Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

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Every month when Mother Nature decides to pay me a visit, I always curl up on the couch with a large cup of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea from @wildfoodsco and a heating pad on my lower back. This combo works wonders for me! I barely feel any cramps now and I am able to function normally. To go from being curled up in the fetal position to being able to workout during that time of the month, is a HUGE difference.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is also beneficial for women who are trying to conceive or are currently pregnant 🤰🏾 Interested in improving both your spiritual and your physical health? Purchase my new book Tea for Two! You will be encouraged and transformed with each daily devotional while being introduced to a particular tea and its health benefits! Go to https://smithpublishingllc.com/shop to pre-order your copy now!

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Tea for Two: A 30 Day Devotional

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Where Are You Putting Your Faith?

Last Sunday my Pastor spoke on faith and how your environment and who is in it can impact your faith. What resonated with me the most is when he said that we put faith in our prayers, but we fail to put faith in Jesus to perform a miracle. That was such a revelation to me. It made me think of various situations in my life and how I had been guilty of that. I would pray these elaborate prayers, pray in the Spirit, and then as soon as my prayer wasn’t answered when I thought it should or if something happened that seemed to be blocking my prayer, I would be shook. I would cry, I would get mad, I would feel defeated.

For the past 6 months, my husband and I have been trying to conceive. Each month I would pray those gut wrenching prayers, those prayers that take everything out of you. And with each passing month, I would be faced with a negative pregnancy test, heartache, and tears streaking down my face. With each month, I would try to figure out ways to “help” God answer my prayer. I would change my eating habits, take a gazzillion vitamins, track my cycle, take my basal body temperature every morning, and pretty much drive myself insane. All of these actions weren’t putting my faith in God. No matter how hard I prayed, I wasn’t truly putting my faith in God. I was putting more faith in my prayers and in what I could control or change.

Hearing my Pastor say that we put our faith in prayer instead of putting our faith in God, made everything click. It’s not about me or what I want or when I want something done. It is about putting my faith in God. It’s about resting in God even when it looks like my situation won’t change. It’s about not being moved by every bump or the turbulence that comes when you’re trusting God. Once I finally understood that, I had such incredible peace over this situation in my life. God reassured me that He will bless me and my husband with children some day, but right now is not that time because He has other plans for us. You see, when you put more faith in your prayers than in God, you are so distracted that you can’t even hear when God is trying to minister to you. Rest in God. Put your faith in Him, not your prayers.

Obedience and Suffering

Hebrews 5:8 (NKJV)

“though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

I don’t know about you, but lately life has been nothing more than a combination of a Debbie Downers and a Negative Nancys. It hasn’t been your typical “life happens” moments, but off the wall, crazy experiences that suck the life and energy out of you. Before you can recover from one hardship, there’s another one waiting for you around the corner. I often find myself wondering, “When does it end, when do I get a break?”

Just like our lives are a challenge, when Jesus walked this earth He suffered greatly and experienced countless hardships. Throughout His ministry He was ridiculed and mocked. The Pharisees made it their sole purpose to find fault with Him and plot ways to kill Him. One of His closest friends betrayed Him for some money. He even suffered a gruesome, painful death even though He was innocent. And we complain about how difficult our lives are!?!? Yet despite all of the suffering, all of the disappointments, all of the hurt and pain, not once did Jesus get caught up in the flesh. Not once did He react to the injustices committed against Him. Not once did He throw a pity party.

How is that so? How was Jesus able to stay true to His nature despite all of the pain He experienced? Hebrews 5:8 tells us that through Jesus’ suffering He learned obedience. It was through the pain, the heartache, the sadness that Jesus learned how to stay committed to God. He did not allow the tough times to cause Him to become bitter and resentful. He did not allow criticisms, mocking, betrayal, and physical pain to cause Him to turn His back on God and step out of God’s will for His life. Instead, He remained faithful to God and walked in obedience even to the point of death. He allowed His suffering to teach Him obedience.

That is what God wants us to develop in our suffering: a willingness to walk in complete obedience to Him. James 1:2 tells us to count it all when we fall into various trials. The reason why we can find joy in our pain and suffering is because our suffering pushes us closer to God and helps us to learn how to follow His will for our lives. So instead of letting challenges and pain cause us to get caught up in the flesh, we need to draw closer to God and allow Him to use our suffering to mold us for His purposes.

Mission Trip to Belize Part 1: Preparation

Last Saturday I returned from my very first mission trip. To say that this trip was a life changing experience would be an understatement. From everything that happened in my life leading up to this trip to the trip itself as well as after returning from the trip, it has all left me so in awe of my Abba Father.

