Category Archives: Uncategorized

Re-Entry Back Into Society…

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Re-Entry Back Into Society…

Transitioning from institutionalized thinking to independent thinking!

Hi friends and family!  I’m praying that this week our hearts will be so full of love, that we will embrace others who are completely different from us. 

I’m going to start sharing where this challenging expansion of my nonprofit is taking me, not just for accountability purposes, but sharing my fears and insecurities sojourning into areas I’m far from qualified to engage in, but have been called to.

God is doing amazing things with Blameless and Forever Free Ministries as we transition into the re-entry programs for the incarcerated.  If society doesn’t support them, they’ll become homeless and be prone to unlawful conduct.  And with 600,000 prisoners nationwide being released each year, we don’t need to add to our homeless epidemic.

I’ll be breaking up my writings into smaller chunks after this one since there are areas I, myself, never gave much thought to and can be perceived as quite overwhelming. 

Words alone won’t impact people, but the power of God that is manifested through our lives does.

Is everyone really welcomed in today’s society?  How we respond to the oppressed, our incarcerated and homeless, is a perfect heart check.  It’s one thing to say everyone is welcome, but it’s another to support it with actions.

Upon release, the incarcerated walk out through the pearly gates overwhelmed.  Freedom at last!  But a whole new foreign world rushes in.  Fantasies never detected the strong sting of transition.  Focus is scattered.  Between the nervous kind of energy and the adrenaline flooding from their systems, each pump and beat resembles more of a prison break than a release date.

It takes bravery to feel and experience this fear while keeping self-controlled.  It’s the hardest thing anyone could do, especially without a support system!

The typical offender is released from prison with nothing but a new state identification card, a $250 debit card, a bus ticket, and the clothes on their back.  This is how our incarcerated re-enter society. 

One minute everything is institutionalized thinking and controlled and suddenly it’s independently dependent on thyself.  Change is hard.  If that’s not hard enough, try existing again being branded with the big “F” as in “Felon.” 

Blameless Words That Restore

Connections provide the spark that is needed for the journey back to a vital and dignified life.

Welcoming our returning citizens (incarcerated) back into community takes preparation. With 2/3 of all inmates ending up back in prison within three years of their release dates, we need to start investing in them before they leave their institutions and thereafter. 

Investing in people and human dignity, we will reap the rewards of a safer and sound community for ourselves.

If we take the time to teach them how to take care of themselves, they’ll be able to take care of themselves, their family and their communities.

That’s rehabilitation, right?

We mustn’t forget that our incarcerated are branded for life.  They are handicapped.  That is their new reality also. 

With 25 percent of the population having arrest records, that means there are more people with arrest records than college degrees.

That is a mind-blowing concept to me.  We wonder why the world is the way it is today.  It’s too easy to hate and hard to love!  This is both sobering and motivating.

Another interesting statistic is, why do so many people end up back in prison?

I have a criminal record!

No, I don’t personally have a criminal record.  I do have a son that does.  And according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, with having 2.3 million people incarcerated annually along with over 4.7 million on some form of parole or probation, every family has at least one beloved in need of extra grace. 

Shocking statistics, but one in every four Americans has an arrest record.  That’s a staggering statistic.

What does a person with an arrest record look like?

Speaking of my son, he’s smart, handsome with blue eyes and blonde hair and loves his mother and daughter to eternity.  He’s an amazing father.  His heart is full of compassion and he’s working on completing his degree. 

He made a mistake in getting into a fight and is doing time for his crime.  Once released, he will have his mother outside those pearly gates to surround him with love, support and help guiding him back into society being a productive member. 

Why do people return to prison?  For one, their criminal record discriminates them from essential matters that we take for granted, like housing and employment.

Successful reentry requires compassion, patience and forgiveness.

A typical three-year sentence costs taxpayers over $100,000 of investment dollars into their rehabilitation.  But where is this “rehabilitation” when one only knows institutionalized thinking and demands?

Statistics show one in five walking into prison is a result of not being convicted of a new crime, but for violating extra rules of their parole or probation that you and I could commit, without a criminal history or record, that otherwise would not be considered an offense. 

Violations could be something as minimal as missing a court date, a parole or therapy appointment, not having a stable job or housing, or even not paying fines.

