Sunday, September 10, 2017

Are You Withering?

My pastor said something in his sermon today that took me back to what the Lord had been stirring in my heart all week. Lately, my heart has been breaking for people who were once on fire for the Lord but aren't even lukewarm now. They're beyond having one foot in and one foot out of their walk with God. Their spiritual thermostat is set to COLD. They don't hunger for the things of God like they used to. They don't study God's word anymore. They don't fellowship with believers. They rarely (or never) attend church. And it shows up in every area of their lives. It's evident in everything they say and do that they haven't "been with" the Lord. Some even try to mask it, but there's no cover up for a heart that is distant from God.

When Pastor made reference to a very familiar passage of scripture, I could hear the words for this blog being written in my spirit. The tears began to fall, and I couldn't help but pray, at that very moment, for those who I know have lost their hunger for the things of God and have turned COLD.

Pastor referenced John 15:4-6a.  It reads, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you , unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered..."




Then he asked, "Have you ever seen a branch broken off from its tree?

He continued, "When it's broken off from its tree, the leaves (the fruit) will stay green for a little while, but it won't be long before they're brown and withering because they've been cut off from their source. The branch needs to be connected to the tree, its life-giving source, in order for its leaves to thrive."

Just hearing the explanation made my heart break all over again because I've seen it time after time. Someone stops walking closely with the Lord, and for a little while, they still talk the talk of a Christian. They still walk the walk of a Christian. They can still carry on conversation that says they know Christ, but it's never long before their "leaves start to wither" because they're not getting what they need from the life-giving source.

When they're disconnected from the source, they're easily angered. They're negative. They're unproductive and unmotivated. They even slip back into the talk and the behavior from their lives before Christ. Eventually, they begin to struggle within themselves. They want to still look like Christ, but they're not feeding themselves the things they need to continue to look like Him. There's a constant battle within them where their minds are telling them what they know they need to do to stay connected to the vine, but their actions doesn't follow through. And before they know it, they've gotten comfortable. The battle within them loses steam. They lose the desire to fight anymore. The hunger to do the things of God isn't as loud anymore, so they begin to fall into the cycle of life that pushes them further and further away from God. And they begin to live there.

There's no way they'll be able to survive in Christ without being connected to Him. They won't bear fruit that reflects Him if they're not feeding from His vine.

Because this has been so heavy on my heart all week, the Lord led me to different passages of scripture so I could pray.  This scripture stood out and replayed in my spirit more than anything else did throughout the week. 

"Those who are far from you will perish..." Psalm 73:27 a

Psalm 73 is a cry out from someone whose focus was on others instead of being on the Lord. This someone saw that the wicked were advancing with wealth and that they had no worries or cares, and he envied that. For a minute, he wanted to stop serving the Lord because in his service to the Lord, he wasn't getting what the wicked were getting. He thought his service to the Lord must have surely been in vain because there was nothing to show for it. But then, when he "entered the sanctuary of God", he got a closer look at the fate of the wicked. They had wealth and possessions, and they had big fun, but those were momentary pleasures. The writer of this psalm realized that the wicked were on slippery ground and that their "big fun" wouldn't last. If they weren't serving the Lord, they didn't have anything and WOULD NOT have anything.

Psalm 73:27 b says, "...you destroy all who are unfaithful to you."

The writer was reminded that a life with "enjoyment" outside of the will of God is momentary. He was reminded that "it is good to be near to God."


Is This You?
I wrote all of this to simply say, your leaves have withered. Your branch has been disconnected from the vine for too long and you're not thriving. Get connected! He longs for you to draw near to Him. He wants to give you what you need to live, and to live IN HIM. You're not so far gone that He can't love you back to Him. You'll never be too far for Him to love you back to Him.

Connect.

Apart from the vine, you can do nothing.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day, Schmather's Day...


