Part 2 – Vacation and His Provision

Continued……the tour of the French and Dutch side was amazing and real life for me. There was evidence of poverty, but the people seem content. Based on the information provided to me from the tour guide I should have probably verified this before posting but 90% of the money on the island comes from tourism. All their grocery stores are owned by the Chinese and there is a lot of damaged property due to hurricane Irma. From my eyes, I though even with all that it was still beautiful, and the port was awesome one of my favorites (lots of stores and different varieties). I’ll visit again if the opportunity presents itself.

The next stop was St. Kitts, we did not get to tour too much of the island on our own because the port was small, and our excursion was for most of the port time. We did Jeep off roading in the mountains stopping at a local beach for 2 hours which was awesome. Lots of animals and beautiful views from the peaks of the mountain. Watching people playing in the water and snorkel at the beach was peaceful while I absorbed all the rays from the sun. A local placed a monkey on our heads without our permission and initially it was very scary. The monkey was calm and kissed my ear which helped me calm down a bit. I didn’t realize at the moment, that the monkey experience will be as memorable for both of us. Once back on the ship, we spent the rest of the day getting to know our dinner mates in the hot tub.

Our next stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico but everything was closed upon arrival which was not good because it was a short day. We found a tour guide at the port that offered us a tour of the island for $20 so we agreed. That was God’s favor because none of our dinner mate were able to see the island in that timeframe. We finished the tour by going shopping and buying our kids nice souvenirs.

Our final port was Turks & Caicos, honestly I can’t describe the beach there but please visit if the opportunity ever presents itself. It was absolutely beautiful, how can anyone see these things and deny God’s existence. He was present in the water, sand, people, marine life, sun and everywhere else. God is our Creator and has the best paintings that a canvas does no justice. Our excursion in Turks & Caicos was snorkeling, which was my attempt at being a supportive wife because my husband can swim, and I can’t. I almost did not go because I was nervous. After getting on the boat the peace of God rested on me and then something amazing happened. We saw a whale, it was so beautiful and came up out the water to meet us, it was so quick that I did not have enough time to snap a picture. Memorable, this was my first time ever seeing a whale, our dinner mates went whale watching and did not get to see any whales. If that is not God’s favor than I don’t know what is, apart of me felt like I did not deserve all this favor He was pouring out it was overwhelming. The time has come to get into the water and learning to breathe only through my mouth was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was dressed to the tee facemask, flippers, life jacket and for extra precaution a noodle to stay afloat in the water. The water was a bit rough out there in the middle of the ocean, the color of the water is a blue I don’t think we’ve been able to duplicate anywhere else. The snorkeling spot was right beside a very deep drop off, after much encouragement I put my face in the water and saw Dory from Finding Nemo for the first time. I stepped out in faith and let go of the noodle and started snorkeling around not too far from the boat.

It was one of the most liberating things I’ve done in a long time. It’s even encouraged me to get swimming lessons this summer at my local YMCA. Once we got back to shore, we decided to visit a local restaurant on the beach and the food was suppose to be good. The beach was just so warm and soothing to my mind, body and soul that I did not want to leave. I could have stayed in Turks and Caicos and worked from home looking at the beach every day. The thought of leaving that port and the trip ending soon was such a sad moment for me because its been a long time since I’ve felt so much at peace and had so much fun. I decided going forward to take better care of my wellbeing especially my mind and let my hair down more often. We spent the rest of the days with our dinner mates getting to know them and planning our next cruise together as a group. I’m really looking forward to it. We won a bottle of champagne by participating in a marriage contest which was so out of our comfort zone. The thought that we were able to go on this trip and pay cash for everything, have an amazing time, meet some awesome people, receive awesome customer service, feel safe and comforted in the arms of the Lord was blissful.

This trip changed my perspective on how much God loves, protects, guides, favors, and thinks through all the details ahead of time. In complete awe of his goodness. It reminds me of his word. Psalm 139:2 “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar”. Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”. May the stories of our lives be read from the book of life and may God’s will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. We made it back home safely and I was so grateful for the entire experience. I pray that if you are in need of rest and peace that you seek the Source. It’s truly the only place real peace comes from, regardless of your situation. May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding rest on your heart and mind in Jesus name. Have a blessed week.