Our prison system is very good at punishing people, but rehabilitation is lacking.  The real reason a person ended up in prison goes largely untreated.

Most ex-offenders leave the state prison facility with more problems than what brought them there in the first place; their pre-incarceration issues. 

Having said that, where do they start?  They are overwhelmed.  Every decision in every hour of their days incarcerated were managed and dictated by others while being incarcerated.  Their own personal decision-making skills atrophy.  They’re not used to thinking, every hour is already determined day in, day out.

How can we expect them to make better decisions and choices when everything is up against them? 

Without the tools taught during a successful transition back into society, the ugly process of incarceration starts all over again.

Many return homeless, indigent, with no place to go, no job, and no specialized training.

For those that do have a place to go to, whereas not to be homeless, some go back to the same environments that caused them the problems in the first place. 

I’ve seen firsthand what happens when an addict goes back to living with an addict.  They’re back in the dysfunction that caused their incarceration. 

Oooops, I’ll stop here.  I hope you’ll come back and hear more.

Generous hearts meet the offenders right where they’re at because they know one day that they will become our neighbors…

Until next time…

Blameless Teach Generosity

 

Smile, It Confuses People!

Smile, It Confuses People!

Hi family and friends! I pray your week has been full of God’s Great Love and awe as you adore the changing of seasons. Fall is in the air!

My schedule has been rather overwhelming lately so I missed last week’s post. Sorry about that! As much as I wanted to carve out time, time is not something that is on my side these days. God is shaking and changing things dramatically in my life, which is super exciting!

Stay tuned!

But…

The ugliest thing I’ve ever seen, as of late, is a human being without compassion…

After comforting one of my girlfriends due to false accusations against her character, we were praying together and Psalm 120 popped into my mind immediately so I knew the Lord wanted us to focus on it and not the offenders.

That’s easier said than done at times…

One thing I am passionate about, I believe people who assault through gossip and back-biting need Jesus and a job. And those that profess to be Christians and dishonor my Lord through their deception and lies, they need more than prayer and grace. It may be called forgiveness, but sometimes that becomes really hard to activate!

I get so frustrated and sad when watching those that profess to know Jesus help the enemy out through their lies and the deception flowing from their burning tongues, but…

Right before we started praying, we both started laughing like little girls because these “offenders” were focused and spending so much time trying to take that perfect “selfie,” that they didn’t even realize we were 20 feet from them.

And if I’m going to be honest here, it took everything to not get up and confront them, but this was my girlfriend’s battle who is still working on confrontation, so I released hold.

But…

My girlfriend gave me full reign to pray as I wished and my unfiltered mouth rebuked them and their actions.

It’s called pushing back darkness while being a GOOD FRIEND, so…

But the beauty beholds from the words penned in Psalm 120:1-4:

I was desperate for you to help me in my struggles, and you did!
So come and deliver me now from this treachery and false accusation.
O lying deceivers, don’t you know what is your fate?
You will be pierced through with condemnation and consumed with burning coals of fire!

Always believe something beautiful is going to happen!

Deceivers destroy. I wanted deliverance and vindication for my girlfriend, but being the better and not bitter person (so hard, too!), communication with love instead of hate would be what Jesus would do.

I have to remember (self-control) that sometimes we don’t understand how our actions offend and hurt others, so…

I wanted peace and healing to overwhelm my girlfriend’s bleeding heart.

And this battlefield was filled with flaming arrows of deception from lying lips. I can’t allow my precious friends to drown in a sea full of slanderous sharks, so I choose to stand up for justice and truth with a moral compass that opposes and refuses to be compromised!

Whatever happened to affirmations of love and acceptance sprinkled with encouragement?

We all want the security of belonging; otherwise, we will find vices and relationships that offer nothing but bad behaviors and unhealthy sources that fill nothing but moral turpitude.

And I admit, “moral turpitude” may be a rather profound legal word, but these Christian leaders were violating souls while being catty in their cliques. And I love the church, just not all the actions delivered.

But remembering the world is changed by our examples, not by our opinions.

And honestly, there is a grave difference between religion and relationship.

My only competitor is who I was yesterday!

