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Blackstrap Molasses, The New Black Gold

“Eeww, what’s that brown stuff?” my 4 year old asked as I placed a heaping spoon of viscous goodness in the blender.

This brown stuff, nearly black in color and a little pungent is none other than Unsulfured Blackstrap Molasses.

molasses

Molasses is something we may think of as a strange thing from a bygone era. Sure it is in gingersnap cookies and gingerbread but is anybody really using it these days? And what is it really?

 

Molasses is the byproduct that’s left over from converting sugar cane into sugar. While the end result, table sugar gives you no nutritional value, its byproduct molasses is chock full of goodness.

 

To me, molasses is a superfood that doesn’t get nearly enough recognition. It’s like crude…Black Gold, Texas Tea. Just 2 tablespoons contains half of your daily intake of iron and nearly half your daily intake of calcium along with other minerals and vitamins such as B6, magnesium and potassium.

 

I began taking blackstrap molasses several years ago during a pregnancy. The doctor said I was anemic and I knew I didn’t want to take a supplement that could cause constipation so I went on the hunt for natural remedies. I came upon the wonderful benefits of molasses and began taking 2 tablespoons a day either in a smoothie or directly off of a spoon.

 

And you know what? My iron levels returned to normal.

 

It’s a safe sweetener for diabetics as it has a low glycemic index and does not cause sugar spikes. It is also a natural stool softener.

 

So head over to your natural food store and pick up some blackstrap molasses, the new Black Gold today. And before you know it, you may be inspired to whip up a batch of gingerbread, molasses cookies, baked beans, and molasses bread, all because of your newfound love of molasses.  I just made a batch of gingerbread scones, made vegan by replacing the butter with coconut oil and the egg with a flax egg.

molasses jar

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

The Original Design Star

As I stood at my window watching fat juicy snowflakes fall, I thought of the intricate detail in which they are fashioned. Their complex design emerges as they travel through different temperatures and humidity levels. God knows each and every turn of the snowflake’s formation and knows what the end design will be.

snow hill

Not too different from what happens to us. God 1st knew us before we were knit together in our mother’s womb. Through the storms of life we experience changes in temperature and humidity levels: financial struggles, failed relationships, illness, change of job, births, deaths. And through these changes, we are being shaped and fashioned into intricate, complex human beings. If we allow ourselves to be saturated with more water droplets as the snowflake does, we too will emerge as the fearfully wonderfully made creations we were designed to be. His living water is the molecule that wants to bond to us, allowing us to be transformed into His image. You are the original Design Star.

wet snow 2

 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

 

We’ve been intricately designed, formed and fashioned to accomplish a specific purpose in the earth. We were born to the parents we were, with the physical attributes we have, in the neighborhoods we’ve lived, in the decades we’ll live, with the gifts, talents, skills and abilities we have all for a divine purpose.

wet snow 3

So free yourself to put His workmanship in YOU on display. He created you, His masterpiece not to collect dust in someone’s attic; in the attic of your own fears, self doubt and self denial. But He created you to be framed and hanged in the Louvre Museum, on display for the world to see. He said you were created for good works that He prepared beforehand.

 

NOW IS YOUR TIME TO WALK IN THEM.

 

Be the original design star He created you to be.

snowflake

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

 

Feature image photo credit

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How to Get Them to Eat Right

He’s a picky eater.

Oh she’ll never eat that.

He doesn’t eat anything green.

 

I’ve heard parents say it all regarding their children’s food habits. I am persuaded that children can and will eat healthy foods. The onus is on the parent to know the way, show the way then go the way.

 

The home is a ministry center for nourishing the spirit, mind and the body. Just as we train them up to respect authority, to do well in school, to try their best in their extracurricular activities and the like, we have to train them to care for their health by consuming foods that nourish the body. It is our responsibility to point to way that leads them to eat right.

 

Train up a child in the way he should go,

And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

 

We can actually begin that training in utero. Flavors are actually transmitted through amniotic fluid. Flavors are also present in breast milk. So early on we can introduce our children to a wide variety of flavors. We can acclimate them to the tastes from different cultures and different cooking methods i.e. eating cooked foods and raw.

Joaquin green smoothie

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This Little guy is always snagging my green smoothies

 

Everything you present isn’t always going to be adopted right away. One of my children never liked oatmeal. But every time we had oatmeal she took 2 courtesy bites. Guess who loves oatmeal now? But she didn’t enjoy it until she was 9. And this morning we had oatmeal and she was the first one happily lapping it up. Studies suggest it takes 8-10 tries of something that one claims they do not like before it’s adopted.  And then some things, yes, they just won’t like.  And I’m ok with that.  I don’t eat potato salad and I don’t eat Okra.  But I try a bite every now and again…just in case my tastes have changed.

