Thursday, June 26, 2014

Portals Into God's Presence: Walking in the Light of Jesus' Love

What a week it has been. I didn't post last week because I was dealing with some (more) pregnancy related illnesses. While I'm still dealing, I have been so inspired by my Big Girl that I couldn't let another week go by without writing something. When I did her Spring shopping, I purchased a pair of Disney Princess sandals that light up when you walk. I wasn't sure what her response to them was going to be; I hadn't really thought about it. The sandals were cute and reasonably priced so I bought them. Anyway, the first day she wore them she was so excited. After getting dressed, I told her to go show daddy her shoes. Instead of walking into the room, she skipped and jumped with such joy that hubby had no other choice but to notice the light-up shoes. And for the rest of the day she skipped and jumped. In fact, it was a Sunday, so she debuted her shoes at church. She was so enthralled by the light that she insisted that hubby tap her foot during worship so the lights would keep flickering. 

With most toys and clothes, after a few encounters, she is totally over them. But not these light up shoes. Each and every time she wears them, she walks so the light shines. What's also really amazing is that she often requests to wear them. She want to constantly walk in the light.

Big Girl's excitement about her light-up shoes got me to thinking about what it means to be a Christian, walking in the light of Jesus' love. Do we hide our lights under bushes, or do we skip and hop with joy so that others will see the light of Christ shining in our lives? Do we express our faith at particular times, or do we yearn to always walk in ways that witnesses to the glory and light of God? Seeing Big Girl has caused me to reevaluate the light I exude, and is the impetus for choosing this week's hymn: Walking in the Light of Jesus' Love.

I admit, I don't know this hymn, written by Virgie C. DeWitty. I cannot sing it, nor would I recognize the tune if I heard it. But none of that mattered when I read the lyrics. Walking in the Light of Jesus' Love is a hymn about witnessing to the world, resting in God, and the beauty of an intimate relationship with God. Personally, the second verse spoke volumes to me as I enter into a period of sacred rest to prepare my body for the arrival of Baby Girl. 

My prayer for you, Beloved, is that you will walk in the light of Christ with the same joy that Big Girl walks around in her light-up shoes! 

Walking with Jesus in His love-light,
With Him as my daily guide, 
Satisfied fully I journey onward
In the footsteps of the crucified. (the crucified.)

I'm walking in the light of Jesus' love,
I'm walking in the light of Jesus' love.
I've peace and joy divine, for Jesus' love is mine,
I'm walking in the light of His love. (The light of His love.)
Walking, walking, walking in the light of Jesus' love.
I've peace and joy divine, for Jesus' love is mine;
Oh, I'm walking in the light of His love. (The light of His love.)

Beside still waters Jesus leads me,
And my strength he does restore,
He bids me lie forn in green pastures,
When I rest we journey on once more. (yes, on once more.)

I know His goodness and His mercy,
Shall my every step attend,
Upon the mountain or in the valley,
I'll keep walking with my dearest Friend. (my dearest Friend.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Portals Into God's Presence: Steal Away to Jesus

I remember singing the African-American Spiritual, "Steal Away to Jesus" as a young person. I haven't sung it in years, but for some reason it is resounding in my soul. Maybe it is because the older I get, the more I recognize the fleeting nature of life. Maybe it is because there is something beautiful in knowing that there is a home in Jesus beyond this temporary and temporal world. And maybe, it is because this weekend—for the first time since my Big Girl's birth two years ago—I am stealing away with my girlfriends for a few days of rest, relaxation, play, and sleeping late. It may sound strange to some, but as a mother it is easy to lose oneself in the care of your children. Every once in a while, I have to take time to nurture myself as a woman. And so, however trivial it may seem, I hear the voice of my Lord—as the writer says—calling me to a time of green pastures and still waters.

Stealing away does not always mean changing locations. Sometimes it is getting lost in a book, a piece of music, or staring into the night sky. That said, if you cannot steal away as I am this weekend, I invite you to get wrapped up in the beauty and sound of Mahalia Jackson and Nat King Cole singing, "Steal Away Jesus." Wherever here is, no matter how joyful or challenging this place is, we haven't got long to stay here...

Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus!
Steal away, steal away home,
I ain’t got long to stay here.

My Lord, He calls me,
He calls me by the thunder;
The trumpet sounds within my soul,
I ain’t got long to stay here.

Green trees are bending,
Poor sinners stand a-trembling;
The trumpet sounds within my soul,
I ain’t got long to stay here.

