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.

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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.

Friendship

You can’t undo the past.

You can only learn from your mistakes.

You can not carry out shoulda-coulda-woulda’s with stand-ins to try to make up for past deeds with others.

Regret doesn’t always leave you.  Twinges of it will raise its head every now and then.

Choose to walk through poor choices with Christ so you have a testimony when it’s all said and done.

I saw a high school friend of mine get married today via pictures posted on Facebook. What I saw in those pictures was the sum of decisions I’ve made.  I felt a sudden onslaught of emotions, regret being the loudest of them all. As with most weddings, it was a mini reunion amongst friends. I was close to the bride, her maid of honor, and a few of the invited guests but I was not there.  Why would I be?  I did not carry those friendships on.  When I left high school, I left her/them behind.

What I saw in the pictures of my former close friends was the result of choices I made. I was by far the most immature of that particular group of friends in high school. I was very sensitive to being left out and that super sensitivity was the filter for all my peer interactions. If I was not invited to a mall trip it had to be because they did not want me there.  Never once did I think that it might have been because I was the only one who could not hang out at the mall like they were allowed to.  My utter fear of rejection on top of my super sensitivity resolutely refused that I ask why I was left out.  I viewed every peer I enjoyed being with as a friend but as I saw that I was not as close to the developing clicks I was associated with, I changed my viewpoint and not for the better.

I developed a revolving thought process when it came to friendship.  They all had time limits in my mind.  I never thought of having a forever friend because up until then, I did not have that relationship. I pushed people out; not by telling people off  but by not inviting them in past a certain point.  I did not understand the value of friendship beyond my own need at the time. I did not take the opportunity to invite people into me and I rarely took people up on their offers if it wasn’t exciting for me. Very selfish, although at the time, I thought I was picking my friends wisely.

I always admired my adult peers who have friends from childhood, high school, or college. I’m not talking longevity but real friendship.  Friendship where you can pick up the phone and chit-chat with your homegirl from second-grade about life’s present day issues without  having to reminisce about stuff that happened in elementary school.

I did not cultivate those relationships. I did not realize the repercussions that my self-preservative stance would cause. I am reaping what I ignorantly sowed then.  I will get sorrowful over regret for not making amends when the window of opportunity was open but I will not live in regret. I will live my testimony cause from regret.

Not everything can be fixed.

I can’t redeem time lost.

I can’t take back decisions made.

I saw a friend’s wedding on Facebook…..

God Doesn’t Hate Me

The quotes in this post are not exact word for word what the original speaker said when I heard them.  It is very close from what I can recall.

I had two major mental clicks happen for me this weekend.

If there is one thing I understand very well it is cause and effect.  I know that if I skimp on oral care, my teeth yellow.  If I don’t keep up with something, I will fall behind.  I am a huge fan of if/then statements.  If you do or don’t do this then this will or will not happen.

I applied my cause and effect thought process to how God feels about me.  I am so happy to say I know in my heart I was wrong.

I never said aloud God hated me.  I don’t believe I thought that in my heart either but I did believe that something was wrong with me or I was still screwing up something important because things still have not turned around for us. I thought God was punishing me or I was living in the reaping part of life where I previously sowed some really crappy seeds. For example, because I wasn’t a good big sister growing up that now I wasn’t going to be able to have a house of my own.

I believed what God said about me in His word.  I believed that He loved me but I knew that intellectually and believed it in knowledge and not in heart and soul. I knew he loved me but I thought it fell short when it came to my hearts desire to move etc because we are still here…in my mother-in-law’s house. I figured something had to be off and it was off with me.

