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Friday, November 30, 2012

Wonder…(the weight of her words)


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!



 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof."
Proverbs 18:21
GO:
Wonder…

I wonder if she considered the weight of her words. Just a few days ago I was reading the words of a woman like me. We write blogs. We profess our Christian faith. We acknowledge that we are flawed but forgiven. She is me. Then why did her words sting cut so deeply?

I have learned that it all matters. When I’m in a good mood. When I’m not. When I’m in worship (church). When I’m not (shouldn’t we always be in worship?). I wonder if she measured the weight of her words.

I can’t imagine she intended to cause harm. We seldom mean to cause harm, but words flung casually, without considering their weight, can wound deeply.

She told the story of someone redeemed, describing their before…this someone’s before was black, before salvation or Grace, and for her, clearly black was not good.

I was always told that Black was beautiful, that I was beautiful. I wonder if she considered the weight of her words. I thought I was reading a woman like me. I wonder if she considered the weight of her words. I wonder.

Lord, please remind us that it all matters…

STOP:

On Fridays, I pray and play with LisaJo and  Laura and the Christian Mommy Bloggers

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Message for the rest of us…(lessons inspired by Holley)


Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding;
Proverbs 3:5 (KJ21)

But there are times when He moves. He’s not leaving us–he’s leading us.
And when that happens, we’re to go.
With courage.
With trust.
With obedience.
Yes, that’s the only exit strategy you’ll ever need–
Follow God out the door.

Q: But what if you miss that message?
A: Then you get the message for the rest of us… God will close all the doors except the one you must go through.

One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned comes from SØren Kierkegaard.
 I really wish I could just
follow God out the door
when He says it's time to go.
For me, God closes all the doors
except the one I must go through.

TWEET IT
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” If I knew more about life and where I should go; what I should do, would I rely so much upon faith?  I am grateful for discerning Grace, which usually means that when it’s all over, I look back and can appreciate how God brought me through the things I never thought I’d survive. 

That was a side point. Here’s the point I intended to make. Some people hear God’s call and move, immediately. I admire those people. I love those people-some of them are my very best friends. I am not among them. It is not that I am disobedient. Rather, God is teaching me Proverbs 3:5.  It is my leaning upon my own (flawed, human, fallible and clouded) understanding that may be the very obstacle that keeps me from moving the instant God calls. Because He has blessed me to “make it work,” I don’t always recognize that it’s time to leave when it’s time to go. I really wish I could just 
Follow God out the door.

There is hope for the rest of us, for the MEs out there (I cannot be the only one…) For us, God will close all the doors except the one you must go through.

I didn’t clearly understand this until very recently. I kept leaning and falling, leaning and failing, leaning and getting scuffed until I was broken. And then I had to break some more. Hold on, because the payoff isn’t likely to be what you expect…
We don't break once. We offer ourselves continually, as living sacrifices. So, coming to the realization that I had to be broken again to go deeper, to learn something new both about myself and about the Will of God means only that I am on my way. I am not done. I'm growing again. I'm broken again. Brokenness is the point at which I meet God. AGAIN.… though I am broken again, He did not build us to break beyond His restoring Grace. 

Now that I’m surrendered to remaining broken, I seem to be arriving at open doors instead of closed ones and brick walls. What I understand now is that it was not my time. It was not my season. Here is my revelation. There are those who move the moment they are called, and I bless them for their obedience, but mine is a different testimony. Those of us who miss the first (and maybe the second, third, and fourty-seventh) call will get the message for the rest of us, for each of us.

There is hope for us, for the MEs out there (I cannot be the only one…) For us, God will close all the doors except the one you must go through, and that is why He, alone, is God. Lord, I am so thankful that You are in control.

PS-I'm also thankful for Holley Gerth and the God-sized dream she's inspiring me to realize. Stay tuned...




