July Proverbs Challenge

So I was inspired by gospel singer, James Fortune, to do a bible reading challenge for the month of July. For 31 days, I will read one chapter of Proverbs per day. If you have time in your day and wouldn’t mind adding this to your reading plan, please join me.

I will be blogging throughout the challenge beginning tonight with a little history to help us put the book of Proverbs in context as well as my reflective thoughts after reading Proverbs 1 tonight.

Hope that you had a wonderful 1st half of the year and I pray that you are blessed beyond your wildest dreams during the second half!

Keep smiling,

SBF

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If Love Could Have Saved You…

Four years ago, my life changed. My surprise of a pregnancy taught me the truest form of hope…and my miscarriage taught me what it felt like to feel hopeless.

There were good days and bad days. I told myself that God knew best and that we would try again when we had gotten used to being married. I said the timing wasn’t ideal. We had a few other places to go and things to see. And when our relationship ended, I even tried to convince myself that I had “dodged a bullet.”

Truth is…I loved my baby. With everything in me. From the moment I knew someone was growing inside of me. I’ve never felt more special, loving, sensitive, protective, hopeful, favored, useful, purposeful, or beautiful than I did while I carried my child.

I miscarried in the first trimester. It wasn’t an easy loss physically, which distracted me from the emotional consequences. I was afraid of staying overnight in the hospital and things happened so fast that I barely remember all of the scans and needle pricks now.

I just remember hearing them say, “There is nothing that we can do to reverse this, but we will make sure that you are as comfortable as possible.” Tuh.

Friends and family tried to comfort me and most of them said all of the WRONG things with the best of intentions. There were the comparisons to people who’d carried pregnancies for longer and the people who seem to believe that one should view a miscarriage as a celebration of the ability to conceive. There were the people who didn’t know what to say so they said nothing at all, which I actually understood. Perhaps, the most hurtful were the people who believed that you had to birth a child to be a mother…they made sure to remind me that I was not a mom and that I would get a shot at it someday.

Miscarriage is such a taboo topic. Many people don’t know how to deal with it although so many women and couples experience it. Each person’s experience with it is different and the process is never ending.

Today, I haven’t shed a tear. I feel stronger than I ever have regarding the loss of my baby. I also feel more love for him or her than I ever have. I used to try to block out the experience, but bottling it up only made me angry. It hurt more. Peace came in the form of acknowledgment and remembrance.

More than anything else, I’m so thankful that God granted me the opportunity to be a vessel of life if only for a little while. I’m thankful for the flood of emotions that I felt. I’m thankful to feel in my heart, the sweet presence of the angel that I once carried in my womb.

If love could have saved my baby, it would have lived forever.

The Fullness of God

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,

that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.

-Ephesians 3:19 (KJV)

 

Created in His image, things of this world are beneath us. He gave us dominion over them and we will never find fullness in them. They will provide us temporary happiness, but they will disappoint us, hurt us, anger us, and leave us. Our fullness…our joy, faith, hope, and love…it is sustainable, but can only be found in Him.

Just my two cents. Have a blessed day, lovelies.

 

Keep smiling,

SBF 🙂

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Coming vs. Staying

The necessity of the Church is not to appease saved folk. It is necessary because it is a place of refuge for broken souls. It is a place of fellowship…a place of hope…a place of promise. The Church, by God’s design, is a body of kingdom builders. With this in mind, I am a firm believer that God meets each of us where we are. We do not all come to know Jesus at the same time and not all of us have been saved all of our lives.

I am grateful for the church families who open their doors, arms, and homes to those who stand in need of a little more Jesus in their lives. Those types of churches specialize in helping to introduce people to Christ by welcoming people into the fold no matter their spiritual state. The message is loud and clear, “Come. As. You. Are.”

I support the “Come As You Are” mindset. However, I will not pretend to believe that coming as you are means that we are to STAY as we are. When you confess your belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, your personal Savior, and the One who died for the redemption of your sins, you must also open your heart and allow Him to come inside. I don’t claim to know much, but I do know that when Jesus enters a place, He does not leave it in the same condition in which He found it.

