“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An Infinite Source of Power

On Friday night, a pretty big storm rolled thru and knocked out power in a widespread area in DC/Maryland/Virginia area.  Though we woke up with lights, our street - driveways, yards, the street itself - was littered with what used to be trees.  There were reported thousands without power and the temperature was going back up towards 100 degrees again on Saturday.  According to the news, it was bad all over the area.

In the meantime, the Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour was scheduled for Saturday night at Ebenezer  A.M.E. Church in Ft. Washington.  The gospel concert, featuring the group 21:03, Byron Cage, and Fred Hammond, was sponsored by McDonald's, and a free-will offering during the event would benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Often times, things happen and we think "hmm, interesting coincidence."  But I don't think God works in coincidences, they aren't to Him anyway.  I do believe that when you are put in certain situations, you are put there for a reason.  Maybe to open your eyes, maybe to expand your mind, maybe to entertain you.  Maybe so God can speak to you.  Maybe all of those reasons or more.

When we got to the church, a line of people was literally, circling the building; hundreds of people standing in the humid heat waiting to get inside.  Inside where it was cool, to comfort the body, and inside where it would soon be spirit filled, to comfort the soul.  And we were not disappointed in either respect.  Our hearts were lifted as the three performers occupied the stage.  Evin Martin and Torrence Green of 21:03 danced and sang in their hip-hop-style, their lyrics, "I'm still here because the blood still has its power," reminding us that we can still make it long after we think we can't.  It moved from a concert to church as  Byron Cage told us that God had "A Message" for us and he would continue to "bless the Lord for all time".  I lost count of the songs Fred Hammond sang, but was fully filled as he moved to close with one of my favorites - "They That Wait".

In the middle of all the music, a true message came through, a reminder to consider our blessings.  With the heat and no A/C, its easy to take pity on ourselves and pout and complain about the rough spot we're in.  But, as Fred Hammond said, there are plenty of people out there who would trade spots with you, to have your problems, and give you theirs.  First in line, think about the people who didn't have power before the storm, or don't even have a home to now be without power.  And yes, I am saying this in a house with power, but trust me, there's other petty annoyances and inconveniences in my life that I complain about, too. 

And this simple reminder brought me back to the point of the entire concert - the Ronald McDonald Houses.  I know they exist, I've read the info on that little box on the McD's counter that asks you to drop in your change and watched some commercials or read a brochure over the years, but, quite honestly, never made any concerted effort to know more.  These are temporary homes for families whose children, generally critically ill children, are receiving long-term, medical care.  The homes allow the families to be close to their child without the added expense of hotel stays.  As a parent, I can't imagine a more scarier or stressful situation.

But parenthood changes you, it makes you open your eyes to things, makes you prioritize differently, makes you want to be stronger.  In fact, any life change or personal obstacle can push you to draw upon a strength you never knew you had, and when that's all gone, to look to a higher source, an infinite source of power.  You might have to sweat, you might have to wait for relief or for the things you think you want, but there is a power that will never go out, never leave you in the dark for days on end.  All you have to do is ask, "Father, please help me."

Reposted from Just Piddlin' with permission.  Thank you to Mocha Moms, Inc. for the invite to be a guest blogger for this event on behalf of the organization and the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Washington DC.  Please consider volunteering or making a donation to support the RMH Charities.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Are you hiding out in the crowd?

As a child, I was taught that there is safety in numbers. In case of an emergency or if you are in an unfamiliar place, stay with the crowd and you’ll be safe. I used this strategy for survival during many times. There was a sense of safety and security at times. There has also been a sense of chaos as sometimes a crowd can change into a mob. A crowd can become deadly when a threat surfaces and the crowd disburses. At times, the crowd can be a dangerous place to “hide”.

The whole idea of safety in the crowd came to mind as I was watching the Discovery Channel recently. It was the “Big Cat” series and this particular segment that I caught was about how lions hunt. It amazes me every time I get a chance to watch lions because they are very skilled in their attacks. From a distance, a small group of lions sits and observes a large group/pack of their prey. Out of a “crowd” of thousands of animals, the lions can pick out the “easiest” prey (the wounded, the famished, the very young and the very old). Once they lock in on the most vulnerable, they, ignoring the crowd, attack for full force.

It amazes me that while the prey far outnumber the predator, the crowd rarely works together to protect those who need it the most. Those that are weak get lost in the crowd and instead of finding safety, they are “sacrificed”.

As it is in nature, so it is in life. Our enemy is described as a hungry lion. 1 Peter 5:8 Amplified Bible says,” Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [[a]in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour."

Just as the lions we see in nature, I believe that he looks out into our “crowds” and seeks out those who are weak, unaware, and comfortable… in other words “hiding their weakness in the crowd”. Our enemy is a master hunter, so the crowds won’t save you. You must be on guard at all times and find strength as a result of the power of God that is within you. In the midst of the crowd, you can’t be aware of the external enemies that are preparing to “pounce” on you and you must understand that when the attack comes, the crowd no matter how large, WILL scatter.