I'm not extremely celebratory when it comes to holidays and birthdays. I'm far from being the Grinch, but I'm definitely not offended by not receiving gifts, or by someone forgetting to wish me a Happy "This" or a Merry "That". I'm chill when it comes to all that. I understand, however, that there are people in my life who view holidays and birthdays through a different lens. Receiving gifts and hearing Happy "This" or Merry "That" is important to them. My biological father, for instance, is one. He likes to know that he's not forgotten on specially marked days on the calendar, so I make it my business to call him.

Especially on Father's Day.

Throughout the years, God has shown me that I can feel how I feel and maintain my personal convictions while still extending love to others in the way they understand and receive it. So, even though I could've gone all day without saying a word, I didn't. I made sure my first phone call today was to him. He beamed with excitement! I didn't even have much else to say beyond Happy Father's Day. Sure, we had our usual conversation about what's going on and how we're doing, but because we talk often enough, and in this case, not too long before today's call, saying Happy Father's Day was just a formality.

Then, still out of formality, I called my stepfather, the one who raised me, and wished him a Happy Father's Day. He and I are pretty much the same with holidays. We can, or we can't and we'll still be fine. He was grateful that I'd taken the time to call and talk to him, but our relationship is so much more than just today that our conversation was pretty blasé.



The whole time I was in those conversations with my dads, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to talk to my mom. And I didn't want to talk to her because I wanted to acknowledge her as "the father" in my life. I definitely ain't 'bout that foolishness (ebonics and all)! I have TWO dads, for crying out loud! I wanted to talk to her because for the past few days, the Lord had been stirring up some words in my heart for me to share with her. I would've probably been calling her in the next few hours anyway, so when I finished my short talk with my stepdad, I asked him to pass the phone to my mom. I had to give her the Hallmark card that the Lord had written on my heart, regardless of it being "Father's Day".

You see, lately, I've been pretty heartbroken as a mentor. I've been experiencing the pain that comes with "mothering" and loving someone so deeply and wanting the best for them so much that it hurts. It hurts a mother when her children make wrong choices. It hurts when they get their hearts broken. It hurts when they're in tough situations that they can't be rescued from. It just hurts. And the most recent hurt for me has been learning that many of my girls have strained relationships with their mothers. They argue and fight with their mothers. They intentionally exclude their mothers from their lives; they don't want to have anything to do with them. They love their mothers, I know, but for whatever reason, at the same time, they can't stand them. And I have NO IDEA what that's like. I had to call my mom and thank her for me not knowing the ins and outs of this type of "love".



From the moment I stepped into true adulthood at the age of 23, with my own home, bills and responsibilities, I've been calling my mom and thanking her. Every now and then, the Lord would (and still does) show me how much she sacrificed for my siblings and me when we were growing up. He would show me something she said or did and remind me just how much those things are for me NOW.  In fact, it's for me more NOW than it was then. I've thanked her for so much over the years that I feel like she may be getting tired of hearing my many thanks, but when the Lord tells me to call her, I do, even if it is on "Father's Day".

Even as a teenager, when I didn't like everything my mother said, and when I didn't like that she punished me or took things away from me, I understood, as young as I was, that EVERYTHING she did was for my good. I never questioned it. There was something in me that knew if she was being hard on me (and she was), it was making me better. I never argued (because I would've died), and I never rebelled. I didn't like a lot of it, but I knew she loved me and I knew she was serious about making me responsible, dependable, respectful, and adaptable, among other things.

I called to thank my mom for being tough on me and for teaching me through EVERYTHING she said and did. I thanked her for making it so I would never know what it's like to hate her because her love wouldn't let it be so. I thanked her over and over again.

I had nothing profound to say to either of my dads. Not today. I didn't "prepare" for this holiday. Today, God gave me a word for my mama, and I wasn't shuttin' it off just cuz it's "Father's Day" or because I "should have" something special for my dads. The way the Lord works, I may have a word for both of my dads on "Mother's Day", and without question, regardless of what day the calendar says it is, I'll say what He tells me to say to whomever on whatever day. Shoooo...the way I see it, every day is "Father's and Mother's Day".  At least for me, today sure proved to be.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Meet Chef Destini!



