Finding contentment in what God considers BEAUTIFUL, when physical ailments cause such a drastic change in your body can be extremely difficult. I know a lot of women who are pregnant right now or dealing with a physical ailment that is changing their appearance & how they feel about themselves. When I post any kind of blog, vlog or song, I am usually very transparent & I am quick to let the reader/listener know when that specific subject affects me as well.
I am currently pregnant with my 3rd child. My husband & I could not be happier that God has chosen us for a third time to bring a beautiful baby into this world. We understand the task at hand with raising this child in Christ & we also know our responsibilities of loving & protecting this child. So we are thrilled.
So, lets talk about what has happened the last three months of my pregnancy. Many who follow my ministry are aware that I have issues with my kidneys. Before I became pregnant the disease caused many issues like pyelonephritis, bladder & urinary track infections, the passing of stones, pain in both kidneys, swelling, etc. The condition was already difficult to live with due to all the complications that came along, but add pregnancy to the mix and it seems like things tripled. Since being pregnant I have been hospitalized, my blood pressure has been real high, I have dealt with a stone & my body is as swollen as if I ate a whole human being. The pain & suffering that I have experienced in the last three months has seemed to be unbearable, YET I have found the joy in Christ that the bible speaks of & in my weakness God’s strength has definitely been felt & seen. I gave the above description not to complain, but to give you clear understanding of how hard its been. I started herbalife back in 2011 to help with the kidney issues I was having. It was not a medicine that cured the disease, but a lot of the supplements herbalife offered, helped with things like urinary track cleanse, water retention & helping to release water from the body, and being that meat is a protein I must be careful with when it comes to my kidneys, I was drinking the shakes to help with taking in protein that I needed. Not only did the herbalife help with my condition & stabilize it, but I was able to lose all the water and excess weight dropping 35lbs in less than a year. I felt my best.
When I became pregnant, my doctor advised that I stop the herbalife at least in my 1st trimester. Because no studies had been done medically, doctors do not know what is used in herbalife & since I was already a high risk pregnancy they were against me taking it. Needless to say, I don’t feel the best. I am retaining so much water & when I look in the mirror I don’t recognize myself. I found myself avoiding the mirror because of how different I am looking, more weight, so much acne, swollen face,etc.
I was laying down feeling sick & immediately I thought to myself “but I thought you understood what beauty was D?!” I immediately popped up from my bed and stared out into nothing thinking “yes, yes I do know what beauty is, and the way my body is changing and how bad I feel, does not determine what is beautiful.”
Truth: Do not let your adorning be external… 1 Peter 3:3a
Truth: let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:4b
Truth: You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. Song of Solomon 4:7 (this is indeed my husbands heart towards me, as he reminds me of this daily)
Truth: Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30
Truth: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14
Truth: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. 1 samuel 16:7
There are SO many more BUT, this truth reigns so true for me: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 1 Corinthians 4:16”
So many women are obsessed with their looks & I thank God I have never been obsessed with looks, but as a women the comments others make can really break your spirit, especially when they have no idea what your body is going through.
I want to encourage all women, pregnant, sick, even those obsessed with their looks …. search the scriptures to read about what true beauty is. Be that example for other women who need the truth about why they are cherished and why they are beautiful. Let your spiritual training be so much more important to you than physically training!!! If you are sick and that illnesses has changed your appearance in an way, as it often does to me…. search the scriptures on how to overcome vanity & self absorption & really find your worth in Christ.
I am a living testimony of someone who goes through some dramatic physical changes due to illness and adding pregnancy to that tripled the process BUT I am so thankful that I know my worth, I know why I am beautiful & I know it has nothing to do with me!!
May you be encouraged today & find your worth in Christ my sweet and beautiful sisters!!!!
just a little transparent honesty for myself 1st!!
That awkward moment when you are expected to give up but don't!
We all know that moment, when everything around us seems to be falling apart. As the days turn into weeks, one thing after another unravels & obstacles try to block the way of hope & vision. As the trials pile up, your flesh can’t help but to want to doubt, worry & question God. A Christ follower knows that when these feelings arise, the Spirit that is willing will intercede & remind us of God’s faithfulness while bringing back to remembrance the word of the Almighty. The Spirit is quick to remind us that everything we are facing will reveal God’s glory in the end. The Spirit will quickly remind us that it is an HONOR to suffer as a Christian & we will be reminded that the present suffering is building character, endurance & hope. The Spirit reminds us that this present suffering is nothing compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us. The word of God abides in our heart & because of that, NO obstacles & no suffering can lead to the outcome of giving up. Not because God owes us anything, not because we mis quote scripture to fit our needs & our mystical view of God & not because we deserve anything. We do not give up because we remain in prayer without ceasing & we do not give up because we anticipate God getting glory from every area of our life.
Many who know me & my family know the situation with both my health & my husbands disease. We have been very open about sharing our testimony with others because we see God’s hand in everything He allows in our life. A little over two years ago I was in terrible shape with my kidney. The infections I was getting in my kidney & bladder were at one point a monthly event. Hospitals became my second home. After one hospital stay back in October 2012, a sister of mine recommended that I start a herbal supplement to help with my condition. I was extremely skeptical, but I decided to try anything at this point. After a month on the new regimen I saw great results. I was urinating frequently (something that was very difficult for me to do with retention), I was seeing infections less & the swelling in my body dropped within weeks. I praise God for allowing ministry to have brought in the finances I needed at the time (with concerns I was having to bring in finances, album sales, etc.) that allowed me to remain on herbalife for 18 months. It changed my life & helped me so much.
When the finances began to run out almost two years later, I was forced to go back on prescription medication & daily antibiotics. After just two months being back on meds, I saw the negative results. I felt worse on the medication, I was extremely tired all the time, I gained almost 25 lbs (after loosing 35), I felt more pain in my body & I was moody. Being back on the meds also caused a miscarriage which has been really painful for me. With my health feeling back at its worth, we also found out that my husband needs a second surgery this time in his spine (the first surgery was in his brain). With the stress of my health & now my husbands, we began seeing the trials pile up. The physical, emotional & mental pain has been so great & many times screams out that we need to give up, BUT how awkward is that when we stare doubt in the face & say NO, we will never give up. Loosing the baby has been such a difficult time. We hardly talk about it and no one really knew, but that event in our life has caused great pain. So many times I began to blame myself for taking medicine & for having such an unreliable body, but then I was quickly reminded that even in the midst of great suffering & pain, I must remember God & His faithfulness to us, even when we are so faithless.
Everyone is different & we all deal with mourning differently. Some of us throw in the towel and simply give up on believing in the unseen, while others find the strength to keep holding on, even if it is barely touching the hem of his garment.
Though greatly discouraged & deeply burdened, I am praying daily for God’s word that abides in my heart to be brought into remembrance every time my flesh tells me to simply give up.
A season of suffering that seems like it is never ending, is NOTHING compared to God’s glory that WILL be revealed.
My main focus cannot be constantly praying for the season to end, because if it is God’s will for us to suffer until death then He will give us the strength to endure & He will walk with us through the storm. Look at the disciples, all but one was martyred and suffered until death. So those who tell you that it isn’t God’s will to suffer, really have not studied the lives of the many who suffered until death. Many around the world are suffering and will suffer until they take their last breath & still they do not give up because their eyes are on the eternal perspective, not this world & their current suffering.
I want to encourage those suffering for so long that cannot even remember when they did not feel such pain, DON’T GIVE UP!! Let the gospel of Christ be your hope, be your daily bread. When others try to tell you that you should “claim” your healing, or “claim” your deliverance…. Remember that the only thing you need to claim is having faith that God is sovereign, God is eternal & God will walk with you. It is better to be in the house of mourning, as God draws so close to the broken!!
YES, God is ALL powerful & able to remove our pain & suffering, BUT He allows it for the building up of His people & He wants us to believe that even in the midst of the worst suffering, His glory will be revealed which means, the suffering will turn to joy in His time!!!
Praise God that after the loss of our baby, the medications that have destroyed my body and a 25lb weight gain, I am going back to trusting God to meet my needs & have stopped ALL prescription medicine. I am going to be taking the herbalife again & trusting God to see me through.
My husband has his neurosurgery appt end of March, and we are also trusting God to walk with us in the midst of whatever comes.
God is with us !! God is with you… So do not give up!!
It’s been a while since I have posted a blog. So much has happened & while many of the things that have taken place over the course of six months+ have been difficult, I cannot help but to experience God’s peace through it all.
My health has been ok with doctors visits here & there, but overall I have things stable. It’s refreshing to say that. Things for my husband have not been the greatest BUT, God sustains & grants us peace.
For the last year+, we have been patiently waiting for the VA Hospital to act on new developments that were found on an MRI done in November of 2012. After waiting so long & nothing being done, we fought hard to have them re-take all brain & spine scans to see if changes had taken place due to their delay in treatment. The new testing was done on January 23rd. A week later we heard from the VA and they scheduled Joey for a visit with the Neurosurgery dept. It turns out that the MRI showed changes that concerned them and have made Joey a candidate for surgery. He received a craniectomy in 2005 for Chiari Malformation with syringohydromyelia. A second surgery is now being discussed to address the chronic syringohydromyelia & changes within the lumbar spine, thoracic and sacrum.
The VA usually takes 5-6 months to schedule an appt with surgery but they fit Joey in for the end of March, which is a huge breakthrough. He has been dealing with neurological chronic pain and discomfort for so long, that it started to become hopeless for him. After praying & trusting God completely to guide us in the right direction, we are seeing results.
We have no idea what the second surgery will entail, we do not know the pros or cons yet, and it is a decision that will need to be made after much prayer and consideration.
Right now Joey is on the pain management program with the VA (which is not helping much) but, alleviates some pain for the time being.
It’s been such a very long journey & often times it has felt as though we are in a dry dessert with no water or hope anywhere to be found. When these feelings begin to arise, we are then reminded by the Spirit (who brings the word back to remembrance) that God is eternal: therefore he is already at that appt and knows the results of where we go next. God is gracious & compassionate. God is so many beautiful things and His peace that surpasses all understanding is ours!!!
I can’t say that it isn’t discouraging to have been in this place of trials and burdens for so long, yet I do know that God is building our character & He will ultimately get the glory out of our lives & these trials.
Thank you everyone is s so consistent in praying for us & standing with us.
I will update my blog with more once we know the next move.
Today in service my pastor shared a really amazing story with us. This crew was out at sea in a submarine & they traveled really low in the water to what sailors & seamen call the cushion of the sea. There was a violent storm at sea one night and when the storm was over and the submarine emerged from the sea, they asked the captain how bad it felt when the sub was under water due to the raging storm that went on the night before. The captain of the sub replied: “what storm”?! They were safe in the cushion of the sea, deep enough to remain hidden from the storm.
For the christian, God is our cushion of the sea. When the storms rage and the waters of affliction crash about, we are comforted by His perfect peace. God’s peace hides us from turmoil. We are hidden deep in the shadow of His wings & when we rise above the chaos, we can rest in the truth that we remain safe in Him.
For those who are facing broken times, mourning a loss, hurting or feeling alone, etc….. I pray that you rest in the fact that the God of peace is with you. He is your cushion of the sea.
In August 2012 I released my first Indie project Vindicated: The makings of a Worshipper. It was my first project & after I had released it, I knew there was still so much more molding going on in my life, so much more developing going on & so much more growing happening in my walk & in the midst of the storm I was facing when I started writing for Vindicated and still happen to be in.
I do believe that everyone who is called & chosen by God to go out & labor in the harvest of ministry is designed & equipped with specific tools for their mission fields. I always knew I couldn’t hit the highest notes or riff ridiculously, but what I could do was share the gospel of Christ & worship with my whole heart to The Lord. What I would do is be transparent (not to much where some couldn’t handle, but enough to let them know I have been where you are or were) & share my redeemed life because of what my Redeemer did for me.
I try my best to not focus on the bodily ailment that at one time I was very open to speaking about, but realized I no longer want the focus to be on the affliction I am faced with. I want eyes and ears to be fixed on the one who removes afflictions & sees fit to allow afflictions to those who can bear it for His name sake, because it will bring glory to His name. We see examples like this in scripture when Paul is talking to Timothy telling him to mix wine with his water for his stomach pain & frequent ailments in 1 Timothy. We also read what Paul wrote to the church of Galatia: “You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first,
and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. Galatians 5:13-14”
There is definitely no doubt that being in the night or storm for such a long time can be a really painful experience. I realized just yesterday that as The Lord is developing me into a Worshipper, I refuse to let myself grieve. The moment I start to feel the grief or pain of what is going around me, I immediately stop the grieving process from even taking place. But at yesterday’s Sunday night crossover service pastor Tommy hit on the very thing that has been keeping me from letting it out. So I am not going to let that continue to happen. I am learning how to grieve and how to let others grieve with me. It’s definitely a learning experience and a process but its all part of this walk with Jesus. I writing it all down!!!
As I begin to work on my next project, I am seeing all of the ways that God is speaking to me through His Spirit & I am so encouraged. I am looking forward to sharing the experience with others who are going through similar struggles and need that hope & encouragement as well. The life of the servant is one where we have laid down our life in full surrender and are yielded to obedience. It is such a beautiful thing!
Back in 2012 I realized God had started to develop a Worshipper out of me. He continues to develop & mold me. As I picture myself in the potters house, I can picture him molding this clay, taking His time & little by little an image is forming. When others see me on whatever platform He opens doors for, it is His Image they will see.
I am currently working on a song entitled “Jesus Wept” in regards to John chapter 11. In the last few years, I have read that chapter several times and it has moved me in so many different ways. During the writing process of the last album/project or whatever you would like to call it, I struggled so much with what I knew God was telling me but how I could relay that message to others. I have always been so worried and focused on pleasing people and worried about the critic of man, that I would forget that behind the words was a message for those who would hear it and may be going through the very things that I had been going through and who needed to hear the gospel whether they were unsaved or saved and needed a reminder (as we always need to hear the gospel over and over again). Forgive me for my MEGA run on sentences. (I was definitely not called to be an editor. lol) It was then that I remembered how much John 11 has impacted my life. This is how:
The chapter starts by stating some important key factors. 1. Mary knew and believed that Jesus was Lord, she and her family walked with Him. 2. The sisters say to Jesus “he whom you love is ill”. ——- This showing us that they went to Jesus for help and also that Jesus had a deep love for Lazarus. Verse 4 is so important in this recorded event, Jesus says to the sisters “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the son of God may be glorified through it.” The chapter tells us that because Jesus loved all three of them, He stayed a little longer because Lazarus was ill before departing. While away, Jesus knows when Lazarus dies.. so he tells His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” (I could cry over and over again reading that.) Jesus tells his disciples, the ones who walked with Him.. that for their sake He was glad that He was not present when Lazarus died, so that they might believe. Interesting.
When Jesus returns Martha goes to Jesus first and yells at him saying, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died!” Jesus tells Martha that her brother will rise again, but Martha thinks He is referring to the resurrection on the last day. Jesus responds by telling her that He is the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? She answers with a YES.
a little further down we see Mary come into the picture, she does exactly what Martha did, telling Jesus “if you had been here my brother would not have died!” … Now, this is the same Mary who we know walked with Jesus but, in her grief she was overwhelmed with sorrow and though Jesus told her that Lazarus’ illness would not lead to death, but that they would instead see the glory of the Lord…. she must have doubted that because all was hopeless, so it seemed. Jesus could have done what He did with martha and said “Mary, stop crying… I am going to raise your brother from the dead!!” Instead, the bible records that Jesus is deeply moved and His spirit is troubled and so He weeps.
He finds out where the body is laid and when he goes again it says He is deeply moved, I am sure he expressed sorrow with them. After telling them to roll away the stone of His tomb, martha says “but Lord he has been dead four days there will be an odor…” (instead of rejoicing thinking, He is about to raise my brother…He is God…) and Jesus responds with “Did I not tell you, that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
After praying to the Father out loud so that they could witness it, Jesus calls out to Lazarus and bound the man comes forth. Jesus has them unbind him and let him go.