I love when prayer removes all the toxicity of life and the remnants from the trials. My girlfriend and I decided to CHOOSE to celebrate each other and not compare ourselves with others; that our ONLY competitor is who we were yesterday.

Having special friends, sometimes I’m like a roaring lion when those that I love get hurt. After all, I am strong because I’ve been weak. I am courageous only because Jesus transformed the cowardly. I’m fearless because I’ve been afraid and paralyzed by fear. I am wise because I have been quite foolish at times…

And sweet friend, regarding the being “quite foolish at times,” it doesn’t always involve that tall drink of water, if you know what I mean! I’m smiling…

Forgiveness delivers peace within our broken pieces!

Forgiveness doesn’t tell us or mean that the hurt goes away. Sometimes ugly words cause emotional wounds and scars that stay with us. Even Jesus still had His scars when He presented Himself to His disciples, you know, the holes in His hands; meaning He still had battle scars. But He was filled with resurrecting power. Forgiveness just means we release its control over us.

God is faithful as He was with my girlfriend. Before we left, she was vindicated. Our smiles spoke of love and life while their “selfie” smiles confused people.

Until next time…

Thank You For Being Beautiful You!

#BecomeWhatYouBelieve

Become What You Believe!

Become What You Believe

Hi amazing gems!  We all dream. We dream to be seen. We dream to be loved. Some even dream of being queen.

What do you dare dream about being?

How about becoming what YOU believe?

There’s freedom and power in that statement!

I was asked that very question from a beloved seeking to find wisdom and answers to her own destiny.

The next time we go through life thinking we don’t need the wisdom of our elders, if we humble ourselves enough, there’s a treasure trove and wealth of resources delivered through their wisdom.

I actually found this question hard to answer.  Too deep and profound for a woman of my age, I guess.  After all, who takes on new challenges, changes careers and goes back to school and starts a nonprofit organization when you’re living in your golden years?

We are created for more than what we’re currently living!

My faith, transformation, wisdom and love affair with my Lord, my Groom, tells me to choose to become what I believe!

Chew on and digest every word of that.

Become…

What…

You…

Believe!

Become What You Believe!

Isaiah 58:11 - Blameless

As I step away from the shadows of fear and insecurities that once dictated every decision and step I ever made, I find myself exposed; no longer hiding behind my former state of rejection and obscurity.  Each stepping stone of growth leads me through grace and grandeur.

I am boldly stepping out of my shadows of shame, weakness and dishonor into prominence and influence pursuing His authority.

We don’t go through our challenges, our trials, our great losses with deep heartache for God to just waste our pain on mere tear-stained pillows and emotional wounds screaming for help. There’s so much more than this pain we’ve endured. We are created for more.

We were created for far more than what we’re currently living!

When we take a step back and breathe, we see through the lens of Jesus that we had to go through those storms and trials in order for our testimony, our message, our experiences and anointing to reveal life’s purpose.

Now we’re able to move boldly out of the old and into the new, the new beginnings being His bride, equipped with everything we need so we do not have to revisit and relearn that again in order to walk into our destiny without a fight!

None of us want to be like the Israelites and take 40 years to complete a journey that should have taken ONLY 11 DAYS (Deuteronomy 11:2)! 

Life is hard enough; thank you very much. I’d rather take that time being pampered, perfumed and prepared!

Those shadows ushered me to a place of influence and authority that I’ve only dared to dream about, but stayed shackled and imprisoned in my cell of hell with all my fears and insecurities keeping me isolated and too afraid to enter this promised land.

I’m living my dream, becoming everything I believe I am. Being unapologetically me, being pursued, being loved beyond measure, lacking no good thing, and walking boldly in His authority.

I am fulfilling my vows with a gift and calling to love and pour into wounded souls, those who have themselves been abandoned and betrayed.

I never realized how being loved, pursued, chosen, anointed and gifted with purpose I was until I leaned into my Lord. Knowing that your identify and value doesn’t come from others’ opinions and demands, our income or who you’re married to or all the degrees we have showcased makes life simple and thrilling. 

Being who you believe in Christ empowers you with growth to constantly bloom and reach further with confidence to do things you’ve only dared dreamed about!