Vacation and His Provision

Is it just me or is it amazing when we can see with our own eyes God’s favor, His splendor and His protection in real time? After a year of planning, my husband and I had the opportunity to get away for our ten year wedding anniversary. Upon my return I shared some of my personal experience with my husband and he suggested that I write about it. My husband perspective was different than mine so, I’ve been working on what to say with words for a few months now. It takes time for me to gather my thoughts together. As I type these words in my local Starbucks, I’m overwhelmed just knowing that He is here helping me craft these words for you.

Anyway, on to the recap of my vacation, First, we were able to get a rental very last minute to drive to the port. My husband wanted to be fancy with a convertible, but upon arrival none were available. I’m very thankful for that please don’t share that with him. The thought of being hit in the face with wind and other things on the Florida highways I’ll pass. They substituted the convertible with an SUV without having to pay anything additional. We got to the port with plenty of time surprisingly very little traffic which is unheard of most days. We boarded our cruise ship safely; our room was clean and to our surprise had 2 bathrooms. That night at dinner we met our dinner mates having no idea we’ll meet up with the same couples every night they are all awesome. It was evident that His favor was present. Everything up to this point was great, just seeing the sun rising and sitting in quiet in the middle of the ocean is just so beautiful. Looking up at the stars at night, my words do the images in my head no justice. I could not help but see God in everything. His peace was over in abundance. We spent the first few days at sea and ported on the 4th day with the first stop being St. Maarten, the Dutch side. We booked an excursion ahead if time that tours both the French and Dutch side in the land and sea.

Before it was time for the excursion, we decided to explore the island and do some shopping. We got some coconut water, bought some gifts for our family and got plenty of steps in. During our walk, we arrived at the local courthouse and while taking selfie’s a guy asks if we just arrived on the cruise ship. He says he asked because they just opened a new hotel and are looking for Americans to advertise the new hotel in the state. Then he hands us a flyer for a chance to win $500 and other prizes all we’ll need to do is scratch off this postcard to see if we won. I start scratching and it looks like I’m about to win and he says no that one is not working well and gives me a new one. I knew from when this man approached us something was off. Long story short, we didn’t win the scratch off but he then invites us to visit the hotel, claiming there is a car waiting on the next street to take us there and back. Too many red flags and the thought of the movie Taken. My husband being the awesome person he is says sorry we must get back to our ship for an excursion, stopping all conversation with him and we walk away.

I’m so grateful, so grateful for God’s protection and the fact that we weren’t born yesterday. Bring raised in the inner city does have its perks. Stay tuned for part 2, this Thursday 6/9.

Happy Mother’s Day 2022

If you’re a mother, Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you’ve had a great day. My day was filled with chores and some lounging around. I need more rest now that work starts tomorrow. Pray for me! I hope you’ve spent the day loving on your babies and doing whatever it is you like to do. My day was spent sleeping in to 7am, spending time in worship and prayer, going to Starbucks, grocery shopping, prepping dinner, watching a movie and ended up taking a nap during most of it. I’ve been tired for a few days now but for some reason I am unable to take a nap during the day. Every time I try to nap, I just end up closing my eyes still awake then eventually getting up. It was a late decision to get to my laptop today and type some words before calling it a night. Encouraging moms this evening that you’re doing a good job. Our work is challenging but it brings much reward in the end. Keep pushing to be the best version of yourself and don’t be so hard on yourself when you fall short. May God continue to give you the wisdom and knowledge to care for your children in Jesus name. Until next time, have a great night!

Jesus is Home

Recently during a time of prayer, I said Jesus is home which is a something I’ve never said or thought of before until that moment. What does that even mean or look like? All I can think about is home, a place that ideally will be clean but not always, warm, inviting, a place to raise my family, care for my husband, a place to be myself without any judgement and a place to rest. The last blog talked about the cost of following Jesus; one being not having a place to lay his head. Jesus was always on the move during his ministry, continually being invited into the homes of others. What even makes a house a home? The people in it and I’m sure other things. We are in Jesus which makes him our home. The cost of following Jesus may leave you homeless, but Jesus is home He is eternal. The home is complete, all the renovations are done, and it was completed at the cross. He bore our sins, died and was resurrected on the 3rd day. The veal was broken and restored relationship with man and God. He is our home here on earth and in heaven. Sharing this for the benefit of others, make time to go home daily. In Jesus name. If you don’t know who Jesus is but will like to He invites you in with open arms. Romans 10:9-10 says “that if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” May God bless be safe out there. Always ready to pray for you, email your request at effortministry@gmail.com.

