Have you ever wasted time trying to help people make sense of a calling God gave to YOU?

Maybe after prayer and confirmation all we need to do is get to work.

What are you going to walk boldly into that God has called you to do?

Your sister,

Monica

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I’m still trying to wrap my brain around everything that happened this weekend.

How did I end up on a runway in Trump International Hotel wearing a couture gown made by designer Andre Soriano?!

The glitz and glamour of which little girls dream about materialized in the blink of an eye and here I am looking like Jessica Rabbit mingling with people this lowly trailer park girl was never supposed to hang with.

But God!

I knew He was in the thick of it right from the beginning.

My childhood friend Katherine called me and asked to meet because she felt the Lord prompting her to reach out. We bonded like never before. Weeks later she called she with this opportunity and I ran out the door in high heels to get fitted for a dress!

When I arrived I noticed a beautiful women quietly standing to the side. She had a presence about her that was even more pleasant than her appearance.

She introduced herself as Maria Magdalena. Given my relation to this biblical figure I was surprised and pleased at her boldness. I would meet Maria once again at the networking function on Saturday.

Katherine and I arrived a bit late to the function but right on time for what the Lord had planned. We chatted and made introductions.

One woman spontaneously began to pray for me and it set my course for the rest of the weekend.

I prayed for her as well.

“It is servitude without boundary that bestows true splendor.”

Nearby, Katherine was discussing her massage therapy business and demonstrated a hand massage for one woman. This women, poised and elegant, began to pour out her heart about a recent loss she had experienced.

I watched Katherine’s face change as she grasped for the appropriate response but alas there was none. I leaned in and hugged the woman.

She shared more about her grief and I asked if I could pray for her. “Yes, please!”

Before we could begin Maria Magdalena approached and said, “are you praying without me?”

“We are going to pray and lay hands on this women, would you like to join us?” I responded.

There in the middle of the cocktail party the three of us encompassed this women and prayed aloud, each as the Lord prompted.

It was magnificent! True splendor!

Following that event I was able to pray for yet another women. Morgan Murtaugh will be the youngest woman elected to Congress and I intend to pray this young lady all the way through. I say “will” because I believe in her and what she stands for. When I asked her how I can pray for her she said, “guidance.”

Right before the fashion show Morgan sought me out and asked me to pray for her once more. This girl is a gem, y’all! I am so honored to be a part of her journey!

So that is what the fashion show turned into for me. Same thing as always…

Ministry, but with makeup and hair!

The dressing up part was so much fun! I got to live out the Cinderella story for a day, but it’s like I tell my daughter Evelyn who is obsessed with princesses…

The thing that made Cinderella so beautiful was her heart.

It is servitude without boundary that bestows true splendor.

Sure, I looked amazing because I was wearing couture and had my hair and makeup styled. But I felt amazing because my heart was overflowing.

I am amazing because of the Holy Spirit and I got to remind people of that each time they complimented me!

The following day I was back to sweeping up crumbs and dirty dishes. I get to serve the little disciples we are raising instead of high powered fashion designers and congressmen and women.

But I left a glass slipper…

Only it is the example of servitude instead of a shoe, and it only fits on those who can squeeze their ego into it.

May your ego be small today and your service remarkable!

Your sister,

Monica

We call it many different things. A “white lie”, “twisting” or “stretching” the truth, “impression management.”

The reality is that whether we are conscious of it or not, we are all telling lies. We do it daily. Entire lives are built in the sinking sand of illusions we believe and create for ourselves.

I wish I could say I am different, but I lie too.

I lie to myself when I speak negative things over my marriage or myself. I lie when I tell myself that I will not overcome obstacles to my ministry and that my timing is better than God’s. I don’t do this with many things. Only the most important. I haven’t lied about trivial matters since I was a child.

I dedicate myself to truth and yet I still lie.

Thankfully, I’m a terrible liar. REALLY terrible! I tell on myself, usually within minutes. I just love truth! I seek it, seek to live and speak it, and do so at all costs.

Last night I became less of a liar.

I identified the things I wanted to say as false before they came out of my mouth. It gave me enough time to submit those thoughts to the Lord and process them in a more healthy way.

I couldn’t have held my tongue had I not been face down praying for it.

Moments of anger and fear are like this. They turn us into liars. More accurately, we revert to things that serve us momentarily even though we know they are wrong.

“God gave me the characteristic of self-control, but I need Him to show me how to use it.”

Have you ever told someone “I hate you!” in the heat of an argument? Have you accused someone of cheating on you because you’re still traumatized from past experiences? Have you told yourself no one loves you and you’ll always be picked last?

See, we’re all lying.

