30 April 2008

The Candy Dish

Years ago, I had a candy dish on my desk. Each week, I would fill it with a variety of candies - usually found at the dollar store - place it on my desk, and watch the feeding frenzy for the week begin. I eventually stopped bringing candy in and refused to keep candy on my desk for over a year. I changed my mind when a good friend of mine asked me to start it again. And I am quickly remembering why I stopped in the first place. First, you have to understand the people who are stopping to get candy every day:

THE DIGGERS: These are the people who will stand at the bowl of candy and root through it to find that "perfect" piece of candy. They are the ones who will examine almost every piece of candy in the bowl, churning the candy over and over and over again and either exclaim with joy when they find the last Tootsie Roll at the very bottom - or walk away in disgust muttering, "there's no good candy in the bowl today."

THE GRABBERS: These are the people who grab a handful of candy whenever they walk by the bowl and take the candy back to their desk and hoard it for later enjoyment. They are only concerned about what's in the bowl for them and have no concern about the other co-workers who might want a piece of candy as well.

THE COMPLAINERS: These are the people who, no matter if the candy bowl is full of chocolate and chocolate only, will complain that there are no peppermints in the bowl. "Why didn't you bring in .... (whatever their candy of choice might be that day) ...? That's the candy I like best. You never bring that candy in. I don't like chocolate." (Yeah, there actually are people out there that don't like chocolate...imagine that!

THE HEAD SHAKERS: These are the people (usually the skinny, don't weigh more than 100 pounds women) who walk by without getting any candy from the dish and comment as they walk by, looking at the candy dish longingly: "I just don't see how you do it. All this candy on your desk and you don't eat ANY of it. I just don't understand." (Maybe being diabetic has something to do with that...also, I deliberately don't buy candy that would tempt me...)

And then finally, THE SNEAKY TAKERS: These are the people who will walk by my desk and not take a piece of candy while I am sitting at my computer, but somehow miraculously, have candy at their desk or the wrappers in their trash whenever I leave my desk to attend a meeting, or go to lunch, or go home for the evening.

Did I mention that the candy in the dish is FREE? There is no piggy bank for money, no solicitation for contributions to pay for the candy...(except for the month of October when I donate any cash collected to our United Way campaign) ... it is a free and clear gift. Just like salvation is a free gift from God. And just like the candy dish, how we view and accept the gift of salvation - or how we manifest or show our relationship with Christ - is similar to how my co-workers treat the bowl sitting on my desk.

There are people who "dig" around in the Bible, picking and choosing what texts/precepts they want to live by. "Ok, being blessed works for me - returning a faithful tithe and offering, not so much." There are the "grabbers" - those who want to keep the Good News of what the Lord has done for them to themselves and not share it with others in need who are all around them, starving for just a morsel of the sweetness found in the Lord. I don't even need to go into the "complainers", do I? We all know one (or two or three or a hundred). Just as we know the "head shakers" who sit back, never participate, yet watch and tsk tsk whatever effort someone else may be putting forth to do the right thing. And there are those who don't want to be upfront and honest with their relationship with Christ, but some times the evidence betrays them.

There is another group of people (and likewise, another group of Christians): THE APPRECIATIVE. There are people who every time I refill the candy dish express their appreciation - especially if I provide a candy that I know they specifically enjoy. [And I must admit, I will go the extra mile to get Atomic Fireballs for one and DOTS for another just because every time I do, they are so grateful that I thought about them specifically.] And I think God does the same for us. For example, I love rainbows - every time I see one, I stop and thank God for His special "just for me" blessing of the rainbow. And I know, I feel within my soul, that because I express my appreciation for it, I have seen some amazing rainbows when seeing a rainbow is the last thing I would expect to see. How God must feel when we thank Him for specific blessings that He grants to us. [Think of the story of the ten lepers...all were healed, only one returned to say "Thanks".]

I don't know which group you saw yourself in as you read this blog, but I pray that if it is not the last group, you will ask God to give you whatever it is you need in order to move from where you are to where He wants and desires you to be.

Be blessed.

29 April 2008

Discernment and Wisdom

Have you ever been caught in a situation where you feel beat up, pressed upon, unjustly accused and vilified? Have you ever wanted to "fight back" because you know "right" is on your side? Have you had friends - some Christian, some not - giving you advice, telling you what to do and how you should handle the situation? Then you know how I feel.