 

Oh how my heart is wrenched when I see parents who’ve adopted new eating habits yet let their children continue to consume unhealthy foods on a consistent basis. I believe the parents may be thinking the children just won’t eat healthy, they’ll never try it, I want peace, I don’t want to fight with them and similar lines of thinking. I know it’s hard Mom and Dad but we’ve got to be creative, diligent, persistent and insistent on helping our children eat right.

 

The way I eat now isn’t the way I was raised as a young child either. My favorite meal as a kid was Kraft macaroni and cheese with fried chicken wings and canned corn. My mother, bless her heart did the best she could with what she had. Besides she was the baby girl in her family and never learned to cook. But when we know better, God holds us accountable to do better.

 

For those that now desire a better way, God can redeem the time and restore the years that have already passed. Do you desire change but don’t know how to get your family on board? How to get them to eat right? Try these tips.

 

Invite them in the kitchen when you are preparing meals

 kids blend Ninja

chappati

 

kids eat collards

Let them help create the menu

Tofu Lettuce Wraps

 

Stock the fridge and pantry with nourishing foods

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fridge full produce

Well, when these are your options, you eat what’s here or go hungry

 

Let them choose one new item each week from the grocery store.

groceries

Take them to places that are rich in new food experiences

Dc Veg Fest

 

Kids Food Fest

 

Make healthier versions of stuff they like

Fries

granola bars

Serve food in the “make your own plate” style. This works well for Taco Bar, Baked Potato Bar, Tapas

chipotle at home

Teach them what a serving size looks like

 

Teach them to read food labels

Following are 2 examples of doing this with my children. A McDonald’s coupon booklet came in the mail and my daughter wanted the fries. I told her to look up the ingredients. Once she saw the list she said never mind. Another time she got a rice crispy treat from a school party. I told her to read the list of ingredients. She came across a few items that she couldn’t pronounce, including tert-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). This additive found in many packaged foods is a preservative and in high doses is a carcinogenic. In addition to food, it is used industrially as stabilizer to inhibit corrosion and is added to varnishes and lacquers. Needless to say we got a good laugh out of that one and she went on to eat the treat but hasn’t eaten one ever again. TBHQ and High Fructose Corn Syrup are now running jokes over here. Even my 6 year old reads the labels and if she sees sugar listed in the 1st 5 ingedients she’ll tell her siblings, “That’s not healthy!”

 

I know change is possible. The children of one of my friends would only eat pancakes for breakfast and chicken nuggets for dinner. That was their norm for several years. As God began to reveal a better plan to my friend, she slowly adopted new habits and it became a family affair.

 

Now I’m no health food Gestapo. My children do like pizza and ice cream. And I do let them indulge occasionally. Besides, they get enough junk from well meaning teachers, coaches, mentors, friends, and even the dry cleaner that they don’t need it at home too.  So as a baseline, we eat our food close to the way it looked when it grew.

 

At ages 10 & 9, my oldest children have gotten to the age where they are making many of their own food choices. At home, they are presented with healthy foods (with the occasional chips and cookies Daddy brings home. I love the guys but I swear sometimes I feel like he’s playing on the other team. Mommy’s offering raspberries and here comes Cookie Man, the hero to save the day). When at a friends house, church event, or family function, I simply remind them to choose well. I may also suggest to them to think about what they’ve already consumed that day and to choose well based on what nutrients or junk they’ve already put in.

 

Studies predict that for the first time in history, the next generation will have a shorter life span than their parents. And what makes that even more tragic is that the decline in life expectancy is primarily due to obesity related diseases that are largely preventable. Just as we desire to be in health and prosper even as our souls prosper, don’t we have that same desire for our children? If so, what are we doing today to make that a reality for our children?

 

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. Deuteronomy 30:19

 

Being a parent is tough and requires us to make tough decisions. But as a parent you make the tough decisions out of the love you have for your children. We cannot be too passive, tired, weary, or frustrated when it comes to parenting and helping them choose well in honoring the temple is included in that.

 

Oh how much easier it would be for me to cook a boxed starch already seasoned, take a protein and douse it in a ready made sauce, heat some frozen veggies and call everyone to the table for dinner? How much easier it would be for me to go through the drive through on the nights we have Boy Scouts because after dropping 3 of the 5 to school, taking another to pre-school then taking the baby with me to grocery shop at 2 different stores come home put groceries away, wash, dry, fold and put away 3 loads of laundry, clean a bathroom, make ministry phone calls, take back overdue library books, pick up dry cleaning, go back to the school for afternoon pickups, take the 30 minute drive back home to change clothes and quickly eat dinner before we take that same 30 minute drive back out to the Boy Scouts meeting….whew the drive thru would have been real convenient. And in a rare pinch I may have to make a run to Chipotle but that’s rare. True nourishment comes from the love I infuse into the fresh fruits, vegetable, legumes and whole grains my family noshes on.

 

The food I offer them each day is making an impression not only on their taste buds in the moment but is being coded in their brains. They are developing a preference for salt, fat and sugar. It is my prayer that they would desire foods that nourish and honor their bodies.