Is the Cost Worth It?

Today I sat in silence at a local coffee shop and waited for God to give me the words to write that will encourage someone else. I’ve struggled most of my life with coming up with content so close together it takes me a while to think things through. The only thing that comes to mind is my reading this week Matthew 8. Jesus healed the sick, drove out demons, caused the water to be calm in the midst of a storm and gained disciples. He reminded his disciples of the cost associated with following him. The cost Jesus was clearly already aware of for himself because He’s Jesus but the disciples did not know quite yet. Matthew 8:20 says “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but Son of Man has no place to lay his head. “Jesus in all his glory did not have a physical home or place to sleep, nothing really of his own. The cost to following could be family, friends, wealth, community, the things we enjoy etc. The list goes on and on varying from individuals.

The cost also includes learning to do things differently, you can’t expect to keep doing the same thing, it will only yield the same result. If you want something to change its going to start with you first. On another note, I’ve personally struggled with changing the environment of my home for years. Just wanting and desiring it to be a place of joy and peace. I’ve prayed, worshiped, fasted and the results seem to not come fast enough. I can only see the changes when I look back. I’ve notice that whatever growth happens within me as an individual, wife and mother my family responds to it. Both good and bad, I’m far from where I want to be today but trust that everything will work out in His timing. Keep striving for what’s right. I just want to encourage parents this new year that God never gives up on us. He is here walking out parenting with you. I can’t go back and undo some of my years of parenting, but I can trust God to know that He will work everything out for the good of those that love him. [Romans 8:28]

This week I’ve experience something that has not happen in a while my prayers were answered immediately. I prayed for each of my children, specifically in the areas that I was struggling with and God heard me and answered my prayer. Instead of rebellion I was greeted with compromise and now I see the importance of praying for each child specifically in that way everyday. They have emotions and are going through things we may not understand right now. Our Father in heaven is Omniscient, all knowing. Trust that God will continue to guide them through the struggles of life.

In conclusion, the cost of following Jesus might cost us our living situation, family, close friends, free time as a parent etc. Especially for parents trying to lead their children to Christ unaware of how to because it was not taught and unaware of what it looks like. God will give you all the vision you need to see what changes need to happen. Don’t attempt to do it all on your own you might burn out, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and fill you every morning. Give you guidance on what to do and the perfect time to do it everyday. May you have ears to hear and eyes to see during your walk with Him. I’m walking with you right now. It’s not easy changing for the sake of others but I believe it’s possible. To disciple children is expensive and cost a lot but I believe that every child is worth it. The next generation needs you; your sons and daughters need you. The cost might be great but its worth it. If you’re not praying for your family who is praying for them?  How can I pray for you? Please feel free to email me at effortministry@gmail.com.

Until next time be encouraged.

You are loved.

Happy New Year!! Welcome 2022

Happy New Year!! Welcome to 2022 I know it’s been a while, I really wanted to see if God truly called me to this. It was getting really difficult for me to continue to write and manage my day to day. I guess that was the problem I was relying on myself way too much. I assumed it was not a calling for a moment, I thought this was something I was just doing for my benefit because others did not read any of the content, but God says different friends. I can’t go back and undo the 2-year break but I can start from here. I also wrote a children’s book last year that’s available here on Amazon.

With this new year upon us and all the challenges that seem to impact us with Coronavirus I want to encourage you today that there is someone with you in the mist of all this. Your Father in Heaven “will never leave or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) He is with you holding your hand during this time. Don’t forget to thank Him when you get a moment. All around me just seems difficult and challenging but I know what I am going through is nothing compared to what others are facing today. I pray for you today. I pray that God will give you eyes to see where He is in your today. May His peace that surpasses all understanding rest on your heart and mind. May you find comfort in him today regardless of what you’re going through. In Jesus name, Amen. Be blessed and have a good day!

Happy Valentine’s Day 2021

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!! Have you ever-desired love? A good love, a love like no other where the other person sees you, hears you and genuinely loves you. I use to desire this so badly I just wanted someone to love me the way I love passionately and deep. I’ve come to realize that no human being can really love me that way. We’ll talk more about this in a little bit. 

