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Friday, June 29, 2012

Only God…


God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them..
Genesis 1:27 (NASB95)




I had every intention of participating in FMF today, particularly after last week. However, during my morning prayers/AM exercise/dog walk, something came into my head that had to get out.  It wasn’t what I’d planned to write, and that may be part of it. I don’t plan to write. It comes, and then has to get out-whispered words from The Universe that must be shared. Here goes… (Dedicated to and inspired by CD, with profound gratitude)

Yesterday I had a long conversation with a wise and generous stranger, whom I pray will become a mentor and friend, about my writing. She challenged me to think about to whom and for whom I write. A logical and straightforward question; one posed often by writers to broaden their reach, enlarge their territory, strike it rich. Who is your audience? You should know who reads your words if you want them to do so regularly, embracing your efforts, supporting your endeavors, be friends, subscribers, people who buy your books.  My answer wasn’t quite what I anticipated.  You see, I write for me.

Gya Nyame representing the Presence of God, Only God or God alone
The Adinkra symbol Gye Nyame is on a ring 
I have always worn on my right hand. Adinkra symbols, 
originating in Ghana, West Africa symbolize virtues, 
folk tales and proverbs, animals, and even historical events.  
Most are very old, having been passed down through generations of craftsmen.
Who am I? I am an American woman (African-American).  I married my first love nearly 20 years ago, and am fortunate to have brought forth and raised with him two extraordinary people (our daughter and son) who changed our lives and will change the world. At nearly 50 I have a living mother and grandmother, and though my father died nearly 15 years ago, he still looms large and hovers close, as his guiding spirit informs my writing. Dad, even now, I measure words with you in mind.

Who am I? There is an essay or a book on that very subject which I will never write, because for all that I reveal I am perfectly content to be a bit of a cipher, among other things.  (By the way, there is an essay or book for everyone who has ever asked the question, Who am I? It’s so not about me.) But as to the question, who am I? I am flawed and frail, but made in the Perfect Image of God. I write for everybody (me).

It then occurred to me along this prayerexercisedogwalk, that God is our mirror. Wikipedia defines mirror as something which “reflects light or sound in a way that preserves much of its original.”  Mirrors do not change (nor does God) but what we bring to mirrors (physically, spiritually) greatly informs the images we see. Our images in the mirror will change over time, but the mirror never will. Believing that we were created in the image of God, we are all the same.  That’s why I write (for me). I write for God.

CD, when and if you’re reading this, know that I am off to develop a marketing plan, and to think more about how to do what I’d like to do next. And finally, know that I am forever indebted to you for the good you put into the Universe in my direction. I will pay if forward.

Yesterday I had a long conversation with a wise and generous stranger. She blessed and challenged me. I am excited and encouraged; renewed. Now I have to figure out how to get my words in front of the people I’d like to read them. To embrace them.  To be transformed by them, as they transform me. I’ve got a lot to do, and that “having a lot to do” is today’s lesson.  Today’s evidence that God is Good.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Interlude...

From Say Yes to Grace...
Said a bird passing over this morning, "Come, let us soar on the wings of God's love, and see how high and far we can fly."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Like hearing your native tongue and knowing you are home…


Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.”  So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Genesis 11:7-9 (ESV)


I had a commute date with my husband this morning.  Usually when the children are on vacation from school, he and I steal away for coffee and some alone time before I deliver him to the train to start his day.  On the way home, I stopped at the grocery for breakfast staples.  In the checkout line, the women next to me chatted amiably with a store employee, grateful for her assistance.  When she finally completed her order, she proclaimed “Praise God” among other things, and went her way.  I don’t know what she referenced; I wasn’t paying attention to anything she said previous to or as a follow up to that statement, but when I heard my native tongue, I smiled.  I knew I was home. 

http://mirabelleza.com/blogs/finding_home/logo.png
I have friends and family from all across the Globe.  We speak several native or acquired languages and dialects, as appropriate.  Among other things, travel affords the opportunity to be a bit disoriented by sights and sounds that are not yours.  Imagine how refreshing it is then, to find a little bit of home when you are away.  I was born in the US and English (in several derivations) is my first language.  Why is it, then, that I smiled so broadly and deeply when I heard a stranger give thanks?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rain blessing…