Have you ever felt "called" to do something? Some ministry. Some witness. You know you are supposed to do - all the tools are laid before you, placed in your hand - and yet, you waver. You make up excuses why you should not move forward. You have friends - some Christian, some not - giving you advice, telling you what to do and how you should handle the "call". Again, then you know how I feel.

This morning, in our prayer group, the devotional was about being able to distinguish the voice of God amidst the voices of distraction from the world, the flesh and the enemy. The devotional spoke to so many of my prayer partners who are struggling with ministries and calls that have been laid upon their hearts...and I am right there with them. And I know of other of my friends (some of whom I hope are reading this blog - and who I will not put on BLAST, but you know who you are) who are in the same predicament - they KNOW where God is leading them, and yet, they will not move. "I don't have the time." "I don't have the money" "I need to do this or that before I can..." Excuses, excuses, excuses. One of my calendars had this quote earlier this month (and I paraphrase): Why keep asking God to bless what you are doing. Get involved in what God is doing - it is already blessed!

Too often, we stymie ourselves from doing what God wants us to do, has called us to do - because we start looking at the situation through our human eyes, instead of through spiritual eyes. [Don't feel bad - the servant to the prophet Elisha had the same problem - read 2 Kings 6:15-17] We listen to the voices (some of them well intentioned) of our friends, instead of listening to the still small voice of the Lord. But I am encouraged today by the story of Solomon. When his father David died and he was passed the mantel of leadership [a ministry, if you will] and God asked him what he, Solomon, desired, he asked for wisdom and discernment [1 Kings 3:7-14] and God granted it to him. He will do the same for me (and you) if we honestly seek it.

Quick testimony: last week was a trying week for me at work. As a result, I needed to have a conversation with another secretary on my floor on yesterday. In my mind, I had it all worked out. I was going to write her a letter and then have a conversation with her and I would be covered because everything would be in writing...right? My mother advised me against that course of action and frankly, it was my plan to ignore her advice. Then our prayer group got together and I requested prayer for "wisdom and discernment" in the situation. A Christian co-worker, in a later conversation, also advised me not to put anything in writing - just approach the person in love. Well, I am a firm believer that God affirms and confirms His instructions/desires for us with witnesses - and two people told me, "this is NOT the way, don't walk in it!" - and for once, I heeded their advice. And can I tell you, God worked it out! There was some initial resistance - tense body language, silence as I was speaking - but when it was all said and done, there was an apology, an acknowledgment of selfishness, and the conversation ended with a re-affirmation of friendship and a hug. God is good, all the time!

All that to say, I don't know what you are struggling with - what God may have laid on your heart - but trust Him and trust His Heart towards you. Listen to HIS voice. Ignore the cacophony of the voices of distraction. Move when He tells you to move. I guarantee you - you will be glad that you did.

Be blessed.

28 April 2008

W.A.W.! (What a weekend!)

It's a rainy Monday morning in the Southeastern region of the United States - gloomy and overcast and the kind of day where you just want to stay curled up in bed under the covers. But, you need the rain in order to have the flowers, so I am not going to complain. I pray that you had a great weekend full of wonderful blessings. I know that I did! God is so good. After a week of trials and tribulation, He knew what I needed this weekend. Even though it rained every day, He allowed the sun to shine through when I needed it. Let me tell you about my weekend:

On Friday evening, I had a conversation with a dear friend who told me that he didn't see the point in going to church anymore. He gave me a list of percentages and reasons why people went to church - either out of habit, or being forced by their parents, or for the social interaction with friends, or because they are scared of God and hell's fire, etc. He asked me why did I go to church every week...and I was STUMPED. I couldn't come up with an adequate, coherent, honest answer for him...and that bothered me.

My mother and I got up EARLY (4:00 a.m.!) Sabbath morning and participated in the feeding program at our church. [For 20 years, our church has ministered to the homeless population of our city by feeding them a good hot meal on Saturday mornings.] After a quick nap, we went to church and were blessed by song and the ministry of a guest speaker, Pastor Gary James, who spoke about THE POWER OF A WITNESS. All I can say is, it was a wake-up call to me and a spiritual kick in the butt about my personal witness: at home, at work, wherever I am. After a nutritous meal and a power nap, we returned to church for a concert and were blessed by the music of up-and-coming gospel artist, Jasmine Brann (you should check her out on http://www.itunes.com/). What a blessing to hear a young woman who is dedicating her life to the Lord and sharing her testimony through song.

