#I Can’t

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You’ve heard it before.  You’ve probably started saying it yourself. ‘I can’t’.  It is quite popular to say when one wishes not to continue processing something stupid. I tried saying it but the Holy Spirit stood against that with scripture.

In Philippians 4:13, the Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me“.  Saying ‘I can’t’ regardless of its jovial connotations, goes directly against this new popular saying. I was convicted every single time so, I stopped saying it.

When it would be “appropriate” to say ‘I can’t’, what I was really shortening to convey was I-don’t-feel-like-doing-this-right-now, I-am-so-done-talking-about-this, this-is-on-my-nerves or something similar. Unfortunately, the new shortened speech stands in stark contrast to what the Bible says I am to think. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me means I can do what I don’t feel like doing.  I can complete my thought process.  I can persevere when I want to quit. Do I always feel like it? Heck no! But, I am not to speak against the strength, endurance, and perseverance God is instilling in me with cavalier words like ‘I can’t’.

The Bible says I am to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I can’t renew my mind with words like ‘I can’t’ and expect to know God in His fullness.

Scripture Works Together

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I was scared tonight. I started back teaching Zumba two months ago. I co-teach once a week.  I teach one half hour and the lead instructor teaches the other half hour.  I have led two full one-hour classes. As happy as I am to be able to teach again, and get paid, I am always nervous. I was such a Zumba snob before.  I would criticize instructors in a heartbeat. I’ve walked out of classes if I didn’t like their style of teaching, mannerisms, song choice, etc. Now that I am the teacher, I had to acknowledge how afraid I was of reaping what I had sown.

It does not feel good to have people walk out of a class you are teaching. I know people leave class for reasons other than they don’t like the class. Folk leave because they only planned to do 30 minutes.  Some maybe trying out a class and are not committed to one format. Knowing this does not make it easier to see people leaving while you are doing your best to teach.

Praise God, I pushed through but I was reminded of several verses as I did.  Matthew 12:36Galatians 6:7James 1:19, Ephesians 4:29.  All of these verses work together.

Careless words are rash, quickly spoken words, phrases, or comments that are spoken without thought to what you are saying. Once those words escape, you are responsible for them.  You have sown those words into your life. You will reap those words because you failed to be quick to listen but instead was quick to speak and slow to listen.  You spoke corruption instead of edification.

I saw this in my own life, bright and vivid in color.  At least two people left my class tonight.  Again, I know there are more than one reason why people leave but unless you know why before hand, a dwindling class is not good. Starting out with 10 participants and ending up with close to 30 is great.  The inverse, not so much.

Now that conviction has taken place, my everything changes.  The way I speak, how much I speak, when I speak, all of it changes.  It will change the people who chose to be around me.  Folks gather when tearing something/someone down and would rather exclude those to build up unless they themselves are in need of edification and encouragement. It will be me who gives alternative reasons why people may be behaving a certain way. It will be me sticking up for people I don’t even know when others start to tear them down. It will be me being the Suzy Sunshine trying to deter conversation from casting judgment on someones actions so that my companions don’t end up speaking carelessly.

Everyone takes a trip on that slippery slope of careless words spoken in the present that leads to future strife. Now that I am aware of it, not only am I responsible to keep from taking that ride, out of love, I am also obligated to help others stay as far away from that slope as possible.

Alas, when I thought my circle of companions had grown small enough, I can feel it getting even smaller. (deep sigh) All for Christ and Christ alone.

God Never Promised To Do Anything Our Way

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It is true that God breaks EVERY chain. He is powerful enough to do the impossible.  I know that from experience.  God’s word says it, I believed His word and trusted that He would do what He said He would do, and He did it.

His methods and timing? So, so, soooo far off from my own but then again, He never promised to do anything our way.

I have been operating in a state of heartbrokenness for 2.5 years. In all that time of suffering in one particular, yet far-reaching, area of life, He also healed other areas, improved situations, changed my thinking, and grew me astronomically. God is always at work, even if something hurts.

A few days ago, while I was doing some mundane daily task, God spoke.  I was hesitant to attribute that new dawning that occurred to Him because although the words were new, the idea wasn’t. Now, after a few days of walking in that new dawning, I can say that it was from God. God said I am always on display.

When you are a leader, you are always on display but at a young age, I learned from others that all leaders need a place to let their hair down. A place where no one is paying exact attention to every single thing you say and do. In my adulthood, God taught me that if letting your hair down means doing an about-face from who you are, that is pretending you are something you are not in front of most people and being who you really are in front of others. Even with that knowledge, I still looked for places where I did not have to be “on” all the time. I could say something severely crass (which I am inclined to do) and not be held accountable for it later by someone who never thought I would say such a thing. I loved those safe havens and often looked for more safe havens but I soon learned why you don’t have many safe havens.  That goes back to what God said about letting your hair down. So, I grew from that place to wanting to be in an environment that, although my speech and behavior rarely differed, I wasn’t under super watchful eyes.  No one was jotting notes about my parenting, clothes, conversation, etiquette…you get the idea.

