Monday, October 16, 2017

Moved By Faith

There was once a man who had great authority - a Roman Centurion, whose servant was ill. It would appear that he was so ill, conventional medicine at the time was having no effect on his healing. This great leader had a chance meeting with another Great Leader - Jesus.

In his encounter with Jesus, he asked Jesus to speak the word, so that his servant could be healed. His servant wasn't with him but this great leader knew that the other Great Leader was a healer by miracles; His reputation had preceded him.

When Jesus heard the great leader's request, he was so amazed that He exclaimed: "I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!"

After speaking further on this man's faith, Jesus uttered these profound words: “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And in that same moment, his servant was restored to


Monday, October 9, 2017

And Still, Be Still

Stillness. Quietness. Peacefulness. The absence of movement and sound. Something we crave yet we can't seem to find the time to Be. Still. Hush. Be Quiet. Be Still.

Be still, in the morning as you take your first breath before you open your eyes and check the time.

Be still, before the day's tasks get the best of you.

Be still, As you listen to your child's last-minute request or hear the fear in his voice as he faces the day.




Thursday, October 5, 2017

Blessings or Not?

Children are a gift from God; a reward from Him. In the KJV it says ".....and the fruit of the womb is his reward." When we think of children we forget the gift part; we forget the feeling of receiving a gift - that feeling of unexpected glee and joy while simultaneously feeling undeserving of such a gift. It's equivalent to the feeling that you have on your birthday and you are presented with gifts because of the special person that you are.

More often than not we don't initially ascribe positive words or thoughts to children. 



Monday, October 2, 2017

Women of the Word - Trillia Newbell

Trillia oozes joy - it's in her writing, her picture and her tweets. She is an author, blogger, and speaker in addition to being a wife and mother. I discovered Trillia many years ago through her writing and there was something in her writing that was relatable to me. (I think we would be good friends in real life)! I am thrilled to introduce this month's Woman of the Word - Trillia Newbell.

Trillia Newbell


Monday, September 25, 2017

Taking Back What Is Yours



In a popular video, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is adamant that her time is not wasted so she redirects the questioner's rambling in response to her question again and again with the phrase “Reclaiming my time,” an invocation of House procedural rules. This axiom became the basis for many memes but there's truth in the phrase "reclaiming my time" as it sounds an awful lot like redeeming the time and has a similar meaning.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Is Marriage Really Such Hard Work?

When marriage and work are in the same sentence, marriage usually gets a bum rap and is given a negative connotation. As a sanity check, I asked my husband who has been married to me for 28 years - "Would you say marriage is hard work?" He said, "Hard????" with a puzzled look on his face.  Perhaps our thoughts around work need to be adjusted so we can stop making marriage seem so burdensome.




Monday, September 18, 2017

Isn't This the Point?

When we relocated to California, I joined the gym. This might have been because I was bored, homesick or going crazy with all of the adjustments. My husband came home with this offer from one of his co-workers and thought it would be good for me. Also, it was a very good deal, monetarily speaking, so I bit the bullet and joined. I don't believe in wasting money (paying for something and never using it) so once I joined the gym, I created time in my schedule to go to the gym.


There are many participants at the gym but two types stand out. There's a fellow that has been a member as long as I have - he is on the larger side; after all these years he remains on the larger side. Recently within the past 6 months, there was a lady who was also on the larger side who worked out with an intensity I rarely saw.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

My Immigrant Experience

When I came to America in 1978, besides what was portrayed in books and my limited TV intake, I had no idea what to expect.

Subconsciously, I thought everyone was rich until my older brother told me there were lots of poor homeless people right where we lived. Subconsciously I thought I could easily acquire the foods I was used to and they would taste the same, but I soon realized that there were ethnic neighborhoods where we could shop. As far as things tasting the same - they never did, but I adjusted. Subconsciously, I thought everyone had two parents and a family similar to mine; I soon learned that I was viewed as an aberration.




Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review - A Bigger Table by John Pavlovitz

A Bigger Table by John Pavlovitz is written by a pastor who reached his tipping point at the culmination of last year's presidential election. He compares the confines of the Ameican Church to the Church that was initially established in the book of Acts and finds a huge disconnect especially because the election highlighted such a divide in the American church. It is in this disconnect that he questions all the tenets of his faith -  his idea of God, what does it mean to really love as Christ commanded us, and the internal conflict of preaching one thing and living another.

He is not alone in his thoughts, as many resonated with me. Thoughts in this book are expressed eloquently through the author's life and his experience as a pastor. He so eloquently states that doubting and questioning your faith is not a bad thing, as a matter of fact, it may be necessary to deepening your walk. "Doubt isn't the sign of a dead faith, not necessarily even a sickly one. It is often the sign of a faith that is allowing itself to be tested, one that is brave enough to see if it can hold up under stress. God is more than big enough to withstand the weight of your vacillating belief, your part-time skepticism, and even your full blown faith crises."

If you are numbed by the lack of love you feel in your Christian walk today, this book is for you. The subtitle of this book could be - Challenge: Are you willing to love like Jesus did?
This book challenges what has become conventional thinking around the church. Some tough questions that he addresses are: Why are LGBTQ individuals automatically excluded from the Christian community? Black people? Poor people? Aren't they people just like the rest of us? Why are churches so segregated? What biases do we have that prevent us from reaching out to the least of theses? Are we putting principles over people?

The author is white so as a Black woman, I give him kudos for recognizing the position he's in and being bold enough to challenge the status quo. Radical love whether black or white will do that to you. Building a bigger table is messy as we find seats for all who want to partake. This is a book about humanity and one man's view of how he's trying to live out God's love.

If you are looking to broaden your views on Christianity, I recommend this book.




--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Dear Newlywed.........

Dear Newlywed;

At a recent wedding I asked another newlywed, "How's married life?" and she said it was the same as before she got married.
Nothing really changed. I hope that you, dear newlywed, are experiencing the newness of marriage. I hearken back to Biblical times where when a man took a wife he embarked on making his wife happy for an entire year. (Deuteronomy 24:5) This baseline expectation of happiness and newness is a great place to start from. Expect the best. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Assume the best intentions from each other. Be kind. Pray together. Communicate honestly. Value each other. Support each other. Expect the best but don't become a prisoner to your expectations as you will surely be disappointed. The greater the expectation the greater the disappointment so let go of unrealistic expectations yet remain open to the possibilities. It's not contradictory but the ebb and flow of life.

