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I am no Levite, although my desire is to live a life set aside for holiness . Almost any action can be sacred when done with a heart of...

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

PraiseBreak (reblogged and a teensy-weensy answered prayer)


 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Luke 16:10 (NIV)


http://www.firstbaptist.com/praise_2012.gif\

Today I'm linked up with 
Saturday, after my run, my ear buds disappeared. While this is no major cause for alarm, I do rely upon my iPod to track and soundtrack my dogwalks, my runs, and occasionally my life. “Legendary loser-of-things, I do not play hide and seek.  Rather, I border on obsessive-compulsion ONLY about putting certain things in their place.” Not this time. I frantically circled the house retracing my steps to no avail. Then I gave up. I do not make myself crazy when things go missing. After my son and I got tired of looking around the house, we offered a prayer. And then I let it go. 

A sermon touched me in church on Sunday. I thanked our Pastor, even admitting that it got a little too close. “Have you ever been in the midst of an intensely personal moment, where a sermon speaks solely to you?” It so moved me that I wrote about it. I published my post, and prepared for my morning run.

I was a little off because I was intending to use my back-up headphones. They were once lux and lovely when I gave them to my beloved as a Christmas gift, but they are a little careworn now, and one side does not play properly, but they stay secure during my workout, and more importantly, I know where they are.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Connecting the dots…What are you doing with all God has given you??


 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 
Matthew 25:29 (NIV)

(inspired by Rev. D’s Sunday’s sermon with love and gratitude. and linked here...

Have you ever been in the midst of an intensely personal moment, where a sermon speaks solely to you (everybody else in the sanctuary may have felt the same way, but I’m the only one writing)? This is not a first for to me. When God has a Word for you, he will make a way for you to hear it. Sunday’s message challenged each hearer to do the best with what we’re given, for we will be called to account, like the servants in the parable of the bags of gold. It’s time for me to connect the dots.

Julian Jackson, Galaxy 2003, painted stones on boulder 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Don’t give up…


for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:4 (NIV)




When you feel like giving up, 
remember why you held on so long in the first place.
www.treatmetoafeast-beloved.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Permission to love…


He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:8 (NIV)


“God is Love.” I can’t even remember not knowing this, even if I’ve not always treated myself and others that way. Each of us has the right and the capacity to Love (God). We only need to release ourselves to do so.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Beyond…(you can’t touch this!)


I haven’t been playing with my Friday playgroup. I miss y’all.   An emerging writer, I appreciate the discipline that FMFs offer.  So, hello, my peeps. I am back if you will have me.  To readers, welcome back 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!
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
Ephesians 3:20 (NASB)



GO:
“far more abundantly BEYOND…” Remember the 90s? There was a hit by MC Hammer called “You can’t touch this.” Oddly, when reading today’s FMF prompt “Beyond,” it was the first thing that came to mind. Yesterday, I had a lesson in faith. I was thinking about how easy it is at least theoretically to rest in Faith but how hard it is in practice. So, when I consider the unlimited capacity of God to be patient, forgiving, steadfast…I hear a funky bass backbeat and flash back to parachute pants (yes, I’m dating myself, and if I have time, I’ll link an audio clip for you young’uns). For just a moment, I heard God the Father saying to all my scary stuff, “You can’t touch this.”

After I giggle, I remember the blessing in Ephesians, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly BEYOND all that we ask or think… My Father is saying to all my scary stuff that He is BEYOND  it all. He's put His mark on me. He’s saying, “You can’t touch this!” 

My Daddy is bigger than anything you got, world, and that is today’s assurance that God is Good.

