A weekly blog, by author Leslie K. Howard, filled with spiritual, uplifting thoughts to help you get through your week

Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Talking To Your Children About Violence In Our Society

Talking 1    Not a week goes by that we don’t hear a story of mass murders in schools, malls, movie theaters and even churches. These places used to be considered “Safe Places” but now it feels like nowhere is safe.

As we watch the news we can’t help but feel anxious about our family’s safety.  What about our children? even the youngest of children can be affected by what’s going on in the big bad world.  It’s our job to calm their fears so they will not be afraid to venture out into society.  Below are a few tips to help you  talk to your children.  I’m sure you can come up with more ideas.

Start A Conversation

Talk to your children about what’s going on in today’s society and in their lives. Take time to listen to how they are feeling. Many times in our conversations we are so busy sharing information and giving warnings that we don’t allow our children to express how they are feeling.  Many times they are afraid and anxious about what’s happening around them. Be open and allow them to express themselves.

Cover Them In Prayer

Let’s be mindful to pray for our children; not only for their physical safety but their Spiritual, Mental and yes Emotional safety. Be purposeful and specific in prayer by covering them in the morning before they leave our homes and at night before they sleep. Pray for children nursery school through college. 

Pray with them too. Invite them to share their fears and needs with Jesus. When they give their worries to Him, they no longer have to carry them around.

Be Aware

Know what your child is doing. What kinds of books, music, movies, TV shows, video games or websites are they exposed to? Who are their friends? Their influences? Is your child a loner? Is your child being bullied?  Could your child be the bully? Get to know their friend’s parents. Are they people who share your values? Do they have guns in the home?

Get Help

Go on line and search out sites such as http://corporateweb.geologics.com/…/Helping_Children_Cope.p… get tips to help you start the conversation. Ask open ended questions. If you need, seek counseling or parenting support groups.   Encourage them to speak to teachers or school counselors.

Be Proactive

Find out what’s your school’s safety plan. If you’re not satisfied, make some noise. Be involved with your PTA and help make a plan. Talk to the principal, Board Of Education, Mayor and other officials.  If you are not satisfied contact your governor and state senator.  If necessary get the media involved.

Don’t Scare Your ChildrenTalking 2

As you speak to them try not to alarm them but be calm and reassure them that the “Boogie Man”  is not hiding under their bed and every person is not out to get them. We need to reminded that our God is a strong tower. We the righteous run to Him and we are saved. Psalm 18:10

Words Of Comfort

Here’s a word of comfort Psalm 138:7 ~Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.

It’s Cutting Time Pt. 1

Pruning 1There have sure been a lot of babies born lately.  It’s that time of year you know.  Spring is just around the corner and there is new birth everywhere.  Keep your eyes open for baby birds, squirrels, zoo animals, trees, plants and flowers.  What about us?  After a harsh winter, are we experiencing new birth or are we hanging on to some dead wood that needs to be pruned?

Scripture tells us “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…”  Those words are spoken by Jesus himself ~John 15:1-2.  Notice in the pruning process; both branches that Do and Don Not bear fruit are cut.   A gardener knows if she wants a full fruitful crop then the pruning process must take place.  Now the novice gardener will only cut away the dead leaves and branches, but the skilled gardener knows some good leaves must be cut as well and she knows exactly where to cut.

The Father is the Master Gardner, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  If we are to continue to grow on the vine, some of our leaves and plants must be cut.  There is simply no way around it.  Now no one said this will be easy or painless but if we want healthy spiritual lives then we must submit and not complain during this season.

Pray this with me:

Heavenly Gardener, I know you are making a better me so I will reflect you.  I must admit this cutting is painful; there are honestly some things I can’t let go.  I feel helpless and weakened by them but I can’t bear to part with them.  I’m powerless and I need you to do it for me.  It is for my own good and my growth.  So I freely submit myself to you Father. Cut away the dead, leaves that are bearing no fruit.  Even take away those that appear to be good but aren’t good for me.  Feed me the life cleansing water of the Holy Spirit so I will stay on the vine and produce good fruit.  In Jesus Name Amen!

Be on the lookout for pt. 2.

