30 May 2008

Celebrations and gatherings....

It is that time of year when people are gathering: for graduations, for weddings, for vacations. Even with the soaring gas prices (let's not even go THERE!) and rising airfares, I still hear people talking about trips that they have planned - or that they anticipate taking over the next few days and weeks. I, for one, have several trips planned in the near future that I am looking forward to, but there is one trip currently "on hold" because I cannot get a good airfare to take it. But I digress.

This weekend, my family is gathering to celebrate two momentous occasions: a high school graduation and a wedding. Congratulations to my cousins, Amber and Dominique (and soon to be cousin, Paul)! Each of these celebrations marks the end of one era, and the beginning of another in their lives. I have never been married (and that is another blog entry in and of itself!), but I remember the anticipation, the joy, the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment as I marched down my high school graduation aisle over 26 years ago. I remember thinking, "I'm grown now, nobody can tell me nothing!" Little did I know, life had many more experiences to teach me - and the longer I live, the more lessons I am learning. Hopefully, I am growing as I learn, but that is up for debate. These are joyful occasions and I look forward to seeing family members who live far away who have traveled here to take part in these two events.

However, not too far away from me in the town of Huntsville, Alabama, another gathering of a more somber nature is occuring. A young 19 year old male friend of a friend was gunned down last night, and his family is gathering to mourn his passing. (The decision was made to pull the plug earlier this morning). While all the details of what happened and how this occured are still sketchy and unclear, the reality is this: there is a mother who has lost her baby, grandparents who have lost their grandson, and friends who have lost a companion who was "like a brother" to them. Even though I did not know this young man personally, my heart goes out to his family at this time. And I pray that, in his final moments of life, he was able to reach out to His Saviour who I know was reaching out to him.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 offers this assurance: "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. ...the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. After that, we who are still alive...will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage each other with these words."

There is a gathering coming when we will be joined with all of those who have preceded us in death who lived according to God's word, and a time is coming when there will be no more goodbyes and no more separation. I eagerly await that day, don't you?

Have a happy Sabbath and a blessed weekend. Be blessed and be a blessing.

28 May 2008

Under attack...again!

Today's text: Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

Not so long ago, I alluded to a situation of attack that I found myself undergoing at work. I prayed about it, my prayer warriors went before the throne of grace about it, and I thought I had been delivered. Obviously, the enemy had another plan because on yesterday, the demons attacked again. I guess there is something in my character that God sees He needs to develop in me. I am not sure what it is, but I am seeking His face in this situation.

We are admonished in the text above that we should be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves," but what does that REALLY mean in the scheme of things? For me, it means that I need to NOT get all up in my co-workers' faces and explode (as I wanted to do on yesterday when this all went down). It means that I need to pray - and pray hard - for the people behind the attack. I was focusing on the situation, I need to focus on the people. I need to document, cover my ... tracks, watch my back. Everyone who smiles in your face is not your friend. (I thought I'd learned that lesson before - guess I need to learn it again.) And I need to, no matter what is thrown my way, reflect the love and character of Christ.

Will you pray for and with me to that end? Thanks.

Be blessed.

27 May 2008

Public displays of affection...

I pray that you and yours had a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. On Sunday, I went to Stone Mountain Park with a friend to do the five mile hike around the base of the mountain. Ok, WHAT WAS I THINKING? It was hot and crowded and hot and sweaty and hot...you get the picture. But it was exercise and it actually was a nice relaxing time spent getting to know this young man who just returned from Korea where he spent a year as a teacher and missionary. You can learn a lot about a person when you spend two hours in nature, walking around a mountain. We talked about a variety of topics and spent time "people watching" (one of my favorite activities - people just fascinate me). My friend greeted almost every person who passed us with a smile and, in most cases, with a hello. (And it there were a LOT of people in the park). One couple that fascinated me the most was this little old couple who were walking the path, holding hands. It was obvious that they had spent a lot of time together and were still affectionate towards each other, and were not ashamed to show their affection for each other in public.

My friend and I talked about public displays of affection during our walk. I have mixed feelings about it. Sometimes it's sweet, as in the display of the older couple. There is a sweetness to showing your connection with someone publicly - whether it is as simple as holding hands or stepping aside so one of you doesn't have to step off the path and into the street. But other times, my reaction was more along the lines of "get a room people". There was a young couple that was also walking around the park. They were all hugged up with no breathing room between them and my remark was, "it is way too hot out here for all of that!" AND besides, as my mother always admonished me when I was growing up, "always conduct yourself as a lady 'cause you never know who's watching you" (as I found out when I got to work this morning and our building security guard said to me, "I saw you walking at Stone Mountain this weekend.") Good thing I was behaving myself, huh?