How beautiful it was for Jesus who knew that He was going to raise Lazarus to show the people compassion even in the midst of their doubt. God is veracity, absolute truth and all that He says is true. He told those sisters that their brothers illness would not lead to death but that He would get glory, and that is what came to pass…. and although they yelled at him for not being there, Jesus understood their mourning and was moved and troubled with them and weeps with them, knowing that in just a little while those tears would be tears of joy when Lazarus would be awakened…. yet still he weeps in sorrow with them. His display of compassion moves me so much because so many times we read about it being better to be in the house of mourning, or how sorrow is better than laughter… we read about suffering, persecution, etc. Then I read a biblical recording such as this and I see that Jesus wept with His people, He understood their sorrow & was close to them in this time, He stood with them & although He knew the overall outcome was that He would get the glory and that they would experience joy in the end, that never took away from the fact that the mourning process is a painful one and that in our sorrow we need comfort, we need hope, we need peace.
My family has experienced many hardships in the recent years & those hardships continue to increase as health issues, financial & other stresses take their toll…. but as I think about the character of God and His attributes, I am comforted knowing that this mighty God who saw fit to create me, and knows how much I can bear, is also walking with me…I imagine if someone were to tell him about me, they would say “Dinah whom you love is ill”… because I KNOW He loves me!! I am also so confident that His response would be, my illness will lead to Him getting ALL the glory and I already know that I am alive with Christ eternally, so it cannot lead to my death.
As I face trials and hardships currently, I am not afraid to say it hurts or that I am going through more lows than highs. I am not afraid to say that I spend a lot of time in the house of mourning. I do experience MUCH joy in my life, but for this season (however long it has been going on and however long it will last), it has been so extremely hard… yet I am comforted with this thought…
I am not alone as I mourn and feel the pain of the hardships we experience. It’s ok to let it out to the people that I know care for me (and I am SO thankful for my close friends who have stuck by us this entire time, we love you) and its ok to cry.
Recently I have been flooded with emotions. I had been going through this roller coaster of highs and lows, and it seemed as though the stops were hitting more lows each time the roller coaster would take it’s trip. Even when I didn’t want to too, and though no one “seemed” to be handling the controls….I was finding myself on yet another roller coaster ride and the lows were unbearable. At least, that is how it seemed. I remember back in 2002 having a very intense phone call with my father, arguing the fact that my “plans” were better than any plan God had for my life. In that conversation, I remember him saying to me “Dinah, you are just like Jonah!! God has a work for you and you are so disobedient!! You intend to run from God, but there is no where to run from God. No matter what you try to do and where you try to hide, God will make Himself known to you. Even if He has to swallow you whole in the belly of a big fish for you to listen. Obey!!” Of course, I ignored my fathers voice and went my own way. But God remained close to me. Shortly after that time that fish came to pay me a visit and I spent time with the Lord. Of course not under water and not in the actual belly of a whale but due to some circumstances that arose at that time and the location, I spent some time away from my husband and literally alone with the Lord and it was then that the Lord made radical changes in my life. The way He spoke to my heart, the way He brought me such peace and comfort in the midst of trials and the way that He assured me all would be well, I was sure that no matter what came my way, I would keep my trust in Him and obey Him. From 2004 until now my family and I have faced varies of trials from physical ailments (both myself with my MSKD and my husband with Arnold Chiari Malformation w/ Syringohydromyelia), we almost faced divorce BUT God and the list goes on. I realize now that everything that has happened in our life was most definitely ALL for the glory of God. I look at our lives together and how far we have come and I am just so full of overwhelming joy to even be apart of a testimony so full of restoration & so full of love & hope. In the time that all of this has taken place, there have been many times that I have wanted to give up, many times when depression has been so overwhelming to the point where suicide seemed like the only possible solution. I told myself that my family would be better off. Depression can be so overpowering and the need to want to be with Jesus so great that death just seems like the only answer and patience is so far from tolerable. I remember in 2009 having to be checked into St. Josephs Psych Ward after an attempt to take my own life. The depression at the time was so real and at that time the situation had become so unbearable. I remember while I was in the ward my father came to visit with me and asked me what I wanted him to bring me and all I wanted was my bible. Inside the ward, they kept giving me different drugs so often times I would see my son running around my room, even though in reality he was not really there. One night I could not take it anymore so I left my room to read in the cafeteria and as I read my bible there a girl asked me what I was reading. I remember sharing with her the gospel. I told her why I was there and how I knew that I really was not hopeless, Jesus was my hope. I was wrong for what I had done and didn’t want to wallow in self pity but needed to repent. After I shared the gospel with her, I remember her getting up to walk away from me. I thought to myself… man, maybe I scared her away. But, shortly after se returned to tell me that she had gone to her room alone to pray to God to also ask her to forgive her. She told me it was the first time she had prayed in over ten years. I was in the ward for over a week and everyday I shared with her the gospel of Jesus. Though depression led me to attempt in killing myself, I ended up sharing the gospel with a young woman and she went on her own to repent and pray to God for salvation. I kept on because He keeps on.
I couldn’t help but remember that this week as so many things have been going on lately in my life. I was talking to one of my close sisters recently just telling them about the roller coaster of highs and lows that I have been on. How the Lord is always encouraging me to keep on pressing on no matter how low I feel, because He will lift me up. I know that because of mistakes that I have made and gossip, or misunderstandings… I have lost important people in my life, people I once called “friend” now act as if I do not even exist. The pain I feel to know that I am treated a certain way now or have been spoken about because maybe someone heard I was committed to St. Joes, or maybe I was too transparent at one of my events and I shared about my depression and so it left them feeling a certain ay about me…. etc. I just know that all I can do is love God and love others. Live out 1 John 2:6, if I claim to abide in Christ then i MUST walk as He did. I must strive to carry the burdens of others, no matter what.
It gets so hard. My heart hurts so much sometimes with how cruel some people can be with their words and with gossip. My heart hurts so much with how people can be with unforgiveness. BUT no matter what, I keep on because He keeps on.
Tonight I was worshipping with the group that my husband & I disciple and one of the songs we sang was Chris Tomlin’s “I will follow”. Before I continue, here are the lyrics that broke me in half tonight:
Where you go, I’ll go.
Where you stay, I’ll stay.
When you move, I’ll move.
I will follow you.
Who you love, I’ll love.
Who you serve, I’ll serve.
If this life I lose,
I will follow you
I will follow you!
The entire song had me broken into pieces, but what really pierced through my heart was the part of the chorus that said “who you love, I’ll love.”
I am a huge witness to the fact that at times (many times), it can be so very difficult to love people the way that He loves them… even when it was the second greatest commandment & like the first. Even knowing that, it is so very hard. The reasoning behind finding it difficult to love on others is usually always the same “that person hurt me.” Today I had this really convicting conversation with this amazingly beautiful sister of mine who happens to keep me in check, even when she doesn’t realize it (LOL) regarding sin that I had been struggling with. The struggle between living as though under the law verses under grace, especially in relationships with people. When hurt by someone, seeing them with the eyes of love & remembering that Christ also shed His blood for them, showing them the same grace that He shows. It can be so hard for me to do sometimes, even when I think I am being gracious, I find that God is revealing my true hearts intentions and I realize…. I am really so ungracious & unloving. I was so heart broken at that sinful revelation.
Then we get to discipleship and we hear this song during worship and I literally could feel every bone in my body melt and my heart just pierce open knowing the Lord was clearly still dealing with me & my disobedience. Because before he sings “who you love, I’ll love”….he sings “when you move, I’ll move.” I knew exactly what the Lord was saying to me.
Many times the Lord will speak to our hearts about a situation, but we will refuse to “move” or “act” on what it is He is calling for us to do. He commands BUT we disobey. Then we wonder why he chooses not to reveal himself. The more that we obey Him, the more He chooses to reveal Himself. That is the testimony of my life!
Forgiveness & love does not mean that we will go back to being the best of friends, or even having the same type of trust we once had BUT it does mean that there is potential to grow in grace and earn back trust. I am learning that true forgiveness & true love will have a stamp of heart felt koinonia with Christ as foundation & chief cornerstone. If Christ is not the foundation, then the relationship was never headed in a successful direction and was doomed from the start. Anything that lacks the brokenness, unity & genuine love and is not rooted on & centered around the gospel of Christ is destructive & will fall to ruin eventually. It’s not just about having little circles of friends where we cling to one another for ever & hoard the gospel amongst each other, fellowship only with each other & never venture out of our “circles”. NO. It’s about encouraging one another to go & bring new people into our “circles” so that who He loves, we can also love, teach & disciple…. and in turn we multiply & they are sent back out to go and disciple. Isn’t that the ultimate goal?
I realized, I have been focusing so much of my time & energy on who has hurt me, who is slandering me or may have said things about me… he said, she said…. when really I need to just keep my focus on “who you love, I’ll love Lord!”
I want to mean that!! I am so broken over this & have really gone to the Lord for Him to search my heart about it. Even for those who have distanced themselves from me because maybe they felt as though at one time I may have hurt them, and because I am 100% man, I may just have hurt them, but in all honesty, I never mean to hurt anyone & the Lord is growing me in discipleship & in grace. Who I was just one week ago, is not who I am today and I am so thankful for constant grace & growth in Him. I pray that I will continue to move when he moves.
If you are in a situation where you are hurting over someone or something, make it right. If someone is slandering another in your ear and you may not be saying anything, but you remain quiet as that person speaks… you are guilty by association & before the Lord are in sin. Do not pass judgement on someone or form opinions unless you yourself have made it your business to spend time with them & allow God to give you discernment on that person. If you have someone who loves you enough to pour into your love, even when they are telling you things (TRUTH) that might hurt, but you need to hear…do not cast that person to the waste side, but love that person and respect them because they invested time & energy pouring into your life. My younger sisters, respect your older sisters in the faith & in age who open their homes & lives to you. She respect & honor to them. In the same way, older sisters also respect your younger sisters & be patient with them. Endure with them & rejoice at their victories. All in all…. be thankful for one another…. and honor God. When He moves, you move.
I truly mean it with every once of my heart & all that I am.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28”
I often have those moments in the midst of this long stormy night, in which my heart races and my mind goes a mile a minute. I can imagine that instead of being in a boat during this storm while Jesus is sleeping, I am sitting in the passenger seat of a car while driving in the middle of the night with Him as the driver. I can’t really see anything outside of the window, because the storm outside is so bad. I know that during the storm & the ride, He is speaking to me, but I am not really listening to Him or hearing what He is saying to me. All I can focus on is how bad the storm is outside & how afraid I am inside this car. Then all of a sudden, we come to a holt and when the windshield whipper gives me a clearer view, I see the sign that says “Rest stop”. When we pull underneath the awning, I feel His arm reach over to mine and as He grabs me, all I can Him say is “You can rest now, we are safe.”
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14
The problem with that story is how long it took for me to feel safe in the presence of God. The storm was all around me & even though I was in this car with God as my driver, I was unable to see outside of the window and I was not driving, which meant, I was not in control of the vehicle in this situation and had we gotten into an accident, I could not save us (in my mind). When I should of felt the safest because no matter how bad it had gotten, I was with God…I allowed the calamity around me to keep me fearful. It was only when we stopped and I saw the sign say “rest stop” that I felt peace that we were ok. I had to hear Him say it, verses trusting Him even if I didn’t hear Him over the noise during the drive.
How often in our situations now do we treat a holy, just & powerful God this way? How often do we look around at the calamity brewing all around us and even though we KNOW that God is in control, He is the driver and we are the passenger, still we fear because we cannot see where HE is going and we cannot hear Him over the noise of the storms in our life? How many times do we allow the racing of our mind to interfere with the race we should be running in Christ? Constantly awaiting that rest stop, unaware that HE is all the rest that we need. The heaviness, the burdens, the storms, the calamities cannot compare to the rest that He offers. It does not matter how loud the storm is, how scary it looks or feels, how much damage it seems to be doing, how much loss is coming from it…. do not fret…. our God is able to do exceedingly great things and also to grant great peace.
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27
Be encouraged and rejoice that in the midst of the broken places He gives us the strength to carry through. In the midst of the dark, stormy nights, God truly is developing worshippers out of us and for me the storm is not over, it seems to be picking up speed…. but I am going to keep hopeful and keep worshipping, knowing that He will get the glory out of this. When this storm is over, I will boast in how He got all the glory…it truly will be “For His Fame." Stay Tuned….
And the glory (majesty and splendor) of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. Isaiah 40: 5
It’s been a little while since I wrote a blog for the sisters (and brothers 🙊😉 lol) that follow along & actually read them for encouragement. I have been writing here & there with updates on Joey. So this is one of those posts in which I believe The Lord has really laid on my heart to share that will encourage the saints.
So…. Sorrow is better than laughter?
"Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. Ecclesiastes 7:3"
I recently spent the day at Trinity bible college with my beloved sisters. I had the privilege of shadowing in a class called “poetical books”. One of the most amazing classes I had ever shadowed in, and I have shadowed at Trinity many times before. The professor did an expositional break down of Ecclesiastes 7 that BLEW me away!!! I had so many different emotions from wanting to cry, to busting out laughing many times (and Eli having to grab my legs under the table to shut me up), to straight conviction. I always know when I leave an amazing session of hearing God’s word when I can’t stop thinking about how convicted I was & also how much joy I have from the beauty of God’s revelation of Himself through scripture.
As the professor went down verse by verse, I was just overwhelmed with emotion. Then he got to verse 3 and I thought to myself … Man, I am always saying this… But, not because I heard it from Solomon! I literally say it because I understand what this means, the reality of this passage & I agree. There is this quote that I have posted once before from King Henry’s wife who was thrown into exile because of his deceit. Whether she said it or not, I do not know… But I heard it when watching a show about their life and thought to myself, wow…. I agree!!! When visited by someone from King Henry’s court, she was asked “how is it, that you are here in exile, physically Ill yet you have not cursed God? The King freely lives and has everything, yet you still pray to a God who allowed you into exile?” Her response: “I would rather be full of sorrow & here in exile where I am close to God, then have everything that the King has but know I am far away from my God.” I remember when I saw that (years ago mind you), my eyes swelled with water because I thought to myself, yes… Yes I agree!!! Even as I write this blog, in all honesty, my eyes are full of tears because my heart is FULL of sorrow right now with everything going down in my life right now, yet I know I am close to God in the midst of it.
You know what’s interesting is that I’m a person who happens to always be laughing. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to laugh. And I have a loud, distinct one too. 😜 I have realized that experiencing sorrow does not mean that we will be walking around with our heads held low & no laughter what-so-ever. Not at all. In fact, the more I have found my contentment in Christ in the midst of these circumstances, the more joy I have experienced. People often ask me, “how are you able to laugh so much D when you are suffering with so much” and honestly I am often confused by that question. I think to myself MANY times, don’t we serve the same God. Since when do my circumstances dictate my joy? I thought Paul said that he could do ALL things through Christ … Meaning experience the good times & bad times with Christ as his ultimate contentment & hope. So, that is my answer too. I use to feel bad because things get so bad sometimes, but still I can find strength to laugh. People have even “advised” for me to look sad & not laugh. I tell them “I’m sorry, I can’t do that”. I find my joy in Christ. The joy of The Lord is not just a sentence I repeat just to repeat. It’s a reality for me.
But, the reality for my family really is that we are embracing much suffering. With my husbands brain condition alone and the things that go on behind the scenes, it’s hard. With my kidney condition & the things I deal with when it comes to that, it’s hard. Two have two parents who have physical ailments can weigh down on my children heavily and it can weigh down on us, and many many times people do not understand that. Often times, people forget that. Although I have learned contentment & my laughter is genuine, I have also embraced weeping. I find myself alone in the bathroom weeping, quite often. I find myself in my prayer closet weeping daily actually. Time & time again asking The Lord to help me remain content as I am a frequently finding myself slipping into a depression but then have to remember that I cannot find my contentment in circumstances because those change often… But God, He remains the same!
