YOUR NAME MATTERS

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Growing up I HATED my last name. SPYIES? OMG, I have heard it all, “are you a spy”?, “Spies, like 007”?, “Do you work for the CIA”? I mean every possible corny spy joke from kindergarten until now, I’ve unfortunately heard them all, and if not, I am sure soon, someone will make up an even cornier one. It wasn’t until my I had a conversation with my late grandfather regarding our family history, where I encountered a new found respect for my last name and the legacy the name carried. It’s a name that bears roots in Cuba, France, Bahamas, and America–a name of vast diversity. It’s a name of uniqueness.  It’s so set apart that you won’t find any other family that bears the name with the same spelling. It’s a name that embraces fighting through adversities and being victorious. A legacy of hard working women and men who went after the dreams they wanted from professional baseball to a lineage of fighters for our country. I was so impressed. How dare I ever shun the last name of such uniqueness and richness?!?!

In biblical days, names held much significance. A name could depict aspects of a person’s birth, expressions of parent’s reactions to the birth of their child, it was given to secure the solidarity of familial ties, and many to show the character or affiliation with God. A NAME MEANT SOMETHING! Another thing that was very common in the bible was when a person was transitioning from one phase to the next, their name was changed–this is the type of event I think of when transitioning from the stage of singleness to marriage. It was a new name depicting a change in direction. A new name that was evidence of becoming a member of a new family or having a new responsibility, with all the rights and privileges that exists within that family/assignment. It is evidence of a new connection that embodied all of the characteristics designed for that purpose. 

 


A NAME MEANT SOMETHING!

MEN DON’T GIVE IT AWAY CASUALLY–WOMEN DON’T TAKE IT WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT’S BEHIND THAT NAME…

Ahh…KNOWING… Let’s talk about that!

In biblical days, the greek word ginosko “to know” someone had weight/value to it. They didn’t “know” someone through a friend, or “know” someone through social media. When Abraham “knew” Sarah–boy did he “know” her…

Let’s look at some definitions-

GINOSKO- TO KNOW

1) TO HAVE FACTS OR UNDERSTANDING ABOUT A PERSON
2) TO BE KNOWLEDGABLE AND AWARE OF A PERSON
3) TO HAVE AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH A PERSON
4) TO SEE OR EXPERIENCE A PERSON
5) TO BE CERTAIN OF A PERSON

Wow!!! DO YOU REALLY KNOW HIM? DO YOU REALLY KNOW HER?

What things have you learned about your significant other?
What things have you learned through family, friends and colleagues?
Have you experienced different seasons with this individual?
How do they react in conflict or crisis situations?
When you think of carrying their last name, what thoughts come to mind?
What legacy will be passed down to your children based on this name?
Outside of their earthly surname, does he/she hold the name “child of God”, “follow of God”, Man/Woman after God’s own heart? Hmmmm…

Just questions for thought.

As women, when a man purposefully proposes or expresses interest regarding you taking on his last name, there is value in there, just as there is honor in you accepting that name.

That means that he is certain about you, understands you, has seen and experienced you enough to trust the transferral of his family history, legacy, and collaborative purpose to you. He trusts you enough to unite as means of creating a new lineage with you as a matriarch. How honorable is that?

However, when a man finds a woman with a good name (good reputation), the conditions become mighty favorable for him.

Proverbs 22:1 states: A good name is to be more desired than great wealth. Favor is better than silver or gold. 

Proverbs 12:4 states: A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

Proverbs 18:22 states: He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.

Proverbs 31:10 states: A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

So often in our generation to people so casually take on the name of one person after another, not truly understanding the weight of a good reputation (good name) and the significance behind changing your last name or attaching your surname to another individual. So we jeopardize access to divine favor, all for the sake of a status update or a ring. IT IS JUST NOT WORTH IT! 

CHOOSE WISELY.

Peace, Love and Blessings,

Brandi

BEWARE OF FRAUDULENT ACTIVITY

Fraudulent activity is one of my all-time pet peeves.

DON’T MESS WITH MY MONEY!!!

Since moving to Atlanta a little over 2 years ago, my bank account has been hacked a total of 2 times. I found this morning this would be the case, yet again! My entire checking account depleted by purchases not made or authorized by me.

WHAT AN INCONVENIENCE!

As inconvenient as it is, I have learned through life experiences not to get undone over things I can’t control.

It baffles me how some people dishonestly take from accounts that they know they haven’t invested in. Yet this is something that happens daily.

Having this happen again shed some light on life in general.

I realized that many times we allow fraudulent activity to take place in our lives on many more occasions than necessary.


How many times have you let people take from you who were not rightfully deserving? Taking away from your emotions, time, thoughts–all without them investing anything into these accounts. Sometimes leaving you depleted.