 I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.
Ezekiel 34:26 (NIV)



http://shamzu.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/rain1.jpg
It’s likely to rain all day today.  Once upon a time such a forecast would fill me with irritation.  By God’s Grace, I am changed.  I welcome rain for the blessing it is…a literal blessing to a thirsty earth. A balm for my parched spirit, as I must drive more slowly, walk more carefully, stay in when sunny skies would bid me “come out and play.” When it rains, the world is refreshed.  Thank You Lord for today’s rain; I gladly receive the blessing.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Trust fall....(FMF, Risk)


Once upon a time Lisa Jo Baker (the Gypsy Mama @www. LisaJoBaker .com) started thinking about writing and how perfectionism can get in the way of our words. So she figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing.
 
So now on Fridays I join a group of people who throw caution to the wind and write without worrying…
As she says, “Your words. This shared feast.” Do you dare?
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking (harder than it sounds)
2. Link back
here and invite others to join in.
3. Visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? Come on and join the fun!

sorry, I cannot let this pass.  Here's what our fearless leader said about this post....
Hey there Chelle - I loved this so much. I kept coming back to it and reading it again - that paradox that we all live within the borders of different labels and what a risk it is to find ways to break out of them or let them meet each other at least - with an introduction along the way to our different communities. I think a lot about that challenge and this piece really spoke to me. 
Thank you so much for sharing and linking up!Oh and PS you're my featured Five Minute Friday this week ;)warmest of wishes~Lisa-Jo

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)

RISK (Trust fall)

GO:

All of a sudden, well, probably not really, but it felt like all of a sudden, I got brave.  I got comfortable taking risks by, um, being myself.  AUTHENTIC.  It’s not like I’d been playacting, really, just as I’d described it, exposing different facets of my personality based upon my audience.  You know, it’s something we all do.  We are the work professionals.  We are the mommies.  We are the corporate wives.  We are neighbors.  It’s not a bad thing, and our society is so naturally fractured that it’s probably something people expect.

Then, all of a sudden, one day, I took a risk.  I revealed myself.  I began essentially, elementally being who I really was all along.  I pray.  I laugh (frequently).  I have a quirky, irreverent, and often nerdily obscure sense of humor (only my son and my closest friends get my jokes, rife with pop (and not so pop) culture references, music riffs, art, literature, history…it’s kind of like we speak our own version of Cockney-rhyming slang, except that I’m not cockney, it doesn’t rhyme, and there are multiple, Afro-centric, Global and other odd art and music references….ah, I digress.

The Lord charged Joshua to be strong, not to be dismayed, to be of good courage. He made us, He loves us; so we’ve got to trust Him.  At that moment (I know, it wasn’t a Damascus Road experience, but more like a slow evolution, but it was my moment) I felt like I’d fallen back into the arms of everyone I’d ever loved, who’d ever loved me, like the world’s largest and most soulful trust fall. I took the RISK and just became me.

An act of faith allowed me to take a risk, THE RISK that made me who I am.  And I like her.  Actually, I love her.  She is my own special gift from God

STOP:

And that act of faith, that risk, is certain evidence that God loves me, no matter whether I’m good, great, or still very much a work in progress, on any given day.  That is my certain evidence that God is good. (I cheated, sorry…..)


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Slow down or else…


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 (NIV)



During periods of intense stress, when I appear to be capably holding it together, I seem physically invincible.  I take rest, eat well, exercise.  No matter how gracefully I manage under pressure, when the pressure gives way, I usually give out. You’d think at my age I’d be smarter about this, or at least learn to recognize the signs, but I never seem to remember until it’s much too late. Today was my latest wakeup call.  I should learn to slow down or else...

