Tag: religion

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.

Why Are We Afraid To Be Emotional?

I want to first start off by saying, Hello Everyone and Happy Holidays!!!!!!!! I haven’t written in a while, and it is not because I didn’t want to chat with you, but I wasn’t quite sure what to talk about. I played with a few ideas, but nothing that jumped out to me, but this morning while having my morning coffee and reading “Wild and Free” I knew what I needed to share with you all.

This weekend, we had our annual Christmas production at church, and the choir sang a couple of songs. We sang Chris Tomlin’s “Glory in the Highest” and Kirk Franklin’s “Now Behold the Lamb” both very beautiful and powerful songs. Personally, I sang a verse in the “Now Behold the Lamb” and the lyrics go:

 Even when I broke, broke your heart

My sins tore us apart, but I’m standing right here in the midst of my tears

I claim you to be, the Lamb of God

New life can begin, for you washed away every one of my sins

Who the Son sets free, is truly free indeed

Lord, I claim you to be the Lamb of God!

Two things about these lyrics, they are powerful, and this morning I realized that these lyrics mimic exactly what I am going through in my life and what I have been talking about over the past month with you all. I was speaking with two ladies in the choir and they said something to me that made me think. One said, the words were so touching and as I sang she got chill bumps. The other said, I almost cried. She then ask me if I wanted to cry, and I responded no, I didn’t want to cry. I went on to say that I used to be extremely emotional and I would cry for everything, but as I’ve gotten older, I “toughened” up a bit, and now I have a tighter hold on my emotions, so I don’t cry like I used to. She responded to me, that she is not an overly emotional person, but when the Holy Spirit moves you can’t deny the feelings it evokes. This made me think and recognize, that in my attempt to hold in my emotions and keep them in check, I can potentially be blocking the Spirit from moving within me. It’s true that the Lord moves differently within everyone, but when we try to hold ourselves in check for whatever reasons, we are putting God in a box. AND NEWSFLASH!!!!!! He’s too BIG to be put in a box.

This raises a question within me though, why are we afraid of emotions? I think, society tells us that if we cry or show emotions, we will be viewed as weak. We will be seen as someone who can’t keep themselves in check and so they can’t make sound decisions. However, I am coming to understand and believe there is nothing wrong with being emotional or leading by emotion. Of course, we can’t make all decision based on emotion, but there are some things in life we should make emotional decisions about. I mean within your career, you have to lead with your head and not your heart, but in life decisions, we can try to be too logical and then make the wrong choices for ourselves and our future. There is nothing wrong with emotions, there is nothing wrong with tears, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling!

 

I’m Not Who I Used To Be

Praise the Lord I’m not who I used to be. I am no longer the girl who is seeking acceptance where ever it is given. I am not the girl who is seeking approval from the wrong type of people. I am now the woman who is secure in who she is as an individual. I am a woman who is stepping into her purpose. And I am a woman who is learning to listen in the quiet for direction from the Lord and discerning His voice from my own.

There was a period in my life that I was not living a life that I am particularly proud of. I was making decisions that I knew were wrong. Decisions that I knew my mother would disapprove of, and if my mother would disapprove of those decisions, then I definitely know they were not decisions the Lord would smile upon. During that period of my life, I did what I wanted and I did these things in order to “fit”in, but also to please a boy, who at that time, was not worthy of my affections. No matter what I did to hold onto him, it was never enough. You see it was not meant for me to be with him then or to even keep him.

Let me backtrack just a little bit, throughout high school and into college, I was extremely involved in church. I was in the youth group in high school and after I graduated I became a leader in the youth group and also started attending the College and Career group. I had a close group of friends who fiercely loved the Lord and I have to say life was really good; however, there was an inner curiosity inside of me about the “world” that tugged at me. The inner wild child, as my mother calls it, that was itching to break out, and when I started my first job after high school the doors to the outside world burst open and I went running through them. For the first time in my short life I was surrounded by people who were living in the world and did not have the constraints of the church holding them back from experiencing life. I don’t say this meaning that the church holds people back, but in my marginal experience, as a teenager, all I could see were rules. Rules telling me what I could and could not do, rules telling me what I should and shouldn’t say, rules inside my mother’s house that I felt were so strict that I was not allowed to live the life I thought I wanted. It did not take long for the lifestyle of my coworkers to start appealing to me, and along with that life came a boy who started whispering in my ear all the things that my young and naïve heart wanted to hear.