It all started with a writing assignment I gave my 6th graders...

One of the vocabulary words in one of our units of study was enterprising. I always explain to my students that they have natural gifts and talents, and that those gifts and talents are designed to be used to help others who need what they have. I always tell them to pay attention to what they do well and to key in on how it's connected to what they like to do and/or have a passion for. They learned from our very short study of young entrepreneurs that they, too, can be enterprising. They learned that they, too, can be entrepreneurs.



I decided, in the middle of that unit, to give them the following topic as one of the Quick Writes for the week.

Everyone has something that they do exceptionally well, something that they just have the natural ability to do. What is that thing for you? How can you use that to help you become enterprising?

Their responses blew my mind! They had so much to say, and there were some AMAZING ideas! I was so moved by how in tune they were with their gifts and talents, and I was floored at their ability to articulate how they could help others with what they have to offer, so I decided to take a couple of their Quick Writes and post them on my social media outlets. I was just so proud! I would've never imagined that what took place thereafter would have been so.



When I posted Destini's Quick Write, one of my college friends, Chef Ederique Goudia, who is a chef in Detroit, sent me a message. She was moved by Destini's pure desire to use her gift with cooking to help others, so she wanted to be a blessing to Destini and assist her in reaching her dream. One thing Chef Ederique knew for sure was that she wanted to don Destini with her first chef coat. I was stunned!

Throughout the next few days, Chef Ederique and I were texting, e-mailing and talking on the phone, panning out the details of what she wanted Destini to have. Chef Ederique wasn't satisfied with just making sure that Destini had her PERSONALIZED chef coat, but she wanted her to be encouraged by other chefs so she won't lose sight of her dream. Chef Ederique reached out to other chefs in the Detroit area, shared Destini's Quick Write with them, and gave those chefs the opportunity to be a blessing to Destini too. Not only did the chefs give Destini "cooking gifts", but they showered her with letters of encouragement.

Once all of the details were etched in stone, Chef Ederique gathered all the goodies from the other chefs and sent 3 packages to me. I, in the meantime, was on the phone with Destini's mother planning a presentation for Destini. I knew I wanted it to be during the school day in Destini's class so her classmates could see and be encouraged to believe in whatever they mentioned in their Quick Writes, and whatever else was in their hearts that never even made it to their papers. Destini's mom made it her business to leave work for a couple hours to be in my classroom to witness Destini being coated and to share in that special moment with her.

Watch the presentation here:Way to Go, Chef Destini!

Destini not only has her first chef coat, but she has cutting boards a set of knives (that we were sure to put in her mom's hands to take straight home), t-shirts from Detroit restaurants and letters of encouragement. Chef Ederique has even offered to be Destini's distant mentor and has encouraged her to reach out any time.




The students were motivated by the presentation. We had talks afterward about how they could use what they're naturally gifted with. Seeing Desitini's dream up close and personal triggered something in them. Still, I encourage them to focus on what's already in their hands. I may not be able to tell them that God created them to use the gifts He's placed inside of them, but I never miss an opportunity to tell them that they were created to be great, and that they can do that by simply tapping into who they already are.

Way to go, Chef Destini!

I'm already looking forward to my dinner date with Chef Ederique at Destini's Cafe` one day in the very promising future.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Single Women Series: Will He Even Be Able to Find You?