STOP:


No fear…


 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace, be still! And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.
Mark 4:29 (NIV)

Stop telling God how big your storm is. Instead tell your storm how big your GOD is.
~Unknown



I have taken on the habit of morning meditation. Sando (superdog/therapist/prayer-partner/confidante/keeper-of-secrets) usually participates, sometimes reluctantly, and then we walk. I dawdled this morning, the skies got dark, and we were two blocks from home when he filled another poopy bag. Instead of taking it home (ewww) we circled back to the park and the skies erupted (no, I mean for real). We laughed (yes my dog laughs with me in his way), got soaked, and then took our time walking the final two blocks home. He wasn't stressing, so why should I. It was a rain blessing. I love the lessons my dog teaches me...after all, it was only water...

http://www.lillyofthevalleyva.com/
LordCalmsStorm-Rainbow.gif

Sometimes the Lord calms the storm. 
Sometimes, He lets the storm rage 
and calms the child. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tag, you’re it, but only if you want to play…


Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
Hebrews 13:2 (NKJV)

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I was invited to play a blogging game by Cherie @http://cherisidlechatter.blogspot.com, where writers tag one another and invite them to join the fun by answering a few questions. Based upon my research, the game originated with a gentleman by the name of Jeff Pulver, as a virtual cocktail party.  As it was explained to me, “folks get to learn a bit more about each other in a fun and engaging way, and the tagged bloggers (if they choose to play along; no one’s holding a gun to their heads, or anything) get a post for the day.” Let’s begin.  The rules are simple.
1.    Post the rules.
2.   Answer the questions your tagger set for you in your post.
3.   Create eleven new questions for those whom you tag (or use the originals)
4.   Tag eleven new people with a link to your post
5.   Let them know they’ve been tagged.

Cheri blended old and new questions for us; let’s see how I do…

1.    What is the thing that makes you want to get out of bed each day?
A mixture of gratitude and curiosity…I am deeply thankful for the blessing of each new day, and as it is a present-look forward to both unwrapping it, and making the best of it.

2.   If an alien landed on earth, what would be your “top tip” for living here?
It’s the same advice I’d give anyone who’d ask; the wisdom I try to live by…listen more than you talk, laugh often, be gracious, live everyday as if it’s your last (cause depending upon what solar system you’re from and what you’re up to…it might be).

3.   What’s your happy song?
That’s such a hard question, because I love music. Each of my children had a signature lullaby, and though they are now 15 and 11, thinking of each of them still makes me happy.  Probably, if I had to choose one, it would be Quincy Jones’ version of the Hallelujah Chorus from A Soulful Celebration, a modern take on Handel’s Messiah. It was the recessional from our wedding. Nearly 20 years later it still makes me smile, as it signals the beginning of the very best years of my life. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic; I had the good fortune to marry my first love, and I still feel 16 when he looks at me (he was my prom date and we’ve known each other forever). No, those were not questions on the list. *smile*

4.   Do you have a special place, real or imagined, where you go to in your mind or reality to regroup, seek peace, or just be?
Since becoming a dog owner (if you’ve ever read my blog, you know about my dog/therapist/trainer/confident/running buddy), I take him for walks, sometime long walks every morning or at other times when I need to work things out. He is part of my morning meditation, he keeps my secrets, he is my security and my escape. In not having a place, I am free to regroup, seek peace, pray, or just be wherever and whenever. I’d never thought about it before, but what a special blessing. *smile*

5.   What childhood fable, fairytale, or movie stretched your imagination and sticks with you today?
That’s an interesting question, and one I don’t ever think I’ve considered seriously. My only fable or fantasy as a child was of being kidnapped by a prince and returned to my throne in Africa (yes, my family was Afrocentric even in the 60s). I still vividly remember the plans for a wedding feast, my family traveling with me, the clothes, the music, the food, etc. Probably the only other thing I could think of are tales from the oral tradition teaching about wisdom from the animal kingdom, legends of people talking to and participating with God is doing good, etc.

6.   What’s your idea of the perfect evening?
My perfect evening isn’t about the things, it’s about the company. I’ve had dates with my husband that were simple but extraordinary, long walks with my children and the dog, laughing with my girlfriends over bits and bobs (appetizers and cocktails). My idea of the perfect evening would include stimulating conversation, stopped time, enough laughter and ease.