So, all that got me to thinking. (surprise, surprise). How often are we on "public display" without knowing it? How many times have you seen someone doing something that you never expected them to be doing - and knew that they did not see you observing them? (You know - you see a teenager from church with a cigarette; or you see an elder/pastor from church coming out of an establishment where you probably think they don't belong) Would you act differently if you knew your mother was watching your EVERY move? Would knowing your children saw you do something you taught them was wrong stop you from your wrong behavior? If we knew our life was "on screen" for everyone to see, would we do all the things we do? Something to think about. But the reality is, there is Someone Who sees EVERYTHING you do...and I do mean, EVERYTHING! All the things you do in secret that you think no one knows about - He knows. I know He sometimes sits on His throne in heaven, looks at my foolish antics, shakes His head, sighs and says, "yeah, she's my favorite child, but I sure wish she would get it together." If I really was cognizant of the fact that He is watching everything I do, I probably wouldn't do most of the stuff I do - would you?

But switch it around. Does He ever publicly display His affection for us? ABSOLUTELY...ALL THE TIME! Have you ever seen a sunrise - or a sunset - or a rainbow? Have you ever been gently awakened by birdsong outside your window? Have you ever seen a full moon shine? Have you ever smelled a flower - or cut grass - or a gentle rain? Have you ever tasted a mango or strawberries or grapes? Have you ever touched cotton or the fur of an animal? He surely shows His affection for us every day when He wakes us up, but He shows it in other ways as well. We just have to stop, look around and see it.

I pray that today you can find time to see how God wants to publicly display His affection for you, and that you, in return, will do the same for Him. Your life should be a constant display of affection for Him.

Be blessed.

26 May 2008

Saying Goodbye...

"No more goodbyes...and no more sad partings. No more farewell, no more will we bid each other adieu...We'll meet again, where sorrows end, and life begins anew." The lyrics to this song are by a group called the Blendwrights - a group that I listened to consistently as a child growing up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Goodbyes are hard. Whether they are expected or unexpected, they are hard. For example, a child graduating from high school and moving away to college. You know its coming, you have 17/18 years to prepare for it, and yet, every autumn, there is some mother crying at a freshman dorm room as her "baby" leaves her to start the next phase of his/her life. [C'mon now, I KNOW my mother wasn't the only one!]. Or, the trip has been planned for months. You know (you pray) your loved one will return from the vacation safe, relaxed, refreshed and invigorated, but the parting at the airport is still difficult. [Sidebar: how many of you miss being able to go to the gate to either say goodbye or greet your family and friends as they arrived? I do. Meeting at baggage claim just ain't the same.] And let's not even talk about the pain of saying goodbye to someone when they die - whether suddenly after an accident or expectedly after a long illness. Goodbyes are hard.

This past weekend, I, along with my church family, had to say goodbye to our pastor, Godwin Mitchell, and his family - his wife, Gasie, and his daughters, Kiera and Kenya. After 8 years of service, they are being moved to another church - and the church is two states away, so it ain't like I can pop over for dinner one day and just see them because I want to. They are going away. And with gas prices topping $4 a gallon, getting in my car and driving to Winston Salem, NC where they will be making their new home, isn't as easy (or economical) an endeavor as it would have been in the days of $2.00 a gallon gas prices. [Do you remember fussing about gas being $3 a gallon? I'll date myself and admit that I remember the horror of paying $1.00 a gallon not too too long ago!] So, the reality might be that I will not see my friends on this side of heaven again [not likely, but life has a way of getting in the way]. Thank God for the technology of the Internet and email and cell phones as ways to keep in touch.

The Bible tells us of the day when there will be no more goodbyes. [Rev. 21:4] When we will join Our Savior in heaven to live eternally. When we will be reunited with loved ones who have fallen asleep in the Lord. When we will, for eternity, be able to spend time with loved ones and friends without fear that this might be the last time we ever see them. Where fellowship will continue forever. Can you imagine what a great time that will be? One big long family reunion without drama - and more than enough food for everyone. [AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!]

I don't know if you have recently had to say goodbye to someone. Or maybe you've had to say goodbye to something - which can also be traumatic -think chocolate. Whatever goodbye experience you have gone through, or are going through, I know God will give you the strength you need to get through it. He has done it in the past. He will do it now. Just trust in Him. When you cannot see His Hand, trust His Heart.

Be blessed.

23 May 2008

Doubting Thomas

John 20:27: Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

This past Sabbath my mother and I were watching a Christian DVD that was depicting the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and there was a scene where the disciple Thomas was telling the others, "yeah, I know you all said that YOU saw the Master, but until I see Him, I will not believe that He is alive." Now, of course, every believer is familiar with this story. We grow up being told, "don't be a doubting Thomas - take it on faith...just believe." [And that's when they throw the following verse in your face: "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:29)

Ok, that's all well and good, but...