While reading the bible this week, my heart broke so much for Leah. I’ve read this account a few times already but never saw how much despair Leah was in after marrying Jacob. If you’ve never read the account of Leah and Rachel, I’ll provide some background but suggest reading it for better insight Genesis 29:16 -30:22.

Jacob is Leah’s husband, their marriage began because her dad Laban tricked Jacob. Jacob thought he was marrying Leah’s sister Rachel which he worked 7 years for free to marry. Laban gave Leah to Jacob on their wedding day but Jacob did not notice until the next day that his bride was not Rachel. Laban’s reason for the trick was that it was not custom to marry off the younger daughter Rachel before the older Leah. In reality Laban wanted 7 more years of free work. Jacob eventually marries Rachel a little while later and agrees to work for Laban for 7 more years. Jacob loves Rachel but fulfills his obligation to Leah and cares for her too.  “When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb but Rachel was barren” [Genesis 29:31 NIV]. Leah gives birth and during that time women will name their children after what they were going through. Leah has 4 sons and more later on but it isn’t until the 4th son Judah that she praises God. The first three sons she hoped would grab the attention of her husband and make him love, see, hear and be attached to her. 

Leah realized that God was the only one that truly saw her the entire time. God saw her pain, her pleas and petitions to Him. My heartbreaks for the unloved, so reading this was so heart breaking it reminds me of a daughter crying for her father or a wife with a husband that despises her and all they want is to be loved, respected and honored. I’m writing this to tell or remind anyone that they have a Father that loves them unconditionally. Before I was saved, I remember feeling so alone as if no one could love me the way I needed to be loved and walked around with a void in my heart.

This story is a perfect example that true loves only comes from one source. God is the only one capable to love us unconditionally the way we need it. The only way to get to him is to accept Jesus into your heart.  Romans 10:9-10 says “that if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” The void in my heart started to fill for that moment and continues to fill more and more everyday.

Happy Valentine’s Day and stay encouraged that His love is one of kind and that real true love only comes from one source. Keep your head lifted!!

Popcorn & a Movie – I Still Believe

I had the privilege to see the movie I Still Believe right before the pandemic started. I think I cried throughout most of it. Here is my attempt to not give away all the details if you haven’t seen it yet. The thought of finding the one you love and just wanting to be with them is so beautiful. To love regardless of the circumstances or what the outcome might be. I can’t say personally that I’ve loved this way but what a beautiful example of how Jesus loves us. This movie is based on the true story of Jeremy Camp and seeing that he still believes in Jesus after all that he went through is beautiful. I would recommend this movie especially for a girl’s night if you’re into love stories. Please remember that regardless of what you’re going through or have been through in this life. God promises to never leave or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6.) Have a blessed week!!

Happy Mother’s Day 2020

If you’re a mother, Happy Mother’s Day!!! Hope your day was filled with some fun, relaxation and quality time with the kids. This quarantine has been awesome when it comes to my selection in clothing. It now consists of some sort of comfy material, this is the first year I decided to go outside with a sweatshirt and ripped jeans on Mother’s day. I’m usually dressed up or at least in a dress and boy was it a blessing to just be myself. I share this to encourage mom’s today to embrace your true self and walk in confidence. Regardless of what others might think or say the Lord calls moms accept the calling with confidence. Proverbs 31:30 remind us “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” It’s awesome if there’s time in your day to look nice all the time but if their isn’t, it’s okay your relationship with the Lord is more important. Be blessed and have a great Mother’s Day.

Love

With Valentine’s Day behind us, I could not help but think about love. What does love truly means? I can tell you first hand its not always butterflies and happiness. I believe love is truly a choice, a choice to love someone even when they’re unlikable or unlovable. A choice to forgive the person that wronged you, a choice to admit that something is not quite right in the relationship, a choice to speak the truth in love, a choice that your spouse is not your enemy, a choice to not respond when you really want to etc.

While pondering on what to write this verse came to me. 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.” John 3:16 NIV

In God’s love for us He sent His one and only Son to us here on earth. To save those who believe in Jesus to have eternal life. How deep must God’s love be for us, that He sent His only son generations before we were even born to be save us. It’s a beautiful thing that Jesus sacrificed his life for us to complete God’s will. I know we can’t love each other how God loves us because He’s God. I’m pretty sure He wants us to love each other how Jesus loved here on earth. So what does love truly mean it’s making the choice to love someone even when it difficult. Be encouraged!!