I Am Who He Says I Am…

I Am Who He Says I Am…

” I am chosen Not forsaken I am who You say I am… You are for me Not against me I am who You say I am…”

Loser…

Ugly…

Disruptive…

Stupid…

These are some words that have been used to describe me at one point or another in life.  I’m sure many people out there can relate to having words spoken about them that were extremely hurtful and that have probably left invisible scars on their self-esteem.

This weekend I attended a ladies retreat put on by my church organization (COGOP). The theme for the weekend was, “Yet, I will rejoice “. While the overall theme was rejoicing in your circumstances, quite a few of the session speakers and evening ministers really touched on the topic of mental wellness and knowing who you are through Christ.

I was having a conversation with my sister-friend this weekend, who shared with me an incident where an older church sister had made mention of her nose piercing. This particular sister told her in no uncertain terms that she needed to remove her nose ring and that it was “demonic”. My sister-friend shared with me how the sister made her feel so bad about herself and her choice to wear the nose ring, by basically discrediting her ability to have a relationship with Christ and minister ( she’s an amazing musician) because of it.

My sister-friend has spoken with me openly ( and I with her) about the struggle we have at times to maintain mental and spiritual wellness. Well as you can imagine, this older sister’s words didn’t help with her spiritual self-esteem: feeling worthy of acting in ministry because maybe the nose ring really did make her “less than”.

Unworthy

Distracting

Disobedient

In another event, I can recall being in the bathroom ( restroom for my American readers lol) and overhearing two sisters having a conversation that was so discrediting to my character that I won’t repeat it here. If I was a different person I would’ve let their words send me down a downward spiral. Thankfully, It had the opposite effect and I can still hold my head high knowing I’m still ( by God’s grace) proving them wrong.

Failure

Disappointment

Worthless 

We humans often forget that words are powerful! They have the power to uplift and they have the ability to tear down, as do the people who say them.

This is why I am so happy that God has left us some words of affirmation in His word (The Bible) that can remind of who He has made us!

1 Peter 2:9-  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

John 15:15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends since I have told you everything the Father told me.

Romans 8:17 -And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-  We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.

The theme song for the weekend was Hillsong’s “Who You Say I Am”

The lyrics are powerful and the ones that really stuck out to me are:

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

Christ has given us a title that nobody can take away. A title that nobody’s words can cancel:

Chosen

Special

His Child

Heir

Friend

Loved

I want to remind somebody that they are a product of God’s promise! The preacher Angela Grant had a tagline that she used in her message on Saturday night at the retreat. She reminded us ladies that we are ” CHOSEN NOT TOLERATED”

You are who God says you are. He made a choice and His choice was to LOVE US and make us HIS OWN.

You are loved!

You matter!

Take two minutes out of your busy schedule today and remind them of special they are! Take a look in the mirror and encourage yourself!

If you don’t hear it today: I love you and GOD LOVES YOU TOO!

Be Blessed!

xoxo

©justlovethemanyway

Monday Motivation : Blessing In The Storm…

Monday Motivation : Blessing In The Storm…

Hey lovely people!

First off let me apologize for being missing in action for so long. I just needed to take a step back and reflect, refocus and recharge ! I had promised myself that 2017 was going to be my best year yet…and just shy of four months in, 2017 has not been great….. But what I’m learning in this season, is that even in the “bad times” God is still working things out for me  and even if I can’t see it right now, there IS a blessing in my storm. I’ve also learned that there is so much to learn during each season of your life.

However, today’s blog post is not my story. If I ever thought my 2017 was bad, I just had to look to one of my closest friends to see that the storm she was facing was so much more difficult.  Sharing her story ( with her permission) has really motivated me to keep pushing through my storm. She is grace personified and this is her story:

Why Not Me?

The morning of Friday November 4th, 2016 started off as a regular day but quickly turned into by far the worst day of my life. I was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, a disease that I had never heard of until that day.

Looking back now, I am surprised at how calm I remained throughout my commute to work, at the doctor’s office, on the phone with my sister, at the pharmacy, and my commute back home. But then I remember my prayer to God that morning when the uncertainty weighed me down. I didn’t want to freak out and possibly make things worse. So I simply said to God “I don’t know what this is, but whatever it is, I know that you are in control and I am trusting that you will see me through it.” And then I slept for the rest of the ride to the subway station.

