Tag: christianity

Even When It Hurts

Currently I am reading through Proverbs, I am seeking wisdom; wise counsel. I am trying to ensure that my life is pleasing to the Lord, and I want to ensure that I am grounded in His word. Verse after verse Proverbs tells us how we should live, how we should behave, how we should speak, and it is written very clear in its meaning; nothing is hidden in useless rhetoric. It says DO this DON’T do that.

As I am walking down this road of reflection and writing, there are instances from my past where I stood at crossroads and purposefully chose the wrong path. As Proverbs 12:15 states, “The way of a fool is right in his own in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” One particular time of my life stands out very clear to me, I had reconnected with a friend from high school who did not know the Lord, and in the past had no interest in knowing Him. Also during this time I was in a romantic relationship which was not pleasing to the Lord. My friend from high school became my road dog , my ride or die, she would come to church with me on Sunday’s and party with me every other day. In my eyes, I thought I was being a great example to her because, “I’m getting her involved in church, introducing her to the gospel, as well as surrounding her with people who love the lord. I’m doing my Christian duty”. However, that is not what I was doing. I was showing her examples of how to be a hypocrite, how to behave on Sunday and still live in the world on Monday. This girl was desperately seeking the Lord and His perfect love, and I was running in the opposite direction. Almost 15 years later I can look back on that time in my life and think what were you doing? Why were you trying to please people and fit into a mold that wasn’t made for you; especially when the Bible explicitly tells us we are to be in the world but not OF the world. (Reference John 17:14-15). But 20 year old me wanted to belong. Praise the Lord this girl, my friend from high school, found solid friendships amongst my friends in the church and they actually showed her what the love of Christ looks like. They also showed her what life should look like when you are indeed living for the Lord.

During that time, a lifelong friend called me up and said, “ hey what are you doing?” Not in the sense of “How’s it going? Want to hang out?” but instead it was like “ You know better than this, what in the world are you doing with your life?” There was a desperation in that call, a pleading almost. She went on to tell me how we should be an example of Christ, especially to new Christians. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to make that phone call, but she was doing what we as Christians are called to do with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to correct them. There were tears shed and I hung up hurt and angered by her corrections; I mean, who wants to be questioned about their actions. However, the weight of conviction was heavy on my heart. Now this story would be great if I could write to you all and say that her words stopped me in my tracks and turned me back to the cross, but that would be a lie. Instead, I ran a while longer and a lot faster from the path I was supposed to be on. Eventually I found my way back after a whole lot of heartaches and pain and through the Grace of God.

What I really want to touch on is the concept of gently correcting our brothers and sisters in Christ. Why is this so difficult for us to do? I believe today’s world has blinded us and made us timid when we are supposed to be focused and bold in our approach. We should not fear the reactions, but we should embrace them and in love correct them. We, and I include myself in the we, are so worried about offending others that we stay silent and don’t speak up when we should be the most vocal. Of course the immediate response is not going to be positive; what person is going to say, “thank you for pointing out my sins? “ No one! I most certainly didn’t say thank you that’s for sure. But ultimately it was for my own good I needed to be told what you’re doing is wrong. We are already facing a war from the world, and we need every soldier possible in this battle. I want my friends to be in battle with me, my battle buddies, not against me.

The important thing is how we do it. The Bible instructs us to be gentle in our approach as to be mindful in how we do it, and always correct in love. In order to achieve this boldness we must stay in prayer and ask for guidance. Galatians 6:1 “brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently, but watch yourself are you also may be tempted.” How does the lord want us to approach the topic? What words does he want us to use? When should we approach our friends? When we follow the model we are given it will always work out for the good we just have to be patient and remain in prayer for our friends during the process.

