Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Piano Lessons

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On a weekly basis when I take my child to piano lessons, I have learned the most interesting things. For example one of the other parents is totally different than I; if both of our daughters were not doing these lessons I am certain our paths would not have crossed, and if they did I'm sure our conversation would be minimal. But thanks to waiting around for an hour and both of us having a desire to talk and listen, we are exposed to each other's worlds.

I've learned that her culture holds tight to their traditions. She is a wife and mother but she would never ask her husband to help out in the kitchen, nor does she feel she should. She stays at home and loves cooking and being a homemaker. Even though within her culture the men play a more outgoing dominant role, she is not a doormat or docile. There are parts of American culture when it comes to women, relationships and parenting that don't make any sense to her. Parents rule the roost in her culture, and there's no need to always try to accommodate a child's wishes. Her culture is very serious about marrying internally - if you marry a different ethnicity you risk incurring the wrath of your family. She has two daughters, so I asked, "If in spite of everything that you did, your daughters chose to marry outside of your culture, what would happen?" I shared my thoughts on marriage; in doing so, she realized that she could not come up with a good answer to this question.

She thinks every day should be Thanksgiving and is not big on this holiday. Many within her culture do not celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, but they make a big deal for New Years Day with a tree and all. So they get to shop after Christmas and get the best bargains.  We both related to what it feels like to be immigrants, or to be the only one of a certain ethnic group in a large gathering.

In these exchanges I have also schooled her on my culture and explained some of the similarities and differences between hers and mine.

As the new year approaches, be willing to try new things - have conversations with people that cross your path and get to know them a little better. You may be surprised at what you learn and how much you have in common. Be hopeful. Always try to see the good in people.

I never thought piano lessons would open up another world to me, but it did, and like playing a piano, we have had harmonious conversations while our daughters learned.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18,19
Can you guess her culture? What new thing will you give a chance this new year?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Leaving the Nest

At this point in our lives we have a child that is preparing to leave the nest, and I'm reminded of eagles.
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As parents, we were the ones that taught her how to fly. We did that by teaching and modeling what we taught. This sounds very formal and oversimplified as I write, but children learn what they live. Having children forced me to become consistent in my beliefs.

As the eagle teaches her young ones to fly, so do we. When eagles are babies, the mother eagle uses her beak and picks up the eagle. At this point in time the bird can't fly, so as the bird starts to fall the mother eagle flies underneath the baby and catches it, so that the fledgling is flying on her wings.  Because eagles learn by imprinting (i.e. imitation) she will continue to do this, until the baby soars and can leave the nest. One motivation that the mother eagle uses is food. The baby needs to learn to fly in order to hunt for his own food so that he too can grow. As the baby grows, he won't leave the nest unless he has to. At first the mother is responsible for all of the baby's needs - she would bring meat to the nest. The baby eagle has grown and can fly, but not fast or far yet because he is still growing. At a certain point in time the mother eagle will stop dropping food in to the nest. It may even look like she is harming her young. But the mom knows once the fledgling is hungry enough, he will use his wings, imitate her and fly to where the prey is, hunt, eat and then return. Eventually the fledgling will not return.

An interesting illustration is thus recorded by Sir Humphry Davy:, "I once saw a very interesting sight above the crags of Ben Nevis. Two parent eagles were teaching their offspring, two young birds, the maneuvers of flight. They began by rising from the top of the mountain in the eye of the sun. It was about mid-day, and bright for the climate. They at first made small circles, and the young birds imitated them. They paused on their wings, waiting till they had made their flight, and then took a second and larger gyration, always rising toward the sun, and enlarging their circle of flight so as to make a gradually ascending spiral. The young ones still and slowly followed, apparently flying better as they mounted; and they continued this sublime exercise, always rising till they became mere points in the air, and the young ones were lost, and afterwards their parents, to our aching sight." (See Isa. 40:31.) - Easton's Bible Dictionary


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Eagles in the Bible are noted for their strength (Isa 40:31), their longevity of life (Psalms 103.5), and for caring for their young (Deut. 32:11,12). As my daughter leaves, I'm hoping that as parents we have given her what she needed - we were her first role models and I hope that we've imprinted the right things on her heart. I am praying for the strength and beauty of the eagle in her life. And when she's tired, I hope she knows that she doesn't have to carry it all but that she can rest on Eagle's wings.

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isa 40:31
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

Have your children left the nest? How was your imprint? Were you ready for them to leave?


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

25 on 25 - The Gift of Marriage




While we never know what to give each other at Christmas, there are many gifts that we do give:
  • The gift of ourselves 
  • The gift of time 
  • The gift of listening 
  • The gift of consideration 
  • The gift of laughter 
  • The gift of commitment 
  • The gift of music 
After 25 years, you know:
  • It's not about you. 
  • You can't make another person change. 
  • Love is a choice that you make daily. 
  • Divorce is not an option. 
  • We may go to bed mad, but we won't stay mad. 
  • Things have to run their course - this may take a couple of hours or several days but it's going to be all right. 
  • Don't keep score; we are not in a competition but a relationship. Keeping score leads to resentment. 
  • Going through rough patches makes you and your relationship stronger. 
  • You don't need to go looking for trouble. 
  • We are constantly changing - I am not the same person I was 25 years ago, neither is he. Though some changes are for the better, secretly I think we all wish we could stay the same as when we first met. 
  • Don't ever stop communicating as this is the glue that holds everything together. 
  • Communication takes many forms - but keep doing it. 
  • Be grateful - take nothing for granted. I'm grateful for the person I am because of marriage. 
Being in a long marriage is a little bit like that nice cup of coffee every morning - I might have it every day, but I still enjoy it. - One of my favorite quotes from the Happy Wives Club by Stephan Gaines.



Just Married!


Have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy the gift of marriage if you're married.

PS - I can't find my wedding album. I hope it shows up before my anniversary.