My Lord, He calls me,
He calls me by the lightning;
The trumpet sounds within my soul,
I ain’t got long to stay here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Portals Into God's Presence: We've Come This Far By Faith (and giveaway, too!!!)

Tomorrow is my 38th Birthday! Glory and honor be to God! When I think about the possibility and promise of a new year, I cannot help but think about the provision and protection of the past years. In the words of the hymn writer Albert Goodson, "[God's] never failed me yet." Indeed, I have come this far by faith.

So, our hymn for the week is "We've Come This Far By Faith." It is one of those staple songs in the African-American church. Many do not know, and have never sung the verses. We know the chorus well. The chorus speaks volumes about what it means to journey with God. Implied in the chorus is a life of struggle, doubt, disappointment, and the like. Explicitly stated, however, is that idea that even though I may face such circumstances, God has never let me down and that I get through such situations only in relationship with God. In my soon to be 38 years I have had my share of struggle, doubt, and disappointment, but I have arrived at this point because of the presence and activity of my Sovereign and Loving God.  Beloved, it may not be your birthday, but will you take a moment to think about just how far God has brought you? Can you declare with me and the Gospel Legends (seen below), "We've come this far by faith!"

We've come this far by faith
Leaning on the Lord
Trusting in His Holy word
He never failed me yet
Oh' Can't Turn Around
We've come this far by faith

Don't be discouraged
with trouble in your life;
he'll bear your burdens
and move all discord and strife.

Just the other day, I heard a man say
He did not believe in God's word
But I can truly say, the Lord has made a way
He's never failed me yet.

Birthdays are all about gifts. In the spirit of community and giving, I am pleased to announce From Time to Time's first ever GIVEAWAY!!! We will be giving away three copies of The New National Baptist Hymnal" 21st Century Edition. It is my favorite hymnal, and the one I consult most when writing Portals into God's Presence.

You can enter four ways: Leave a comment on the blog (, send me a Tweet (@ddotolivia), post a photo on Instagram (@ddotolivia), or leave a post on my Facebook page with your first name, favorite hymn, and one-two sentences describing how the song ministers to you. Entries must be received by 11:59pm on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Winners will be announced on Thursday, June 12, 2014 in the next edition of Portals Into God's Presence.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

National Running Day: The Top Ten Reasons I Run

Today is National Running Day! Even though I am 34 weeks pregnant and am not currently running, I am excited to celebrate National Running Day! This morning, in honor of National Running Day, I went for a 3 mile walk at Roosevelt Park. I made a pregnancy PR (personal record) and shaved 3 minutes off of each mile. I was determined and I must admit it felt really good!

I started my running journey in 2006. I was always the fat girl growing up, not confident in my body, who would get out of participating in gym by any means necessary. In elementary school, I dreaded the Presidential Physical Fitness test when it came around each year. In high school I managed the lacrosse team so that I would be exempt from my gym requirement. I was one of the most non-athletic people I knew. I wish I could say I began running for some noble reason, but honestly, I started running to lose weight (again) in preparation for a friend's wedding. I was her maid-of-honor and no way was I walking down the aisle in a size 14 dress (how vain, and funny considering my own wedding dress four years later was a size 14). I met my goals and strutted down the aisle in a size 8 dress. More than that, I developed a love for running that endures to this day. I am not the most graceful runner, nor the fastest runner, but each and every time I hit the pavement I feel more alive. 

So, in honor of National Running Day, I present the Top Ten Reasons I Run...
10. I keep my heart healthy, diabetes away, and cholesterol down.
9. I run... to prove to my body that it is capable of more and more and more...
8. I run... to belong to an awesome community of people with similar aspirations!
7. I run... because I really like chocolate and Doritos!
6. I run... to hear from God and encourage creativity!
5. I run... to get out my frustrations.
4. I run... to keep my depression at bay. 
3. I run... to preserve the sexy for myself and my husband! 
2. I run... to show my daughters that physical health is as important as spiritual, emotional, and intellectual health!
1. I run... as a thanksgiving to God for the movement and activity of my limbs!

Why do you run? If you are not yet a runner, I invite you find some motivator in your life that would get you out on the pavement, put one foot in front of the other, and get moving! Your mind, body, and soul will be blessed!

And, shout out to my parents! I am two days away from turning 38 years old. They called me to see what I want for my birthday. For the most part, I have everything I could ever want or need. So, in honor of National Running Day and to support an amazing organization that has motivated me to run, my folks are gifting me one of the new Black Girl's Run! singlets and a medal hooks. I only have two medals now, but since I plan to run the Trenton Half Marathon in November as part of the BGR! Team, I need a place to hang my running bling!