Yesterday, my mother and I attended a production of the play, GODSPELL - and as I sat in the audience and watched the re-enactment of Christ's ministry here on earth portrayed through song and drama, I was moved to tears at the sacrifice He made for sinful, unworthy, wretched me. But I am so glad that He looked down through the annals of time, saw me in 2008, and said to His Father, "Yes, she is worth it...I will go." AMEN!

When the weekend was over and I was laying in my bed last night, I realized that I just MIGHT have an answer for my friend as to why I go to church / why I serve the Lord. And it's really very simple: Because serving Him renews me and gives me the strength I need to handle just one more day. Because the gathering with the saints (and yes, even the devils found in church) encourages my soul. It gives me hope that I am not alone in the struggle to serve Him. That when things are dark, the song THIS TOO SHALL PASS speaks truth into my heart and soul (thank you, Sarita Brantley, for your ministry this past Sabbath!). It is a journey...every Sabbath doesn't inspire the same feelings. Every church service doesn't fill your spirit and soul as it should. BUT when it does, AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

I don't know what your weekend held for you. I pray that you saw the goodness of the Lord moving in your life, in the lives of those you love and hold dear. I pray that, somehow, some way this weekend you felt God's presence, reassuring you and upholding you and loving you. I pray you heard His still small voice telling you that He loves you beyond measure. Because He does. As Jasmine sang on Sabbath, He loved you (and me) with a cross...No matter what the enemy tries to tell you, you are loved and valued beyond measure.

Be blessed.

25 April 2008

It's late in the day...

I usually write this blog first thing in the morning when my brain is fresh and I haven't been burdened down by the stresses of the day. (You can be a lot more positive when you haven't been "beat down" yet...) But this morning, that just didn't happen and as a result, whatever thoughts I had at 6:30 this morning have been burned away by the heat of the day.

We have been celebrating Staff Appreciation all week at my office. The Human Resources Department has done a phenomenal job of acknowledging the staff for their contribution to the firm. Every day, a different event was planned for the staff, ranging from a breakfast to a chocolate fountain extravaganza to free lunch today..and it has all been very nice. I overhead a co-worker remark, "you know, one of these events would have been sufficient and nice enough, but to do a whole week of events is amazing." When I heard this remark on yesterday, I agreed and thought, 'you know, she's right - this is amazing. There are many firms that are not even acknowledging their employees at all. I am blessed to work for such a fine company.' But the thought just hit me (and I do mean, "just" - as I was typing this even...): how often do we stop our blessings because we think they are "too much"?

I know that seems like a crazy concept, but hear me out (and I hope I can express what I mean)...why wasn't the comment just: "this week of events has been amazing and I have enjoyed every one of them"? Why would you even want to limit the recognition to one single event? If the firm is willing and able to expend the time, energy, and money - why not just accept all the blessings of the week? And taking it to a spiritual realm, if Christ was willing to come down to earth and sacrifice His life for you, why not just accept the salvation offered?

I've heard it told that one of the things that will happen when Jesus returns to this earth and then takes us back to heaven with Him is that we will be shown all the blessings we COULD HAVE HAD here on earth if we would have just asked...and received. I figure, why block my blessings? Matthew 7:7 states, "Ask and it will be given unto you..." So, that means God is willing to give us the desires of our hearts, we just ain't asking for them! And if you don't ask, you cannot receive. Hmmm...

Just something to think about over the weekend. I pray that yours is blessed - whatever your plans.

24 April 2008

Mountains High, Valleys Low

Have you ever noticed that a "mountain high" experience is usually followed by a "valley low" encounter? Have you ever noticed that you cannot have a "testimony" without having a "test" first? It is amazing how that works.

All of us know the story of the prophet Elijah and how he stood against all the priests of Baal at Mount Carmel and allowed God to use him to show the mightiness of the Lord before King Ahab and his queen, Jezebel. (If you aren't familiar with the story, check out 1 Kings 18 and 19) In verse 36 of 1 Kings 18, Elijah prays a prayer that was so powerful, when it was over, God rained down fire from heaven to "prove" that He was God and basically, that Elijah was His prophet. And yet, a mere 12 verses later, (1 Kings 19:3), the Bible says, "Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.", because he heard that Jezebel was out to get him and had threatened his life. Now, come on, Elijah! You just saw the manifestation of the Lord in a powerful way and yet, you are running away because of the words of a woman! What's up with that?

