Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!!

With all the preparations, the frantic rush for the last box of lasagna of the shelf, the long lines to buy the Christmas cake, the picking of the perfect gift, the decorations on the tree - it all comes down to this..1 day- December 25!
Oxtail and beans/carrots

We will sit, and we will eat too much and have regrets but most of all, we will enjoy family, friends and speak to persons near and far. Yes, many will be sad, for loved ones that are no longer here or for those that couldn't make it for the festive feast. Let us never forget that Emmanuel- God is with us- in the best of times and in the worst of times.

Fresh Sorrel
From my family to yours - Have a Merry Christmas!! and God bless.

A few persons were curious about the Jamaican traditional foods, so I will attach a few pictures just for you!
Jamaican Sorrel drink

Jamaican Fruit/Black  Cake

Photo credit: The Lovely Pantry A Jamaican foodie who cooks, bakes and eats with love!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Mary, baby Jesus and the song that the world rarely sings at Christmas

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?

I first heard this song a few years ago when my classmates and I had to put on a production for a drama course we were doing. We decided to do a modern twist on the story of Jesus's birth. We zoomed in on Mary, more so than Jesus being a Saviour. The song, Mary did you know was played towards the end of the production when Mary and Joseph went looking for Jesus when he stayed back at the temple doing his father's business. We got a B. We were quite thrilled, it was so much work and we were glad it was over.

Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?

The song came to me today because for the second time in two days  I've been called a scrooge! Not because I don't get the meaning and significance of why as Christians we celebrate Christmas, but because for me Christmas means work! Too much work and if grades are being handed out for Christmas cheer this year - I'll take a C! If you know me, you will know, if I got a C....well I'd cry!

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

In Jamaica, Christmas is steeped in traditions. Enough, that I will make a list.

  • There is major home renovations which includes but not limited to: painting your walls, grills, verandah, bedroom, remodelling your kitchen, bathroom.....
  • You shop for gifts, toys and the Christmas tree but only at the very last minute
  • You bake- black cake with fruits that have been soaking from the previous year
  • You cook up a storm complete with ham, different meats, and sides
  • You make sorrel
  • You invite family over
  • You go to kids school events
  • You attend church services

I'm sure I left some things out but that list is all that I have to look forward to in the Christmas season. I usually do all of the above, well except the painting bit. This normally leaves me totally exhausted just thinking about all I have to do and literally exhausted when I get through doing them.

This year - I'm just plain ole tired, and I haven't even started any of the list! And I don't even feel like I will! There is no tree, no decorations, no presents bought, no fruits soaking in wine and the ham is still sitting frozen in the freezer. It's going to be a long Christmas Eve!

For as traditions go - I know I will force myself to complete them all by Thursday! In Jamaica - Christmas dinner, Christmas Day is our Thanksgiving. The show must go on!

And everybody says - do it for the children at least! Afterall, Christmas is for the children! They get the presents, the good cheer and tidings, they get the love and extra pocket money! Do it for them!

And then guilt seeps in and I am reminded of the song - Mary did you know?

 It makes me thoughtful. I think about the messages I am passing on by being the scrooge, of not providing the best Christmas memories, I know too that every mundane day, is a still a day that makes a lifetime.

Mary did you know.. Mary did you know
The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

 But, I also think on the flip side, what I am also teaching about doing things merely out of tradition, and am I really doing what is important and right. The season afterall isn't about cake, sorrel, ham and presents - isn't it about the birth of our Saviour?

As a Christian family, I know my children know this, they hear it every year at church but do the traditions compliment or contradict that teaching. I said to my friend this week - I'm not buying any gifts this year- I'm giving every body Frankincense! She laughed out loud! Truth be told, I didn't even know what it is or how I would find it but if it's good enough for surely good enough for my bunch!..hahaha!

I have become weary of the traditions of men! Jaded even...Christmas celebrations is creeping up the list!