As a newlywed it probably won't take much to make you happy - you have each other what more could you ask for? You have your freedom and the ability as a couple to enjoy each other in every sense of the word. There is a joy and an awe in the realization that you're charting a new course together - enjoy it. It won't all be smooth sailing, but the more you communicate, the more you make the effort to hear each other, the greater the chance of minimizing the bumps. But there will be bumps - life has a way of doing that. Bumps may show up in the obvious places(jobs, cars, money, health) or in situations that you least expect, for example, a difference of opinion on the most inane thing. Either way, after being dejected and despondent, be honest, hold hands and navigate it together.

Don't lose yourself in your marriage. Expand and explore your interests - it makes for a more interesting life.

Take care of your body. Learn your body, learn your cycles become very familiar with who you are so that when you have to make decisions they are knowledge based instead of fear based.

Your in laws are in your life forever - it's much easier to get along with your new family than to have animosity. Treat them as you would your own family since that is what they now are. If you don't like your family, this is an opportunity to create a new extended family. Embrace it.

Be intentional about your marriage but don't be a nuisance. Your marriage is not the destination; there's so much more living ahead of you. You now have the benefit of not trying to figure everything out alone.

Ultimately, I want you to know that you're going to be all right. You're in this thing called life together and you will figure it out. You will figure out schedules, love languages, decorating schemes, how to argue (or not), which church to attend, careers, health insurance, bank accounts, where to live, what to do for fun, children (if and when they come), you will figure it all out because you have each other, you believe in each other and you have a firm foundation of faith in God.

All the best; I'm rooting for you.

Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. Matthew 19:4-6

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 
1 Peter 4:8



--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!


Monday, September 4, 2017

Women of the Word - Deidra Riggs

I became aware of Diedra through her book One: Unity in a Divided World. I wanted to know who this brave soul was who dared to tackle such a touchy topic and one that's so close to my heart. So I reached out, she responded and I'm so happy she did. May you be encouraged as I was by her heart. Meet this month's Woman of the Word, Deidra Riggs.


Deidra Riggs



1. As someone who studies the Bible, what are your favorite tools and resources?

DR: See note about resources, below.


2. Old Testament, New Testament or both? 
DR: Both.


3. Why do you study the Bible? What was your initial motivation? 
DR: My very first motivation to reading the Bible was fear. I grew up hearing a lot about being “left behind” and also hearing predictions about the end of the world. As a child, those concepts terrified me. I was constantly afraid I’d make God mad enough to stop loving me and so, I was endlessly trying to work my way into God’s good graces. I was always trying to please God. One way I worked to earn God’s love was to read the Bible from cover to cover, and then start over again.
Fear was the wrong motivation for me, and it’s the wrong motivation for anyone. Sadly, however, using fear as a motivator is highly effective, even though the end result is most often so wrong. For example, in the very Bible I was reading from cover-to-cover, out of fear that God would stop loving me and someday leave me behind, God says, “Fear not,” 365 times. But it didn’t register for me. I was plowing my way through the pages, not really understanding what I was reading, and feeling further and further from God (and, therefore, more fearful) as a result.
Finally — thanks be to God! — I made the decision to stop reading/studying the Bible. No more “quiet time.” No more devotions. No more reading from Genesis to Revelation. Of course, it seemed then as if I had the word “sinner” stamped on my forehead in big, bold letters for all the world to see. But over time, I felt myself rising above fear and into grace. It’s a longer story than what I’m sharing here, but for me, part of my freedom was letting go of the Bible and all of the expectations we place on ourselves for how we should relate to it.
All of that happened a very long time ago. In the years that have followed, my relationship with the Bible is one that I understand through the work of the Holy Spirit. In a mysterious way — in other words, in a way that is difficult to describe — the Word of God (which to me, is synonymous with the Son of God) reads and studies and knows me and, through the Holy Spirit (as promised), teaches me and reminds me of everything Jesus taught from beginning to end.
This does not mean I never open my Bible anymore. I do. In fact, it is quite difficult for me to read the Bible aloud without crying. However, the words “study” or “read” when referring to the Bible feel inadequate. I believe the Bible is a living document. When I open it, it consumes me, so I take it in small doses. A sentence or two at a time is sometimes more than I can handle. But that’s not out of fear. It’s something different; something very intimate and alive and full of grace.


4. How does inspiration work for you? How do you know that what you're writing or understanding is as if God is moving the pen and you're just the vehicle? 
DR: To be clear, I should start by saying, I don’t always know. However, I do sometimes have a physiological response in which my heart pounds in my chest — so much so that I can see my shirt moving as a result.


5. How do you handle complex topics that may not align with popular views? Can you give an example? 
DR: Before a radio interview, or a panel discussion, or some other public conversation, I say to myself, “You know what you believe. You know what you believe. You know what you believe.” I am aware that some things I say may be misinterpreted or misunderstood. I also know people may disagree with what I have to say and where I stand at this moment. But, I have to be true to me.
I also know we are all on a journey. In my own story, I can see where I once held a view of some topics that are the complete opposite of my current perspective. And there is no telling how I’ll see things, thirty years from now. I want to keep that in mind about myself and about others. I want to give us all grace for the journey. I want to hope the best for us. There is room at the table for all of our viewpoints. I believe that will all my heart. Instead of being so quick to condemn and judge and blackball those whose viewpoints are different from our own, I pray we learn how to make space for one another and allow the Holy Spirit to work among us, in spite of our differences.


6. When confronted by the truth of scripture, even for difficult topics, how does it re-orient you? 
DR: The most difficult topic of all, in my opinion, is this: “…love your enemies…” That one truth is constantly reorienting me — from the co-worker who gets on my last nerve to the neo-Nazis marching with Tiki torches on a college campus one summer night.
We all have people we would label, “enemy.” But the Truth about that is we only really have one, true enemy, and it is not each other. As long as we look to one another as the enemy, the true Enemy gets off, free and clear. When I focus on loving even those who wish to end my bodily existence, I am re-oriented to the Truth that God loves them the same as God loves me. My prayers for them change. My hopes for them change. My understanding of them changes. My love and compassion for them grows. THAT is the exact opposite of the true Enemy’s plan.


7. Tell us a little bit about yourself, current projects you are working on and where you can be found. 
DR: I released my second book, ONE: Unity in a Divided World, earlier this year. I work full-time in the marketing department of a national insurance company. My husband and I have two adult children, and we live in an empty nest with our two dogs. I am a prolific Instagrammer, and you can follow me at @deidrariggs, or sign up for my newsletter at deidrariggs.com.