None of that could possibly be true. Love is eternal so hate isn’t real because it can be destroyed. Suspicion and low-self-esteem aren’t real either. These are all lies of the enemy and will ultimately meet the same demise as him; oblivion. Interestingly, even the act of calling myself a “liar” is a lie.

So I want to share with you the solution to all this. How to not to lie. It isn’t simply to speak the truth. That is impossible to do since we are often unaware of or temporarily blinded to truth.

You must be filled with the Spirit.

There is no other way.

I’ve prayed for many things. Peace, patience, joy… but I already have these things the moment I accept Christ as my savior.

The fruits of the Spirit are fabulous but they only work so well as we choose to submit to the Spirit. God isn’t going to give me more self-control to speak truth. He gave me the characteristic of self-control, but I need Him to show me how to use it.

The only thing God can give me more of is Himself.

Not a bad deal if you ask me. I’ve had too many seasons of being distracted by the things of God where I forgot about Him and was seeking after holiness in futility and spiritual dryness.

I’m grateful that the only real solution to my problems is the presence of God.

My prayer today is that you all be filled with the Spirit. We are called to be vessels and its impossible to be a courier of something you aren’t in possession of. Chase the Lord today! Seek, knock, ask… and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Let us desire Him with all our heart!

Your sister,

Monica

Sometime in our lives we are all the “One.”

The one God came after and left the proverbial ninety-nine in doing so.

But why? Why would He leave His people like that? Does anyone ever consider the inverse of what is happening here???

We cry like babies during Reckless Love because we identify with the one, not the ninety-nine. That group wouldn’t be bawling joyfully because they got “left”… or would they?

Let’s break it down.

A few things are going on in this “leaving” and I believe it is of the utmost importance that we as a church begin to identify with the ninety-nine more than we do with being the “one.”

This is why:

1) The “One” is special… therefore we all want to be this

Reality: if you’ve accepted Jesus as your savior you cannot presently identify as this “one.” It’s great to reflect and show gratitude that God sought you out and brought you that mighty long way, but real gratitude produces action… namely that we do what Jesus has done and go get the next “one”

2) God left the ninety-nine, but He returned

The best description of this “leaving” and what it entails can be found in John 14:23-31. Jesus has to go away. If we love Him we keep His word. We then become a “home” of Jesus and the Father along with our counselor the Holy Spirit. It is not just Christ we have but the entire trinity living with us! Jesus left and it hurt that we were no longer the center of attention but we were ultimately empowered to do what He did and even greater!

3) The Ninety-nines are supposed to leave the ninety-nine and find “ones” that become more ninety-nines

This is basically the same as my first point but necessary to keep repeating. Stop making everything about you! It’s not about (just) you! It’s about the body of believers as a whole and we are still missing body parts because some of our ninety-nine have done nothing more than trade night-clubs for church-clubs.

We are out of order.

The answer to the world’s brokenness lies within the perfect love of Jesus lived out through us. We must go.

Go love each other.

Go love the one.

Go get the one.

Jesus came to seek and save. This isn’t about attraction and marketing. It’s about getting in the trenches with the lost and carrying them out on our backs if that’s what it takes!

Please share love today. Put as much effort into loving your neighbor as you do into serving abroad in missions.

Pray for people out loud. Pray for people in public. Pray for eyes to see the brokenness on their faces.

It will haunt you and bless you, but it is our calling.

With a heavy heart for the lost I’m begging you to courage-up and get your hands moving on the plow today. I want my Sunday morning to be filled with praise reports and new faces, not the ninety-nine still trying to be the “one.”

I love you all dearly.

Your sister,

Monica

Last night I realized that my current favorite worship song requires only 4 chords on the guitar!!! Needless to say I spent some time worshipping and crying my eyes out because, let’s be honest… who doesn’t cry when Reckless Love comes on?!

(Unless of course you have defense mechanisms against the “feels” )

I stayed up late enough to find this out because I was having trouble sleeping. My heart was full and a bit broken at the same time (a common paradox for anyone in ministry.)

I was rejoicing in the fact that our oldest daughter and our niece were just baptized!

Rochelle’s baptism:

Jayla’s baptism:

Praise the Lord!

On the other hand, I have had some very real, very constant let downs.

I’m not one to get crushed by the big stuff. It’s the little every day battles that eventually wear me down.

Last night was one of those nights. I was depleted.

So I went to my prayer room, plugged in my phone (that was almost dead from overuse playing meaningless game apps that brought me absolutely NO peace), and proceeded to search up guitar chords so I could get right in the presence of my Savior.

Amid my sobbing a certain line stuck out to me. “When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me. You have been so, so good to me.”

Instantly I remembered that this reckless love holds a unique answer to my heartache. Not only did Jesus pursue me in a way that could not be defeated even by my worst sins, but we are to pursue others the same.

