Song of the Week, “What the World Needs Now,” by Jackie DeShannon

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Music can be like deja vu. I heard this song over the weekend after watching “Boss Baby,” for the second night in a row. Like second nature, the words came out. I didn’t remember where I’d heard the song, but there was a striking familiarity. It’s a pretty popular song, but somehow, not one I (consciously) hear very often.

There are quite a few renditions of this song. I went with Jackie’s recording because it’s the original, but I’m listening to Burt Bacharac’s version now and thinking maybe I made a mistake. But that’s beside the point.

I chose this song this week because it’s true. We need more love. We work so hard toward success and riches, but not nearly as committed to working toward loving one another. 

My favorite line of this song

What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.

For everyone.

That means the people who don’t appear to be deserving of love, also need it. 

Are we really Praying?

The headlines didn’t sink in right away. I thought here we go again and went about my day. As the evening progressed, chatter regarding the incident grew and it was only then that I began to understand the gravity of the situation. I finally pulled up CNN and read for myself what had occurred in Manchester.

Even after I fully comprehended the devastation of the bombing, I still felt hollow. The only word I could think of was more. More death and more hate. More tragedies my heart cannot bear to contain.

At times I am so overwrought with despair at the ceaseless death and destruction swallowing our world that I don’t allow the painful realities to sink in. An embarrassing and selfish admission, yet true. If I did, I fear I’d never be happy again. So I force myself to forget. I sometimes forget that my aunt passed away a few months ago or that my best friend’s dad has cancer. I forget that suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents, that there are terrorists who kill innocent people, and that human trafficking is a $32 billion per year industry.

I’ve seen the tweets of people proclaiming solidarity, the thinking of Manchester statuses on social media, the pictures and stories remembering those who perished, but what I’ve come across most are those who claim to be praying for Manchester.

It all appears very hopeful on the surface. It makes us each feel good inside to step out of our own lives to offer condolences and prayers to those affected by this horrific event.

But are we really praying?

I lost my brother almost three years ago. I still remember all the people who came to my parent’s house to console us. I’m sorry they all said. Which I’ve no doubt they were, but those two words peeved me to no end. What were they sorry for, they hadn’t taken his life. Moreover, their apologies could not bring him back. What irked me most was that I felt they were saying sorry partly out of obligation. Because that’s what’s you’re supposed to say when someone dies.

My pain that day was too real to have been blanketed by social formalities.

The day following John’s funeral, my best friend’s family was throwing a 90th birthday party for her grandmother. In an effort to get back into the swing of normalcy, I went. I arrived before the party started to help out. I’ll never forget, the moment Cherise ( my best friend Ashley’s cousin) saw me, she immediately enveloped me in an embrace. To this day, every time I recall that moment, it brings tears to my eyes. No words, just an embrace, filled with strength, safety, empathy, reassurance that it would be okay, and love. It was one of the only times I felt understood regarding my brother’s death.

I wish with all my might that I could pass that embrace along to Manchester right now. But the truth is, I’m not as certain as Cherise was that everything is going to be okay. I feel powerless because I know that in the next few months, I’ll be reading the same headline about a different city.

To answer my own question, no, I’ve not been praying for Manchester.

Did I say a little two minute prayer asking God to provide peace to the families of those lost and that He would cover them with His love? Yes, of course I did. And indeed I meant it. But to think that that was enough is a shame. We need to be falling on our faces in prayer, begging in desperation for peace in our world. Saying one little obligatory prayer simply will not do.

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Remember when King David’s son fell ill? He did not eat or bathe. He spent his nights on the ground pleading with God to heal his son.

That is the type of prayer we need to be submitting ourselves to. And I don’t mean literally (although, if you feel God leading you to fast, so be it), but we need to be tenacious in our prayers.

Part of the problem is that we don’t actually believe our prayers have power. Some of us aren’t even sure who we’re praying to. How then, can we be meaningful and confident in our prayers when we’ve no belief?

We’re in this religious limbo where everyone wants to be free and send their good energy out into the universe because they don’t want to be bogged down by the burden of religion. That’s another post entirely, but what’s interesting is that no one prays to the universe in times of tragedy.

There’s no hope in disbelief, and there’s no faith without hope. What then, is the point of our prayers?

That’s just it. They’re not prayers as much as they are empty words that temporarily make us feel better.

Guys, we have to wake up. We have to make decisions about what we believe. We have to have a spiritual foundation. Deep down, we know that we cannot take the evil out of this world on our own.

Because really, without God, what hope do we have to offer those affected by this horrific event?