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-omMjoB15N2Q/T2f0NXnulpI/AAAAAAAABPg/
1oeor5FgEfA/s1600/Prayer-black+woman.jpg
I was feeling signs of tension last night at a meeting, and while I tried to manage them, I didn’t give it too much thought.  I awakened this morning with a blinding migraine, the likes of which I haven’t seen in several months. The accompanying nausea means the headache is going to be a real monster, and one of two things will happen…a) I will throw up and feel better, or b) I will throw up and still have a migraine.  I should learn to slow down. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I don’t know why it made me cry…


This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)



Sunday, in worship on Father’s Day, the choir sang, “Let the church say “Amen.” Such a simple song; one I’ve heard and loved for years.  For whatever reason, and it’s been a tough weekend for me leading up to Father’s Day, I knew I couldn’t just sit there…I needed to cry. 

http://photos.inspirational-wisdom-quotes.com/without-joy.jpg
My father’s been gone more than 14 years.  I am certain I grieved well, but sometimes it feels like it happened only yesterday.  I didn’t want to spoil my husband’s day, and I didn’t want to impose my sadness upon my children, but quietly, softly, even again as I type this, I began to cry. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father’s Day (Rest in peace, dad)


Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.


http://www.mochadad.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/photo1.jpg
Losing the father I adored taught me to be brave.  It also makes Father’s Day wistful, as each year adds more and more memories to share with him, but never can.  I am thankful for the stories he told me of his own father, whom I do not remember, coming back to me as I share them with my son.  Dad is with me still. 

My father taught me to love words and language. Not only do I write with him in mind, I often craft and re-craft phrases because of the way I heard him preach; considerate of rhythm, cadence, spoken word poetry as delivery of The Word.  My dad could preach a sermon.  They spoke to my head while stirring my heart.  I miss you dad. 

So, on this Father’s Day, I honor the memory of my dad. His example of manhood and fatherhood led me to the man I love…a man who has never failed to exceed my expectations in either marriage or parenting.  I honor my father-in-law because when my father died, he welcomed me into his embrace and reminded me that I would never be fatherless.  I honor my mother because of the love I saw her share, the marriage I watched her nurture, the strength I emulate in getting up every morning and facing every day.

I had an extraordinary dad.  I have an extraordinary Father in Heaven Who Loves me, and reminds me in so many ways that despite my yet grieving heart, I am not alone; my cup has never been empty; the relationship dad and I shared, no matter how much more I might have wanted to add to its length, is a blessing.  Father’s Day, even through my tears, is a reminder that God is good.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Path...(Welcome Back to Five Minute Friday)


I have missed my tribe.  Lately, things have compelled me to write on Thursday and as a result, I’ve given myself Fridays off.  However, as an emerging writer, I greatly appreciate the discipline that FMFs offer.  So, hello, my peeps. I am back if you will have me.  Welcome to Five Minute Friday.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking (harder than it sounds)
2. Link back
here and invite others to join in.
3. Visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? Come on and join the fun!

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5 (NKJV)

http://liveholiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/path.jpg
Path…

GO:
It’s not that I was going the wrong way….I just chose to walk the way I thought I should, in a Godly fashion.  Lately, I’ve yielded.  It’s not that I didn’t understand Proverbs 3:6 (my Gayle’s favorite scripture, the one on her vanity license plate…), I just wasn’t ready to truly be directed on the Path.


Interesting that today’s FMF prompt is Path.  Here is how I know I’m now being led…that I have finally yielded (it’s an ongoing struggle, but I fight less…) everything I’ve written or done lately affirms (confirms) to me that letting go is the most powerful act of worship I can offer.

I’m not a pushover.  I’m not easily persuaded, however, I am not obstinate, just clear.  When I say yes, I am committed.  When I say no, there is no debate (I do not often say “No” choosing rather to say “what you ask cannot be done, but let’s explore other options. Because I take saying “no” so seriously, I try to reserve it for the time’s its absolutely necessary.

Lately, I’ve been saying “Yes.” “Yes, I will be still.”  “Yes I will yield.”  “Yes, I trust You, differently than I ever have before, and I yield to Your direction along my path.”  I have not change direction.  I have simply chosen not to affirmatively choose on my own anymore.  My path has not changed at all. I have.


