Tag Archives: love

you and me

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the way you

dream and it becomes reality

see others dreams and show them the way

 

the way you

grow older but never age

demonstrating to future generations to seek their distinctive beauty

 

the way you

see that which is not visible

hear that which is not audible

 

the way you

act and respond in crisis

never seeking recognition but restoration

 

the way you

strengthen the weak

bless and heal, uplift and encourage

 

the way you

majestically enter any space

commanding attention, but never seeking it

 

the way you

carry your unborn

with the assurance that they will thrive

 

the way you

love those who are unlovable

with care and thoughtfulness that they may feel loved

 

the way you

color your full lips, cover your curvaceous hips

knowing your beauty is not in what others think or see

 

the way you

could be high yellow or red-bone or paper sack brown or chocolate or dark as the night

and your glistening melanin empowers others to take pride in the power of their own black skin

 

the way you

build community

at home, in church, at school, even in sorority meeting

 

you demonstrate the presence of God and the power of the Holy

 

you remind us how to live believing in the promise of God

 

you teach us that it isn’t about us at all, but how we bring Glory to God

 

the way you do you

makes me want to be the best me

rainbows and promises

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Snapshot 2015-02-21 13-10-17Genesis 9:8-17

There it is, not with a pot of gold, but with something far more significant. The bow in the sky  even in the cold icy snow is our reminder of God’s covenant with Noah. The promise that God made with not just Noah but with all successive generations – that’s us! God promised that the bow will remind him never to destroy the earth with a flood again! God has established that he is faithful, that he keeps his covenants to us – successive generations.

Being stranded in this cold icy weather provides a great time to reflect on the promises God has made to us and how faithful God has been to those promises. It is significant that in the midst of both literal and figurative storms the bow in the sky doesn’t just remind our just and faithful God about his covenant to us, but it also provides us comfort and peace as we think on all the promises of God!

Magnificent and Merciful God we bless your Holy and you Righteous name! We thank and extol you for your faithfulness towards us especially when we have not been faithful to you. Incline our hearts to see your covenant with us as an opportunity to trust you with all that we are. Help us dear God to be faithful, trustworthy, promise keepers that reflect your love. In the covenant name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Toni Belin Ingram

trusting believing living

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I have always marveled at those who hear from God, those whose path is guided by God’s truth, those who trust fully and wholly in God for their lives and livelihood. I thought of them as folks who were super special, extraordinary, incredibly favored folk. Then I did a restart on my life, putting my trust, cares, concerns and family in God’s hands. Not only did I learn that I too am super special, extraordinary, incredibly favored, but I learned YOU are too! You just have to live it. Not the fake it until you make kinda living, but wholeheartedly trusting God with all that we are.

This Lenten season is the perfect opportunity to restart our spiritual lives. To truly spend time in devotion and meditation to hear from the Lord. To embrace the Lord’s ways and trust God for our lives. To sit still in the early quiet of the morning pushing through the distractions of life, family needs, bills, what’s for dinner, enables our minds, souls and hearts to hear the God’s truth of how God wants us to live trust and forgive.

Gracious and eternal God, still our minds of the distractions of our lives. Open our hearts that our sinful souls and bodies feel your forgiveness and healing. Lord reveal to us who we are in you. Show us holy and merciful God the plan that you have for us, that we see ourselves as you see us, in your image. Loving caring God enable us to embrace the quiet and faithfully trust you with all that we are and ever hope to be. In the trusting name of Jesus we pray.

giving

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Last night, I went to Target to get some thank you notes.  Of course I could have gotten them from anywhere, but I love Target.  I was in my neighborhood not the church one, but my home one.  When I walked up talking and laughing and being my usual jovial without a care in the world self, I heard a woman talking and I realized she was talking to me.  I saw her as I walked up and my eyes caught hers and I smiled as she and her kids were standing by the door.  I am accustomed to folks standing and waiting on rides and I wasn’t in Edgewood where it is bound to be someone asking for something so I was a little taken aback when she started talking to me.

“Ma’am do you have any money?” Of course living in that VISA commercial I very rarely have cash and so I immediately was saying no when I remembered my nail tech’s tip money that I didn’t give her and I passed her the money.  “What’s going on with you?”, my pastoral concern was taking over.  She told me that she didn’t have all of her rent money.  I apologized for not having more to share and went into the store.