Surely you've heard the saying, "There are no good men out there," haven't you? Yeah, I know. You've probably even said it yourself. The truth, though, despite what you've heard, and despite what you've said, is that THERE ARE GOOD MEN OUT THERE! And even more than that, there are good GODLY men out there who are looking for good GODLY women. These men know God's word and they're living it. They're walking in His ways, bearing much fruit in their daily lives and in ministry. They know that it's not good for man to be alone and they understand that God created women to be help meets for them (Genesis 2:18). They know that when they find a wife, they will have found a good thing and will have obtained favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22).  You wanna know how I know? Because I'm a good GODLY woman, and I know if I'm out here living a life for Christ, doing what He's called me to do just like so many other sisters are, why in the world wouldn't there be men out here doing the same?

THEY.
ARE.
OUT.
THERE!



And they're looking for us. The question, though, is will they even be able to find us?

You're absolutely right if you're thinking that you'll catch his eye because you're dressed nicely and your hair and makeup is right. Men are definitely drawn to what they see. And you're right if you're thinking that your perfume may be the one thing that causes him to "sniff you out". The question with that, though, is will any of that keep him?

If you're expecting to become one with a man who knows and lives God's word and who proves himself to be a leader...and if you desire a man to be the spiritual leader of your home by washing you with the water of the Word...and if you expect him to be involved in kingdom building and changing lives by the leading of the Holy Spirit, why in the world do you think he wouldn't want the same? Why wouldn't he want someone who is honoring and obeying the Father in everything she does? Sure, you can be beautiful and well kempt, but are you those things AND a woman who honors and obeys the Lord in all her ways?

"But, Iantha, I'm serving faithfully. I'm living for the Lord. I'm doing what I was called to do."

Are you really?

Let's take a closer look at what you're doing by studying a "hook up" in the bible. I think we can learn something from what the Lord did with Isaac and Rebekah (before she started dabbling in lies and deceit; that's a whole 'notha blog).

Abraham was Isaac's father, and at this point in their story, Abraham was close to death. It was important to Abraham that he find a wife for Isaac, and he wanted the matter established before his death. He didn't want Isaac making a poor choice, and he especially didn't want him choosing from among the Canaanite women who were the primary residents in the town where they lived. So Abraham spoke to the oldest servant of his house and told him to go to his home country to find a wife for Isaac. Marriages, for the most part, were arranged then, but in this instance, because of a covenant Abraham had made with the Lord, he couldn't allow Isaac to go to that country. The servant had to be sent. (Genesis 24)

Out of obedience, and with specific instructions, the servant went to Abraham's home town, and when he arrived, he prayed to the Lord and said (and I'm jazzin' this up), "Now, Lord, you 'dun sent me out here, and my master, Abraham, trusts ya boy to do the right thing, so please show him favor, and show me that same favor. I need to get this right. So I'm by this well and all the daughters of the men in the city are coming to draw water. Can you make it so when I say, 'Please let down your pitcher so I can get some water' she says 'Here you go. Drink. And I'ma take care of your camels too.'? This is how I'ma know she's the one.'"

The Bible says that when he saw the beautiful Rebekah draw water from the well, he asked her what he said he would, and she responded in the exact way he prayed she would. She even said (still jazzin' it up), "I'ma draw water for your camels until they finish drinking."  (Genesis 24)

And y'all know camels be THIRSTY! That girl had a servant's heart! Go'on, Rebekah!

Now, it's obvious that this was her duty. All of the women drew water at this time. SHE was doing what she was specifically appointed to do at that specific time. And HE prayed a specific prayer because he was the one looking for the woman on behalf of the man who couldn't be there to choose for himself. The servant had sense enough to talk to the Lord, knowing that the Lord is the One who's in control of all things. He knew he better not make the choice. He knew it would be best to let the Lord decide.

She was doing what she was supposed to do.
The servant prayed a specific prayer.
Then, he went looking for her.
And he found her.

