Saturday, October 30, 2010


Don't you just love those moments when God just smacks you upside the head with a humongous cement brick! I gotta say he beat me up pretty well while I was reading my latest book "Eternal Security" by Charles Stanley. I'm still pretty sore from it, but it's a good sore. You know the kind of sore you get after going to the gym for an hour or two after not exercising a day in your life? And it's the kind of bruise that you want to walk around wearing proudly because even though you look pretty darn bad, the other guy looks EVEN WORSE- if you get my point.

7 years ago I went through what I thought at the time was the most painful thing anyone could ever go through. A divorce is hardly joyful, but for me, someone who never wanted a divorce and wanted someone who loved me and only me, my life was over. Now looking back on it 7 years later, I don't even know who that person coming out of that divorce was; God has changed me so much! And that was my first glimpse of grace.

I remember it like yesterday driving that 10 hour drive back home to mama through the mountains in my black Jeep- praying, and crying, singing, and praying some more. And one specific prayer I prayed over and over again, "Oh Lord, I don't think I can get through this, all I wanted was to be a wife and mother, and have a loving family! MY GOD, WILL I NEVER HAVE THAT NOW?! Who Lord, who would ever want me?! What God-fearing man would ever want someone who is used up and thrown to the side, Lord? Oh God, I don't know that I can get through this without knowing that one day I will have these things; please Lord, send me a Godly man- someone who loves You more than me, and me more than anything else. Give me my own family to love who will return that love!" And not only did He give me that God-fearing, Toneka-lovin' man, but he gave me 4 children, and more than I could ever ask for(keep reading).

The guilt alone from being in this situation was exhausting! Even though I knew it wasn't my fault(the divorce), I still felt so shameful and embarrassed; I felt that I had failed. The thought of coming back to my old church and having to tell everyone I was getting a divorce was humiliating! What would they say, and would they treat me like the sinner I thought that I was?

New Year's Eve, an old friend of mine took me out to see everyone for the first time since I had been back. When I was told who would be in the room before we walked in, it intensified my fears. One person in particular (lets call him BOB for now) was there whom I, in the past, thought wasn't very fond of me. I figured he would be far from the last person in that room to be happy to see me. But when I walked in that door, he was the fist person to jump up and hug me. Much to my surprise, he was genuinely excited to see me, as were the others! I rekindled many old friendships, made many new friendships, and was welcomed back with open arms.

One night, Bob and I were talking about the things I had been going through when he started to tell me how I needed to forgive myself because God had already forgiven me! He kept telling me over and over about how I needed to just accept his Grace, and I remember him saying "Toneka, one day you will understand what I mean by Grace."

I've gotten a glimpse at true grace twice since that conversation. Once a few weeks later and now after reading this book.

A few weeks later we did a foot washing with communion at small group. I felt totally uncomfortable, embarrassed, unworthy and just mortified that Bob was going to go around the room and wash my feet after giving me communion. As I watched Bob get closer and closer to me, I began to feel the lump in my throat get bigger and harder to swallow. The tears that had been falling for months that I thought were dried up now were suddenly back and more powerful than ever! I just remember thinking "I don't want him to do this! I don't deserve for him to wash MY feet, he has been nothing but accepting of me and such a great friend to me, I should be washing his feet!"

I didn't want to eat of the bread because it was "HIS BODY broken for me!" I was already broken enough for everyone in that room it wasn't fair that Christ had to be too. I didn't want to drink of the juice it was "HIS BLOOD that was poured out for me." I just remember the feeling of wanting to scream at the cross and tell him "DON'T DO IT, I'LL JUST LET YOU DOWN!!" And that's when I realized- no matter what, whether I wanted Him to or not, He died for me! No matter what, even though He already knew I'd let Him down, there was nothing I could do to stop Him.

And here I am again 7 years later, remembering Bob's famous words "Toneka, one day you will understand what I mean by Grace." Although I don't know that I agreed with what the book was saying 100%, Charles Stanley was talking about how even if you walked away from Christ, you STILL would never lose your salvation! Even though we are not faithful to Him, he will always remain faithful to us. You see, I've lived my entire Christian life feeling like at any moment Christ could come back, catch me in a lie, and I'd go to hell. It wasn't until this week that I actually FINALLY started to see the depth of God's love and grace. As I was reading Mr. Stanley's words, I just kept saying to myself, "WHY WOULD HE DO THIS!?" and it was then that God said "you don't understand... because you have never understood My grace."

I've always "KNOWN" that salvation is not by works, but somehow the words got lost between my mouth and my brain. I was never, until now, able to realize that I was still living (bound) by "The Law" somehow. It's been a huge weight off my shoulders to know that I can't lose my salvation by sinning, but that I have freedom in Christ. Not to mention, It's great to be able to say "Bob, I finally understand what you were trying to tell me! Thank you Bob!" It's about our position with God- we are forgiven, transformed heirs and children of God- through what Jesus did- not through what we keep "trying" to do ... live a perfect life! Christ did that for us already; He was the spotless lamb, the sacrifice! I heard in a song recently, "why do I keep trying to earn what I already have?" We have to know that "Your Grace is Enough!" In another song by Tenth Avenue North,

So you thought you had to keep this up
All the work that you do
So we think that you're good
And you can't believe it's not enough
All the walls you built up
Are just glass on the outside

So let 'em fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We're here now

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Great is thy faithfulness!

Usually when we put the girls down we always turn on a CD in their room. Something soft enough to put them to sleep but loud enough to drown out the noise. When we bought our homeschooling curriculum this year it came with a CD, something like 25 Classical tunes. I am not by any means a classical music type of person. With that said I also have never been a hymn person either. I never consistently went to a church until middle school, and by that time the hymn books were gone and contemporary was in! So you can imagine my lack of knowledge when it comes to hymn lyrics.