7.   As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a lawyer/diplomat for the African Union (formerly the Organization of African Unity OAU). I wanted to travel internationally and solve major challenges. Then I grew up and my nesting instincts kicked in. I might still have been able to do those things, but I really wanted to be a wife and mother.

8.   What’s your favorite kind of movie?
I’d be better off answering what kind of movies I don’t enjoy-horror. Life is scary enough. I love a good chick-flick (if it’s intelligent), I am addicted to 007 films (Sean Connery is still the über-Bond), love excitement, and particularly an intriguing adaptation from another media (e.g., Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Color Purple). I also go for a good period piece…I love costume dramas.

9.   If you won the lottery, would you tell anyone?
I wouldn’t broadcast it, but airbody would figure it out, eventually. *smile* I would not, however, lose my mind and be broke in a year. My grandchildren’s grandchildren would still be okay.

10. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Space. All the other places are attainable.

11.  Do you believe in destiny?
I do not believe in destiny, as I believe in free will. However, I do believe that God’s already written the end of the story, so maybe that’s not a real answer to the question. It is, however, something I may blog about later, so thanks, Cheri. You’ve given me at least 2 more topics. Aren’t you grand. *smile*

Now that’s I’ve told you all my business (as we GRITS or girls raised in the south, although I’m only GRITS because my mama was…I was born in the  Southwest), I’m leaving my own questions and tagging people into the game.

And for the questions I’m passing along to the next group, I went way off script.
1.    What’s the first thing you do every morning?
2.   If you could ask a total stranger a completely invasive question because you were genuinely curious, what would it be?
3.   What trait do you most admire in people?
4.   What was your biggest mistake, and what did it teach you?
5.   What one thing do you believe absolutely?
6.   What’s your favorite childhood memory?
7.   What is the best advice you ever received, and from whom did it come?
8.   Early bird or night owl? Always?
9.   In your opinion, what is the one historical event you remember most?
10. Books or movies?
11.  If you could know the precise time and place you’d draw your last breathe, would you want that information?

Cheri was kind enough to select me as part of an eclectic group, saying she’d enjoyed reading our blogs and thought it would be fun to know more about us. Another element of the game is it’s just that…if this isn’t your thing, that’s okay too…peace be upon you.  Tag, you’re it, but only if you want to play.

2.   Julie, Julie Unplugged
3.   Arwen, Tarot by Arwen
5.   Anna, Universal Gibberish
7.   Lisa, Lisa Selow
8.   Lydia, See Beautiful
9.   Sage, My Name is Sage
10.  Kerry, Musings of a Bookworm
11.  Kelly, A Girl Worth Saving


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Another one of those lessons from the dog (patience)

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Psalms 4:4 (KJV)


For the last 9 days, I have committed at least 15 minutes (early morning or before bed) to stillness and meditation. This isn’t random prayer, or the snatches of conversation in which I engage the Almighty (I have committed to continual prayer…keeping an open channel). This is time set aside for nothing but quiet meditative prayer. I slip in my ear buds, and assume a posture of repose on the floor. I’ve been using guided meditations, which I do in our library (the same place where I blog daily). My dog is usually asleep on the floor.

Sometimes, we want what we want, 
and God’s peace and God’s timing 
do not align with what we think we need. 
Today I received another lesson from the dog...
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A lesson in humility I might already know…


Do not boast about tomorrow,
    for you do not know what a day may bring.
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
    an outsider, and not your own lips.
Proverbs 27:1-2 (NIV)

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"


Sunday I published my 200th blog post. Entirely unaware that publishing 100 posts was a milestone, I failed to celebrate. Perhaps ignorance is bliss. As 200 rolled around, I shared my plan to throw a link-up blog hop commemorating the event, and nobody came. (well, some readers and friends were kind enough to email their congratulations and/or post comments, but nobody linked up.) This is so not a pity party, trust me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Surrendered. Now what?