My blossoming and growth has led me to receive a couple of degrees, organize a homeless nonprofit organization that somehow paved the way for the challenges being on the IFC council at Folsom State Prison, ushering me towards the legislative process in changing laws where my heart’s desire is laid. 

It hasn’t been easy; quite overwhelming!  My blossoming didn’t reach out until 50.  That’s when I started acting and being what I believed God said about me!

Blameless Song of Solomon 6:3

God’s Great Love Changes Everything!

As beautiful Ann Voskamp shared, “Winning the lottery doesn’t make you lucky.  Getting to love makes you the luckiest of all, because love always wins.  You don’t need the love of many — you only need to love many times more than you ever thought you could.”

When you’ve been touched by Love Himself, you’re able to spread His Love into the hearts of those who need it.  When you’ve met discouragement, you can face life with courage and enthusiasm. When you’ve experienced great loss and sorrow, you can radiate magnifying joy!

Now I get to look at life as a great adventure and encounter beloveds who have felt judged and alienated. God has softened my heart with love and purpose to draw near to those who are receptive for encountering His Great Love.

Surrounding ourselves with others who can reciprocate the fine wine we pour is the greatest treasure to be found!

Seek to understand before seeking to be understood!  I’m choosing to be my Lord’s beautiful bride.  I await His arrival.  I am what I am!

My doing comes from Jesus’ being. My being, from his doing.Aubrey Sampson

Until next time…

Thank You For Being Beautiful You!

Blameless Warrior Princess

 

Closed, But Still Awesome!

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Closed, But Still Awesome!

Fear Of Missing Out?

Hi family and friends!  I pray your week has been filled with love, lots of laughter and peace that surpasses all knowledge.  Mine has been amazing, but I’m starting to feel the reins of stress tightening and directing quite a mess!

I reluctantly declare, God has to grab me by the bit at times to redirect my stubborn fits!

If you were asked to perform in front of an audience of one, would you?

Better yet, could you without any limelight?

Even if you knew you were guaranteed an encore?

Is it really a fear of missing out or are we just wound up tighter than a tourniquet?

I mean, since the Lord is our hiding place, He will protect us from trouble while surrounding us with songs of deliverance; so… 

God does state He will instruct us and teach us in the way we should go, and counsel us while watching over us…

And when the Lord speaks, sometimes we just have to trust and close up shop until we get it!

And with my schedule, I’m not getting it, so…

After all, I’ve got a couple rather large fundraising events going on simultaneously so maybe my schedule is what is needing an exorcism…

But I hear the Lord speaking to my heart saying, “I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide. So don’t make it difficult, don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me” (Psalm 32:8-9 TPT).

I know you’ve seen glimpses of the fragmented pieces of my life lately. With all these opportunities arising and not knowing which ones to grab a hold of and claim, it seems as if I’m making more of a mess being under all this stress.

Can you relate?

And with goodness and His Love following me all the days of my life, it’s time to be still.

As for now, I must focus my energies on my nonprofit and start rebranding while rebuilding another amazing team and my board of directors as we expand into other challenging areas that appear quite foreign and daunting.

And blessings can be funny creatures at times, if we dare be honest.  I know through my own experiences, that the growth in my life required intense stretching that oftentimes left me freaking out when releasing control.  Stretching requires us to reach out into the unknown. 

In order to be everything God has uniquely designed us to be, the next step requires taking a huge leap of faith with sometimes our eyes being closed tight in order to jump and blindly grab a hold of all the amazing things God wants to do in our lives.

Can I hear faith the fear?

And amazingly, this illustrates perfectly the clay in the potter’s hand being formed meticulously beyond anything we could even begin to fathom and/or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Our God always has more in store.  Our God always has better.  Our God wants to take us from strength to strength and glory to glory.

This is so brutally hard when it requires letting go of something, something that we love, something that is familiar, something that may not even be healthy, but dang, it’s familiar!

Familiarity is as comforting as our old childhood blanket…

We have to release to receive!

We have to release to receive!

We have to let go to know…

We have to let go to know…

What is occupying your space in this race?

If we want and desire greater authority, and I do, along with greater joy, another toy, and far greater experiences, we must cease and desist and let go and no longer resist!