In the beginning, I tried to integrate him into my world, but it didn’t take long for him to pull me from my comfortable life into his chaotic and careless lifestyle. Like me, he was running from strict parents and a comfortable lifestyle and for whatever reason, we found each other and saw something in the other person that we thought we wanted. As Christians, we learn the importance of being equally yoked, and it probably took 10 years, my entire 20s, for me to actually learn and understand what that truly means. At the tender age of 20 I fell in love and we were not equally yoked. When I say I fell in love, I mean truly, madly, deeply in love. I fell with both eyes closed and a heart completely open. I walked blindly into a relationship that pulled me away from everything that I knew to be right and true. I stopped hanging with my friends and replaced them with his friends, I stopped spending time at the church and replaced it with late night kickbacks in empty parking lots. I gave away my innocence because it is what I believed I should do in order to prove my love to this other person. I did this against my better judgment because I knew it was wrong, I knew it was not what the Lord wanted for me, but I also believed it was what I needed to do in order to solidify and keep my relationship. Trust me when I say this, sex does not ensure you will hold onto someone, all it does is give your power away to another person. It ensures that this other person can hurt you more deeply than you can ever imagine.

That relationship did not give me what I thought I was seeking out of life and out of a partnership, it pulled me further and further away from the Lord. It pulled me from my family, from my friends, it compromised my morals, and it left me completely broken. More broken than I had ever been, up until that point, in my entire life. But praise the Lord, I’m not her anymore.

Have you ever prayed for the Lord to do something, left it at the Lord’s feet, and walked away trusting He will answer your prayers? Well, in my complete and total brokeness I prayed for the Lord to make me forget the love I had for this person. To take away the hurt that shattered my tender heart into a million pieces and then I left it. I’m not sure if I really 100% believed that something as big as this prayer could be answered. Everyday I got up, I went through the motions and I trudged through the days until one day the tears dried up and it didn’t hurt to breathe anymore. I no longer kept my phone next to me waiting for a message that would never come. I can’t give you an exact time line because honestly I don’t know how long it took, but one day I was talking to a friend who was there from the beginning to the end of the tumultuous relationship and she asked me if I remembered something I had said or done in the midst of this relationship and I tried to recall various stories she would tell me, and to this day I have no recollections of certain time spans within that relationship. That is when I realized just how BIG AND MERCIFUL my God is. That is when I saw how REAL my God is because HE answered my prayers. Praise the Lord He delivered me from the dangerous path that I was on, and I would love to say I learned my lesson right away, but that wouldn’t be the truth. I made a few more bad choices along the way, but that is part of my journey. Mistakes allow us to see God work in our favor, it allows us to rely on Him. That is the cool thing about the Lord, everyday we mess up and fall short of His glory and He loves us anyhow. He is standing by waiting for us to seek Him and seek His forgiveness. He loves us fiercely and unconditionally. I don’t have children of my own, but I see how my friends love their children, I know how my mother loves us, and it gives me a glimpse into how much our heavenly Father must love us, His children. He wants nothing more than for us to turn away from our sinful nature and seek Him. Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (NIV).

I will end the way I started, Praise the Lord I’m no who I used to be and thank you Lord for the promise of who I will be!

