As this year comes to its end, my heart reflects on the unmerited grace and favor of my God. I know your Year was not like mine, but I humbly ask that you travel with me on this journey through 2018; it is my prayer that something stands out to you and reminds you that God is an ever-present Help in your life.
I entered a fast with a local church that changed my life. By giving up TV, sweets, and social media for 30 days, I was able to replace vices with time for God and His word. In these 30 days I realized just how much I used worldly things to fill heavenly voids. For example, I would come home from work, exhausted, and sit down to watch television. Then when night crept up on me, I would just hurry off to bed. There was no time for decompressing from my work day or time for God. I just spent time with my television, swept away in the drama of the shows that I watched. I understand that some may not see the problem in this, but I rose in the morning and went to Facebook and then ended each day with television… when did I talk to God? When did I do as Matthew 6:33 tells me to do? When could I hear from God? Truth is, January taught me how to make time for God. I learned how to tithe 10% of my daily time to Him… and as a result, I grew closer to Him and set the tone for my entire year.
Matthew 6:33 NKJV: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
*yawn* The shortest month of the year was relatively uneventful… except for the SECOND book that I released and the Human Sex Trafficking Conference where I shared my testimony. Oh yeah, that was also the month where I accepted God’s call to the Ministry…
I’m totally kidding- February was amazing! All of my fellowship with God in January birthed branches of ministry that I never knew possible. I began to see a pattern: God was making my current month better than the previous and I was completely ready for all that He was bringing!
Hebrews 3:15 NIV: As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
March, April, May, and June
I continued to trust God and just waited to see how He would move. Books were sold, I spoke at various engagements, I became a mentor for young girls at a local middle school, and so much more. I even lost a “dream” job and realized that I still had more growing to do. I began biblical study for my ministerial call and I truly enjoyed my time with God. In these four months I had no clue how God was going to shape my year, but He surprised me by continuing to make the current month better than the previous month. Sadly, I attended the funeral of one family friend in this period and prepared for another that I would attend in July. I learned during this time that there is pain in growth… but to keep growing anyway.
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV: But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
I entered this year knowing that it was my butterfly year; I was a caterpillar in 2016, in a cocoon in 2017, but I was busting out- beautiful and blessed- in 2018. Yet even in that, July was my mega butterfly month (if that’s even a thing). It was in the month of July, when I was completely broke and wholly unemployed, that God reignited a flame in my life and heart; He birthed M.Lisa Photography. I had a passion for photography back when I was in college but my partying and rebellion stopped me from really growing it the way I wanted to. I had allowed myself to push it so far out of my mind that it seemed almost foreign when He reintroduced it. I found myself having to sit at His altar just to take one step in the direction of His choice. Sit, step, sit, step, sit, step. That was my routine every day. I was tired and so lost, but holding onto God allowed me to step into the unknown with His peace.
Joshua 1:9 NIV: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
If I could give this month a title it would be, “Buckle up and enjoy the ride!” God whispered to me at the beginning of this month, “I hope you enjoyed your rest last month, because it is time to work” and He meant every word. Since August 3rd- the day I co-photographed my first wedding- I have not have a ministerial break. And I ain’t mad about it! God Happened To M.E. grew from just a moniker and motto into an entire ministry in the blink of an eye. I taught a Mental Health First Aid course, photographed like crazy, and wrote to my heart’s content. This was just a month of me going along for God’s ministerial ride.
1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV: But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
The best month of any year (it’s my birth month, if you couldn’t tell) and the best month of 2018! On the 3rd I turned 32 years old, on the 4th I started a new job, on the 5th I delivered my initial sermon… and on the 7th my niece gave her life to God. At that point, I had no clue how God could have made the month or the year any better… but I soon learned not to limit God…
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
If my heart had a home, it would be Texas. It’s something about that state just makes my heart smile from ventricle to ventricle… and in this month I got a chance to not only visit the state, but also teach a Mental Health First Aid class at the National Licensed Practical Nurses’ Annual Conference. While in Texas I was able to expand my photography and really sit with God in planning the next steps of my life. It was an amazing place to be and I enjoyed every second of my trip.
Habakkuk 2:2-3 NKJV: Then the Lord answered me and said:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
November and December
*Say CHEESE* Yes, these months were filled with many photo sessions, but it was also filled with moments of preparation and expectation. In photography, one would often say, “say ‘CHEESE’” to get the participants to smile and have them be ready for the impending photograph. For me, God was saying, “say ‘CHEESE’” so that I could be ready for what He was about to do next. And what did He do?
- He made God Happened To ME a legal business… with an EIN and e’rrythang!
- He spoke to my heart and gave me visions of the future.
- He placed the right people in my life at the right time.
- He worked!
Ephesians 6:12-13 NKJV: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [a]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
So as I prepare for church tonight, stretching out the soreness in my muscles (did I mention that I joined a gym???), I wear a smile as big as Texas as I say CHEESE and prepare for what God has next. I have no clue how He will move, but I trust that He has my best interest at heart and that everything will work for my good.
Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Romans 8:28 NKJV: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.