On Thursdays, I pray and and play with friends here...
http://www.impartinggrace.com/

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bail water and keep paddling…(or understanding Count it all joy-again)


 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4 (ESV)

Imagine that you’re out on the water in a lovely little row boat. Problem is, while the boat is sweet and cute and just the row boat you always wanted, dreamed about and worked hard to attain, it’s leaking and you’re taking on water fast. You’re in the middle of the lake. My Gayle and I are agreed, all we know how to do is to start bailing, and to keep on paddling.

count it all joy means NEVER quit.
if life punches a hole in my dream boat,
unless God says so,
it will not sink.
ENCOURAGEMENT WORTH TWEETING
If you know anything about me, you know I've struggled with James’ admonition for a very long time. I acknowledge my blessing, that being the capacity to always see the glass half full, but “joy” is a long ride away from merely seeing the bright side. I am trying Lord and I am praying about counting it all joy; I know it will come…

With weather struggling between rain and snow and me just NOT IN THE MOOD, I was very much trying to doing what I do-honor my daily obligation, in this case, to walk the dog. Thank God for my Gayle, who walks beside me via cell phone from several states away. This morning we discussed a very human reality; there are times in every life, no matter how full/rich/joyful/satisfying, etc. where each of us feels like the “thing” life/job/relationship/home, etc. we have is not the “thing” we deserve/envisioned/desire (you may fill in the blanks any number of ways). When it is your time, there are two things you can do,

1. Give up, and let it defeat you, or
2. Count it all joy.

Matthew Henry's Commentary on James 1:2-8 helps us understand how this scripture is far more than the biblical equivalent of “put on a happy face”
We must not sink into a sad and disconsolate frame of mind, which would make us faint under our trials; but must endeavour to keep our spirits dilated and enlarged, the better to take in a true sense of our case, and with greater advantage to set ourselves to make the best of it. Philosophy may instruct men to be calm under their troubles; but Christianity teaches them to be joyful, because such exercises proceed from love…

Here is what we came to-if you’re not going to throw in the towel, after you make an honest declaration about your current state of affairs, and then you bail and paddle. Acknowledging where you are, acknowledging that “it is what it is” is not an admission of defeat, quite the opposite.  It means, “I ain’t giving up.” It means I can take whatever you give me, whatever life leaves me, and work it to Kingdom advantage. It means I accept the offering (because getting something, even crap, is better than getting nothing), and I’m about to work it. It’s about to be the centerpiece of my new masterwork, my new miracle, the realization of my God-sized dream. How? Why? Because counting it all joy means I never give up. It means that though life punches a hole in my dream boat, unless God says it’s time, my dreamboat will not sink.

So, life/ world/ circumstances, bring it on. My Gayle and I are counting it ALL joy. We bail and paddle with the best of them. When her arms get tired, she can rest because I got her back and God’s got mine. So, like Timothy, we will fight the good fight, stay the course, keep the faith. And bail. And paddle. And pray. And laugh, a lot.
On Wednesdays, I pray and and play with friends here...



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I am a warrior. What are you made of?? (repost, but a message I needed to hear again)


She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
Proverbs 31:17 (KLV)

I am made of strong stuff
Jill Scott, as Precious Ramotswe, in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency

We learn when we are ready.  God may send a lesson that speaks to you one way at one time, and then another way at some time later. 18 months ago, I wrote something for that time in my life that resonates again, now that I am ready to hear it at this time in my life.

Lessons I needed to learn again, for this time...
1. Blossom anyway, despite the obstacles that have driven you to your knees (I know, Lord, I should have been there anyway).
2. Do anyway. Dream big (God-sized ones, because you should go big or STAY HOME), work on today's thing while planning for tomorrow.
3. As you are created in the image of God, you are strong; made of strong stuff.  So, although you are afraid,  run, dream, move mountains.  Because you can.  Because of Him. 

Blossom anyway. Dream anyway.
Although you are afraid, you are not alone.
SHARE THIS ENCOURAGEMENT
I’m going for a run, like I did Tuesday.  It felt good.  It is part of my personal challenge to blossom, anyway.  Tuesday, I read something that motivated me in a new, and I believe LONG TERM way….” The flower doesn't dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes, by Mark Nepo.  Translated, to me that means “do it anyway…”.  I’m no longer waiting for anything to come to me.  I’m in.  I’m living full out, full time, intending to do it right.

I was sore after Tuesday’s run, and I’m sore now, but I’m doing it anyway, because that’s how we’re made.  That’s what we’re supposed to do, though sometimes, often, we get distracted by our own weariness, or weakness, or fear.  No more.  No more dreaming INSTEAD of doing.  I’m dreaming and doing, working on today’s thing AND planning for tomorrow’s thing together.  Why? Because, as Jill Scott so powerfully declares as Precious Ramotswe, “I am made of strong stuff.”  Our Father created us in His image, and that’s the strongest stuff there is.