I got to the office, looked up a nearby clinic and found one walking distance that I had never seen before. I was in and out of there in twenty minutes! When does that ever happen?! The doctor diagnosed me right away, wrote me two prescriptions (Prednisone and an anti-viral) and assured me that I would okay. I walked back to the office, asked my boss for the rest of the day off and made my way to the pharmacy so that I could start taking the drugs right away. I was terrified and yet there was still a sense of calmness.

The next few days were the hardest for me. My emotions were all over the place. I was trying to stay as calm as possible because stress was a possible factor and I didn’t want to aggravate the situation. But at the same time, I was afraid to look in the mirror or to let anyone see me. So I hid in my room for five days until I was tired of being cooped up in my house. When I thought I was ready to face the world, I got ready to go to work but couldn’t make it past the front doors of the office building. I wandered the streets for the whole work day. Hoping to get different results the next day, I tried to make it to work again only to fail once more.

I spent a lot of time alone and in my solitude, I spent a lot of time reflecting and meditating. And like anyone else would, I began to ask God “why me?” That’s when I was reminded that God had a purpose for this chapter in my life that I could not yet see but that would in turn strengthen me and prepare me for whatever would come next. So I changed the question to “why not me?” My perspective instantly changed. When I started to feel sorry for myself, I remembered that my situation could have been worse and that people all over the world were dealing with worse conditions, circumstances and crises. What could have caused depression turned into gratitude. The smallest gestures had begun to mean the world to me. From the researched advice and tips to the encouraging phone calls, messages and compliments to the hand delivered flowers at work, I was shown time and time again how well I was surrounded by people who really loved me much more then I imagined. Even when I couldn’t see past the disfigured parts of my face, I learned to see beauty in everything which taught me how to eventually see beauty in me again.

This chapter opened up an area of my life that I myself didn’t know existed. This new found joy was not dependent on how I felt on any given day but on the reassurance that God had my back and would never leave my side. Life is full of surprises and when you least expect it, an obstacle comes your way. The way you face that obstacle, learn from it and move forward is a true reflection of who you are. I learned a lot about myself throughout this experience and as painful as it was, I feel blessed to have gone through it. It’s been five months now and I am almost fully recovered. I am convinced that the positivity around me had a huge impact on my recovery and the strength I found in my faith held me up. Sometimes it takes a storm to clear the path ahead of you. This was my storm and I can’t wait to see what’s waiting ahead for me.

Thank you Soph for allowing me to share my story and use your platform in my healing process.

(Thank you Steph for being so transparent and allowing your testimony help others! Especially me!!)

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I wasn’t even going to post today. Trust me when I say, I didn’t have the motivation to use my fingers to type today.  I was feeling super down. But I checked my email and saw that Steph had sent her story. ( we had talked about her writing piece when she felt ready. I had no idea today was that day!) A few minutes after I checked that email, I got a text from another friend just checking up on me. The last line of Stephs piece, had the word “storm” in it, and the song I had been humming all day was “Blessing in the Storm”.  During my storm, God has been continually seeing signs and people to remind me that He is still there! I’m forever grateful and continuously stand in awe of how much He loves me, even though I don’t particularly like or agree with some of His current plans lol!

Storms can be disastrous. Storms can leave a path of destruction that may seem impossible to recover from. However, after every storm, the sun will shine again, the raging waters will rescind and life will return to as it once was. After a storm, there is often a rebuilding process, and after that takes place, you are able to really look back and take stock of what you have overcome and be positive about the future! The future is bright my friends! 🙂

Don’t give up during your storm!  I repeat, don’t give up!! Your blessing is right around the corner! Although you may not be able to see it right now, there is a blessing in your storm!

 

Two scriptures that I have really been holding on to during this time away are:

Romans 8:28…. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Jeremiah 29:11…11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Have a beautiful Monday! I love you all thank you for sticking with me! I’ll be back to regularly scheduled blogging very soon!!

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Monday Motivation: Don’t Be A Rotten Apple…

Monday Motivation: Don’t Be A Rotten Apple…

 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions…

Hey y’all,

I was scrolling through my phone trying to make space by deleting old pictures and notes and I came across a picture that brought back a memory that inspired me today.