And yet, how many of us have experienced the same "Mount Carmel /run from the enemy" experience in our own lives? How many times has God manifested Himself to us - shown us His love, His mercy, His grace in our lives - and we recognize it, praise Him for it - only to turn around and run when the enemy shows up with a new test, a new trial, a new situation. I am going through a trial at work, and even as I see the enemy trying to trip me up, make me stumble, make me curse (and not "veggie curses" either!) - I am reminded over and over again that the enemy is NOT the one in control of this situation. GOD IS! (Can I get an "AMEN"?!) In the midst of this trial, I am striving to remember my favorite Bible promise, which is found in Jeremiah 29:11: FOR I KNOW THE PLANS THAT I HAVE FOR YOU, SAITH THE LORD, PLANS TO PROSPER YOU AND NOT TO HARM YOU, PLANS TO GIVE YOU HOPE AND A FUTURE.

So, while the enemy may be camping round about me, slinging arrow and darts and boulders, God has it all under control. HIS plan for my life is for me to prosper and not be harmed - even when it seems like that is happening. As my pastor admonished last night in mid-week prayer service, we have to change our focus. When the battle seems tough, praise God. Shout now, in the midst of the trial, knowing that deliverance is around the corner. And you know what: even if it takes longer than you expect to be delivered...it's still all good because God's ultimate plan is to "prosper you and not to harm you." AMEN! AMEN!

Another point that my pastor made was this: A delay (in an answer to a prayer) is not necessarily a denial (from God). I may ask God, sincerely and earnestly, for deliverance from the situation I am currently undergoing at work - and it may seem like God is not listening, not answering, not hearing my plea...it may SEEM that way...but my time is not always in line with God's time. There may be a witness that I am supposed to make here at work based on how I deal with the trial. There may be someone who is watching me, as the "Christian" on the floor, to see how I handle what is being thrown my way. There may be something in my character that God needs to work out and that is why He is allowing me to go through this trial at this time in this way. I don't know. But He does and I trust Him to work it all out...not only for my good, but for His glory.

I solicit your prayers. And I ask you to join me as I "shout now" even in the midst of this trial. 'Cause greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. AMEN! (I'm getting happy here at my desk as I type this! smile) No matter the valley ahead, God has a mountain top experience waiting for me when this is all over.

Be blessed.

23 April 2008

Happy Secretaries, I mean, Administrative Professionals Day

Another Hallmark holiday, if you ask me. Today is the day when bosses are supposed to express their appreciation to their employees. In the old days, when the holiday was first implemented, it was called Secretaries Day...over time, and with the invention of "political correctness" (and that's a subject for another blog at another time!), the name changed to Administrative Assistant Day to the current Administrative Professionals Day. WHATEVER!

And now, at my firm, it has become a week long celebration - full of wonderful treats, surprises and gifts. I realize that I am blessed to work in an environment that I love and that I have bosses who treat me well on a daily basis. I realize that is not always the case for people in today's working environment. (Believe me, I have worked places where "abuse" was the norm.) BUT even though it is my testimony that I am treated well, if my attorneys treated me shabbily 364 days out of the year, it would not matter to me if they were only nice to me on the 4th Wednesday of April of each year just because that has become the "thing to do".

Aren't you glad that God doesn't bless us only on Hallmark holidays? That His love for us is consistent 24/7/365 - even when our service, love and devotion to Him is not? I know I am. Just something to think about as you go through your day today.

Be blessed.

18 April 2008


What a week! I could focus on the struggles and trials of the week (and believe me...more than one foolish thing happened!), but I would rather [and I am sure my Heavenly Father would agree with this] focus on the blessings instead....so, here we go:

1. for waking me up every morning "clothed in my right mind" (see earlier blog, if you miss that reference) - I say, thank you.

2. for friends and family who love and support me, in spite of my foolishness. (shout out to: Julie J, Ginny B, Jacquie T, and always always always, Linda A. - there are others, but these ladies were on their game this week!)

3. for the safe delivery of my newest baby cousin: Christopher Mark Vaughn McCrary - AMEN!!!

4. for unexpected financial blessings.

5. for confirmation of ministry.

6. for being able to pay my taxes and still meet my monthly responsibilities financially! AMEN!

7. for safe travel on the busy highways and byways of a busy metropolitan city

8. for a job that I love (most days) and that seemingly loves me (hey, they keep paying me to show up - AMEN!)

9. for my brother still being employed.

10. for reconnecting with old friends who I'd lost touch with over the course of life.

11. for intriguing new relationships...(yeah, let's keep that in prayer!)