Monday, December 23, 2013

My birthday

I turned 47 on 12/22.

47 seems like such a large number but I feel so very young. 
Chatting with my husband we were just musing about where we are currently in life:
  • We are happy with our children - we have one getting ready to leave the nest as I write this.
  • Our marriage is sound but we are always willing to try to improve as there is always room for improvement. 
  • We live on the west coast and like it. 
  • Our lives aren't well planned but God is in control and we both trust deeply. 
  • We are similar yet very different. 
  • Maintaining connections with extended family is important though not always easy. 
  • I love my husband and four children; my life is inexplicably richer because of them. 
  • I really don't need gifts but I don't mind receiving them. 
  • My circle of friends has grown and is much more diverse. 

I am happy! I'm grateful for another year to be alive.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Overwhelmed at Christmas

Twas the week before Christmas
And all through the house
Every creature was stirring
Including the mouse (eek!!!)

No stockings were hung by the chimney with care
For Ms. Betty was on her way over there.

The children were nestled, but not in there beds
Begging and shouting,"more, more, more!"
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That's an incomplete parody of the The Night Before Christmas.  The poem goes on until St. Nick appears. I remember reading this as a child and always becoming nostalgic for Christmas.

But Christmas isn't so peaceful anymore -
      We have parties to attend and parties to plan.
            Gifts to buy and gifts to wrap.
                   Desserts to be made for our various Christmas parties.
                          And of course, we have to have the right outfits for all of these events.

Before you know it, we're all caught up with the excitement of the seasons while forgetting what caused the initial excitement in the first place. Jesus came - that is the reason we have Christmas. Don't be a scrooge, but please take a moment to be mindful of that first Christmas. Take time at the beginning of each day, to give thanks. Jesus was the first gift, which allowed us to have many more. I hope you're not feeling out of sorts this Christmas. If you are, take a moment and remember the reason we celebrate.

For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

What are you doing to stay calm at Christmas?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Soil Analysis

As a family, we've been reading the book of Mark.  Our pastor is doing a series on this book and suggested we find another person to read the book with - so we decided to read it as a family. Reading the Bible in this way, is quite interesting as it allows you to see what each person thinks, particularly your children. It also provides a foundation for rich discussion.

On this particular night we read Mark 4 which begins with the Parable of the Sower. This parable is also found in Matthew and Luke.
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During our discussion, we each reflected on what kind of soil we were.

  1. The hard-packed soil - this soil was found on the wayside and it was very hard. Seed fell but the ground could not receive it; birds ate the seed. This soil represents someone who chooses not to be converted or someone who is not converted. This person hears, but does not understand and does not ask questions to aid in understanding.
  2. Stony soil - the stony soil was interspersed with the rocks. The seed that fell on to this soil grew but it couldn't thrive because it did not have sufficient roots. The stony ground prevented the seed from having a solid foundation. This soil represents a new believer who does nothing to cement his faith. This person hears the Word and receives it with joy, but since they have no root this joy lasts only a short time. Joy is not enough to live the Christian life.
  3. Thorny soil - this soil was thorny but seed was able to thrive for awhile until it was overcome by the thorns. This soil represents seasoned Christians who become caught up with the cares of this world.
  4. Good soil - this soil was ideal; it was a perfect environment for the seed to grow and bear varying degrees of fruit.

As someone who loves to garden, I know that you have to work to change the type of soil you may be dealing with. You may have to turn it, treat it, or remove rocks from it to get it to an ideal place. This is the same thing we have to do with our lives - it takes effort and work to produce fruit.

There have been times in my life where I have been all four types of soil. I remember when I first made the decision to become a Christian at the age of 8, and to this day I remember the initial joy I felt. I was stony soil. I remember having a season of doubt up until I was in my late teens; here I was also stony and thorny. Later, I remember being so in tune with the Lord I could feel his presence and was obedient to his commands via the Bible. Then, I was good soil. At a point in time, and sometimes even now, I became concerned with the cares of this world. When I worked full time, I was very concerned about raises and promotions and did not trust God with the outcome - at this point I was thorny soil. Prior to making a decision to serve the Lord, I was hard-packed soil.

Be encouraged, that if you are not good soil you can become good soil. Seek and ye shall find.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7,8

What kind of soil are you?


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Waste Not Want Not




The theme of a recent episode of Chopped was "Wasted". The premise of Chopped is to make great meals from random ingredients that are placed in a basket, that don't necessarily go together, within a short time frame. Contestants are required to make an appetizer, entree and dessert and do not know the basket contents until it is time to make the meal. The winner receives a check for $10,000.00. On this particular show, the basket contained items that are typically tossed.
Ingredients included:
  • Fish carcass
  • Overripe tomatoes
  • Wilted carrots
  • Potatoes with eyes
  • Ends of Bread
  • Orange halves already squeezed
  • Used coffee grounds
  • Hardened brown sugar
This show was a revelation to me as most of the above items would not be tossed by me. Now none of these foods strike me as waste; as a matter of fact I've used and probably still use some of these items when I cook, and everyone is still standing!

This show highlighted the old adage that one man's garbage is another mans treasure. My ancestors had nothing or were given the scraps and created amazing meals to survive on, which we now call Soul Food. Where I'm from, nothing goes to waste. My mom made sure to use everything that was edible in all of our meals. I watched her get the last bit of ketchup from a bottle by pouring hot water in the container, shaking it up and then pouring it out. In terms of food nothing went to waste and that mentality carried over in to other areas of our lives.