It was a picture of my summer Cuba vacation. On our last night we ( I went with a large group of friends) had booked an a la carte dinner at one of the resorts “fancy” restaurants. Now I may be biased, but the food in Cuba ( on the resort anyway…. )(I have had really good food OFF of the resort) is not good, so presentation is everything! The food ( I had ordered a shrimp dish) was brought out and it looked amazing.  But oh dear….. when I bit into a piece of the shrimp… I instantly pulled out my napkin and deposited the shrimp into it. It was sooooooooo bad guys. Such a disappointment!

That small moment led me to the thought, “Don’t be a rotten apple! Meaning don’t put on the facade of being  nice and kind and truthful but really on the inside you are rotten and leave a bad taste in peoples mouths.

As a Christian, we are called to live a life that honours God and part of doing that is to be obedient to the Holy Spirit. We need to be living evidence that the fruit of spirit is at hand in our lives.

The fruit of the spirit laid out for us in the book Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

In order to not be a “rotten apple” your inside has got to match your outside. If outside is beautiful and shiny and appealing, but inside is moldy or rotten, aren’t you disappointed?  Noting is worse than cutting into an apple you  are anticipating eating, only to find out that it is not edible !

Same goes for yourself! If your outside is so beautiful, but your core is rotten, what’s the point of calling yourself a Christian? That’s just giving people the wrong opinion of Christians!

Let your fruits match your tree. If you water a tree and nurture it, it will grow and produce good fruit . But if you neglect it and leave it by the wayside, what you produce will be less than stellar. If you as a Christian take pride in your relationship, you will do things to help it grow, spending time in prayer and reading the word of God. But if you neglect your relationship with God, you can only expect to reap what you have sown. Nothing produces nothing right?

Now some of these fruits are not easy to live by. I still struggle with patience sometimes. But part of being a Christian is admitting your faults and turning them over to your creator to help you navigate through them!

Don’t be a rotten apple folks! Be as shiny and good on the inside as you are on the outside!

I just want to leave the song, “Where the Spirit is” by Kirk Franklin with you today.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is
There is liberty
Where the Spirit of the Lord is
The captives are set free
The wounded are made whole

I’ll find rest for my soul
Where the Spirit is
There is liberty

Where the Spirit is
Where the Spirit is
Where the Spirit is
There is liberty

Where the Spirit of the Lord is
There is liberty
Where the Spirit of the Lord is
The captives are set free
The wounded are made whole
There is rest for your soul
Where the Spirit is
There is liberty

Where the Spirit is
There is healing
Where the Spirit is
There is deliverance
Where the Spirit is
There is joy

Where the spirit is
There is liberty

 

Love Y’all
Peace and Blessings!
xoxo

 

Monday Motivation: Your Grace…

Monday Motivation: Your Grace…

Hey y’all

Quick post today. This wasn’t the direction I was planning on going in today  but I woke up with this song on my heart and I had to share.

I’ve been through alot in my short 3 decades of life. Lots that many who do know me personally could even attest to. But I am who am I today simply because of God’s grace. Even when I made crazy life choices, and stepped  out of the will of God, His grace kept me.  Even the simplest things  that I couldn’t even imagine  God would have his hand in, He was right there. Let me give one quick example:

I take transit to work. The transit stop is a 6 minute walk from my house. I always have the same pattern. Playlist queued up. Headphones in. Cross the street, stay on the left side. Walk to the intersection. Cross the road to the right side and wait.  One morning in particular as I left my house, I heard a voice. ( stay with me here, I promise you I’m not crazy :p) That voice said, “Soph, take your headphones out and walk on the right side of the street.” I didn’t think anything of it at the time, I just crossed the road to the right side instead of the left. I walked in a quiet still silence until I reached the corner of the major intersection that I would’ve originally crossed. As I was turning the corner to walk over to my transit stop, I saw a van about to make a left turn on a yellow light. Coming from the other direction was another car straight ahead. Neither yielded and…. BAM!  Screeching tires…Accident! The van that was turning left was hit so aggressively that  it flipped a number of times and landed on the sidewalk…….. RIGHT AT THE CORNER THAT I WOULD HAVE BEEN STANDING AT THAT VERY MOMENT!  Like literally, had I not listened to that voice that told me to walk on the right side, I would have most definitely been crushed by that van and would not be here writing this today…. I SHOULD BE DEAD!  I didn’t process that right away, but once I got to work and called my mom to tell her what happened, I broke down! Shook me right to my core and each time I think about that incident, I tear up in gratitude. It may seem simple to you, but much was learning  happened in those few moments that will stay with me forever. As a little girl, my mom always taught me to say a prayer before you leave the house and I always did… out of routine. But that day brought to life the importance of covering yourself ( and your family/ loved ones) before stepping out. There are so many dangers out there that you can not see. Take a moment to acknowledge the One who is watching over you.