I may be going out on a limb here, but what if he didn't see you because you weren't being obedient and working in the thing that the Lord has told you to do? What if God told you that day to go and speak to the woman at Wal-Mart that you keep encountering every time you're there? He gave you the exact words to say to the woman and even told you what time to go because He knew when she would be at work, but you were scared and you let fear paralyze you. What you didn't see was that her nephew, who is her primary caretaker, was picking her up early from work to surprise her for her birthday that day. For about a year, since taking on the responsibility of being his aunt's caretaker, he'd been praying for a woman who would show kindness to his aunt because she has such a rough time with customers since having had surgery on her wrist. He loves his aunt who is like a mother to him, so he knows if a woman shows genuine kindness to his aunt, that would be the first thing to give him the okay to at least strike up a conversation with her. He would measure her up against his other prayers later.

And I could offer many scenarios because Lord knows the storyteller in me can go, honey!

When the Lord tells you to turn off your phone for a while to pray and sit at his feet, do you do it? In that specific prayer session, he wants to tell you how to pray for your husband.

When the Lord told you to write the business plan and have it ready to present to the director over your dad's youth program, did you write it and have it ready? In that meeting were going to be 2 Godly men who were looking for wives, and one of them was praying for a woman who was starting a business because she would understand his life in business. That was major for him.

When the Lord told you to stay after church to clean, did you stay? Everyone who stayed to clean was being treated to a 5-course dinner cruise the following weekend, and the captain of the ship was a man who had been praying for someone who knew what it meant to serve at her local church. He knew he'd need someone who understood selflessness in that way because the Lord had just told him that he would be a pastor.

Would your husband even be able to find you? Would you be doing the specific things that you've been called to do, or those "on the spot" directives the Holy Spirit sometimes hands out? Are you in the place to be found by the man who is offering up specific prayers for the woman who will help him to do what the Lord has called him to do?

And please don't get me wrong. Hear me and hear me well... In no way am I saying that we should be obedient to the Lord simply for the hope of gaining some man's affection. I can tell you that the Lord searches the motives of our hearts and he can smell your actions long before you play them out. If your obedience to Him is to win the heart of man, you'll lose every time. Your heart should be focused on honoring the Lord, and if He chooses to have you found by your husband in one of your acts of obedience, so be it. He could do it that way, and he could choose not to. One thing is for sure though: A Godly woman who honors and obeys the Lord in everything she does is more desirable and appealing to a Godly man than any outfit, hair do, or beat face (I hate that expression SO MUCH! Who came up with that? LAWD).

Be found honoring the Lord and doing EVERYTHING He tells you to do!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Home Sweet Home

One of the best parts of the Stories That Teach Girls Book Reading Tour so far was being back home in Louisiana. Before the 2 tour stops in LA, it had been a little over a year since I'd been physically present with any of my family, so naturally, I was excited to see them. I was even more excited for them to be with me as I poured God's word into girls' hearts. My family knows what God has called me to do, and they see some of it through social media and hear of it when we talk, but because I've lived states away for almost 14 years, they never really get to share in it with me.

I was honored to share with a group of super excited girls at the first Louisiana stop, and grateful that my mom's church, The Living Gospel Church of Harvey, so willingly opened its doors to host that book reading session. My mom was there to assist with whatever I needed before the session, and she was my right hand girl as we were bombarded at the book signing table after the session.


The icing on the cake, though, was having my older sister and my 2 nieces, her daughters, there. They even brought a friend with them! One of my nieces, Tari, pitched in and helped as well. I was so grateful to have the girls there because, finally, after all the girls the Lord has had me to minister to over the years, MY GIRLS got to hear from the Lord in a large girl group setting, which was worlds different from those one-on-one talks with their Tee Tee. They got to interact with God's word and get involved in the lesson in a way that they definitely hadn't done with me before. I loved every minute of it!


Then, it was time to go to Lake Charles, LA, and I was more excited about this stop than I could even explain. Not only would I be visiting my college friend, Milena, whose husband pastors the church that was hosting the book reading session, but I would be bringing my first niece, Jazmin, along with me as my assistant. I couldn't wait! I'd been longing for months for some quality time with my girl.