You cannot truly know God and remain the same. Opening up to Him, communicating with Him, and obeying Him will cause things in your life to change. The power of His love will transform you. Your perspective will change. Your convictions will change. Your life…it will change.

I think my good friend, Travis Greene, sums up my thoughts well with the lyrics of his song, “Hope.” Take a peek below.

Freedom’s here & I’m forever changed
No way I could remain the same
If you’re looking for the old me
Sin don’t live here no more, No!
That part of me has passed away
When God showed up, it could not stay
If you’re looking for the old me
I’ve been changed forever

Free to worship God with my whole heart
I’m not going back no more, I found my Hope

God Says I Am…

As a teacher at a public school in America, you have to be very careful about religious expressions at school. This used to worry me. It doesn’t anymore. I am blessed to be surrounded by God-serving, Jesus-loving students and colleagues. However, I am still mindful of what I say and do in the presence of my students and just like always, God still finds a way to show up and stir things up for us. Sometimes students come in and you just know that something is wrong. Today was one of those mornings. I had a student come in this morning in the worst of moods. It took a moment, but she finally opened up to me about some troubles that she’s having at home. It isn’t a first time for her, but it feels different to her because her parent said some mean not so nice things to her…things that most of us could allow to roll off of our backs, but that devastated my student mainly because she believed them. I tried to reassure her. I’m not certain that I was successful. So here I am…on my planning period doing all that I know to do. Praying and believing that God will remind her in His own way of how incredibly wonderful she is. While he works on that…I decided to post this forgotten blog post that seems to be right on time today.

The spirits of evil are so busy in this world and they thrive on doubt. They will use the people around you or the situations that you encounter to make you question absolutely everything…including yourself. Those who are strong in faith remember that in His Word, God has made us some promises about who we are. I found myself recalling some of those promises today and thought that I would share. As I sat at my desk and read each of the promises, I made sure to speak the words boldly, “I am…” followed by the promise made to me by God. As I did so, I felt something stirring within me. I cannot really describe the feeling, but it left me comforted, encouraged, and a little more determined to keep pressing.

God says that I Am/You Are…

…Blameless (I Corinthians 1:8).

…Chosen (Ephesians 1:4)

…Powerful (Ephesians 3:7).

…Blessed (Ephesians 1:3).

…Loved (Colossians 3:12).

…Delivered (Colossians 1:13).

…Faithful (Ephesians 1:1).

…Growing (Colossians 2:7).

…Victorious (Romans 8:37).

…Redeemed (Romans 8:1-2).

…Protected (John 10:28).

…Valuable (Psalm 139:14).

Remember who you are today, beautiful…and keep smiling.

🙂

Give and Take…

Short and sweet today, peeps. I hope you all are well. I just wanted to share something that has been in my spirit for a couple of days.

I was thinking about how I interact with my students at work. I’m a high school science teacher (for those of you who don’t know me beyond this blog). I remember when I entered the profession, I was really excited about what all I could teach my students. Now, whenever I get a new group of students, I am equally excited about what they can teach me.

I believe that this mirrors how I handle my spiritual life as well. In ministry, it is so easy to get caught up in trying to teach others about God that we can easily forget to allow others to teach us. God created each and every living and non-living thing on this earth. Let us not be so foolish to think that we cannot learn from others about the goodness of God. Just as He uses you to witness and shine your light…trust that He uses others. The intern at your job, the cashier at the grocery store, your mailman, or the neighbor next door…anyone with a sincere relationship with God has the capacity to pour into you if you will only humble yourself and allow them to do so.

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

Keep Smiling,

SBF 🙂

You’ll Never Know…

I believe that most of God’s children have a spirit of conviction that reminds them when they are being negligent of or behaving ungratefully with regard to God’s blessings. However, I also believe that many of us still are not able to truly process just how much He does for us.

