Heart Connections ~

There is no rush or urgency most weekends. The slow rhythm in tempo is invigorating on Saturday mornings. I get to choose the time I wake up, relax throughout the day, change plans as often as needed and choose a variety of activities.

On this date…

I met up with two of my girlfriends for breakfast!  I had not seen them for a few weeks and we wanted to celebrate the Holiday season, have a gift exchange and get caught up before the New Year.

“How much fun is that?!”

The Holiday season is here and tender hearts intentionally connect…

The gift of friendship is an eternal gift.

We blessed our hot meal, laughed at times, confided in each other, took snapshots, rejoiced over answered prayers, exchanged gifts and prayed over our most recent circumstances. We celebrated for over three hours and didn’t even notice the crowd behind us nor the level of noise at the restaurant. Even though the restaurant was ‘jammed packed’, we truly enjoyed each other’s company.

Heart Connections are distinct, cherishable and memorable.

I’ve got to admit spending quality time with a girlfriend in our local community brings joy to my heart and these unforgettable moments are forever treasured in my mind, heart, and soul.

God is relational. He is love. He wants for all of us to connect and love one another as He has loved us (John‬ ‭15:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬).
God created all of us to live in a community so we can love, help, support, pray and encourage one another. I truly appreciate quality time with all of my girlfriends whether it is in person, by telephone or on social media!

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I realized how blessed I am for having godly friendships in my life. Yes! Each perfect gift is from above. Friendships are priceless for all the eternal blessings they bring to our lives.

It is a privilege to establish and maintain a friendship for a period of time. Some friendships last for a season and others for a lifetime.

Value the present moment and make unforgettable memories with a friend today!

Gift of Time: When we prioritize our day, week or month, let us consider reaching out to our network of friends and take the time to connect. God wants for all of us to fellowship with one another regardless of our ethnicity, race and socioeconomic status.

Love everyone, and learn the difference in fellowship styles!

Gift of Listening: When I spend time with sisters in Christ, I am heard and understood. If I have a concern or an unresolved issue in my life, I am able to openly voice them and process my upsetting thoughts and emotions without being judged.

Gift of Love: True friends love me for ‘who I am’ and they accept my character flaws. These trusting friends are accepting and nonjudgmental.

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” ‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Gift of Vulnerability: An ability to be transparent in a relationship is critical for growth and intimacy. When someone is vulnerable, She will entrust you with information that shall never be shared with anyone else.

Trust is an essential ingredient for a forever friendship.

Gift of Fellowship: We all celebrate differently. When sisters in Christ celebrate, we all honor Jesus Christ in their thoughts, speech, and actions.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians‬ ‭2:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Friends are not selfish and are much more concerned about the well-being of others.

In a community, we grow and have an opportunity to sharpen and encourage each other, and a true friend will make us accountable for our actions.

Gift of Prayer: Sisters in Christ pray for one another. We all have different needs, challenging circumstances and emotional distress.

42AA477E-3386-478C-B4A1-2A696B77AF26Photo Courtesy: Ben White @ UnSplash

Let us sit at our Lord’s feet:

Inscribe and Meditate on His Word: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:12-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Memory Verse: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭NIV‬

Weekly Challenge: Call a friend, wish her Merry Christmas and invite her for a cup of coffee or a meal at your house.

Create an opportunity to learn more about each other and pray for each other.

Empowered by Jesus: Original by Design.

Lord,

Thank you for creating me in your image. I am ‘original’ by design. Even though I am a sinner, I am your beloved daughter. I deeply treasure the royal kinship with the King of kings. I am loved and forever cherished by our Heavenly Father and His only Son.

”How amazing is that?!” I am a child of God (John 1:12).

His truth reminds me of how wonderfully I was created even though I tend to be self-critical at times. Let me never forget ‘whose I am’ ever again. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm‬ ‭139:1-4, 14, 24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am … Chosen. Forgiven. Redeemed. Loved. Treasured. Set Apart to God.

“How special is that?!” I am unique and one of a kind.

No one can snatch me out of my Father’s hand either (John 10). I feel protected and secured right about now, Lord.

You always hold me close to your heart.

I praise you boldly and will sing a song of Thanksgiving always!

I am alive and well in Jesus Christ.