For the longest God has pressed upon me to go on a mission trip. Every year I would sign up to attend an information session for the mission trips and even once I paid my registration fee, but I never fully committed. Last year I decided to truly commit. I knew that I had to go on a mission trip. I was honestly not up for discussion. I prayed about which trip I should go on and the Lord led me to go on the Belize mission trip. I paid my registration fee and attended the first meeting. I was so hyped after the first meeting. I made a godly connection with someone who is know one of my close friends. I was so excited for this mission trip. During the first meeting, they told us that we would be attacked by the enemy like crazy. I expected it, but I think deep down I didn’t take it seriously…

After that first meeting, the enemy began to attack me like crazy. Many of my friendships and family relationships began to fall apart. I mean people were doing a complete 360 on me out of nowhere. My finances and my health were being attacked. I was struggling to raise the money for my trip. My mind was being attacked. I was under so much stress because I was commuting to a job that was over an hour from my home without traffic, but with traffic it would take me anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours to get to and from work. On top of that, some of my co-workers were giving me a hard time at work, attacking me for no reason. Everything around me was literally falling apart. I seriously was in a Job season. There were so many times I thought about pulling out of this mission trip, but I didn’t. I knew that was what the enemy wanted me to do.

In the beginning, I was mad at God. I told Him, “Why are you letting the enemy attack me like this when I’m preparing to do something for You? I’m going out into the mission field to share the Gospel and to bring You glory, but You don’t even have my back!”
Yes, I have my moments when I get real with my Abba Father and tell Him exactly what’s on my heart. During this time He began to show me that He was using these trials to prepare me for my mission trip and for my future. Once I understood what God was doing, I embraced the trials. I made it my goal to not let these challenging situations steal my joy and peace or cause me to react. I learned to rest in God and trust Him to work things out.

It wasn’t until a month before my mission trip that God began to turn my situation around. Little by little people began to donate. I had a few unexpected donor’s who paid not only for the remainder of my mission trip, but also gave me money to buy what I needed for my trip and spending money. However, right after that victory, the enemy attacked me physically. I ended up missing about two weeks of work due to having a fever of 100.4 that spiked to 105 and a stiff neck. I went to Urgent Care, ER, and my doctor and none of them could tell me what was wrong with me or what was causing the fever and the pain. I prayed and asked God to keep me despite all that was happening and to show me what to do. I sang worship songs and prayed like crazy during this time. He showed me what to do and healed me. During this time off, He led me to apply for a preschool director position. I honestly didn’t think I would get an interview, but I went for it anyway. The next day I got a call for an interview. I was so scared and nervous because I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I also was concerned that if I miraculously got the job, would they be willing to give me the time off for my mission trip. I prayed and told my Abba that if this was the job that He had for me, He would work it all out. I went on the interview and it was the most laid back interview. I mean it was like I was just talking to one of my peers about child development. On top of that, the woman who interviewed me had researched me and she knew all about my mission trip and she saw my YouTube videos. She really liked me, but had more interviews to conduct. Well two days later she called me and offered me the position and was willing to allow me to start after I returned from my mission trip! You know that was God!

Not only did God bless me with a job that is 15 minutes from my house, He gave me my dream job where I will be able to do some incredible things for His glory. I’m still in awe of what He did. He truly came through for me. After all the stressing and crying because of the long commute I was making, He turned my situation around instantly!

To read about all that God did during my mission trip to Belize, go to Part 2 of Mission Trip to Belize.

Mission Trip to Belize Part 2: There’s No Turning Back

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This trip seriously snuck up on me. I felt so unprepared. I started packing my bag a week before we were to leave for the trip and ended up not completely packing until the night before we left. When the day finally arrived for us to leave for Belize, I was a mixture of emotions. I went from excitement to fear to curiosity to anxiety. During the drive to the airport, I started wondering if I was even supposed to be on that trip…wondering if I had made a mistake. But it was too late to change my mind lol.

When we touched down in Belize, we immediately got to work. Our first project was to a couple of bathrooms and a patio area at a school. We also had the opportunity to play with some of the kids that went to the school and pass out supplies. Some of the other projects we completed were building a fence around a school and a playground to make it secure for the children, painted a church both inside and out, went out into the community to pray with people and invite them to an outreach we had in order to share the Gospel and pass out more supplies.