8. How do you deal with discouragement and doubt? (Bonus question) 
DR: When I find myself discouraged, it’s often because I’ve become disengaged from the moment I’m in. I’m either thinking back to a time that has passed, or I’m projecting ahead to a time that is yet to come. I can’t change the past, nor can I predict the future and when, in my head, I go back to the past, I go without God. Same with projecting into the future: God isn’t in my made-up ideas of what the future holds for me. This isn’t to say I don’t learn from the mistakes of my past. Nor does it mean I don’t have dreams for the future — I am an expert dreamer! But, when I visit the past or the future and find myself discouraged as a result, I am reminded to return this present moment, where God is with me and I am with God. There are a few ways I find to do this: meditation, running, and yoga.
Doubt is a different animal. As a child, my doubts fed my fears. I doubted God’s love for me. I doubted my ability to please God. I doubted lots of things. My reaction to this was to try to take control of the situation, believing I could manage the results (for example: if I read the Bible from cover-to-cover, I’ll be good enough for God). I held on tightly to this idea that I could control the outcome. But living tight-fisted doesn’t allow much room for God to move. Now, when I’m faced with doubts (and I’ve had some very serious experiences of this, which is a story for a different day), I have learned to trust that God is in my doubting, God will not abandon me in my doubting, and God is on the other side of my doubting. God is not afraid of my doubts. My doubts and fears are no match for God. When I surrender to my doubts — daring to ask unthinkable questions and to entertain unbearable thoughts — I always end up closer to God.



Note: These resources have been helpful in my journey of faith:

1. The Message Bible, by Eugene Peterson

2. On Being podcast

3. This episode of The Liturgists podcast

4. Jesus and the Disinherited, by Howard Thurman

5. Pray as You Go app for Android and iPhone

6. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon

7. Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L’Engle

8. Writing in a journal



--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Beauty of Grief

Grief is a complex emotion. To grieve indicates loss usually of something or someone precious and dear. There are no pat answers to grief and no one prescribed way to handle grief. There is a time to mourn and a time to rejoice (Ecclesiastes 3:4), so while there's no time frame there's a limit to grief. When Naomi lost her husband and subsequently her sons it seemed as if her world was falling apart. She was in a strange land, with no immediate family and two daughters in law - Ruth, and Orpah. In her grief, she decided it was best to go back home but Ruth chose to stay with her. Ruth chose to leave her country and cling to, travel with her mother in law. Ruth was also alone, for her husband, Naomi's son had died. So it was a circle of grief. But grief provided the impetus to go home, for Naomi, and may have allowed Ruth to connect with her. Ruth clung to Naomi (Ruth 1:14).

Grief isn't all bad. It gave these two women courage to travel alone and return to Bethlehem. It provided clarity and a little foolhardiness as it was rare for two women to be traveling alone over a lengthy period of time in those days. This journey may have taken anywhere from seven to ten days and it involved steep elevations and river crossings. All of that physical activity may have dulled the grief that both felt as they could only rely on God and each other. We know how the story of Naomi and Ruth ends, but they both had to go through their grief to get to the other side.

The anniversary of my mother's passing is September 1st and while sometimes I feel lost, the majority of the time since my mother's passing I have felt purposeful. Her death has lit a fire under my butt that reinforces that life is too short, life is for living, and there's no need to be afraid to try anything. Yes in a strange way my mother's death has given me a new lease on life. Since her passing, I have experienced a range of emotions. For example, when my mother was transitioning, and I saw how unmoored my dad was becoming I crazily thought that if my husband and I could die at the same time it would be good. Losing a life partner is difficult. There were established routines, and in death, there are no more.

I'm sure Naomi felt unsure of herself with the loss of her husband. And then when she thought she was getting a handle on things, her sons died. Even in grief, life goes on. In your grief, you may initially feel like Naomi - like the Lord has raised his fist to you; it's OK to acknowledge this feeling. But life goes on - there's still aspirations, dreams and hope while still dealing with the mundane and the minutiae. Life goes on. Hopefully, someone comes along to provide support, until you are able to do the same for others. Keep busy. Give all of your anguish to God for he understands. Allow grief to change your perspective on life and become more appreciative of every day you are given.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalms 30:5

How has the loss of someone changed you? May it ultimately change you for the better.
 --Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Something May Have To Break for you to Become Unstuck

As I stood washing dishes, staring out the window, enjoying the beauty and stillness of the morning, I inadvertently placed a glass inside a mug. When I went to rinse this glass out, I realized it was stuck inside the mug. Stuck. It wouldn't budge. I tried shifting it. Nothing. Stuck. Immovable. I couldn't believe how the glass got stuck in this mug so quickly. Just like that, it was stuck. I asked my daughter to release it. Nothing. It was stuck. I asked my husband "the genius" to take a stab at it. He tried soap, heat, water. It remained stuck.


This mug and glass sat in the sink for three days as each person tried different ingenious methods that should work. Stuck. Just like that. Stuck.

Sometimes our lives become stuck. We're going through life - we have a degree of wisdom and knowledge, we have good friends and a great support system, we're secure in our relationship with the Lord, we're doing all of the right things but just like that, we think we're past the time where we get stuck, but just like that we become stuck. Sometimes we don't even see it coming and even if we do, there's not much we can do to prevent it. Because life is like that - we don't have all the answers but we're making progress. Literally, anything has the potential to make us become stuck - a good friend may have said something that triggered a memory; your child did something totally unexpected; you fell off the curb and injured yourself. We all have the potential to become stuck.

The glass got stuck in my favorite mug which has an inscription about faith - what it is and what it's not about taking the next step and pressing on. How ironic. The glass wasn't a bad glass but in its constrained state neither the glass or mug could fulfill their purpose. Something had to give.

On the third day, I decided that this situation had to be remedied and that I was not going to lose my favorite mug in the process. I had to separate what I needed from what I determined was going to be disposed of and in this case, the glass that created this situation could be disposed of as it had little value to me. Well, I valued the glass less than the mug. So I gently tapped the whole concoction against the sink. One time. Still Stuck. Twice. Still Stuck. A third time just a bit harder and this time the glass shattered into tiny pieces.

My faith mug was restored and the glass was shattered. The thing that caused the unyielding and unwavering state had to be broken and shattered so that the mug could be restored.

Unstuck.
Relief. The broken shards of glass were removed so as to cause no further damage. Unstuck. Freedom. Purpose. Growth

In becoming unstuck God breaks the thing that's holding us back. He may tap us once and give us hints but we don't see what He's trying to do; we don't initially corporate with His plan but only the Right Person can make us unstuck.  It may take some time but you have to desire to be unstuck so that you can be used for the purpose you are designed for. Determine that it's worth it for you to become unstuck.

Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Psalms 119:37
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? Isaiah 43:19

Have you determined that you want to be unstuck?

--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Black and White

Black and white. Black or white. This seems to be the line of demarcation, particularly where we live. There's an unspoken narrative around these colors that goes something like this:
Black - bad; criminal; fighting for equal rights; less than; minority; a problem; burdensome.
White - good; controls all the power structures including the church; responsible for slavery but won't accept the scars from this pain; always assumed to be well-meaning and good.
These associations have crept into every facet of our society including the church. In the 60s we had overt racism and now we have covert racism - where it's systemic and impacts the very fabric of all of our lives.