Let me be mindful of our enemy though, the father of lies, who wants to destroy or distort our  well-being and your divine master plan. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” John 10:10 NIV. The enemy planted the seeds of doubt and insecurity and convinced me I was ‘not good enough’!
Back in high school…
My girlfriends and I were gathered outdoors in the patio for a short recess and held an informal conversation about college. Everyone was inspired about future possibilities and asked relevant questions to the School Counselor. When our morning break ended, everyone rushed to their scheduled classes except me. I was unassured of the aptitudes needed to succeed in college so I asked for the counselor’s opinion.
After a brief silence, she answered gently “I don’t see you in college.”
“Ugh? Did I hear correctly?” I silently asked myself, was downhearted then walked away in disbelief.
Was I not good enough for college?” this sentence repeatedly echoed in my mind for the rest of my high school years. Discouragement settled in my heart soon thereafter. I never inquired again about college admission, SAT prep courses or career choices.
The self-deprecating message ‘not good enough’ replayed in my mind intermittently for almost three decades. It was a lie the enemy had planted in my mind and it played out throughout college and career life. I never thought I was good enough.
Academic life was ferocious
But God…
He granted me the confidence to overcome insecurities, fear, and doubt. By breaking down challenging tasks into manageable action steps, developing effective study habits, and learning from past mistakes, I overcame hurdles in both my personal life and career development. In Christ, my spirit was renewed every day, a steadfast character was built, and spiritual maturity evolved over the years.
The unexpected materialized twenty years after high school graduation!
I poured some Colombian coffee in a mug, grabbed the wireless headphones out of the leather tote then rushed to the home office at sunrise, “Lord help me be alert, organized and articulate in today’s conference call”  I whispered to myself. As I dialed the conference number, I meditated on His promise, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” Ephesians 3:20 (NIV).
I was astonished about the progress all team members had made so far in previous conference calls.
I was invigorated when the State Commissioner’s genuine appreciation for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was initially displayed.  ABA is a treatment modality for children and adolescents who are diagnosed with intellectual disability and pervasive developmental disorder.
Never in my wildest dreams, did I expect to be in a regional leadership role much less conversing with a State Commissioner at 8 a.m. on a monthly basis! God’s vision is bountiful. I’m not letting the enemy plant another seed of doubt in my mind ever again.
No more lies, Satan, not today or ever again!

Lord, you have orchestrated favorable circumstances in my life. When these circumstances are unexpected, overwhelming or tragic, you give me the strength to persevere thru it all.

I am shifting my attention and focus to your heavenly ways and I will embrace your never-ending grace when I fail or experience setbacks. I know you love me even though I’ve got plenty of character defects (John 16).

“I am a work in progress.”

You are a forgiving, loyal and merciful God. You love me for who I am even at my worst. I am devoting the rest of my life to serve and worship you, “Serve and worship the awe-inspiring God. Recognize his greatness and bow before him, trembling with reverence in his presence.” Psalms‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭TPT‬‬

My heart is filled with gratitude, Lord.

Some say I have a type A personality. Others may not even notice the difference! I am much more interested in what you have to say, my Lord. Help me not be bothered by others’ critical opinions.

Man’s critical opinion is irrelevant. Your eternal view matters to me the most.

“How can I maintain eternal focus today, Lord?” I have asked myself repeatedly over the years. There are so many distractions, temptations, and earthly influences.

The more I know your truth, the more I witness how your truth has set me free.

I am engraving all of your precepts in my heart so I may never forget them or sin against you (Psalm 119:11). I enjoy meditating and discovering heavenly treasures in your Word every day! I take captive every thought on fruitless habits and ask for your strength to overcome temptations.

Apart from you, I cannot do anything, Lord (Psalm 16:2, John 15:5).

Yes, Lord! Help me overcome today’s temptations.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John‬ ‭15:5, 7-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

When I am drifting away or get distracted Lord, gently nudge me back to you so I may abide in you and bear much fruit. Your spirit of truth guides me and shows me how to persevere thru turmoil, confusion, chaos, and uncertainties (John 16:13). In the midst of life happenings, I would like to grow spiritually and be much more steadfast in my walk with Jesus.

The Holy Spirit gifts us with a range of blessings. Thank you, Jesus, for the power and blessings of our forever companion, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit filled life is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness. goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

I need help with self-control, Lord.

I believe but help me with my unbelief when it comes to frivolous spending. I have thought of  being ‘not good enough’ to build a retirement plan. I know this is a lie!  Help me stop and walk away from the next shopping extravaganza. Some days I do well and other days I just want to shop non-stop. One of my current concerns is to manage the finances well and display self-control when faced with temptations over the Holidays. I want to be content with all I have today. I’ve got enough! Help me stay within the boundaries of my established budget. I am worthy of maintaining a solid retirement account. Yes, Lord! I know you want me to be a good steward of your resources.

