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!

“More Than Intended”

Have you ever had one of those moments where right in the middle of doing something, the Holy Spirit uses that very moment/situation to bring much needed clarity or revelation about something you may have been praying about for months? Or maybe he used a moment in your daily routine to bring attention to something that maybe you’ve just overlooked in the business of your day-to-day schedule. Well sis, that DEFINITELY happened to me today! If you have time to read on, I’d love to share more about it.

Today, after having a beautiful evening time of fellowship at Panera with a good friend of mine, Holy Spirit reminded me on my way home that I needed to stop and get toothpaste. So, to the nearest Wal-Mart I go… with the intention of ONLY buying toothpaste. Now ladies, (and guys too) we all know how it goes… You go in to get one thing, and you end up with a cart full of stuff that you did not plan on getting; and more importantly, that your wallet was not originally consulted about! Well let me tell you, I was so set on only buying toothpaste, that grabbing a buggy/cart never even crossed my mind.

So down the aisle I go. I grab my favorite toothpaste, and then I’m fini—- “but wait… there’s that new body wash… hmmm, I’ll just grab one and try it out… I saw on the commercials that it was really great for dry skin!” Now I have two things in my hand. Then… “hmmm since I’m here, I should probably grab some coffee too… makes sense instead of stopping at the gas station each morning, right?” Now, I have three things in my hand. Still manageable to hold, so its fine. And then… “Well, I can’t have coffee without cream, and I think my dad used the last of what we had left sooooo, let me grab some of that too.” Buy this time, my arms are full and I literally have no more arm space to carry anything else. And yet… “Hmmm I wonder if they have those Chobani Flips Yogurt things I like!!” And with an arm-full of pretty heavy items, I STILL manage (barely) to make over to the yogurt cooler and grab not one… but SIX yogurt cups! HA!! Now mind you… I did not have a cart…

So now, I have a bottle of body wash, a box of Medium Roast Coffee K-cups, a 22oz bottle of creamer, six cups of yogurt, and oh yeah… that 2-pack value box of toothpaste somewhere at the bottom of my arm-full pile. By now, the yogurt cups are literally stacked up to my chin, and as I’m leaving the cooler section, one of them slipped, but somehow I managed to pick it back up. As I’m walking away, heading towards the checkout line… this gentle, still, small voice speaks to my heart and says, got a lot going on there don’t you?” Stunned a little at first, I then began to laugh, because I immediately thought about how crazy I must have looked with yogurt stacked to my chin, walking ever-so carefully not to drop what looked like a game of Tetris gone completely wrong (haha). But then suddenly, that simple question spoken to my heart caused my focus shift, as the Holy Spirit brought a few areas of my life to mind. In that moment I knew that my heavy arm-full of items was not the only thing He was referring to…

Just like all that I was juggling in that moment at Wal-Mart, the Holy Spirit quickly used that instance to show me a parallel picture of what this season has felt like… juggling an arm-full of things, honestly more than was originally intended. Sometimes, we find ourselves agreeing to and taking on so much stuff (opportunities, extra-obligations, etc.) that are “good-things”, but may not necessarily be “God-things”. You see, the yogurt, creamer, body wash, etc. were all “good things” but in the purpose of the trip to Wal-Mart to get toothpaste only, they were not “God-things”.

In life, we often find ourselves like I did; carrying a bunch of obligations, loads, and “yes’s” that may not have been the original intent. But I want to share a bible verse that my friend so timely shared with me at dinner, minutes before this confirming Wal-mart trip took place:

Galatians 1:10 (NIV) – “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I still trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Talk about “ouch!” This scripture cut me a kinda deep. How  many times have I said “yes” to things that seemed good, but were outside of God’s intended plan for me. Things that often became distractions against the very thing that the Holy Spirit is wanting me to focus on… How about you?

In ALL Things, we must be careful that our actions don’t become mere works that may please man/seem like the right thing to do; but that we seek God in a way that leads us to do and take on what is of His leading. As a “Good, Good Father”, He will always lead, we just have to be willing to follow.

 

Lord, I pray that we as your daughters (and sons), will take every load and heavy weight, and lay it at your feet. As we cast our cares on you, give us the wisdom to know whats important. In Jesus name,

Amen.

God Bless!

Identity Declaration

This is a Declaration of Worth and Identity in Jesus Christ!! I want to challenge you to speak it out loud daily over yourself in Authority, Declare it, and BELIEVE IT!!