Riding With Ms. Rosie

Blue CarI Don’t Drive.  I admit it.  I don’t drive, don’t judge me.  I am born, bred and  raised  in Newark NJ.  I am a city girl.  I take the 25 and 70 busses.  I ride the city subway (okay that makes it sound bigger than it is.  It’s really The Lite Rail.) I enjoy it.  I like to people watch. I like talking to folks. It’s my thing and I love it. But this day a stranger just wouldn’t do.  I didn’t realize that what I needed was a friendly face and as God would have it, He provided just the right one for me.  Let me explain.

I was called to duty. Jury duty that is.  YaY!  Don’t get me wrong I’m one of those people who really doesn’t mind serving Jury Duty…. if I have to.  Just not right now.  I thought I could do it.  I had all intentions of doing it, but once I got into the courtroom I found I just couldn’t handle it.

My first cousin was in a domestic violent relationship and two years ago around Valentine’s Day, she was murdered.  I’m not at liberty to share details nor am I ready to do so right now.  I along with her brother am representing the family.  We are at the very beginning of court proceedings, and lately I’ve been to that court house more than I care to say.  After being excused from jury duty, I headed home.  I decided to go to Newark Penn Station to grab a slice of pizza (I know, I know. Don’t tell me how fattening it is.  If you felt the way I did you’d have had pizza and a whole lot more.)  So here I am in Penn and who do I run into but the effervescent Ms. Rosie.  It was 2:30 pm….

I met Ms. Rosie some 14 years ago through a mutual friend.  We aren’t real close but I consider her very, very special. She’s one of those people who knows everybody.  She is extremely knowledgeable but not a know it all.  Ever willing to lend a helping hand, if she can’t assist you she certainly knows someone who can.  As always she was a wealth of information about the good things happening in the community.  We talked about health and hot flashes.  (By the time we finished that part I felt real guilty about my pizza- jones.)   After connecting me with a sister who teaches health and wellness, she offered to take me home. I accepted and that’s where our adventure began.

We picked up her vehicle from the parking lot and headed up Market Street. “I’ve got to drop off some mail.” She said.  Parking at the Springfield Avenue Post Office she said “I’ll be right back” I waited in the car wondering what was taking her so long. I had seen the envelope and it was ready to mail. My thought was broken when I saw her walk out the door.  Although she went in the post office alone she returned  with another passenger.  Ms. Rosie ran into another weary traveler and decided to give him a ride home.  It just so happens he lives in a senior building where her mom used to live on Irving Turner Boulevard.  “Come on” she said, waiving me toward the building entrance. She took me on a tour of the beautiful lobby and the deck where the seniors like to barbecue during the summer months.   The building was clean and very welcoming.

Back in the car, we continued our drive and wound up on West Kenny and Howard Streets.  I hadn’t been in that area of the city in some time and it had improved greatly.  Once laden with projects, pimps and prostitutes, this part of the city has experienced some true revitalization.   We stopped at Vonda’s Kitchen located at 183 West Kenny Street on the first floor of a building complex.  Vonda’s Kitchen is a delight in the city. It is a Soul Food lover’s dream with traditionaResturantl dishes such as fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and greens.  She serves up delicious seafood dishes, baked and barbecued chicken, fresh vegetables, salads, traditional burgers as well as a selection of vegetarian burgers. But Vonda’ s Kitchen is not a neighborhood greasy spoon. The pristine brightly colored decor is only out shined by her friendly staff.  Vonda has nothing to hide either.  I just love the window where the customer can look directly into the kitchen to watch the chef and staff at work.    I’ll have more to say about Vonda’s kitchen in the near future.

Back in the car again: Ms. Rosie chatted on about how blessed she and her husband were by ministering at a local nursing home. She bubbled with delight as shared stories of her weekly visits; how she truly enjoys sharing the word of God with them.  We talked about vision, goals and her desire to open up a business that would really serve the needs of Senior Citizens and their families.  She shared her newest passion, coin collecting and selling them on Ebay.  All I can say to you is this, by the time we arrived at my house, my whole mood had changed. Earlier In the day I was on the brink of tears now I was filed with laughter and joy. I realized I had been coddled and comforted by a very special angel.  By the way it was close to 5:30 when I got home.  So a 15 minute ride turned into two hours.  Thanks for the ride Ms. Rosie.  It was a trip well spent.

