Pain Medicine

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Despite what modern day thinking and medical practices currently show, for the Christian, pain doesn’t relieve us of our responsibility to remain active. In times of spiritual drought, emotional or physical pain, fatiguing situations and nagging problems, we must commit to still follow THE Doctor’s orders. God Almighty, the doctor of our souls, has been giving us life saving instructions since the beginning of time.

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 His Holy Word, the Bible doesn’t say, “Obey my commands when you’re feeling up to it.” It doesn’t comfort us with, “Read two scriptures and call me in the morning.” Nor does the Eternal, Triune God say, “Once this season of weariness is over and you’re feeling up to it, we’ll find time to reconnect again.” Nope, nada, I don’t think so!

Over the course of history, the inspired word of God has told believers, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” (Jn. 14.15)

Lately, I’ve been encountering emotional, spiritual and interpersonal pain that has severely taxed my mind, body and soul. It’s led to nights of tears instead of sweet slumber, days of ruminating instead of relaxation and headaches that linger with no relief in sight. 

This weekend, as I spent time on a plane traveling with my mother-in-law to a girls’ trip for just the two of us to celebrate her 60th birthday, sleep on the plane did not come easily. 

When I tried to shut my eyes and get some rest, my thoughts traveled to my present circumstances, wondering what I should do. I prayed silently, asking God for wisdom on how I can obey him in these situations; fully aware that I have no clue how to exactly do that. 

I opened my notepad on my iPhone and reread the numerous scriptures I typed out a day earlier to gain some clarity, encouragement and direction. 

One verse in particular from 1 John 2 at the end of verse 5 and continuing into verse 6 reads: 

“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

The last part especially struck me as something to ponder more deeply…

“Must walk as Jesus did.” 

There was no mistake, coincidence or fluke that the Holy Spirit led John to write those hallowed words. 

It actually makes complete sense. If we say we are Jesus’ followers, it’s only natural for us to then walk as he did. 

I have a five year-old-daughter who absolutely LOVES to play copycat. You remember that annoyingly fun, childhood pastime everyone hates to love. The gist of it goes something like this:

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At any given time, usually without warning, some kid would choose to mimic any and everyone around him. What’s crazy is it didn’t matter what those people said or did, the more extreme, the better. 

Most times it got pretty interesting if the person being copied decided to do something totally gross, even if that meant sticking a finger in their nose. 

The unspoken question of the hour for the self proclaimed mimic would be, are you willing to go the distance and follow their lead no matter how ridiculous the cost? Or, are you going to break your game and go on with life as usual?

The same can be asked of any believer, the only difference being we haven’t chosen our roles. It’s been etched out for us. Those of us endowed with faith in our hearts to believe the Gospel, are given the title of Christian. In fact the Bible says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Eph. 2.8).

Because of this, we are literally “Christ Followers”. The five year-old translator in me would say, we are “Christ copycats”! 

So, what now?

The age old call of any believer to discipleship is a willingness to follow Christ as he leads his church. Individually speaking, once we are a Christian, will we do as Eugene H. Peterson puts it and walk out “a long obedience in the same direction”? 

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It’s all fun and games when following Christ leads to good gifts from our Father of heavenly lights. But what about when following Christ doesn’t leave you with the same warm and tingly feeling you experienced the first day you met him?

What about the “icky” times? When you’re not feeling so well – spiritually speaking that is? What about when he calls you to give up some things? He may not bid you to copy him by sticking your finger in your nose but what about when he asks you to do something just as awkward? 

It’s in these times of trial and testing that we all must look in the mirror of our souls and ask ourselves, “Am I willing to follow the Doctor’s orders?” Will we follow  Jesus and walk as he did even if it doesn’t make sense? Even when everything and everyone around us is pointing anywhere but where he wants to lead? 

My earnest prayer is that we can AND will cry with a resounding voice, “YES!”

For that truly is the only medicine for our pained and weary souls. 

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God bless you and thanks for reading. I hope to talk with you soon.

Be encouraged.

Blessings,

Courtney

 

The Brown Kids’ Booklist: Stocking Stuffer Edition

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Hello my friends!

Can you believe the Christmas holiday is just around the corner? Where did this year go?  I don’t usually consider myself a hater, but I’m not quite over the fact yet that we’ve had to exchange the squishy warmth of sand between our toes for the bunchy bulk of winter coats and knee length boots. But alas, here were are.

It’s not all for naught really since Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday. I’m sure many of us have been engaging in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping as of late. There’s plenty of cooking, baking and prepping to go around. And I know all too well the temptation to go all out with gift giving.