So I’m letting go to know, releasing this stress to receive rest and putting all these hats I’ve been wearing away so I don’t turn into another brat!

Fear of missing out?

Well…

No, I think not.

I know and trust my Lord, so when He says He’s having to grab me by the bit to redirect my stubborn fits because my stress is creating quite a mess, His gentle reminders are alerting me to the fact that He would much rather have me resting, sitting at His feet. This way He can lovingly guide me with His Great Love and wisdom rather than maybe having to discipline me like any loving Father would do at times.

So be gone, stubbornness!

It’s time to carve out more time to sit at my Lord’s feet.

So until next time…

Thank You For Being Beautiful You!

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Today Is The Bridge Between Your Past and Future!

Are You Fully Present Today?

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34 MSG)

Life of Worship

I admit, living in the present is sometimes so, so very hard.  When my mind is exhausted from this tug of war delivered from both the fear and shame in not being good enough that the unknown presents and the excitement in seeing what God is actually doing is overwhelming. 

Can you relate?

Sometimes living in the future with all its anticipation and excitement can rob us of God’s blessings here and now because He lives in the “today.”  We forget what we receive “today” is preparing us for tomorrow’s blessings, so we would bode well to embrace this scenic route bridging our pasts and futures.

I have found myself becoming somewhat resentful as to what God has called me to at this particular point in time because He is opening up all these other doors that I thought were forever closed and I’m stinkin’ excited. 

Because of this, I have found myself living buried underneath the weight of anger and discouragement because I’m ready to move on; thereby, consuming my thoughts and interfering with time I usually am spent in His presence. 

Time spent with our Lord empowers us to walk out each day faithfully with joy and trust. 

How many gifts of today do we pass by, neglecting to pick up or even open up because we’re so preoccupied with thoughts, anxieties and/or fears in our future?

There’s no room living in that bad neighborhood (mindset) to be present for today.

The enemy gets worked up for good reason when we’re doing what the Lord wants and attacks our beautiful hearts and minds with flaming arrows and emotional darts filled with the venom and sting that doubt and confusion delivers. 

These tidbits of insecurities, fears and indiscretions are trying to completely wipe me out and keep me from focusing on the Lord and on today; thereby, nearly robbing me of all these amazing blessings the Lord is ushering me to receive.

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If you’re anything like me, sweet friend, planning for tomorrow is exciting and time well spent, but when we become preoccupied with worry and control about tomorrow, time is not only being wasted, but we’re robbing ourselves and others of being present for this day. 

If our Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him (Psalm 37:23), then why do we deviate and fill our hearts and minds with preoccupation and the opinions of others, forgetting life is about the journey and not the destination?

Guilty as charged…

When walking out our callings, and I’m not just talking about my nonprofit organization dealing with the homeless, we can be consumed with both fear and excitement. 

Isaiah 61:1 (AMP) reminds me, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, to proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners…”

Remembering to be fully present enables me to receive the comfort through trust that the Lord promises in bringing deliverance through His timing.  It is up to me to be present so I can hear and receive His guidance filled with treasures that are right around the corner.  If I’m not present, then I’ll walk right past His blessings (peace/perseverance/strength) and wonder what happened causing me to forfeit His gifts for today. 

So recognizing that planning for our futures can alleviate much of our anxiety and worry, when we become obsessed worriers, we become so consumed, forgetting to trust in God’s provision, therefore running ahead of His timetable, we become tripped up. 

The worst part of all of this is denying Jesus’ invitation for help through an intimate and loving relationship with Him. 

So… if the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in Love (Psalm 103:8), this should illustrate to us a picture of God’s nature and will, worthy of His trust, commitment and timing!

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So I hope you’ll join me in sojourning this side of heaven living under the umbrella of God’s Great Love and promises that offers peace that surpasses all knowledge (Philippians 4:7) while being reminded that today is the bridge between your past and future.  Live in this moment.  This way we can embrace the invitation that our Beautiful Jesus is extending only if we’re fully present.

Until next time…

Thank You For Being Beautiful You!

 

Encountering Homelessness in 2019

Happy New Year!