Yet if we increase our security measures–perhaps we will become less susceptible to the invasion of our personal investments (relationships, hobbies, career, purpose, ministry).

Just like you use your checkbook register or online banking account log to track the activity of your daily spending–just think of what will be brought to light when you track the activity of your daily spending in other areas of your life–your interactions, phone conversations, text messages, emails, work performance, the way you spend your free time.

Are there activities you are engaged in that are wasteful, causing overspending of emotions, time, energy and need to be cut?


Activities that you see present but know they don’t belong (sinful, belittling, demeaning)?


Activities that are just downright counterfeit and you know it?


YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER COUNTERFEIT ACTIVITY IN YOUR LIFE!


Your discernment is guaranteed protection against fraudulent activity. It’s too costly to not be sensitive to it and even more so to ignore it!

A CHANGED POSITION

Many times in life we become defined by society’s perspection of us. We get so bent out of shape that we began to obtain a one-dimensional view of ourselves–a ground-level view. We began to see ourselves as the world tries to make us feel–like dirt. Sometimes, we stay in this position so long, we become locked in–in bondage–unable to get a clear view upward and hindered from moving forward.

Today, I am reminded that I am NOT defined by how the world sees me. I am NOT defined by statistics. I am NOT defined by culture. I am NOT defined by my enviroment. I am NOT defined by my health status, social status, financial status, or my educational status!

I AM A WOMAN DEFINED BY GOD!

In coming to terms with this, I was brought to a scripture in Luke 13: 10-17. In this story, there is a woman who had been crippled for 18 years. Though the Bible doesn’t give descriptive details about what is causing her to be crippled, it does describe as an evil spirit that had her bent double.

The dictionary defines the word evil as:

-something causing injury or harm
-something that is considered bad by report
-someone/something marked by misfortune/luck
-someone looked down upon -wickedness

Ironically, I have personally battled similar spirits. Have you? Perhaps, one of poverty, hopelessness, feelings of inadequacy, sexual immorality, depression?

These spirits definitly fit the definition above. As I continued read the passage, I wondered if in fact the spirit that fell upon this woman was similar to many of the evil spirits we face today? The great news is that, just like the woman in the passage was in bondage&nbspI know and have experienced a God that has ALL POWER.

Let’s look closely at His character.

1) HE’S A GOD WHO SEES:

Regardless of her physical condition, Jesus saw her! She was a woman worshipping Him despite her affliction. He was going to use His mighty power to allow her to get into a better position-one of freedom.

2) HE’S A GOD WHO CALLS:

Typically in this culture, women were not necessarily held in the highest regard. Having visible disabilities only made society’s view worse. At this point, Jesus called someone whose physical condition was distorted and whom society had a distorted view. He did not just see her as just a spectator but an opportunity to make her a spectacle to show God’s power. That’s how it is
when he calls us to a particular assignment. His ability to work through us is not hindered by our own limitations nor the limitations others put on us–HE IS GOD!

3) HE’S A GOD WHO HEALS BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY:

According to the laws in those times, the Sabbath was designed to restrict an individual’s ability to work. It was designed as a day of rest, reflection and worship. When the leader of the synagogue witnessed exactly what Jesus was doing, he began to get upset and tried to call Jesus out amongst the congregation. Just like some people in this world who can’t handle God’s blessings upon your life. The leader tried to argue that Jesus was defying the laws of the Sabbath–but I just love Jesus’ response on this day as well as other times He healed on the Sabbath.

Luke 13: 15 states: “You hypocrites! Each of you work on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall and lead it out for water? This dear woman has been held in bondage for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath”?

On other accounts, his response was similar-

Mark 2:27-28 states, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people and not peeple to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath”.

In Luke 14:5, his response to those who were against it was, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pic, don’t you rush to get him out?”

CLEARLY GOD IS ONE WHO DEFIES WHAT OTHERS ACCOUNT AS UNACCEPTABLE. IF HE WANTS TO HEAL HE WILL DO SO BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THE DOCTORS SAY, WHAT SOCIETY SAYS, OR EVEN WHAT YOU SAY TO YOUR SELF.

Lastly, the passage shows us the character of the woman. There was a reason why she went to the synagogue that day. She was a woman of faith. Her actions spoke louder than her words. She was a woman who listened to Jesus’ words, she obeyed his command by walking towards Him and in her obedience–her position changed. Lastly, she was a woman of praise.

There are several powerful nuggets attached to this one passage; however, from this perspective, I extract this simple fact: No matter what position society’s view may try to lock you in, no matter how the history of your past tries to bind you. No matter what the doctors report may read remember, God has the ability change your position at any given time if He so chooses.