Where would I be without the grace of God? The protection of the Holy Spirit and importantly obedience to the Holy Spirit? ( That’s what the voice was)  That incident and countless others have shown me that the gift of grace is one to be treasured.

Grace is unmerited
Grace is free
Grace forgiveness
Grace is protection
God is grace

This song by “new” artist Bri Babineaux says it all. Check it out down below and have a blessed Monday and week!

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Monday Motivation: Be Lifted…

Monday Motivation: Be Lifted…

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus…..

Hey guys!

It’s been a rough few weeks… scratch that it’s been a rough year… you know what.. let’s be completely honest, it’s been a rough few years 😦

2015 and 2016 respectively have been especially hard because I have experienced so much loss and had bad news coming from every direction it seemed like. For example:  this year alone, my mom had to have two minor surgeries on her hands, my dad experienced multiple seizure related health scares( along with other health issues), I watched a friend lose her battle with cancer (RIP Shan), I watched another be diagnosed with other life altering health issues, I had ( and am still having) health issues in regards to  my ears,nose and particularly my throat,  my godmother was hospitalized and diagnosed with life changing health news and most recently my cousin ( who I love dearly) had a heart attack and  last week my uncle died…

Doesn’t even sound believable right? But that’s the reality of my life right now. I always get asked, “How are you managing?” and honestly… it’s only the grace of God that has kept me strong and even more importantly… positive.

I could lay down and wallow in despair and given my circumstances, I don’t think anyone would blame me! But, despite the horrible things that are happening to me and those around me, God is still good. It’s pretty bad but it could be a whole lot worse.

I’m a Christian and because of my relationship with Christ, I am able trust in the fact that He knows what He’s doing. That’s not to say I  understand or even agree with they way He has patterned my life and the lives of those around me. It’s not easy! One of the misconceptions of being a Christian is that when you choose Christ to lead your life, your life will never have any bumps again. Life will be perfect…. WRONG! What being a Christian does is equip you with the tools to deal with what comes your way. He gives you His words which is the bible and He sends you a Comforter for the tough times which  is the Holy Spirit.

I personally have had to draw from these tools a lot this year and in my quiet time with God he kept showing me the scripture I posted above.

1 Thessalonians is book in the bible I had read but not ever really looked into and then all of a sudden I was seeing parts of chapter 5 EVERYWHERE! As I read I began to understand why. This book is full of everyday life instructions on how to live a life pleasing to God even in adversity .

Verses 16-18 really spoke to me :

Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus…..

Always be joyful.  Faith in Christ allows me stay joyful in all situations and on the days when I don’t feel joy, in the back of my mind I always remember that this situation will pass.  Never stop praying.. Now this doesn’t mean that you have to pray 24/7/365 because let’s face it, that’s virtually impossible. What is does mean is that prayer should be something we do continually, it should be something we do without thinking about it  just like breathing. It should be as natural to you as breathing!  Prayer is essential to staying positive in tough times. Be thankful at all times. It’s hard to be thankful when times are tough, but despite the rough times God is still God and faith requires you not only to trust His plan but trust the process and wait for the lesson in the situation.

One way I combat the issues of life is through praise,  and the song I want to leave you with today, allows me to do just that! ( Shout to my girl Jen for putting me on 🙂 )

In spite of it all Jesus Your Name be GLORIFIED and LIFTED HIGH!!

Have an amazing Monday!
Be encouraged!
xoxo

Monday Motivation: Till We Meet Again…

Monday Motivation: Till We Meet Again…

No sickness  Is stronger than you
No power Is greater than you
No wisdom Is wiser than you
You’re greater You’re greater…

Those are some of the lyrics to Todd Dulaney’s song “Greater” and ever since last Thursday those lyrics have been in my head.