Willful waste makes woeful want.
In this joyous season, waste is the thing that undergirds many of our acquisitions. I'm all for shopping and getting a bargain but not at the expense of incurring debt. One can infer from the many statistics that are based on America's national debt that we need to be careful how we spend. I came across this bit of information as I was writing this post:
As of December 2, 2013, the official debt of the United States government is $17.2 trillion ($17,235,032,379,906).[1] This amounts to:
• $54,372 for every person living in the U.S.[2]
• $140,741 for every household in the U.S.[3]
• 102% of the U.S. gross domestic product.[4]
• 542% of annual federal revenues.[5]
 On a large scale, don't waste your money buying stuff you don't need even if it is on sale. Guess what, you still won't need it. Live within your means. Be creative with what you have. When it comes to food, before you toss, ask yourself, "Can something else be done with this?"
I've been guilty of wasting food and other essentials; I'm challenging myself to go back to the basics.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

Do you re-purpose in general or only with food? Are you creative with food? Have you scaled back this holiday season? 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful for One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days where you were totally blindsided by the unexpected? I have and Tuesday  was such a day. Without going in to too much detail, on days like this, it's good to have a support system; it's good to have a thick skin; it's good to know that you are not alone; it's good to know that even in trials you can see personal growth.

Because though the day was not what I anticipated, and while I did feel flustered at times my overriding feeling was just going with it; acceptance. It was of dealing with what was in front of me and not jumping too far ahead.

It's the season of thanks and I'm choosing to be intentional about being thankful.
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......always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; Ephesians 5:20

In all things give thanks. 




Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Something Happens

As humans, when we hear or say someone's name we automatically think of their attributes. So hopefully, when my children hear my name they automatically smile, or when I hear my husband's name I automatically feel supported. You can have the opposite feelings about a person's name also.

But when you say Jesus - something happens that's supernatural. I can't totally explain it because it's supernatural but for me I feel secure, forgiven, loved, transformed, peaceful and so much more.

This song has been a blessing to me since I heard it on Saturday.



Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

What happens when you call Jesus?

Monday, November 25, 2013

25 on 25 - Believe the Best

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I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime on March 25th, 1989. That was the day I got married to my wonderful husband.

As we are approaching our 25th anniversary in March, over the next couple of months on the 25th I'll try to share some of what I've learned on this journey.

Even in your darkest days, don't ever quit on your marriage. Believe the best of each other as this will sustain you when it appears that their aim in life is to perpetually annoy you. If you believe the best of each other, you will know that this is not true. As a young mother, I was OVERWHELMED with all that it took to being a mother, a wife, maintaining a house, working outside of home -  just to name a few. In this state, I only saw things from my vantage point and it never seemed like my husband was doing enough to help me and this manifested itself in ugly ways. The reality was, we were both overwhelmed and each of us was doing our damnedest to make things work. Some of this stuff is unavoidable, but as you mature you learn to view and respond to things differently.

But now that we've made it this far, we know now that it is all right. We're better able to talk and have the hard conversations.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 (I love this verse!)

We both know that we are loved and we don't take that lightly.



Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm Impressed by You

I had a conversation this morning with two random strangers about life, marriage, education and children. One of the men was a pastor and upon leaving he said, "I'm impressed by you." It felt awkward, but ultimately I said, "Thank you."

If you're living right, people notice. We know what it means to live right, even though we fight it. I believe in applying God's word to every crevice of my life. God's Word does what it is supposed to do in each individual's life. You won't regret living by the principles laid out in The Word. You may not be a  huge success, but someone is looking on and wants what you have.
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So I'm giving you permission right now to be glad with what you have accomplished, and to also know that there is more ahead.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11

I'm impressed by you!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Sound of Silence

We are constantly bombarded by sounds: people talking, children whining, babies crying, phones ringing, phones beeping, cars honking, wind blowing, trumpets roaring, dogs barking, and crickets chirping. Sound is everywhere - outside, inside, radio, TV and even the Internet. While some of it is good, of late I've just wanted to unplug.

My car is my sanctuary - I spend a lot of time in it so it becomes the place where I regroup and recharge. Normally the radio is turned on, but for the past month or more, I've made a conscious effort to ride in silence. In NY there was a 24 hr gospel music station - no such thing out here, so I'm sometimes forced to hear things I don't want to hear. While there is benefit to being culturally relevant, there are some things that I just don't care for. Even Christian radio can be overwhelming sometimes. So I've turned it all off and I like it.

The other day I found myself praying out loud, in my car, while driving. Who says your pray closet can't be your car?

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This silence in my car by myself, reminds me of that still small voice.

Elijah had just won his biggest victory and now his life was threatened by Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab. He was able to do what he did supernaturally, but now all of a sudden he was scared of what he thought Jezebel could do. He ran for his life. While in Beersheba, an angel ministered to him first with a cake and then with meat that was able to sustain him for 40 days.

The angel said, "Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for thee."

Finally, the angel told Elijah to go and stand before the Lord. "And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. I Kings 19:11,12

In that still small voice, Elijah was given his next assignment.

Sometimes we are drained and need replenishing. Sometimes we have just defeated our greatest enemy and we are spent; and at this point our minds begin to play tricks on us. It is then we that we need to stop and hear what God is trying to tell us; hear where He's moving us to next. Elijah heard the voice after he left the cave and was in the presence of the Lord. On that day, in my car I felt as if I was in the presence of the Lord. It doesn't happen often, but the words just flowed out of me, after hearing His voice.

Take time to hear the still small voice.

......but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. I Kings 19:11,12

Have you quieted yourself lately?




Monday, November 11, 2013

A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

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When I came across the admonishment that as a woman I should strive for a gentle and quiet spirit, it was something I immediately wanted, but I wasn't sure if I could attain.

By nature I am exuberant, outgoing, and naturally possess a voice that carries - if I am called to speak I don't have a problem projecting and I don't necessarily need a microphone.

My vision of what a gentle quiet spirit looked like and my nature were diametrically opposed. Even in this I learned a powerful lesson - God can take anything and change it especially if it's beneficial and we are willing to submit.

I didn't know how it would play out. I surely did not have a personality change after requesting this in pray, as a matter of fact it has been a slow process.


