Wind Chimes

Today is December 27th, the 2nd day after Christmas and a few days before the New Year. This can mean 2 things; you may be caught in the hustle and bustle of post Christmas shopping and pre-new year prepping and planning… or you may be trying your best to squeeze in as much rest and family time as possible before walking into all that is about to come forth! Whichever category you may find yourself in, I just want to take a moment to remind you that you are loved, and share something that my heart was reminded of on this peaceful Thursday afternoon.

As I sit here in my aunt’s kitchen, having a cup of coffee with reminiscent thoughts of the many laughs and even tears of this week, I am reminded of God’s consistent nearness. Earlier this morning, I honestly woke up in a bit of a slump. Thoughts of comparison began to parade my mind of all the things that did not happen as planned in 2018. It also did not help to scroll on Facebook/Instagram and see posts that could easily feed into the lies of comparison. I immediately sat my phone down, went into the kitchen, heated up a plate of sausage balls, made a cup of coffee, and sat at the table. No phone, no iPad… just me and Abba.

Too often we get distracted by all of the “noise” that surrounds us. The noise of social media, outside opinions, and even our own thoughts can easily distract us from what the Voice of God is saying to us through His Holy Spirit. I have found this to be true quite often as someone who has struggled with identity, insecurity, and low self-esteem. The voice you listen to is the voice that will rule. So in this moment with me and Abba, I decided to just listen. To turn off the other noises and choose to take some time and tune in the God’s loving voice; and boy was I in for a treat!

My aunt has these wind chimes that hang outside on their balcony. They are simple, black chimes that have been there for years, since I was a little girl. I’ve noticed them before, but today they meant so much more. As I sat in my silence, I ask Abba, “what are you saying Lord? There are so many things that are seeking to pull my attention away from you… but what are You saying?” As I sat there for a few minutes, I began to hear the soft, sweet sound of chimes playing in the wind. A sound that was so soft, it could easily be missed amongst all of the other sounds of daily movement and duty. But in the stillness of that moment, the chimes began to play softly, then louder with the picking up of the wind. I could feel the rest of the Holy Spirit wash over me as He ministered to my heart.

Zephaniah 3:17 says:

“The Lord your God is in your midst; The Mighty On, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

I truly believe that in my moment of searching for Him, He revealed His nearness through His song over me in the wind, through the wind chimes. We are His children, and He rejoices over us with gladness! He sings over us! What gladness it brings to think that the Savior of the world, our Heavenly Father celebrates us with joy and endless love and affection. We are special in His sight!

So even in those moments where the noise seems so loud, and those intruder thoughts come knocking, remember the song of Abba; a song of joy, love, and peace. Steal away for a moment, breathe, and just listen to His heart. He loves you, and values you more than you could ever imagine.

May the love and peace of Christ wash over you, God bless!

Richarra Hardaway

Easy Listening

What I have found in my Christian Journey with Abba Father is that one of the ways He often speaks to me is through dreams. So much so that I have dream journals where I write them down because of the much needed warnings, or important instructions from the Holy Spirit that are sent through these dreams. Recently, I had a very significant dream that seemed to serve as both a warning, as well as a revelation; both of things that hinder the immediate reaction of believers’ to the Holy Spirit’s initial instruction.

Dream: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was in a classroom setting with peers, with a blank sheet of paper in front of me, and the teacher began to tell us what to draw. He first instructed us to draw a girl, inside of a sailboat, with birds, etc. and the instruction continued as we drew exactly what he told us to, as he was telling us. Once He was done, He told us to look at our papers; when I was done, I laughed because I was really impressed with the way it turned out, so much so, that I decided to show my friends/peers. But when I showed them they scoffed and questioned saying, “why did you draw it like that? Why are the birds black? Why is it so close together?”, so on and so forth. After hearing these comments and opinions, my countenance fell, and my view changed as I began to see the “flaws” in it and how crazy it probably did look.

So I threw the picture away, and began to look around the classroom for a new sheet of paper to start over. When I turned around in my seat, I saw plenty of empty chairs at other tables with blank sheets of paper from people who didn’t come; and from a far those papers looked clean. But overtime I approached one to grab, I realized that it was stained, or dirty and torn. After looking in frustration, I finally found one that was clean… but a piece of it had been ripped off the bottom. So i took it and began to redraw what I remembered from the teacher’s instruction, but this time, I was focusing on the wrong things (the girl, how long/what color her hair was, etc.) to the point that I kept erasing and redrawing, erasing and redrawing; ultimately trying to make it look as good as possible.