Let’s Just Call This My 2017 Newsletter…Or something like that

It is officially a new year, and like many of you, I began to think about what changes I needed to make within myself and in my day-to-day life. In many ways, 2017 was the worst and the best year I’ve experienced in quite a while. I started off the year losing my job, a job that I had worked for almost 10 years; to say I was devastated and completely blindsided is and understatement. It was the first time since I started working at the age of 18 that I had been terminated. Immediately, I panicked because, well, I had bill to pay and no longer had a source of income. However, the panic was short-lived, and I did not dwell in this for several reasons. First, as I walked out of that building which had become my prison, that building which kept me away from my home more times than not, that building which made me compromise everything I believed to be right and wrong, that building which constantly made me feel less than; I felt an immediate release. I’ve never experienced that feeling of a weight being lifted, but I legitimately felt the stress from working in an environment which no longer brought joy to my life disappear. The tears quickly dried and I kept moving forward. Second, I have AMAZING friends and family that a strong believers and each and every one of them told me the exact same thing. They pointed out how unhappy I was in my position and reminded me that God had a greater plan for my life, something far greater than working in a job which made me miserable everyday. They covered me in prayer and gave me faith-based encouragement. I can not express how important it is to surround yourself with an army of believers; people who will pray for you and with you in not only your valleys, but also rejoice with you in your peaks.  Finally, during my time of unemployment (6 months), I actually took some overdue time to enjoy life.  I was able to go on vacation with my family for the first time in almost 5 years. it was great, although in the back of my mind I knew my time was running out and I needed to start seeking employment. I knew my money would eventually run out and the bills still have to be paid. To make this long story short, at the end of the summer I found a job and entered back into the work force. I currently have a job doing what comes naturally to me, but it is not my final job, this is only a stepping stone until I can make it to my next station in life.

Now that I got my little yearly recap out of the way, let’s talk about the here and now. A couple of weeks ago, I read a quote online that stood out to me. It said, “someone somewhere is depending on you to do what you were called to do.” When I read that I thought, dang, there could be someone out there waiting for me to stop messing around and actually start taking my writing seriously. Just for the record, I write quite often, but most of the time, it is fictional stories that I can never finish, because my vision of the story is never clear. I know that I have been given a gift, and it is well past time that I used that gift to uplift the kingdom of the Lord. I found this bible verse which sums that up neatly, 1 Peter 4:10-11 reads, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks they should do as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen”

This year, in 2018, I am not going to come up with some resolution to go on a diet or to start exercising, although I probably should, but I am actually giving myself a goal which is to embrace the gifts that I have been given from the Lord and use those gifts to bless others. In order to accomplish this task, it is going to take a lot of prayer and studying in the word as well as faith that I am on the correct path. Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” With that being said, I have plans to write and not just here on my blog, but actually a complete work and then take the necessary steps to get that work published. This biggest part will be to ensure that I keep my work God centered and seek Him 100% throughout the process of this. It shall be quite interesting as I have only written fiction and poetry.  Please pray for me during this time. I truly believe it is well past due that I embark on this journey. As always be blessed and stay tuned

We All Matter

It’s been awhile since I sat down to share with you all. No lie, I literally had to wipe the dust from my notebook. (I’m old school, I still write on paper). I’ve been quiet for several reasons; I never want to write for the sake of writing, when I write, I want it to be sincere and not forced. Also, I’ve been busy over the past few months. Back in March, I drove cross country to Ohio with my mother to attend the funeral of our great Aunt, I will touch on that trip in a bit; but moving on, I’ve been back and forth to Dallas, the family drove to Louisiana and Alabama, and I’ve put my house on the market in preparations for my BIG move to Dallas. So, needless to say, I’ve been busy during my extended “vacation” from employment, but the noise from the world is SO loud right now that I can no longer sit quietly and watch without saying something. I was subscribing to the thought process of many people in America right now. What thought process is that? Well let me tell you, This doesn’t affect me. What difference can I make? If you are familiar with me or my blog, then you know I wrote a blog in the past detailing my thoughts on police brutality and the thought process that many black people deal with every time they get pulled over. I shared the reality of the conversations that black parents are having with their children in order to preserve their lives during “routine” police stops. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by people who show compassion on this topic. I’m also surrounded by people who “stay woke” on certain topics in the world right now. Many probably don’t know what that means, so let me explain; to be “woke” means people are socially aware, they don’t pretend  there isn’t a problem with race relations or issues on injustice. We as Americans need to wake up and stop pretending like the world is not crumbling around us.