The 2.5 years of brokenness I was in stemmed from my safe place being broken. The severe hurt I experienced resulted from realizing, understanding, and knowing for a fact that what at one point was my safe harbor, had turned into an operation theater.

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An operation theater was commonly used the in 1900’s

Instead of being, feeling, and knowing I was safe, I was dissected as sport and laid bare for all to see, judge, and comment on.  It was an extremely emotionally draining, difficult time. I made changes to keep from being in that theater. Hard changes.  Changes I never ever thought I’d have to make.   All the while, however, asking and seeking the Lord for Him to change things. His perfect timing was 2.5 years later which was 2 years past my time frame (lol).

I can now return to those former safe places and feel a semblance of safety again.  Not because the people have changed but because God has changed me. I was not ready to accept that God’s calling on my life meant that I would always be on display. I am ready now. He led me in baby steps although that last (at least for now) step felt like a giant leap. Now that I accept His calling on my life, I can go back. I can sit knowing I am in the theater but not fearing it. I can live out loud knowing that my mannerisms and etiquette are being watched but not looking for it to be watched nor shy away from the watchful eyes.

I am healed!

This Is Where I Meet Him

You can search this blog for the post about living in the ark.  God brought us out of the ark last year.  I always envisioned what my quiet time space would look like in my new home.  I would see me sitting at my kitchen table looking out a bay window.  Sitting in a Lazy-boy in my living room looking out the window.  I always imagined it being a peaceful place of solace.

Real life? I have two girls that love being near their Momma. I can’t even pee by myself!

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This is where I meet Him.

This is where I have those precious morning moments of quiet prayer with supplication, thanksgiving, and requests to God. I don’t always make it every morning. I desire to but sometimes my morning pee is so rushed, I forget to pray. Baby Grace is crying for her tata-meal, my husband needs the bathroom to get ready for work, or I forgot to grab my bag with my prayer journal in it from the bathtub before sitting on the toilet (the tub is out of reach from the toilet).

Oh but when there are those few moments in the morning that I remember to take, where I meet with the Master.  Oh how precious it is. I don’t have a window to stare out of. My “quiet” time is usually accented by an almost one-year old’s knock and whine on the other side of the bathroom door.  More often than not, my quiet time involves me praying aloud with my eyes closed while Baby Grace bangs on the bathtub and Jazmine holds me tight.

I hope they see their Mommy’s reliance on Christ and learn to rely on Him as well.

I Can Do All Things Through Christ

Some scripture become so familiar to me that I no longer experience the power of God’s word.  Philippians 4:13 was one such verse.

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Today started off pleasantly enough. I was able to go to the gym by myself (woohoo!) From there, the day took a turn to that which I did not plan.  Jazmine has been on antibiotics for a few days now and is happily on the mend however, Baby Grace woke up with a cough.  Oh I can not explain how sad that made me. So my day of finally getting out of the house turned into ‘what essential oils can I use to help her kick this cough/runny nose combo’?

I was handling things well until I got snappy.  (Praise God for the Holy Spirit showing me that I was being snappy.)  Baby Grace wasn’t sticking to her schedule.  She nursed a lot and barely ate her breakfast.  Did I mention she is teething too? Yeah, fun times.

Jaz and I are pushing through school and all Baby wanted to do was play with her sister. Fine with me.  I adjusted the order of our day (which is code for the order of which I wanted to get things done) so Baby and Jaz would play.  I took a shower. It wasn’t until Baby G FINALLY went down for her nap that I reflected on the day so far.

I couldn’t figure out where I had gotten off track.  I prayed first thing this morning so, I’m thinking, the day should not have gotten away from me like that.  Jazmine and I are in the habit of putting on the full armor of God each morning during devotionals or in the car before I start driving.  We didn’t put in on this morning. So, while nursing Baby Grace down, I did just that.  After putting on the armor, we also say an affirmation I got from Beth Moore’s Believing God when she talks of the Shield of Faith. Part of it says, I can do all things through Christ.  When I said it today, I paused.  It finally occurred to me the totality of this verse.  Not that I get it all but until then, I had only applied this verse for big things.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me to: talk to this person about Jesus, call someone I barely know to see how they are doing after they had surgery, asking a complete stranger if I can pray with them.  I never ever applied it to my little day-to-day needs. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me: to smile when I want to fuss, listen when I want to respond, exercise patience when I’d rather force my will.