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A Right Time God

A Time 2Yesterday’s sermon was titled “When God Is Silent.” The minister said a lot of things but one in particular came shining through: “God will never leave you nor forsake you. Even when He’s silent He’s right there with you. He’s working behind the scenes preparing so you can receive what He has for you.”

This got me thinking, God like any loving parent is NOT going to give us everything we ask for. He knows we can’t handle everything so He gives us what’s best for us. Now like a wise parent there are somethings He says yes to while there are others He says no. And then there is the wait….. You see He’s saying yes but not now. You can’t handle it now. Although you want it now because you live in a Right Now society; now is not the time. I’ve always intended to give you a red Mustang. Red is a nice color for you and I know you’ll be a responsible driver. But not at age 12. I waited for your 30th birthday. You had matured and was ready. You see it is during the wait that character is built.

Not only so, but we  also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. ~ Romans 5:3-6

So through the years of 12 and 29 God might be silent (on this issue), but at the right time He speaks loud and clear. We have got to be patient with God and wait on Him. Know this even if He says “No” on this side of glory, the “Yes” on the other side of glory far outweighs and physical thing we can ever have in this world.

God Is Faithful

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” ~Hebrews 10:23.  No matter what, God promises to be faithful to us.  We go through everyday life and people promise to do this or that for us, but they fail.  Perhaps he promised at the altar to love, honor, be faithful, and cherish you til death do us part; and now you are divorced because he’d been out creeping?

Or you have a friend with the ability to hire you but gave the position to someone else. Heart breaking I know.   Yes man (humans) constantly make promises but break them, but scripture tell us the contrary about our God: ” God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Num 23:19.

Oh yes we can depend on God, the Rock of our salvation, to be true, honest and faithful toHis word.  What about you?  Do you trust Him  or are you leaning on your own understanding?   Is your hope truly in Jesus or is your faith wavering?  The word clearly tells us that we will have tests, trials, temptations but Jesus will never leave us or forsake us.  Do you believe Him?  Do you believe that even though it looks bleak right now that His promise to be faithful and never leave you is true?  Or have you lost the hope which you confessed when you first believed? Listen God will give you a real love relationship that will make that other one a far and distant memory. That position you’ve been praying for, He will deliver it to you and it will be ten times better than the one you think you lost because it was God and not man who delivered it to you.  For He prepared it especially for you with Your Name on it!  Can I get an Amen here?

Your job in all of this is to have Faith and Trust in God.  Scripture says it best:  ” Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” Ps 37:4  Hoekstra  Commentary says “We can cling tightly to the promises of God. We can confidently hope in God fulfilling His promises to us. We do not need to waver in doubt, because God is reliable. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. “

Living Faith

What if you lived your life by faith?  I mean totally by faith, what would it look like? Does living by faith mean throwing caution to the wind?  For example, if you want a new car does it mean forgoing paying your rent and light bill to provide the down payment?  Reasoning “The Lord will take care of my needs.” Does it mean, because you had a dream about marrying a man that you immediately claim the new guy at church yours?  Name it and claim it.

Faith doesn’t mean you don’t accept reality.  However what it does mean is you have, through the working of the Holy Spirit, the ability to see things not as they are but as they will be. It is as the scripture says in Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Okay so, what if you lived every moment as if it was already done by God?  Would you turn in the best projects at work?  Would you treat your enemy with love?  Would you forgive the person who wronged you?  Would you do all you’re supposed to do and not stress about how the situation is going to turn out? Would you walk each day knowing you’re blessed?  Sounds to me if you are doing this then you are living by faith.  When we walk by faith and not by sight we live life in a contented state.  We consult God asking what He wants for us; then we accept His will, whether things turn out in our favor or not.  Living by faith is not about us acquiring things; it’s all about our trust relationship with the Lord.  Living in a state of contentment is pure evidence that we are living by faith.

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