Although we were able to be a blessing to the people of Belize, they were even a greater blessing to us. They showered us with so much love and welcomed us with open arms. They taught us how to be content and joyful with what we have. They taught us how to appreciate each moment in life. While we were at one of the schools putting up a fence, I helped pass out candy to the children. We gave each child one starburst. What got me was how each child was so grateful for that starburst. They didn’t complain. They were truly thankful for that. Honestly, that convicted. How dare I ever complain about anything? How dare I ever be ungrateful? It really made me start thinking before I twisted up my lips to complain about anything.

Of course the enemy attacked us while on this trip, but God intervened. Our first night there, one of my roommates found a scorpion on her bed. Thank God she saw it before she went to bed and we were able to get it out of the room. A couple of days later we went back to where we built a fence around a playground in order to take a group picture in front of the completed project. While we were there, one of the local kids had a metal goal post fell on his head causing a deep gash. Thank God we were there and we had a few people on our trip who work in the medical field. That same night when we got back to our dorm, there was a fire literally a few feet from the room I was in. Unlike in the US where we’re able to call 911 in order to have firefighters deal with a fire, we had to handle it ourselves. We as a group along with those who were hosting us worked together to put the fire out. We had people praying and singing worship songs, we had people going and getting everything from buckets to trashcans to fill with water to dump on the fire. On top of that, the water pressure was very low so it took time to fill up each bucket, but God. God allowed us to be able to put that fire out and He kept us safe while doing it.

This trip also pushed me outside my comfort zone. When most people first meet me, they think I’m quiet and for the most part I am. Well by day three of the trip, I was my regular self. I was joking around and laughing and letting my personality shine through. I also started building some strong bonds with the people on my trip. They have honestly become my extended family. I was also asked to lead the morning devotional with 3 other women. Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous. God led me to speak on being pushed outside our comfort zones because that was what He was doing in me during this trip. I mean this trip seriously put me in situations that I would have never imagined I would be in. From taking a cold shower just about every night to doing manual labor to not knowing if I was going to wake up with a tarantula or a scorpion in my bed, this trip stretched me.

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Everything I experienced on this trip has prepared me for my new job. Going to Belize has taught me to be assertive, how to lead, how to take the lead when I see a need, how to be patient with others, how to make the best of each moment and situation, and how to embrace and love who God created me to be. Honestly, if you have never been on a mission trip, go. Now. No, seriously, go on a mission trip. That trip will change you forever. You are separated from all of the distractions. You are forced out of your comfort zone, but most importantly You will hear God speaking to you loud and clear, and you will learn how to trust Him like never before.

 

Koinonia

Slide-Connected

Definition of Koinonia

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary: (a) Communion, fellowship, sharing in common. (b) That which is the outcome of fellowship, a contribution

Strong’s Concordance: (a) contributory help, participation, (b) sharing in, communion, (c) spiritual fellowship, a fellowship in the spirit

New American Standard New Testament Greek Lexicon: fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse

To say that building relationships with other Christians is important is an understatement. Fellowshipping with other Christians is critical to the Christian walk. We will not survive living in this world and the many attacks of the enemy if we don’t have close, intimate relationships with other Christians.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

The reason why we need other Christians in our lives is so that they can help us in our time of need and we can do the same for them. There are going to be times when the enemy comes hard against us. We will be bombarded with distractions, unfortunate circumstances will occur in our lives, the enemy will attack our minds with thoughts that are contrary to God’s Word, and we will have moments when we feel weak and feel like giving up. This is why we need to fellowship with other Christians, this is why Koinonia is so crucial.

I don’t know about you, but I have tried to live this Christian life on my own and I was so miserable. I had no one to encourage me in the Lord when I was in the midst of a storm. I had no one to pray with me when I was facing a serious challenge. I had no one to stand in agreement with me for the breakthrough I was trusting God for. I felt isolated and alone. This made me an easy target for the enemy. He began to attack my mind, planting all kinds of negative thoughts. All of that changed when I began to fellowship with other believers.

When I refer to fellowship or koinonia, I am not talking about surface level relationships where you keep people at a certain distance and only let them know so much about you. Being closed off or only sharing the good and not the ugly with your brothers and sisters in Christ will still have you feeling isolated. Now I’m not saying tell any and every person who claims to be a Christian what is going on in your life because that wouldn’t be wise. What I am saying is that you should seek God and ask Him to bring you some close, godly friends that you can build an intimate relationship with like David and Jonathan had (1 Samuel 18-20). This type of friendship is selfless and loving. Jonathan encouraged David, reminded David of the promise God had made to him, protected David, and was heartbroken when David was being chased by Saul.