The very origins of America's racial history are closely tied to the America's church history. Missions were used as a way to rationalize the genocide of the native population and later on justify recruiting them into abusive boarding schools. Missions were used in theology to rationalize the slave trade as some European Christians argued that Cain's curse was a justification to steal humans from West Africa and enslave them in the new world though there is no actual proof of this. The American founding fathers wrote the Constitution within a culturally Christian identity yet most of them, Thomas Jefferson included, dehumanized their African brothers and sisters through enslavement. Looking at the origins of this country it's hard to say that covert racism crept in like a thief in the night. In the Constitution, the founding fathers proclaimed everyone equal under the law, an idea which was quickly contradicted by protecting slavery under the law. The cognitive dissonance it takes to say you love God and yet destroy people made in God's image because you found yourself superior is significant and must be acknowledged as such. It is important to take a critical look at how people can incongruently identify as Christian culturally and yet relationally have distance between the God they claim to serve. 

America said one thing and lived out another and now is wondering why they cannot recognize their own reflection. These associations we have with people groups have a deep history to them and are supported by living institutions. These associations go against how we should treat each other as Christians, believers in Christ, yet culturally this is our normal. We are called to have a different standard, a paradigm shift, since so many cling to these entrenched views and are unaware until something like Charlottesville happens.

In church, we see what we thought was hidden seep out in our interaction with others, in particular, those not like us. We see our churches become homogeneous. There's a danger in sameness - we think everyone thinks the way we do and therefore there's no fear our shame in expressing those thoughts. The fact that so many "ethnic" churches exist is heartbreaking. Therefore, it becomes something to be celebrated when we truly see a multi-ethnic, diverse, united church - because this is not the norm.  

This phenomenon exhibited by churches and others is something called in-group bias: "It's a well-known principle in social psychology that people define themselves in terms of social groupings and are quick to denigrate others who don't fit into those groups. Others who share our particular qualities are our "in-group," and those who do not are our "out-group.""(Source: psychologytoday.com)

In light of the current climate, I am challenged to be known by my fruit: to live differently think differently and act differently. To let my heart and my actions line up. To let my biases not define my life but to love and accept all because like me they are made in God's image. The thing about racism is that it feels the worse when it shows up in churches - where God's love should be evident. If you've suffered racism at work, in a road rage incident, DWB (driving while Black), being followed in a store, or just the gnawing feeling that something isn't right with a particular interaction which you know stems from the skin you're in, then sometimes you expect a safe place where you can just be and when it seems that no safe place exists, it creates a widening gap.

I posit that that safe space is the church, at least it's supposed to be. The church can accept all while at the same time speak out on societal ills. The church can be a place where healing begins. But it requires the hard work of love, faith, and forgiveness in action. I don't turn a blind eye to racism in my personal life and as such I'd like to see the church become more vocal on addressing the ills of racism - not the Black Church or the Evangelical Church or the White Church - just the Church - one body fighting against injustice. Jesus wouldn't have it any other way.



This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. 

1 John 3:11-15

Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation, he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 
Acts 10:34-36


Racism and its implications are no longer the elephants in the room; instead, these elephants are roaring demanding attention. "The church needs less lip service and more love accompanied with action. Until we are willing to confront and discipline our brothers and sisters who are knee-deep in this type of sin, and others, we will be villages in valleys, rather than cities on a hill." (Source: desiringgod.org)





Thursday, August 17, 2017

Time for a New Start

All of a sudden, August 14th seems to be the date when most schools resume all over these United States (did you catch the irony in the name of this country? I digress). The Little One started high school on Monday and I am still trying to wrap my brain around it. She is my late in life child, the child of my old age, our surprise blessing. Prior to discovering I was pregnant with her, I was seeing my way across the finish line and looking forward to a respite from childrearing. This time, I'm much closer, and there will be no surprises.

She started High School with all of its promises of new beginnings, experiences, and excitement. As an older parent, I'm there for her but I'm also nudging her to embrace the good that High School has to offer. As I've prayed for all of my children, I'm more cognizant of how to intercede for her in light of what's happening around us.

I pray for peace; I pray that she has a peaceful disposition and that she is a peacemaker.
I pray that she has no anxiety and that when she becomes uneasy, she is reassured that she need not be anxious about anything.
I pray for favor with her teachers, guidance counselors, administration and any position of authority that she interacts with.
I pray that she is surrounded by good friends and that she is a bright light to all; that her light will shine.
I pray for protection from people and things that mean her harm.
I pray for bravery to combat injustice and to speak up as needed.
I pray for wisdom and discernment.
I pray for determination and strength as there will be things that she will just have to persevere through - whether it's dealing with a tough project, making a team or short-sightedness on her part.
I pray for memory to recall God's word that is hidden in her heart; to recall what she has studied.
I pray that she will be a friend to the friendless.I pray that she exudes joy.

I have prayed a variation of these prayers for my children daily as they navigated the halls of learning and will continue to do so. I found these scripture bracelets on Groupon and got her one with her favorite verse on it so she could have a visual reminder of God's promises.

We're all in need of fresh starts. This country is in need of a fresh start, just as the thousands of students who start school annually. In the midst of transition let's not forget the importance of prayer. At the beginning of this school year, let's take a moment to pray for our children, their teachers, their schools, their communities, their homes, their countries. Perhaps the Little Ones, empowered by love from praying parents, can truly initiate the fresh start we all need.

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.
See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.
Always be joyful. 
Never stop praying. 
1 Thessalonians 5:14-17


It's time for a new start; start with prayer.

--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!


Thursday, August 10, 2017

What Love Feels Like

My husband and daughter
As the father walked his daughter down the aisle, her nervousness was assuaged by his confident reassurance. She had eyes only for her groom while steadily leaning on her Dad. This is love.

The groom looked on with wonder, as a tear fell from his eye; he had eyes for no one else. This is love.

"Who gives this woman to be wed? My wife and I do."  Yet another act of love, parents releasing what was held dear to her groom who will hold her dearly.

Love is more than butterflies in the stomach. It's valuing a person and treating them as you would yourself or better. It's being selfless which typically breeds more selfless love. It's forgiving often. It's not holding on to stuff. It's seeing the good in others - and always expecting the best even when they show otherwise. The element of love makes being patient and kind doable.  When you are loved, you cannot help but love in return. Love removes the rough edges and smooths out your flaws.