Over time I've seen many changes:
  • The need to be heard is diminished as is the need to be right
  • The ability to have difficult conversations without raising my voice
  • Becoming more contented
  • Not easily offended
  • A change in vocabulary (hint: "perhaps" is one of the most powerful words in the English Language; also instead of saying "that sucks" for example, I would describe a situation as unfortunate which feels more soothing and less inflammatory)
  • There is a time for everything
  • Anger and resentment are reduced.
  • Attainment of inner beauty is a process - even if you are a gentle soul there are still things in your nature that can be polished.
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1 Peter 3:4

This verse speaks to working on the inside so that we are beautiful on the outside and a blessing to others. Today we are so focused on the outside, that we sometimes neglect the inside. The meek shall inherit the earth, but they will not be trampled over. I'm a work in progress, what about you?


Do you have a desire for a gentle and quiet spirit in the context of what God desires for you?


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Why I Blog

I have had a desire to write since I was knee high. As a child I always said I wanted to be an author - (see, I was fancy from back then).

Life interrupted.

Somehow life interrupted and I didn't have the courage to follow my dream and so I put the writing dream on hold. But while the dream was on hold, I read. It was through my love of reading that my dream was formed and so it was only natural that I read. I will read practically anything in print. I am a lover of words. I once read an article about the love of reading which resonated with me. The author wrote about her love of reading books, magazines, those papers that come with prescriptions and nutritional information on packages and the joy she felt while reading anything. For me, reading and writing go together like macaroni and cheese.

Life interrupted.

Three years ago, my oldest brother passed away and I was dealing with a thing called grief which was new to me. I am emotional but not often demonstrative with my emotions. They're in there but they need a forum for expression and writing became the container for my grief. Over time the grief outgrew the container; I was no longer grieving and the dream was reignited.

I am a champion of the ordinary, the inane and the insignificant. I lead a drama free life yet there's never a dull moment. I get excited thinking and discussing thoughts and ideas. I fancy myself to be like Malcolm Gladwell who takes insignificant thoughts and expounds them to significance. I don't have a story to tell, I have many stories broken down into blog posts, and I love to tell them.

I am a Christian - not a fly by night Christian or a holy roller or any other term people use to categorize believers of Christ. I am simply a Christian who takes my faith seriously and it informs everything I do.  So while I can laugh, joke, flirt, shop, be stylish, hopefully, in my interactions you will see something different and that difference is Christ. Because though I am a Christian, I wrestle with insecurities and struggle with bad habits but as a believer, I have a Resource that propels, aids and allows me to do what I am called to do.

A dream resurrected.


This all brought me to the world of blogging. I can continue to resurrect my dream while just being me. I aim to be positive.  I want people to think, and perhaps think differently after reading my work. This becomes inspiration, and that's my goal. That's why I blog.

Thanks to mrstdj for cluing me into Evernote as you never know when inspiration will strike.



Why do you blog?  


Monday, November 4, 2013

God's Plans for You

I don't know what to call this post but I need to write it; perhaps the title will come to me as I write.

"Opposing God is foolish since no one or anything can thwart his purposes. God is not limited in any way and He will never fail to fulfill his purposes. "This is an excerpt from last week's Sunday School Lesson.
Often times we struggle with knowing God's purpose and his will for our lives. Sometimes as spiritual people we may think we can always discern God's will because we read the Word, we pray, we seek Godly counsel, etc.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Have you heard of Jonah? He was a prophet, a man who knew God. He was a Christian, whom God spoke to directly, yet he had a difficult time obeying God's plan. Jonah was a "Hebrew who worshiped the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land." (Jonah 1:9) God clearly spoke to Jonah and told him to go to Nineveh. Jonah did not like God's will/plan/purpose for him so he consciously chose to go the other way. His reasons for not liking God's plan seem plausible: the people were wicked and had done awful things; if I tell them about you they will confess and repent and they won't suffer for all the wrong they've done; I don't want to be a part of that. He was saying no based on the Divine Nature of God. We do the same thing if we don't like or can't see where God is leading us. That can't be the right job for me since I don't have that skill set. You really want me to forgive her after all she's done to me? This feels so good, why do I have to stop now? That did not work out too well for Jonah and it won't for us either.

No one can thwart God's plan.

Jonah spent money to go the other way, ended up in a storm, other passengers marked him as a man of God and he was thrown overboard in to tumultuous waters. Can you imagine? He went to great lengths to thwart God's plan. We do the same, don't we? In trying to not do what he was called to do he ended up in crazy situation with no way to save his life. And then what appeared to be the worse thing saved his life - he is swallowed by a great fish for three days.  The Bible doesn't say what kind of fish it was. We debated this in Sunday School because these 10 yr olds are very smart - they mentioned digestion and stomach acids, and wondered how he got through the esophagus; they even tried to identify the species. I didn't have the answers.
Source

But what I do know - in those three days Jonah prayed, probably like he never had before, and then God had the fish spit him out. When he came out Jonah did what he was told to do initially. The people repented and God chose to save Nineveh; and then God dealt with Jonah one last time by letting him know his anger was misdirected.

No one can thwart God's plan for you.

God's plans don't always look the way we want them to look. We think in a linear fashion, God ways are unexplained. Sometimes it may seem like you are taking the circuitous route to get to where you need to go. Sometimes you don't know where you're going, but God does. At this point, you have to trust. You have to give up and look up. Oftentimes we plead ignorance by saying we don't know what God's plans are for us, but a very good starting point is His Word. We have to step out in faith and be obedient. As an aside, I don't think you ever need to broadcast what God told you to do, you just need to do it - He'll take care of your validation and letting people know. That's what it means when we say to God be the glory - He gets the glory not us.
Source

You may be in the belly of the whale right now, because you chose to ignore God's plan for you. That's not where you are meant to be for the long term. Do like Jonah did, so you can fulfill God's plan for your life.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Do you know God's plan for you? Are you searching for it? Are you willing to be obedient or are you in a whale of trouble?