It is by loving like Him that I walk in freedom.

I must love in a way that is unrestrained and is not limited by sin or emotions or even real, unjust events that occur. Absolutely NOTHING can take precedent over the love of Christ flowing unhindered through me and into this hurting world.

This is what God calls “good.”

Still, I don’t like it.

I don’t prefer to be “the one” who is “always” patient and feeling let down. I want relief. But I’ll tell you this:

The Lord has also shown me some deep truths about Him that I may have never learned if I were not experiencing what He goes through while loving us.

“When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me.”

And THAT is the real goal in life. To know God and be known by Him.

We do this by following Jesus.

Becoming Christlike is a journey that is full of pain at times. The reality is that we are going to have pain in this world regardless of our beliefs. But, when we are redeemed and have hope in the Lord, His Spirit can meet us right in the middle of despair and comfort can begin to flow in and from that wound.

When you deny the Lord access to these places, you deny Him the canvas upon which He would display your miracle.

You may not be able to handle the darkness but He can. Open up today. Call on Jesus who is your truest friend. Pour your heart out. You won’t regret it!

Maybe you’ll end up like me… starting with agony and ending in authentic smiles of gratitude and joy.

May He heal all your wounds, even now. Even today!

Your sister,

Monica

The first time I tried to write this article I found myself beginning by listing all of the things that are so difficult in my life right now.

I was making excuses.

Perhaps somewhere in the back of my mind (my sinful, fleshy mind) I would still rather not take full responsibility for what I am going to share with you. Something tells me I’m not the only one.

The story goes like this:

I was busy yesterday and trying to get away for some sanity time at the end of the evening. Finally, I put myself together and was on my way out the door. My oldest son was helping take the puppies out so I wouldn’t come home to yet another mess.

He is helpful like that. Brian is always stepping up to help whether he has asked or not. I would like to take credit for this, but I believe it is more in spite of my parenting than because of my parenting.

Some people are endowed by God with a servant heart.

Brian is one of those people. I was one of those people as a child… and then the world broke me.

In fact, I can recall the exact moment when I decided I would stop serving other people; the moment I threw deuces to the rest of the world and decided to just “do me.”

One afternoon, as I visited with a friend, someone asked me for something. I think it was to get an apple for them from the kitchen or something like that. Something simple. Immediately I jumped up and went to go get it.

Why not?

As I walked into the kitchen I heard a voice behind me say, “good dog,” followed by a room full of hushed laughter.

No, this is not some story about how I was bullied by my friends.

It was one of my own family members sitting in the living room that said this to me. One of my sisters who had been encouraged by our parents in her taunting because it was “funny” and she was “just having fun”. Nevertheless, the part of me that cared started to harden that day.

With each subsequent request or need for help that I refused, my heart hardened even more.

This went on for years.

Now, as Christ is healing me from this, I realize I still have a long way to go. I had become like that critical mean voice in my head. Sometimes daily, I battle with it so that I don’t spill it onto my own children.

Each time, I have to turn it over the the Lord because I have proven no match against my own flesh.

So yesterday, as I ran to the car to get my much-needed “me” time (because it’s mine and not the Lord’s right?), I fussed at my son for not helping properly in the way I would have done it.

While he was helping, I fussed at him.

I caught myself and stopped. Then I hurried into my car, dropping my phone on the driveway in the process.

As I drove away I lamented my broken phone. The Lord put on my heart to consider where I am placing value.

“You would become so upset, so angry over a broken, lifeless piece of technology… And yet you fracture your son, your own son, and move on with no regard for what you have done?”

Ouch.

I hate that I still have this struggle against my flesh. I have known this struggle for sometime. I know why I do it. I know that Ido it less. I just can’t change it as fast as I would like… and that’s not good enough for me.

Such is the frustrating process of sanctification.

Sure, there are professing Christians that make few, if any, changes to their lifestyle. Personally, I could never live that way.

I have been forgiven so much that I consider even the smallest sin to be a terrible offense to my Father. I know He forgives me. It is because He forgives me that I want so much to please Him.

I know He was pleased when I returned to my son (I called him as soon as I realized what I had done) and asked for his forgiveness. I explained what the Lord had revealed to me about my behavior and that it was not my son’s fault that I had a bad attitude.

This process is always painful.

So the point of this particular post is simply tell you (for those of you who are enduring this as well), you are not alone.

We all struggle…

We all sin…

Those of us who are passionate about serving our loving God in a way that honors the Spirit He has gifted us are brokenhearted when we fall short. If we were not, we might do well to question why we have chosen the label “Christian.”

So, if this is you… if you find yourself in shoes like mine, rest assured you are in good company. There are many who toe the same line each day, learning to surrender old habits as we are being made new.