Even in this, a tradition has recently taken root with each birthday and Christmas that rolls around for my nephews. No matter the toy-related occasion, we are always sure to also give each boy a book featuring African American characters. I’m sure by now, my kids are already used to the passion I have in exposing them to characters who look like them. But I’m so glad for the opportunity to now celebrate our brilliant blackness with my nephews as well!

In this same vein, I wanted to give a gift that will keep on giving to you, my readers, in this holiday season. So without further ado, here is another installment in my ever growing Brown Kids’ Booklist. This time it’s the Stocking Stuffer Edition!

I hope you’re able to find some goodies and I look forward to talking with you soon!

Oh, and feel free to “borrow” my tradition for yourself this holiday season! 😉

1.) Let’s Bake!: Ladi, Liz & Cam by Julia Lassa, Illustrated by Merve Terzi

This little cutie of a book is the second in the Ladi, Liz & Cam series. With Ladi a girl, Liz a lizard and Cam a chameleon…oh, and did I mention baking, what could possibly go wrong? This delightful story of friendship and reptiles is perfect timing to inspire some holiday baking!

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2.) The Swift Walker series by Verlyn Tarlton, Illustrated by Allejandro Chamberlain

Swift Walker’s speedy legs take him on adventures no kid would want to miss, while learning real life facts along the way! This series is everything you’d want in a textbook minus the boring text!

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3.) Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale by Josh Funk, Illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo

I remember the excitement of receiving my first pen pal letter when I was a young girl. Now as a parent, I get to witness the joy of my own girls when they receive letters from their pen pals. In Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale you’ll meet two of the most unlikely pen pals to ever pick up a pen! This unique children’s book tells the story of George and Blaise, pen pals who have no clue one is a dragon and the other is a human! Read on to see what happens when they finally meet.

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 4.) The Princess Truly series by Kelly Greenawalt, Illustrated by Amariah Rauscher

Princess Truly is truly a princess! With magical hair and a personality to match, she’s the delight of all. She loves to read but especially loves to solve problems with the help of her pug, Sir Noodles. Princess Truly would be a fantastic addition to your home library. Trust me, your little princess will thank you later!

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5.) Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

Ever grow weary of your child’s endless questions? Well, don’t dismay, Ada Twist, Scientist has the answers! And when she doesn’t, she digs for more. In this fun-loving nod to female  scientists who have gone before her, Ada Twist, Scientist is sure to be a winner with her curiosity. Trust me, it doesn’t kill the cat!

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6.) I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl by Betty K. Bynum, Illustrated by Claire Armstrong Parod

Betty K. Bynum’s I’m a Girl Collection has already won over countless girls everywhere! I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl is a welcomed addition to this series and it won’t disappoint. In it, readers are introduced to Mia, an energetic, friendly (and don’t forget pretty) little black girl shows us what confidence in simply being YOU can really mean! My girls and I loved this book and we know you’ll love it too!

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7.) I’m a Brilliant Little Black Boy by Joshua B. Drummond and Betty K. Bynum, Illustrated by Brian McGhee

We can’t leave out our black boys now, can we? The story of Joshua in I’m a Brillaint Little Black Boy ensures just that. Joshua has big dreams to match his brilliant mind! He shows us that hard work, kindness and a great imagination can go the distance in achieving our aspirations.

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8.) Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

What a fun take on the timeless Mother Goose rhyme, Mary Had a Little Lamb! In this glammed up remix, Mary knows a lot about fashion and even more about style! So when she must help her now fashion forward friends find out what to wear for recess, she knows exactly what to do! Join Mary and a few of her other beloved children’s classic characters on this fashionable ride. You will be amazed at Mary’s keen eye for fashion!

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9.) Christmas Makes Me Think by Tony Medina, Illustrated Chandra Cox

Christmas is such an exciting time for children all over the world! The lights, the wonder and the presents makes it the best time of year. In this thoughtful tale, a young boy shares the same anticipation for what he will get and what he will do during this season of joy. But then, he begins to think about the people who may not have the same Christmas experience. Christmas Makes Me Think is a good reminder that for many, this time of year may not be as shiny or new but with love and care and a little thoughtfulness, we can make a difference!

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10.) The Snowman Shuffle by Christianne C. Jones, Illustrated by Emma Randall

Why not end with a little dance and jig to round out our Brown Kids Booklist: Stocking Suffer Edition? When I saw this book I just had to include it! If you know me, you know that I live for having fun. Well, with The Snowman Shuffle, you’ll be doing just that as we enter into this season of wintery weather. So get ready to move because you’ll be in for a good time!

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I hope you’ll make all these books a part of your home library collection this holiday season! They are well worth their weight in gold. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad, Happy Kwanza and the happiest of holidays to you all!

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Blessings,

Courtney