I want to encourage those who are experiencing sorrow in their life. I understand this reality and I never want my encouragement or love to be superficial in anyway. I write these blogs because I know how easy it is to feel alone in the midst of sorrow & even exile. We can try our best to find joy & contentment in momentary fun or fellowship, but that is temporary and that will fade. When everyone goes home & goes back to their house, you are still left in your house of mourning. So beloved, if you are reading this, I am here for you & I understand your sorrow. I encourage you to read the writings of Solomon, who wrote first hand about finding contentment in Christ after having EVEryTHinG else and still not being satisfied. If you laugh, let it be genuine…. Not a false laughter with false fellowship & false love from people who do not genuinely love you enough to really carry your burdens. Love is about carrying the burdens of others, despite past hurts & despite what is going on in our lives. Even with everything going on in my life God has called me to GO and carry the burdens of my sisters & even my brothers. I do my best to go when others need me & carry them on my back, even when I’m feeling the weight of so much. Why do I do that? Because I love God so much & because I love the brethren so very much. I use to say that with such superficial backing, but not anymore. When I say I love you, I mean it.
Lastly, pray for discipline. In the midst of sorrow & suffering we find that we cling to Christ. Which is why Solomon says this: “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting” in verse 2 of chapter 7. When I was at Trinity the professor went in on how as a pastor he would rather prepare a sermon for a funeral than for a wedding. He said that people listen at funerals but at the wedding, everyone just wants to “get on” with the party, no one is really thinking about “life” or evaluating it. No one is examining anything!! Everyone is just having a grand time and feasting. Yet in the house of mourning, people listen. People hear the message. People take the time to really examine themselves & think about “life”. People PRAY!!! It is unbelievable how this is so real even to us in everyday life… When we are out fellowshipping (as we like to call it) and having such a grand ole time and no one is really thinking or life … Everyone is just focused on fun. We get caught up in the everyday routine of getting up & having fun that we loose sight of the getting it in with The Lord. I recently spoke to some of the people who are close to me about this… Some of the sisters who I am accountable too and vice versa. We talked about this subject and how it’s cool to plan out moments when we chill and have fun, but also moments in which we are examining ourselves & life. We need a healthy balance. They agreed. It was great to know that I was not the only one realizing that God was speaking to not just my heart, but to theirs as well.
I encourage those who are not in sorrow right now, take a moment to ask yourself “how long has it been since I have examined my life?” If you are going through sorrow right now? Be encouraged by what I shared… Know that you are NOT alone!!!!
God is with you!
God is developing worshippers out of us in the midst of our night and he is giving us wisdom. We will be able to use that wisdom to guide others in their circumstances & point them to Christ.
“The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. Ecclesiastes 7:4”
"Draw close to God, He will draw close to you. James 4:8a"
Be encouraged, for sorrow is better than laughter!
Please pray that I remain disciplined in prayer & obedience to God & His word. Thank you brethren.
Let me start this blog with what is on my heart and that is a simple “I love you!” Thank you for reading my blogs because it means you care about supporting our family, this ministry & what The Lord is doing in us, through us & for us.
First let me say that the Vindicated tour had its second makings of a Worshipper concert last Friday with: Joel “In Him”, Eli, Quina, Yasmin, Jose, Edie & myself. It was a night packed with giving GOD praise & worship in the midst of real hardships & trials. It was a really small & intimate concert but all of us admitted that it was probably one of the best this year, because of how much we worshipped The Lord together. So praise God for that!!!
My sister Edie shared her testimony about how she had been abused by her mothers boy friend and sold into human sex trafficking. She had been sold to over 150 men & women. She shared how God had healed her broken heart & how she not only forgave her abuser BUT she went to his bed side while he was
Dying & she gave him the gospel, where he was saved before he died!!!! I’m telling you, her story is one of reconciliation & the beauty of Jesus if I ever heard it before!!! The name of her ministry is “healing root”. Her name is Edie Rhea and she will be joining me on the #Vindicated your for anyone who is interested in hearing her story.
Now, an update on My husband Joey & what’s going on with his surgery info because many are asking me. Earlier this year we were told that the decompressive craniectomy (brain surgery) that my husband Joey had back in 2005 needs to be repeated because the syrinx that they set out to correct back then has once again returned. After being given MRI’s they noticed the growth had returned and notified us immediately that Joey would need repeat surgery. The problem was, we are dealing with the VA and when it comes to them… Things can take weeks, months and even up to years to get done. For those who are just now reading my blogs, Jose (Joey) has ACM II with Syringohydromyelia - ACM is the acronym for Arnold Chiari malformation when the cerebellum protrudes into the spinal canal. When a patient has ACM I this is typically seen with Spina Bifida which causes deforming of the spine and many painful complications. Which Joey was not born with. When a patient is born with ACM II they can remain asymptomatic for a life time until something happens to “aggravate” the disease causing the ACM to trigger painful symptoms that can change the remainder of that patients life forever. Which is what happened in joeys case. While in the military Joey fell from a few feet up working a loader that had ice that was not removed from its grid and upon hitting the ground head first, his ACM was aggravated causing Syringohydromyelia or for short a syrinx that started from the cerebellum all the way down to the lower part of his thoracic spine. Jose was discharged from active duty as a disabled veteran in 2003 and after dealing with VA doctors for two years they finally gave him a decompressive craniectomy on November 25, 2005. During this procedure they remove C1 & C2 from the cervical spine and then drain the syrinx, replacing it with a duroplasty (cow skin). For the rest of joeys life he would have restrictions & it was always told told to us that the surgery was not a cure, just a solution at the time to drain the fluid from the spine helping to alleviate pain, pressure & help with progression of the disease. For the last nine years since the brain & spinal surgery he has had repetitive visits to the VA and occasional MRI scans to monitor the disease. Last year I noticed some changes in Joey’s sleep patterns, his moods, his speech & other areas of every day life. Because we have a lot going on in our life & with the stresses we were going through with my health, I left it alone. But as the symptoms got worse, I decided to make an appt. for him to have repeat MRI’s of his brain & spine to check if he was ok. Those results came back showing that his syrinx had returned but had widened. His doctor told us that with him becoming so sick & the way that it was widening & growing, he wanted to repeat the MRI one more time to see just how far this fluid was going (meaning it must now reached further than thoracic spine possibly into lumbar area) and wanted us to consider the possibility of Joey undergoing repeat brain surgery and this time they would need to place shunts inside of him to keep a continual method of drainage for the syrinx for future growth. We know the risks involved with shunts and have heard the stories with shunts. In fact, the first time he had surgery we were advised against putting it inside because of the dangers involved. We were told the VA would schedule the set up of the second round of tests and get back to us. This was about six months ago. They have FINALLY scheduled those tests for November 6th!!! Praise The Lord. But as you can see, when dealing with the VA it takes much patience as things take for-eeeer-v-errrrrrrr (in my sandlot voice) lol gotta keep laughing ya know!!!!
My family is asking that you please keep us in prayer. It isn’t easy when both parents are dealing with physical ailments. The great news is, I have been taking great care of myself with the leading of The Lord & being wise!!! Although very expensive, the stuff that I am taking is helping me in major ways and I am doing amazingly well. I believe The Lord has allowed me to regain my strength this last year so that I can be strong enough to now tend to my husband. Do you see how awesome our God is in preparing us for the seasons to come? Sovereign & in control!!! Beautiful!!! In sickness & in health we tend to one another… When I was weak, then I was made strong through Christ alone. The same will happen for my husband. I do not know why my family has to endure these hardships physically, but I do know that God is seeing us through. Many people have come & gone in our lives but those who have remained by our side through out the good & the bad will be here with us and knowing that brings us great comfort!! The support system means that I won’t have to cry alone.
So that is the update!!!
This months game night is gonna be crazy as we celebrate thanksgiving together and spread out playing games familia. But most importantly, just go around the room sharing what we are thankful for. I know one thing is for certain … I am thankful that as undeserving as I am, I have such beautiful people in my life who are bearing with us, praying with us, loving us genuinely & willing to carry our burdens during what is about to be such a heavy burden to carry. Thank you beloved brethren. If you would like to support by purchasing the album or donating to our ministry or to our family please visit www.dinahmusic.com thank you so much for everyone who is praying & supporting in every way possible (prayer & financially).
I remember a few years back when I had to write letter after letter to government officials pleading with them to take a look at my husband’s medical case with the military because the VA would not give him a fare trial in regards to his disability rating & ACM. Most of the letters I wrote started with “To whom it may concern” because I was not sure who I would be addressing. I knew someone would be reading the letter, but I was unclear of names. It’s the same thing with the blogs I write to the sistren (a made up name for the sisters I write to in the sisterhood of believers who read the blogs I write) & also to the brothers who I was told occasionally read as well. (Jim, hi..lol) I really don’t know who reads the blogs I write, but I do know that I am always compelled to be transparent in my writings knowing that whoever is reading will be able to relate, understand & appreciate the honesty & transparency.
I am currently writing for my new project/album, and as I begin the writing process I am already experiencing many of the burdens that come a long with ministry. Let me be a little more clear on what I mean by that. With ministry comes much suffering, we read about this in the life of Peter, Paul and many of the disciples. Peter actually goes into depth about how we have been left here as examples to suffer with Christ.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21”
So that we may follow in his steps… deep. The book of 1 Peter has been such a great encouragement to me during the last year of my life. It is a book that I read very often & it brings me so much comfort. I wanted to share it’s passages in my blog tonight for anyone who might be going through any kind of suffering whether it be unjust suffering which is the context of 1 Peter 2 or whether it be physical suffering of any kind. Whatever suffering you might be facing, I wanted to encourage you with the scriptures that have been encouraging me so much lately as my family is being rocked by so many challenges lately. It seems overwhelming, yet God never ceases to amaze me. His grace is so evident in my life & I am just so thankful. One of the hardest things that we face as Christ followers is persecution, especially when it comes from people within the body. Lately I notice more & more that discord has formed & it can not only be discouraging, but it can be heartbreaking to most. We are called to build one another up, not tear each other down. This next script in 1 Peter is another that blesses me so much:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of gloryand of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:12-19
Reading this passage I am really convinced that God is speaking clearly to us, especially when it says “yet if anyone suffers as a christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in that name.” During suffering, especially when we feel as though suffering unjustly, it is so hard to rejoice in the midst of it or to look at it as a blessing. In fact, in the midst of unjust suffering, the pain can be so overwhelming and can feel as though it is overtaking you. I know recently I was going through a situation where I felt like this, and although I knew that God would vindicate me, it still was so painful to feel as though there was nothing I could do at the moment. When someone is slandering your name or saying things about you that are not true, yet you are never given the opportunity to give your side of the story, or you are never given the opportunity to shed light on the situation & expose truth… do not fret, God is so amazingly good & no matter what anyone says about you, the truth is alway revealed. One thing I learned is that when you belong to God & when you suffer for His names sake, He takes action on your behalf, He vindicates & He corrects. He rebukes & He vengeance belongs to Him. There is no need for us to take any action when suffering, except to love as Christ did & show grace. Trust that God is in control & He will get the glory out of your life & your situation. When His glory is revealed, the truth will be exposed.
As I write for this project, I am thankful that God is also exposing a lot of things about myself that need to change. He is showing me things about myself that need work & teaching me how to suffer as a christian. I am so thankful for His chastening & His discipline.
Please keep me & my family in your prayers. My husband will be having more testing done on November 6th to determine what type of brain surgery they will be giving him regarding the placement of the shunts. Our family is preparing for this & asking for God’s peace, strength & guidance. I really appreciate all that have supported the #Vindicated album & my ministry. www.dinahmusic.com is the website if you would like more info on how to continue to support.
Please pray as I continue to write for this new album. I will update soon!!
Long ago when in battle a sign of surrender was the raising of the white flag. For some when feeling defeated, they felt as though all they could do was raise the white flag and surrender to the other army knowing that doing so would mean that they would now be owned by the victorious army and enslaved to them. For the Christ follower we do not, or SHOULD NOT see the raising of our white flag in surrender as a sign of such weakness. Surrender does not mean we have been defeated. Although it is true that we are slaves to righteousness, bond-servants to the most High God…. this is something to rejoice over. This means that we are FREE to worship a Holy & just God. Many times the long & strenuous battles that we are facing, seem drawn out & lead us to a place where all we can do is make the choice to raise up our white flag & surrender. In making that choice we know that we have just made a choice to free ourselves of much headaches, heartaches, stress & hurt. See the battles we are facing are at times battles we lead ourselves into due to so many different choices we make, when then leads to the choice of when we will lift up that white flag & surrender it all to Him. My album that I released this year spoke on how we are Vindicated through Jesus & also how in the midst of the night God is developing us into worshippers. When the night is over and the dawn arises, we raise up our white flags and we can shout, Holy.. Holy…Holy, is the Lord God almighty.
I am currently working on my new album, praise God. I really don’t know how long it will take me to write it, so I won’t give a time frame on when I am looking to release it. But I am taking my time because I want His glory to be revealed. Most would give a time frame, but I write as the Spirit leads and know that His timing is perfect. To be honest, I don’t have any idea how I will afford production, engineering or mastering. I don’t even know who will feature on this album this time around. All I know is that I have His spirit, a pen & paper. I am in the writing process write now. BUT, not only am I in the writing process, I am also in the process of changing seasons. Just recently I lost my grandmother, which I have to say was probably the hardest thing I have been through in such a long time. Not so much the fact that she died (because she was sick), but the fact that I made the choice to fly to NY & sit beside her bed for three weeks reading to her & singing to her, watching her die. I knew there was no chance she would make it out of that hospice bed & I knew that I had a choice … I could either fly back to FL & accept that she was going to die OR I could serve her in her last days here letting her know that the God of peace was with her. I raised up my white flag & killed every ounce of me that wanted to be selfish & not see he hard part of all of it, I rolled up my sleeves, took out the basin, filled it with water & knew what I had to do. I had to surrender to the call of Christ & serve there. Although it was extremely hard, I am so glad that I stayed and did it. It added to the testimony of writing this new album & how I will share the gospel & hope through this next project. So please keep me & this project in prayer if you remember.
This past weekend was flavor fest 2012!! It was such a blessing to see old faces & meet new ones!! This was my sixth flavor fest & I am just so blessed to experience the blessing of such fellowship every year by His grace. For me, flavor fest is not about the gathering of artists who get to showcase their talents for five minutes up on the stage for everyone. Although, that is a great perk & just a byproduct of the fest. For me, flavor fest is a gathering of ministers all of the world who have been strategically placed & positioned in places all over for the sake of the gospel & service to His people. I learned a long time ago that the moment we begin to edge God out (have an EGO) then we will not succeed in His kingdom works. My prayer yearly as I watch flavor fest come & go, is that ministers of the gospel of Jesus will remember to raise up their white flag in surrender to God & His will. Especially when it comes to music (hip hop, R&B, Rock Soul) .. that we will constantly raise up that white flag & surrender every area to God. It was so encouraging to see ministers like our brother Ambassador who humbled himself to give up his last song for the sake of preaching the gospel!!! He was transparent enough to mention the season he went through recently that burdened his family & how it affected his life, but also how God was glorified in all of it & how he raised up his white flag in surrender. It was also encouraging to see Da Truth there, who happens to be one of my favorite ministers since way back when. His song “Pain” got me through one of the hardest trials of my life back in 2009 & was one of the reasons I was able to raise up my white flag & surrender every area of my life to God when at times I did not want too because I was hurt & angry. So to see my brother there brought me so much joy & encouragement!!!
There is a quote that I repeat quite often to the young women that I am discipling at my church and it goes like this:
"I’d rather experience great sorrow & suffering knowing that God is close to me, than have false happiness & be far from Him."
I say that & I mean it with every ounce of my being. I was only able to say that after I raised up my white flag & surrendered every area of my life to God. Being that I suffer with a bodily disease & that my husband also does, physically it is a struggle to surrender … but still I do it with so much faith.
Over the last few years, I have lost so many relationships with people that I had been building with over reasons unknown at times. People that I had grown to love so deeply, just one day decided I was either not meeting their expectations of what a good mentor or sister should be OR I was giving advice that was too honest & they did not want to receive it (in all honesty that was what I believe). What I mean with the expectations, I am married with two children and sometimes I am expected to do a lot more than what I can. My obligation is my home, my church (discipling the sisters at my church & my obligations there), my ministry (singing/emcing), my friends. In that order. Many times though, I would go outside of that order to be there for people that I loved when they needed me, but I would over commit to things, or neglect my family by being on the phone too long, going out and staying out with people too late who needed me, things like that. I had to raise up the white flag & really surrender to God even in that area of my life. I had to pray & ask the Lord to help me with not trying to meet the expectations of “man” but keeping my priorities in line with His will & keeping up with biblical womanhood. In doing so, I lost so many people I loved and thought were friends. But like the song goes “my true friends held me up like a bank robbery” da truth … and I had to learn to also raise up the white flag in trying to be a pleaser of man & seeking to be a pleaser of God.