 

The Lord gave me a major revelation as related to the health of my children and their children to come. I was filling out some initial new patient forms, one of which was the family history. I went down the line checking off ailment after ailment that my mother, grandmother and other immediate family members have had. Diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, glaucoma, migraines, autoimmune disorders and more…CHECK. In that moment the Lord said, “The choices you make today will break the curse”. In the church we talk about breaking generational curses and the Lord was telling me how I could have a direct impact on breaking some of the health curses over my family. He said, “Choose well and your children won’t have to check some of these boxes and then their children will check even fewer.” Can we say PRAISE HIM for revelation!

 

So out of my love for them, even if they don’t like me for it now, I’m training them to choose well when it comes to food. Sure, they’d probably like some McDonald’s fries on a Friday night but when I think about the 17 ingredients in there…I just can’t. My goodness, shouldn’t it just be potatoes, salt and oil? And sure I feel for them when they are ostracized at school for having “weird” food but I just have to remind them and myself that we are set apart, a chosen generation, and a royal priesthood. We are a peculiar people and I pray that in taking this small stance with being proud of what’s in their lunchboxes, that it will lay the foundation for when they come up against even greater persecution.

IMG_1770

I am confident that you are nurturing your children’s mental, spiritual, social and emotional well being. So what can you do today to ensure that you are positively contributing to their physical well-being as related to the food they consume?

Eli loves veggies

I know…the big knife’s a danger to the little guy.  He just loves raw veggies and is always reaching in to grab some.

Disclaimer

{This was a hard post for me to write, as I wanted to be sensitive to each family’s background, preferences, dynamics, finances, beliefs about food, etc. There is so much that plays into our relationship with food. Out of obedience to God, I’ve written it exactly as He’s given it to me so I pray hearts are open and receptive as I share only from a place of love and concern.}

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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My Last Breath

As I sit and watch the rise and fall of my chest,

 

I wonder…

 

How many more breaths do I have on this earth? I made a comment to one of my children the other day, and it got me to thinking. I said, “I’m tired of wasting my breath. I keep asking you to do the same thing every day.”

 

Indeed, I do believe I am wasting my breath talking to him yet again about that messy room but that’s a story for another day.

 

I do believe that our breaths are numbered. If God has numbered the hairs on our heads and knows when we lose one single strand, he who’s given every snowflake a unique symmetrical design, he who causes the sun to rise and set every single day…yes he knows how many breaths each of us will take on this earth. And while I am here I want my breaths to count. Surely I do not want to waste my last breath.

 

He breathed into our nostrils the breath of life.

 

Every inhalation and every exhalation is a gift.

 

We inhale, our lungs fill up and little hairs, cilia keep dirt, mucus, and bacteria from invading our bodies. Oxygen in the air is taken into the lungs then carried through the blood to your cells. Every single cell in the body needs a continuous supply of oxygen and breathing supplies that need. Then we breathe out waste.

 

By the age of 80 you will have breathed nearly 600 million breaths. Just imagine…600 million breaths. Something we do so mindlessly. Something we take for granted. Something we put so little effort in. But God shows us that great and mighty things occur when he breathes.

 

 

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

He breathes LIFE

 

And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22

He breathes SPIRIT

 

Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Ezekiel 37:8-10

He breathes RESURRECTION

 

He has breathed these very things into you. But what filter is His fresh wind coming through?

 

Is your filter like this cabin air filter?

Cabin Air Filter

It cleans the air that comes into the interior of your vehicle. It catches dust, pollen, debris and other airborne material. It is recommended that it’s replaced every 12,000-15,000 miles but many have gone YEARS without changing it. You may even have some signs that the cabin air filter needs changing: smelly musty air, reduced airflow and noise.

 

When we breathe in God, we breathe in fresh wind, not recycled, stale cabin air but life giving air. He supplies the fresh wind and he’s equipped us to take that fresh wind, filter it and use it to oxygenate our lives.

Pence pond

Even in breathing in fresh wind, our cilia trap all kinds of dirt and debris. Our hurts, pains, frustrations, worries, anxieties, cares and concerns can block and cloud our filters. The fresh wind is now stifled. The air is now coming through the clogged filter of our heart. It can feel like we are being choked. We are being starved of pure oxygen and without it we’ll perish. There are signs of stifled breathing and if we are paying attention we can recognize them: lightheaded, fatigued, anxiety, memory loss, irritability, sleeps deprivation and more. Oh, Father let us not be an oxygen-deprived people. Let every breath be breathed as if it were our last. Deep. Full. Cleansing. Healing.

 

Thank you Jesus that we can clean the filter and breathe without impediment. All it takes is a washing in the Word. My beloved Dyson vacuum was making lots of noise. I was in a near panic as this is a much need tool in my house and a costly one at that. My husband suggested, “check the filter.” And he was right. The filter is washable and needs cleaning every three months. It had surely been longer than 3 months since I’d last cleaned it.