STOP:


Thursday, June 14, 2012

“there is a goodness in this change of plans”


Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17 (NIV)


This morning catching up on FB, I read today’s title in the post of a friend.  Unbeknownst to him, the Universe re-planned his vacation.  Nothing came together as anticipated, and what occurred instead might have been viewed as a series of small disasters.  Not so with this friend.  Someone thoughtfully commented that they were sorry for his apparent “bad luck.”  He don't think he believes in luck (I don't).  Rather, this wise man replied, “No, it's not bad luck. What is supposed to happen instead hasn't made itself clear yet."  That is Faith.  that is Grace.  

http://www.artisanchurch.com/ee/images/site_images/series/Change-580x326.jpg
Change happens.  Sometimes predictably (we grow up; we grow old), sometimes without warning (calamity, death).  According to Heraclitus of Ephesus, “Nothing endures but change.” As it relates to the natural world, I agree.  However, there is the unassailable immutability of God.

Change happens to us, not God. “For I am the LORD, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob."  (Malachi 3:6 NKJV).  It would seem then, when viewed through the lens of Faith, that there is goodness in every change of plans.  We'd spend so much more time at peace with ourselves abd with the world if we didn't get so rattled by every little thing.  

Peace.  You know, that little thing I’ve been working on lately. Embracing change as a harbinger of blessings…now that might just be a concept.  Change as a harbinger of blessings…an unanticipated reminder that God is good.

Today’s Feast: Changed Pepper Steak

Back story-I changed a traditional recipe for Chinese Pepper Steak, because I don’t eat steak.  This time, change was REALLY good!

Ingredients
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ C low sodium soy sauce
¼ C teriyaki sauce
1 t ground ginger
1 T five spice powder
1 T cornstarch
3 sweet peppers, cut into 1 inch chunks (the more colorful, the better)
½ large onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
3 scallions, sliced about 1½ in length
2 T canola oil
1 T sesame oil

Method
Pound the chicken breasts until thin, and slice into pieces about 1*1½ inch.  Set aside to marinate in the soy and teriyaki sauces, ginger, five spice, and cornstarch.
In either a wok or cast iron skillet, heat the oil.  Stir-fry the chicken until nearly tender, adding in the peppers first and then the onions.  Cook until vegetables are fork tender, and until meat is done through.  Toss in the scallions and check the seasoning in the sauce.  Add a little water if necessary.  The sauce should have a glossy appearance, and coat the utensil, but not be too thick.  Serve with Jasmine rice and chopsticks.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Follow Me…


To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you
leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
2 Peter 2:21 (NIV)



Walking Sando this morning, I gave my Gayle a call; her husband is traveling on business and she’s got full charge of my two EXTREMELY AWESOME but BOISTEROUS godsons.  I wanted to know how the first day and night went.  I was laughing as I overhear the morning scramble…”get this, do that, let’s go, hurry up.” She then said something interesting….”why don’t the boys just follow my instructions?” Thinking further she said, “I guess Jesus says the same thing….why don’t people just Follow Me?”

Monday, June 11, 2012

New…


The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
     his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
     great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)



While Sundays set the tone for my week, it’s on Mondays where the rubber meets the road.  On Sundays, we move leisurely, family breakfast, planning/prepping/executing Sunday Dinner, dressing for church, worshipping as a family, dining, and then taking it easy until time to go to bed.  If Sundays are like days off from training, Mondays feel more like race days.

http://www.winduphere.com/prodimg/25207EtchASketchClassicwb.jpg
Walking the dog on Monday morning, I particularly look forward to taking my time after rushing to get everyone out of the house, off to work, off to school.  It is during this walk that I literally feel my mercies refreshed, my energy renewed.   No matter what I face in the week to come, in the battery recharge that is Sunday and the engine gunning that is Monday morning, I am ready.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Healing had already been delivered…


