City of Refuge Fellowship

Building Bridges Through Prayer

  • Bible Study: Philippians 4:14-23 “From Blessing to Blessing” 

    September 7, 2017

    Tonight, we will close out our study of the book of Philippians. This letter between friends began with a prayer for grace and peace and ends with a blessing of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul started and ended with prayer, thanksgiving and blessing, which shows us that everything in between flowed from and for his love for them and partnership with them. Paul had two great loves, the Lord Jesus and the gospel that turned sinners to saints and so all his love for others was from Jesus and for Jesus and all his friendships were about bringing glory to Jesus and leading others to Jesus. In John 13:35 Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” Discipleship is about following Jesus, about serving Him, proclaiming Him and becoming like Him but we cannot miss the fact that discipleship is also about friendship with the other disciples. Our greatest witness of Jesus to the world around us is our relationships with each other within the singular, universal Body of Christ. Christian friendship is always built on two things, bringing glory to Jesus so that He can lead men to redemption. Our friendships with each other are not about our needs, our desires, our preferences or our things in common, our friendships are from Jesus, they are through Jesus and they are for Jesus. As we finish our study of Philippians we read through Paul’s conclusion, his gratitude for his friends and their gifts to him and his gift to them, the blessing of placing God’s character over their lives. I pray that we will see tonight, as we close out, that when friendship is built on prayer, thanksgiving and blessing it creates refuge, safety and trust for rebuke, correction and instruction.


  • Blog Post: Jonathan Cornelius “Dealing with Misconceptions Can Help Remedy Racial Tension”

    August 28, 2017

    This month Jonathan Cornelius, who is part of our City of Refuge family, shares his heart with us in his blog post titled “Dealing with Misconceptions Can Help Remedy Racial Tension”

    One of the main reasons I love my time at CORF is that many of the popular misconceptions that we take for granted about who God is, what the Word says, and who we are both without and in Christ are dispelled and replaced by what the Word of God actually says. It is honestly an answer to prayer that I have been praying for some time now; For God to remove all the misconceptions I have about who He is and what He has said in His word.

    One such major misconception that I know must be addressed is that of Christianity being a “white man’s religion”. In a time like this, the temptation to just skip the glorifying of Christ and go straight to those causes is ever so present. And I see a lot of friends and family members falling to that temptation. People who love God, who bypass the cross of Christ to address these issues in their own strength. Or worse, use God as a tool to achieve their own talking points. The cause becomes their “god”, their life, their all. Hence the pan-African, black conscious, or Hebrew Israelite movements. Now we know Jesus of Nazareth was not white. He and His disciples were first century Middle Eastern Jews. The vast majority of the events the Bible tells us about take place in the Middle East and North Africa. From the specific naming of the third and fourth rivers that surrounded the garden of Eden in Genesis 2:14, (the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) to building of city-states like Babel and Nineveh in Genesis 10:1. From the calling of Abraham and Sarah from the Ur of the Chaldees, which is in modern day Iraq, to the calling of Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt to claim the promise land. The multiple uses of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires to bring discipline to Israel, the rescuing of the Jews from extermination in Persia (Iran) by Queen Esther. On and on it goes, and those are just some examples from the Old Testament.

    What about in the New Testament? Well Jesus’ ministry, along with the birth of the church was in Israel. We already know this. But for some reason, when talking about church history, we tend to start from the time of the protestant reformation and move forward from there, which inadvertently ignores an enormous amount of church history and contributions from the 1st century Middle Eastern and North African churches. With all that history relatively unknown and ignored by the majority of even church goers, it easily becomes a tool for the adversary to use to create division and unnecessary stumbling blocks to those in the church. I hear from some of my fellow African Americans that it is hard to constantly believe in something they don’t see themselves in. Many, especially young blacks, are leaving the church and being caught up in the accusations that Christianity is just the white man’s religion, that Jesus is the white man’s God and there is no place for blacks in the white man’s church. Messengers of these lies point to the pasty white pictures of Jesus and the apostles as evidence of their slander. They point to the mistreatment of African Americans through the slave trade and the days of Jim Crow. They point to police brutality, systematic racism, the corrupt justice system and anything else to support the separation of blacks from Christianity. They even point to Scripture, completely out of context of course, to convey something as ludicrous as Jesus being a black Messiah for only black people.