When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:3 (NIV)

Sometimes God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. He wants you to trust Him.”
My friend, JC.


“Sometimes God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. He wants you to trust Him.” This is not the happiest news…I thought surrender was the goal.  I have released my will to You, Lord, and I’ve committed to surrender. It is probably one of the most difficult things I have pledged to do, but I am persuaded. I thought surrender was the goal. I am learning that surrender is only the beginning. (Yikes). 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Soul Food…A Divine Inspiration


 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
1 Chronicles 16:34 (KJV)

I hadn’t any idea that I’d write so much (115k words and counting). I hadn’t any sense that anybody would read my blog or care about anything I had to say (family and friends encouraged me to write and have supported me since).  And when I began to receive feedback and encouragement from people I didn’t know, I began to believe. I am supposed to be here. I should be doing this right now…there are readers following this blog and only some of them are people I actually know. Above all, I have grown in my faith and in my walk, feeling secure enough to expose my frailties, my fears and my path to greater understanding. For the very personal evolution that has occurred since I published my first post 199 times before today, I give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good. It’s all I ever write about.


If I better knew the market I’d wandered into, I’d never have had the nerve to start. If I’d considered all the things I rightly should have known to position my blog, identify my niche and try to leverage for success, I wouldn’t have lasted this long. When I began to write, I simply started talking to myself, working through my stuff, trying to be honest, thoughtful, and prayerful; admitting when I got it wrong, and inviting everybody to celebrate when I finally figured things out. While I can be an intensely private person, I am comfortable peeling the curtain back here. You have always been kind. You have always encouraged me, you’ve frequently checked in. For everyone who ever read, commented, or shared anything found here, with me or anyone else, I give thanks unto the Lord for you. He is good, and not only have His mercies endured, He has allowed me to share them.

As we Christians are only forgiven, not perfect, I have tried to be long on patience, long on grace, and loving in disagreement, without ever being disagreeable. I have tried to be generous in attribution, forthcoming with things I learned elsewhere, and honest when conveying something I wish I’d thought up first but read elsewhere. If I can read and share new things, maybe someone would do the same for me, and has.

While I am hopeful that people will join me here for my first link up Soul Food feast, even if nobody came I’d be deeply grateful for the itty bitty soapbox blogging gives me. I hope I’ve cheered more than preached, and if I haven’t, I pledge here and now to do better and get it right. Thank you, and thank God, to the writers and artists who inspire me, those brave enough to bare their souls and in so doing encouraged me to dip my toe in the water. I desire to be more like you. If I can fall down and write about it, maybe the person coming behind me will only stumble, or, seeing the dip in the road, walk around it, avoiding the fall altogether.  

Finally and most importantly, thank You, Lord, for the times You’ve allowed me to be an empty and transparent vessel, so people might see You here and not me. I’d only get in the way, and it’s never been about me, even if I think this is my blog. It’s always been Yours, and You’ve let me share my knowledge of You in the hope that somebody might read, be still, and know. I know, as I never have before…You are good, and Your Mercies endure forever. For that I am deeply grateful, and give You thanks.

Today’s Feast: Soul Food BBQ Tandoori Chicken

Back story-On the day this blog will be published, on the occasion of my 200th post, we will be entertaining friends. My food, like so much else in my life, is a cultural mash up, so, why shouldn’t I make a traditional Indian dish for a soul food party?

Ingredients
1 C non-fat greek yogurt
1 T lemon juice
2 t ground cumin
1 t ground cinnamon
2 T cayenne pepper
2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 T minced fresh ginger
Dash of ground cardamom
2 t salt
4 lbs chicken wings, tips removed
Skewers for grilling

Method
Mix all ingredients from the first list in a large bowl. Add the chicken and cover. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour, preferably overnight.  Reserve and refrigerate marinade.

Preheat grill for high indirect heat. Thread wing pieces onto two skewers for stability, and then grill until thoroughly done. 
Serve, preferably with curried potato salad to lots of family and friends. 

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