See, Jazmin, who also happens to be my godchild, was born when I was in high school, so by the time life started "moving" for her, I was 5 hours away from home in college, and then, immediately after college graduation, I was states away into adulthood and beginning ministry. I would see her and the rest of my nieces and nephews when I'd visit home ever so often, but that was it. Sure, my visits were regular enough that I didn't miss them growing up, but there were definitely some gaps; I missed a lot.

As Jazmin and my other nieces and nephews got (and get) older and mature enough to handle conversations about the route their lives were taking, I became intentional about having those conversations, and especially with Jazmin. She's so much like me, it's scary, but that's all the more reason for me to use whatever wisdom I have to help guide and direct her. When it was time for her to apply for colleges, I couldn't be there physically, so I prayed about the best way to guide her from afar. I made it my business to be ALL UP IN her business so she can avoid unnecessary pitfalls and walk wisely through her years in school. And I'm SO proud of her! She killed her first year and she's handling the second year well too! Even more than that, though, her character is intact and her head is on straight. She sets goals and works hard to reach them. She's sure of herself and doesn't need others' validation to feel secure. She walks with her head held high, and her eye is on the prize. I count it my responsibility to cover her how the Lord leads me, and since her school is only an hour away from where the book reading session was in Lake Charles, I wanted her to see how the Lord tells me to cover other girls too.
My girl was the PERFECT assistant! We gelled like we'd been working together for years. From setting up for the session, to handling book sales...from taking pictures and getting video coverage, to packing up and shutting down...I had the best help!





And every time I looked over at her while I was teaching, I know the Lord was teaching her too. I watched her countenance as He spoke to her heart, reminding her how precious she is to Him. I saw her taking in the scriptures and planting them in her heart. I watched her eyes and knew that God telling me to bring her with me was a divine assignment. I may never know just how much our day trip impacted her, but I know it did; I know seeds were planted that will blossom into greatness. I love how this trip surpassed my visit to her campus last year, and how next year's trip will top this one. I look forward to continuing to pour into her life (and my other nieces and nephews) the way the Lord leads me. I treasure every laugh and every word of every conversation I had with my girl. She sure made Sweet Home Alabama Louisiana reeeeaaal sweet!

And she didn't go to sleep on me in the car. Major points!







Sunday, January 1, 2017

Meet Kembrel

"If I can reach just one, it was well worth it.  I've done my part."

I've heard this said many times by those who have committed their lives to reaching, teaching, and guiding others. Preachers, motivational speakers, coaches, teachers... they all understand that when they're fishing to catch the masses, not everyone will "bite". They know, though, that after preparing bait and prepping the boat and waking up early in the morning to get the right catch, there's beauty and fulfillment in pulling in that right one, even if it's the only one.

Such has been the case with me on the Stories That Teach Girls Book Reading Tour. At every book reading session, many have taken the bait, but there has always been, on every stop of the tour, that one girl who I was able to pull in and know that my day of fishing was just for her.

Meet Kembrel.

I met Kembrel at the book reading session in Lake Charles, LA. As is the routine for each book reading session, I read a portion from one of the stories in the book, The White Scarf, and I teach a lesson that ties in with the story. The girls do a couple activities inside the lesson and then we end with a book signing, because after getting only a portion of that story, THEY CANNOT WAIT to purchase their books to read the rest of it.

As girls come up to the book signing table, I ask their names and ask them to spell it for me. Several girls had come through before Kembrel, so by the time she got to me, I was in a groove.

I asked her her name. She said, "Kembrel." (prounounced Kim-brell)

I heard her, but I didn't really, because even when I ask their names, my ears are already tuned in to hear the spelling of the name so I can write it and then write their personalized messages.

I said, "Okay, spell it."

She spelled it. And I stopped in my tracks. I looked up at her and said again, "What's your name?"

She said it quietly. I said, "One more time?"

She repeated it.

I said, "Okay, spell it for me one more time."