12. for healing in my mother's throat. It is not fully manifested yet, but God is faithful and His will is going to be done, even there.

13. for spiritual and spirit-filled messages that come to me - often unexpectedly, but always on time.

14. for an awareness every day that it is not by my power or strength that I am able to do ANYTHING, but only through the grace of God and His mercy towards me am I able to shine as He wants me to.

I could go on and on and on, but I stopped at 14 'cause that's a special number to me. There's a song I used to sing as a child, "Count your blessings, name them one by one..." I think I need to do that a little more often. What about you?

Have a FABULOUS weekend.

Spend time with friends, family, loved ones.

Make some memories for the days ahead.

Cherish yourself.

Be blessed.

17 April 2008

"a great cloud of witnesses" / The Fern and the Bamboo

This is a two-part message:

Part One:

Last night I attended mid-week prayer service at my church. First, I have to make a confession: I had NO desire to be there. I just wanted to go home after a LONG day at work, put on my red flannel pjs, crawl into my bed and either sleep or continue reading my book - anything besides going out to church. But my mother, who is still recovering from her medical crisis and who had been cooped up in the house since Sunday, really wanted to go, so I put aside my desire for comfort and rest and off we went. AND WHAT A BLESSING it was to be in the House of the Lord for that 90 minutes! Our service starts with song service, followed by testimonies and prayer requests, and then a short sermonette/lesson by either our pastor or one of the elders. I know our pastor did not know when he was preparing last night's message taken from Hebrews 12: 1-6 that his message would be preceded by the testimonies of the saints that testified of God's goodness in their lives: from the couple that, in the midst of hardships and trials, found a resting place and tangible support from fellow believers in Christ when they visited our church; to God's blessing on a car that was having mechanical difficulties, but made it safely from Atlanta, GA to St. Augustine, FL without incident - only to break down during a 1/2 mile drive to a WalMart; to two stories of medical miracles that happened years ago (one 13 years ago and one 38 years ago) and which are still reaping blessings in the lives of those who experienced those miracles. God is AMAZING...if you don't know that, you betta ask somebody!

Anyway, after all these POWERFUL testimonies from the saints, our pastor taught about the "great cloud of witnesses" listed in Hebrews 11, aka "The Chapter of Faith". He taught that whenever we feel overwhelmed, burdened, downtrodden (and who doesn't feel that way occasionally? I know I do), we can look to this list of witnesses to the goodness of the Lord. We can look to people who have gone before us on this Christian walk and be encouraged by the fact that if God could bring them through their hard times and struggles, HE IS FAITHFUL TO DO THE SAME FOR YOU...AND ME. Can I get an "Amen" or "Hallelujah"?! (smile)

Which brings me to an email I received yesterday (and Part Two of today's blog). God has a way of bringing it all together, just as I need it, when I need it. Be encouraged by the following:


I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality... I wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God. 'God', I asked, 'Can you give me one good reason not to quit?' His answer surprised me...'Look around', He said. 'Do you see the fern and the bamboo?' 'Yes', I replied.

'When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. In the second year the Fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. He said. 'In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. In year four, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. I would not quit.' He said.

'Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant...But just 6 months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall. It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle.'

He asked me. 'Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you. Don't compare yourself to others.’ He said. 'The bamboo had a different Purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful.'

'Your time will come', God said to me. 'You will rise high''How high should I rise?' I asked.'How high will the bamboo rise?' He asked in return.'As high as it can?' I questioned.'Yes.' He said, 'Give me glory by rising as high as you can.'’

I left the forest and brought back this story. I hope these words can help you see that God will never give up on you.

Never, Never, Never Give up.

Be blessed

16 April 2008

Don't get it twisted...

I was re-reading some of my recent postings and anyone who didn't know me would think, "Man, that girl has got it all together. She has her Christian walk secure and set and she and Jesus are 'tight'..." Yeah well: those who know me well, know that is hardly the case. I still straddle the fence (on a daily basis) and I am sure I cause my Heavenly Father to shake His Heavenly Head in amazement and wonder as I continue to blunder, falter and fall.