In my glider, with my prayed, long-awaited, baby on my lap, I let the full power of this verse wash over me as I repeated it over and over. I really can do what is required of me because Christ strengthens me.

What Quiet Time Should Be…


I like spending time with Jesus by myself. All alone. Just me and Him. Bible open. Soaking it all up. 

I have recently gone through a biblical renovation as a mother and how I live with and in front of my children (more to come on that later). Those changes caused me to see this mornings quiet time differently.

Baby Grace had just completed her second round of breakfast and was playing nicely.  I took that time to catch up on my devotional.  I am trying to lose weight so I had taken a supplement a bit earlier and needed to eat something immediately. I got my cheese and crackers, opened my devotional and got ready to dive in.  Shortly thereafter, there was a whine and patting of my leg. I picked Baby Grace up and gave her her third round of breakfast.  Once I got her situated on my lap, I began to read scripture out loud. 

This was not the scene I had envisioned but God spoke to me just then. “What better way to have quiet time with Me then to share it with her?”  It was a very sweet and tender moment. Me, the baby I asked God, prayed, and fasted for, spending time with the One who brought us together. 

What an awesome way to begin a day. 

Just Keep Sowing

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My Jazmine LOVES community! This girl craves interacting with other people, be it children or adults.  She loves meeting new people and will chat them to kingdom come! Because Jaz was an only child for so long, I found myself always looking for people she could engage with. That constant line of thought lead to asking some of her local cousins to attend Vacation Bible School (VBS) with her two years ago. I picked them up and took them all to VBS with us. They thoroughly enjoyed it! I was a bit run down though.  It was hard being the adult in charge of three children that I knew and are related to but that I didn’t really know well. I was learning their temperaments, needs, likes, and dislikes in the short trip from their home to our church and back. I had a bit of anxiety about being summoned as the adult responsible for them while we are at VBS because I didn’t know what their expected normal behavior was.  They weren’t disobedient but they required a bit more teaching then what I was used to doling out.  Suffice it to say, I was glad when that VBS week ended.

That VBS week lead to more fellowship opportunities with them and I became more assured of their listening to me. I took them to VBS the following year as well.  We continued to get the cousins together. In fact, we now have a tradition of filling Samaritan’s Purse Shoeboxes together every year!  In our times together, I always kept an ear and eye out to see if any Jesus seed sown was coming up.  I didn’t see anything. I got discouraged.

I didn’t pick up the cousins much in the last year.  Most of that was due to pregnancy and then having baby Grace.  I didn’t take them to VBS either. This year, Jazmine attended VBS at another church as a guest of a friend of hers. Our former church had VBS at a different date.  Jazmine could have attended but I opted not to take her.  I figured she had already done that program at a church with a huge Children’s Ministry so no sense of having her attend the same program done on a smaller scale. But really, I didn’t want to go pick up the cousins again.  I figured that “it” (meaning taking them to church and pouring Christ into them) wasn’t working anyway because I hadn’t seen any fruit.

A few months ago, I saw a video posted on Facebook by the cousins’ grandmother.  It was a video of those same cousins getting baptized!  Their grandmother wrote that they were informed Thursday evening that the cousins were going to be baptized.  She said the kids quietly wake up every Sunday morning to catch the Church Bus and go to church on their own. I was, and still am, TOTALLY amazed at God! When I saw the post, it was as if God whispered in my ear “you had a hand in this”.  I feel deeply honored then immensely sad.

I dropped my hand from the plow.  I didn’t sow into those children this year like I could have. I deliberately decided not to do VBS because of what it would cost me (time) and that I could not see any “results”.  Well, now the sowed seeds are up and the harvest is bountiful and all I can think of is I wish I had sown more.

Unafraid To Stand In The Spotlight

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Out in front

Forgive me readers for I have sinned.  It has been 21 days since my last blog post.

Currently, I feel a renewed vigor to write weekly again.  That is not a new feeling.  The time to write the post and taking a moment to jot down the post ideas are what need to take place in order for my vigor to turn into results.

So here goes…

As far as work is concerned, I have ALWAYS prefered to be the person in the background.  I could do a very important job and be “deserving” of credit but prefer to have any acknowledgement done privately.  In relationships, I have prefered to take the avoidance road.  I did it in my marriage, with friends, with family.  About eight years ago or so, God was VERY clear that He did not co-sign my avoidance tactic with my husband.  Only in recent years have I began to stop avoiding confrontation with friends and family.