She did, but it she did it very quietly. I barely heard her. There were people all over the room, talking and laughing. I asked her to spell it again, and she did. And it finally clicked.

I looked at her and repeated her name back to her, and then asked, "Your name is Kembrel?"

She shook her head yes, and a chill raced through my body.

What KEmbrel didn't know, but was about to find out, was that there's a story in Stories That Teach Girls whose main character is named KImbrel. Before writing that story, A Special Design, I had never even heard the name. In fact, I didn't even want to use that name. The story had been completely written with another name for the main character that I can't even remember now, and the 7 lessons for the story had been written too. But one morning when I entered my writing session to write some other portion of the book, the Lord was tugging on my heart to change the character's name, and Kimbrel was the name He gave me.

I fought with it. I kept saying, "Lord, why? That's not a common name. People won't be able to relate to that name when they read the story. I never even heard of that name. Why Kimbrel?"

I didn't want to do it. I liked the name I had. I tried to move on and write other things, but I couldn't even focus. Nothing was happening in that writing session, and the Lord would not let it rest. He kept telling me to change that name, so I went through the entire story and all of the lessons and changed the name from whatever it was to Kimbrel in every place it was written.

I said to her, "Girl, do you know that there is a story in this book whose main character's name is Kimbrel?" I had chills when I said that to her!

I said, "I've never even met a Kembrel. I had never even heard that name before I wrote the story, and I didn't even use that name when I first wrote the story. I used some other name, but the Lord told me to change it to Kimbrel."

She smiled. I sat there and shook my head. I had an encounter with the Lord in that moment that no one else would even be able to understand. 

I said to her, "My God! This story was written just for you, girl! I don't know what the Lord is going to teach you in those lessons or what, exactly, is in there just for you, but I believe with my whole heart that IT'S JUST FOR YOU. He wouldn't even let me rest until I changed that name."

She smiled some more. I was stunned! It took me a minute to even get myself together to write in her book.

While I was talking to her, her grandmother was standing off to the side. As I handed Kembrel her book and got up from the table to hug her and get ready to take a picture, her grandmother said to me, "And she wasn't even supposed to be here."

I looked over at her to read her face and see what she meant. She went on.

She said, "She's from Texas. She is visiting us, and she wasn't even supposed to be here."

I could've cried! I had "gone fishing" that day in Lake Charles, LA just for that moment to "catch" Kembrel.

See, there was so much more to that moment than just the shock of knowing that her name was KEmbrel and that there was a story in the book about a girl named KImbrel. There was more to that moment than learning that Kembrel wasn't supposed to be there, but was there anyway because it was ordained by God. What that moment was really about was (1) the joy of knowing my obedience to the Lord created that moment. It was a private celebration between God and me for the fruit of obedience. (2) It was also a celebration for knowing the Lord was about to use that very moment, created by my obedience, to "catch" Kembrel.

I don't know. Only God knows. My job is to just be obedient.

God could've wanted me to put KImbrel's name in the book because maybe KEmbrel doesn't like to read. Maybe knowing her name is in the book could be the "bait" He uses to pull her into the stories that were written to teach her. Maybe this is how He wants to draw her closer to Him.

Maybe the situation that KImbrel faces in the story is similar to something KEmbrel faced or will face, and the Lord wants to use that to encourage her heart and/or teach her how to handle it, which will draw her closer to Him.

Maybe KEmbrel wasn't hearing a thing I was saying while I was teaching that night, but because she learned that there's a story with her name in it, she may feel like the whole book could actually have something for her. She may decide to read back through what I said and what I taught and get a grip on it because she now knows the Lord hand picked her to be there that night.

There are endless possibilities for why God chose to use KImbrel to "catch" KEmbrel, but whaever it is, I KNOW it's marvelous! He confirmed that in my spirit just as sure as her name is Kembrel! And her name is definitely Kembrel!

Umph, umph, umph! KEmbrel, KImbrel, KEmbrel...