    Any points of racial discord is used to divide and the enemy of our souls is creeping in with a false answer of black supremacy as a pseudo-salvation. All of this may be unknown to the majority of evangelical churches today, but it is happening and gaining steam; especially in the inner cities of our urban communities. It is a major stumbling block for some mainly because these issues that I listed are not normally spoken of in churches. Silence on these issues have allowed these misconceptions to fester. Young black men and women are being sucked up into this. There are many streams of it: Pan-Africanism, black consciousness, five-percenters, Black Hebrew Israelite movement, etc. There is much online content that is popular. They even have rap music dating back from the early 90’s exerting their ideologies.

    I write only to bring awareness that this is taking place, but also to encourage us to do better to point out the biblical historical credit to where it all started, the Middle East and North Africa. Christianity has Middle Eastern and North African roots. Blacks did not first become followers of Christ due to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Before America or classical western civilization even existed, Christianity was well established in those regions. A quick look at early church history would dispel any of those false notions. The Coptic Christians of Egypt trace their founding to John Mark, author of the Gospel of Mark. Ethiopian Orthodox Church traditions trace their initial exposure to the Gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch who was spoken of in Acts 8:26-40 along with other Ethiopians who were present at Pentecost. Augustine of Hippo who is known as one of the most influential Christian theologians and philosophers, famous for his writings such as “City of God” and “Confessions”, was a fourth century Algerian African bishop. That is just a handful of examples.

    So, for what it’s worth, here are some solutions I try to keep in mind when dealing with these issues. 1) Let’s be ahead of the game. Let’s have these tough conversations, we have to be intentional in listening and boldly pointing out that the evil of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade was wrongly done in the name of Christ. This false narrative is a very popular tool used to persuade those who are not armed with the truth. And it is easily refutable. 2) We must point out that the Gospel heavily influenced the Abolitionist and Civil Rights movements, along with the heroes of those movements. Both movements were birthed in the church. 3) Most importantly, we must stress that the love of Christ has no boundaries. We need the type of change that only the Gospel of Christ can bring. It’s hard to deal with any external issue without the internal issues being addressed.

    The Gospel changes from the inside out. His grace is available to those of every nation, every tribe, every people, and every language. As it is written: “After this I looked and saw a multitude too large to count, from every nation and tribe and people and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” Rev 7:9-10 And yes, historic and grievous evil has been done inaccurately in the name of God. Against all instincts to exact punishment ourselves, vengeance is The Lord’s. They will have their reward in full for God is not mocked. Until then, we have souls to win and falsehoods to tear down. And fortunately for us, God has supplied us with the truth of the Gospel of Christ in His word which overwhelmingly does both! The gate of hell will not prevail!


  • Bible Study: Philippians 4:10-13 “All Things”

    August 16, 2017

    Tonight, we begin to dive into Paul’s conclusion of his letter to his friends in Philippi. To do so we are going to have to look back at the beginning of the letter a few times so that we can really grab hold of the end. As Paul wraps the letter up he thanks his friends for the generous gifts that they had sent to him, but in the middle of thanking them he wants them to understand something, his joy is not over what they sent or how badly he needed it, his joy is squarely on the One he trusts when he has everything he needs and when it seems he has nothing at all. He doesn’t rejoice in his friends or in their gifts, Paul rejoices in the Lord. He is content because in Christ He is complete. 