So , this is a short post, and I’m off…to run, to dream, to move mountains.  Because I can.  Because He created me powerfully, and wonderfully.  And that’s a blessing.  Further evidence that God is Good.
On Tuesdays, I pray and and play with friends here...



Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday manifesto…



Let this be my last word, brothers; be glad; be complete; be comforted;be of the same mind; be at peace with one another; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11 (BBE)

I was reading the Upper Room devotional this morning, and came across the scripture that will be my Christmas mandate. In Paul's letters to the Corinthians, he consistently admonishes them to unity. (Corinthians remind me a lot of people within the modern world…) I've learned so much lately about using my energy and my efforts effectively…Thanksgiving was about family, fellowship, and joy shared across a simple table laden with good food. That felt right, certainly after the rollercoaster we've been on. Quiet morphed into the madness of Black Friday, which began at 8:00 pm Thursday, Thanksgiving night. I've never been a Black Friday shopper, and didn't succumb this year either, but this year I am abundantly clear--our holiday season will be about agreement, peace, and acts of love.
Agree with one another,
live in peace;
and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Holiday Manifesto

It's not just me. I've had conversations with several people who are focusing on the sacred rather than the commercial as Christmas approaches; our preferred celebration of the season for several years.  It's not just the economy, truly it is the spirit. I want to remember to give of myself, because in so doing I receive far more than I give.

I was reminded in thinking through what I envision for this Christmas of one of my favorite pieces of holiday music, BeBe Winans' Christmas prayer.  I'm already changing my ringtone (yeah, I'm that girl, with a custom ringtone for almost everything. I make them myself; they are always free.), but I wanted to share the message, in the sincere hope that these might frame the basis for your own holiday manifesto. So, say it with me…
Agree with one another,
live in peace;
and the God of love and peace will be with you.  Amen








On Mondays, I pray and play with friends here...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Staying thankful…



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)


Since Thursday, I have eaten Thanksgiving leftovers at every meal (yes, stuffing and macaroni for breakfast, lamb, candied yams and pigeon peas for lunch, turkey, trimmings, sides and sweet potato cheesecake for dessert). It's a stunning, completely accidental metaphor, but one I love. I am remaining in gratitude.  I am still thankful.

Everyday, all day since Thursday, it's been Thanksgiving. Can you imagine? I copped to a new sense of gratitude last week saying, 
this Thanksgiving has a profoundness my family and I might not otherwise have appreciated so keenly without sudden chronic illness, a hurricane, a power outage, a snow storm, a relapse and second hospitalization, flu, and gas rationing, all in 6 weeks…
I am thankful that our family was drawn even more closely together…and that while we've always been grateful, (I thought I was thankful last year.)  my heart stretches almost beyond its capacity with gratitude…there's got to be a bigger word.

I have stayed. I pray this is a new normal. " Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above..." It is easy to understand the good (and perfect gifts). What I am growing to understand through Grace, is that there is much praise to be offered the rest of the time...in the days, weeks, and months after Thanksgiving. There is plenty praise to be offered in times of plenty, but also in times of lack, through trials and through illness, through sadness and even through loss. 

So, I'm going downstairs to eat more leftovers. Because they are tasty. Because they are available. I'm going downstairs to eat more leftovers because I cannot imagine a more nourishing metaphor for my body AND my soul. I am still thankful, and so may it ever be. 

Selah and amen.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The ministry of Starbucks and sweet potato cheesecake…


And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)

I suspected my BFF needed a lifting yesterday, so I called to take her coffee order.  There is no healing in Starbucks, but blessings may come in the form of a warm hug and a warm cup. She's had so much on her plate lately and she was probably in for a rough day. It is what she does for me…stirring me up to love and good works; it is easy to give back. Caring for her, ministering to her big and little needs when and where I can is my honor and my pleasure.  When my beloved was in the hospital, while we were all dealing with our lives being turned upside down, she drove 11 miles to bring Starbucks to the hospital, kissed me, made me cry in profound gratitude, and then left.  

The telephone rang last night, and it was the friend I call "the notebook." Among other things, we were celebrating her landing a new, well deserved job at which she is about to be brilliant. God poured so much into her; she's generous to share it. I am thankful she is my friend.