I know if I rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, I will have the strength to walk away from needless spending. I need wisdom every time I make financial decisions and your strength to walk away from temptations of all types.

In Jesus’ name,

I bravely pray.

Amen.

Let us sit at the Lord’s feet:

Inscribe and Meditate: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Memory Verse: “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:3-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Weekly Challenge:

Identify a lie that has played out in your life over the years. Pray for God to replace it with His Truth.

Weekly Tip:

His Truth will set you free (John 8:32).

 

Photo Courtesy: Javier Reyes @ Splasher89CF692D-36A3-4CA8-BA9A-4BAE7064998C

God’s awesome presence.

“If you bow low in God’s awesome presence, he will eventually exalt you as you leave the timing in his hands.” 1 Peter 5:6 TPT

88ACCEE4-D2FC-44A8-AD7C-7E70DA5A2BFBPhoto credit: Victoria Sereda @ Unsplash

Abba Father,

You are always opening up new frontiers. I  will relax, be humble and allow you to conquer the world on my behalf (Exodus 14:14). You are in charge of all life happenings (Psalm 46:10). 

Forgive me if I attempt to hurry things up. As you know, I am impatient and don’t mind wrestling with you at times! I also know you don’t appreciate when I anticipate or imagine the worst (Matthew 6:25). Forgive me if I have worried way too often in the recent past.

You speak to me in all circumstances. 

When an incoming email calms my heart, you reassure me I’m on track… when a photo exhibits a friendship, your heart is on display and I know I’m loved…when a neighbor assists me, your commitment is manifested and I no longer feel helpless…when strangers are kind, I know you deeply care… when I‘m excited about training, I know you want me to grow and reach my potential… when I hear a ‘warning’ from law enforcement, I know you want me to be on alert, on guard and honor your celestial ways on earth.

Lord, I know you are managing all of my affairs relentlessly and faithfully. I truly appreciate how you are orchestrating all life events on my behalf.

Help me ‘be still’ (Psalm 46:10). Your palpable presence is appreciated and I know you are cheering me along the way. 

You make everything beautiful in your perfect time  (Psalm 18:30). You are an awesome God! I love you with all of my heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:37)

Your beloved and faithful servant.

(sign your name here, and make this prayer personal)

 

Be Blessed. Be Prosperous.

“He will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design, deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss, bearing fruit in every season of his life. He is never dry, never fainting, ever blessed, ever prosperous.”

Psalms 1:3 TPT

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Photo courtesy: Kevin Young @ Splasher

Abba Father,

Life brings unexpected interruptions and it can be stressful at times.

I’m standing firm on your Word.

I continue to meditate on every word you have inscribed in your Holy book.

I love to worship and be in-tuned with your poetic rhythms from the book of Psalms. Your exquisite words are definitely on fire. When I worship, I sing boldly and my heart rejoices. I want to be alive.

Praising Jesus this morning from the bottom of my heart.

When I repent and surrender, you delight in me. Your sacred Word comforts me; I am no longer in distress.

Not only do I want to be strong and courageous in every way (Colossians 2:7), I want the Holy Spirit to be my tour guide as I stroll down the narrow road.

I want to stand on unshakable grounds so I may flourish in all I do. 

I want to be blessed and prosperous.

Most importantly, I want your will to be fulfilled not mine. I am no longer pursuing success apart from You, Lord.

I am your beloved and faithful servant and a light to the lost world.

In Jesus’name I pray,

Adriana

(write your name and make it personal)

His Grace

“For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ!” Ephesians 2:8 TPT

I enjoy exchanging gifts at parties. I delight in seasonal wrapping papers and colorful gift bags along with a hand-written note honoring my special guest.

I cherish time spent with family and friends.

Beautifully wrapped presents are memorable, but hand-written notes are treasures inscribed in one’s heart!

All perfect gifts are from above (James 1:17).

There is only one gift that brought me to Christ.

His Grace.

7F488BA7-4160-4582-808A-D2C81A9A026CPhoto credit: Ben White @ Splasher

Lord,

When I accepted your grace, my heart and mind were eternally transformed.  Your compassion and unmerited favor are the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrew 13:8).

Thank goodness, I didn’t have to earn Salvation! It was freely given.