  • Bible Study: Philippians 4:8-9 “A New Way of Thinking”

    July 27, 2017

    I’m not sure how or why it happened, but for some reason, these two verses have largely been cut off from the context in which they were first written and have become some sort of personal roadmap to Christian positive thinking. Tonight, as we discuss this passage I want us to know from the beginning that Paul is absolutely not endorsing or teaching the power of positive thinking. Rather Paul is, making his final call to unity, humility and reconciliation within the church in Philippi. He is still speaking to Euodia and Syntyche, he’s still speaking to the “trusted companion” or “loyal yokefellow” that he has implored to “help these women” and he’s still speaking to the entire congregation. This is not simply the closing thoughts of his letter, they are the summation of his call to conflict resolution and unity. Paul is not unaware that we often have no control over the fleeting thoughts that come and go but he is teaching that we have the power to determine which thoughts we entertain, dwell on and act from. This decision, what we meditate and dwell on, largely determines the health of our relationships and our consistent awareness of God’s constant presence. We believe that God is always with us, Jesus said “I am with you always even to the end of the age.” Moses told Joshua that God “would never leave you nor forsake you” and then Hebrews 13:5 makes that promise to Joshua a promise that has been extended to all of us. God is always with us and yet we are often unaware or unsure of God’s presence, I believe that Paul is revealing that the disconnect between what God says is true and what we believe in the moment is found in which “things” we choose to “think on”. 


  • Bible Study: Philippians 4:4-7 “The Path to Conflict Resolution: Rejoice, Be Gentle, Pray with Thanksgiving”

    July 13, 2017

    Our last time together we discussed the need for corporate conflict resolution. Paul called the entire church to help two women that were in conflict because within the Body of Christ conflict among us affects all of us, as I Corinthians 12:26 says “if one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it.” Tonight’s text, unfortunately is usually read stand alone, with no context of how it fits in the letter to the Philippian church. I want us to take the time tonight to see not just what it says but how it fits, how it would have been heard by the original readers and then we can hear and apply it to our context. I don’t believe Paul was done addressing the conflict in Philippi, I don’t believe that he simply called for the church to “help these women”, gave no instruction of what help would look like and then moved on to some closing bullet points. If we look closely and carefully I believe we will see that these verses we read tonight were Paul’s explanation of what “help” to those in conflict looks like. The call to rejoice, be gentle, pray and give thanks was not just Paul’s concluding thoughts that he threw in at the end, this is how conflict in the church can be ministered to when it appears and avoided before it arises. Tonight, I pray that we will see that when we choose joy, gentleness and prayer, that peace isn’t simply a feeling given to us by God, it flows from within us. I pray that we will see that the peace that passes understanding is as much chosen as it is given.


  • Blog: “Kids Day 2017: For Such A Time As This” (Amanda Mackie)

    July 6, 2017

    Amanda Mackie is our youth pastor at City of Refuge Fellowship and below is a blog post she wrote about this year’s Kid’s Day titled “Kids Day 2017: For Such A Time As This”

    My Saturday started at 6am with torrential rain, thunder, and a tornado warning. Kids Day Burlington 2017 was scheduled to start at 10am at Mitchell Field. Earlier in the week, I watched as the weather constantly was changing for Saturday and I began to pray that it would not rain on Kids Day, but each morning the weather forecast kept calling for rain. And then one day God told me that I was going to have to trust Him because He would take care of the weather. And in order for me to be able to learn to completely trust Him, the weather was not something He was going to change early in the week, but that it was going to be on that day and for His glory. And then I had a dream that I was standing on Mitchell Field on Kids Day and it was beautiful outside and I could see the sun. Now when I woke up I was very confused because while dreaming is not odd for me, having a dream like that was not typical. Typically, my dreams are more like nightmares, but this was different. And I wrestled with it throughout the day, was it God or was it my own desires that caused that dream? And my heart seemed settled that it was God. But the weather forecasts all said that this was impossible…

    And then I began to think about the theme for this year which came from Esther 4:14 which says “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