Saturday, November 2, 2013

Book Review - The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines

Miss Jane Pittman could be any black person's ancestor living in the deep south tolerating the ravages of slavery and its after effects. Miss Jane Pittman is not a real person but is a series of vignettes that  represented real events that happened in the lives of many in the South. The book primarily takes place in Louisiana from the time of the Emancipation Proclamation (Jan 1,1863) up to the Civil Rights Movement (1955).

The most poignant quote from this book that resonated with me is, "Ain't we all been hurt by slavery?" Joe Pittman said this to Jane after she explained that she couldn't have children due to one severe beating by her masters. It didn't matter to him, as much as she thought it would, as this was his response. They went on to get married in the tradition of slavery - jumping the broom, and he loved her so well she always kept his name even after he passed on and she "remarried."

The timing may be fortuitous as we've watched Henry Louis Gates' The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross which provides a historical narrative of little known facts surrounding slavery and the Black experience in America. We've all been hurt by slavery, but this country was literally built on the backs of slaves.

The Autobiography of Jane Pittman is considered a classic and I wanted to see why. This book evoked anger and appreciation at the same time. After reading, I would have to agree with this assessment.

I look forward to eventually being in a place where there is no more bigotry or racism.





Thursday, October 31, 2013

Driving Thoughts - O You Fancy

Source
Imagine this - a young mother of three, works in corporate america, dresses nicely, and apparently does not look like she has three children. The family needs a car, and the husband was able to buy a used Volvo in good condition. Because of that Volvo, her status is now elevated. On top of everything else, folks now think she's fancy, rich and better than them. All of this because she got a used Volvo.

Sounds crazy? Well it happened and it happens and it's not that far fetched.  People make many assumptions based on the car you drive.

I live in the land of status - California, and I have noticed many more luxury vehicles on the road. That phrase "luxury vehicle" has some monetary implications and connotations. According to Wikipedia it means: "The term suggests a vehicle with higher quality equipment, better performance, more precise construction, comfort, higher design, technologically innovative modern, or features that convey an image, brand, status, or prestige, or any other 'discretionary' feature or combination of them. The term is also broad, highly variable and relative. It is a perceptual, conditional and subjective attribute that may be understood differently by different people; "what may be luxury for one may be premium for another.""

I have to caution myself not to get caught up in a person's wallet just because of the car they drive for the outside does not determine what is on the inside.

Remember, just because I drive a Benz or any luxury vehicle does not mean I'm better than you. I don't think that way and neither should you.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

How do you feel when you see others with things that you don't have? 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Notes From My Daughter - A Testimony on Humility

My Daughter

Occasional notes from my 20 year old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes, but it's usually a pleasant surprise.  Read on!








Everything God has called me to do in my life I've thought I wasn't good enough to do. So I silently said no, I snickered at God's voice like Hannah, I rebutted like Moses, and I tried to run away like Jeremiah.

But I've finally come to this point where I realized God doesn't choose the good enough people, and I'm honored (not scared) that he trust me to be obedient to him with my whole life.
I applied to USC convinced that I wouldn't get in, a part of it was my dream but at this point I was bitter and believed the dream was too big. My dad told me he wouldn't pay for all of USC’s tuition, but some gut feeling pushed me to give it my all. This application was actually blood, sweat, and tears. I gave my 100% to USC's application and did all other app's halfheartedly. If I had it my way I only would've applied to USC.

But like I said, another part of me thought I wouldn't get in. I saw it as a task too big for me to handle. I applied with hope, but not in faith. A part of me just wanted to apply so I can say I did and then prove myself right when I got denied.
But I was wrong, talk about dying to yourself, I was so wrong. I got in! I was overwhelmed and excited and scared. I was happy I got in, but didn't know if I could actually be a good student at USC. I really thought they made a mistake and anxiously awaited a rescinded letter for months. That conflict of emotions instead of driving me to my knees drove me insane. Up until this moment, I've exhausted myself to what seemed like the point of no return. And it seemed like I had proven myself right; once again I thought "You aren't good enough."

But God showed me I was wrong, the sentence wasn't over. I am not good enough without God. You cannot do the task God calls you to do without God. Mark 10:27 clearly states with man (by himself) it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. In John 15, without the vine you are nothing, but in him you can do all things. Yes God will prune you, and yes circumstances will hurt but God is not malicious and everything He allows He works for the good of those who truly love him. To love Him is to know him, and to love Him back.

Look, I wasn't good enough without God, I am truly nothing without God, but I'm here in Him now. Not even a 20 year history of not trusting him will stop Him from using my life for His glory. I belong on my knees in those moments of misdirection, confusion, and pain. A place where His strength is felt deeply and my soul is filled with His love. I belong in that place where I am broken before Him, instead of stuck without Him. I am changed by God only and only Him do I seek.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Driving Thoughts - Love in Action

We spend a lot of time in our cars, and though I don't have any empirical evidence I would venture to say that mothers in particular spend a significant amount of time behind the wheel. My mother always wanted to drive but somehow she never got her driver's license. I would say that put a real damper in her because my mom is a go getter; she likes to be up and about. I take after my mom in being a go getter, but as you know I got my driver's license and I can't imagine mothering without driving.

I have spent a significant portion of my adulthood driving my children and others to:  babysitters, daycare, school, church, games and other extra curricular activities. There was a time when most of the driving I did was for them and not for me.

At one point, I actually wished that driving was a calorie burning activity, because if you think I'm skinny now, I would be skeletal thanks to driving.


Driving with precious cargo taught me quite a few things.

They were precious so I became extra careful as I drove. When you're handling something special you tend to become very careful. So while I was never reckless, I do like to drive fast, but I often curtailed my speeds with children in the car.

I really learned to watch my words.  "Lord put a guard over my mouth" became real, as I drove with young impressionable children.