Bloom

BLOOM

Driving on the interstate early one Sunday morning. The dreary weather and chilling the winds registered on the car thermometer at 54 degrees. I thought to myself ” here goes another atypical day of Spring”. As I continued to drive, I noticed how some of nature became confused with the fluctuating weather. Some trees were still barren as if in the midst of Winter. However, as I continued to drive, I saw a single Cherry Tree, in full bloom with the most beautiful cherry blossoms. I looked in amazement at this tree upright in seclusion–beautifully unaffected by the fluctuating shifts in the temperature

That’s when the following words were given to me:

As you go through life, there are shifts that are inevitable, like the seasonal changes of Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. However, even though it’s time for a particular season to end, things in the atmosphere may not reflective. At this point, you tend to become discouraged, but should keep in mind the Cherry Blossom. Look at its physical surroundings. Though much of nature is still confused, there is something innate inside the Cherry Tree, that knows, regardless of what’s going on around it, regardless of how fruitless its surrounding world may seem, regardless of how cold and dreary the atmosphere is, no matter how much loneliness emerges, that it is time to bloom. So is it with you. Though your atmosphere may not display all that you desire, have faith in knowing that it is now your time to bloom. There’s nothing you need to do, because you have everything inside of you that will bring forth good fruit–beautiful blossoms that set you apart. STAND STILL AND BLOOM!

A God of All Seasons

A GOD OF ALL SEASONS

The seasonal changes in Atlanta have been quite odd this year.  At moments where it should be cooling down in preparation for the arrival of winter, the weather has remained at temperatures akin to spring.  I haven’t even had to break in well my fall/winter attire.  Nevertheless, despite the confusion of the weather, the leaves and flowers all stand in agreement as they are clothed in their garments of autumn.  Yellows, reds, oranges, and minimal greens scribble against the walls of nature as a reminder that regardless of how it may feel–Fall is here.

Recently, while riding with a friend to go get some breakfast, we were halted at a traffic light.  Immediately, before us stood a picturesque view of autumn kissed trees in the distance–slightly glossed with mid-day fog. As I casually talked with him, I stopped amidst our conversation to comment on the beauty of creation that stood before us. He was in agreement. But as this view was momentarily frozen in time, the passage of Ecc. 3 came to mind.

In this moment as I gazed at the snapshot of autumn in the horizon, I was reminded that seasons change. The visual image reminded me that if God can equip even nature in the mist of seasonal changes, does he not even consider us in the midst of seasonal changes in our immediate environment.

God is a God of ALL seasons! What do I mean by thatJust as quickly as God makes environmental changes so that the trees and animals can adapt to shifts in climate…he moves just as quickly in our lives to adapt to the shifts we encounter–hormonal shifts, relational shifts, shifts in finances, shifts in employment, shifts in transition from life to death—from death to life…In every transitional phase of life–God is always present.

It appears that this year has been one of the most fluctuating seasons in my life that I and some of my friends have ever encountered and the passage of Ecc. 3 appears to be so befitting. From new births, marriages, new relationships, severing of relationships and an immense amount of deaths have highlighted our lives over the past few months. It’s a constant reminder that to everything there is a season.

A Time for Everything

1 There is a time for everything,  and a season for every activity under the heavens…

In closing, may God equip you to adapt to the changes in your environment.  May you extract life lessons from each transition that will develop you, enhance you, and advance you as your progress through various stages of life. May you never get weary or lose hope when the climate in your life fluctuates.  Though it may unsettling at first, there will be a time where these shifts will calm and you will be able to enjoy what the individual season has to offer.

Honey Lips

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Proverbs 16: 23-24 reads:

The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Harmful words/actions can cause deep wounds that can be resistant to healing as more and more harmful expressions like bacteria seep into an already gaping wound. Although our wounds may heal, sometimes there are lasting scars, some more susceptible to infection than others. We try to bandage the wounds with facades of having tough skin–acting out the childhood cliché, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. The truth of the matter is, when these bandages are ripped off prematurely, it’s easy for old wounds to re-open.

Eventually, over time, harsh words/actions can become necrotic–eating away at our character–causing us to become guarded, negative and hard, further promoting the spread of toxic/poisonous communication to others.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT…

Ancient research has found that honey can not only be used as a natural sweetener, but also has several valuable properties for healing.

1) It prohibits the growth of bacteria from entering a wound.

2) It helps keeps skin moist, encouraging the growth of new tissue, reduces the likelihood of scarring, and promotes easy removal of bandages

3) Helps kills cells that cause cancer

How are the words that flow from your lips? Are they naturally sweet? Or artificially sweetened?

As we continue to crucify our flesh daily–let us keep in mind that our words have meaning and can impact others in drastic ways. Let’s strive to impact in a drastically healthy way!