In writing my new album, which I am only on song one “White Flag” is the title, I am convinced that God is truly going to be dealing with my heart in major ways. My aim on a daily basis is to live out this scripture:
"Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. 1 John 2:6 ESV"
I know that the only way that I can do this, is if I raise up my white flag DAILY & surrender every single area of my life over to God, asking for more faith, His peace, His love & most importantly His help.
I raise up my flag to YOU (Lord), I raise up my flag and I surrender.
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22 ESV"
For about a week now I have had the title of this weeks blog and every time I attempted to type something, I was distracted in some way. I had all of these thoughts about what the Lord had laid upon my heart to share, yet every time I was ready to actually blog about it, I found myself caught up in something that kept me from finishing. Fortunately tonight I finally have no distractions and I can give my undivided attention to those who read the blogs.
For the last few weeks, the Lord has been giving me such peace about what I had been writing to encourage the saints. Some things were harder to swallow than others for some folks, but others were harsh truths that we needed to meditate on and really pray about. My blogs are also opportunities in which I can share what is going on in my life and in the life of my husband as we both tackle on chaos & suffering in our body that affects our every day life & ministry. We are greatly encouraged by situations in our life that have tested us & pushed us to where we are now, i which we remain brave. That word brave hasn’t always been the first word I would blot out especially when reading this verse:
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13" ….. I feel like Peter should have ended that verse with… so be brave. lol
Same this with:
"Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that it is a testing of the faith and will produce steadfastness, and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in noting. James 1:2-4" …. so be brave.
I was watching Francis Chan with a training group we are doing with our small groups at church and one of the things he was sharing was about this korean missionary who in the midst of his mission he suffered but it kept him close to God and now that he is away and here where things are comfortable, he misses being in the situation that he was in when his suffering & brokenness kept him close the the Lord. Often times in our we become to comfortable & we forget what it means to be prostrated before the Lord in constant prayer. We forget what and why we are fighting for, and we lose sight of the mission all to gather due to comfort. We know there is the narrow road and their is the broad road… but we create these man made middle roads where we make our own rules, find loop holes in scripture to justify lukewarm behavior, find comforts in people pleasing and friendships and intolerable when it comes to solid rebuke and chastisement that comes in genuine love. We can’t be brave enough to stand up for what is right & stand firm for it, even if it means we end up standing there alone. Some fiery trials occur because we are strong enough to be brave and stand for what we believe in, regardless of who is standing with us. Our hope & trust must rely on He that sent us. We must never give up on the calling of being a trader of this world & a true ambassador of Jesus. Being BRAVE means, without fear we put on the full armor of God, we trust & pray that God will neither leave nor forsake us and that as we pursue Him & seek His kingdom, all else will be added in faith. Being brave means, even when the doctor tells us its not looking good, we will trust God. Being brace means, even when its hard to say you are sorry, you remember what forgiveness represents and you say it. Being brave means that even when you know suffering & chaos is at your doorstep, you are not afraid.
I see the challenges that are presented to Jose & I. The ups and downs. When the ups come, they’re awesome and sometimes I want to harbor them because my fear is always “how long will this last?” “Will it go away soon?” but today have to ask myself is that really being brave enough to trust God completely? I am so thankful for the way that God speaks!!! He is so faithful.
Being brave means finding the strength to accept what He is saying to you & obeying Him in everything & in every area of your life!!! I don’t know about you, but I want to be brave.
”..and no one is able to snatch them out of the Fathers hand. John 10:29”
Back in 2009 I wrote this song and the lyrics went like this:
—- I’m not worthy, to do the work set before, I don’t believe that I can do this on my own, Oh Lord help me, I want to see clearly, help me to let go.
Father here I am/striving to be better/Lord I wanna please you/cause above/there is no other/elegant speech is something that I lack/all eyes are on me/they’re watching how I act/they throw boulders my way so I can stumble and fall but I refuse to turn away from the call/cause no matter how imperfect I might be/I’m transparent before you/you see right through me/I’m like a little child before you I stand/confident that no matter what you’ll take me as I am/precious in the site of almighty God/before the people/I throw down my rod/all the power & glory belongs to God/I’m so thankful that redemption has set me free/and given me/the li-ber-ty/to represent/the mighty lion & the humble/and to do so just as I am —-(SN:lyrics are copywritten off a project I did called “sweet surrender”)
When I had written those words I had done so because I had felt very inadequate, felt as if my speech was not elegant enough for the platforms or pulpits, felt as though stumbling blocks and boulders were everywhere and new that because I was not your average “rhianna” or “nicki Minaj” type singer & rapper in the christian genre of music, it would be a struggle for me to move past what “people” thought & shift past pleasing them & remain content in pleasing God. Would this be an easy blog for me to write & put myself out there, nope… not so much!! The great thing about these blogs is, I remain transparent enough to tell you how difficult it is for me to write them but also remain in prayer & supplication while I do them, always asking for the Lords peace & guidance.
Since 2009 and writing those lyrics of “He won’t let go” …. the lyrics have proven to be such a truth in my life that I hold on to with every breath I take. Growing up, scripture & prayer was not something I would of been quick to run to when dealing with every day trial & error. I would of run to my girl friends & the advice of mankind. Which is why I failed so often in my lifetime. Now, as I walk with the Lord & with the council of His spirit, using the scripts as my daily bread… I can honestly say that I am walking in His will. I remember a while back when I was praying once in my prayer closet and I had my eyes closed, I was so convinced that His spirit was standing right there with me and He was holding my hand (in fact I often feel that way) but this one particular day, I needed Him to hold my hand, I was so distraught and I was crying, I had my hands lifted in the air and I told myself that I would not take them down until I felt him hold my hand. I know that it was my faith that day in that closet that gave me the warm feeling of someone holding it, but there in my prayer closet, I felt the warmth of His hand clamp mine. I immediately began to sob and felt His overwhelming peace that surpasses ALL understanding just cover me.
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7"
Since that moment in time, for me He has never let go. I want to encourage my sisters (and brothers that told me they read these blogs :) to by faith continue to cling on to Him as He holds on to you, knowing that He won’t let go of you. One of the most important things that I mentioned in this blog post was “prayer”. I was in my prayer closet and by faith would not leave until I felt His peace. I have moments in my life (including right now) when I am going through such turmoil, ups and downs, when I want to run, or when I want to distract myself with fellowship and be around everyone because I think it will make me feel better but I know that the only thing God has called me into during this time, is prayer. As Christ followers, our walk needs to strong in prayer & the reading of bible/discipleship. Jesus gave us the greatest example of that when He walked the earth, He was always in prayer & always teaching & discipling. The most beautiful thing about the Lord & His word is that, people see prayer as some boring thing… or some type of punishment. Oh man, time to pray. UGH. No, prayer is a beautiful time. Prayer changes situations. Prayer brings about blessings. The Lord tells you to bring your requests to Him with thanksgiving and not to be anxious about anything, but to trust Him in all things. Prayer eases anxiety.
"Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer & supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:4-6"
Look at how powerful this prophets prayer was…. the word says that the angel was held up 21 days from the day he humbled himself before the LORD (in prayer) bringing Daniel his answers …
On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing hon the bank of the great river (ithat is, the Tigris) 5 jI lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, ka man clothed in linen, lwith a belt of fine mgold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was likenberyl, his face olike the appearance of lightning, phis eyes like flaming torches, his arms and qlegs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and qthe sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. 7 rAnd I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. 8 So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and sno strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed,2tand I retained no strength. 9 Then I heard the sound of his words,uand as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep uwith my face to the ground.
10 And behold, va hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, wman greatly loved, xunderstand the words that I speak to you, and ystand upright, for znow I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me,a“Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you bset your heart to understand and bhumbled yourself before your God, cyour words have been heard, dand I have come because of your words. 13 eThe prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me ftwenty-one days, but gMichael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 dand came to make you understand what is to happen to your people hin the latter days. For ithe vision is for days yet to come.”
15 When he had spoken to me according to these words, jI turned my face toward the ground kand was mute. 16 And behold, lone in the likeness of the children of man mtouched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and nI retain no strength. 17 How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”
18 Again lone having the appearance of a man mtouched me and strengthened me. 19 And he said, o“O man greatly loved, pfear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the qprince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of rGreece will come. 21 But I will tell you swhat is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except tMichael, your prince.
In my lyrics above I wrote “I’m striving to be better”.. it brings me to tears to know that even when I am not better …. He won’t let go. I have so many issues and had to surrender them one by one. The chiseling has been so difficult. I will never be perfect, and I will always be so very far from that word. I will constantly let people that I love down, and unfortunately it isn’t something done on purpose, but it is done because we are human. One thing I can promise those around me is that, I am always striving to be better. First to my husband, then to my children, my health, then to my church, to my ministry and then to friends. That is the order because I have to obey the call in my life and I must keep the call of Christ first at all times. I urge you all to do the same. If we were people pleasers, we would not be called doulos.
"For am I now seeking the favor of man, or of God? or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10"
Now of course the context of what Paul is talking about to galatia is the gospel and how he no longer preaches what he did in his former life of Judaism, which is totally different from the context of how most use this scripture of “being people pleasers” so i wanted to make that clear. I am really big on not being worried with what “people” think and being really concerned about prayer time and finding out what God wants you doing. Pleasing God is top priority in my book, so for me that scripture in important, which leaves me with my last point in knowing He won’t let go.
When I was big on listening to secular music back in the day, one thing I respected about the industry was how the genres respected one another. For instance: award shows would have bands of all genres performing with all sorts of different sounds and it didn’t matter what genre you were, you were seated and watching or listening. I remember sitting there watching and thinking “wow man, that is pretty cool”. I saw it kind of like this: Britney Spears really did not have the best singing voice, but she had amazing dance moves and stage presence and she was supported by millions. Christina Aguilera had an amazing voice but not so great dance moves and was also supported by millions. The list goes on. Jonas Brothers, Alicia Keys, Etc. What makes me sad is that if I go to christian concerts, if there is someone on the stage that you don’t like or it is a genre that you didn’t go to see, chances are, you won’t pay attention or won’t support. I watch people talk during someones set, walk out to go outside to talk, go to the bathroom, play games on there phone. We mostly just go to see the person we came to support and then we are not interested in anyone else on the “stage”. We do not see it as a platform or pulpit, we see it as a stage where someone is just having a show or performing and that is problem number one. The title of the blog was “He won’t let go”… but sometimes there are things that we need to “let go of”… and in this case, yes “idolatry”. This has been a topic of conversation that I have been having way too often with some of my brothers and sisters. We recently went to concert in orlando and as we were standing next to a young man holding a video camera, we watched as he wept with tears because a rapper took the stage and grabbed the video camera to rap in it for a few seconds. The guy was grown, crying the way people use to cry when michael jackson was alive. I was so shocked. I don’t think I have ever been to a concert where I saw a grown man crying and it was not because the power of God was moving, this man was crying because another human was rapping. That’s a problem brethren. It’s also a problem when we are on these platforms and we can plainly see these people crying and we do not stop the music to correct them and let them know, STOP crying for US… repent and know that IT IS NOT ABOUT US… LET GO OF THAT idolatry and hold on to HIM… because HE WON’T LET GO.. but I am human and I will let go in a second! plain and simple. I know that sounds harsh but it’s truth. Why hold on to those who will let go of us as quick as it takes it takes to let go, when we can hold on tight to the one who will NEVER let go? I know that as a singer, I don’t sound like anyone familiar… usually you can listen to a christian artist and compare them to like an alicia keys or a beyonce, or a christian rapper and compare them to a famous rapper because of skill …. when listening to my sound, I don’t really sound like anyone that is out… a friend of mine use to coach me with my rapping and would encourage me to peer into what was going on so that I could keep up with what the latest sounds were. I made the choice not to do that. Anyone and everyone might say, well that might keep you from moving forward as a christian recording artist …and you might be absolutely right, HOWEVER… that will not keep my God from opening doors for me as a modern day disciple who has been set apart for the gospel to go out and minister His word with music as the tool!! So my goal will never and has never been to be signed to a recording label or to be famous, which is often the question people ask me… my goal has been and always will remain HIS GOSPEL …. my heart is always HIS GOSPEL …. I may not perfect hitting the highest notes … hitting the perfect harmonies … having the strongest delivering when MC’ing, but I will always deliver my best in every breath, on every track that I record, because of HIS GOSPEL… and I will not give up on this calling He has on my life, this ministry He has entrusted to me, the music He places on my heart & the worshipper He has developed me to be in the midst of the most hellish nights, I refuse to let go of this calling because i know that “HE WON’T LET GO”!!!
Whatever calling He has on your life, do not give up either. Whatever obstacles have risen in the way, don’t fret… be not dismayed but trust Him & know that the mighty one of Israel has called you to do His mighty work & when feelings of inadequacy come, it is a plain road block devised to detour you from that greater picture …. but you will succeed because “HE WON’T LET GO”
so again I say:
”..and no one is able to snatch them out of the Fathers hand. John 10:29”
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2"
Before I write any one of my blogs for the sisters (and brothers that might be reading and being encouraged), I before the Lord and like a child holding a christmas list, I ask him for inspiration on what to write to and for the brethren. On the day that He answers, it’s almost like christmas morning, I am the happiest kid as my face lights up & I am smiling big because my heart is rejoicing knowing that He heard my prayer & answered. Although I am this excited when I hear from Abba because He answered, the writing process is a different experience. Often my heart is grieved because there are moments when the Lord begins to show me things via scripture regarding His body and what we are lacking. Moments when He shows me the things that grieve His spirit. Moments when I read things that do not line up with what I see going on around me and immediately I am convicted myself. Moments when I am forced to stop what I am doing all together and just pray because I feel as though I am not even worthy to be writing anything remotely close to such encouragement, when I lack the wisdom or knowledge myself to measure up to what it takes to be the kind of example the disciples were. Although these thoughts flood my mind quite often, the Lord has continuously reminded me that if I have a willing heart to take the time to do this with you, then my service is worthy enough for the call.
I shared that before I went into the depth of this blog, only to encourage those who have been having feelings of inadequacy lately. If you feel as though you are not good enough, elegant enough, strong enough, well spoken enough…trust me when I say, neither am I. I am none of those things, FAR from all of those things actually, and still He chose me. So be encouraged that He can & will use you. He will send beautiful people into your life to encourage you…He has created each of us & formed each of us in His own way, which leads me into the depth of my blog… Fire & water.
Above I shared the scripture that Isaiah wrote, however let me back track to what he says before that…
"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you O Jacob, he who formed you O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:1-2"
The context of that chapter in Isaiah talks about how God is Israel’s only savior. I rejoice when I read how much the prophet Isaiah writes about Israel’s redemption over and over again. God’s mercy & grace is seen through out time with His people. We should rejoice that we are considered among those people & are redeemed along with them.
I was thinking about “Fighting the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12) and how Isaiah 43 can be a scripture that we think about while trying to do that. Often times when “fighting the good fight” (which many times for us doesn’t seem so good and can be the most overwhelming, frustrating, difficult times of our life) we are feeling like Daniel in the lions den & praying the lions mouths remain slammed shut during the night or we feel like shadrach, meshach & abednego in the furnace just praying that the angel of the Lord is with us so that we are not consumed by the fire. As I was thinking about these things, I was reminded of the brethren, as I am often reminded of the AID God has so graciously sent to me.