As I mentioned, back in March my mom and I drove from El Paso, TX to Middletown, OH, that drive took us through several states, but only one city and state stands out in my mind, Oklahoma City, OK. We had been driving for almost twelve hours, it was 10pm, and I was behind the wheel while my mom slept. The speed limit was 75 mph and the police were out heavy that night. With that being said, I was super aware of my surroundings, I was driving about 65 mph, both hands were on the steering wheel, etc. I looked in my mirrors and spotted a police car in the lane next to me. I told my mom, “There’s a cop behind me.” She questioned if I was speeding and I told her no, and she closed her eyes again. I put on my blinker and changed lanes (someone had been pulled over and I was in the far left lane), the cop changed lanes with me. I put on my blinker and returned to the left lane and the lights and sirens came on. “Ma, we’re being pulled over!” I said. I’ve never seen my mom wake up from sleep so quickly in my life. “Put both hands on the steering wheel.” That was her immediate response. My heart was racing and my hands were shaking because I had no clue why I was being pulled over. I wasn’t speeding, I had on my seatbelt, and I used my blinkers; why was I being pulled over? So, we both sat eyes forward, my hands on the steering wheel, my mom’s hands visible in her lap, and waited to see why we were pulled over. The police officer came to the passenger window and asked the same question that all cops ask “Do you know why I pulled you over?”  Of course I didn’t know. “No sir, I don’t know.” He proceeded to tell me that in the state of OK you must leave on your blinker for 100ft when changing lanes and I failed to leave on my blinker long enough. Although this felt like a BS stop we went through all the motions: yes sir, no sir, we’re going to a funeral sir, but I really became nervous when I had to get my drivers license “Sir, my purse is under my legs, I’m going to grab it, OK.” The officer was actually a very nice, which many officers are, he didn’t give me a ticket, but I shouldn’t have been scared when I got pulled over. We shouldn’t have to be on our “best behavior” in order to prove we aren’t doing something wrong, but this is the reality of being “other” in America. And, the sad thing about it is, this momentum continues to grow more and more. People are hurting with each passing day. The chasim is growing.

I read daily about people saying, why are we looking at race, why are we looking at gender, why are we looking at orientation? Well, we’re looking at this because these are the people being alienated. These are the people who are constantly being told, “You are not enough.” Who are we, as human beings, to tell another person, you are not enough, you don’t matter because…

This weekend, I was shopping with my sister, and I saw a coffee mug that said, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” This comes from Psalms 139:14. That verse and the following verses state: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it well…Your eyes have seen my unformed substances; And in Your book were all written. The days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” Psalms 139:14 & 16. This resonates strongly with me because every single one of us was created individually by the Father, and He knows each of us by name. Regardless of our lifestyle or  the pigmentation of our skin, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. As a Christian, that tells me that I am no better than the person next to me. That tells me that there is no race superior to another. Last week, people put on robes and mask and marched because a statue was being removed. A statue that symbolizes oppression, and in my opinion, these are the individuals who want to continue to keep others down. These people spewed ugly, hatefilled words, and spread terrible propaganda. This brought two thoughts to my mind 1) Why aren’t ALL Christians up in arms and disturbed by this. 2) Why are we moving in the wrong direction towards unity? These images were reminiscent of the civil rights movement in the 50s although we are living in 2017. Integration happened 60 years ago, why are we seeing these images resurfacing? Why aren’t we able to see  past how a person looks on the outside and instead look at the heart?

The answer? Because we live in a fallen world. There will never be peace until Jesus returns, but as a Christian, I know how I can make a difference. I can show the love of Christ to others, I can stop throwing rocks from my glass house because I know that I sin and I fall short of God’s glory everyday. As the body of Christ, we need to be hurting because our brothers and sisters are hurting.