Love is knowledge. Love is sure. Love provides comfort like a roof over your head.
"Love knows no reasons, love knows no lies. Love defies all reasons, love has no eyes. But love is not blind, love sees but doesn't mind." — Hemant Kumar

So just love.
"My mother's last word to me clanks inside me like an iron bell that someone beats at dinner time: love, love, love, love, love." — Cheryl Strayed

Love provides a feeling of invincibility and hope.
"I strongly believe that love is the answer and that it can mend even the deepest unseen wounds. Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen and yes, love can make change." — Somaly Mam
Love is what drives everything.
"There are four questions of value in life: what is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love." — Johnny Depp

This is why a wedding ceremony is a celebration of love; it encapsulates love in the past leading to an expression of love in the present which is the underlying support for love in the future. This is what love feels like. Simply love.





Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love
1 Corinthians 13:13


--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!


Monday, August 7, 2017

Women of the Word - Tyra Lane-Kingsland

This series has birthed some God ordained divine connections. Tyra is one such connection. As a blogger, I spend significant time online not just writing but reading other blogs. I'm always looking for like minded Christian bloggers online and when I read Inspired To Live fully I knew I was reading a kindred spirit. I reached out and I was blessed with this interview. Even in initially chatting with her, she encouraged me to continue with this series, to do the hard things, especially if God has placed it on my heart. I'm so grateful for her and I know you will be too. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Tyra Lane-Kingsland.

Tyra Lane-Kingsland

1. As someone who studies the Bible, what are your favorite tools and resources?
TLK: Armed with my journal, pen, iPhone, Blue Letter Bible App and Scofield Study Bible, I am eager and excited to jump into the Word. I do a lot of note taking on my iPhone but at heart, I’m a writer so old fashioned pen and paper work well for me. The Blue Letter Bible App is great because it has built in commentary, concordance, and dictionary.

2. Old Testament, New Testament or both?
TLK: For me both are vital. The Old Testament illustrates so much of God’s character. We see Him as Judge and Creator and we see His unfailing love for mankind. At the same time, the New Testament gives us a very clear picture of how we ought to live our lives today as modeled directly through the life of Jesus.

3. Why do you study the Bible? What was your initial motivation?
TLK: My reasons for studying the Bible are many but two primary reasons are to hear from God and to get guidance for daily living. Just as I enjoy hearing from relatives and friends, I like to hear what God is saying and I can hear directly from Him through His Word. Additionally, life’s many demands and the tug of culture can pull us away from living out the faith we profess. So in order to keep my mind and behavior in alignment with my values, I have to STAY in that Word!

My initial motivation to begin studying the Word started before I was saved. I was reading the Left Behind book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. In those books, they would mention scriptures so I opened the Bible just to see it in context and I was so intrigued it made me curious to find out more.

4. How does inspiration work for you? How do you know that what you're writing or understanding is as if God is moving the pen and you're just the vehicle? 
TLK: Because I spend so much time listening to the Father, I find that He’s always speaking to me. Often He speaks to me through nature or when reading the Word a single word or phrase will stand out. When He illuminates an image or word I’ll do a word study on it. And I know it's Him because He’ll confirm the word again and again through out the week.

5. How do you handle complex topics that may not align with popular views? (Can you give an example?) 
TLK: God has called me to deliver some tough truths so I often find myself having to share that which may be unpopular or uncomfortable. But God reminded me that I’m not here to just make friends or to have people like me but to declare His truth. So I present the truth in love and share my personal stories related to the issue. An example of this would be the charge to honor God by honoring the physical temple. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we are reminded that this body is not our own and we are to honor it yet most of us make decisions daily to defile the temple by what we eat. And we see a preponderance of this occurring in the church. It is an uncomfortable issue to tackle but I am committed to sharing the truth in ways that can be easily implemented so people can begin to honor Him with their food choices.

6. When confronted by the truth of scripture, even for difficult topics, how does it re-orient you? 
TLK: The truth keeps me headed True North. And for me, that is continuing to walk in paths of righteousness for His namesake.  I’m not just doing this for myself but I recognize that I’ve got my children and the women I serve observing my walk.

7. Tell us a little bit about yourself, current projects you are working on and where you can be found.
TLK: At my core, I am an encourager so any day I can be found inspiring hearts; from my children to women on the playground, I’m usually sharing some nugget the Holy Spirit sends through my lips. I am an author, blogger, speaker and Women’s Group Leader. I am currently promoting my newly released book, Purposeful Parenting. It is not just for parents but is a story on how adults can transform their hearts so that they can give children the love they need and deserve. You can find the book here http://amzn.to/2unhvRi
I can be found inspiring hearts to live fully mind, body and spirit @ www.inspiredtolivefully.com
And on these Social Media platforms:
www.twitter.com/inspiredfully
www.instagram.com/inspiredfully
www.facebook.com/inspiredfully


8. How do you deal with discouragement and doubt? (Bonus question)
TLK: When doubtful or discouraged I saturate myself in truth. I listen to music that exhorts the truth, I take my eye off whatever the issue is, I take my eye off myself and I place it back on what God said about it. I may even blog about it as a means of ministering to others and to myself. I also have a few women in my circle that provide wise counsel and remind me of things the Lord has previously told me.

--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Magical, Mysterious, Miraculous Prayer

Have you ever felt that your life mirrored the spin cycle of a washing machine? Everything has been thrown in and now it's all spinning at the same time? It seems out of control, this spinning, but it's not, because the spinning is for a purpose and the spinning ends, but you don't often know when your spin cycle will end.




Wedding     Surgery     Paperwork     Travel
     Moving     Packing     Merging of families
              Post Surgery Recovery
       Spin Cycle

The best thing to combat the Spin Cycle is to be prayed for and to pray. One of the first instances of actual interceding for someone on their behalf, where the word pray is actually used happens in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel 7:5 where Samuel prays for the Israelites. The Israelites recognized that they were in their own spin cycle - they thought the Lord had abandoned them, which is quite literally how we feel when it seems like everything is thrown at us and we're out of control. Samuel gave them some instructions: "get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines." During the spin cycles of life, we become distracted and our focus shifts from the One who matters. So the Israelites did so and worshipped only the LordThen Samuel told them, “Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.”

The Israelites recognized their need, they changed their ways and Samuel prayed. Once Samuel prayed, the Israelites went on to victory. Prior to Samuel praying they had misplaced confidence but after he prayed, though uncertain, their faith was strengthened and they had success.

Pray is magical, mysterious and miraculous; it is healing, encouraging and an act of love to hear someone petition God on your behalf. It will remove anxiety; it will remind you to be still and propel you to pray. To intercede in prayer means to go before God on another’s behalf.