But that pesky song! Who am I raising? What is my responsibility to them at this time of the year? What do I teach them in my actions and not necessarily my words? Do I carry out traditions and a culture to make them happy for that 'one day' we celebrate as Jesus's birth or do I just stress the fact that Emmanuel is with us?

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

Truth be told - I'll probably do both!
Christmas, is a happy time, a time when people see strangers. A time when people actually talk instead of text, a time when family visits from near and far, a time when we eat way too much cake and a time when we open laughter, smiles and happiness wrapped up in a cute red bow, all because Emmanuel is with us!

And what of the next few days - when the nostalgia starts to fade- what do you teach then? What do you do when the traditions of men take a hiatus until Easter when you are supposed to be sad for Jesus's death? It seems like it is a roller- coaster ride that has out- lasted its purpose.

Emmanuel you see, never really left us, he has been that ever present God from creation to flesh to Holy spirit our comforter this whole time. I prefer to celebrate that all year round. And did Mary know? I'm not sure she did in entirety; just like me, as I stare at my children, I do not fully know if one day, they will walk on water, or deliver me!

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great, I Am.

I just know...that like Mary, I was chosen to carry them. I was chosen to have them fulfill the purpose of God in their lives. I was chosen to guide them in the way of God and not the traditions of men.
So even if there is no tree, there is still love.

And the greatest of these is love. Isn't that what Christmas is all about anyways?

Related Reading: John 3:16

Song words taken from :

Friday, 18 December 2015

Will you accept the gift without the wrapping paper?

Psalm 23: 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – I will fear no evil – for though art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

I was at the cemetery, I was looking for my grandmother’s grave stone, me and my family. We walked through the valley of death, from the year 2000 to 1989, - 12 years of death, grief, sadness, tears, unfulfilled hopes, dreams, purposes, I saw just this- and it gave me pause, a beautifully wrapped bouquet of flowers, most likely left by a visitor of graves, just like myself. 

Thing is – the flowers were still perfectly nestled in the beautiful wrapping paper but the flowers- well- they were all rotten- brown- and moldy. It was sad. Goodbyes, are indeed, the saddest words we ever hear.

I thought- death- looks exactly like that bouquet and many of us do too. Beautifully wrapped packages with rotten insides.

And it's Christmas, and no one wants to really talk about death, when we are celebrating Christ's birth; what a morbid subject at the most wonderful time of the year but oh how because of a birth- death no longer has to look like a beautifully wrapped bouquet of rotten flowers.

Death now equals life.

I was at the graveyard because I was attending a funeral, and as I looked around at all the people crying, I considered that people cry at funerals for so many different reasons; many out of guilt and regret. This day, thankfully, I had neither. I just cried because death is sad.

It's that I will never see you again..
I will never talk to you again..
I will never touch you again...
I will never hear your voice again...
It's that natural, tangible experience that we crave and will forever miss... that..why didn't you come before...Lazarus has's too's been days!

But... unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and death took on a whole new face......

1 Cor. 15:55 O Death...where is thy sting? O Grave...where is thy victory?

I imagine death now looks like a perfectly perfect party scene, complete with red Bistro table- the centerpiece- the masterpiece- the blood of Jesus's peace. A place where there is a table set before you, and you are feted until... meet the ones you have left behind; who walk through their own valleys of death, mourning; not knowing, not owning, the best open secret the Good News has offered. 

Eternal life. Life after death. Hope. Grace. Freedom. Victory!

I miss my grandma...still...and she died in 1989, and as I stood over her gravestone; life standing looking down at death, I still cried, just a little. something the living will never get over. So, the living must live like they want to live forever. We must live in Christ.

....but most importantly, we must die in Christ and leave our graveyards behind; for Christ has come to give life, and life more abundantly, not to have us wading through the desperation of this life.

Readings: Isaiah 9

Friday, 11 December 2015

When did God ask for your help exactly?

As I sat in air conditioned comfort, huddled between a stranger and a friend listening to a Korean pastor sharing God's word in a most animated tone, I couldn't help but smile in my heart at a God that sends messages in the wind that need no translation. The very last day of this seminar that I was invited to a week prior, was about faith - the very thing I was struggling with, just this week.