Time passed, and as I had just started the coloring process of my picture, yet still making changes, the teacher called out that it was time to turn in our drawings. I began to panic because I realized that if I had f just stuck with the first one, I’d be done already, and it would have looked beautiful. So as I looked around the classroom, I saw that there were still a few stragglers that were trying to finish theres up too, so I had hope; but what initially began as a one-by-one presentation turned into being called up in mass groups, and even still, my work was not finished.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This dream hit me like a ton of bricks because while thankful for the Holy Spirit’s revelation, it convicted me so heavily. We as believers are to listen to our Abba Father’s instructions the first time, blindly (by faith), doing exactly what He instructs us to do; and while it may seem or look crazy, we are still to do it in obedience to Him. However, when we allow the tainted (stained, torn, fallen) opinions and judgements of others  into our minds and hearts concerning our path, or what God told us to do, it can cause us to question the very thing we heard from God. “Was that really God speaking?” “Do I look crazy?” “Why did I choose to do this??” Before we know it, doubt and fear have settled in; causing us to change, and try to recreate God’s instructions for us into a presentation that is pleasing to man/makes man comfortable, or worse… completely removes Him from the equation.

When putting our own spin on things, it causes us to then rely on our own intellect more than God’s Word. It causes us to paint our own/the world’s fallen perception of what God told us to do, versus what He really said.

So my question to you is, what are some areas that maybe God has spoken to you about, or given you instructions to do that have been thrown away or cast to the side due to fear or doubt caused by the opinions of man? No matter what it may look like or sound like to others, we should always choose obedience to the Jesus Christ vs. the opinion of man. In Matthew 4:18-22, when Jesus called Simon-Peter and Andrew to follow Him as His disciples, they didn’t get a second opinion… they immediately left their boat, dropped their nets and followed Jesus! We are called to do the same; and though it won’t always be easy, we can definitely rest assured that the story will be one of purpose and beauty; all working together for our good as Romans 8:28 promises those that, “love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose.”

God Bless!

No More “Cookie-Cutters”

The need to fit in. The need for acceptance. The need to succeed according to man’s standards. The need to be like everyone except who God actually created you to be… ever been there? I sure have, and I must say, it is quite stressful, and VERY unnecessary! However, I found myself occupying that residence for almost 14 years.

Dating back to my childhood, I could always find a reason(s) to believe that I was not good enough. Whether rejection at school from friend groups and “cliques” that I so desperately wanted to be a part of, or being rated with low numbers on those silly “How Would You Rate Me? 1-10” notes that were passed around in middle school for the popular boys to judge. With every low rating (3’s and 4’s each time), my self-esteem began to plummet more and more, causing me to love myself less and less. Had I given the opinion of man too much power? Most Definitely!! But blinded by the desire for acceptance, attention, and validation at such an early age, it was hard to see the downward spiral that my identity and self-worth was actually taking.

Although still battling with self-acceptance at the time, it wasn’t until 2008, my 10th grade year in high school that I began to truly see what individuality looked like. This was the year that I switched schools to attend a well-known Performing Arts school in Chattanooga, TN. I can recall being very shocked at all of the brightly-colored rainbow pixie cuts, facial piercings, and interesting stylistic expressions. I was also taken aback to see what felt like a scene out of the movie “FAME” during lunch, when people would randomly breakout in rap-battles, cafeteria-wide sing-a-longs, and impromptu guitar/vocal jam sessions. While at first I felt like a fish out of water, knowing only 4 people at the school, I quickly began to appreciate what seemed to constantly ring through every hallway, classroom, and school assembly… Uniqueness.

Whether for the right or wrong reasons, there was a sense of confidence that filled the air of CCA. My peers knew they were gifted, and worked hard to perfect what they knew God had put in them. Even those who were not believers had a sense of appreciation to know that what was in them was far too great to waste on the opinions of others. They were not afraid to embrace their differences and could honestly give less of 2 measly cares about what anyone had to say about it. I can truly say that during my high school years, I learned a lot about embracing who God created me to be… but even still, it had not fully sunk in.

Fast-forward to college, I still sought validity through joining organizations, pledging a sorority, and seeking many different ways to find my identity. The truth is, no organization, person, place, or thing could point me in the right direction, because there is only ONE with that ability, and He is The One who created me, and has “every hair on my head numbered” (Luke 12:7). Although born and raised in the church, what I failed to grasped during this low point in my life was that Jesus Christ was The ONLY answer to my identity crisis, and until I found out what He says about me in His Holy Word, I’d never truly know who I was, or who I was created to be.

So my dear sister, while society wants us to look like them, and the world points us to so many “trends” and “enhancements” to achieve “The Look” that is currently in, let’s choose the exact opposite! Lets’s choose to be the unique individuals that God created us to be; from that witty laugh, to those fly-away hairs that won’t seem to lay down, no matter how much edge control or gel you slap on them! Sis, we are Beautiful, “Fearfully and Wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and daughters of our Abba Father, The Most High God!

Let’s choose to wear a Daughter’s Crown and take on Abba’s perception of us, as we dig into His Word to find out The Truth of our identity in Jesus Christ!

God Bless ❤