We need to fellowship with believers who will pour into us when we’re feeling low, who we can feel safe confiding in knowing that they will pray for and with us, who will lovingly correct us when we’re wrong, and who will hurt when we hurt and will rejoice when we rejoice (Romans 12:15). We need those individuals who are constantly pushing us closer to Jesus.

So if you’re someone who is trying to live this life for Jesus on your own, stop it right now. You need to fellowship with other believers. Get involved in one of the ministries at your church, find a small group to join or start one of your own, find a Bible study you can go to weekly. But most importantly, pray and ask God to send the right people into your life.

Stuck

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Have you ever reached a point in your life where you felt stuck? It seemed like no matter what you did, you couldn’t move forward. You tried to go left, right, forwards, backwards, up, down, and around, and no matter what direction you went in, you ran smack dab into a wall.

What do we do when we feel stuck? How do respond? Is it something that we are doing to prevent God from moving us forward in our lives?

This has literally been the story of my life for the past few months. I have felt stuck. Any move I would make, any plan I would make…literally anything I would do would not succeed. This included trying to find a better job as well as maintain various friendships. I felt like everything around me was falling apart and no matter what I would do to try and fix it, I would fail. On top of that, I began to doubt myself. I started to question if I was in God’s will for my life. I started to be so hard on myself because I felt like such a failure since I wasn’t at a certain point in my life. I wanted so much more out of life, but I felt as if no matter what I would do to try to move me forward, I couldn’t move forward. I felt like every door I would try to go through would be slammed shut in my face.

Here was my issue: I kept trying to make my plans God’s plans. I kept trying to push my agenda on God. Although I never mentally or verbally confessed this, in my heart I believed that I knew what was best for me and that I could come up with a better plan for my life, and so I tried to pursue my plans. 

Isaiah 55:8-9 9 (MSG), I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.’ God’s decree. ‘For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.’

We can come up with these plans that we think are full proof and will take us to the next level, but God can even top that. We don’t know more than God. We can’t see the whole picture like He can. This is why we need to live out Provers 3:5-6, which says,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

God knows what is best for us. No matter how many times we try to convince ourselves otherwise, in the end God knows what’s best and we have to trust Him. Trusting Him is so hard, especially when it looks like our situation isn’t changing in the natural. But despite what we see in the natural, we have to believe that He is working on our behalf.

When I finally realized that I was trying to control my destiny instead of relinquishing all control to God, He began to minister something powerful to me. He showed me that no matter what door I would try to go through, what plan I would try to put into action, He would not let it succeed. You see, anything we try to do apart from God or try to do in our own ability, God will not let us succeed in it because it does not give Him the glory. He told me that no matter what plan I came up with or what I tried to do on my own, I would continue to run into a wall. God even gave me a vision. He allowed me to see myself standing in the middle of a room and no matter what direction I went in, I would run into a wall. No matter how hard I tried to escape the room or what plan I tried to come up with to get out of the room, I would hit a wall.

Once God showed me that, I asked Him, ” What do you want me to do then?”. He told me He wanted me to be still and do nothing but trust Him and walk in obedience. Of course that’s not what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear. There was something that God had put on my heart to do a couple of years ago, but I didn’t complete it when He told me to. He wanted me to write a book. I started the book and made it through the majority of it, but I didn’t finish it. I got so distracted and caught up in other things that I failed to make time for it. I did what I wanted to do instead of doing what God wanted me to do.

God already has my life mapped out with incredible plans for me. Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV) tells us Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” I love the Message version of this verse, which says Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that’s what I had in mind for you.” Jeremiah 1:5 is telling us that even before we were conceived, God knew His plans for our lives. He knew what He called us to do. He knew how each and every day of our lives would turn out. He knew everything about us before we were even thought of by our parents. Let that sink in! So if someone as mighty and powerful as our God, who has had our entire lives planned out even way before we were born, is asking us to trust Him and follow His will for our lives, what do we have to lose? 

I want to leave you with this: If you are feeling stuck or if you are simply miserable with where you are at in life right now, do not be discouraged. God has great plans for you and He will fulfill those plans and purposes He has for you. Your main responsibility is to continue to pursue God with everything in you, walk in obedience to Him even if He is asking you to step outside your comfort zone, trust His timing, and wait on Him with an abundance of patience and joy. If you do that, the valley season you are in will fly by so smoothly. Stop worrying and fretting, and simply trust in God. And last but not least endure to the end during challenging seasons.

I’m praying for you friends! If you have any prayer requests please feel free to email me at andriarene01@gmail.com

Love you all!