My cousin, Danita Jones wrote a very poignant blog last week entitled “The Elephant of Social Justice” over at www.uknowimwrite.com. In her post, she talks about the “whatabout” people, and she hits the nail directly on the head. Take a few minutes to read this sometime this week. Her words stood out even more to me this week when I saw a post on Facebook of a pagan god with the byline, this is the statue we should be removing or something to that manner. It immediately gave me feelings. Yes! We should have this statue removed, and yes we should be upset over the image this statue represents, but it should not be brought up as a comparison. Let’s not forget that just a few days ago there were people physically hurt and one person actually lost their life. Let’s stop with the “whatabouts” as Danita stated and let’s start showing some compassion. Let’s start being the example of Christ. Now is the time to be growing Christ’s army and that can’t be done if we are being selective on who we show His love too.

Disappointments…

When I think about the word disappointment, it gives me feelings, and none of those feelings are positive. Disappointment has such a negative connotation and I suppose it should. I mean no one gets excited when they are disappointed. We never feel disappointed when everything is working in our favor. We don’t feel disappointed when we succeed. Nope, we feel disappointed when we fail. We feel disappointed when people let us down. We feel disappointed when we let others down. We feel disappointed when we ultimately have no direction or vision.

Today I am disappointed. I feel not only disappointed, but I feel discouraged. I am deprived of confidence. My confidence is shaken because today I was essentially told my feelings were invalid. My intuition is off, and now I’m left at a crossroad with no map. It has been a long time since I felt this way and I never imagined that at this age I would be at this point. Based on that, not only am I discouraged, but I am disappointed that I allowed this to be my life. As I write this down, I recognize how ridiculous this all sounds because the only person’s actions that we have control over are our own, so therefore, I should not be disappointed, but I am. I’m disappointed because I should have had a back up plan, I should have been prepared for the unknown.

Anyhow, enough of that, I’m not going to dwell on things that I can’t change, but what I need to be doing is looking forward and not allow the past to hold me back. However, I also need to find encouragement in the void. I need to find my direction again. My encouragement today comes from 1 Chronicles 28:20 “…Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the temple of the Lord is finished correctly.”

Woah! If that isn’t the encouragement that I needed I don’t know what is. I mean seriously, I need to store this word in my heart, especially on days like today when I feel less than ok; when I feel discouraged about my future. This tells me the Lord has a plan for me and He is in complete control. This tells me He won’t just leave me alone and He won’t let my hand go through all of this.

I wish I could wrap this up and put a pretty bow on it and say I know what tomorrow holds, but I don’t. I know tomorrow I will wake up and I will put both feet on the ground and take one step forward. I will hold on to this word that the Lord God is with me and He will not forsake me. Tomorrow I will have a new day to try again to find the map to my crossroad which tells me which road to journey down next.

 

The Act of Comparing Ourselves

Comparison is ruining me…

Today I want to start off using I am statements because I don’t want to reflect my feelings onto anyone else. One of the downfalls or the issues that keeps me from moving forward and walking in my purpose is comparing myself to others. Comparison is crippling to growth because we do not all have the same path as the next person. Personally, comparison is literally and physically holding me back. It is becoming my roadblock. Whoever told me that I should gauge my own success based on what success looks like for someone else? Where did that idea come from? Was I taught that in school? Probably. School teaches us that when you have the highest grades you are the most successful in the class, so most strive to be at the top. In adulthood, when working, if there is someone in the same career path and they are being successful, we are encouraged to reach out to that individual and find out  their techniques in order to emulate them so we can be successful too. There are women and men plastered all over the television, internet, and magazines who look a certain way and we then compare our bodies to those people.