    At some point or another we have or will face moments when we are uncertain about the future. We may be sure of the things that God has promised and we know how He feels about us, but we just do not know how it will all happen. Even moments when it seems like all the other voices are saying “go back” or “stay still”, but that voice of God is still saying “go”. That is where we find ourselves with this verse in Esther. She is facing the death of not only her people, but herself and her entire family and she is not being told to run away and hide, but to go forward. And it is when Mordechai speaks the words “for such a time as this” that it seems like her fears, doubts, and worries no longer seem so loud. And it really was not new information, but rather it was a reminder of who our God is and how He has and is positioning her. And that is something we all need to remember. And note that it says relief and deliverance will come from another place. The weight of saving the Jewish people was not resting on Esther’s shoulders, but on God’s, but God wanted her to be a part of His plan. God wanted her to be part of saving her people, His chosen people. All she had to do was be obedient. She had to deny herself, take up the cross and follow Him. He would do the work. Her obedience would overcome every one of her fears, doubts and uncertainty. We miss out on opportunities God has for us, when we make the choice to remain silent, when He is telling us to speak. When we choose to walk in the opposite direction of where He wants us to go.

    This was not an easy decision for Ether though, Esther did not jump when she first heard the plea to go to the king, but rather responded with a reason as to why she could not do it. Which, if we are honest, we do this all the time. When faced with a difficult or impossible situation we list all the reasons why we cannot do something or why certain plans will not work. We try to justify our inactions.

    But God puts us in positions in order to use us to do His will. So, who are we going to choose to follow? It might be easy to sit here and say we are going to follow God, but what do the choices we make say? The choices that we make determine whether we will serve God or the gods of this world. Joshua 24:14-15 says this “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

    Joshua made a commitment to God. He trusted in Him fully and was not going to be swayed by the choices of others. And he was going to set an example of living by that decision. The way we live shows others the strength of our commitment to God. The way God led him was not just about “Joshua”, but about the all people God wanted to reach through Joshua. Our lives matter to God, very much, and that is true. But it is not just about us as individuals, but as a whole body of people. And God wants to use us, to reach others, to show them His character and to glorify His name so that others can be redeemed.

    And that is where myself and our Kids Day planning team found ourselves. We were sure that God had told us that He was going to take care of the weather. That He was going to take care of this impossible situation. And He was not calling us to change the weather ourselves, but to be obedient by going forward with His plan for Kids Day. And so, we told everyone that Kids Day was still happening, we woke up that morning, got ourselves ready while hearing the rain and thunder outside, and got drenched while loading up the cars.

    And then it happened. We arrived at the field, the rain stopped, and the sun began breaking through. And the other crazy part is God not only took care of the weather, but He protected the field. When I arrived, I parked on the street so I could get out and check the field because it should have been soaked and muddy and I was worried we would tear it up by driving on it to unload, but it was solid. There were no puddles in the grass or areas of mud. And by 10am it was as if it had not rained at all. The field was dry, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, there was a nice cool breeze, and everyone showed up!

    The Sun

    The theme this year was “I was created to be loved, known, heard, seen, bold, valued, and strong”. And it is impossible to deny those things when you are literally surrounded by the provision and presence of God; whether I looked down at the dry grass, up at the blue sky, or felt the breeze go by me, there was God. He provided. He saw not only us, but He saw each one of the 500 people who stepped foot on that field. 500 people who God used us to show that they are seen and loved by Him. 500 people who got to enjoy a free fun filled day of inflatables, face painting, photo booth, marble painting, a toddler area, and awesome music. 500 people who were treated to a Chick-fil-A lunch and Rita’s water ice. And 500 people who heard the Gospel message and learned about and experienced the character of Jesus through a message, puppet shows, dances, a human video, and the all of the volunteers!

    Does God love Burlington? Has God called us to Burlington? Will God provide? Can God be trusted? Does God desire for unity? Those questions can all be answer with “God changed the weather so that Kids Day Burlington 2017 would happen” A day where several churches and community groups come together to show the people, especially the kids, of Burlington that they are seen and loved by God.

    Clear Skies

    God did the impossible in every detail of Kids Day this year. And there are other promises God has spoken to my heart and I am sure your heart as well and I cannot tell you how He will provide or what the details will be, but I know that He will provide, that He sees each of us, that we have not be skipped, and that we can trust Him 100%.