What crowd are you hiding in? Is it the crowd of religion? Is it the crowd of finances? Is it the crowd of “friends” and associates? What crowd are you hiding in that has allowed you to get comfortable? In addition, are you doing what is required of you to protect and to assist those in the “crowd” who are weak?

Comfort leads to complacency and complacency leads to death, because if you are not growing, then you are dying. We must live in a cautious and vigilant manner.

Stop hiding in the crowds, strengthen yourself through the power of God that He has deposited within you so that you will not be an “easy meal” for the starving lion. There is no safety in the crowd unless you are surrounded by the very power and presence of God.

It’s time for a little crowd control…Who is in your crowd?

Be Blessed,


Posted By B-More Hitz (Bryant) to The Soul of A Man 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Every penny counts

We've sent out the information for the Wilson Scholarship and now its our turn to wait for students' application packets - an essay and grades, teacher recommendations and proof of community service.

The Jeffers Foundation offers two $1000 scholarships to graduating, college-bound seniors from Wilson High School in Washington, DC, where Pastor Jeffers used to teach math.  The scholarship honors his desire for children to get a good education and to continue their learning past high school.

We are looking for students who have done well in school and who have been active in their community. We need the next generation to learn and to be encouraged to give back their community, to be active in some kind of service to others.  Volunteering teaches you humility and self-confidence, and gives you a unique perspective on your own life, regardless of your place in life.  When we sort cans at a food pantry, we may realize that our problems aren't as bad as they seem, or even that we're not the only one in our situation.  When tutoring a younger child, we realize how much we have to give to someone else.  One of our essay questions ask how the student intends to use their higher education to give back to their community because want them to understand that their education isn't just for themselves, but for the benefit of their families and neighborhoods, too.

Ours is, admittedly, a small scholarship, when college tuition is now climbing past $20,000 for local, public colleges.  But as our mothers always told us, every penny counts.  $1000 may help a student pay for his books, put some money in her meal plan, or cover lab fees for the semester.  It might help them purchase sheets and towels for their new home away from home, or pay for the airfare or train ticket to get to and from school on breaks.  For some, it may even cover the tuition for a class or two at a local college, to give them a start.  The $1000 may be just what a student needs to say "yes, I can do this."

We ask that you support us in our encouragement of scholarship and community service by making a donation to the Jeffers Foundation for our scholarship fund.  Click on the donate button on the right of the screen to pay by PayPal or send a check to the address listed on the right.  Whether $5 or $100, we appreciate your support.

For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.  Luke 12:48

Sunday, January 29, 2012

When life gives you dirt...

...most of us would just kick the dirt, plop down and cry and that would be the end of our story.  But Stacie changed her story by adding water and making mud, and after patting it, rolling it, shaping it, she's making a beautiful sculpture - a life for her and her three children.

We met Stacie at the INNterim Shelter at their December Open House.  Her bright smile greeted us as we munched on cookies and then her poetic words touched us as she shared her vision, her hopes, and her fears, written from the vantage point of looking out of an airplane window.  She had her book of poetry and a self-published life story for sale in the back of the room and on-line.  I'm almost embarrassed to say that I was surprised to find out that she wasn't an employee of the shelter, but a resident.  Because this radiant, intelligent, smartly-dressed woman with a neatly tied headwrap was not what homeless mothers were "supposed" to look like.  How does that happen?  I had to ask her and she graciously answered.

Her life has followed a dirt path.  Rocks of abuse and violence have been strewn along the way, she's tripped over clods of family upheaval and teenage pregnancy, and teetered on the hole of depression.  She was married and divorced, in subsequent male and female relationships that didn't work out.  The most recent relationship dissolved when Stacie finally listened to God's quiet voice telling her that she wasn't with the person He had for her.  When she left that relationship, where she was the stay-at-home mother and full-time college student, she lost her home.

This story might end differently if Stacie hadn't finished high school, earned an Associate's degree and then a Bachelor's degree.  It might've been a different story if she didn't have the resolve to find the resources to house her three children and find a job.  This might've been a different story if she never realized that God has forgiven her for everything and wants her to forgive herself.  Through everything, she finally realized that sometimes you have to wait on God and He moves in His own time.

Her story reminds us that we don't know why evil comes into our life.  In His infinite wisdom and power, how do bad things happen to innocent people?  It makes us realize the price of free-will.  But also the strength that God offers us, if we only let Him into our lives and our hearts.

Stacie has acknowledged the pain in her life and has concluded that perhaps by sharing her story, she can help another woman realize that she's not alone in suffering a betrayal from the people she loves and who are supposed to love her.  Stacie realized that the bad done to her was not her fault, that she didn't have to feel guilty for other people's actions, and that she could be a better person.  With proceeds from her sales, she hopes to build a scholarship fund for young, Black males to attend private middle and high schools and college.  She's working to keep a daughter in college and a safe home for her children.

Meeting Stacie was an inspirational blessing.  We met her when we were donating gifts of warmth for the children residing at the shelter.  In return, we met this strong, resilient woman.  I don't know how often she cries at night, I don't know how many times she looks back at her life with regret or sadness.  But I am sure that she can see the sunlight in her future, despite any rain clouds that may come her way.  And I pray that she keeps on making beautiful mud sculptures out of the dirt that gets in her way.