As a poet & musician, I find myself writing A LOT. Ideas are always flooding my mind and as they come in I jot them down in my notes. Sometimes they make sense and sometimes they don’t right away, until I go back later on and then after reading scripture I understand why I wrote it down. A while back I had seen in a movie how a swordsman forged a sword. For some reason, I was really fascinated by the way this particular tribe forged their swords, so I never forgot it. I began writing notes here and there as reminders regarding the Iron of the swords. Nothing really made sense, but as the week passed I was studying and came across the scripture Proverbs 27:17 (a script I happen to encourage others with a lot). “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Immediately I thought to myself, how interesting that the spirit would inspire Solomon to write these words comparing us with iron. Literally saying that we “sharpen” one another, as if we were blades or swords. Of course, I was reminded of all the notes I had been writing regarding the forging of that one blade & how it was created. It was interesting to me because this sword according to this tribe was the strongest sword in the village because of the way the swordsmith made it. He would place the blade in fire & water, which was the key to its strength. I thought to myself, how interesting that God allows us to go through the fire yet we are not burned AND He allows us to go through the water, yet we are not overwhelmed. He allows us to go through those obstacles also for the sake of our strength. The comparison between the two we (at least for me) so beautiful. How we can take even the smallest of things and see them in scripture and think wow, how beautiful that He would take such time on us so that we are strong. I took the time to look up the way a blade or sword was made… it’s amazing to me the comparison between how a sword is made and how we were created. Take a look for yourself:
After the workpiece is done being formed, it is normalized. The blade is carefully and evenly heated and then cooled slowly. The point of normalizing is to remove the stresses which may have built up within the body of the blade while it was being forged. During the forging process the blade might be heated and cooled differentially creating stress, some parts might be hammered more than others, some areas hammered enough to work harden. If these stresses are left in the blade they could affect the finishing and when it came time to heat treat the blade, the hardening and tempering might not be as even. Potentially enough stress could be added that the blade would be weak in spots, weak enough that it could fail under enough stress.
Although God does NOT hammer us, LOL…he does allow us to go through various trials in our life and many times we feel as though He is not answering us because the night has not ended for us (whether some of us are still sick, still going through a lot, etc) but we need to trust God & not question Him in the midst of our “forging” process. We do not want to be “weak in spots” but strong in Him, because we trusted Him completely!! I look at the example of Moses, who God was with the entire time but because of “unbelief”, he did not enter into the promise land. Those verses in Isaiah really applied to Israel then, He was with them in the wilderness, performed wonders for them, many times, yet they doubted God and even when He told them that canaan would be theirs, they did not believe. Although Moses intervened on their behalf many times, because he had unbelief in his heart, not believing Isaiah 43:2 to be true for him at that moment, he did not enter into the land flowing with milk & honey. Joshua & Caleb tried to tell them not to be afraid & to trust God, but the people would not listen. My fear now a days is that we have too many people “Not listening”. The encouragement is “Iron sharpens Iron”… a dull blade cannot sharpen another dull blade.
The beginning of Isaiah 43 talks about how God created & formed us… then talks about how we will go through fire & water … then ends with this …
"For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:3”
Be encouraged beloved with this: when I was watching that program, the chief was saying that the reason why they made the sword in both fire & water was because the sword had to be made in a way that it would be able to bend but not break. It had to be sharp enough to kill on impact. Although the actual movie I was watching was not a realistic movie, everything he was saying about the sword was giving me encouragement about what to write about for my next blog and how I could encourage you. In the body, we may bend and many times have a broken & contrite spirit…but God draws near to that broken & contrite spirit.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18"
Though we will go through the fire, as gold also has to be melted down, beautiful things are made from it. Just as the three in Daniel went through the furnace, they were not seen alone, there was a fourth inside of that furnace.
And lastly, the waters of affliction… though the waves come fast & heavy, He promises they will not overtake you. Stepping out in faith is one of the hardest things to do because of fear. Praying for His peace is the greatest freedom I have. My prayer closet is my comfort.
God has placed other people (swords :) in your life to aid in your walk, in your survival as you walk in the furnace….my advice would be to embrace that. Know the difference between the sharp blades and the dull blades in your life, because remember one extremely important thing that is vital for your growth & encouragement…Iron Sharpens Iron and a DULL blade cannot sharpen!! Pray against superficial relationships in your life for selfish gain. Pray for genuine Koinonia: Community!!
May God be with us as we continue to go through Fire & water. I love you guys.
I saw it only fit to entitle my blog that today. Seeing how I have to find the humor in just about everything. I love cartoons & Hey Arnold is one of those we loved growing up. My blogs are not just used to write weekly encouragements to the brethren (as much as I love doing that), but I also use tumblr to update those who support me on ministry & health. Not just for me, but for hubs.
As for me, I am pressing!! The album release was such a blessing as I have shared with so many. I was able to pour back into my ministry & also get much needed medication. So I am thrilled. Thank you all so much who remain with me in prayer.
As for Jose (my husband), I do have an update for him. The name of the disease he battles is “Arnold Chiari Malformation Type II” (ACM II) hence the title of this blog, hey Arnold!! Lol
In 2003, while active as a US airmen Joey was working an overnight shift in on the missile base we lived on in North Dakota during the winter season, where temps at that time would drop 30 below 0. So cold we got literal tickets for leaving our dogs outside for too long. Deadly cold at some points if left outside for too long. During his shift, he was working a loader and while climbing the grid, didn’t realize it was still full of ice on the top, so when he got all the way up the ladder and stepped on, he slipped on the icy grid & fell off with no where else to hit but the ground below him. He fell back first, hitting the back of his head last unto the concrete. Immediately he felt what he described as electric shocks through-out his body. Up & down his right side. He complained for months to his captain & doctors. In a nutshell, this is what happened….
ACM II is a congenital disease where the lower part of the brain (the brain stem, cerebellum) protrudes too low into the spinal canal opening. In most patients with ACM II they can live an absolutely NORMAL life with the abnormality UNTIL they have a traumatic injury which aggravates it & causes other diseases to develop. This is what happened in his case. With ACM II if the cerebellum protrudes too low into the spinal canal it can compact inside causing cerebral spinal fluid to build up & not flow. When this happens it begins to form inside of the spinal cavity causing what they call a “syrinx” within the spinal canal & this causes lots of damage to the spine. Damage ranges from: nerve damage, scoliosis, gout, numbness & tingling, loss of feeling through out the body & pain. The list continues as any spine damage is extremely dangerous. When Joey fell it aggravated his ACM II causing a severe case of SYRINGHYDROMYELIA (syrinx) in his spinal canal & this caused spinal damage. They waited two years to give him a decompressive craniectomy (2005) after discharging him from active duty as a disabled veteran. His life was changed forever. My Jose has never been the same. Although his laughter is contagious & he remains in the BEST spirits, he goes through a lot. Recently his symptoms have returned, so in December of 2011 they repeated some brain & spine MRI’s to find that his syrinx has grown back in width. It is causing him pain & symptoms are returning as they did back in 2003. We just had an appointment yesterday with his VA doctor who went over what is next. They will be giving him two more MRI’s within the next two months to be thorough & we will be waiting to meet with a neurosurgeon to discuss how we will move forward.
It’s interesting to know that not only am I battling a health issue, but so is my husband. It’s also extremely encouraging to know that we have each other to understand what the other goes through.
It’s hard not get weary some days & just fall down on my face in tears wondering how we are gonna do this, but then I look around & see the help God has sent through the brethren & this overwhelming peace calms me.
Please continue to pray for us as we wait to hear back from the VA. Thank you to everyone who has been such an inspiration to us & do encouraging. I love you.
I was thinking about this weeks blog and what the topic would be. As I was reflecting on sunday’s message by my pastor “The helper & the hinderer” one sentence popped in my head regarding both of those types of people….it all depends on: where the heart is. Although we may not know the heart of man, God does. The bible says that God searches and measures the heart. The heart is a reflection of mans (& women) true motives.
"For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7b"
"I the Lord search the heart..Jeremiah 17:10a"
"As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. Proverbs 27:19"
As a sister whose goal has been to encourage other sisters in the faith, I wanted to touch on both the “helper” & the “hinderer” when it comes to a body of growing women who are striving to pursue holiness & grow in grace. It can become so easy to be entangled by one who sets out to hinder, that we neglect the opportunities God sets up for us to be encouraged by those helpers he sends to us. Please pray & be encouraged as we dig into both. Ask yourself once you are done reading, where your heart is.
The Hinderer - for us women it can be so difficult to trust anyone, let alone another female! Those dysfunctional issues can stem from a number of different things, but the bottom line is, once we are saved & adopted into the family of Christ we must put on love & the character of Jesus. The pursuit of holiness is one that will take us our entire walk, as we will never obtain glorification in our mortal bodies (we will only obtain our full glorification when in heaven with God). We are being sanctified while in the land of the living, running the race & pursuing holiness on a daily knowing that one day we will obtain the reward given to those who persevere until the end. During this time, we come into contact with several different people, including the “hinderer”.
When going through trials in our walk it is so easy for us to become entangled with people who will ease our pain by condoning our attitudes of not praying, not reading, hanging out instead of spending time with the Lord. In fact, it is so common for us to run into the direction of friends who will enable us to run further into the direction of what I like to call “distraction central”! I don’t want to face my hurt, so let me visit distraction central. It is so much easier for us to run & hide, then actually deal with the reality of feeling the pain & sting of a painful situation. We don’t even realize how harmful it is when we have hinderers in our life that actually drive us to distraction central, show us where it is or even live there. Some hinderers have the motive of purposely enabling you because they are so far from the Lord, therefore it pleases them to see you join them. Other hinderers don’t even realize they are enabling you. They think it is because they love you that they are “comforting you”…but really, they are hurting you by not correcting you. All in all, it’s all about: where the heart is.
I speak from personal experience when I write these blogs, so it isn’t just random ramblings. I went through a really painful situation in my life with my husband. Many are familiar with what happened. There was some hurt & pain involved on both ends. Joey & I have been together a very long time. 23yrs of friendship, 13yrs of marriage. In that time we have faced the pain of illness (him with his brain surgery & me with my kidney disease) and we have faced adultery on both ends (which is something we are not proud of but so thankful that God has allowed us to face & be transparent about without fear or shame of what people will think, but knowing that He gets the glory out of our life & the outcome of where we are today in our salvation). In 2009 there was an incident in which I was reminded of a past hurt committed by my husband. The pain was so intense that I reacted in such a rebellious manner. I became the most wretched & un-submissive wife & women. Disrespecting my husband & my father/pastor. Not wanting to hear anything from anyone. The first thing I did was find comfort in the arms of the hinderers in my life. I found comfort in every distraction I could find & prayer was the last thing I was doing. Until the day that the Lord sent into my life the helper.
The Helper - The dictionary defines this word “Helper” as the following: to assist or aid, to alleviate the burden or others by giving assistance, to assist others to go in a specified direction, to serve, to provide, a means of remedy.
I thought it was so interesting to see all of those words line up with who we are as Christ followers & bondservants (doulos) to the most high God. I was and I am still so very thankful for the helpers that God has sent to my life to aid in my time of broken-ness and trials. Those helpers who were not afraid to correct me when I was wrong, rebuke me when I needed it & love me enough to never give up on me. Whose prayers never ceased for me & still remain with me. The encouragement of those whose hearts remain true to scripture continue to bless my heart. Pleasing God is the goal of the helper, not pleasing man. Honoring God & keeping his statutes. Remaining true to His ways & keeping His people in line with the word of God not just in word but in deed.
The very first time that helper is mentioned biblically was in Genesis 2 when God said, “it is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” From that moment on, the portrait of “helper” is beautifully depicted through-out scripture, no matter how much people have tried to shift the roles of husband and wife through-out time. The authority of scripture is clear because it is the very word of God himself who became flesh to redeem us: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. John 1:5” …. scrolling down to verse “and the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14”
All through out scripture we read about the “helper”. Whether we are talking about a wife to her husband, a brother to another brother or a slave to its master; these are the characteristics we will see in the helper, because it’ all about: where the heart is.
Love, loyalty, compassion, respect, encouragement, embrace, kindness, joy, hope endurance, perseverance and the list goes on.
I don’t think I could have made it through many of the trials I have faced had it not been for the helpers God has sent to provide aid. I have experienced His grace through the saints. Many times through out scripture we read how encouraged the brethren are by one-another. Paul begins many of his epistles by telling those saints how encouraged he is by their love or by called them beloved. He shares a deep love for the brethren, even when correcting the brethren, he does it stern but in love. But, there is no greater love than the love of the Father which brings me to my last point…
The definition of the word “helper” paints a beautiful portrait of who Jesus is. He is our aid & assistance, He alleviates our burdens, He assists us in going in a specified direction (which is His way or His will), He came not to be served, but to serve & gave His life for many, He is provider & He was a means of remedy!! AMAZING…He is helper!! Scripture backs that up!!
"So we can confidently say, the Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" Hebrews 13:6"
"Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. Psalms 54:4"
"For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. Psalms 63:7"
I love that last verse because it sums up my entire life & all that he has done for me. He truly has been my help & I continue to take refuge in the shadow of His wings. I sing for joy!
I wanna close with his…
Pray & seek the Lord. Ask Him to search the inner most chambers of your heart. What are the motives of what you have been doing lately. Are you running from hurt & pain? From correction & rebuke? Do you despise correction? Are you where you need to be? Are you a helper or a hinderer to others around you? Then ask yourself about those you keep as company. Remember that bad company corrupts good character…and that is what the hinderer does. Who is the company you are keeping around you? Is it people who keep you distracted? Enabling you from facing the reality of being broken before the Lord? Keeping you from growing & pursing holiness? Is there purpose behind your conversations & times together? Purpose behind your phone calls & hang outs or are you just constantly wasting your lives? No prayer, no time growing in the Lord? Do not use “fellowship” as an excuse to run from problems or distract yourself. I see that lately and it’s a problem, I saw it in my own life and I had to say it out loud, confess it & deal with it quickly. Nothing I am writing is foreign to me, I dealt with it & that is why I am sharing & encouraging others.
Over the last few weeks, God has placed some amazing people in my life who have been reminding me of what it means to be broken over the gospel & Jesus. Reminding me that unless there is purpose behind our talks & relationships, we should not waste our times doing nothing while souls are perishing. There has been more prayer, more encouragement, more reading of scripture, more genuine fellowship, less idle talk, more love and I am so blessed by the change. I have experienced such grace through the genuine helpers that God has placed in my life & I am so grateful that I was able to recognize the hinderers.
Please beloved, if you are reading this…I encourage you & urge you to do the same in your life. Surround yourself with Christ focused balance because hinderers will only keep you further from the mark. Because again, it’s about: where the heart is.
"Search me O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalms 139:23-24"
Biblical woman hood is something to be taken seriously among the daughters of God. From the moment we are awakened, we must pursue holiness and in doing so we know that we will begin to understand what our role is as women.
I would like to take a look at a few things that I see most women focus on, even women pursuing holiness. A lot of these things can be distractions to us & cause us to veer off of our path quite a few times during this journey we are on called “Christianity”.
Vanity - “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, is to be praised.” First, let’s take a look at what the word charm. Recently I was reading an article on this verse and it was paying close attention to this word. The article mentioned the hebrew meaning for charm being “bodily form”. Other meanings of charm are “Seductive behavior”, “attractiveness”. I thought all of those were very interesting considering what the verse is saying. Let’s say we were using those words instead: “Bodily form is deceitful”, “Seductive behavior is deceitful”, etc. Now, I am not saying that for married women being seductive with your husband is bad, in fact it’s great. Being attractive isn’t a bad thing either nor is our bodily form. What is deceitful though, is how women use those things to cause men to stumble OR being so consumed with your body & your looks, that you do not find your identity in the most high God. I read this verse in both the ESV (English Standard Version) and the NASB (New American Standard Version) and although each version word’s this verse slightly differently, both versions have one thing in common, the LORD is in capital letters. “But a woman who fears the LORD, is to be praised.” The main focus in our life is capitalized in this verse and stands out above everything else and that is, the LORD. It saddens me that today so many of us women consume our selves with how we look, what our weight is, what others will think of us, how attractive the “brothers” think we are, etc. The main focus in our life should be, the LORD. Because we love one another, we should be able to help and encourage one another. We are bondservants to the most High and because of that we must walk in a manner worthy of that calling. Daughters of God must walk in a manner worthy of that calling. We are free to serve. How amazing is that? We that fear the LORD shall be praised. So what does it mean to fear God? To fear God is to de-tatch yourself from this world & it’s desires. Hate what is evil and honor God. “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:16-17 NASB” In these verses Peter was talking about submission to authority, but for women that is KEY in our roles for living out biblical womanhood & fearing God. Which leads me to my next point.
