Tag: scripture

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

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!

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!

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!”

Remember Who’s Really In Charge

I keep going back and forth on if I should comment on this election or not. I should preface this by saying, that I am not the most political person. I don’t get caught up in the arguments on Facebook, and I rarely stand on a soapbox to give long drawn out speeches. However, in the past few days I have read such disturbing comments and post that it is getting increasingly hard for me to bite my tongue. When I say I’ve read disturbing post, it is coming from both sides of the spectrum. Somewhere along the way, we’ve thrown our morals and ethics out the window and it has become a free for all. People are getting diarrhea of the mouth, and they could care less who they offend with their words. When did we become so insensitive to the plight of others? Regardless of who is voted into the office, it does not give a pass to spew hate, and this did not just start 2 days ago, or even a year ago. (So please don’t twist my words around for your own agenda, this post is not to endorse one group over another)

As a country we are going through big changes, and regardless who won the office, today people would be feeling the same exact way. Why? Well because their candidate did not win, and they are upset about it. The problem is, people are in the streets and behind computer screens losing their minds, and how is this productive to our country? How is this making us better?

As Christians, we need to remember who is really in charge and who our true leader is. We do not serve man, but we serve an ever-loving God. Regardless of who is running the US, God is still on His thrown! We live in a country where we have been afforded so many freedoms that others do not. We are blessed beyond measure, and no we are all not going to agree on everything, but that does not mean that we begin to treat each other as less than because I voted differently than you. What we need to do is try and understand each other. My experiences in life are completely different that the next person. I see speaking on race relationships, and it breaks my heart. Some people can not see past their privilege to understand the strife of the next person.

Now I mention privilege, I am not going to say white privilege, I am opening up to American Privilege. This is the title of a song by an amazing singer songwriter Allen Stone, and it talks about this touchy topic. In America we have privileges that we shouldn’t take advantage of; however, we should also try to understand each other and understand that we are not all on the same journey, and we do not all have the same struggles. Our own privilege has blinded us to what is happening in the lives of our neighbors, and it has kept us from being compassionate Let’s be a little sensitive to one another and stop pointing fingers and name calling.

One verse I want to leave with you all before I sign off for the day is Deuteronomy 8:10 You shall bless the Lord your God for the good land He has given to you. As I stated before, regardless who is in charge of this country, we need to remember who governs our lives and that is the Lord.