2019 Is The Year Of The Voice

I struggled to get off the jam-packed freeway full of road rage and weary drivers that found themselves parked instead of moving forward.  Here it was 6:45 p.m. and I needed to get my life-sustaining heart meds before 7:00 because the pharmacy closed its steel doors at the strike of the 7:00 hour and would be closed for the next two days. 

Once I got off the freeway, there was no way possible to maneuver over four lanes in enough time to turn into the pharmacy’s parking lot so I was forced to travel another bumper-to-bumper half-mile to perform a U-turn.  Amazingly, the light connected with my anxiety and turned green, rushing me into the parking lot with just a few minutes spare to run in and get my prescriptions. 

As I leaped out of my car, I was stopped, even bullied and challenged by an unknown homeless man who was adamant that I give him a couple of bucks. 

You see, in my city, the City of Roseville, I refuse to put up with panhandling.  It’s a distraction.  It initiates fear and crime and there’s ABSOLUTELY NO NEED FOR IT! 

I have even been known to stop in the middle of an intersection to get them to move on.  It’s not that I lack compassion; after all, I run a homeless organization, but it’s just that we have many resources available and their panhandling is an excuse and becomes an eyesore.

I work hard to help guide and direct them to get tapped into alternative resources and get off the streets. 

It’s hard for reality to prevail over guilt!

When encountering panhandlers, I instinctively stop what I’m doing and give them the lowdown of who I am, how and why I run an organization catered specifically to helping love on the homeless, and if they are hungry, I will buy them food.  I then pray over them, give them my business card, and tell them that if I come back in the next hour and still see them panhandling, I will have them arrested. 

You might find that harsh given my heart pours out the love of Jesus into these individuals daily, but if the services we offer don’t suffice, then it’s obvious they’re only looking for a quick fix related to drugs and/or alcohol.

This man was the FIRST AND ONLY HOMELESS individual who didn’t pack up and leave.  Sadly, he felt his fear tactics and threats to kill would influence me otherwise. 

I challenged him with his futile threats to go ahead (not the brightest move admittedly), but I’m ready to meet my savior, Jesus Christ, at any time so it didn’t really matter.

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Blameless and Forever Free Ministries is praying that 2019 initiates a new attitude and compassion for stabilization regarding our homeless epidemic. 

Being the founder of Blameless, I want to be very honest here.  In working to stabilize our homelessness through God’s Great Love, I humbly admit I get frustrated and quite offended when I encounter panhandlers.  Giving them “money” is defeating our arduous work!  It’s much easier to trigger sympathy than to seek help.

Mental illness is the main precursor of homelessness; addiction, depression, psychosis, abuse, rejection, and abandonment issues are the leading causes, but a lot of homelessness has to do with shame and guilt and the need for guidance to get reestablished back into society. 

I don’t like seeing the makeup of my town changing because homelessness is out of control, and everywhere you look they’re either lined up around our stores or in parking lots panhandling or passed out in our parks while depleting our fire and law enforcement resources.

Blameless Homeless Rite-Aid

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Please don’t encourage Panhandling!

There are many ways you can help and we need a village of people to come together and help combat this Goliath.  Please don’t encourage panhandling by offering money; but instead, as you encounter homeless beloveds, acknowledge their presence with eye contact and a warm smile and maybe even say “good morning.”  Being affirmed builds worth and a sense of belonging.

You could offer to buy them a sandwich or burger along with a milk.  A used bike and metal cart is invaluable. 

Another idea is sharing you are tight on money, but could they use laundromat tokens or clothing?  Share with them you’ll go home and be right back with a few things and/or buy tokens with laundry detergent. 

Better yet, donate to charitable nonprofits like Blameless that deal with homelessness.

Here is a glimpse of one homeless beloved who wanted to go to the laundromat for his birthday…

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I personally have found that the most significant treasure was asking if I could pray for them.  Praying over an individual offers hope and a sprinkling of love that someone actually acknowledges their presence and took the time to pray for them.

Being the hands and feet of God encourages the homeless that they’re seen and their lives matter.  This is the way our communities can come together along with the homeless and help find a remedy to stabilize and tackle this epidemic.

God is going to do mighty things in 2019 and tackling this homelessness is going to be one of them. 

Happy New Year!  May God be with you, keep you safe and bless your generosity.

 

Until next time…

Thank You For Being Beautiful You!

