Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”~John 14:27

word_peace_in_sand_187143“Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me,
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be. With God as my Father, Brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.”

These are the words of the familiar  song,  “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” However, we live in a world where the threat of violence both locally and abroad has become the norm. Recent events have left us wondering: Is peace on earth even possible?

In John 14:27, Jesus promises to give us His peace. The peace Jesus offers will ease our troubled hearts and calm our fears. However Jesus’ peace is different from the world’s, because He calls us to go beyond personal peace to become peacemakers. In other words, rather than just seeking peace for ourselves, He calls us to share the peace we find with all who seek hope. In light of the perpetual violence we see again and again, we must remember that peace is powerful. For it is His peace that has the power to not only change our lives, but also the world around us.


What peace has God given you?

How will you share this peace with others today?

Listen: The Harlem Boy’s Choir “Let There Be Peace On Earth”



“The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” ~Matthew 21:9

This Sunday marks the final week of the Lenten season, the 40 day period leading up to Easter. Today we celebrate the holy day of feasting  known as Palm Sunday. The celebration of Palm Sunday commemorates Christ’s entry into the City of Jerusalem. As Jesus arrives in the city, he is met by a large crowd of people waving palm branches in the air and laying them at his feet. They cry out to Him saying: “Hosanna! Hosanna, in the highest heaven!”

The word Hosanna is used in this passage as a shout of praise, much like the word Hallelujah. However, where Hallelujah literally means “praise be to God” the word Hosanna is translated as to save or rescue. So what appears in this story as a shout of praise, is actually a cry for help. As we celebrate Palm Sunday in the midst of a global pandemic, we confidently cry out to God and with expectant hearts, we trust that He will hear us.

What is the cry of your heart today?

How will you wait with an expectant heart?






“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Do you not perceive it? ” ~Isaiah 43:19

On the first day of the new year, we greet one another saying, “Happy New Year!” This first day is “happy” because after what was likely a challenging last year, the New Year is a time for renewal. We set goals, make new resolutions, and celebrate the hope of things to come.

Isaiah reminds us that God grants us the grace to start anew saying, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Do you not perceive it?” Perceiving the “new thing” that God is doing is not simply forgetting the difficult things in our past, but rather allowing God to renew our hope, strength, and perspective. Ultimately, the “thing” God is making “new” this year is us.

Where do you need God’s renewal?

How will you allow Him to make you new this year?

“Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to those with whom He is pleased.” ~Luke 2:14

On the very first Christmas evening, a few ordinary shepherds had their world interrupted by a terrifying visit from the angel of the Lord.  The angel quickly assured them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will bring joy to all people.” The shepherd’s frightening encounter with the divine had a greater purpose,  to announce the birth of the Prince of Peace.

This fourth week of Advent we light the candle of peace.  We do this in hopeful anticipation of the one who will bring true peace to the world. In our most fearful moments, we can trust God to transform our scary episodes into  sacred experiences. When we open our hearts to this possibility, we join with the angels in worship saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven.”


Where in your life has God granted you peace in the midst of fear?

How can you share His peace this Christmas week?




“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” ~Psalm 98:4

“Joy to the world, The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare him room, And heaven and nature sing.”

These familiar words are from the popular Christmas Carol “Joy to the World” written by  Isaac Watts in 1719 with music composed by Handel. The lyrics are primarily taken from Psalm 98 where the Psalmist is extolling the praises of God by singing a ‘new song’ thanking Him for the marvelous things He has done. Verse 4 states that this praise extends to the ends of the earth, where people of all nations join in praise of their newborn King.

This third week of Advent we light the candle of joy.  We do this in joyful expectation as earth prepares to ‘receive her King.’  The Advent season is the time to let ‘every heart prepare Him room’ and in so doing, we invite joy into our hearts as well.

Where in your heart are you lacking joy?

How will you ask God to prepare your heart to receive His joy this Christmas?


“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

~I Peter 1:3

The word hope is often an ambiguous term. We “hope against hope,” or have “false hopes.” We “get our hopes up” and “hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” Over the years Hollywood has given us ‘hope’ themed movies such as Hope & Glory (1987),  City of Hope (1991), Hope Floats (1998), Hope Springs (2003) along with the various television series of Saving Hope (2012) and Raising Hope (2014).

This first week of Advent we light the candle of hope.  We do this in anticipation of the birth of Jesus who, as Peter reminds us,  is our “living hope.” In our hopeless circumstances we are then able to turn to a living God who provides living hope to all who seek Him.

Where in your life do you need a living hope?

How will you share the hope that you have with others this week?


” Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” ~1 Thess. 5:18

Thanksgiving is the time of year when family and friends gather to share food and fellowship. But we all know that the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers where we get to turn one elaborate meal in many more enjoyable meals.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul states, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” If God’s will is for us to give thanks in all circumstances, perhaps these are the “spiritual leftovers” of Thanksgiving. God is calling us to turn a one day a year holiday into a daily practice of giving thanks.

What are you most thankful for?

In what ways can you express your gratitude today and every day?

“Don’t be afraid…Don’t you see?  You planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good. “ ~ Genesis 50:20

At our Summer Hope4Hollywood Ladies Tea: Stories of Grace, one of our ladies shared how God granted her grace in the midst of a difficult journey. “Many years ago when I was a college student at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C.  I met a handsome graduate student from Sierra Leone, West Africa. We began dating and 9 months later were married the day after my graduation. I was so in love. He was intelligent, tall and always a gentleman in my presence.