 

We take out the dirty filter of lies, wounds and negative beliefs and replace it with the pure oxygenated truth of God’s word.

 

BREATHE IN

Peace

Joy

Love

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self control

Wisdom

Strength

 

 

BREATHE OUT

Frustration

Irritability

Impatience

Annoyance

Aggravation

Jealousy

Envy

Malice

Hatred

Judgment

 

I breathe you in God. Breath contains water. You are the river of living water. You are LIFE. There is water in your breath. On a cold day, you can see your breath, as the water vapor in your lungs becomes a small cloud when pushed out of your mouth. Oh the joy of being a kid and making shapes, rings and things with my breath smoke. Thank you God that you remind us that there is life sustaining water even in our breathing.

 

When He utters His voice—

There is a multitude of waters in the heavens:

“He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth;

He makes lightnings for the rain;

He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”

Jeremiah 51:16

 

Join me in breathing deeply today friends as we breathe Him in. When I was just 18, my mother took her last breath. I had seen her a few days prior and she gave no indication that she knew her breaths were numbered. Even.as.she.took.the.very.last.breath. Did she realize the end was imminent? When I’ll take my last breath, I have no idea. But I have purposed to live life embracing the now moment, knowing that the next breath could very well be my last so I ought to make it count.

 

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SLOW

 

DEEP

 

PURPOSEFUL

 

BREATHING

 

Breathing is a time of refreshing.

 

Every breath is a celebration of life.

 

Don’t waste it.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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Red Cabbage Salad w/ Spicy Peanut Dressing

In my pursuit to honor my temple through proper nourishment, I’ve found a rhythm that works well for me; a green smoothie for breakfast, a raw lunch and a low-fat, well-balanced dinner.  I have a few staples that are in regular rotation for my lunch and this is one of them.  I make a big bowl of this salad on Monday morning and I eat it for several days.  Add the protein of your choice.  I usually add tempeh or sliced almonds.

Red Cabbage Salad w/ Spicy Peanut Dressing

1 medium head red cabbage thinly sliced

1 red pepper thinly sliced

1 cup green beans lightly blanched, cut in pieces

3 sprigs scallions sliced

1 tbsp sesame seeds

½ cup water

¼ cup soy sauce

1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

3 tsp sesame oil

3 tbsp natural peanut butter

1 in piece of ginger peeled

2 large cloves fresh garlic peeled

1 tsp crushed red pepper flake

IMG_4657

Toss together red cabbage, red pepper, green beans, scallion and sesame seeds. Gather the remaining ingredients, place in high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

 

In fact, this dressing is multi-purpose.  Add a little more sesame oil and use it to make sesame noodles.  Minus the peanut butter, add another clove or two of garlic and 1 tbsp corn starch and use it to make broccoli in garlic sauce (recipe here).

 

Happy Cooking!

red cabbage salad

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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I’m Done With Labels

Omnivore. Vegetarian. Pescatarian. Raw. Vegan. Flexitarian.

 

I’m so OVER labels.

 

Today marks Day 10 of a 10-Day cleanse for me. Over the holidays I did a little more social eating than usual. I nibbled on food when I wasn’t really hungry just because I was in social gatherings where food was present. So to kick off the year, I wanted to reset my body and start the year clean and strong.

 

The 1st three days of the cleanse I consumed juices and smoothies exclusively and days 4-10 raw foods only. The last 7 days haven’t been drastically different than the way I normally eat. I usually have a green smoothie for breakfast and eat raw for lunch so at least half my day I generally consume raw foods. Does this mean I espouse a raw food diet for everyone? NO.

 

What I advocate and encourage for myself, my family and for everyone is to rethink your plate. Somewhere along the line we’ve been taught to think that our plate should look like a Swanson TV dinner tray; you know the one, divided into sections, the largest section with a big hunk of meat, a medium sized portion of starch and a small side of vegetables (and perhaps a dessert).

swanson tv dinner

Well even the government is acknowledging the old model isn’t working for the Western diet. They’ve done away with the old food pyramid and have introduced Choose My Plate. And finally, the vegetable portion is the largest section on the plate.

choose my plate

And that’s my urge to you. Increase your consumption of whole food plant-based items. Eat food that closely resembles what it looked like when it grew. Eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains and less processed, refined, packaged dead foods. Eating foods that still have life in them will contribute to giving life to your blood, muscles, and organs. You are a finely crafted machine and you need high-octane fuel to run on.

colorful salad

Would you put regular gas in your Porsche Carerra? NO! That high performance engine needs premium fuel and so do you. When you put inferior gas in a high performance car you can experience knocking. And that’s also what happens to the body when you put inferior, processed, highly refined foods in it. Your body ‘knocks’ suffering from disease, inflammation, aches, pains, irregularity in elimination, and more.

 

God wants you to eat of the good of the earth. From the earth, He provides you with what your body needs.