Lamentations 2:19 encourages us to, "Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children." So as the wedding approaches and there's standard pre-wedding jitters and stress in addition to dealing with a major health crisis, I took my daughter aside and prayed aloud for her. If I were focused on her demeanor during prayer, I'm certain I would have noticed relief, surprise, comfort, relaxation which encapsulates what happens when we are bold enough to pray for someone audibly in their time of need.

Sometimes it does not matter what you say - just the very fact that you are praying makes all the difference in the world. You experience a selfless love when you pray. Praying demonstrates a relationship - definitely between you and God, and between you and the person you are praying for. Praying demonstrates hope and faith. Praying says I know Someone who can help. Praying provides wisdom, guidance, and peace.

Prayer is as vital as breathing; I encourage you to do it. Pray from the heart when you're happy or sad; mad or glad. Don't worry what others think, it's your heart and it matters to God. There is absolutely nothing that you cannot bring in prayer to God. Just Pray.

Spin cycles come to an end and usually after all of that turbulence your clothes are clean. In the same vein, I know, just like any bride knows that the spin cycle of wedding planning will come to an end and with God's covering it will be the start of a new thing that God is doing in both of their lives, propelling them on to victory.
For we are not presenting our petitions before You based on our righteous acts, but based on Your abundant compassion. Daniel 9:18,19



We don’t know what to do, so we’re looking to you. 2 Chronicles 20:12


Men ought always to pray and not to faint.  Luke 18:1


If you can center yourself, be still, pray and be prayed for, you'll be able to go through your spin cycle and come out standing. Simply pray.


--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!


Monday, July 31, 2017

Book Review - The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

I didn't want to read this book let alone like the book. But this book was just sitting there begging to be read. I read it in 24 hours; so much for not wanting to read a book. This book is not a how to self-help manual, which was why I had no interest in reading it initially, but rather it's one person's story of how she changed her mindset and what it looked like for her.

Shonda Rhimes is the writer/producer/creator (she has many titles) behind Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and How To Get Away with Murder. Even if you live under a rock, when you come out ever so often you will hear of one of these shows especially if it's a Thursday night.

This book shares one woman's viewpoint of going from a No to a Yes mentality. A No mentality is: where you're afraid of what a yes will mean so you live safely in your cocoon; where you unintentionally isolate yourself even if you appear successful; where you aren't determining your happiness, you're just existing. This mentality defined the author for most of her life until she made the choice to approach things differently. She shares her transition by letting the reader into her brain so that through the book you can see how she navigated from point A - No to Point B - Yes and the profound impact it had on her.

This book is well written in the author's voice. It's authentic and compelling and a book I reluctantly but heartily recommend.



--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

This Is Your Opportunity to Create a Legacy

Sometimes I can't believe the family I have. I can't say that when I was growing up we were a close knit family as is portrayed on screen. We were close because we had no choice. No one was going anywhere and if we did it was done as a unit. As we got older, and life intervened we all went our separate ways. And these days, though I love getting together with my siblings we just don't have a close family dynamic. There are some elephants in the room whenever we're together and we just can't seem to get past them. We keep feeding the elephant when it should be kicked out; elephants don't belong with humans or in rooms.

This is a legacy.

With my husband, I have been able to create a family that makes me genuinely happy. We hang out with each other and we talk, really talk with each other. If there's no one else around I'm quite content to hang out with these people and in my wildest dreams, I never thought this was possible. As the wedding approaches, we find ourselves randomly practicing dance moves for the big day. We find ourselves vetoing another's silliness all in good fun or having our typical family banter via group chat.

My husband has always been more focused on us doing things as a family. That's the phrase he uses, "we're going to do this as a family." I wasn't always keen on this idea, but I went along and now today we just automatically do things as a family, if we can.

This too is a legacy.

He was intentional about creating good experiences, but so was I in a different way. I was big on Family Devotions, Sunday Dinners, Christmas and over time Thanksgiving and any other family holidays. Through a best friend, we started having birthday get togethers where we had a cake and sang Happy Birthday. It might have been just us or it might have included anyone who was over at the time. When we had children, I thought about what would my children think about their family. As much I could control it, I did my part in creating favorable memories. We still talk about the time I burnt my son's birthday cake, or the time my husband took a daughter on a shopping spree for her birthday, or the time another daughter thought she outsmarted me by buying a pair of sneakers.

This is a legacy.

Legacy happens whether you're intentional or not. You and your spouse are leaving an imprint on the next generation. As much as it depends on you, be willing to work with each other, compromise, talk and share to create beautiful moments for the next generation. Part of my legacy is knowing that we were so grounded in God's Word we lived it out and passed it on to our children while going after life with gusto. Whatever your legacy is, I hope it is grounded in love: love of God and love of family.

In Caesarea, there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God. Acts 10:1,2

What's your legacy?



--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Your Faith Can Eliminate Worry


Don't worry! We hear it all the time yet it's the first thing we do when faced with any daunting
circumstance. In spite of ourselves, we worry more than we should because it's almost second nature.

We worry about our children in myriad ways - are they OK? will they be damaged? are we raising them right?
We worry about our jobs and our careers - Will I ever get promoted? Did I follow the procedure correctly?
We worry about money - How am I going to pay for this? Where am I going to find the money to pay for this part, this piece, this project?
We worry about other people - Do they like me? Will I like them? Did I say something to upset them?
We worry about our relationships - I wonder what he's thinking? Why didn't she return my call?

Do you notice how our worries seem to take the form of questions? Who are we asking these questions of and who will provide the answers? If we were asking ourselves, we might have the answers.

We worry incessantly and it drives us crazy but we are told not to worry. Not only are we told not to worry we are told we don't need to worry because worrying doesn't solve a problem but creates more anxiety (Matthew 6:25-34). We are told to discard the worry and instead practice and exercise faith (Matthew 11:28-30). Not worrying is the first step of faith because as soon as you realize the futility of worrying you also simultaneously begin to realize the beauty of trusting. It's at this point you make a choice to either continue to worry or to exercise faith

I am not immune to worrying, as a matter of fact, the longer I live the more things they are to potentially consume my thoughts. Among other things, we are in the middle of planning a wedding. But I have learned and am learning that the more faith I exhibit the greater peace which eliminates the need to worry.  When I'm tempted to worry I pray (just like I learned in Sunday School). I pick up my Bible and read any part of it for I remember that faith comes through the Word of God. Romans 10:17 I remember to praise Him with a greater frequency and exhibit a grateful heart. Psalms 119.  I tell myself to stop worrying. All of this happens between my ears sometimes in a split second and sometimes over a longer period of time but I make the choice not to worry.