We are in this together my friends. Let us then, share our struggles openly and encourage one another. Please be in prayer for my continued sanctification as I will be also for you and yours.

Be blessed in the Lord today.

Your sister,

Monica

When I was a child I lived in Fairfax county in Virginia where there were so many different cultures I never had the opportunity to see myself, or anyone else, as different.

We were all different and that gave us a sameness.

As I aged, I began having experiences with people who did not think like me and had no problem being vocal about it.

Visiting family in West Virginia one year, I experienced my first drive-in theater. It was wonderful. However, my enjoyment came to a screeching halt when I heard a young white boy use the N-word. I told him, very directly, not to say that around me. He conceded. The young black man he was speaking about could not have said what I said, how I said it, and gotten the same result.

I suppose this is what white privilege looks like.

In my young adulthood I attended a party… partied way too hard… and became pregnant by a young black man I had just met. I was barely 19 and already had one son. The young man who impregnated me was in school and leaving shortly thereafter. Abortion seemed like the perfect solution to an already frightening situation.

My friend who hosted the party drove me to an abortion clinic.

Later I discovered that she had logged into my AOL messenger (for those of you who know what that is) and had been propositioning men for sex, pretending to be me.

One of the messages this “friend” sent out invited one man to “do anything” he desired to me because “I could just have an abortion. I got pregnant before and I killed the baby because it was black .” This is what racism looks like.

I was heartbroken over my decision already. She twisted the knife. I quickly realized that

1) this young lady was not my friend

and

2) she was closet racist

I had never seen evidence in all the years I had known her. Our mothers were friends for some time and I had never known her mother to speak that way either.

Racism is often quite hidden. But only for those who are not people of color.

Whether we want to address it or not, this issue still causes division within the church.

A fellow minister and friend of mine is a pastor in a local county nearby. He just recently informed me of the “sister churches” that became divided into seperate churches, one black one white, during the Civil War and have never reunited. His church is one of many that has been touched by the depravity of racism.

“The church needs to be a light to the world and we cannot do that when we hold darkness in our hearts.”

He and I discussed ideas for bringing reconciliation between the churches. My friend has a long road ahead of him if he chooses to embark upon this task. But all of us are responsible to address this within the church and outside of the church walls, in our communities.

I grew up in a home that had many issues I identified with stereotypes of black communities in America. Most of my friends were black as a result, though I lived among many cultures. I assumed they all had broken homes, parents with addiction, and borderline or actual poverty.

Unbeknownst to me, I had used my limited exposure to part of the black community (my friends who did have these issues) to define an entire race of people.

In high school I joined the Awareness of Black Culture club. I quickly realized that my perspective had been more informed by society’s view of black Americans than by their culture and who they really are.

I lived among, went to church with, partied with, and went to school with the black community and STILL I was misinformed about their culture, issues, and as a result their value.

No let me be very direct in saying that I did not value them less than myself or anyone else. I had simply failed to recognize the contributions that they have made and continue to make to this country and also the world at large.

The one thing that I was blessed not to miss out on was the black community’s contribution to the church.

It was in a very small, historical predominantly black Baptist church where I first experienced the Holy Spirit. I witnessed and participated in worship that was truly free. I saw grown women dancing as freely as this child out of pure joy in the Lord. I heard honest testimonies of broken people that had been redeemed by the Lord.

There has always been a transparency in the black community, weather in the world or in the church, which I have greatly admired. I took it upon myself to be just like this. Always real. Sometimes real to a fault, but honest nevertheless.

I want to call you all into action on this as well.

Let us not leave the dialogue about race in yesterday just because today is not a holiday that draws attention to the power and value of the black community.

I want each of you to take an honest inventory of your own heart in relation to how you perceive people of color.

I want you to write it down.

I want you to pray over it.

You can tear it up when you’re done, or burn it… Just do it for goodness sake!

Write it all out and turn it over to the Lord so that we can truly begin moving beyond hate, stereotype, and the racist expression of these things.

The church needs to be a light to the world and we cannot do that when we hold darkness in our hearts.

If somebody like me who is so engaged in the black community could STILL have misunderstandings,then surely all of you can take a few minutes to evaluate your own thoughts on the matter.

Won’t you?

I thank you for joining me in this effort and I pray that God reveals to you places that need to be healed and forgiven if and where they exist.

It is imperative that our brothers and sisters of color know that they are not alone in this fight and that we are willing to wage war, even on our own flesh, to better unite with them. We are to bear one another’s burdens and when we refuse to, in the light of truth, we are in sin for not doing so.

I love you all and pray you have a blessed day that is full of revelation, hope, and restoration.

Your sister,

Monica