In our marriage, like all marriages, we had our ups and downs.  He was an excellent provider, bills were paid, we had comfortable accommodations, and took two vacations a year. But I often found that he was emotionally unavailable and his authority was absolute. Throughout our married life he also continued to maintain his social life as if he were still single. I was not allowed to question any of his behavior.

Once we settled into our new home our lives seemed to be much like a storybook.  But the undercurrent was that he continued to maintain a separate social life. There were always whispers of my husband’s infidelity amongst my colleagues at the university where we both worked and I recall seeing him getting into cars with different women.  At those times I often felt something was wrong with me—that I needed fixing. So I would go to God in prayer to ask him to take away my “wrong attitude” towards my husband. One day, 11 years into our marriage, I went to God again. This time I did not ask him to ‘fix me”. Instead I asked God to start fixing my husband. Two days later, my prayers were unexpectedly and abruptly answered. My husband filed for divorce. I felt as if the bottom had dropped out of my stomach. How could this be God’s answer to my prayers?

It was then that I remembered one of my favorite stories in the book of Genesis. There Joseph experienced many devastating events from being sold by his brothers to being falsely imprisoned. Yet through it all he not only relied on God but surrendered all of his difficulties. I decided that if I could surrender my trials that were intended to harm me, God would be able to turn to them to good. Throughout the rest of my life I did just that, holding myself and my children up,  all while earning 3 degrees.   And along the way I embraced the  many ‘grace-filled helpers”— wise elders, friends, community leaders, stepping in to provide an answer, listening ear or to provide encouragement and support. 

These days I am in a new season of trials—this time with medical illness. Every day I am attempting to live a life of surrender, believing that God has the power to bring good even from this.”

What difficult trials are you currently enduring?

How can you surrender these so God can use them for good?


“Dear sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

 ~ James 1:2-4

At our Spring Hope4Hollywood Ladies Tea: Stories of Joy, one of our ladies shared how God granted her joy in the midst of a difficult journey. “For as long as I can remember I have dreamed of being a doctor. So in college I earned high grades and diligently studied for the MCAT exam.  I was devastated to learn the news that my scores were too low to even be accepted into any schools. And to add to my sense of failure, my test scores did not improve and then I learned  that I had to wait 2 long years to reapply. I felt defeated,  mentally and emotionally exhausted, and my joy was gone. Why had my efforts failed?  After much prayer and wise counsel, I realized that God hadn’t taken away my opportunity but had just given me more time. He had gifted me with 2 extra years. This gift of time allowed me to save money as well as complete a Master’s Degree. Somehow my ‘struggle’ was turned into an opportunity to find joy.

Two years later I was overjoyed to receive the news of my acceptance into medical school!  I felt so blessed to finally have the opportunity to fulfill my dream of becoming a physician. But the transition to another state was very difficult.  Everything was brand new. I felt all alone and medical school was very challenging. Perhaps you have heard of the term imposter syndrome? That was me my first 2 years in medical school. I felt like I was pretending to be something I was not. Not only were classes a daily challenge but my relationship with my longtime boyfriend was disintegrating. I was an emotional and physical wreck, having doubled in size from all the stress. I was at another low point, discouraged and defeated.  How and where could I find joy in all of this? Once again I had to consciously choose to hang onto anything that would bring me joy.  Slowly over the next year God began to restore joy through the love of my friends and family.

Today I work as a medical resident and  am being challenged and tested yet again. I am working an unimaginable number of hours, without even time during my busy days to use the restroom or take a break. At times I feel under appreciated and devalued. Even harder is dealing with the daily burden of breaking bad news to my patients.  I recall recently delivering the news to my 30 something patient that she has stage 4 terminal cancer which will likely take her life within the next year. How do I find joy in the midst of all of this?

As in all my other dark times, I remember that I needed to take time to stop and reflect. And so one day at work, despite having a morning clinic session and a full patient load, plus a multitude of other tasks,  I decided to take my wheel-chair bound patient into the healing garden. We sat outside for nearly an hour, just enjoying the sun on our faces. He was so grateful to get out of the confines of his room and have a sense of something normal again. His smile and authentic gratitude reminded me of why I wanted to go into medicine in the first place.

James 1 reminds us that our struggles are actually “opportunities.” So each day I am making an effort to view my difficulties as opportunities–opportunities for joy and growth.  Hopefully I can turn these newfound opportunities into helping me develop into an even better friend, sister, daughter, partner and physician in the future.

What struggles are you currently facing?

How can you consider these struggles as “opportunities” for joy?


“Take off the grave clothes and live!” ~ John 11: 44


During this season of the year, we often focus on themes of new life and resurrection as we prepare for the celebration of our risen Lord.  One of the more interesting passages which explores these themes actually occurs a few months before Jesus’ resurrection. In John 11, Jesus is summoned to the tomb of Lazarus, who has been dead for 3 days. There he encounters the family who has been grieving, including Mary and Martha.  In a dramatic moment, Jesus calls Lazarus out from the grave saying, “Lazarus, come out!” After he performs the miracle of resurrecting him from the dead, Jesus then commands him to “take off the grave clothes” so that he might truly live.

Although Jesus has the power to set us free, we, like Lazarus, must take off our “grave clothes”– our past hurts, present pain and future worries. When we free ourselves from those things which hinder us, only then are we free to live the life God purposed for us.

Which grave clothes are you still wearing?

What steps will you take this week to remove these clothes so that you can truly live?