My pastor preached a sermon on Sabbath about the Laodecian church found in Revelation 3, and how God condemns the church members for being "lukewarm" in their relationship with Him. How He would much rather we be "hot" or "cold" about how we feel and interact with Him. In another life, I wrote the following thought about this very subject:

I may be giving away too much information here, but I am a morning shower girl as opposed to an evening bath person...I enjoy standing under the pounding spray of hot water each morning - it totally revives me and gets me ready for the day ahead. Did you note that I said HOT water? This morning, my shower was just LUKEWARM - it was horrible! No matter how I adjusted the water - more hot, less cold, more cold, less hot - NOTHING worked! Except my little pea brain which finally understood why God tells us in Revelations 3:16 that He would rather that we be HOT or COLD when it comes to our relationships with Him, as opposed to the tepidness of LUKEWARM. But the other thing I realized this morning, because He is gracious and loves us beyond measure, He doesn't just "turn off the water and stomp away in disgust" [as I wanted to do this morning, believe me when I tell you!]. He sits there and "fiddles" with us to try to warm us up to His grace and mercy and love for us...isn't that wonderful!? I am constantly amazed at the patience that He shows me on a daily basis as I waffle between "hot", "cold" and "lukewarm" temperatures in my relationship with Him. If He can be that patient with me, doesn't it behoove me to be that patient with my family, my friends, my co-workers - and yes, believe it or not, even my enemies?

That was written in October 2005 and yet, for me, it still applies today. And I am still amazed at His patience with me as I straddle the fence in my relationship with Him and waffle between giving into my lusts, temptations, passions, and every day struggles. There is a valid reason why David is my favorite Biblical character. He and I have a LOT in common (and I look forward to having some in-depth conversations with him when we get to heaven), but what always encourages me when I think about David and his faults and failings - EVEN WITH THAT, God called him a "man after My own heart." [Now, if I could just get the "repent, turn away and never do that same sin again" part down like David did, I'd be straight.] Proverbs 24:16 admonishes us that 'though a "righteous man" [so, not your average Joe who ain't even TRYING to do right, but the "righteous", church going, striving to do right most of the time] will fall seven times, he rises again.' In his song, WE FALL DOWN, Donnie McClurkin puts it this way: We fall down, but we get up. For a saint is just a sinner who fell down, and got up....

Anyway, all that to say, God is still working with me to perfect me and make me the woman He desires me to be...just as He is still working with and in you. So, when you fall down, get up!

Be blessed.

15 April 2008

Blooming Magnolia

Last March, my mother retired from working (Lucky, sorry BLESSED, woman...) and in commemoration of the event, I purchased a Japanese Magnolia tree for our yard. That poor tree! It sat in its pot, in our garage, for over a month as I waited for my brother to come over and dig the hole for it to be planted and then, the southeastern region of the country where I live suffered a MAJOR drought last year and due to watering restrictions, I truly thought the tree would not make it. I am sure my neighbors wondered why every bit of liquid I could find was doused on this little tree. I mean, coffee, tea, watered down juice - if it was left in a glass or bottle as I headed out the door, it got dumped on this tree. Then the winter came and it was BITTERLY cold. Hey, this is my first tree - I didn't put mulch around the base or cover it up or anything...it was totally on its own. I was thinking, "Good thing Home Depot has a one year guarantee on its plants - now, where did I put that receipt?"

So imagine my surprise when my mother said to me one day, "did you see the buds on the magnolia tree?" I went outside and looked and sure enough - green leaves were forming all over the tree. Amazing. And then last week, a bloom appeared. I had to take a picture - and share it with you! Despite the lack of proper nutrition and care, the tree appears to be flourishing. Amen to that.

But it makes me think: I am like that magnolia tree - I have been bumped around, been dumped on, left in a pot in the garage (not literally, but you know what I mean) - and even when others would look at me and think that I'm done, God still had, sorry - still HAS a spark of life growing within me below the surface. I am blooming...watch me!

Be blessed.

14 April 2008

Monday morning thoughts

It is 6:45a and I am sitting in the still quiet of my office waiting for another busy work day (and week) to begin and as I reflect on the weekend just past, I realize AGAIN how blessed I am to have family, friends and loved ones to spend time with and continually make new memories. As a rule, I only make one resolution at the beginning of the year and this year, I don't remember EXACTLY how I phrased my resolution (it's always something deep and profound and evidently forgettable), but it had something to do with embracing the memories. Too often in the hustle and bustle and busy-ness of life, we forget to celebrate the small moments - the conversations with lifetime friends, the phone calls in the middle of the night, the celebrations of events in our lives. And because we don't take time to memorialize them (in pictures or words or thank yous), in time, the memories fade and blur and are forgotten.