God knew that worrying is part of human nature, but he also knew that He was the antidote to worry. Wouldn't it be great if exercising our faith was second nature instead of worrying? We can know a calm regardless of our circumstances - "The peace of God, which transcends all understanding” which He has promised will “guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalms 56:3
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6



"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength."- Corrie Ten Boom

--Nylse


Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

My Best Marriage Advice

When I got married 28 years ago we went to counseling and as I sit here today I can't remember anything I learned in those sessions. I did a sanity check and asked a friend who also has been married for a long time and she also had the same response. Though premarital counseling was valuable there's nothing that beats experience. So here's what I've learned along the way:

Keep the doors of communication open. By any means necessary, communicate. Sometimes it will be loud, sometimes soft, sometimes nothing will need to be said. Sometimes you may use therapy speak, you know..."I feel this way when you say XYZ ....." but most times you'll be who you are. Sometimes you'll text and sometimes you'll leave notes around the house. The point is to communicate, communicate, communicate even in the mess.

Communication leads to other things - intimacy, knowledge, growth. Sex is a form of communication that is fun and messy and complicated! Enjoy it but just know like everything else, over time it will change. Drives change, bodies change, frequencies change - it's all good.

Hug and laugh often though there will be times when you don't feel like hugging and there's nothing to laugh about. Ride it through.

Grow duck feathers and let each other's offenses roll off your back. If you don't deal with an offense but try to smother it, it will lead to resentment. Resentment can start from the stupidest stuff and it just grows until you wonder why you're so angry with each other. Resentment is the third party that you don't want in your marriage, so learn to forgive without holding a grudge and forgive often. Have a short memory when it comes to offenses.

Learn each other as the person you marry today will change. We all change. Learn and grow together and do nice things for the old person and the new ever evolving person. Do nice things.

All men don't cheat or have a desire to; all women aren't domestic or automatically know how to change a diaper. Don't bring generalizations around marriage and gender roles into your marriage, instead, continue to figure each other out in the context of your marriage and work with what you have.

Most importantly, have the same spiritual foundation. Take divorce out of the equation. You're stuck with each other like peanut butter and jelly so figure it out because peanut butter is so much better with jelly!

Marriage is a wonderful thing. I don't say that lightly or because it's the thing to say. I am the person I am today because of my marriage. Marriage has allowed me to develop and grow in ways  I did not know I was capable of.  The preparation isn't what made it work but rather the commitment to each other and to the marriage. This commitment cemented in love has allowed my marriage to blossom for marriage is love in action.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

What was your premarital counseling experience like? Do you remember any of it? What's the best advice you received prior to getting married? What's the worse?

--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!

Monday, July 17, 2017

How to Deal with SPAM

At first glance, this email looked like any other email. But upon further inspection, it came from an unknown source, with an address similar to one that was familiar, with instructions to click an attachment. This was not productive email, but SPAM - the gateway to foolishness, aggravation, and frustration. The only way to avoid getting caught was to know what the real thing looked like and to be aware that such a thing as SPAM exists.

Have you ever clicked on one of those innocent looking emails thinking it was harmless? I have and here is what happened:

Denial - I couldn't believe I was so foolish! I knew better yet because of curiosity and denial of reality I clicked.

Discovery - Clicking led to a new problem: malware was installed on my computer. Malware is annoying. It takes a special kind of person to write this piece of software. Now every 5 minutes another window opened telling me to click to download. Or a voice started speaking telling me to call a number to have my PC cleaned. And while this was happening, this piece of software was infecting programs on my entire machine. This innocent click produced damaging results that drove me crazy.

Determination - I couldn't solve this problem on my own. Every time I thought I had removed the problem, it showed up somewhere else. I had to call in an expert who had all the tools to remove the problem. In dealing with the expert, I noticed he was calm though I was not. The expert had seen so many people with this problem he was amazed that they still fell for it. Better yet he had become quite efficient at resolving this problem. What took hours for me, seemed to take only 10 minutes for him.

Discernment - At this point, I became more vigilant about SPAM detection. I always check the source, and I delete any email that appears problematic.

The proliferation of spam E-mail mirrors the misinformation we are bombarded with today, some with malicious and insidious intent. For our emails, we are told to create filters, use the SPAM folder, block unwanted senders, and to not open attachments from an unknown source.

We can use these same rules in our lives. Create a filter - set your affections on things above, not on things upon this earth. (Colossians 3:2) Use the SPAM folder - let the Word of God be your guide (Colossians 3:16); seek out wise counsel in everything (Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 11:14); guard your heart and your thoughts (Proverbs 4:23). Block unwanted senders - don't be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14-16); know your purpose (Colossians 3:12-18) so that you're not immersed in a lifestyle you had no intentions of being a part of.

The only way to not be duped by SPAM is to know the real thing. The only way to not be duped by the enemy of our souls is to know Jesus. Get to know Him by spending time with Him. He's the expert who has seen it all before.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” John 8:32, 36.

How do you deal with SPAM?


--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Good Partnership

Bryan Brothers
It's your team's turn to serve. Your partner and you go to the baseline, you quickly converse about a strategy, you both assume your positions, you execute. Whether you win or lose the point, you regroup, show some physical contact and do it all over again.

Doubles tennis, though not as popular as singles, is twice as much fun to watch with more energy and more surface area for play. It would seem that two are better than one, but doubles require more coordination, communication, and grace.

As a single, your strategy is your own - it's in your head and no one knows what will happen until you serve. But in doubles, both parties have to be on the same page. Often times you will see teams using surreptitious ways to communicate with each other so that the other side is unaware. They may use the tennis balls to cover their mouths or whisper in each other's ears. The point is, as a team, only they know what they're doing; no one else does. A doubles partnership is beginning to look like a good marriage - no one else needs to know every detail of your marriage; only you and your spouse are privy to that information.

Next, each partner assumes their position. The server stays at the baseline and the other player goes close to the net and crouches while her partner is serving. Once the ball is over the net, she gets up and is prepared to hit any ball that comes her way. The server moves in and covers the back of the court and is also prepared. They may have discussed what shots they were going to use and now they are executing. Some volleys are so long and exciting, the positions may change. Again, as in marriage, each person knows their position and plays, though sometimes each person's position may change based on the circumstance, it's for the betterment of the team.

After a point is played, whether a doubles team won or lost the point, at the end of each point they always hi-fived or touched hands and then re-grouped. Physical contact is important as it says, we're in this together. It's almost as if it didn't matter the outcome of the point, but that you played your part and made the effort. You made the effort. High five, shake it off, strategize, and continue to play the game. Continue to make the effort.

Our marriages require more coordination, communication, and grace. We start together and we're on the same page. We strategize, execute, high five and repeat. We forgive and give grace. We keep putting the effort in and serving up love like a good doubles game until this life is over.

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? Amos 3:3

How is your doubles partnership?