The main reason I avoided confrontation was because, I have early memories of being made to feel at fault because whomever I was in conflict with was upset (usually in tears) with me for speaking to them about whatever the conflict was.  I was made to feel that someone could verbally hurt me but I was not to retaliate and verbally hurt them back.  If I did, it was strongly implied that I should apologize to “fix” things and then all would be well and we could move on. I often wondered, if I could muster up a tear, would the other person then be held accountable but fake tears has never been my style. It felt like I was indirectly, but directly, being told to accept responsiblity for someone elses tears and shut up about it.

I didn’t think that just, right, or fair but it continued to happen.  When I spoke up about the injustice, I was shot down. I was given a chance to speak but I wasn’t taken seriously. So, my way out was avoidance.  If I could see that someones behavior was going to collide with my personality, I stayed away. That way, I would not have to be dealt with unjustly.

It was not a good strategy in the long run but it was a method of survival in my formative years. Now, I am a grown woman.  Now, not only am I responsible for myself, I am responsible for two other lives. I can not avoid.  I must stand up. Having recognized that being an advocate for my girls is paramount in motherhood, I started to see other areas where I need to ask the hard questions and have difficult conversations in my other relationships.

Doing so has often made me feel alone. I have been in a room where, after giving Biblical perspective on a life issue, I was elephant in the room. Attempts have been make to make me appear the fool for respecting my husband and for sharing why that is important.  For speaking the truth in with grace and love, I have been marginalized. I have been uninvited to female gatherings.  I have been totally ignored.

This is not the first time. At different times in my Christian walk, I have pressed towards the mark and felt isolated because, though we all spoke the same language, no one was willing to go forward with me. That isolation was painful and, each time, I fell back into what was socially acceptable speech, meaning, if I spoke, I would not speak about God’s Word with any authority.  I hated that.  At some point, I got that verse that says, If I dismay God, He will dismay me. I did not want God to dismay me so I took a “bump everybody else” mentality and pressed toward the mark never to turn back.

It still took a lot but now, finally, I have TRULY accepted the loneliness. It’s part of the walk.

 

Much Faith Required

I am going to make this post quick.  Every Monday, I feel the pressure of not having had a post scheduled to go. I have several post I could write in my brain but I am unsure when it will make it to computer screen.

That being said, I have 58% power on my laptop so I have to write fast in order to get this post ready.

God has seriously given me another growth spurt in my prayer life.  I know faith is the key.  Faith is the only way to please God. I’ve not only exercised more faith, I have upped the ante on what to ask God for.  He still works miracles you know!  I am carrying one right now in my womb.  If that isn’t reason enough to ask for big things in life, I don’t know what is.

I can not go into detail right now about what I am asking God for but believe me, it is big! It takes a lot more to see a work performed in people’s hearts and transform minds than it is to make a prototype for a new invention.  That’s saying something because prototypes are HARD work!

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.  If I am seeking to make a change, I start when I start.  I don’t need a certain day or say I will start after a certain event.  What I am describing is not a New Year’s resolution.  It is a more spiritually mature way to approach God in faith with prayer.

I hope to blog more soon.

I Take The “L” For This One; Responding Too Quickly

There are times when immediate action and response is necessary.  There are other times when it is best not to respond until the height of emotion has settled.

Growing up, I was the one who did not respond when I should have.  I was the one who would stew on why something was said and wait to respond.  I set a self-imposed time limit on what I considered a timely response.  If other folk had seemed to move on, even if I was still hurt, angry, or upset, I would assume that since they were over it, I needed to be over it also.  I took that as an end to the window of opportunity to speak up for myself.

As a grown-up who has grown away from that childhood thinking, I have forced myself to respond immediately. I had grown enough to learn swiftness of tongue but word choice had been problematic. God has worked on me in the word choice area so my words, more often than not, stay filled with grace, seasoned with salt, so I know how to respond to every man (Col. 4:6). Responding slowly or not at all, as was my case, was me avoiding conflict and thinking that was godly.

At 0 dark 30 this morning, as I was having insomnia issue and thinking about other things, God amazingly dropped this thought in my mind, “I did not get the response I was looking for.”  I knew EXACTLY what He was talking about.  I wrote about what happened, here, here and here.  It truly messed me up for some time.  When God dropped that in my spirit, I was able to receive the truth, the entire truth and weight of that statement.

That person did not respond in a way I was looking for.  Her response wasn’t unkind but I was looking for a response laced in love and her’s was cut-and-dry. My initial reply back to her was just as cut-and-dry but much more tearse because I was hurt.  My misstep was responding before allowing those I had sought advice from for this conflict, to read her response. An immediate response was not prudent here.

I did not get the response I was looking for and my actions from that time have been based on that. I was wrong. The outcome might not have changed but how I handled it once she responded, should have been different. I take the L (loss) for that one.  Is there something she could have done or said differently in subsequent interactions? Sure but self-examination has nought to do with anyone other than yourself, which in this case is me.