Let’s Get Real

When I was thinking about my topic of discussion for the night, I thought I was going to share a completely different part of me tonight. Those of you who know me, and have known me for a long time, you know what I imagined my future husband to look like. I was very clear about what I was looking for in my life partner. Let me clarify, I knew what I wanted my partner to look like, but not what I wanted his heart to look like. In the past year or so, I’ve thought about what type of person I was interested in. I was no longer focusing on the physical but now on the mental and spiritual. I had these ridiculous deal breakers in my mind, and they were all superficial. I decided that I wanted my future husband to have dark skin, to have tattoos, to be able to sing, to love Jesus was not the first deal breaker on my list; these were the things I would say I was looking for. I shake my head now as I think about how flighty my list was. There was also one other thing I was clear on, this person had to have very different traits than the relationships from my past. When you have no true foundations or rules, you will accept what you have and not seek what you want or need for a successful relationship.

In September, I went to Dallas to visit with my sister, and while there we went to her church. (She attends an amazing church in the Dallas MetroPlex, and has a Pastor that leads his sheep with such grace and love). While in church, I felt that the Lord changed my heart as to what and who I was looking for in my future husband. In a church full of people, men, women, boys and girls, I felt that the Lord placed on my heart that I would marry a Pastor. I struggled with if I should share this with anyone, if maybe I just decided that I would marry a Pastor, but I felt it very strongly in my spirit. The other thing I thought; this is way too  out there for me to just come up with that idea. I mean, I have a lot of issues that I need to work on within myself, I am not pastor’s wife material. I mean, I see my pastor’s wife, and she is full of so much compassion for others, she is involved, she pays attention and knows people’s names. I mean, I am compassionate and I care about others, but I still have some work to do. LOL.

So, I am staying with that, and believing that I will find my pastor in the future, and I will be everything that a pastor’s wife should be. One thing that I also think about though is, when you are in that role, there are eyes on you at all times, and people can place some unhealthy and hurtful expectations upon you. I think, am I ready for this? If this is truly of the Lord, He will continue to work with and on me, to prepare me for the future.

Here’s another thing, this is not what I was supposed to discuss with you all tonight. I was supposed to talk about the crossroads in my life and what I my future looked like in the aspect of employment. Funny thing, speaking about my future husband was my initial plan for this post tonight. I guess this is what I was meant to share with you after all.

Be blessed, and as I have asked before, please continue to pray for me as I pray for you all too!

Man, When Will It Be My Turn?

As I have mentioned before, I am currently reading through “Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans” by Wendy Pope. I can’t recommend this book enough to anyone who is in a season of waiting, because this will let you know that you are not alone in your wait, and it will also give you direction while in your wait. But moving on, today discussed waiting turning into a wilderness experience. This particular chapter reiterated a topic that I have discussed more than once with my friends and family. This topic is when we get impatient in our wait and we try to force God’s timing.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with my friend about when we pray to God for something and it is not happening; so we make a move on our own. We are like, God this is what I want, and He says No, this is not what you need. Then, we in turn say, but this is really what want, and again He say’s No. And, in our selfishness and impatience we insist that YES this is what we want, and God finally says, Fine then here you go. And what is the end result? A huge mess, and we end up dissatisfied with what we insisted was right for us. When we get impatient in our wait, it is important to remember that God’s timing is perfect, and prayer can redirect our focus to God and away from the object of our wait.

I have learned in my 30+ years of living, that rushing into decisions leaves me wanting more. I get to where I think I want to be, or doing what I want to do, and I am dissatisfied with the end results. I am left empty and wanting more out of my day-to-day interactions and activities. This is why I have chosen to be still in this season of my life and listen for God direction. To wait for His perfect timing. Can I tell y’all, I have been feeling content with my day to day activities and life lately. I am applying what I am learning to my life and I am sharing with my friends and coworkers my journey. There is a contentment within my spirit that I haven’t felt in a long time. I know I have said this before, I am excited with what the Lord has planned for me. I am not choosing to focus on what I am waiting on, but instead I am praising the Lord in the hallway I am currently in and waiting for a door or a window to open.

So, I question, when will it be my turn? Well the answer to that question is…When the Lord says “Tia, it’s your time!”