This weekend, every day had something worth holding onto for the memory banks: from family worship with my aunt, uncle, cousins and mother on Friday evening; sitting in church with a dear friend on Sabbath morning and enjoying a spirit filled message that made me think about the type of Christian I truly am; hanging out with my "parental units" who were in town visiting from Houston on Saturday evening; spending time with my 88 year old grandmother for our weekly phone conversation; having brunch on Sunday morning with my brother and mother; talking to my other brother on a coast-to-coast telephone call on Sunday morning; my cousin Dominique's baby shower on Sunday that was full of laughter, food, fellowship and well wishes for her and her growing family. All this stuff may seem minute, mundane, unimportant, and inconsequential. But when I am 70/80 years old, sitting in my rocking chair at the assisted living home, waiting for the next round of BINGO to start - these are the memories that will make me smile and laugh and maybe even cry, but that will be a good thing.

I pray that you will live your life in such a way that you too will cherish your memories. But to cherish them, you gotta make them. So get out there! Go to brunch with a childhood friend. Call up that person who has made an impact in your life. Tell your parents, your siblings, your friends you love them while you still have a chance. I promise you, you will be glad that you did.

Be blessed.

11 April 2008

A quote.

We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable.
It would be wise to use that time adoring our families,
cherishing our friends, and living our lives.

Maya Angelou

Random Thoughts for a Friday

First, I am connected again! Praise God. A quick ten minute trip to my cell phone carrier's office during my lunch hour put me back in touch with friends, family and relatives - at no charge to me! What a relief.

The forecast here in the Southeastern portion of the United States is for rain later today. (right around rush hour, of course.) I am not complaining - after all, we just experienced a record drought and we are still under water restrictions - but why does the "severe" weather always move in on the weekend or during the commute home? Just a question to ask my Heavenly Father one day. [Back in the Garden of Eden, the earth was watered overnight from underneath! Now THAT is the way to do it!] And for the record, I like the rain - I just like it better when I am home, cozy in my flannel pjs (or sheets), reading a book or listening to some jazz. Driving in it is for the birds!

I have a full weekend ahead - starting with family worship tonight, a visit with my father and stepmom (who are flying in from Houston TX) on tomorrow, and a baby shower for my cousin on Sunday. Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it. My heart will be my friends who will be funeralizing a loved one in New York. Whatever your plans for the weekend, I pray you are blessed and that you find time to make some memories with loved ones, friends and maybe even a stranger who crosses your path.

Be blessed.

10 April 2008

Out of Touch...temporarily

God has a funny sense of humor. On Tuesday evening, I was at a meeting where I was asked the question: If given a choice, which modern convenience would you chose if you could have only one: your cell phone, your vehicle, or your computer with Internet access? Something to think about, huh?

Well, I chose my cell phone. Since I have a BlackBerry which gives me computer/Internet access, and I share a vehicle with my mother right now (long story) and I am blessed to live in a city where there is a good public transportation system, I stated that my cell phone is my one "necessary, cannot live without it, modern convenience." This morning I woke up and my cell phone was flashing "SIM Card Rejected." ARGH!!! Like I said, my Heavenly Father loves making me laugh...even when I am not so sure that I appreciate His sense of humor.

So, today I have to act like I acted before I had a cell phone - and definitely before I had a BlackBerry. Wow! Will that even be possible? I mean, all my contacts and information are stored in that little device that I keep on my hip and/or in my purse. Through it, I keep in contact with family, relatives, friends. And right now, due to an ongoing medical crisis, it is a vital link of communication between me and my retired, stay at home mother who is under doctor's orders not to speak...by the way, text messaging is a wonderful thing when you don't have a voice. How will I ever survive?

My early morning phone call to my cellular carrier netted no good, immediate results. They told me that some time today, I need to leave my job, go find one of their stores and (1) test my SIM card in another phone; and then (2) if it is indeed an issue with the SIM card, they will replace it (at no cost to me), but it will take approximately two hours for the card to be up, functioning and active. AND THEN, I still have to restore all my information back to the SIM card from my computer. [They didn't even tell me what I might have to go through if the issue is not really the SIM card...let's not even think about THAT scenario!]

This is enough to frustrate even the calmest person...and I have never claimed to be that. I am continually praying for patience...CONSTANTLY! However, as I rode to work this morning [without listening to my audiobook because that is loaded onto my BlackBerry through Audible.com - I'm telling you, my BlackBerry is an addiction, but that's a thought for another blog on another day], I had this thought: Aren't you glad that God's "SIM card" is always working and available? That, no matter the time of day (or night), He is always there for me...and for you. Can you imagine the world of hurt we would be in if, when we tried to reach Him we got a busy signal - or, as is happening with my cell phone right now, our messages went straight to voice mail? I am glad that He is God and that He is always available to us.