For more information about Stacie J. Whitaker-Harris's story of victory & triumph,
Find her books on Amazon:
Embracing Me Memoir: Hell & Heaven at 8
Whitaker Book of Poetry

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Seventy times seven

Jewish law held that one should forgive someone who has offended you four times.  Peter thought he would demonstrate generosity if he forgave someone seven times and asks Jesus, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?  Seven times?"  Jesus replied, "No, seventy times seven." [Matthew 18:21-35]

As we go into this new year, is there anyone who you need to forgive?  What grudges are you holding on to?  Who offended you, last year or the year before that or a decade ago, and you still haven't forgiven them?  

Sometimes, we won't forgive someone for an offense because we confuse forgiveness and acceptance of the offending behavior.  Because I forgive someone for lying to me, doesn't mean I accept this betrayal and am inviting them to do it again.  Forgiveness is not for them, its for me.  Forgiveness allows me to let go of the anger, put down the burden of the grudge, release the stress in my heart of being mad and move on with my life.

Has this ever happened to you?  You're minding your business, driving down the highway, singing along with Marvin Sapp on the radio, then out of no-where, someone speeds past you and cuts across your lane.  You, of course, are mad.  And there you are, sitting in your closed car, yelling, getting all worked up while the other guy has driven off to wherever he needed to go.  You get to work and keep fussing about this guy who cut across your lane as you go about your day.  At lunch, you share this story with your friend, getting all worked up and barely able to enjoy your double cheeseburger and fries.  And driving home after work, you drive with your hands clenched on the steering wheel, not even able to turn on your radio.

How much more pleasant would the day have been if we had just rolled our eyes when the other driver cut across the lane and went back to singing?

In the same way, by not forgiving, we are holding on to pain and letting it ruin our outlook and enjoyment of lfe.  Yes, if you have been betrayed or hurt by someone you love and someone who is supposed to love you, its much more deeper than being cut off on the highway.  And, the anger and stress we are allowing that offense to inflict on ourselves is greater as well.

Allow yourself better days, let the burden of anger roll of your back.  Even if you don't see that person who hurt you, or don't want to see them, release the grudge from your heart.  Do it for yourself.

Enjoy the blessings of this brand new year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How long can we stay?

Home Sweet Home
I recall a conversation about a family that finally, after years of being homeless and transient, moved into their own home.  The first night there, as he was climbing in his bed, one of the boys looked at his mother and said, "this is nice.  How long can we stay here?"  His mother could finally tell him this was his home and he could stay forever.

Unfortunately, for thousands of children in Baltimore City and County, their parents don't have an answer to that question.  For too many children, where they will be and where they will sleep the next day is an uncertainty in their lives.  INNterim Shelter in Baltimore County is a place that allows a mother to provide an answer, if only temporarily, and offers some stability in a child's life.

INNterim Shelter is the only residential shelter in Baltimore County for homeless women and children, housing up to 9 families in its Pikesville location; Millie Johnson serves as the Executive Director.  After an evaluation interview, approved families are assigned a room and share communal bathrooms, a kitchen, and living/dining area.  In addition to physical housing, INNterim offers a program to assist mothers in developing employable skills in order to make a living wage to independently support their family.  More self-sufficient families may be placed in INNterim Apartments and Gardens, which offer more independent living options until fully on their own.

A few days before Christmas, we visited INNterim for their Holiday Open House.  In a room full of residents, Board members, and volunteers, we enjoyed refreshments and visits with Santa.  We were delighted by the children's program of Christmas and gospel songs including a heart-felt rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which, with the help of counting on her fingers, the little songstress remembered all the words!  We also met a mother who has become a self-published author, sharing her life story in order to improve the lives of others (look for a future post about her) and were entertained by songs by her daughter and a self-written rap by her son, Che.  His song, "I remember", was both heart-breaking and hopeful, as he sung about the teasing and negativity he's faced, but also his dreams for the future.

Through the generosity of Jeffers Foundation supporters, we donated 30 gift boxes filled with socks, mittens, hats, and scarves for the children at INNterim.    Just as many boxes were donated to Sarah's Hope in Baltimore City, also a residential shelter for mothers and their children.  Thank you for your support.

For more information or to support INNterim Shelter, visit their website - www.innterim.org or contact Millie Johnson, Executive Director at 410-486-8175.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Keep a child warm this winter

Its been a comfortable fall, but we know that's not going to last long.  These past couple of days have shown that the cold weather is on its way.  On this first day of winter, consider donating a pair of mittens, a scarf, a hat, or a pair of socks to one of Baltimore's children living in a homeless shelter.  The Jeffers Foundation will be visiting 2 shelters in Baltimore City and Baltimore County on Thursday and we want to make sure there's warm weather gear for everybody.

Donating is easy.  Just click on the "Donate" button on this blog and pay by PayPal or credit card.  For only $5, we can purchase another pair of mittens; for $10 we can include a hat.  We'll fill a gift bag for $25.  Thank you in advance for your generosity and your support.