    To view more pictures from the day please click the link below!
    Kids Day Burlington 2017 Pictures


  • Bible Study: Philippians 4:2-3 “Corporate Conflict Resolution”

    June 30, 2017

    For the better part of a year we have been studying the book of Philippians as a letter among friends. Paul wrote, from prison, to a group of people that he held in high regard and deep affection. In the letter Paul prayed for them, gave thanks for them, addressed their concerns about his situation and his concerns about theirs but throughout the letter there has been an underlying theme, an issue that Paul seemed to be addressing without naming. In tonight’s text Paul names the issue, he even names those involved in the issue. I don’t believe Paul was being passive aggressive prior to these two verses, I believe he was laying the groundwork for the Philippians to learn that without the Body of Christ, conflict resolution is a corporate calling because all conflicts within the church create corporate suffering. Paul has written purposefully and at times painfully about the calling to unity through humility, the requirement to make Jesus our primary example, to understand His humility and then make His mindset and attitude ours. He has called us out on our selfishness and then condemned it saying “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition” and then given us clear instructions to “regard, count or value” others higher than we count ourselves. Paul gave Jesus as our primary example but then he used himself as the secondary example, that we should each and all let go of the things we have valued prior to Christ and make Christ our most treasured possession and relationship, to choose Him over every other thing and by doing so, choose each other over ourselves. The call to unity through humility has been the constant theme of the entire letter and in our text tonight we find out why, because two women, two leaders of the church in Philippi had a conflict that was affecting the entire church. This is one of the points we will see tonight, a conflict between any of us is a conflict that affects all of us, if we are joined to Christ then we are joined to each other and so everything that happens between any of us influences all of us. Tonight, we will take our time with these two verses and see that Paul is not calling out two people from the church, he’s imploring the church to gather around these two people and work together to restore unity and overcome conflict. Conflict resolution with the Body of Christ is not the job of the leaders or the individuals, it is the work of the entire body. 


  • Blog: “Where does your help come from?” (Veronica Y. Brayboy)

    June 13, 2017

    Veronica Y. Brayboy is part of our City of Refuge Fellowship family and each month she will be sharing her heart on our website blog. Below is her blog post titled “Where does your help come from?”

    “I just don’t know how we are going to survive?”, “This country is going to be destroyed now!”
    “My children are having nightmares because they are so afraid of what’s going to happen!”

    These are just a few of the mass hysteria questions and comments that saturated social media last November and on through the winter. It affected me so badly that I had to take a hiatus from Facebook in January, just to minimize all the hysterical and yes nasty comments and memes that were being posted.

    The TV and radio news were the same, so that went off too. Call me a wimp, but to be honest it grieved my soul so much until it affected my health. Heart palpitations, stomach upset, and anxiety, not because I was worried about the future of this country, but because of the arguing, bickering and just plain awful attitude that some people began to exude. Since this affected me so negatively, I wondered and worried what kind of impression this would have on the people of this country and the world, those who may not follow Christ or even believe in God.

    Since we are a country supposedly built on the foundations of our beliefs in God, even have “In God We Trust” printed and stamped on our currency…what was and is all the hysteria about? What is that saying to a world that so desperately are seeking answers; if we that call ourselves Believers are exemplifying the same hysteria as they may feel?

    It seemed that all the degrading and insulting comments made was to prove that the election HAD to come out in their favor…or else. Even among Believers there were some of the most awful things said to each other because they “believed” that their candidate (both sides) was the right one, THEE ONE that would bring about Hope for this country…honestly, there is something quite scary about that premise, but that’s for another post.

    Friendships were lost over this past election, but to me the worst was the example that was set and forever engraved in the minds of the very people that we as Believers claim to want to lead to Christ. If Christ is Peace, Hope, Joy and Salvation to us, then what happened to it during the election? Did God suddenly renege on His Promises in His Word? Because what I saw was anger, arguing and gnashing of teeth (never knew what that meant but when I read it in the Bible, it sounds like a good description of what was going on. Luke 13:28) lol

    It was a real eye opener for me, and it really showed the true colors of folks for sure. See I KNOW I’m not perfect, but this I do know, our help is in the Lord. Our help is not in a man. God uses men to bring about His purpose, but our Hope should not be in them. Our help is in the Lord.