Consider this for a moment…

You are entering, enduring, or escaping a storm. You are trusting God (or have trusted Him) every step of the way. Still…the devil would have you believe that things are just so bad and salvation is so far away. All you want to do is get to heaven, but the hell you’ve experienced on earth is just so intense. Then, God reminds you in His special way that He is present. You remember that poem about the one set of footprints and you remember that He has always carried you when you weren’t strong enough to walk. Your pity turns to praise and you cry out to Him. You are thanking Him in acknowlegement of, in anticipation of, and in spite of whatever it is that your journey entails as you grow closer to Him. In all of this, you still have questions and you ask them humbly and sincerely…

“Where would I be without you, God? What would I do without you? Who would I be? How would I manage?”

Then, there is that wonderful revelation. That awesome moment when He fills your spirit with peace and He whispers into your heart…

“My child, you will NEVER know.”

I can truly say in this case…ignorance is bliss. Enjoy your day, loves.

Related verses:

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – Matthew 28:20

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” -Hebrews 13:5

Keep Smiling,

SBF 🙂

 

Expecting the Unexpected…

If you have never taken an assessment of your life and thought to yourself, this is NOT what I expected, then you probably won’t be able to relate to this post. Every now and again (probably more often than I care to admit), I think back on all of the plans I’ve made, the dreams I’ve realized and the ones I haven’t, the successes and failures under my belt, the relationships that have formed and dissolved, etc. When I’m honest with myself, I realize that my life looks almost nothing like I imagined it to be.

This is not to say that I am disappointed in what my life has become. However, I have been disappointed time and time again. God has proven Himself faithful in keeping His promises to me and He has never let me down. So when I consider the source of my disappointments, I realize that it is within me. Too often in my life, I have set expectations based on my circumstances and in doing so, I set myself up for disappointment.

I’m learning that life is a continual series of opportunties to demonstrate faith in God. Not perfect faith. Authentic faith. Faith isn’t the absence of fear, but it presses ahead anyway. Faith isn’t always void of doubt, but it remembers that God will do just what He said He would. Faith isn’t exempt from asking questions, but it knows that sometimes you will have to proceed even without the answers. Faith expects the unexpected and praises God for it all.

Keep Smiling,

SBF 🙂

Wise Words…

If you’ve been a reader of Smiling By Faith for a little while now, you may remember previous posts about the power that lies in the words that we speak and hear. Today, God spoke to me again regarding the application that often accompanies words. Ecclesiastes 5:2 warns us to “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” Taken in context (I encourage you to read the verses before and after), this passage serves as advice to those who do not understand just how serious it is to approach God in prayer.

Let’s consider for a moment exactly what prayer is. Prayer is a conversation that you have with an all-knowing, all-powerful God who knows your thoughts, your heart’s desires, and your next steps even before they are formed. Despite his incredible position, He still makes Himself accessible to us and encourages us to communicate with Him in prayer without ceasing. With this in mind, it makes sense that one would approach God carefully. When we go to God in prayer, we are to guard our steps. While we are in no way required to be “experts” of prayer, we should not be full of words without having a heart that is ready, willing, and expectant of God’s answers.

The bible tells us that speaking many words does not ensure that they will be heard. We should be sincere in the things that we ask of God as well as those that we dedicate to Him.

When we pray for strength, we should genuinely open our hearts to graciously and faithfully endure situations that build strength.

When we pray for patience, we should not complain when we are made to wait.

When we tell God that we love Him, we should make sure it is known through obedience and service.

When we tell God that we trust Him, we must get ready to hold on tight and press forward when things begin to defy all logic and operate outside of our realm of understanding.

Please do not let this discourage you from prayer. I recently embarked upon a prayer journey with a sister-friend of mine and through it I realize just how much room there is for growth in my prayer life. I hope that this post encourages you to pray more…to pray more sincerely…and to pray more boldly than ever before.

Keep Smiling,

SBF 🙂