But then there's some things you can't control such as when someone suddenly cuts you off; you just don't know what will fly out of your mouth. Once you ensure everyone is OK, you can explain.

I also found myself, reaching out with my right hand to protect any one that was in the passenger seat when I had to suddenly slam on the brakes; I don't know where that came from or how much protection it offered, but I'll chalk it up to a mother's instinct. And sometimes I just like to hold the hand of whomever is in the passenger seat, savoring the short lived precious time we have.

We've also had some great conversations and dare I say life altering decisions in the confines of my car. Boys wanting to act up and play the fool had an opportunity to talk things out before they got out of my car to face their wild crazy world. Girls wondering if certain boys like them and what did I do when I was that age, were comforted knowing that they're not the first ones walking down that awkward path. I hope some of our conversations made a difference.

Though its not a calorie burner, a driving mother has an opportunity to protect, be tender, and impart wisdom. Even if she doesn't do all of these things and may even mess up a time or two, because she is mothering even as she drives, she's making a difference. She may not feel it when she's driving to another doctor's appointment, or dropping off to a game, but she is making a huge difference.

Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous; is not proud; is not conceited; does not act foolishly; is not selfish; is not easily provoked to anger; keeps no record of wrongs; takes no pleasure in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7

Do you ever feel like a chauffeur as you transport your precious cargo? Do you wish you didn't have to drive so much? How would your life or your children's life be different if you didn't drive.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Driving Thoughts - Independence

I remember when the idea of driving first was embedded in my brain. It probably was walking to church for the thousandth time, or after running to catch a bus and just missing it. As a teenager driving represented independence, and I wanted that; the ability to get in my car and go anywhere of my choosing without answering to anyone; I was dreaming but this is what I wanted.

Way back then, I went to driving school and even took some lessons with my future husband. Parallel parking posed the biggest challenge so I wanted to make sure that I got that right. Nowadays, parallel parking is not a big deal; here in CA it wasn't a big focus of the test. My, how times have changed, but in Brooklyn we needed to know how to parallel park on the left and right sides of the street. The day of my road test, I was slightly nervous and the rain had  just ended. I remember my instructor appeared a little grumpy; but don't they all seem that way when you're trying to gain your independence? I splashed through a puddle but that was not considered a major infraction, and then I parallel parked - perfectly! I got my license on the first try.

I remember when a girlfriend of mine first got her license. It was a Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn and we had nothing to do, so we thought we'd drive to Flatbush Avenue and peruse some of the stores. She felt lucky in that she had her father's car for the afternoon which was no mean feat for her. She picked me up in her father's jalopy; the car was gray and huge. It was bigger than the two of us combined. Her biggest concern, which soon became mine - where would we ever find a spot to park this monstrosity? It felt good being out and about, driving and talking, but parking the car was always looming. We reached our destination, but every time we thought we saw a parking spot that big old grey jalopy wouldn't fit and Nads could not maneuver the car to get in to the spot. For most spots, I kept insisting it could fit. She would try, I would cheer, but it wouldn't fit. Finally, we found a spot. It wasn't perfect but I definitely thought she could fit.  It appeared to be quite nerve wracking for Nads, as she attempted to remember everything she learned in driving school to park that car, while not hitting anyone or anything. We laughed triumphantly once she parked the car.

We weren't Thelma and Louise but the car was just as big!

Now that I had my independence, I was afraid to use it. When I first started driving, I was deathly afraid of driving on the highway, but I did not have the patience to take local roads everywhere; that was not practical.

I'm going down memory lane again.

I'm a newlywed and we are a one car household. I tried using public transportation in suburbia, but what would normally take 20 minutes driving took 2 hours.  I was pregnant with my first child, and I thought this is for the birds, I have my license, I can drive. So a friend of ours was selling a car but she lived in Queens. At the time we lived in Long Island and we were about an hour's drive away from Queens. The plan was that we would go to her house get the car and I would follow my husband back home on as many local roads as possible. Realistically there was no way to do this, but that was the plan. My poor husband (this is one of the ways I know that he loves me), he drove so slowly that day so that I could keep up with him. And at one point I had to merge and nearly got us killed. I can laugh now but it was very nerve wracking then. One day I told myself something along the lines of, "All of these other people are out there driving and merging and changing lanes, why can't you?" "Don't be nervous, just remember what you learned."  The first time I did it, somebody blew their horn at me. I guess I cut them off. I made a mental note never to do that again, and I've been good ever since.

In terms of independence, driving has turned out to be everything I thought it would be and then some. As I drove out of the local parking lot, I smiled thinking about how far I've come.

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32

Do you remember when you got your driver's license? Did you get it on the first try? Why was it important for you to learn to drive? Supposed you had never learn to drive, how different would your life be?



Friday, October 18, 2013

Change your Vision

As I sit here pondering the meaning of life, I realize that sometimes our minds are our own worst enemy.

Within each of us to are two dueling natures, and basically what you feed thrives.

As Christians we are called to be light in the world. A light illuminates, brightens, provides focus and clarity.


33“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy,you r whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36 Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.” Luke 11:33-36

I've read these verses quite a bit but never focused on the fact that the eye is the lamp/light of the body, therefore when your eyes are healthy your whole body is full of light, and when they're not you're full of darkness.

So what are you feeding your eyes? Do you struggle with spending too much time surfing the net (like I sometimes do)? Or are you sharpening your vision by spending time in God's word, helping others and enjoying camaraderie with like minded Christians? What do you spend your time watching and reading? Do you read (reading is fundamental)? Taking this a step further, are you consumed by angry thoughts that you continue to feed? Do you love a juicy story but all of a sudden find yourself talking more about people instead of praying for them?

I wear glasses and contacts and therefore practice proper eye care to maintain my vision.  As I'm getting older, I'm recognizing how much my vision has changed and what I need to do to maintain it. I'm never content with decreased vision; I always want to see clearly. The same should be true of our spiritual eyes which is the lamp for the whole body. .