I thank God for brokenness,
people who stir me to love and good works,
and Grace.
TWEET THIS THOUGHT
(Notebook is the friend who literally changed the air when I walked into the room the first time we met. She was the friend of a friend, I was welcoming her in my capacity as senior HR Executive at the company where she was coming to work. The molecules shifted mid-air--God did something special that day we met. I was on my way across the room to shake her hand, what we senior HR Executives do in welcome at work…but instead was led to enfold her in an embrace. It was what I was supposed to do.)

Well, among her particular gifts is the ministry of sweet potato cheesecake.  She's been calling and checking in since the God broke us to remind us He could (Thank You, Lord). It is not about the dessert--particularly extraordinary, a recipe she created, it is the visit. It is the fellowship. She was making certain we were okay.

It was Notebook who encouraged me to speak life to my dreams. She even helped me realize that they were God-sized and yet completely attainable; in fact, she reminded me that it was my responsibility to pursue them. Her cheesecake was my warm cup and warm hug.

I am so thankful for God, for my brokenness, and the people who stir me up to love and good works, and to whom I am bound to return the Grace. They lift me, we lift each other, and God is glorified. Matthew Henry's commentary of Hebrews 10:24 clarifies further the role we should play in ministering to one another,
While they derived comfort and grace from their reconciled Father to their own souls, they would adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things. Believers are to consider how they can be of service to each other, especially stirring up each other to the more vigorous and abundant exercise of love, and the practice of good works. The communion of saints is a great help and privilege, and a means of steadfastness and perseverance. 

This charge is joyful and relatively easy to execute. Love one another. Look after one another. Meet simple needs and thereby be the hands and the faces of God. Even over coffee and cheesecake.

Today I am praying and playing with Sandra Heska King in Still Saturday... 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thank You…(Five Minute Friday)


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!



It is through the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
Lamentations 3:22 (KJ2!)
GO:

Thank You…

8 gathered round.  Food enough to pour off the table and onto the sideboard. Blessings offered by the uncle who blessed our union, each of our children, and all of our lives. Three generations around a dining room table, a lovely picture.

We gave thanks, but the prayer I offer silently, continually, was for a gratitude deeper than I have ever know. From deep within me, not a Psalm of Praise, but the words of Lamentations come.  "It is through the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed because His compassions fail not."

"it's time to lay my weary body down, but my house smells good, my mind is at ease, and tomorrow is going to be a wonderful day. I am grateful. I have enough. All that is not already well will be well in time. I have love. I have laughter. I have family. My cup overflows...
There is much for which I can give thanks." 
this was my FB status the night before Thanksgiving. It was my status Thanksgiving night. I have so much Grace it could be my status everyday. I was reminded by a friend that there are only three prayers (help, thanks, and wow), and I get it...

Lord, You have been my HELP. THANKS. I look at my life, such as it is, and say WOW. His compassions fail not, and I say "Thank You." Selah and amen


STOP:

On Fridays, I pray and play with LisaJo and  Laura 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I bet I can make it to 100….




Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for ourGod is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV)

So many people are cultivating a habit of gratitude. People are becoming more intentional about thanking God for His unlimited Grace in our lives. Sitting here, pleased but with a lot to do, I challenged myself to list 100 things for which I am grateful. GO