Materialism - “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5 ESV”
"For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions-is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:6 ESV"
"But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:9-10 ESV"
"And he said to them, "take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:15 ESV"
"He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. Ecclesiastes 5:10 ESV"
The list goes on!! I found so many scripture verses that covered this subject that it was actually quite interesting to see all of the different wording and references. As I was reading them, I began to pray & ask the Lord to forgive me if I had a heart like this & to remove any of those types of feelings, especially the last verse that I shared. How interesting it was to read that even with an income one can love his own wealth. So many times you hear or you say, “well I bought this because I worked hard for it”…and trust me I am not saying that you cannot buy things with your money that you earn, I just think it is interesting that it mentions loving wealth even with your own income. So many times I hear this and have even felt this way when I worked hard, using that very excuse, ” worked hard for it” when really I didn’t need it. Recently my husband and I had a sister & brother over for dinner and as we ate, we discussed this subject of materialism. I was confessing to them that I use to be so obsessed with sneakers (which many people already know this). When I was working, I would buy a pair or two every pay check. Every year for christmas and my birthday, it was all I would ask for. I would get about 3-4 pairs on christmas and my birthday, so roughly about 8 pairs within that four month span just from christmas and my birthday. Although they were gifts, it was still an obsession and idolatry. The way that the Lord began to show me that was seeing the obsession in others. I began to see and hear others around me so obsessed with the new sneakers coming out & if I did not buy a pair of retro Jordan’s that came out, they would literally go crazy like I had fallen away from the faith. Sounds dramatic, but its the truth. Then I started to see more & more pictures of people just posting their sneakers & boxes of them. It was every where that I looked. It wasn’t just, I am a #sneakerhead, which please don’t get me wrong, I still have sneakers and am a collector who has pairs of retro’s…I just began to see the obsession & idolatry levels becoming so severe and lost interest with much prayer. I would hear of a pair coming out and where I once would be asking for it on Christmas, now I am asking for things that I need for ministry and other things. It is a subject that needs to be addressed and because of love, I will be the one who touches on it. During the dinner with this brother & sister, they mentioned to me looking at an article in the magazine “voice of the martyrs” where a little boy was wearing a pair of card board shoes with plastic strings holding them together. He was telling me how content the little boy looked with his plastic & card board shoes. I have been given such a burden for others and helping. If the Lord were to ever broaden my platform, I would want to help them and the first place i would start is blessing them with shoes. Going from having a sneaker collection obsession to understanding how un-important those things are has taught me that I must be content with what I have. I still have sneakers & occasionally still will pick up a pair, but do I collect them anymore, no I don’t. I have decided to invest my finances in ministry, my health & once I am able I will invest in helping those kids with card board shoes.
Hypocrisy - "On the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:28"
This point is one that is really important in our roles as daughters of God, wives, mothers, sisters & friends. To have an “appearance” of holiness, yet inside be full of hypocrisy & wickedness is sad & not something you want to associate yourself with. This is a prayer I will often as God to help me with. To search the inner chambers of my heart and to remove anything that resembles anything close to this. In my walk, I struggled with this many times. I did not know how to be honest with those I had issues with, so in the faces of individuals I had problems with, I smiled & pretended to be ok, but inside held resentment. Something I truly had to repent about & ask the Lord to rid me of. It really isn’t an easy thing though, as many times walking as Jesus isn’t easy. BUT, that was not a suggestion given by John, it was a command. “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:6”. With that command, I know that I must remain humble & meek, loving & kind. Being loving does not mean being fake. Here is what I mean, many times I hear “we have to see them through the eyes of Jesus, so even if someone is wrong or causes division….we just have to see them through the eyes of Jesus.” I agree to a certain degree. We must forgive, love & pray for them, but also use wisdom in all things. I truly believe God allows us to go through situations for a reason, teaching us lessons in all things. Sometimes he tries to teach us lessons, but because we are always trying to do things our way, we have to go through several different experiences just to be taught the same lesson he was trying to teach us all along….just had to go through several painful situations to get that one lesson. Gossip can sometimes cause the worst division amongst the greatest of friends because a confidence was broken. ”Whoever goes about slandering (gossiping) reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. Proverbs 11:13” and “A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer (a gossip) separates intimate friends. Proverbs 16:28” and lastly “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, after nothing more to do with them Titus 3:10” In titus, the context of that is speaking of those who argue about the law & cause division because of arguing their beliefs on others, the context of that passage in titus is not gossip like in proverbs (just wanted to elaborate on that). I used that verse though because the point was, after warning someone who causes divisions with their arguing (that means they do not take heed to the warnings) separate yourself from that because it will only cause problems and more arguing/problems. Use wisdom in your choices but do not be hypocrites. Do not use the excuse of “seeing someone in the eyes of Jesus” and never really addressing that persons issue of causing division among the body or slandering. You are only harming others when for the sake of “peace” you do not address the issues and allow them to lay dormant. Pretending everything is okay and on the outside having an appearance of being righteous, yet inside there is wickedness & hypocrisy is harmful to yourself & the body of Christ. It is toxic poison & spreads like wild fire. If we kill that noise now, we will be more successful in having unity. Too much of it goes on within the body & it’s time to kill it at the root so it remains dead. I had to dig deep within myself and ask the Lord to forgive me for it myself. It was better for me to keep boundaries with individuals, praying for them with love & of course when seeing them always being kind and expressing love, but using wisdom & not allowing myself to over share my life because a confidence had been broken. That was how God taught me how to pray & love those who had hurt me or vice versa, but realize boundaries we needed & here would be no hypocrisy. If you need to do the same in your life, I suggest you do that. It not only frees you from a cage of bitterness but it also opens doors of opportunity to new relationships with those that God has allowed in your life who will keep a confidence, love & respect you as well as lift you up and encourage you.
I am hoping that there were few to no grammatical errors, but using mac and the spell check…I cannot promise you anything. lol
I do hope & pray that these blogs help those that do read them. The transparency & openness of my blog’s comes from years of needing to connect with others who would be the same kind of “real” with me. The last part of the blog “hypocrisy” is never really easy to swallow as some things are hard to hear, and I hope and pray it was not taken offensively. I just know that as we fight harder & harder to move forward with sharing the gospel of Christ, we need more encouragement & less gossip. We need more love & less hate. We need more of Him & less of us.
I will continue to post blogs as I am lead. God is gracious. Let us rejoice in our freedom to worship as many all over the world have to praise & worship in hiding. We have the freedom & liberty to do it openly, let us rejoice & be glad in that!!
I am writing this blog unaware of who will read it but knowing that I will return to this page to re-read it over & over again. As I sit here reflecting on the last ten years, I am more & more convinced that finding contentment in the midst of suffering means that you can understand that it really has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with the glory of the Lord being revealed. After finding out that my grandmother died, I remember going into my sons room and just sitting down on the bed alone and weeping. At first, I was quiet, thinking to myself, what do I do? Do I rejoice because she is no longer suffering? Do I cry because my father & the rest of my family including myself will miss her & are deeply wounded by her death? Do I cry because I was just with her reading to her daily, singing to her and telling her I loved every day for the last two 1/2 weeks of her life and the week after I fly back home, she passes away? What do I do? Then it hit me and I just realized I will never see her again. This overwhelming grief consumed me and I was immediately reminded of the story in John when Jesus goes to see Mary & Martha after Lazarus died, when Jesus spoke the sisters asked why he had taken so long and they wept because he was too late. When Jesus (in His humanity) saw their pain the bible says he was consumed with sorrow & grief and that Jesus wept with them. If you keep reading, this happens twice in that story where Jesus who is God is consumed by their sorrow & he mourns with them. Even though in His divinity he is God & can raise Lazarus from the dead and most would think that because he is God, he may have gone to them with those intentions to raise him. But even still, in his humanity he felt their sorrow & he mourned with them. I love that story because it shows that Jesus does not leave us even in the midst of sorrow, he weeps with us. Even knowing that He is God & in divinity would raise Lazarus (all he had to do was say “stop crying, I can raise your brother right now”) but he didn’t, he was moved by their sorrow & wept with them as they mourned before revealing His glory. There was a moment of connecting with one another, a moment of carrying one another , genuine love & community took place & then His glory was revealed. It was beautiful.
I wish the people i care for the most were here with me, but I know that I don’t hear from most of them anymore. So all I can do now is pray that God will show up & weep with me.
This week as I spoke to several of my sisters about this, I was talking to them about that story, telling them that this is how I was feeling. How when I was in NY with my abuela when she was alive, everyday got harder, and I found myself fighting so hard to stay strong. I needed encouragement & accountability. I called some just weeping. Reading scriptures to her, singing to her, I knew she heard me. Every chance I got. One day I even saw one of her eyes tear up and both her hands raise. I knew she had heard. It was a true burden not to want to cry but I stayed strong for her sake. Ministry is a burden, one in which I am so honored to carry for the brethren.
Shortly after returning home from NY i started to get a really wet cough that would come on just if I tried to breath. I also noticed that it was hard for me to sleep at night without me developing phlegm at night that brought on non stop coughing the next day. What worried me next was the rash I got on my back & face. So I went into the ER. In the hospital my grandmother had MRSA - as long as we wore gloves and gown they told us we would be ok. BUT, when we moved to a different hospital they told us we did need face masks. I did start wearing it. My immune system is weak due to my kidney disease so even the common cold gets me sick. being exposed to anything, especially serious infectious can cause problems for me and so after tests they told me I have pneumonia with bronchitis along with a bladder infection. I was put on different antibiotics to kill the pneumonia and bladder infection. the bronchitis was viral and would have to heal on its on with bed rest and no going outside.
I have been on bed rest now a week today. Everyone is flying out to NY tomorrow for the funeral except for me because of my health. If I go against doctors orders, it would be wise. I am so broken hearted. I wanted to be there to sing for her funeral. I have the album release on Saturday and need to stay strong recovering here.
The funeral is tomorrow and wednesday, so I am just gonna be praying and keeping myself in the scripts!
I didn’t really expect to release an album speaking about the :makings of a worshipper: and encouraging the saints to hold on and endure in the midst of the nights in which they are weeping, without going through my hellish night; did I?
I realize that Everything the last ten years has brought about (my husbands craniectomy, our marital issues, separation, reconciliation of our marriage & renewal of our wedding, my diagnosis of my kidney condition & other various trials) the development of two worshippers within me & Joey. That is why James tells us to count it all joy when meeting trials of various kinds, because while God is developing us as worshippers in the midst of the night, when w meet various trials we can worship and that brings about the joy of the Lord, which in turn gives us the strength to endure these trials.
I am not perfect. I often pursue relationships with sisters that I know I can be transparent with & be myself with because I find it easier to show you all of my flaws, fears, struggles & sin struggle. In order for me to encourage anyone, I first have to expose myself in the light of who I am.Taking full responsibility that I may have failed you or a may fail you. I may have fallen off of a pedestal you put me on and mow you resent me, but I never asked you to put me up there and I only ask that you remember that I love you & just want to serve you as Jesus came to serve us.
My goal is walk as Jesus walked since I claim to abide in him. He served, so I want the hands of a servant and most importantly…the heart & feet and mind of a servant. I do not want anything in return. Christ is all I need. I find full contentment in Him.
Am I so lonely these days, yes I am as I mourn this death, I am so very lonely….but I know the Lord is with me. He will send genuine aid my way. I know he will. I will wait for him.
I had the opportunity to serve with some amazing ministers who have been set aside for the gospel while working on my album. Over the last ten years many trials arose in order to produce fruit within me & my husband, fruit that will last. Those trials were developing stages of two worshippers. I am not signed to any major record label, so I had to work with what I had in order to share our story & testimony with the listener, but He provided for me in beautiful ways and for that I am beyond grateful. I was able to share the gospel & hope with what He provided for me, and that is more than enough for me! #Vindicated is now available on iTunes (link attached), Amazon and google play for android. Proceeds help with medical needs & furthering ministry.
In just two weeks I will be celebrating the release of my first debut album. I am not signed to a record label, but I am a member of the body of Christ and I have been set apart for the gospel of Christ. I am a fisher of men and music is the net. In the past I have released several mix tapes, some with my beloved little brother (and there are more to come with him) and some on my own. I am so thankful that this is my very first album, in which the copy writes to all the music belongs to me and I am able to distribute the album digitally. It is my very first project, which means I have a lot of growing to do! I was honored to have worked with the ministers who knew the need and made the time to dedicate their time to serve on this project. Although this may not be my best album, I can assure you I gave it my best! I know that God is pleased with how I steward the little things he blessed me with. We have to work well with what we have and I know I did that and I am thankful for the provision God made. So thankful.
When I first began writing for this album, I had originally entitled it “we meet at the PRAYground.” The reason I gave it that name was because of the non-stop support I was receiving from the brethren. I knew so many were meeting me in prayer, that name seemed so perfect. After much “prayer” and council, I decided to do some research on what my name meant in hebrew. Sitting under my pastor at Church of the Way, he is very adamant about hermeneutics and studying scripture in its original language. After studying the story of Dinah in Genesis, I looked up what my name meant. Dinah:Hebrew: דִּינָה, ModernDinaTiberianDînā ; “Judged; vindicated. At that moment I new I would change the name of the album and self title it in hebrew to “Vindicated”.
Over the last year I have developed such an incredible bond with some amazing brothers & sisters in the faith. One family in particular that have impacted my life in a MAJOR way is the Wray family. Mike & Tony Wray of Hazakim. In fact, Melissa (Mike’s wife) has become one of my best friends and one of my prayer partners!!! Last year my brother Tony was stricken with a bodily ailment (Achalasia Cardia - Esophageal Dymotility Disorder) and became very ill. This illness took a major toll on his body, family & would have claimed his life, BUT God! I am thankful that the body of Christ stood together in prayer and loved not just in word but in deed. He was able to raise the funds that he needed to get the surgery to help him get better. During that time I remember talking to Mike about doing a song for my album, we discussed all of the trials we ha been facing in both of our families and how “through these hellish nights, worshippers were developing”….and that is what Mike decided to name the song. He wrote all of his lyrics based on that title. When he was done, I wrote my verse. When Tony was better, he wrote the hook. It took us almost eight months to complete that one track and I can honestly tell you that it is my favorite track on the album. Not because it has the best sound quality, but because I knew everything that went into making this song. I knew the three hearts behind the lyrics. I knew the pain behind each breath and the heart behind each pause, I knew everything that was poured out into making that one song. Every single time I listen to it, I weep. Thank you Mike and Tony for giving all that you had during such a strenuous and broken time in your life, I will forever be grateful and honored to have served with you.
What many people don’t know is that my husband & I have been in the midst of our night for close to ten years now, ever since he was diagnosed with his condition. For us both, it is a great honor to know that His power is made perfect in our weakness. One day is like a thousand, a thousand like a day…. so since 2003 until now its been like one night for us so far….and we both keep watch in the night for the storm clouds to clear and the morning light to break through. During this night, God has been developing worshippers. He is developing encouragers. He is developing fishermen. He is developing humble servants who will love genuinely not superficially. I am learning what it means to really serve and not be served. I am loving what that means. I have learned so much in the last few years about myself, God and people. What has stuck out the most to me is 1 John 2:6…If I claim to abide in HIM, then I MUST walk as He did. Which means, I must be a servant…because He came not to be served but to serve. He came and suffered and then left us as examples to suffer as he did. I will boast in Him.
I now understand what the last ten years has been about.
The makings of a worshipper.
"In the midst of affliction I will sing, because He is God, my Vindicator." -Dinah-
Tomorrow I will be getting on a plane to fly to my NY, drive over to Albert Einstein Hospital and Lord will be able to say good bye to my grandmother who is being kept breathing by a ventilator. The family has decided after a week 1/2 of this and other complications, it is now time to release her off the machine and trust that God will have His way. The last two weeks has been a very troubling time for my family. Although my grandmother is saved and will be with our Lord in glory, the pain of her suffering and the mourning process is never easy. Jesus Himself was overwhelmed and deeply troubled in His spirit according to scripture when he went to see Lazarus and encountered his two sisters mourning. In fact it says Jesus was so troubled, he wept. There has been much weeping this last week 1/2. Now it is time to board a plane and travel to say good bye. I know there is work that needs to be done. Seeds that need to be planted in love. The gospel must be shown & heard in the midst of this and I am truly trusting God for His perfect peace and strength to be able to mourn and still stand firm.