The message - just have faith - wait on God - don't try to help him accomplish his promises to you - he doesn't need your help!

After this message that I almost missed due to a full day of Christmas activities, there was a one on one 'ministering session'....being a strange face...I was bait. Not only was I bait - I was perplexed bait.
A sprightly chap tried his best to explain....needless to say - I didn't get it.

Do nothing while I wait? What do you mean do nothing? I have to do something...afterall - do I just sit around twiddling my thumbs and just wait?....NO - that wasn't flying with me. There must be something I can do....

The message referenced Abraham, Moses and David....

Abraham did something while he waited on God to fulfill his promise to him. He had Ishmael.  We all know how that turned out!

But still...what do I do in the between time?

Nothing! Just wait. Just depend on God's unwavering hand to do his work- his way - instead of  him having to accomplish his will plus fix your mess; you know- the mess you made trying to 'help' him.

Genesis 18:14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 

For there is nothing impossible for the Lord but there are many things that are not possible for you. And if you believe you had a hand in achieving God's plan for you; you might be tempted to glorify self!

But just do nothing?! 

So if the Lord promised you a husband, wouldn't it be logical that you would start to go out more? Visit some more parks? Attend more social events? Visit a few more churches? Become more social? Sign up for an online dating site perhaps? have to meet the person somewhere right? mean to say that a God that created the universe needs your help in providing a meeting spot for a husband he picked out for you since before the beginning of time? Really? Do you believe if you never leave your house again that God wouldn't still have you meet this person?

In the natural, the answer would be:  'to meet someone, you need to 'meet' them, so I would have to Do Something in order to 'help' God.

But, again the question is  "Is there anything impossible for God?"

Well, how about helping God to save people? How about starting a blog to get God's word out to the nations? Putting his words and work out there, showcasing our lives and experiences to build God's kingdom? Following truly the 'Great Commission" (Mathew 28:19)

Truth be told, most of everything I write ends up speaking to me and what God is trying to accomplish in me! If it's helping anybody else, it is not because of my writing style or bible knowledge - the two- need plenty of work - it is simply because of this - God's word cannot return void, but accomplish what it will. His will is being done. I am merely an instrument. If it were for me alone..I'd be fast asleep in bed!

Does God need our help? Probably not!

 But, I had an issue with what the pastor was saying!

My reasoning - God uses people, people come into your lives, they change the course of it; many help you find God, some help you rekindle your relationship with God, others through their hurt, betrayal and disappointment help you to lean on God - all done through- well - People. So you look through a lens that views - people- as the vehicle in which you 'found' God.

But was all God...all the time...working through people! They were not helping God. God was helping them. Helping them to reconcile his people unto himself.

The fact that God works through man to accomplish his will does not mean he needs our help to do anything! I have to let this marinate a little. I need time with this one.

Humans, are busy little bees, buzzing around, pollinating brightly coloured open flowers, who are blowing in the wind, waiting to be impregnated with the Word. Trouble is- all these busy little bees are buzzing around with their own words, their own ideas, and their own thoughts on how they can 'help' God accomplish his will. Many have good intentions. The road to hell is paved with many a good intention.

Bees, are responsible for one-third of the world's food supply! Imagine that! Now imagine us being busy bees pollinating one-third of the world with our own version of what God wants us to do to help Him! Scary thought!

So, do nothing to help God probably doesn't mean to sit around and twiddle your thumbs afterall. Maybe it means do nothing of yourself.
Do nothing from your own imaginings.
Do nothing from the standpoint of vain deceits, because God's ways are not your ways; so in helping him it is perfectly plausible that you will create major problems for yourself and others.

So, instead, wait on the promise. Have faith in the unseen. Read, study, pray and be guided, even if the rain you are waiting for takes 120 years. Building the Ark doesn't mean you are helping God, it means you are being obedient to what God has told you to do for Him to accomplish His will.'s what I think anyways. Maybe you disagree...