I have been missing in action for a little bit, but with good reason. A few weeks back a wrote a post called Monday Motivation: Put a Praise On It… where I spoke about two friends who were battling the dreadful disease called cancer. I praised them for handling their circumstances with grace, and trusting God to see them through this dark time…

Sadly on Thursday September 22, my friend Shannon lost her battle. She took her final breath here on earth surrounded by her loved ones and is now resting in sweet peace in the arms of her saviour.

What really hit me to my core about this was the fact that she lived 5 hours away from where I lived ( a place where all of my mothers family that reside in Canada live, did all of my post secondary education , a city where I spent an abundance of my life!) so I didn’t get the opportunity to get up and physically see her during her latest battle with Cancer. I had two weddings to attend these past two weekends up in Ottawa, and I had set in my mind that on the 23rd as soon as I got to the city I was going to go see her…. she passed the day before I got there…. heartbreaking….

She was laid to rest on the same day I was preparing to witness my godbrother marry his queen ( ma cherie Evelyne ❤ ) so I literally attended a funeral and a wedding on the same day…

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I’ll miss her dearly but I’m not sad. I’m  at peace because she’s no longer in pain. She’s free. She’s somewhere around the throne of God! Although she wasn’t there with us physically on Saturday, she was able to get us all together to sing and praise together which is something she absolutely loved to do and boy did we send her off in style!

Her spirit will live on in us forever. Her faith and grace has impacted us all. Her perseverance  was admirable. Her strength…. wow….

The book of 2 Corinthians chapter 5 talks about new bodies. Detailing how the bodies we have now are temporary and that our job while we are in these earthly bodies is to serve him, our goal is to please him..  Read the passage down below:

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.[a] While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

Shannon girl you have put on your new body, and when you stand before the saviour He will be pleased. So till we meet again….

May His peace be with you till we meet again
May His peace be with you till we meet again
Till we reach that distant shore
And we’ll shed a tear no more
May He give you strength to endure
Till we meet again

May His love be with you till we meet again
May His love be with you till we meet again
Till we reach that promised land
And we’ll walk hand in hand
May He give you strength to stand
Till we meet again

xoxo

 

 

Destiny…. Wow Tina Campbell!!!

Destiny…. Wow Tina Campbell!!!

Have you ever had a song touch you so deeply? Like the song was honestly written for you? That’s exactly how I felt about this song “Destiny” by Tina Campbell( of Mary Mary fame) Tina recently embarked on a solo career after her sister Erica Campbell found great success with her solo debut.

Now, I love me some Mary Mary and I did enjoy Erica’s project,  and love her voice… but there is just something about miss Tina’s voice that gets me right down in my core. Tina went through a real struggle; I mean a real storm this year with infidelity in her marriage .( All of this is documented in her and Erica’s reality show) She showed the true fact that as a Christian you will be faced with storms and that its okay to be angry! But it’s how you channel this anger and how you come out of your storm that speaks volumes! The grace that this woman showed …. man it just got me. She showed the true process and hard work that true forgiveness takes. I hope that if faced with an overwhelming situation like that, that I will be able to exercise grace and forgive just as I expect God ( and others) to forgive me.

Now y’all, I was watching the latest episode of the reality show  where Tina debuts this song during a show and man it gave me chills. Then I went on YouTube and found her singing the song in its entirety; just her voice and an organ … The tears that rolled down my face and the sobs that bellowed from the deepest parts of my stomach… God purposed that song just for me and just in time. With His help I will reach my destiny!

This song and Tina’s solo project isn’t even released yet. It will be released on May 7th. I hope this song blesses you the way it blessed me.

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Here are the lyrics:

I’ve got a destination in my view
The road may be bumpy getting there but I’m pressing through
 I will enjoy this journey no matter come what may
I’ll become better and stronger and wiser every day

 I’ve got a vision and a purpose a divine destiny
It may not look like it right now but faith aint what I see
It is the things I hoped for, believing that it will come
And no matter how long it takes I know Gods will shall be done

His will is that I prosper
His will is that I win 
His will is that I fight on 
His will is that I live

 He gave me what I needed when he gave me His son
He gave me hope and a future
He gave me the greatest love.

 And now that I’ve got Jesus helping me along the way
He’s perfected everything about this old girl making me brand new in every way

 So I’m singing Hallelujah I’m not what I used to be
I’m following Jesus every day…. to reach my destiny