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalms 119:18
How is your eye health? How do you deal with changes in your vision?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happenstance

I've embarked on a new adventure in my life - I teach Sunday School to 5th and 6th graders. Mind you, I never thought I would become this person, but working with mold-able young people seems to come naturally to me. In addition, I recognize that by teaching I also learn.

quote by Einstein (pretty smart guy)
This year our main theme is God's providence - which is heady stuff even for me. With all of my preparation some times I feel ill equipped to pass on what God has imprinted on my heart (but this is a fleeting sensation).

Yesterday we learned how:

  • All of God's acts are purposeful The Lord works out everything to its proper end— even the wicked for a day of disaster. Proverbs 16:4 (NIV) 
  • All things are ordained by God - The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:33 (NIV)
  • Man makes plans but God establishes man's steps. - In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)


I had my own epiphany as the youngsters were sharing, and it seemed providential. I had struggled for a while with a decision that needed to be made regarding schooling for the Little One; as a matter of fact I was at the point of indecision. The students started sharing about school and their week. It turns out two of the students go to the school that I was considering and one of their teachers attends our church. It provided confirmation that my indecision was not wasted and this was now confirmation that I should go ahead with the application process. I anticipated a daunting application process, but it turned out to be smooth sailing. I attribute all of this to God, his plans and his timing.

Yesterday's lesson re-affirmed that nothing is too random, minute, or insignificant for God. God has the right, power, and wisdom to govern our lives.

Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Lamentations 3:37

Is everything a coincidence? Did you ever think something was a coincidence and later realized it was a God thing? How do you deal with the fact that God is in control? Do you throw caution to the wind?


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book Review - Mom & Me & Mom By Maya Angelou

I've been reading plenty lately; actually I've visited the library quite a few times and have been borrowing and reading books the old fashioned way - o the bliss. I had seen reviews for Maya Angelou's most recent book, and they were overwhelmingly positive.

The mother daughter relationship can be one of the more complicated relationships in life; I have experienced its complications with my own mother and sometimes experience it with my daughters.
Maya's mom appears atypical - but at the heart of it all, she was simply a woman trying to do the best with what she was entrusted. Early on when Maya and her brother were 3 and 5 respectively, her mother sent them to her mother to be raised, because she did not know what she was doing. When they were about 13 and 15 they were sent back up north in California to reunite with their mother. I did not know that Maya Angelou's foundation was in Northern California.

Maya was very upfront with mother for being abandoned and her mother accepted it; she apologized. That was the start of the rich display of a mother's love. Her mother supported her in any endeavor she attempted. When she became a mother at 15, her mother was very practical about the whole thing - "Do you love him? No; no use in ruining three lives then." To her mother, this was a slight inconvenience, not an opportunity for scandal.

Maya Angelou has a beautiful economy of words; her sentences are short and to the point, but joined together they tell a rich story. Maya's mom was a dynamo, and with Maya back in her life she remained a dynamo. Her mom, Vivian Baxter was admired by most of San Francisco's black community. If it had not been for her mother's love and total acceptance and respect on both sides, we may have never heard of Maya Angelou.  Her mother told her, you are one of the greatest women I have ever met, and that was not an empty sentiment.
"Baby, I've been thinking and now I'm sure, you are the greatest woman I've ever met. You are very kind and very intelligent and those elements are not always found together. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Mary Mcleod Bethune and my mother - yes you belong in that category. Here give me a kiss." That is just a powerful statement. 

There are many other examples in the book of the mother daughter dance to total acceptance and love for each other.

This book was written to examine some of the ways love heals and helps a person to climb impossible heights and rise from immeasurable depths. I hope I can inspire my children as Maya Angelou's mom did.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Temptation

We act like when we're tempted we have to cave in, but do you know where temptation comes from?
Do you know that you don't have to cave in?

Jesus was tempted and like all of us He was tempted at the point of need. He had just fasted forty days and he was hungry; that's when the devil showed up. Have you noticed that when you are at your lowest point you are more prone to temptation?

The devil tempted Jesus three times and each time Jesus quoted scripture to rebuff Satan. It was enough to quote the scripture because it allowed him to set his mind against Satan; it reinforced that He would not give in to the temptation. This worked for Jesus and it can also work for us. Eve was also tempted by the devil, but she had nothing in her arsenal to resist Him. She did not quote scripture and what Satan said sounded reasonable to her, until she gave in.  And that's the trouble - temptation always seems enticing at first. To presume that God will protect us from the consequences of foolish or disobedient actions or thoughts is a kind of spiritual pride. We test God when we put ourselves into situations outside of his will. Actions such as unhealthy behavior, the edge of sexual immorality, and following your plans and then including God as an after thought.

Temptation is somewhat insidious especially if by caving in, it appears to meet a need.

The only way to avoid temptation is to refuse to compromise; the only way to do so is to feed your mind so that when you are tempted you know how to deal with it.

Life is full of temptations; I find the farther away I am from my base the easier it is to cave, give in and rationalize bad behavior, but when I renewing and transforming my mind I can stare temptation in the face and win.  Each time I win, God sends His angels to minister to me, just like He did with Jesus. Ministering to me is how my needs are truly met.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Do you have what it takes to resist temptation? What if anything is tempting you right now? (Use the verses above as an initial means of not yielding.)


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Book Review - My Next Breath by Terri Whitmire

I came across this book through a social media site, and was intrigued.  I was not disappointed.

It's written in a way that draws the reader in - it's very hard to put down once you start - and that to me is a sign of a good book.

As a black woman, who is married with children I could relate to the main character though I could not relate to all the circumstances in her life. Her mother is a recovering alcoholic and her alcoholism has had reverberations on the family. This book digs deep to find the cause of the mother's alcoholism and the daughter's ability to forgive and not be hurt again. She leans heavily on her husband but also learns to lean on her mother. Along the way, she discovers many missing pieces about herself including discovering a long lost family member.