Be blessed.

09 April 2008

...a few days later...

My godsister Linda recently asked me "where do you find the time to try and do a daily blog?" and I assured her that I had it all under control...and then, I couldn't find time to write for almost a week. Sometimes, we think we "know" what's going on - only to be hit with the realities of life.

Change is a good thing, right? That's what people keep telling me. I'm finding out that sometimes, in the midst of all the changes, you just have to roll with the punches. Since the last time I wrote, there have been shakeups in my life: personally, socially, professionally - you name it, it's been shook! But in the midst of it all, some things have remained consistent - primarily, my Heavenly Father's love, care, concern and ministry to my life.

Some times in the midst of change, we can forget that. We can forget that He is consistent, unchanging, and always looking out for our best interests. I have some friends right now dealing with the sudden, unexpected loss of a loved one due to a car accident. It can be difficult when you are going through a change like this to remember that God is in control, that He is never changing, that His love is sustaining. Hard to remember, but how else can you survive the trials and pressures put upon you by loss, the world, the economy, your family, your friends...need I go on?

All I know is this: Change is inevitable. Lyrics to one of my favorite songs state "Everything must change. Nothing stays the same."...except the sustaining, loving Hands of the Creator.

Be blessed.

03 April 2008

Comments to this blog

Thanks for all the comments I have received to date on this new venture. If you include your email address in your comments, I promise to make a direct email response to you. Not all comments will be posted to be viewed by the public (because everyone doesn't need to know how "crazy" some of my friends are! - hahaha), but if you especially don't want something you wrote posted, just let me know.

And to ANONYMOUS who asked who the father of my "child" was (see April 1, 2008 blog), I pray it is my Heavenly Father...(wink).

Be blessed.

"Clothed in my right mind..."

All my life I heard people pray, "and thank you Lord for waking me up 'clothed in my right mind'", but it is only as I have become an adult that I have realized how powerful a request that truly is. We take for granted each night when we lay down to sleep and rest that, not only will we wake up in the morning, but that when we do, we will be aware and cognizant of what is going on, where we are, who we are - and most importantly, Who God is.

How amazing is it that God takes the time to breathe the breath of life into our nostrils each morning - and while doing so, makes sure that we have whatever we need to get through the day ahead - including good mental faculties.

Now, some of my friends (and especially my relatives) might disagree that I am ever "in my right mind", but what do they know? They are entitled to their opinions, no matter how erroneous they may be...but I praise God each morning that I wake up and am aware:

- aware that every blessing I receive is from Him;

- aware that it is not just happenstance that I made it through the night without incident - no phone calls to come to the hospital or mortuary, no invasions of my home and property;

- aware that He is God and that He loves me...in spite of myself most of the time.

What an awesome, amazing, fabulous thing to recognize each and every morning.

I pray that you are "clothed in your right mind" as you read this...and as you go through this day...and every day of your life.

Be blessed.

01 April 2008

OMG! I'm pregnant!

April's Fools! hahaha. Surely, you didn't think that I was about to announce a pregnancy, did you? Shame on you!

As a child, I dreaded April's Fools Day and being caught looking foolish because of some prank. I would determine early in the morning on April 1st - "you will NOT fall for any foolish pranks, you will NOT, you will NOT" - and inevitably, "ooo, watch out! you have a bug crawling in your hair" would have me running across the school playground with everyone laughing at me. Because you see, the best pranks always have some element of believe-ability or truth in them.

Picture the Garden of Eden, when Eve went for a walk without her husband and the serpent said to her, "Hey Eve! Can't you eat of EVERY tree in the garden? What? Not this one? Why not? The fruit is good and sweet and tasty and nothing will happen to you if you eat it...nothing happened to me...it just made me "better"...I mean, I can talk! You should try it...who knows what you will be able to do if you just try it..." It was all just a prank by the enemy...and we are still paying for it.

But I digress (slightly). There is an element of truth to the title of today's blog as well. See, I am "pregnant"...pregnant with ideas - not only for this blog, but for my life. For a long time, I have been stagnant - sitting /hoarding / underutilizing the talents that God instilled in me - but now is the time to nurture them so that "in due season", I will give birth to what God truly wants me to be and do and achieve. Hope you will stay around for the journey. I trust it will be VERY INTERESTING...

Be blessed!