As I checked out, I looked out the doors to the store and saw the family standing there and I chose the cash back option.  When I went back outside, as I handed her the money, I asked the mother what was the problem with the rent.  Being in Edgewood, I have grown accustomed to parents who have not gone to their required classes or met their requirements of working.  I hadn’t heard this one though.  The father of her two oldest died and his SSI check was now being split between them and another child that she didn’t know that he had.  I apologized and we spoke briefly about her options in finding an apartment that could be afforded on her new lower income.  Immediately, a woman walked briskly up and passed a bill to the mother and said, “here, take this $100 and I sure hope you’re not lying – go take care of those babies”.  The mom exclaimed in excitement and asked God to bless the woman and assured her she was not lying.  The woman said uh huh and walked away.

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

I felt some kind of way when the woman gave that $100.  I remember growing up in the church and at every benevolent offering you heard “so let each one give as he/she purpose in the their heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” while the lady gave $100, she seemed compelled and not very cheerful to me.   Sometimes it seems that we have to do something to make ourselves feel better – not necessarily because it is the right thing to do.  I see folks all the time give money and say, “don’t buy a drink”, “you better spend my hard earned money on food”, “I pray to God you’re not tricking me”.  I often wonder if they spend their time wondering what their money went for.

I know in the economic times it may seem hard to give cheerfully or it may appear prudent to question where your money is going, but imagine if that is how God treated us. We are to give from our hearts cheerfully because that is how God has blessed and continues to give to us.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Jesus “gave Himself for our sins” (Galatians 1:4). “Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us” (Ephesians 5:2). God is a giver and He wants us to be like Him.

Every time I find myself in need, my God restores me and heals me and encourages me and cheers me on with compassion and mercy and grace.  The way that God takes care of me encourages me to be like God – gracious and merciful, compassionate and loving.   The way that God gives to me, despite who I am, despite my shortcomings, despite my thoughts and despite my actions, makes me realize that I have an example that is so easy to follow in my giving, not just in my money, but in my time, in my heart strings, in my talents.

I want to be like Christ not just when folks can see me, but cheerfully at all times and in all places in my heart.  I want to love as Christ loves, I want to give as God has given to me – at that point I recognize that God blesses me with peace that surpasses my very understanding.

Maude and Me….

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When I first came to Greater Smith Chapel as pastor in May of 2008, there was a huge dead tree that greeted me from the street.  After the first worship service, I walked out the front door of the church and to the right of the church was a magnificent oak tree.  I mean it was huge the tree was green and flourishing.  There were families of animals living in the branches.  Squirrels and chipmunks and all species of birds frolicked in the tree and you could envision a tire swing and a picnic table underneath.  The mass of yard that the tree covered could host several students studying or a great game of hide and seek.  The tree could literally be considered the tree of life.

One day the unfathomable happened, we were at church hanging out and having our normal dose of fun everything was great and getting better.  All of a sudden a huge wind came out of nowhere and uprooted the tree.  Not the dead one or all the ones that were in desperate need of pruning, but the great big oak.  The wind was so magnificent that it lifted the tree and turned it on its side breaking the very live roots.  Then the heavens opened up and the rains came down, lightning struck and all hail broke loose…. Hail started falling from the sky.  It was awful and an hour or so later it was gone as quick as it started.

When the tree was removed, it left a huge void in the yard…. There is a major brown spot in the yard that we just this summer decided to make a children’s garden.

Someone said it’s not always the leaning tree that falls

Maudestine Glanton was an oak tree kind of person.  She had the unique ability to encourage and engage children and adults alike.  She helped and gently nudged and would even make you believe what you were doing was you own idea.

One of the great debates in our two years together (which really seem like a lifetime) is what would the church do when I left as pastor.  Maude Glanton always said that whenever Greater Smith Chapel had trained a good pastor they would leave.  I would always emphatically tell her that I had no intentions of leaving, that I was not seeking to go anywhere and that the kind of congregation that I ideally wanted to pastor, we would create at Greater Smith Chapel.  We always talked about what if when and if I left, I always explained that I was 150% all in.  We never EVER considered what Greater Smith Chapel would do, what I would do when Maude Glanton left us…

There is a huge void left in my heart.  I know as surely that I do that our Savior lives that Maudestine May Glanton in her infinite wisdom has already given us the tools to fill this incomprehensible void… I look forward to sharing my learning with you in some blog posts in the nearby future entitled “Maude and me…. The girl’s guide to pastoring and loving and living”

the real work of Easter

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I’m not now nor have ever been very holy and righteous… not bragging nor am i lamenting I’m just saying

this past Sunday I was so inspired by the people children and some adults who had decided that their lives were worth risking for the sake of the Gospel.  We had a phenomenal time in worship.  Children and their parents were baptized, all of a sudden I felt the Spirit of God tell me that it was time – Heal and Deliver God’s people and for this I was born.  Amazingly enough the day before some very wonderful people came and worked and worked and worked, then some supportive, albeit crazy women told me that before I was going to be able to get them convinced that baptizing 40 folks, many of whom were unknown to them, was a good idea, I would need to pour some oil all over their bodies.. I laughed. But I did comply.  The night before I had gotten the most fragrant blooms out of my other mother’s yard for the purpose of making the oil fragrant naturally.  I did and I prayed that God’s anointing fill this place, but more importantly that God’s anointing change us to the Easter people that we are supposed to be.