I have been deeply encouraged by the selfless brethren who have been encouraging me daily during such thunderstorms this year. This year has indeed brought in some heavy weather, yet I have had some amazing people standing with me. I see the gospel and it is what keeps me so encouraged to go and proclaim it in the midst of all of this pain my family is experiencing.
Please pray for this trip (I hate flying), traveling mercies. Also pray for softened hearts and prepared minds. Please remember my father, Pastor Louie in your prayers.
Thanks to all praying!!! Jet blue flight 986 tomorrow - please pray for me!!! Those coming to the airport, I LOVE YOU!
The common side effects to meds make us feel worse then the actual disease!
common side effects: included fatigue, numbness or tingling of the skin, loss of appetite, drowsiness, psychomotor slowing, nervousness, difficulty with memory, trouble concentrating or paying attention, confusion, and taste perversion. Other side effects include insomnia, weakness, swelling, hair loss, hair growth in unusual places, skin problems, back pain, muscle pain, bone pain, changes to menstruation, dry or teary eyes, difficulty swallowing, nosebleeds, extreme thirst, dandruff, excessive movement, shaking, uncontrollable eye movements, diarrhea, heartburn, constipation, gas, overgrowth of the gums, swelling of the tongue, increased saliva, headaches, aggressive behavior, irritability, depression, and mood swings. Call your doctor if any of these side effects seem particularly troublesome or persistent.
Prayers are always appreciated for those not feeling well…including myself. These are the side effects for just ONE of he meds I am currently taking. I have most of these side effects. It’s not easy.
Biblical Womanhood: How do we begin to run in that direction?
I have read many studies, watched many videos and listened to tons of podcasts regarding biblical womanhood and what it looks like. Each, very informative & so helpful. As I continue to strive to be God’s true woman, I am learning one very important and valuable point; if we want to be God’s true anything, we must look & walk like Jesus. Now of course, there are tons of guidelines and examples given through-out scripture that point us in the direction of achieving biblical womanhood. Tons of books, studies, videos and podcasts. Even tons of conferences that are extremely helpful and recommended. But, before I attempt to be biblical woman, wife or biblical mother….I first must strive to be a biblical servant and student. I think what happens is, we run towards trying to be this great woman of God and we miss the part where we first must learn to be a lowly servant.
"whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:6"
When I read this verse, I am given a command that is not optional. The command that whoever “says” he abides in him ought to walk the SAME way in which he walked. So how did he walk? In beginning our journey in becoming a biblical woman, I strongly believe that this is where our journey begins. Studying the life of Jesus. How did he walk while living on earth? Why is this command that John writes about so important to the followers of the Way? If one “says” he abides in him but does not walk like him, then does he really abide in him? This verse is so extremely powerful in determining what a Christ follower looks like, talks like, acts like and walks like. This is where I believe we begin our journey in becoming biblical women. Devoting time to learn all about the message of Jesus, the methods of Jesus and the model of Jesus.
Our ultimate goal is making disciples. That was the command given by Jesus Himself in Matthew 28. Making disciples like Jesus did means we devote time to studying the scriptures, trusting the scriptures and quoting the scriptures in our everyday life unashamed.
Laying down our life is a key factor in learning to walk as Jesus did. Reaching for a basin, getting on His knees and washing the feet of his disciples is the example given in scripture. Jesus gave them life, he was giving them the word and he was walking with them on the narrow road. According to todays age, someone doing that much for us would expect a favor in return. Yet, on top of all that Jesus was and did for them, still he humbly served by washing their feet. An amazing example of a lowly servant who was not seeking gain, but was willing to lay down his life in every way to care for those he loved.
Then there is the suffering factor. I often hear women speaking about how much they suffer. Here are some famous complaints: Women don’t have enough rights in this country, women should have more of a say within the home, submission is for times passed, now marriages should be 50/50, women suffer way too much and should have the right to choose if they want to stay married to a strong willed man. The list goes on.
Let’s reflect on another verse that clearly speaks on us walking as Jesus did.
"For to this you have been called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that we might follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21 ESV"
Once again we see that we must walk as Jesus did, who left us as an example to walk as he did. Even in suffering, we are reminded of how we are his examples. It took Jesus submitting to do the will of The Father as He laid down His life to redeem His chosen. In the garden of gethsemane, where Jesus was pressed, sweat blood in anxiety and prayed to God the Father, he asks if the cup could pass him, then immediately says “not my will, but your will be done”. That took submission, where he knew he was about to endure excruciating suffering and pain, he remained true to the will of the Father and remained faithful even to death. Once he rose on the third day, he ascends leaving what? Leaving US as examples to follow in his steps. This includes: suffering, submission, humility, obedience, love, sacrifice, making disciples, laying down our lives….the list goes on and on and on.
This is how we as young women in Christ can begin to run in the direction of being biblical women. Studying the life of Jesus & following in his steps. Learning the love, the life and the labor of the humble servant Jesus who in showing himself to be a servant of men, left us a vivid portrait of the kind of heart we must have. We must learn & understand that it is the will of God for us to give ourselves in service to others. Once we understand & submit to His will, it will be easier for us to embrace the role of wife and mother. How can we lay down our life just as Jesus did? How can we serve others just as Jesus did?
To be like Jesus is to die to self image and what our portrait of what something beautiful looks like. During this study of Jesus and how I can follow in his footsteps, I am realizing more and more that the goal to be God’s true woman starts with the desire to be God’s lowly servant and a humble servant to others. This is beautiful and pleasing to God.
As I continue to study and write more of these articles I will continue posting. I pray it stirred up nothing but a desire to be more like Jesus.
Supporting one another is so very important to me. I think it is so important to really uplift those who are working so hard laboring for His kingdom. Whether you have been called to a local platform or you have been entrusted with a bigger platform, support from the body is vital & so encouraging. Everything that we do is done unto the Lord & should be done with prayer, excellence, love & passion. As I sit to reflect on work that is being done all over the place, I am so encouraged by the endurance & perseverance that I see among the body. I know so many people who are struggling & suffering in the body & in their families, YET they continue to labor & co-labor with others to share the gospel & bring hope to the hopeless. Whether you have a huge support team or no one at all, please be encouraged and know that God is pleased with your willingness to press on. This blog is meant to be an encouragement to all who are remaining active in outreach & missions, whether it is locally or nationally. I am so encouraged by each and everyone of you. If you are reading this blog and aren’t familiar with ministers serving & laboring, here is a list of a few that you can check out, support (prayerfully and/or financially) & encourage. There are SO MANY, so I will try my best to list everyone I remember. Please follow them on twitter, like their fb pages, spread the word regarding their ministries, pray for them & support them.
Lee Rivera - singer/song writer/singer/sister www.facebook.com/SimpleeInspired
Latina Vega - photographer/singer/sister www.facebook.com/pages/Latina-Vega-Photography/246367662116822 @LatinaV
Melah - marketing executive/event planner/hip hop artist/song writer/sister www.facebook.com/melahdelicatebeast @aDelicateBeast
Justin Santos - businessman/hip hop artist/brother www.facebook.com/Delegate4christ
Isaac Houston - hip hop artist/song writer/brother /www.facebook.com/isaac.houston116?ref=ts @Generalisaac116
Dinah - R&B/Hip Hop artist/song writer/sister www.facebook.com/pages/Dinah-Music/193484757365111 @D_HisGloryAlone www.dinahmusic.com
I listed everyone that I could remember, but there are SO MANY more servants laboring for His kingdoms cause. If you are reading this on fb please tag other ministers that you know so that we can also support them & pray for them.
Let’s continue to encourage each other & show support. You have no idea how much encouragement is needed in the body of Christ.
It has taken my husband & I 12 years of marriage to get where we are now. We have trampled on many heartaches and at some points both wanted to give up, but we endured & persevered. We have lost a lot & had seasons where we had no idea how God would provide, but He always remained faithful. We have been through so much and we are still in the midst of heavy storms, but as these storms arise all around us, we are literally calm in the boat with GOD. Although it has been a very long journey to get where we are today, we are so thankful for the growth & discipline it took to get us where we are today. Marriage is difficult & takes work. You go through really low points and then really great points and back down. It’s a constant battle & you must fight for it. But through the hellish trials, a worshipper develops and that is truly what happened with me. I can sing of His mercy & His love because I continue to experience it first hand. My faith makes me well. People will either look at someones life and judge it by what they see in the present, and others will want to hear about the road we had to travel to make the journey to where we are now. As BOTH my husband & I battle illness in our body and prepare mentally & financially for a possible second brain surgery he might be receiving, we are constantly looking around us & rejoicing over the hedge of protection God has around us. One minute we are being told we are loosing our home and the next we are blessed beyond what we thought would be provided. It felt so great to work so hard on this album that is about to be released and know that the hard fork will pay off & not only will the gospel be shared, but through our testimonies hope will be displayed. Through this project the hard work will pay off & God will provide for my medications & the finances needed. If you are married & going through trials, do not lose hope. If you are experiencing separation, fighting, infidelity, hurt….a broken marriage…do not lose hope. If you are having financial problems, loosing a home, can’t provide for your family, do not lose hope. Joey & I have been where you currently might be, more then once and we can testify that if by faith you trust the Lord & remain faithful to him, He will remain faithful to you. Please do not look at our circumstances and feel self pity for us when it comes to our health battles. Please do not look at how the Lord chooses to bestow blessings to us & how He chooses to provide for us. Take your focus off of who you “think” we are or what you think we have and ask us what it took to get to where we are now. Our testimony is real & can relate to many marriages and the end result is faithfulness to a Holy & Just God. I have no idea how things will turn out the next couple of months with my health as bad as it’s been or my husband who may need 2nd surgery before I can get one for myself….but what I do know is that I see the hand of God over us, I see God’s favor & by faith I trust it is well with my soul. I was just sitting today and reflecting on where we once were and where we are now & all i could do is weep for how joyful I am knowing God remains so faithful, even when we are faithless.
The album releases in just a few weeks….I pray the testimony you hear touches your soul & bring hope to hopeless situations. For His fame.
So many I know are suffering. Whether it be at home, in body or any other way. I would have lost myself had it not been for the following scriptures that keep me secure and HOPEFUL. Let it encourage you as well in the midst of this present suffering you are facing.
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.
If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?
Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. 1 Peter 4:12-19 ESV”
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18 ESV"
"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV"
Please be encouraged by SOLA SCRIPTURA!! The only way we can endure & grow in the midst of suffering is by holding to the authority of scripture and not the instability of our feelings.
Today I am working on a track about the sweet embrace of grace. When I think of grace, I am reminded so heavily about the cross (which screams grace to a fallen nature). I am also reminded of how gracious God is in our everyday life. Waking us up daily. Allowing us to sit at his feet to talk, cry, worship and listen. I look back on the last several years of my life and I see GRACE that embraced me every single day. When God provided for us, he taught us how to give to those in need. When God took away, he taught us how to be content in Him alone. When we were in need, He enabled us with courage to ask for help. When He sent us out with nothing, we lacked NOTHING. I am amazed at how the Lord provides for those who put their trust in Him. Last year alone, I was able to pay for medications I needed because He was faithful to provide using the saints to help. Although there are still things going on in our lives, God remains faithful and by His grace we can prevail. His sufficient grace that sweetly embraces us and guarantees that we will be OK. At the end of last year we were told we had to move out of a home we had just moved into 11 months prior, we kept our trust in God and last month we moved into a home that we are confident HE provided for us. The last year and a half I have been writing, recording and preparing to release my first debut album. During the process of putting this project together, MANY trials arose and many times faith was tested, BUT with fervent prayer & trust in His faithfulness, the album is about to be released. I was so very thankful to ALL who poured into our life when the need was so great. To this day i am completely amazed at God’s faithfulness during rough times. I wanted to work really hard to put out a project that expounded on our vindication through Christ Jesus on the cross and our vindication in the present. When we are going through things that seem just so out of control, so unbearable and so out of alignment with the will of God. Yet, it is in His perfect will for us to endure what we do, so that we can share those testimonies and point to His glory that is magnified with the end results and the endurance during such difficulties. As I reflect today on the SWEET embrace of HIS grace, I am reminded that He remains faithful and that when it is HIM that sends us out with absolutely nothing and asks us if we lacked anything while doing His will, our answer is and will remain; “LORD, we lacked NOTHING!”.
Because of His grace, we have been cared for and He continues to care for me and my family. I am forever grateful to Him and my desire is to GIVE to all in need when I am able to do so!!
So far I have released to singles off the #Vindicated album. First single I released was the “Vindicated Remix” ft. Canon - available now on my band camp page which you can find by visiting www.dinahmusic.com and clicking on media.
The second release was “This Psalm” ft. Jin that I released for FREE here: http://noisetrade.com/dinahmusic
The next thing I will be working on releasing is a video we are putting together to promote the album and give information on the first album release (location, time and DATE).
The album will be available on iTunes, mp3 digital download cards I will be able to hand to those who come to the concert, amazon, CD baby and once we are able to raise the funds, we will have CD’s available.
The date of the album release is being worked out and will be announced VERY SOON via www.dinahmusic.com, twitter @D_HisGloryAlone and Facebook. Please stay connected with us as we work hard to keep everyone in the loop about ministry, health and album updates.
To all who have been praying, donating and supporting…THANK YOU! We could not do it without your support. We love you.
Ministers of the gospel & servants of the most high God do not compete with one another for position in industry, instead we co-labor together using our unique and different talents to share the gospel with a fallen world so that our message is clear & heard, that message being: we all need a savior.
We all have different sounds, that when combined together bring forth ONE clear message: Jesus Christ.
Have we captured the world's definition of beauty, or God's?
Beauty should not be defined by how good one looks. How in shape you are. How good you look in an outfit. Although being healthy is good and beneficial for good health.
The word of God tells us in Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
The hebrew meaning for charm there is “bodily form”. Bodily form is deceitful, deceptive. Beauty is vain. God’s view of beauty isn’t what is on the outward appearance. He looks within to view beauty.
Sisters, do not let your adorning be external! That WILL fade…consider this verse.
"but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:4"
This is indeed a #notetoself as well as a note to all my sisters struggling with this daily. The more you saturate yourself with God and His word, the less you will conform to the worlds view on anything and conform your thoughts to God’s view on everything!
Finalized track list & features for the #Vindicated album
It’s been a long year completing this album. I am so thankful to God for allowing us to make it this far. Us being: myself with writing & recording, Manny Ferrer from Double Edge & Frequency Music who was the mixing engineer, Bert Bocachica who is the mastering engineer, Jon Doulos who did all the graphics and website design to help this ministry and production by: Jim from Playgrind/Sindustry who blessed the album with several beats, Sanatize from FITF Records, Wit, Plan B & JFunkBeats.
I want to once again thank: Hazakim from LampMode Records, KB from Reach Records, Canon from RMG Records, Jin, Will Passion, Commissary (even though that track wasn’t added to the final track list due to missing files), Open Vessel & InHim. Each of these ministers featured on tracks and some helped with mixing & production. Thank you so much.
The album is self titled, but using my name in Hebrew. Vindicated (Dinah): The Makings of a Worshipper
2. It is Well With My Soul
3. Beautiful Feet
4. Broken Places
5. The Makings of a Worshipper ft. Hazakim
6. Deliver Me ft. InHim
7. On Our Knees
8. Psalm 6 ft. Will Passion
9. Without You
10. This Psalm ft. Jin
11. Heart Cry ft. KB, Manny of Double Edge & OV
12. I’ve Overcome
13. Sin City
14. Vindicated Remix ft. Canon
All proceeds from the album will aid in present & future medical expenses, as well as furthering ministry.
Please stay connected: www.dinahmusic.com (on here you can find my Facebook & band camp page.
Please follow me on twitter.com - @D_HisGloryAlone (I update this network the most on the #Vindicated album)
Thanks again to all who have been praying for me & my family. Thank you to all who aid and support financially. I love you from the bottom of my heart.