 

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” Genesis 1:29

kale salad chickpeas

I pray you are INSPIRED to eat the bounty of the good of the earth. I encourage you to eat raw food at least once a day. When we heat our food to high temperatures we begin to kill essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes (though there are a few foods that benefit from heating).

 

I’m done with labels. When someone asks, “Are you a vegan?” I simply answer I eat mostly a plant based diet. Every now and again I do enjoy a slice of pizza and I’m not talking about a pizza with vegan Daiya cheese either. I’m talking about a slice of heavy, ooey gooey hot oily cheesy goodness.

 

I don’t care what you call yourself, just eat more of what’s good for you and less of what your body can’t recognize. When we consume highly processed and highly refined foods, our bodies don’t readily recognize them and as a result the body can react with inflammation, allergies, bloating and the like.

 

So what will you do today to honor your temple? There are plenty of things I like that do not honor my temple. I love Jax Cheese Curls, Macaroni and Cheese (my third favorite food behind popcorn and kale salad), Pizza and Ice Cream. But I have to make a decision to say YES to my health and NO to these items. As a rare treat I may indulge in one of those items.

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So here’s a start. Choose something on the Eat This to consume and something from the NOT THIS to get rid of. Or take one item that you normally eat and find out how you can prepare it in a different way that is lower in fat, lower in calories and retains more of the nutrients. One. Small. Step. At. A. Time.

 

Eat This

Apple w/ Almond Butter

Green Beans sautéed with fresh garlic

Baked Fish

Homemade salad dressings and sauces

Brown Rice, Quinoa

Maple syrup, Honey, Dates

Air Popped Organic Popcorn

 

Not This

Candy Bar

Green Beans cooked to their death in chicken broth

Fried Fish

Bottled salad dressings & sauces

White Rice

White Sugar

Potato Chips

 

Each moment of the day, we are presented with choice. I urge you to choose well.

 

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. Deuteronomy 30:19

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired to Live Fully!

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4 Things We Must Know To Stay Aligned

You keep being pulled to the left so you keep pulling to the right to compensate. The inside is all worn down but the outer edges looks okay so you shrug your shoulders and brush it off. Then you lit a little bump and it sends you clear into a head on disaster.

 

If only you had gotten an alignment.

 

The purpose of a wheel alignment is to ensure your vehicle’s travel is truly straight, without pulling to one side or the other. The alignment will keep your travel safe, your wheels from uneven wear, your gas burning efficiently and your ride smooth.

 

Isn’t that like life? Our spiritual lives can get out of alignment.

 

I’ve been there. I’ve had times when I was just going through the motions; my prayers were rote, my worship was weak and my praise dry. I can remember as a babe in Christ my spiritual mom telling me that she was in a dry place with God. I COULD NOT fathom what she was talking about. I was on fire for God, shouting from the rafters to anyone who would listen. I couldn’t imagine not being intimately connected and actively engaged with Him. Well…I found out. And it wasn’t an all at once thing. It was the slow ebbing, the slow leaking and you look up one day and the relationship is flat.

 

4 Things We Must Know to Stay Aligned

 

  1. The Signs

 

When your wheels need to be aligned, your steering wheel may be crooked, your car may be pulling to one side or the other, or you may see uneven wear on your tires. We also have signs when we are in need of spiritual alignment. We may feel disconnected to God. We may have fallen into practicing repetitive motions that lack true love and desire to spend time with Him. We may feel like we don’t “need” to pray. Have you skipped days of devotional time? Have you tuned God out? Are your ears dull to hearing His voice? Have you missed a few bible studies or ministry meetings?

 

 

  1. How Did I Get Here

 

Your vehicle can get out of alignment by hitting potholes and bumps in the road, taking corners too fast and the force of gravity from regular driving. Likewise our spiritual lives come upon some potholes. Did a devastating blow cause you to question God’s love, care and concern for you? Did something happen to someone you love and you question his ability to protect? Did your moving too fast to make your own decisions without consulting Him pull you away? Did the everyday little issues of life, working overtime, social media, activity in other social organizations, a new relationship pull your attention away?

 

  1. Get Aligned

 

Well, there’s good news! You can come in for an alignment. When you bring your car to the shop for an alignment, before they even proceed to align the wheels, they perform a thorough inspection of the front-end parts (control arm, tire rods and more). The technician uses high tech equipment to square the car’s wheels and axles. You can bring your spiritual life into alignment by asking God to inspect your heart. Cry out to Him.

 

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

 

He is sure to answer, as He’s always been right there beside you, watching and waiting even if you can’t see or feel Him near.

 

“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

 

Not only is He right there, He loves you and seek to be with you.