I am a Daughter of THE KING!

I am Chosen!

I am a Ruby (Precious and Rare)!

I am a child of God!

I am the Head and not the tail!

I am MORE than a conqueror!

I am a Mother!

I am a Sister!

I am a Wife!

I am a strong woman of God!

I am HEALED of ALL sickness and infirmities, in Jesus’ Name!

I am a Lender and not a borrower

I am the righteousness of God!

I am Blessed to be a blessing!

I am VICTORIOUS!

I am BOLD in Jesus Christ!

I am SET APART!

I am Protected by the Blood of Jesus Christ!

I am under Jehovah Jireh’s supernatural Provision!

I am at PEACE in Jesus Christ!

I am BEAUTIFUL!

I am a Temple of the Holy Spirit!

I am ALL that GOD says I am!!!!

But most of ALL… I am Nothing without JESUS CHRIST!!!!

Jesus loves us, and we must love ourselves! We must believe who God created us to be!

You Are Loved

God bless!

 

 

“One tall glass of REST, Please!”

As I sat in my comfy chair yesterday, resting after a beautiful Sunday of worship, I was bombarded with many thoughts of things that need to be done. “The first load of laundry needs to be removed from the dryer so that the next load can be added… my closet needs to be cleaned and organized… what is on this week’s agenda?… remember that amazing idea you had last week??… you need to contact him/her, oh and don’t forget to send that email to confirm x,y, and z!” Tasks, decisions, upcoming events, “to-do” and “to-now” lists… ummmm relaxationnnn… where did you go??

There are so many things clamoring for our immediate attention; whether tasks, obligations, planning, decisions, there’s always something “needing to be done”. However, what happened to that moment of rest that you originally intended on having? I know personally, if I sit too long (normally not long enough), feelings of guilt try to creep in. “Girl, you need to be working!” “You know x,y,z needs to get done… rest another time!!” But, is that really healthy? Now of course productivity is important, as time is precious, but how productive can one truly be on an empty tank? Eventually, the car will stop, and have to be pushed or towed to a gas station. I don’t know about you, but I would definitely rather take the time and fill up my tank to have what I need, instead of running out and having to be forced to get what I should have stopped to get in the beginning…

Rest is essential, especially resting in the Lord. If we are not careful, we will work, bleed, and tire ourselves out because of the world’s definition of success. We’ll work 5 jobs, while participating in 6 organizations in order to gain money and prestige; but in reality, our families, and essentially God, are left with the crumbs of our time. There comes a point where we simply need to sit down and rest.

I am reminded of a time in my life when I was on the go at all times! During my first three years of college, I was the definition of “busy”. I held three executive board positions in 3 organizations, was in 3 music ensembles, doing hair on the side, and had an extremely demanding major. Not to mention I had the nerve to want a job on top of it all! My friends tell me now that looking back, they wouldn’t even bother to text or call me much because they knew I was too busy to hang, or would have to end it early in order to be on time for my next org meeting. While at the time, I looked important and thought I was achieving success, I was actually stressed and burned out from living an extremely hectic life. But this did not really dawn on me until a friend of mine bluntly asked me, “Are you really achieving anything?… or are you just always busy?”…That was my wake-up call.

I share this to say  that we have to make sure that our ambitions and schedules are actually in alignment with what is of true importance, our purpose. Having an extremely full plate may sound or look good, but if we aren’t careful, it could all be a huge distraction; deterring our focus from where God originally intended it to be. It is only in the moments of solitude and intimacy with God that we truly find out what our assignment is. God may be speaking to us, but have we stopped or slowed down enough to hear Him? Are we in-tune with the Holy Spirit to know what doors to walk through, which ones to avoid, and when to sit down somewhere and listen. This was and (still is sometimes) a VERY hard lesson for me to learn because of pressure to be great, and to make those I love proud. But in the end, God had to show me that if He wasn’t proud… none of it even mattered.

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” 

So beloved, take the time you need to sit the tasks to the side, silence the phone for a little while, and rest in quite time with your Heavenly Father. We have to spend time with Him in order properly operate in the day that He has given us. In order for us to properly pour out, we must be filled. Take that extra time to sit at His feet, pray, read His Word, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your heart and thoughts. We must take time to fill up spiritually in order to pour out supernaturally! Jesus loves you, and awaits to refresh and fill you with all you need, for the purpose He has for you to accomplish.