship with Him, to fellowship, to commune with us. Yes, we are unworthy, but this is how He is.  Remember the  prodigal son (in the Bible), who thought he only deserved to eat with his father’s servants, and yet when he returned, his father gave him a ring, a robe and a feast for coming back.  No matter how unworthy we feel or whatever we may have done, God is always trying to give to us. His hand is ALWAYS open.

So today,  I am so very thankful to God for this wonderful reminder of His persistent love toward us in the life of my dear friend.