During the day instead of turning the players off like we probably should, they continue to play through the songs giving the girls freedom to dance, or sing (to the veggie tale CD in the babies rooms). For the last two days, I've had the tune of the hymn "Great is thy faithfulness" in my head and could NOT figure out why! Finally, it dawned on me that the Classical CD was on Repeat for ONE song only! The song had a tune similar to "Great is thy faithfulness." and my mind must have caught on and been singing it the whole day! So me, lacking in knowledge of the words and only hearing the song in passing on occasion was all over the place!

"Great is thy faithfulness, Great is thy faithfulness, Warning by warning new Thursday's I bring. All I have given you, and I've provided, Great is thy faithfulness, God unto me!"

haha! Then there was...

"Great is thy faithfulness, Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faith-ful-ness great is thy Faitfulness. Great is they faith-ful-ness great is thy faithfulness. Great is thy faith-ful ness, great is thy faithfulness!"

Haha! You can only imagine my husband's reaction (he was raised up in traditional baptist churches) when he realized what I was TRYING to sing, and what was actually coming out! HAHA! (I'm seriously having a hard time typing this without laughing right now). So my poor husband sang it to me several times, and I thought I had it down until 1am came and our youngest (10weeks) wouldn't stop crying. So here I am bouncing her on my leg next to my husband and all the sudden he hears me sing....

"Great is thy faithfulness, Great is thy faithfulness, hmmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmmm.....Great is thy faith-ful-ness great is thy faithful....Great is thy faithfulness...great is thy faithfulness!" HAHA!

But guess who fell asleep!

While I am sitting here writing this I actually had to go look up the REAL words on google....

"Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!"

Boy was I off! Or was I? See this week I've really been seeking God and wanting something more intimate with him than I've had in the past. My husband and I started reading the book "The Christian Atheist" by Craig Groeschel. In one chapter he talks about how you can know the depth of your intimacy or lack of it by the way you address God! So I started thinking....Random people who don't know me might call me "Mrs. Cooper." People who are friends might call me "Toneka." My parents, sisters and sometimes husband might call me "Neek." And my husband might call me "honey, babe, or sweetheart" WOW, what do I call God?

Well ever since I was in 5th grade and read the book "Are you there God, it's me Margaret?" That is exactly how every prayer I say starts out...."Are you there God it's ME TONEKA!" Okay NO, I'm not kidding! haha! Anyways that got me thinking...this guy is onto something! I've always felt I had a close relationship with Christ, but how close or intimate have I actually been with him?

So in realizing this I've decided to address God more intimately by choosing a name each week to call him according to what is going on in my life, what he is teaching me, or what I need him to show/teach me. So this week "Great is thy faithfulness" is definately something I know I need to remember. I get caught up sometimes in things that I've prayed for, for prolong periods of time, and start to get so discouraged I havent gotten an answer yet; that I forget all about all the other blessings he has given me. So this week I need to remember that "GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS" or "El Emunah" meaning The Faithful GOD! Or "Are you there my loving and faithful God, it's ME Toneka!"

Monday, October 18, 2010


After picking a few bedtime stories out and plopping into the chair tonight, I called for my girls to climb into my lap and journey through one of their favorite books, "The very hungry caterpillar". After we finished we read our bible story. Tonight it was about Mary, and how she was "chosen" by God to do this amazing task. And how amazing it is that God has chosen us to be "Children of God" and to be part of his family.

Sometimes my day is just SO overwhelming with 4 little ones, some days it's a BLAST! And some day's I just want to get up, get dressed and go to an office and send them off to someone else for 8 hours! But even on days like that, the thought of someone else being with my babies for 8 hours, hugging on them, and kissing on them...or even yelling at them and spanking them would make me a bit jealous! So I'm thankful I can stay home to raise my girls!

As they sat in my lap tonight, I started picturing them as women. I'm not sure if any other mother does this but since the day I named them I've had a vision of what each one would be when they became women.

A-, will be a Missionary Doctor, and will travel to different countries helping the sick and sharing the good news. She is such a people person and loves the Lord so much! She is bold and not afraid to show it!

S-, is such a loving sweet person, she will be a wise woman, maybe even with the gift of healing. Maybe a pastor's wife, a nurse, or a teacher. She will be a nurturer with great mercy for all.

E-, will be a people person as well. She will also have a heart for the lost, maybe be a missionary, or travel around speaking for Woman's ministries.


T-, T will be a fire ball! She will be so on fire for Christ and so ready to share the good news nothing will hold her back. I see her and E- even partnering in ministry singing together and reaching the lost!

Now I know that probably most of my vision of them will not come to pass, as most parents ideal life for their children does not, but I swear every now and then I get a glimpse of them as a woman. Sometimes in things they do, or say, or in the way they just love me. Sometimes while praying for them as I lay them down to sleep I see a picture of them as a woman flash before me and that picture is what makes it all worth it.

To think that every thing I do, say, or bring into our home is going to make, mold and transfer these little baby girls into God fearing, passionate, loving women some day is so exciting to me! Every time I have a baby, it's like a blank canvas to mix colors and texture and character with the intentions of a masterpiece! Every creation is loved, nurtured, and worthy of the time you put into it. How wonderful it will be one day to sit back in my old comfy chair, pull out "the very hungry caterpillar" and take that same journey with my little grand children who are being raised up by amazing Godly women. That, I believe, will be such a rewarding day to sit in awe of the masterpiece that God allowed me to craft along side Him.

Already I believe each of my girls are such a masterpiece. God is an amazing artist, and I'm so thankful he has "chosen" to share with me his knowledge to pass along to them!

So yeah having 4 close together is hard sometimes but, knowing that God has such great things in store for them, make it all worth every second!