 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

 

 

  1. Staying Aligned

 

Just like we have regularly scheduled maintenance for our cars, our relationship with God requires regular maintenance. But like with our cars, we sometimes only bring them in when there’s evidence of a problem. Oh, my steering wheel is way too the left, let me bring it in. In our spiritual lives, we may be discouraged, disgruntled and in despair. You can bring yourself to the throne of grace where you can obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

How often are you taking with God? Not just taking TO God but WITH God? It should be a daily, ongoing dialogue not a once a day monologue. How often to do you seek Him in His word? How often do you enter His presence with thanksgiving and His courts with praise? And here I’m not even talking about being physically in church but His presence in your heart? Even if you are frustrated, mad, sad, confused, hurt, annoyed, irritated, cynical, jaded…whatever you are feeling just come to Him. He’s waiting with open arms.

 

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

 

Not only have I had to get alignments on my car, I’ve has to get alignments on my spine. After suffering from migraines for over 20 years, I’ve finally been set free. God used the hands of my chiropractor the help facilitate my healing. Chiropractic care was one of my last ditch efforts to rid myself of migraines. I had tried everything: food modification, stress management, breathing techniques, cold compresses, massage therapy, beta blockers, Imitrex, Aspirin, Aleve, Excedrin Migraine, Maxalt, Midrin, Zomig and on and on! All to no avail. But a sweet friend of mine who has witness my bouts with migraines and has even had to take me to the ER for them, was sitting in her chiropractor’s office and immediately called me and said you have to come here. That was 3 years ago and I can count the number of migraines I’ve had since then. My vertebrae get out of alignment and cause irritation, swelling and eventually migraines.   My chiropractor manipulates my vertebrae so they align properly. When out of alignment, my nerves are out of whack and lead to migraines, which can cripple me for days. It impacts my ability to serve my family and my ministry.

 

When we are out of alignment with God, it hampers our ability to effectively do the work He’s tasked to our hands. We can be crippled for days on end. This is yet another example of why it is crucial for regular maintenance. Our relationship with God is a living, breathing one that needs to be fed, watered and fertilized. When off track, we can course correct and get an alignment or adjustment by simply crying out to him and we can then stay aligned by maintaining constant contact with Him.

By the way, if you are indeed in need of a wheel alignment and you live in the DMV, please check out my cousin Terry Brown, owner of Certified Alignments (click here for more info). High quality, reliable, fast, efficient service with a smile is what you’ll receive when patronizing his shop.

 

Do you need an alignment? Join me in prayer.

 

Oh God I thank you that you beckon me to come. I thank you that you stand with your arms open wide ready to receive me. Here I am God. You said you’d never leave nor forsake me. I need to see you. I need to feel you near. You promised in your word that those who come would never thirst nor be hungry. Well God I’m thirsty and hungry so please feed me. God I need you now. Search my heart. Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

 

Photo credit

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Do You Love Me?

Principles for Daily Living Pt 3

Do you love me?

 

That’s what every heart longs to know. We are wired with a need for love. As believers we’ve been called to love, to love God and love one another.

 

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. ‘This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

 

We began the week reflecting on principles for daily living. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, click the links to catch up on those. In part 1 we examined our relationship with God, part 2 our relationship with ourselves and here in part 3, we’ll look at our relationship with others.

 

The Believer has been COMMANDED to love one another. So here are a few principles to help guide us in being in healthy, vibrant loving relationships with others.

sibling love

Love Like Jesus

Christ loves us with an agape love. Agape love is a love that expects nothing in return. It is a self-sacrificing love. It is a love that gives and gives and gives some more. It is a love that does not hinge on the actions of the receiver. It is an unconditional love.

 

You see, in my natural, agape is not me. My love is conditional. When my son immediately obeys, oh how my heart soars. I can pat his shoulder, be chatty with him, and make direct eye contact with him. But if he doesn’t immediately obey, depending on my current spiritual and emotional state…well let’s just say its conditional love. Since my expectations of obedience weren’t met I might withhold an affirming touch, I might be short with my responses, I might be harsh, or I might either give the stare down or avoid eye contact all together. I’m not proud of this. But the power of the Spirit in me is assisting me in having more wins than losses in this area. I’m a work in progress.

 

And Jesus has helped me through this process by showing me His people through His eyes. He’s shown me what ‘kind love’ and ‘not rude love’ looks like.

heart door

The heading of this chapter in my bible is called the Greatest Gift

 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

Forgive

Unforgiveness is bondage. Holding unto something that someone did to you is toxic to your physical, spiritual, emotional and mental well being. I had a family member for whom I harbored hatred and unforgiveness for many years. When I thought about this woman I would physically become agitated and my emotions would rage. I was hurt, confused and frustrated with how I had been treated by her. I was not her only victim either and I wanted justice for everyone in our family that she wounded. Then one day, even before I was saved, God whispered to me, “And hating her is helping you how?” That got me to thinking. Then slowly He revealed to me that she had done the best she could given her own issues and background. I then purposed in my heart to forgive her. What a huge relief it was for me. Even though I did not have a long dialogue with her about all of my feelings, the change had taken place in my heart. Less than a year later, she passed away. I am so grateful I was afforded the opportunity to rectify that in my own heart and with her personally.