Please forgive me if I was stubborn at first, but I was a lost soul. Because of my sinful nature, I disrespected you in so many ways. I was headed to self-destruction. (Proverbs 1:19)

My heart was choked with unforgiveness, anger, resentment, and pride. I was blindfolded by these emotions! The heart is deceitful and cannot be fully trusted (Jeremiah 17:9).

I had accomplished so much in life yet never acknowledged you along the way! I was self-reliant and possibly obsessed with pursuing the ‘American dream’.

Thanks for not giving up on me all of these years.

I now realize how broken I was but you redeemed me and made me whole.

How did I do it?

One winter morning, I repented of my sins, invited you into my heart, surrendered my life at the foot of the Cross, accepted you as my Lord and Savior, and most importantly I walked away from a self-destructive lifestyle and never looked back again!

You delivered me from hell and saved my soul (Psalm 103: 4). I’m a new person in Christ, refreshed and renewed (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I value every reward from above.

How about you my friend? Have you accepted His Grace today?

In Jesus’ name, I praise.

Amen.

A Prayer for Macy

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How sweet when Scriptures are ‘active and alive’ in the midst of unsettling circumstances.

Jesus reminded me of his Truth, 1 Corinthians 4:12. His timing was perfect too.

“We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly…”

On Friday, I noticed a young woman’s desperate cry to save her kitty on social media.  People demanded the young woman to consult with the vet immediately without acknowledging or addressing the core treatment barrier.

The reality was ‘Momma cat’ didn’t have the money to pay for the vet bills after she had rescued ‘Macy’ from a gloomy, rainy, cold winter night.

After reading multiple, critical and harsh commentators on Facebook, I established a ‘gofundme’ campaign.

Some contributed and supported the campaign, others ignored it and few were insulted by its noble mission.

And, who knows ‘how many’ individuals reported the link to the page’s administrator after the campaign was posted on his/her social page!

Praising  Jesus right now!

I’ve got the Veterinarian and mamma cat’s contact information. Macy is on her way to the clinic at this very moment and I will be able to wrap up with the campaign this week, and most importantly follow-thru with Macy’s progress after her eye surgery💕

Her eye will be surgically removed in the next 24 hours.

I heard Jesus say in my disbelief, ‘pray for those who reported you and for the administrator who banned you from the page!’

“Are you kidding with me?!” it was the initial, candid response.

I was angry, disheartened and in disbelief when I found out I was banned for posting a campaign on social media. There were no warnings or alerts regarding rules.

Since then, I’ve been taking all negative thoughts captive to Christ and will continue loving ‘unlovable’ citizens on this earth today and always.

I love Jesus.

He wants us to love everyone 💕 including the unlovable ones.

Please pray for Macy’s eye surgery and post-recovery phase.

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(Courtesy picture: Gwen Dean — 5 weeks after the eye surgery)

If you like to donate to Macy’s campaign, please click the link below:

http://www.gofundme.com/help-ms-rescued-kitty

Cuban Sandwich in Downtown Memphis!

Walking outdoors reduces the impact of stress and promotes ‘well-being’ in a fast-paced lifestyle.

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭8:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

‘How  can we treasure a moment, a memory, an experience when managing hectic schedules?’

‘Multi-tasking’ is one of my strengths. Multiple projects are achieved by the end of the day at the expense of satisfactory health. Busyness hijacks our joy!

It’s a challenge for me not to multi-task. I  can check emails, answer phone calls, contribute to a meeting and/or review the ‘to do’ list all at the same time.

At the end of the day, I’m emotionally, intellectually and physically depleted.

‘How can we slow down?’

Awareness is the first step before intentional changes can materialize over time.

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Once the committee meeting was over, I strolled down the brick-paved boulevard towards Cafe Keough for a tasty, Cuban sandwich.

The waitress patiently waited for the phone call to end and inquired once again,

‘Have  you considered the lunch specials?!’

I was thrilled to spot a ‘cuban sandwich’ with a side order of french onion soup on the menu!

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 It’s a gift from God to delight ourselves in every activity of our day.

Our Lord doesn’t want us to rush thru an activity or ignore our surroundings much less dodge opportunities.

Let us embrace one moment at a time so we may be blessed by the ‘present’ and be refreshed by God’s grace.

Walking outdoors, embracing silence and savoring every bite of a Cuban sandwich are much healthier practices for a joyful break.

Joy in Music

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“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭100:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

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