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.

......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

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.
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?

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

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.

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.

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 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman 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.