 

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. “ Mark 11:25

 

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

 

Serve

I am a servant. My husband doesn’t care much for that choice of word but I’m cool with it. I don’t see it as having negative connotations. I do not liken it to being subservient. I count it an honor to be able and willing to serve those who I am called to serve. If you ask one of the Kingsland Kids “What’s something your mom always says?” They are quite possibly going to answer, “Serve others before you serve yourself”. Now this is not to negate yesterday’s word on self-care. Self-care and self-love are required in order to effectively serve others. Once you’ve filled your spiritual tank, you are adequately fueled to pour back out. God gave me a MAJOR revelation in this area a few years back and it’s become a way of live for me. I was praying after the birth of my 3rd baby. I was asking the Lord for a supernatural measure of grace. He led me to 2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Mmm. I thought that was a great promise from Him indeed. Then He whispered to me…”Something will be required of you”. So I follow that scripture up a little bit and here’s what it said But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 6-7

 

I’ve seen Him grant grace upon grace when I selflessly give.

2014-01-23 11.55.39

Give one more hug
Read one more story
Wipe one more tear
Give one more ride (even though I’ve been in this car for hours)
Send one more text of encouragement
Cook one more meal for a friend in need

 

Then he cemented this truth later by leading me to 1 Kings 17 and examining the story of the widow at Zarephath. She was preparing to take her last bits of oil and flour to make bread for herself and her son before they died. The Prophet Elijah asked her to make the bread for him. She obediently served the man of God and her flour bin and oil jar did not run dry! There’s a reason to shout right there. When we serve, God will return to us what we’ve poured out. Serving (for the right reasons and in the areas where we’ve been called) will not leave us depleted.

 

help each other

Accept

My husband has helped me learn a very valuable life lesson; there is more than one way to complete a task. I used to believe only my way was right. I used to believe there was only ONE route to the destination. Can we accept that there is more one way to do a thing? Can we accept and value other’s thoughts, opinions and ideas? Can we accept that each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made to be different, act different and think different? Love accepts people for who they are where they are.

T&T hearts

Surrender Your Rights

“My husband offended me. I have a RIGHT to be mad!” “This jerk just cut me off on the road. I have a RIGHT to aggressively drive closely behind him” (while spewing expletives). “I’ve worked hard all day and I’m exhausted. I have a RIGHT to go to sleep at 9 pm” (while my sick baby wants to be held).

 

Guess what? No! You don’t have a right. If you are a follower of Christ, when you said yes to Him, you said no to your self-seeking self-serving desires. You surrendered your rights.

 

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Luke 9:23

 

The above scriptures from 1 Corinthians tell us that loves does not seek its own. In believing you have a RIGHT, you are seeking your own. But the scripture is clear, love does not seek its own.

 

Extend Grace

Above we see that God can make ALL grace abound toward us. Will we be cul-de-sacs of grace and let it come to a dead end or will we be conduits of grace and let it flow to THEN through us. When my daughter was 6 she left me a note that I still have and it says “Thank you Mommy for giving me grace. I messed up but you gave me grace. Thank you. I won’t do it again. I love you Mommy.” Now what the “IT” was that she did, I cannot remember. But she understood, even at age 6 that grace was not only available but given to her and she received it and repented. And how can we extend grace? We can do some of the above: give unconditional love, forgive, serve, accept, and surrender. Additionally we can admit when we’ve made a mistake, say I’m sorry, use gentle kind words, soften our expressions and body language, and show mercy.

 

I wouldn’t have guessed that this would be the longest of the three posts in this series. I would have thought I’d have more to say about the guiding principles for relationship with God. But what God spoke to me at this very moment is, “I love you. I simply do. Now go and love my people. “

 

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

Happy to connect with friends @ #livefree Thursday

Principles for Daily Living Pt 1

Sometimes resolutions are made and forgotten. Sometimes they’re discarded altogether after a few days. A few years ago, after years of unsuccessfully executing my resolutions I decided to give them up. I have purposed in my heart to live a life based on principles and to steer me along I adopt one word that frames my year. You can read more about that by clicking here. And it’s not so much that I adopt the one word as the word chooses me and I accept.

 

The one word is lived out through my principles. My principles are my fundamental truths that influence my actions. And living out these principles has seen its share of evolution. I am grateful today that the TRUTH has settled in my heart and I no longer view my principles as items to be ticked off a checklist. Yeah, I used to be like the Pharisee. There was a time I actually thought to be a ‘good’ Christian woman I had to literally ‘be’ the Proverbs 31 Woman. I actually made a list of the things I could do to ‘accomplish’ each of the attributes she possessed. Yup, I actually did that. I thought that was what was expected of me until I came into the truth and oh how liberating it was.

