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

“Scroll Counts”

Social Media is a powerful tool. It can be used to connect, encourage, and share wonderful memories and happenings with others… but if not careful, it could also be very dangerous. This is definitely a broad subject, and one could veer down multiple paths on this topic, but what the Holy Spirit brought to my attention was the amount of time spent “scrolling” verses the amount of time spent with Him. This one brought some much needed conviction to my heart about social media habits that I “thought” I had under control… my “scroll count”.

What is a scroll count? A scroll count (definitely a made up phrase) is what I call the amount of daily time spent on social media/phone usage. A close friend of mine inspired me to download a mobile app called “Moment”. This app is a screen time tracker that tracks how much time your phone/tablet is used each day! Uh ohhh, get ready to see some shocking initial numbers if you choose to download this app! I remember the first evening that I checked in resulted at around “5h 31mins” of screen time… that’s a problem! The sad part is, most of it was subconsciously. A habit of muscle memory where you tap on Facebook or IG without even realizing it or meaning to.

There are so many times that I’ve gone to unlock my phone with intentions to texting someone, or sending an email, or checking the status of something online, and before I know it, I’m scrolling down my timeline; checking to see what I missed in the past 10 minutes. When I look at my generation as I sit around a dinner table, an outing, or at a family gathering, I see more phones than I hear conversations. I see more scrolling than I see eye-contact being made. I’m guilty of this too, but what truly pricked my heart was the thought of how this makes God feel.

How often do we instead of waking up with a prayerful heart of thanksgiving, check our phones “real quick” to see what notifications we have received while we were asleep. Or after coming home from a long day, curling up on the couch to check and see the latest news we missed, when God wants to be the first to hear about our day, even though He already knows it all… companionship. I can only speak for myself, but so often God is placed on the back burner as I waste time on things that are fleeting with each moment/post. Oh how this this time could be better put to use! The truth is, I feel closer to Him when the social media word is silenced. I hear Him clearer, and my mind is untainted by opinions, comparison, and garbage.

Drawing near to Christ brings forth revelation; about ourselves, as well as our relationship with Him. He’ll reveal those areas that need more work; and unlike man, He walks through the refining process with us, guiding us each step of the way. There have been so many times that I’ve wanted to post a memory, or post a photo, but felt the Holy Spirit nudging me not to. Not because it was bad, but because there was simply no need to. Wisdom says, “everything that happens in our lives does not have to be shared and posted.”

So let’s evaluate our scroll counts. My heart’s plan is to be more intentional about putting the phone down and digging into what’s most important; God’s Word. The more time we spend with Jesus, the more the things and priorities of the world will fade. The demands of the world can wait, but our Heavenly Father should never have to.

God Bless, ❤

A Feast of Thanksgiving

While the turkey and dressing is in the oven, and as we enjoy those delectable slices of pumpkin pie, we must always remember who our utmost gratitude belongs to… our Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Thanksgiving is such a beautiful time to spend together with our families over some of our favorite meals; a time to reminisce, laugh, and fellowship; but this year, my heart also goes out to those who may be experiencing grief over the loss of their loved ones, or those who may not even have family to celebrate with.  If that is you, I want to encourage you that Jesus is always there, and has promised to always there. Psalm 46:1 tells us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.”, and Deuteronomy 31:6 promises us that “…He will never leave, nor forsake us.” Jesus Loves You.

So my friend, despite what your Thanksgiving may look like this year in the natural, I want to encourage you to feast upon God’s Word spiritually! His Word is a well that never runs dry, and it is unchanging no matter what we face; both good and bad! No matter what, we will ALWAYS have something to be thankful for… Life! It is the Breath of God that flows through our lungs, so that alone is a reason to sing, dance, and jump for joy! With that being said, I want you to do something. Right now, as you are reading this, I want you to take a couple of minutes to stop and think about all God has done for you, both big and small, and simply tell the Lord, “Thank You”. As we think back on the things He has done for us, both past and present, our hearts should swell with gratitude as we are reminded that our circumstances do not dictate whether God deserves our praise or not… He is ALWAYS WORTHY OF EVERY PRAISE! When the turkey runs out, and the pie doesn’t turn out as planned, God is Still the Same!

So here just a few of the many scriptures in God’s Holy Word that we can hold on to and endlessly feast on this season. Enjoy!! As granny used to say,  “Baby, there’s plenty more where that came from!” Happy Thanksgiving!! God Bless ❤

1 Chronicles 16:34 – “Give thanks to the Lord. for he is good, and His love endures forever.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Collossians 3:15 – “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you are called to peace. And be thankful.”

Ephesians 2:8 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-“

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Psalm 28:7 – The LORD is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.

Philippians 4:6 -” Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Psalm 100:4 – “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.”

Jesus Loves You!! ❤