To Manchester:

I am sorry. I’m sorry that my prayer for you wasn’t fueled by complete faith. I’m sorry that I only prayed once. I apologize that I’m not sorry enough to do more. I’m sorry that I can’t possibly imagine what you must be going through. If I truly did, I’d still be praying now. I’m sorry that this world is filled with a despair so deep that hope, at times feels impossible. Please forgive me for my perfunctory handling of this devastation.

If you would allow me to try again, I would like to say most sincerely, with all my faith behind me, I am actually praying to God for you Manchester.

Stay strong in Him,

Celestial 

Stay Focused!

I read this devotional a few days ago and I want to share it you guys!

Stay Focused!

With all that is going on in the world, I prayed in the Spirit and asked the Lord what was His response. This is what He told me to tell you, “Stay focused on advancing My Kingdom. Don’t adopt a secular view out of feelings of anger and frustration with current world events. Stay focused on doing what I have called and equipped you to do.”

(Read 2 Corinthians 2:11; Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 15:58)

Song of the Week, “More than You Think I Am,” by Danny Gokey

 

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Rumor has it there’s a gavel in my hand
I’m only here to condemn
But let me tell you secrets you would’ve never known
I think of you as my best friend

I love love love this song because it brings to light the complexity of God. We all have our ideas of who we believe God is and what role he plays in our lives, but few of us have truly ventured to find him for ourselves.

This tune makes me want to dig deeper, work harder, and lean in closer to God. I want to get to know him unencumbered by my selfish wants and needs. I want him to be my best friend, my confidant, my everything.

Song of the week, “6’2”, by Marie Miller

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Today’s song is for my single ladies! I’m in the same boat and I know the dating world can seem hopeless, but keep the faith! 

Don’t be afraid to ask God for what you want in a partner. Contrary to what some may think, it’s okay to be a little picky. We serve the same God who created the entire universe, surely he can throw in a few perks. Whether you want your husband to be six foot two or have blue eyes, make your requests known to God through prayer. In His timing, the perfect partner awaits you. Be willing to exercise a little patience and a lot of trust because what’s in store is so much more than you imagine. Your endurance will be rewarded.

I remember wanting so badly to be married. It seems so silly now. I mean, I still want to get married but I’m okay with waiting. I used to be the girl who always talked about what she wanted in a partner. These days, I’m more focused on what I have to offer someone. I can’t wait to serve my husband. I know all the feminists are probably passing out from that confession, but that’s really who I’ve become.

As my relationship with God deepens, I find myself becoming more selfless than I’ve ever been. I’ve always been giving, (I get it from my mommy) but there’s an unexplainable joy in doing for others. 

So again ladies, keep the faith. Don’t give up. God has someone for you who will be well worth the wait. For now, continue to focus on your relationship with him. The more we love God, the more we learn to love like God. 

A Talk with God

One of the main reasons I fell in love with writing was because I discovered that it’s how God and I mostly converse. Unscrambling and deciphering voices in my head is difficult, but when I release my mind on paper (or Microsoft Word) His voice becomes so clear. I wrote this one day when I was doing my usual dramatics of feeling overwhelmed. 

Every time I return to this conversation, a peace washes over me and I am reminded that God has me right where He wants me. I hope you all can draw some encouragement from it as well.

Do not worry about tomorrow; today has enough worries of its own.

Tomorrow’s troubles will inevitably trample me if I live solely for today.

Prepare for tomorrow, but do not linger in its sorrow. Breathe in this hour and love in this moment, it is the only thing certain. Do not quarrel with yourself over days not promised to you. It is my hand that steers your heart to beat and my spirit that will draw your last breath. Fret not the day after, for I have given you today, and in it you shall walk among all as a disciple to me.

This world will be destroyed in a short time and I have placed you in a position to save those around you. Lead them to the kingdom of heaven, for this earth will surely return to dust.

Your faith is dwindling because you rely on yourself.  You say to yourself, “how can I do it? “You make requests of yourself as if you are the conductor of your life. You’ve placed it in my hands and it is mine.  I simply ask your faith in me my child. You need not know how, or the day, or the hour, but rest in knowing that my hand is upon your life.

Every step you take is in direct accordance with my guide. Continue to seek me in new ways and I will place firm stones ahead of you. You must do the work of today before you can stress over the fruits of tomorrow. Continue to mold your gift, pray to me, know me,  and I will fulfill the desires of your heart. I have much more in store for you than you have dreamt, but you must heed my commands. Cease your worries of tomorrow and make me a proud father today.