Ever since I was very young, I knew and believed God loved me.  Growing older, I mistakenly equated His love for me with how well things went. If he allowed tragedy then I did something wrong.  If things went well, then I was pleasing Him.  With that thought process, I found myself in God’s LOVE (big huge all-encompassing love) but not in God’s love (adult life circumstances).  I listed to Tony Evans on the radio this weekend.  I heard the following statement he made very clearly in my heart for the first time of my adult circumstance filled life.  “God does not hate you.  When you get up in the morning you iron your clothes.  When you put that hot iron on your clothes you are not hating on your clothes.  You are ironing the wrinkles out. It’s not hate.  It’s love because you care how your clothes look because your clothes reflect how you look.  It’s the same thing with God.  He doesn’t hate you. He is ironing your wrinkles out because he loves you and you are a reflection of Him. ”

God doesn’t hate me.  That gives me much peace.

I said I had two mental clicks.  Here’s the next.

Beth Moore has said before, “When God says “no” to something, it is not a quick, rash, thoughtless decision.  He thought long and hard on it to do what was for our good.”

God doesn’t hate me (plus) God thought long and hard before telling me no or not now (equals) peace for Xara.

Friends. How Many Of Us Have Them

Preface I have written this post three times already but up until this point, I haven’t been able to get my words right.  The Holy Spirit kept tugging at me about it.  I thought I had gotten it right and set it to publish only to go back into it earlier today and stop it from doing so.  I just pray that what I write is glorifying to Him.  Also, please note that when I say friend, I mean in the high school sort of way and not what a real friend is.  In high school, a friend to me was anyone I associated with and who’s company I didn’t mind keeping.

I recently read someones Facebook status update where they said that they had recently met up with some good friends from college.  It struck nerve in me.  I don’t have that tight-knit, Sex In The City friendship with anyone from my school days.  I longed to have that.  When I was younger, I always saw myself as having a group of life long girlfriends that I meant during my school days but that is not the case.

It took me all those years plus some to learn that you have to be a friend to have a friend.  The Bible says in Prov. 11:25 that one who refreshes others will also be refreshed. Growing up, I only wanted to refresh others when it was convenient for me.  I missed out on the opportunity to have a closer relationship with girlfriends I’ve meant along the way.  I regret that.  I really do.

I remember a time in high school when I was talking to someone I was friends with outside of the front entrance of the school.  She and I were chatting and I saw something.  I don’t remember exactly what it was but I remember I wanted to be inside in the lobby of the school where I saw some action taking place.  I started to walk away from my friend so I could go inside.  She grabbed my arm and said, “Wait a minute.  I want to talk to you.”  I should have given her my undivided attention right then and there.  I should have shown her all the care and concern I possessed to let her know that I had her back and I was there for her.  Suffice it to say, I didn’t do that.  I was annoyed that I had to stay there and listen instead of leaving her company to be in the mix.  I am sure my annoyance showed because I don’t remember having a long conversation after that.

The Bible does not lie.  That which you sow, you shall also reap (Gal. 6:7).  I have certainly changed a lot since high school but that still haunts me.  That was just one incidence but I know I acted a fool just like that on several occasions with other friends of mine.   I was selfish.  I wasn’t a true friend.  I didn’t sow anything good during my growing up years to warrant me anything close to a life-long friendship.

I would only let friendships grow but so far.  I didn’t ever want it to get too deep.  I didn’t want the other person to depend on me too much.  I didn’t want to be tied down.  I didn’t want the friend to become too needy.  At the first sign of neediness, I put some distance between us real quick.  Any closeness that I did allow from the other person was normally because I was being nosy, liked to gossip, and wanted to hear all of their drama.  I liked to be in the group but I also liked to do my thing and if a potential long-term friend got in the way of me doing my thing, I cut them off with a quickness.

I know.  That is horrible but that is who I was.  You can’t reap tight, close-knit bonds when you haven’t sown them.

I do have true friends now.  I have cultivated relationships with others to develop real friendships but it saddens me that I don’t have that we-go-back-like-two-cornrows-and-a-bang type of relationship.  I have plenty of longevity relationships but very few of them are happy reunions waiting to happen and I am so sorry for that.