    “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
    From whence comes my help?
    My help co me s from the Lord,
    Who made heaven and earth.” Psalms 121: 1-2

    You can bet your bottom dollar that God is interested in every tiny detail of our lives, so there is no need to panic. He sees the small and the big. He sees all the plans of nations that want to do us harm, and He also sees the anxiety and concerns we have for ourselves and our children. He does not miss anything and He’s got it. He wants us to trust Him and not put our trust in men.

    “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.” Proverbs 3:5-6

    We as humans will have times of fear, but our confidence should be in the Lord and the only way to have that is to surrender those things which bind us and give them to Him.

    Recently talking with a friend who lost a parent and they shared that there was a moment that the thoughts of now being an orphan (in a way) came to mind, that even as an adult, the feeling briefly came; then I added that in losing a spouse, there are moments of feeling uncovered, unprotected. BUT we both agreed that though the feelings may come, our Hope is in the Lord! HE is our Father, HE is our covering and protection, Glory to His Name!

    The most courageous thing that we can do is to be a light for Christ in this world. It is not about arguing and even defending what we believe is right, but it is in standing for WHO is right…the Righteous One. Jesus is the example that we should follow, He did not come with anger and insults, He came with TRUTH. He is Holy and He showed kindness and mercy.

    Have I made the mark…nope and I believe that God will continually be working on me until my time here is done (Philippians 1:6). But that’s just it, I have to surrender each day so that He CAN do the work. It ain’t always easy, but I want to obey and please Him.

    If we say that we are Believers in Christ, then it is not just mere words, but it is our actions. This world is crying out for Truth and those of us that have it, must be the lights to show the Way to the One and the only One that has the answers.

    “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father
    in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

    -Veronica Y. Brayboy
    June 2017

    1 Comment

  • Bible Study: Philippians 3:17-4:1 “Enemies and Citizens”

    May 25, 2017

    From the start of our study, of this letter from Paul to the Philippians, we have characterized it as a letter between friends. Philippi was the first-place Paul went after the Lord opened the door for him to go to Asia and gave him the dream of a man from Macedonia asking for Paul to come and help them. This was the first church of Asia. Paul referred to them as friends, brothers and sisters, partners and co-laborers, he credited them as being equal to him in the spread of the gospel and he spoke without reservation about his love for them and joy because of them. As friends often do, Paul used this letter to address concerns, to repeat important topics and even to correct what he viewed as errors in how they were living with each other in community. Much of the letter had been about mindsets, Paul addressed the concerns that the Philippians had about his imprisonment and shared his attitude. He challenged them to choose humility and to think like Jesus in their relationships, all of them, with their friends, their community, their country and even their enemies. In chapter 3 Paul has gone to great lengths to teach his mindset to the Philippians and to both encourage and challenge them to learn to think the way he has learned to think, to “press on” and not allow themselves to be stuck in anything old or deceived by anything new. Paul used the phrase “press on” twice and then closed that thought with this command “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” In tonight’s passage Paul continues to address his concerns for the Philippians but he begins to move them from mindset to action, to teach them that the purpose of having the mind of Christ is not increased knowledge but deepened relationships, increased humility and righteous action. Paul began this chapter by asking the Philippians to learn from his mindset, he closes it by asking them to follow his example because his desire is not that they simply understand him but that they begin to imitate him as well. An important lesson for all of us is that our attitude creates our actions and to truly possess the mind of Christ we will have to allow the Holy Spirit to use us to demonstrate the life of Christ. 


  • Blog: “Giving Honor” (Veronica Y. Brayboy)

    May 11, 2017

    Veronica Y. Brayboy is part of our City of Refuge Fellowship family and each month she will be sharing her heart on our website blog. Below is her blog post titled “Giving Honor”

    ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16

    I wrote this article back in 2004, it was published in the county newspaper. It still holds true today…

    My mother’s positive influence in my life has helped me so much in the past years. Through many events and phases in my life I have the blessing of remembering how my mother handled herself through some of the same experiences. Whether it was child rearing as a young mother, parenting a teen, experiencing an empty nest, caregiving for a sick husband and even widowhood; my mother’s example stood as worthy footsteps to follow. She poured into us all that she had and with God’s strength she did it to the best of her ability.