Related post: Birthdays and Mercedes Benz

Readings: Isaiah 55

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Faith, the substance of things hoped for yet not seen

I've written about faith, but it seems I see in the natural. It seems my faith is written with disappearing ink. Paper based. Read off the pages of the Word, processed in the mind, understood in the heart but not transferred into everyday reality. Houston! - We have a problem!

Everyday I wake up,I see my realities. I do not see faith

Everywhere I go, I see my needs. I do not see faith.

Every time I ponder about new opportunities. I do not see faith.

Whenever I look at a bank statement. I do not see faith.

I see...a Natural reality!

I see...wants. Needs. Hopes. Disappointments. Delays. Progress too but...I do not see faith.

How do I get to see faith?

How do I abandon all that is mulling around in my head and take the plunge into unadulterated faith?

How do you get to a point that faith is all you see?

What does it look like? Feel like? smell like? Taste like? Can somebody please tell me?

Tell me so that I can breathe...........................Tell me so that I can please God.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Let it go - or be forever frozen

And this is a story all about how my life got twisted turned upside down, and I'd like to take a minute just sit right there and I'll tell you how I became the queen of a town not Bel-Air ..........forgiveness

After my defiant hardened reaction, I had to face myself and decide if I was playing church or was actually trying to be more like Jesus! Turns was the latter.

It takes much more effort to actually be upset and mad at someone than it takes just to let it go.....

Let it go......

or stay........


Frozen in time, frozen in your attitude, limiting your altitude and compromising your state with God. God tells you that your body is a holy and living sacrifice; a place that he dwells. I'm pretty sure that although he created the seasons, frozen over hearts wouldn't be his favoured place to hang out.

I decided to forgive. To let it go. In the moment when I did it, I literally felt weightless. Like water running from a once frozen stream. Free.

I got it, unforgiveness is like weight you carry around, everywhere you go. Everywhere, with each person you choose not to forgive, the load gets heavier, you move slower. You grow colder. You have less room to trust people, less room to love people. Less places to let anyone in.

My daughter taught me a little goes like this...

A habit is a habit,
Everywhere you go you have it
If you take off the h 
you still have a bit
If you take off the a 
you still have bit
If you take off the b
you still have it

And wouldn't it be better that if you are going to carry around a habit, it be one worthy of taking every single place you go?

People are going to hurt us, despitefully use us, persecute us or just plain annoy us but if we have a habit of forgiveness- well- we will forgive them and keep it moving, everywhere we go!

That's a habit worth habitual about being spiritual.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Forgive- in the moment- for you may not have the luxury of time

Forgiveness is a hard thing for us human folks. Hard for us common folks. Hard for us broken folks. Hard for us hurting folks. Forgiveness, is even harder to 'give' in the moment when you are being hurt, wounded, mocked, lied upon by people you helped; people you love deeply. But we are called to forgiveness. It's hard.

I watched the movie War Room with my trio last week Friday, at first my daughter said - I want my money back, can we watch something else? She had paid no money, and I certainly wasn't watching a cartoon- because I was about my father's business. But as the show progressed she grew quiet; the seed was embedding. At the end I asked her what she thought of a war room for our house, she smiled- I'm not sure, where would we put it? I wouldn't want anybody to be able to read my stuff, she declared. She had become open to idea.

Praying is a powerhouse of a tool. I don't do it quite as much as I should.

For me, the movie changed my perspective on the 'enemies' we fight, and how I have been going about the fight All wrong this whole time! I have been fighting against people- pushing back against people instead of fighting the real enemy working through them. I need a war room, in-fact...I need a war house!

When people hurt me,and I look at their faces, and I hear their voices, all I see, hear and feel is my hurt, my pain, my betrayal. All I remember is how good I was to the person, how much I helped, sacrificed and gave my all. All I can think is how good I am and how bad they are. All I AM is angry. All I AM is hurt. All I AM is not forgiving. All I AM is fighting the wrong enemy. All I AM is losing.