There's a secondary plot of sex trafficking that is woven neatly in to the overriding story. The story line is not forced but rather the details painted in location and description of events are realistic.

The ability to pray as a family when going through deep dark times is one of the lessons that you will come away with. Forgiveness is hard but worth it, as the family is mended and made whole; this too is an important lesson.
If you're struggling with forgiveness of a family member, this is a good book to read.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hope

The Government has shut down; mass killings are on the rise; and we have a truancy epidemic among elementary school students. None of these things make sense. If you put your trust in man you will become even more disillusioned.

But.....

Every valley shall be filled - God will refresh us;
and every mountain and hill shall be brought low - God will give us strength to overcome;
and the crooked shall be made straight - God will provide clarity,
and the rough ways shall be made smooth - God is constantly refining us;
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God - because of what He does in us, if we repent and confess. Luke 3:5-6

Source
Praise God.

This is the fulfillment of scripture (Isa 40:3-5) in the ministry of John, speaking of one greater than himself. Once all of these obstacles were removed, Jesus would come.

So if this world has you feeling parched, weak, disoriented and harsh, remember what God has come to do for you. Repent, Confess, Believe. Jesus came to provide relief.

Has the government shut down got you feeling down?


Friday, September 27, 2013

Notes From My Daughter - The Needy Pride

My Daughter
Occasional notes from my 19 year old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes, but it's usually a pleasant surprise.  Read on!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Pride: "I need answers from God before I go anywhere. Why is He doing this like that? He needs to follow my way because it's well thought out and benefits me. God needs to follow my timeline. God needs to let me succeed before I tell the world about Him. God needs to be patient, and trust that I'll live whole-heartedly for Him when I'm 40. God needs to be for me only, forget the rest of his Kingdom that He wants to invite to Heaven. God needs me!”

"When you argue against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on"- C.S Lewis

I know it doesn't sound pretty, but there’s no way to get around the truth: God doesn't need you. He doesn't need to listen to you, He doesn't need to adhere to your ultimatums, He doesn't need to follow your direction, and He surely does not need to fit into any boxes. He is God. The one who made the very being that you are. He's been around before time began. He is the author of time itself, and your life is but a vapor in that time line.

The Inspiration for C.S Lewis' book "God in the Dock" was a metaphor that He used to describe the relationship between humans and God. The metaphor suggested that modern human beings, rather than seeing themselves as standing before God in judgment, prefer to place God on trial while acting as His judge. But how can we judge our creator when we are his creation?

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master"-Jesus, Matthew 10:24

In context, Jesus was letting the disciples know what their job description was as they were recently hired and trained to do God's work. He was preparing his disciples for the upcoming persecutions they would face, eradicating fear before it could become a problem (this same verse will be used to address another face of pride, stay tuned). This statement is true in its specific context, and in its general context. No matter how amazing the disciple/servant is, they would never be who they were without the development they received UNDER their teacher/master.

If I ever told my mother I was better than her, before she could slap some sense into me, I would probably hear her say something like, "I carried you for 9 months! Are you insane?" Without my mom there would be no me. No matter how amazing I think I am, or others think I am, I wouldn't have been anything without her.

The best example of someone who lived this out is Jesus Himself. In Isaiah 52:13-53 (and many other chapters), Jesus is described as a sin bearing servant of God. We often talk about Jesus' suffering, but I think we forget how much God has suffered and why Jesus even did what He did. Jesus' motivation was twofold: He came to do His father’s mission, and He came to save us (only because of his Father’s love for us, not because we’re all that and then some.)

Throughout the Old Testament we see God's immense love for humankind. One of the best images to me is actually in Genesis. After God declared Adam and Eve's punishment, God did something we often look over:

"Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin and clothed them." Genesis 3:21

God's anger is always righteous, that’s something pride won't tell you. His love is also abundant and overwhelming; something that pride won't let you see. God still cares when we mess up, and there’s nothing we can do to earn that. He loves us BECAUSE HE WANTS TO, and He loves us in the way that we need love. God wants us, but doesn't need us. We need God, but sadly we don't seem to want Him. We instead chose our own will, and exclude God totally, or minimize Him to fit our vision.

The thing about God's love is His will always includes a way for Him to love us. We are never a second thought, or forgotten. We are always considered!
Interestingly enough, if we look at why God wanted Jesus to die, the only reason is us. Despite everything we already did the lack of evidence that we would ever love Him back, the lies, the adultery, and choosing worthless things over Him He still decided to follow through on His word and make a way for us to love Him back. God relentlessly wants us.

[Insert a Praise Break Here because if that doesn't make you get up and have joy in your Heart that you just can't put into words than I don't know what will. Resume reading when you can.]

He wants us with an everlasting love. God is love Himself, if anyone knows how to love, it's Him, and if anyone knows you it's Him. We are created by Love! And it's not because of anything we've done. God does not work on a debt system, this life is not a game of "I owe you". It is an experience of "I love you."

We see this love in the little details like God clothing us, in the discipline of God correcting us, and in the embrace of God holding us. He gives us love in abundance, and goes above and beyond our needs.


God does not need you, but you most assuredly do need God - all the time, for everything. His breath of life is what keeps you awake. The fact that He doesn't need you is what makes grace so amazing. WE MESSED UP, we still mess up and what we need is His love to live and He says "Here it is."

When you actually love God back with your all, when you trust Him enough to let Him know you’re frustrated while keeping in mind his sovereignty, pride is not a problem. It's time to expose the face behind the mask of comfort and really see how much our sin cost us, even if that makes us uncomfortable. Let's strive to consistently walk in Christ, no matter what the circumstance may be. He doesn't need us at any time, but He loves us eternally from beginning to end.