    Each time that I reflected, “How did Mom handle this?” I remembered that she was strong, resilient and determined.

    Strong through sorrow, resilient through trials and determined to live her life to the fullest.

    My mother did not have an easy childhood, she grew up in a small southern town as the daughter of sharecroppers during the late 1920’s and the 1930’s. The south was deep in segregation at the time and life for her family was hard in so many ways; and yet with all that she experienced, she never allowed it to deter her from becoming a woman of distinction and character. She married young and became a stellar wife and confidante to my father. It may be understandable to use your negative childhood experiences as an excuse for not living a positive lifestyle as an adult, but my mother used her experiences as a “ladder” to take her higher where her dreams could be fulfilled. Her childhood experiences were hard, but she made a choice as a child to have a better life. By making that choice with God’s help, she nurtured and encouraged us as a family to succeed in life.

    She never allowed me nor my siblings to ever feel that we were less in some way to anyone. She taught us that we could do or be anything that we wanted to be if we tried hard enough and that we, ourselves were the only people that could keep us from achieving our goals.

    She encouraged in us good esteem that gave us the ability to be comfortable in the presence of all people, no matter what race, level of wealth, education or social status. We were God’s creations and in His eyes there is no special preference.

    The love of a mother is a wonderful thing. Throughout history, many mothers have given up their own happiness, careers and even their lives for their children. Whether if it was during the years of slavery in America, the Holocaust in Europe; on every continent and from times past until now, there are stories of women that sacrificed for their children. These were mothers who by the Grace of God were able to gather the strength during great trials to protect and preserve what they believed to be precious and priceless.

    Some of you reading this may say, “Well I never knew my real mother.” or “I never experienced a mother’s love.” Well look at it this way, the fact that you are alive to think that thought is proof that you had a mother that loved you enough to give birth to you. The situation surrounding your birth may not have been ideal, but you’re here! You couldn’t get here by yourself…someone thought enough of you that they carried you inside their body for 9 months, and endured the pain of delivery. There was another option, but they chose not to go that route…and here you are! Praise God!

    No matter the circumstances of your conception, your biological mother chose to give you the ultimate gift…life. Surely that is something to thank God for.

    My precious Mom went home to be with the Lord February 2000, and I miss her so much. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend. She loved and honored her parents and taught us how to honor our elders and to show respect to all people. On the day of her funeral, so many people came by to give their condolences, people of all races, social and economical strata.There were many tears and stories, but one thing in common, they all said that she was their “Friend”. She was always there to listen, to hug, to encourage and to love…she let her light shine!

    This year (2004), 4 years after the passing of my beloved mother, I adopted a Mom. I firmly believe that women should have a least one elder and one younger female friend…to me it just brings about balance in life. We can both learn from as well as deposit into both friends. It’s a win win situation.

    This precious elder woman that I adopted lived in a nursing home for many years and seldom had any visitors, because her only daughter lived many states away. My visits to her may have seemed as if I was there to encourage her, when in fact she was the one that encouraged and comforted me.

    For about six months we would laugh and talk together and when I would leave the nursing home, I felt somehow that the void of not having my mother was filled. Eventually her daughter made arrangements for her to come and live with her and that season was over, but I will never forget how the Lord put me and my adopted Mom together. I needed a Mother’s love and God in His mercy fulfilled that need.

    This Mother’s Day, if your Mother is alive, cherish and honor her. If you never knew your biological mother, reflect on how blessed you are to have been given the gift of life. If your Mother has passed, remember her love and count yourself as blessed to have had her for the time that you did. My Mother ran the race and has passed the torch to me, may I be faithful to God’s calling to be a light in this dark world, to be a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend that listens, hugs, encourages and love with the love of the Lord.

    Veronica Brayboy



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