Mary, Did You Know…

… That Your Baby Boy Would …


“When the divine life possesses the soul, it flows over in gracious ministries among our fellowmen. The affluence becomes an influence importing itself to others.” ~ John Henry Jowett

My mind has been fixated on two particular songs this Christmas season that announce a tug of war going on between pain and gain; Mary Did You Know and Labor of Love. One speaks of being highly favored in carrying the King of all kings and all its glory, while the other speaks to the pain and suffering surrounding the inhumane conditions and environment during the birth of Jesus.

Mary is known for being the mother of Jesus Christ and for sojourning through life with influence being “highly favored.” This pronouncement of grace delivered by the angel named Gabriel confuses her deserved respect to mere idolatry today (Luke 1:28).

I don’t know about you, but the planting of that miraculous seed developing right before my very eyes, both figuratively and literally, would open the doorway of vulnerability for enemy attacks, assaults and accusations. I would have absolutely no time to prepare or be on guard for the automatic deployment of the flaming arrows that would confuse this “gift” being highly favored.

When God speaks, we oftentimes forget there’s more to the story than meets the eye. 

Do I hear an Amen before the ahem?

Worshiping a sinful woman who suffered immensely beyond all comprehension destroys her deep faith and amazing testimony. She should definitely be respected and praised, but not idolized and sought after for prayer, deliverance, you name it. Her life is an example to follow!

Mary was a woman of faith and discipline. When Jesus referred to Mary as “Woman” in John 2:4 during the wedding, that should have initiated an automatic reactionary backhand.

Though we don’t know all the details, Mary’s faith was built on trust and delivered through tragedy and heartache.

Blameless Star of David

How is God’s gracious presence being displayed through our lives?

As I focus on the words of both songs and understand what all it cost Mary being Jesus’ mother, it reminds me of my own grief and losses as a parent. My faith recalls my own refinement process and the molding and shaping that occurred during my school of pain. My children will receive their gifting, but some qualities are delayed, others cost dearly, and many can only be learned through pain and suffering.

Absent of Mary’s labeling, she didn’t know her baby boy would calm violent storms with His precious hands. That He would give sight to the blind. That He would walk where angels trod. And each time she leaned in to kiss her baby boy, she had no idea she was kissing the face of God.

She never knew that her son would be Lord of all creation and would one day rule all the nations. How could she? Nor that her baby boy would be crucified and tortured right before her very eyes just to save our sons and daughters.

Moms, that’s excruciating pain…

The thought that this precious baby cooing and looking back at you as he nurses off of your breasts has come to make you new, and this child that you delivered will soon deliver you because He is the Great I Am is unimaginable!

Forget the glamorous depiction of a cleaned-up baby Jesus with white skin and blue eyes. That’s an illusion. Jesus was most probably dark skinned. He was born in filth, disease and decay. Mary may have delivered and brought down heaven, but it was not in conditions that were indicative of any kingdom affluence and/or privilege.

“It was not a silent night. There was blood on the ground. You could hear a woman cry in the alley late at night. And the stable was not clean, and the cobblestones were cold, little Mary full of grace with the tears upon her face with no mother’s hand to hold…”

It was nothing short of a Labor of Love.

Raising An Extra-Grace Required Child!

Mary knew Jesus was unlike any other, yet she went through questionable behaviors and unknowns just like we do regarding what her child would become. Being the mother of Jesus required more than mastering the skills needed to raise an extra-grace required child.

Ponder that…

She pondered and treasured the words in her heart that the angel Gabriel delivered, the words of Elizabeth, the shepherds’ pronouncements, and the prophetic words of the Old Testament. She kept tapping into these treasures deep in her heart along with her faith and trust in God. 

These treasures Mary held near to her heart are what kept her brave and strong. This radiance is what both held and lit the way during darkness. We may not understand everything, but we can love and support while believing in others because Jesus radiates within our souls.

When the divine life possesses the soul, it flows over in gracious ministries among our fellowmen. The affluence becomes an influence importing itself to others. ~ John Henry Jowett

If we are beloveds who delight in the gift of Jesus’ presence, we become imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Jesus is the Labor of Love!

Until next time…

Blameless Gratitude Wall Beautiful You