--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Staying Within The Lines

Before Venus and Serena Williams became well known, their father was watching TV one day and saw the awards ceremony for a Tennis match. As the story goes, at that moment when he saw how much money tennis players made, he decided that his daughters would play tennis.  And play tennis they did as they have continued to reap the rewards of this sport. It was not an easy choice but a worthwhile choice.

In order to play tennis, you have to know the rules. One of the most important rules of the game is to keep the ball within the lines - keep the ball in. Within the lines, you can hit the ball as hard as you want or as soft as you wish, you can be loud or you can be soft, you can have a beautiful backhand or look clumsy making a shot. It doesn't matter as long as the ball remains within the lines. Of course, there are rules that govern behavior - profane or obscene comments immediately incur a point penalty, as does misconduct or unsportsmanlike behavior such as smashing your racket or threatening a linesperson. A tennis court is 78 feet long and  27 feet wide for singles matches; 36 feet for doubles matches. This court is straight and narrow and yet it is worthwhile to make the effort of staying within the lines. Though there are constraints, which are in place for the effectiveness of the game, there is freedom within the lines.

Staying within the lines is so important that the Hawkeye system was created. If a call is questionable, Hawkeye determines if the ball was in or out and the player has to accept Hawkeye's determination. Hawkeye has the final word.

I have never heard a tennis player say, "I wish I could hit the ball outside the lines or anywhere I want." This would be a pointless statement. Playing the game well by the rules gives each player the potential to reap huge rewards.

As Christians God tells us to stay within the lines with our actions, our words, our thoughts. He says it's worth it. He said, you're not constricted as a matter of fact you're free. And the Holy Spirit as He speaks through the Word is our Hawkeye!

You may be tentative about this Christian life or about becoming a Christian. But if you liken the Christian walk to the game of tennis and choose to play, it will be the most rewarding game you have ever played. If you think being a Christian is boring, look at a tennis player - they are anything but bored. They are playing for a worthwhile reward as is a Christian who reaps rewards here on Earth - peace, power, love, abundance, wisdom, assurance (this is a short list), and for eternity. Ephesians 1:3-12

You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. Matthew 7:13-14


Are you in the game? Are you willing to make the sacrifices for the rewards of the game?

--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mothers, Daughters and Self-Image

Eating disorders are pervasive in our current culture and there was a time when it seemed to reach epidemic proportions. I wondered what part, if any, does a parent play, in particular, a mother, when it comes to body image disorders such as anorexia and bulimia which overwhelmingly affect females.

Research indicates that there seems to be a correlation between a mother's fixation with her image which may unintentionally send the wrong message to a child especially if she has a different body type. But then there are also cases where a mother didn't send a negative message yet the daughter still ended up with an eating disorder.

For myself, I cannot say that my mother ever made a fuss about her body image or her weight - she had other pressing matters to deal with like keeping house and ensuring her large family was happy. I was a very skinny girl and my mother was not. I distinctly remember having an assignment where we had to create a healthy diet. Working with my mother, we created the following diet: Breakfast - Bacon, Eggs, Bakes (Pancakes) and Orange Juice. Lunch: Rice and Beans, Chicken, Plantains, and Coleslaw. Supper: A Corn Beef Sandwich and Tea.

When I submitted this assignment, I distinctly remember the teacher looking at this 'diet' in disbelief and then giving me the once over and deciding it was OK. I was unbelievably skinny and everything in this diet was meant to fatten me up.  BTW I ate like a horse and still didn't gain weight; I was 99 pounds when I got married at 22 and after the honeymoon had gained a whopping 6 pounds. Finally, I had cleared the 100-pound milestone!!!!

I knew I was skinny because I was teased for it at school but I was never made to feel bad about it at home nor did I ever feel bad because of my weight. My mother was not slim and she carried herself well, so I never thought negatively or rather had any thoughts about her weight. She also didn't make any comments within my hearing regarding her appearance or her weight. But as I had children and heard what other mothers were saying about weight gain etc, I became conscious about weight - mine, and others. My daughters have always known that I prided myself on the way I look, but I wasn't overbearing with it. They've heard me say I feel fat without being anywhere near fat. As a mother, I had to be responsible for my words and actions yet still be a person. As it related to food consumption, I made food choices early on for the family that they didn't have a say in, based on what I thought was best. For example, I never bought sodas, focused on fruits and vegetables, only bought wheat bread. This is what they knew and this was their normal.


I became conscious of how I spoke to my daughters about weight and body image. The older they got, the greater wisdom I had to exercise especially if this was a touchy area. Sometimes I said nothing, and if I said anything it was minimal. I'd seen other parents lose this battle and I learned that I had to pick my battles. Weight gain or weight loss, I still wanted my children to feel accepted and loved. Apparently, I wasn't always successful at this, because to a young child a critique may seem like a deadly blow. My daughter told me many years later that I made her feel insecure because of her weight when she was much younger but somehow it didn't lead to a downward spiral of an eating disorder. Maybe I knew to stop, maybe she knew that she was worthwhile, maybe it was a combination of both. Maybe in all of these maybes, God was in the mix providing wisdom, understanding, discernment, and grace.


There's a balance to how we do this, but even if we do everything right, we still don't know how it will be received by the child. That's the challenge of parenting. Ultimately I had to know that I was worthy, not because of how I looked or felt but because I was loved by God. This love gave me worth and confidence which my children could emulate and which I could pass on. I think this was my mother's secret and it became mine. It can be summed up in this quote by Naomi Wolf,  "A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem, with a caveat that the Source of this self-love is very important.

Young minds are particularly susceptible to the lies of the enemy and eating disorders are behaviors controlled by lies that show up in their approach to food. Am I saying that if you are anchored in Christ you are immune from having a daughter that struggles with these issues? No, but what I have seen in my own life is that this makes a huge difference. A mother knowing Whose she is and who she is makes an imperceptible difference to her daughter.

The enemy of our souls won't quit - so he may not get his hooks in to create full-blown eating disorders but he'll keep trying. As Christian mothers, we have a power that can defeat the enemy. We have to believe it, tap into it, and use it. Perhaps with the strength of the scriptures, one less daughter will fall into an eating disorder.

God has not given us the spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalms 34:18

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Proverbs 28:13

There's no age limit on any of these verses. In order to deal with anything, you must first acknowledge that it exists. Start there, then reach out to others around you until you have the resources and strength that you need. Please don't believe the lies that lead to an eating disorder; starving the body to control the mind does not provide a balance of health and well-being and doesn't provide the answers that started you down this path. God created you to fulfill His purpose through you, so know that self-inflicted pain is no way to live. God wants you to thrive while you're alive, not live a life of lack because you are trying to control your body. Turn over the controls to Him. 

--Nylse

Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!