So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.
The nobleman said to Him, Sir, come down before my child dies!
 Jesus said to him, Go your way; your son lives. So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.  And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, Your son lives!
Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, Your son lives. And he himself believed, and his whole household.
John 4:46-53 (NKJV)

Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend midweek worship with a dear friend.  She’s always bragging about the refreshment it provides; we’d been looking for an opportunity to fellowship together outside our regular connections; I needed a good infilling.  I’m not as quiet yet as I’ll grow to be, or perhaps I’d have recognized that Wednesday was positioning me to watch God’s Hand move in a way I could clearly observe and share as testimony, but I’ll get there, with His Grace.  For something that didn’t even happen until the next day, God’s Healing had already been delivered. 
http://gracemagazine.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/grace.jpeg?w=500

At midweek worship, the sermon was “Can You Stretch Out Your Faith.” When Jesus was approached by the Roman official to heal his son, His first response was “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” The official didn’t give up. When he pressed in, Jesus revealed, “Go your way; your son lives.” The desperate father hadn’t even left Jesus’ presence when he heard that Healing had already been delivered.

Wednesday morning, before I ever made it to worship, I spoke to two friends.  My Gayle wasn’t having a good day.  Not knowing what to say, I encouraged her, twice, to press in and not give up.  I don’t know why I did, but because I am desperately seeking to stay hidden in Grace, that’s what came out.  Within the hour, a second friend called sharing her challenges, and before I ever got it out, she said “I’m just pressing in, knowing it will be alright.” This friend is one who always prays for me, keeps me straight, and laughs me through God’s lessons….this is the former colleague with whom I’d exchange text messages in the office to arrange prayer meetings when things really got rough….when she speaks, I listen. 

When I realized that the preacher was saying press in to get your blessing; challenging us to stretch out our faith in order to be touched and changed by Grace, I still didn’t know… Healing (for Thursday, for a challenge I didn’t even know I’d have) had already been delivered.

Teenagers will make you crazy (that’s neither the revelation nor the healing).  Mine does, as much as I love her.  I wanted to be completely frustrated with her Thursday because,
a) she woke up cranky and evil,
b) she stayed that way and inflicted it upon the rest of us (I crave peaceful mornings…)
c) was so disorganized AND self absorbed that my day risked being devoted to her indulgences AND solving her problems.

In so doing, I was on my way BACK to school to deliver a change of clothes for an afterschool event AND lunch money, because in her desire to be rid of me rushing out of the car during morning drop off we’d both forgotten off track. 

Calming myself, I drove home.  I wasn’t quite back to CHILL, but well on my way.  I found clothes, packed them with a loving note AND money for lunch, checked the time to ensure I’d get back to her on time, and set off.  Imagine my surprise when, upon walking into the school office to deliver the package to my precious girl (I’d found CHILL), there she sat with tears in her eyes. My girl, who’d never been to the principal’s office for a disciplinary matter, sat outside the guidance office awaiting a conversation about a noisy exchange that got them dispatched from class.  She was most upset that the other student slipped away in order to call her own mother for back-up.  My baby felt outnumbered; outmaneuvered; wronged.  This might have been the enemy’s plan, but Healing had already been delivered.

Soon as our eyes met, she began crying again.  As I soothed by baby girl, I told her not to worry.  I told her that no matter what had occurred, at the moment she needed mommy, I was already being delivered. That’s God.

The matter was amicably resolved without consequences.  The lesson, however, lingers.  Healing (in the form of an arriving mommy just where and when my baby needed me), was on its way in the same manner that Jesus delivered healing to the official’s son. God moved my heart (from frustration to meeting needs) at the moment my baby was going to need me by her side.  I’m not as quiet yet as I’ll grow to be, but I was sufficiently yielded and still to be and do as necessary to accomplish His Plan.

Thank You, Lord, for yielded and still.  Thank You for answering Sunday’s prayer, “I am patient.  I am still.  I am yielded.  I am quiet.  I am quieted by the anticipation that I might be used and useful. Thank You for displaying to me and to my child, that God is Good.


OneWord 2015

OneWord 2015

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