That evening, I walked to the train station and enjoyed the quiet solitude, I knew that something big was to happen.  I couldn’t sleep.  I joked around with Raymond trying to make him stay awake (to no avail), I texted and played on the phone with some friends mainly not to loose my mind from what I knew only to be the anxiousness of participating in something that was so much more than me.

When I got to church, the place had been transformed by the creative hands of a woman who loves to serve God more than anything.  Because of her faithfulness, I could see the presence of Almighty God ready to take control.  I had read and prayed, studied and consulted, begged and pleaded, but nothing prepared me for what happened next.  The funny thing is I have no clue.  You’ll have to ask someone else.  I know lives were changed, minds were eased and hearts were opened.  I have no clue about the particulars.  I remember a woman who I had never seen before bless me with her warm smile and tender touch, as if to confirm what Jesus had already said.

We baptized so many children and so many adults that children came after crying asking can they too be baptized.  I knew that only God was working this thing called the real work of Easter out.

I always tell people that just when you turn it all over to Christ all hell breaks loose.  I wasn’t lying and it happened barely as I got out of church.

For whatever reason, not his fault I told Raymond I was divorcing him when Asha went to school.  I felt the power of the devil trying hard to destroy me at my very core.  I have spent the over half my life loving and taking care of  Raymond and in my heart I knew nothing could change that – but JUST when I let my guard down the devil came and attacked … I tried to pray – it wasn’t working. I texted Dwayne, the one person who wouldn’t judge me or Raymond and who would intercede on my behalf.  Then Raymond and I went to visit some friends, the next morning all was back right with the world.

The next day we discovered why our water bill was $1000, there is a busted pipe in the back yard. the car messed up, we only have two and Asha took one to Destin.  that was cool because some wonderful folks took care picked me up and provided Raymond dinner.

Today, our air conditioning is out, there are millions of termites swarming around the wood outside our home and the deck to our house is sinking and some kids broke into one rental house and a tenant refuses to move out of another one…. but my GOD is able and the devil is a liar.  Raymond and I are hanging out in the sun (on the sinking deck) having a ball yelling at the dog praying no neighbors complain about him today… Ray may not like I talked about him (he’s perfect and does no wrong you know).

I tell you this because the real work of Easter is just beginning.  I know that if the enemy is attacking me the enemy may try and attack you too.  I want you to know that does not mean that God is not able or that you aren’t worthy of God’s blessings or that Jesus didn’t come for you.  It may simply mean that you are moving in the right direction – ask Jesus right now to be your peace.

My daddy always used to preach Jesus is a rock in a weary land, shelter in the time of storm, a wheel in the middle of a wheel, a mother for the motherless and a father for the fatherless, that God is the Great I AM, the beginning and the end, a battle ax in the time of war.

There is a war going on and not just in Irag. The real work of Easter comes not just early Sunday morning when the Spirit is heavy and high.

The real work of Easter comes the next day, when in the midst of everything going on with you, you can see the hurt in someone else and be able to tell them that Christ died so that we can have the peace that surpasses our very understanding.

The real work of Easter is about making sure that you are available not just on Sundays – but Monday through Sunday.  I too believe in self care, but if I treat my neighbor right by serving them when they need it most despite what I believe that I need. God will restore me 200 fold.

The real work of Easter makes us know that our salvation is not for ourselves, but the people that we are in community with – even when we don’t know their name,

The real work of Easter is about denying myself and when I’d rather sit on my deck and have Tequila Tuesday – getting up and ensuring that those new to the faith don’t loose heart.  Many of my members asked if the folks would come back after they were baptized, I told them that if we loved them right they would.

The real work of Easter is about loving God’s people despite who it is we believe ourselves to be, despite who it is we believe them to be.

The real work of Easter is about embodied the very presence of Christ, so much so that it doesn’t matter what happened or how it happened or even if you remembered, but that someone else knows that through your testimony God will work it out for them too.