Everything indicates to me that we should compare ourselves to others to find validation; however, that is not reality. We are not meant to be like anyone else except our unique selves. We are called to be individuals, which means there in no one else like you. Can you imagine how boring life would be if we were all exactly the same? That is what comparing ourselves to someone else does, it makes us emulate the next person. It makes us question our own worth, it makes us doubt our own greatness.

I was reading various Bible verses that talk about comparing ourselves to others and there are several key verses about this topic, but what stands out the most to me is Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” What this verse is saying to me is the minute we start to compare ourselves with another person is the moment we being to block our blessings. What the Lord has in store for your neighbor is not the same as He has in store for you. So while we’re busy emulating someone else we can miss what He’s working out in our favor.

I don’t know about you, but this gives me comfort. I believe that over the past few years I’ve been attempting, very poorly, to emulate someone else. I’ve tried to fit into someone else’s mold and every day it was becoming more and more uncomfortable. With every turn I was hit with a different roadblock and I was not advancing. What I began to do was question myself, question my worth. I needed people to tell me I was worthy in order to find some type of validation of my worth. This should have been my wake up call, but instead I continued to compare my actions to others, I tried to be like my peers, and I failed miserably. As my sister recently told me, I needed something BIG to happen to snap me out of the rut I was existing in. Bottom line, today this verse helps to remind me that God is in charge and His will is what I should strive for, not what someone else has or is doing!

COME TOGETHER…RIGHT NOW

What’s so hard about putting pen to paper. Transposing the chaos inside your head into intelligible words on a paper – or online, that can reach others and also make some kind of sense. Lately, the chaos has been so loud inside my brain that it is deafening. The words; screaming and clawing their way out of my head want to be heard, or read. The words that resonate so loudly have to do with the state of the world we are currently living in. As Christians, we are to be in this world, but not OF this world. We are not supposed to be a part of the problem, but instead a part of the solution. We are supposed to be the hands and feet of the Lord, and more times than not I am not seeing this. I am seeing Christians attacking and judging; instead of building up the Kingdom, many of us are tearing it down, and my heart is breaking. My heart is breaking for not only our country, but for God’s children. More than ever, with such discord in the world we need to be standing together. We need to be showing and being the example of God’s love; instead, I see people beating each other down with the Word, picking and choosing the scriptures that best support their message and using it as a weapon.

Never in my life have I felt such fear or terror over the state of the world. Never have I felt such anxiety over the future of our nation. Over the years, I have heard people make the statement, “We’re living in the end times,” but I never truly grasped the meaning of this statement, and once I was of an age to understand it I never really believed it. I now understand and believe, I understand that the discord and fighting is a part of the story, and with that being said, I have now become one of those individuals who says, “We are living in the end times.” We are drawing near to the end, and that means we, as Christians, need to be seeking the Lord whole heartedly. We need to be falling on our knees in prayer, but instead we are getting caught up in the social media hoopla. I am guilty of reading comments and articles on the internet and it gives me feelings. I find myself getting angry and upset, I find myself wanting to write comments and respond on post and getting caught up in this slippery slope. However, most days I am successful in staying away from the arguments and the petty nonsense on social media. As I mentioned we are to be in this world and while in this world we are to be compassionate, we are to show empathy, we are to extend grace because that is what was given to us.

There is not one person currently walking on this earth that has been the perfect example that we had in Jesus. We can only strive to be like Him and in being like Him we might have to get our hands a little dirty and show kindness  and love to some people we don’t necessarily agree with. This is what the Lord calls us to do. He does not call us to be the judge and jury over another’s actions. It’s time for us to make grown up decision and declare what we believe and stand for. It’s time for us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and show love to the unlovable. The time is coming for us to ban together and stand for what Jesus lived for. I do not want to be viewed as someone who claims to love Jesus, but treats others poorly solely because they have made mistakes or messed up in their lives. Instead, I want to be known for my heart, for my love, and for my example of God’s love. Once again, how are we building up the Kingdom when we treat it like an exclusive club that only certain people can be a part of. Unless we are showing that Christlike love to those who do not know Him, the Kingdom will not advance.