1.       God
2.       Grace
Rattling off 100 blessings was easy,
and I could keep going,
because God is that good….
3.      That He is steadfast and I am trying…
4.      We have enough to share with guests for Thanksgiving.
5.      I have a lot to do, but time and help to get it done.
6.      My husband is home.
7.      My husband is not in a hospital.
8.      We have an optimistic prognosis.
9.      I envision him in my arms this time next year, and next year, and next year
10.   My children are concerned that I take care of myself, and get enough rest.
11.    I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my mommy but my brother is.
12.    My cornbread, for dressing, IS ALL THAT!
13.   I can laugh at the fact that my first pot of cassava burned because I wasn't here to tend it, but there is more on the stove.
14.   My house smells like pound cake because I baked Granny's 2 lb cake recipe and had it in the oven baking by 5:30 am.
15.   My teen aged daughter and I went shopping today, laughed the entire time we were out and are still talking to each other.
16.   My teen aged daughter.
17.   My tween son.
18.   My beloved, upstairs resting.
19.   A very silly dog, who suspects there is something yummy in the cooler (my brining turkey) but cannot quite figure out how to get to it.
20.  A friend got a job today.
21.    Hope.
22.   Learning that I can be in a stinky mood, really cranky, and that the people who love me STILL love me.
23.   Realizing that it's not that important, and that "I love you and I'm sorry" are the most important things you can say to someone you love whether you started it or not.
24.  It's not important who started it anyway.
25.   Getting everything on your shopping list before 9 am.
26.  Only making two more trips to the grocery today.
27.   The smell of roasting sweet potatoes, which will be candied tomorrow.
28.  Elastic waist pants, and the fact that I WON'T need to wear any tomorrow.
29.  No Spanx!
30.  A happy, silly, sleepy dog at my feet
31.   Music that makes me smile
32.   New wine glasses
33.  Homemade vanilla
34.  The smell of turkey brine
35.  Herbs from my garden will go in the stuffing, on the leg of lamb, in the vegetables
36.  That is will be warm enough to roast the leg of lamb on the grill tomorrow
37.  Laughing at the memories of eating homemade dressing for breakfast as a child while watching the Macy's parade on TV
38.  The experience of taking the children and family to the Macy's parade and having VIP access because my office (at the time) was on 53rd and Broadway.
39.  Not having to schlep to the Macy's parade anymore (it was fun but…)
40. Not stressing about being at the Inaugural this time (we went in '08, been there, done that)
41.   The fact that my BFF came over and that anything she does makes me smile
42.  Starbucks
43.  My Gayle, and that I want to call her RIGHT NOW, except that I'm writing
44. Ginger Cardamom gelato
45.  That I am looking forward to setting my table tomorrow
46. That I am looking forward to presenting a meal I have worked hard to prepare
47.  That I am looking forward to dining with my family tomorrow and NOT STRESSING AT ALL
48. Our leftover party on Friday, and that we've been having it for 20 years
49. That I will walk the dog tomorrow at daybreak and tell him all about the Thanksgiving we're going to have
50.  That he has gingerbread doggie biscuits to keep him occupied tomorrow
51.   That my in-laws are no longer afraid of him, but that Auntie B and Uncle L might be…
52.   Music to jam to as I write and hang with my teen aged daughter (and it's her playlist AND I like most of it)
53.  The fact that my eyes will fly open tomorrow at 4: something and I will be raring to go…
54.  The first bite of turkey, dressing and gravy
55.  The memory of my dad as I make his dressing, fused with Granny's recipe but without oysters (some day….)
56.  Coming to an elegantly set table, crystal, china, candlelit, with NO SHOES ON, because I have a pedicure AND it's my house…
57.  Sleeping late on Friday (til 6?)
58.  My daddy, even though He's with God now instead of in my kitchen
59.  That he would have adored his granddaughter
60. That he would've taught his grandson to play golf
61.   Smoked oysters as a snack
62.  That I type quickly and with accuracy
63.  Secret smiles
64. A backbone, and that I don't really know how to wallow in it
65.  NEW CONTACTS
66. Not having to wear glasses anymore
67.  Seeing people in town and feeling like I'm home
68. Taking  breaks from cooking to go hang out with my beloved
69. GRATITUDE
70.  A sunny outlook
71.   FIGHT SONGS
72.   The ability to turn the page, build a bridge, get over it
73.  That I usually don't remember what made me angry in the first place
74.  Laughter
75.  Being raised to be a lady but getting that it's okay sometimes to be a dame…
76.  The family I've claimed for myself that feels like blood
77.  Nails long enough to scratch that itch…
78.  That I cut 40' of hair this time last year AND it's growing back now, AND I look cute
79.  Being a little fearless
80. Really, finally getting that footprints thing, and that it's okay when there's only one pair
81.   Surrender
82.  Being broken (and not being afraid)
83.  The awesome power of a whispered "I love you"
84. Having my Granny still around
85.  Having my mommy still around
86. Dance as a second (first?) language
87.  Friends who get me…REALLY
88. My quirky and bizarre sense of humor
89. Friends who get my random pop culture references, and how a message from God can come from anywhere
90. The nerve to say I'm writing a book
91.   Actually working on the book
92.  Believing it will be published
93.  Not being afraid to dream
94. FAITH
95.  Feeling, deep within, that I am a warrior woman
96. My laptop, and that I can write almost anywhere, and do
97.  Friends that let me tell their stories on my blog
98. My blog, and that it's two years old
99. That even when I'm by myself I AM NEVER ALONE
100.    That this was easy, and that I could keep going, because God is that good….



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