I have been thinking about this blog entry a lot, wondering how I would be able to really articulate my thoughts in a way that would let the reader know that we are not afraid, but also express feelings of sadness. Most of the time when one believer hears that another is facing constant trials and their overwhelmed with sadness, they automatically assume that person is not content in God & His sovereignty. That is not the case at all. Every human emotion that is felt is understood by God and allowed, just as long as those feelings do not result in sin against our Holy God.
Having said that, I will elaborate more on why I wrote that and how I am feeling. Most everyone that I communicate with is aware of the kidney issues I experience. Prayers & constant support has been extended to me and my family during these times, which I must say has been so helpful. We are so grateful to each and every person who has invested time, prayer, finances & support towards us. Thank you. Since I have been on the new meds & changed many things, I have been feeling so much better and progressing with steady & positive changes. I have my bad days, but God sustains me & gets me through. My life is in His hands!
My husband has been wonderful through out this time, so supportive and working hard to take care of us. Most know that Jose also deals with health issues that affect his brain and spine. He has Arnold Chiari Malformation Type 1 with Syringomyelia (you can look this up online or check out the wisconsin Chiari institute for information on Chiari and check out this link for info on syringomyelia: http://www.whereincity.com/medical/topic/bone-and-joints/diseases/syringomyelia-234.htm). In 2003 my husband had a suboccipital craniectomy with duroplasty to help relieve pain and stop progression of the condition. The surgery was successful and within months of his surgery his syrinx had shrunk and he began doing so well. It’s been nine years since the surgery and about six months ago his symptoms began to present themselves again, progressively becoming worse. Because I am going through my health issues, my husband didn’t make a big fuss over it. I began to notice each month him getting worse and experiencing more pain and discomfort. I contacted the VA to have them do MRI’s on him to check if everything was ok. Two weeks ago he received his results and they told us that his syrinx is back and has caused complications and damage to his spine. The doctor he spoke with says that he will need to have repeat surgery, so he will be seeing a neurosurgeon within the upcoming month to discuss the surgery and go more into detail about what is happening. The 1st time he had this surgery it last 12hrs. His recovery was very painful and last almost three months. Of course our first initial reaction was shock, fear and sadness. Jose is the sole provider of our family, so many things began to run into our minds. What will people say? “This family is always going through some type of tragedy”, “first he was sick in 03, then his wife shortly after and now him again??” OR “man, they are always in need”. With all of these thoughts running in and out of the mind, I became so overwhelmed. Thank God my husband is a man of God who reminded me of how sufficient the grace of God is. He reminded me that God is indeed sovereign and that whatever happens next is all apart of His perfect plan. He reminded me of how God is seeing me through what i am going through physically and how strong our support system is within our family and the body of Christ. We prayed together and openly discussed our fears. He is afraid of the pain, afraid of what will happen to him if he doesn’t go through with the surgery, afraid of the recovery (remembering what to felt like the first time). I openly expressed my fears. I am afraid of what he will have to endure. I am afraid that this surgery might result in death, as any brain and spinal surgery is life threatening and dangerous. I am afraid to be left a widow with two children. After expressing what our fears were, we prayed together…leaving all of these fears in the hands of God. Immediately I was reminded of the following scripture verse: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 ESV”
Since finding out about this I have been flooded with emotions. I have cried with my family and with my beloved sisters and brothers who have assured me that even though more trials have risen up for us, they will endure this time with us. I am convinced that even when you think it can’t get worsen it sure can; BUT, with God we will persevere and endure any situation. The word of God tells us: “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but God delivers him from them all. Psalm 34:19”
It doesn’t really matter how much a person goes through, how many trials are laid at their feet, or how long they have to suffer….what matters is what they do while they endure, how they persevere and who they cling to during the trials. We have decided to place our trust in God. We have decided to admit when we are afraid and then remember that the Lord urges us not to be afraid. We have decided NOT to wallow in self pity. We have decided to make the best out of everyday that we have with each other and with our children. We have decided to trust that God will get the glory out of us and out of our situations. We are praying, crying out to God and trusting that He will answer us. Whatever happens, God will see us through.
Please pray for us as we prepare to enter into this season. So many people have told us: “man and here we thought 2012 would be a good year for you guys” and my response to that is this: “God is good, therefore the time we are allotted in 2012 will be good, even in the midst of suffering we will be surrounded by songs of deliverance and we will be ok, even in suffering.”
I have set the Lord before me. Because He is at my right, I will NOT be shaken. Psalm 16:8
Please continue to pray for Joey, for me and for all who are affected by this situation.
It’s been a while since I have updated my blog. I wanted to write many times in the last few weeks, however I knew that I needed to seek the Lord in prayer and the reading of His word before writing any type of blog. Whether ten people read this or just one person, know that the Lord will use it for His glory.
I was reflecting back on the last year of my life and how much I have grown in sanctification and changed. I can honestly say that I am not the same person I was just six months ago. The Lord began to expose a lot of sin in my life that I was either pretending wasn’t there OR pretending it wasn’t affecting my walk.
As I continued to pray for the Lord help, and as He continued to expose sin, I began to feel as though His grace wasn’t sufficient for me. Although I knew that He was exposing this so that I could kill sin and grow, I felt so overwhelmed by it all and at one point didn’t want to continue praying or reading His word. I thought if I just stopped praying, He would stop doing what He started. Foolish thinking, considering the scripture that clearly contradicts that way of thinking…. “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 ESV”.
I began to pray for help when it came to all that God began exposing. I needed guidance on how to address people I had hurt with either gossip, slander or just pure hatred. I had to address un-forgiveness that I had in my heart and ask for forgiveness as well. I had to humble myself in many different occasions to admit where I was wrong and admit areas in which I need a lot of help and grace. My prayers soon turned from needing God to expose sin in my life to thanking Him for helping me address these things. I also began to pray for help when it came to understanding what my role was as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and minister. As I prayed for clarity on my role in each of these areas, I not only began to embrace the revelations I was getting but I was also beginning to love the trust that God gave me to fulfill these roles.
Another huge issue I needed to pray about was my self esteem. Due to a kidney disease and a lot of medications, my body isn’t what it use to be. Where I once was extremely strong & an athlete, I am now very weak. It has affected the way I look, feel…even the texture of my hair and skin has been affected. I felt so ugly and huge. I would hide myself under sheets of clothing because I hated what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I began to forget that what is considered beautiful to the “world” isn’t so beautiful to the Lord. Although I am sure that when He looks at all He created, He is pleased with His craftsmanship but scripture is clear on what the Lord is delighted in when it comes to a woman’s beauty. We see this several times in the holy scriptures: “Do not let your adorning be external” and then He goes on to say “but let your adorning be be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4”
"Charm (bodily form) is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30"
"But the Lord said to Samuel "do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outer appearance but the Lord looks on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7"
But my favorite because of the circumstances regarding my body failing me is this one:
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer body is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16"
With the help of the Lord through prayer, His word and my husband, I can honestly say that I am beginning to understand what these scriptures mean. I am coming into a spiritual understanding of how beautiful the heart is of those who seek after God & His truth. This is something that through ministry, I want to share with others who struggle with these things.
My main purpose and focus when it comes to singing or rapping is WORSHIP. Because I have MUCH to rejoice about. I want to be transparent with the listener so that they can understand they aren’t alone in their struggles. I want to share that apart from Christ we are distructive and shallow. I want to share the joy of humbling ourselves before the Lord, acknowledging that we need His constant help and showing that I am an example of someone who once was so lost and dead in sin, who now is alive in Christ and lives for Him.
I have been working on my album for almost a year now. Everyone keeps asking me “when does the album drop” or “dag, you have been working in this album forever, when will you be done?” usually I just smile and say “It isn’t so much when will I be done, but when will the Lord be done allowing me all that I needed to experience in order to be able to put out this album & relate to the listener. I am confident now that everything I have gone through the last few years was all apart of His perfect plan, in order to orchestrate who I have become in Him and to be able to release a project that will give the listener transparency, hope through the gospel and joy knowing that in Christ we are more then conquerors.
Please stay connected with me via twitter.com/D_HisGloryAlone, my website www.dinahmusic.com and Facebook.com/dinahsmusicpage
The album entitled “vindicated” ft, KB, Hazakim, MC Jin, Manny from double edge, Canon and more is due to be released in April (Lord willing). It will be available on iTunes, Rhapsody and BandCamp.
Please continue to pray for me as I battle kidney issues and pray that God continues to get all the glory out of my life.
All this week the Lord has really been breaking me on so many issues & sin in my life that has me completely overwhelmed. I began to think to myself, “Lord do you really just pile everything up like this all at once?” First I was immediately convicted for even asking that question to a Holy God & second I realized He has been dealing with me for longer then I had even realized regarding some issues in my life. Two things really stood out to me, the first one being “image”. Lately, almost everyone I know is on some sort of diet. All I hear is reports about themselves, how much weight “they” gained, how much weight “they” wanna lose, how good “they” wanna look, how good “they” feel others should look, so on and so forth. At first I just rooted them on as they ventured into yet another life changing experience. After a while though, I began to really feel burdened over how obsessed some people are over vanity & self image. Even I can get so caught up in insecurities & image that I forget about His image & being secure in Him. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being healthy, treating your body well & physical training. Even the word of God says that physical training is good, but it finishes by saying “but spiritual training is far better”. If one cannot train themselves to FIRST focus on their spiritual training: reading, praying, worship…then how will they be disciplined enough to really accomplish reaching their physical goals? I have learned in my ___ years of life (lol) that discipline starts with my walk with the Lord. I have to discipline myself to set aside time for prayer, worship & reading of His word in order to spiritually mature. Once I am disciplined in that area, it seems as if it becomes easier to discipline myself with physical goals. Staying healthy for one purpose, the ministry I have at home tending to my husband as his helpmeet and tending to my children. Having a kidney ailment definitely causes issues in my goals of being healthy, however; disciplining myself to stay away from the things that make it worse & staying in my medicine will help in keeping me healthy enough to complete my ministry goals both at home & with singing.
Lately I speak to so many people who are so focused on image. Why do you think that the world changes “what beauty is” every year? One year skinny is in, the next year big bone is in, the next year short hair is in, next year long hair, next year less clothes, and the let goes on!! This happens because the “world” has no idea what true beauty is and as long as we conform to these standards of what the world says is beautiful, we will never fully understand beauty being found in Christ who resides in us & empowers us to focus on His image and not our own image. Me, me, me is all I hear when I hear people talk about being over or under weight (I am speaking about myself as well). It has been burdening me so much trying to rip myself away from the mentality that “how I look” or “how the world says I need to look” matters. Some might read this & disregard everything, but to be honest most of the time I write these blogs so that I can reference back to myself when I am struggling with this area in my life. I am so quick to worry about what people think of me, being affirmed that I am beautiful if someone compliments me, being affirmed even in ministry if someone compliments a song. I am beginning to realize that as long as I give 100% and do everything that I do as unto God then He will bless that & use it for His glory! If someone doesn’t like the way I sing or rap, that’s ok. Please just pray that those who do like to listen are blessed by the gospel message and the hope or love found in those songs. If someone doesn’t like the way I look or how I dress, that’s ok because when God sees me, He sees His son and I am so beautiful. Knowing that the Lord on high is pleased is all that will satisfy me. Paul said, if he was a people pleaser, then he would not be a christian (in a nutshell). I agree with that & pray I can really apply that to my life today.
For all those struggling with insecurities…find your security in Christ and realize that His image is all that people need to see. Stop making it about you, and focus on Him. (this to myself as well)
As I sat talking with & meditating on the Lord today I began to think back & reflect on my life the last 7 years of it and I thought man, it’s been the worst 7 years of my life. People in my life must always think “dag she is always going through something!” May have even spoken negatively about me because they can’t understand why I have always been in the fire since they met me. At first I was puzzled by this newly realized revaluation on how life pretty much felt hopeless for so long. Of course, the enemy always magnifies things to seem worse then they are. THen I realized that I should be so thankful to God for having chosen m to go through such a fire as this. Let me give you a better understanding of what I mean. I am working on my 1st album and I started thinking I would not have any of the lyrics that I have, had I not gone through such heavy storms & still kept my eyes on Jesus. I am in a similar boat as the disciples were in when they were panicking because the storm & winds were to great for them…but eventually the Lord awoke & commanded the sea & winds to be calm…and they obeyed HIm. I rem in myself of that story everyday. For some that have known me a few years, all you have seen is me going through some type of suffering whether it was in my marriage or in my body. YOu must have or probably still think I either lack faith or I am a hypo-condreact, I mean in keeping it 100%!! It is really ok if you have thought that, but I am not worried about what you think. The Lord has given me a peace, just like He gave to those disciples that night on the sea. Everything around me for the last 7 years has been nothing but pain & suffering. A few happy moments here and there…but mostly struggle & suffering. Even this day I have things going on that I cannot escape from at the moment, But God is able to do anything. I realized today that I am to be thankful for the burden I carry, because it is going to encourage those who are going thru what I am, yet they have no hope. I have hope in the midst of my season and I will sing of His hope, His mercy, His grace, His love, His compassion but most importantly, His power & glory!! THose that have stuck by me no matter what, never questioned my faith or my situation, THANK YOU…you are the reason I am able to continue moving forward and not falling flat on my face. I have gone through & I am still going through this fire because the Lord knows I am strong enough to bear it. I can write about it, I can tell about it, I can sing & even rap about it and I can reach those who feel like they are alone, they can listen to the words of my songs and know someone else went through the same thing they did, and they had hope in Jesus. Some people write and sing songs about trials they know nothing about. They don’t know anything about adultery, sickness, hopelessness…yet they write about it as if they understand, however the moment they encounter someone broken who can relate to their very lyrics, they doubt their faith, or they question the situation because they lack understanding of it. I have seen it for my own eyes, I have heard it with my own ears, and I have experienced this very thing I am writing about from people I really loved and thought understood. So trust me when I say, I am not blogging about random things I know nothing about, I have 1st hand experience.
I want to encourage anyone who is going through anything in their life that leaves them feeling hopeless, there is hope n Jesus. My brother Jon told me something this week that i can’t seem to let go of, he said “D the shoulders of men are weak and they bible teaches us this, BUT God is strong and he wants us to remember the greater picture, why we have to go through these things…how we need to out aside petty differences to accomplish the great commission given to us, He is strong & He will never forsake us” … After hearing that I was burdened with so many thoughts, but I sat down in the quiet area of my home and I just thought about those words, then the odd began to give me this peace and understanding of why I was chosen to go through the last 7 years of my life. Now I understand.
For me music is not rolling out the red carpet to have my picture taken, it’s not being featured as number one or in the top ten on iTunes, it’s not getting my story in the hottest magazine…music is the tool given to me to reach the broken & to relate to those who feel hopeless, ashamed of their past, unsure of what to do next..I have been sent to sing about things I have experience with, things that if I was not walking with Christ would have destroyed me, but instead they made me a stronger warrior in God’s army!! I am in tears as I write this because I look around me and I see nay a few still standing beside me, but even if I lost them, I would still be ok because I walk with Jesus!!!!
I sing because I have a story to tell that doesn’t just speak on the problem, but it offers a solution! Jesus Christ, the gospel!! I am no longer worried about what people think of me, what they may have said, gossip & slander that came out of their mouth not knowing or understanding what I am going through. Just annoyed because they can’t understand what this has been like. Job suffered more greatly then I can ever imagine, and he did not cursed God, instead He waited on Him & put His trust in the Lord…..at times He wanted to just die, as I also feel sometimes…BUT he persevered & he made it to the end.
I am no Job, I am Dinah…but I do know suffering very well and I can sing about His joy, His hope & His love despite it all.
I sing because I am free in Christ. I do not want to be a celebrity, all glory & honor belong to God…I want to be humble servant. I want to be like Ruth who loved Naomi enough to stick by her, to work & labor no matter what was going on in her life…she stayed gleaning in the field..and so will I.
God is gracious. I pray that my album and all that had to be endured while I wrote it, will touch the broken hearted, will ease the pain of the one or few going through some of the worst trials on their life. THat is the expectation I have of this album. The last 7 years was the makings of a worshipper.