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

 

Let’s keep this in proper perspective. My relationship is with God and not with the principles. By living a life surrendered to Him, He leads me in the way and His power at work in me enables me to live out the principles. So here are a few of my foundational principles for daily living as it relates to my relationship with the Father.

 

Obey

As the hymnal goes “There’s no other way than to trust and obey”. I believe if we love God, we are compelled to obey what He tells us to do. Is obedience easy? NO. Do I always want to obey? NO. But I know that He knows what’s best. And out of my love for God, I want to obey. My obedience is a form of worship.

 

Follow

When we obey God is it a natural progression that we would then follow him. Time and again Jesus admonished his hearers “Follow Me”. We want to blaze our own trail. We want to create our own path. God said he would make a road in the wilderness. I think it would be easier to take the route already mapped out for me. Do you agree?

 

Faith

This is a work in progress for me. God has been so faithful to me. Yet doubt can sometimes creep up when I am faced with the unknown. Do I have faith that He will protect my children from danger? Do I have faith that He will heal me: mind, body, spirit? Do I have faith?

 

Prayer

I just have to talk to God. If I didn’t, I would really lose my mind. Prayer enables me to clear my head and to hear from the Lord. I’ve learned over the years that prayer is not a monologue but a dialogue with God. He’s waiting. Won’t you chat with Him today? Nothing fancy, no need for flowery language or rote repetition but sincere two-way dialogue.

 

 

The Word

His word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. God speaks to me most often through His word then He sandwiches the revelation through a confirming word from a person and/or an act of nature. Man I just love how the Father speaks to me. The Word gives me guidance, clarity, perspective, encouragement, chastening, and more.

 

These are just a few of the principles I live by that influence my relationship with God. These principles help keep me anchored so that I’m not left to my own devices making decisions based on how I feel at the moment.

 

What principles influence your relationship with God?

 

Tomorrow I’ll share what principles influence my relationship with self.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

 

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You Were Made To Be Courageous

Resolution \ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən\

The act or process of resolving: the act of answering, the act of determining.

 

With the New Year upon us, people often use this time as a springboard to adopt new beliefs, habits, or behavior. We see an increase in gym memberships, church attendance and a decrease in drinking, smoking and the like. But…mid-February many of the resolutions that began strong on January 1st have stalled. There may be vestiges of activity or forgotten altogether.

 

So instead of making New Year’s resolutions that will fade away in a matter of weeks, I invite you to join me in resolving to live a life based on principles. A principle is a belief that helps you know what is right and wrong and influences your actions. Starting tomorrow, I’ll share some of the principles that guide my daily living. In living out my principles I have adopted one word for the year that serves as the rails on which my principles glide. My #oneword365 for 2015 is COURAGE.

courage scrabble

Last year my word was RELEASE. When this word chased me down at the end of 2013, I didn’t understand it, I didn’t want it and I couldn’t see how it was going to be applicable in my life. But it proved to be the perfect word for I was truly granted release. Release from shackles that I didn’t even know I was wearing, released from childhood hurts, releasing myself to give me permission to ENJOY life and not live this self-imposed martyrdom.

 

Now that I am FREE, I feel I’m going to need COURAGE for the next leg of the journey. It’s going to take courage for me to:

 ~Be willing to take risks

~Look fear in the face and not be the one to back down

~Purposefully parent my children in love yet administer correction with grace

~Know when to speak up and when to be silent

~Expand my business

 

I was made to be courageous.

 

“Just keep on trying, and trying and trying. You’re a lion. In your own way be a lion”. So go the lyrics to a song from my absolute favorite movie soundtrack The Wiz. In the movie Diana Ross as Dorothy coaxes the Lion into remembering who he his; he is a lion, standing proud and strong, the bravest of them all.

 

Like Lion in The Wiz, I was made to be courageous.

lion

In being released, I turned my walk into a run and my run into a soar. And it’s certainly going to take courage to look around as I glide at new heights. When I look down from this new vantage point it may be intimidating.

 

Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to take a ride on the Capital Wheel; a ferris wheel over 180-feet tall. When I entered my little cabin, I was slightly apprehensive but was walking in my newfound courage. As I chatted with my friend, the wheel began to turn. So engaged was I in the conversation, that I didn’t realize we had made it to the top of the circle. It was only then did I look up and out the window to see how high up we were. Fear tried to creep in as the magnitude of the height became real to me. So while the new vantage point was intimidating, I stood on courage and enjoyed the ride. And after the 1st rotation, it wasn’t scary at all. In fact, it was kind of monotonous. Score 1 for Team Courage!

capital wheel 1

I was made to be courageous.

 

Time and again scripture admonishes us to have courage.

 

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

 

And one of my favorite scriptures,

 

Joshua 1:7

Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.

 

A final thought…

 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

 

Celebrating my 2014 Release and intrigued about how COURAGE will present itself in 2015.

 

I was made to be courageous.

You were made to be courageous.

 

What goals, plans or words have you chosen to live out in 2015? Let me hear from you.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired to Life Fully!