And today I thought about forgiveness and these words  Luke 23:34 Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do....." as I stared at a face I felt too hurt to forgive. The wound was still fresh, and forgiveness was too much to ask. Hard.
As the words of Jesus danced upon my heart, I hardened it even as I thought this :- How awesome a God we serve that in the very moment that they mocked, geared, spat, betrayed, pierced, and abused him, the I AM, the creator of the universe, could say and live out the words - Forgive!

Here I AM, just a regular lady who had been hurt that was refusing to forgive, after the fact, and looked upon a face of someone that betrayed me and see them as'bad' and myself  as 'good'. I was the good one, the kind one, the one who was wronged. I have all right to be angry, upset, and militant about my unforgiveness. I AM wrong and strong! And this is why ALL our righteousness are but filthy rags, for our 'goodness' - well - it's just no good!

And God calls us to do the hard things. The things we don't want to do, the things that stretches us, the things that prepares us for what is to come. If as a Christian I want to be more like him, well, forgiveness - in the moment - has got to be a new normal and I will have to look myself in the mirror, swallow deeply and ................................follow Christ's example. Hard.

Last year, I ate a lot of pork; this year I decided that I didn't want to eat as much pork. I was resolute and I had pork, maybe four times this year. Three out of those four times, my body totally rejected it. It was upon the third occasion, just this weekend, as I sat curled up with a case of the runs that I realized what my body was trying to tell me on those other occasions.

My body said - 

Tanya, even though pork tastes so good to the taste buds, we, the digestive system have decided that we will no longer accept it, after all this time; it is foreign to us now and we do not want it any longer. In the event that you decide to forget what we clearly showed to you two times before, we will continue with the 'runs' in a more serious way, until you understand our position.

 Best regards, 
The Digestive system

Since, I have better things to do than fight with my own body, I think I'll give up pork altogether, hoping in the back of my mind that giving up fresh pork doesn't include me having to give up ham! For Christmas is a coming! 

It isn't the first time my body has rejected foods that I like to eat, it did it before with mangoes, fish and rice, and for each of those foods I did something that got my body to re- adjust ever so nicely to accepting them again!

Follow me- I promise I'm going somewhere with this!

This is what I did - even though my body said no - I kept eating those things my body didn't want - a little at a time, even through the occasional tummy aches and upchucks- I continued eating them until my body got used to them and I could have some of my favourites again without any painful reminders that once signaled their arrival into my digestive system.

It is the job of an active conscience to tell you when you have sinned and fallen short of God's glory, if you keep denying and suppressing that conscience, eventually it becomes less active, and you end up waist deep in a sinful unforgiving state of being. 

Like my digestive system, that voice of reason that speaks to you when you know you are wrong, that voice that brings a scripture to your heart that solidifies your wrong, is trying to save you from a night curled up in pain and anguish. It is trying to save you from a more serious case of the runs. But the more you indulge in sin, a little at a time, is the more that you will become accepting of it, and the less you will feel that conscience pricking you to do what is right. 

So I am caught in my wrong and I must make it right - 70 x 7. Hard. Yet doable, if I consider the consequences - and I must.

A little song I learnt recently from an African missionary to Jamaica...

I want to be more and more like Jesus
I want to be more and more like him
I want to be more and more and more and more
More and more and more and more 
More and more and more Like him

When I sing these words,I want them to be true, I want to be forgiving,I want to show God's love to those who hurt me, I want to learn to forgive, in the moment. I want to soften my heart instead of harden it. I want to do it so that in loving my enemies - I give them pause - I give them thought- I give them a moment to have questions dance on their hearts. A simple question like - how is it that she still shows me love, when I gave evil for good?...........and maybe, as they go about their daily lives, if not me, then someone will be able to answer that question and simply say :-

"Isn't the love of Jesus something wonderful?"

Then the I AM that is within me would be winning!

Forgive the moment....for we may not have the luxury of time

Related Post:How to forgive with an eraser called time