Is God really saying here that you are doomed if you don't just take things on blind faith? Shouldn't we be allowed to question Him if we have a doubt or a concern or just need an answer? I am not saying question EVERYTHING, but does it mean that I am not a "good Christian" if I have a question or two to ask my Father? I don't think so. I remember seven years ago when my paternal grandfather was dying from bone cancer. We just "happened" to be studying the story of Job at that time in church. I remember being encouraged by the fact that Job, who is often promoted as being the "perfect saint" - after all, even through horrible trials and tribulations, he was able to say, "even though He slay me, I will serve the Lord." - EVEN HE QUESTIONED GOD! And knowing that Job had questions helped me deal with the questions I was having seven years ago when my play father, Otis Taylor, died suddenly on the Friday after Thanksgiving, followed two months later by the death of my grandfather. I questioned why God would lay two great warriors for His kingdom to rest in such quick succession. I wondered why I was being deprived of two men in my life who'd always been supportive and spiritual compasses for me - gone, swiftly and suddenly.

But back to Thomas. What struck me about how Christ handled the situation is this: Christ knew that Thomas had a heart bent towards Him. That is exhibited by Thomas calling Christ "My Lord and My God" in verse 28 of the same chapter. He also knew that some of us occasionally need tangible proof of something before we believe it. Christ met Thomas where he was...a little lacking, but still willing to serve. Christ ALLOWED Thomas to do what he needed to do in order to believe. You need to touch my scarred hands, here they are. You need to touch my pierced side, here it is. What compassion, what love. Yes, there is a mild rebuke when Christ tells Thomas that are consequences to his lack of faith - Thomas missed out on a blessing for his disbelief, but that instance of faithlessness was not the end of Thomas' story - Praise God. Thomas went on to be a powerful witness of the gospel. I believe his story is included in the Bible for a reason. (and not just so it could be the subject of this blog.)

Have a happy, safe and blessed holiday weekend.

Be blessed.

22 May 2008

Making a Choice

Have you ever made a decision that later impacted your life in such a way that you often/sometimes wonder what your life would be like if you'd made another decision at the time you were at the crossroads? It could be something major - like a romantic breakup (my high school boyfriend still reminds me that my life was "irrevocably changed" when we broke up over a stupid fashion statement dispute) or inconsequential, like picking that bright red with blonde streaks color job in the 80s. No matter what - decisions we make - sometimes impulsively - can have a prolonged impact on our lives. I mean, my last name could now be Lester, according to said ex-boyfriend - and there are some pictures of me and past hairstyles that truly need to be destroyed and never shown to the world again ... EVER!

Every morning at 6:00a, I join fellow believers on a morning conference call that starts with a devotional thought and ends with prayer. This morning, our devotional thought was about this very subject. The text was taken from Joshua 24:14, 15 where Joshua declares, "if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Serving the Lord is a conscious, one you have to make for yourself, DAILY choice. I am not a proponent of the "once saved, always saved" doctrine. I believe EVERY day you must recommit yourself anew to the Lord. You have to CHOOSE to serve Him. Now granted, hopefully your relationship with Christ grows to the point that making this choice comes as easily to you as it does for you to breathe - you do it without thinking...but you still have to make the choice. I have found that you cannot rest on your laurels when it comes to your relationship with Christ. I recently heard a quote that I am totally paraphrasing here - "past victories don't guarantee future results". You cannot say, "Oh well, I accepted Christ when I was just a wee lad (or lass)" and never do anything else from that point on and think that is sufficient for your growth as a believer and child of God. You have to grow/develop every day - and you cannot do that without making a choice to do so.

I wish you well as you go through this day. I pray that you will make choices that have long-lasting, positive impact on your life and the lives of those within your circle of influence. And I especially pray that, if you haven't done so already, you will make a choice to align your life with the One Who gave His life for you.

Be blessed.

21 May 2008

Midweek Meanderings

It has been a while since I've written - and not because I have nothing to say, but because life has just been B-U-S-Y!! Between court filings at work and graduations at church and gathering with friends just for the sake of memory making, a sista has been overworked, underpaid and running in circles. I need a break! Thank God for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. Three days of doing nothing. I have already put my mother on notice - I do not plan to get out of my pajamas on Monday no matter what....but surely, I am not the only one who feels that way.

Are you feeling bogged down and overwhelmed? Have financial concerns weighed you down recently? Has hearing about one disaster after another quickly followed by another made you question - what the heck is going on? Have the ever-increasing gas prices put a drain on your mental, emotional and financial bank accounts? Do you wonder "when will it ever end?" I know that I have felt that way (A LOT) recently. I get my CNN Breaking News updates and groan. I mean - who ever heard of a natural disaster taking out 50,000 people in one fell swoop? I get my WSB TV Headlines at Noon emails and sigh. Is there no good news anywhere? I watch the political race and even though I have picked my candidate and will vote in November, I tremble because I know NO MATTER WHO IS ELECTED, nothing is really going to change - and even if it does, the change will not be swift in coming. You cannot just stop the wheels of political wheeling and dealing overnight and reverse the momentum and effect change. The ONLY thing that keeps me sane (and I know I have friends reading this going - "she's sane?") - is that I know WHO is ultimately in control of what seems like foolishness to me.

We are living in an amazing time as believers. Biblical prophecies are being fulfilled right before our eyes. In Matthew 24:7, we are told "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places." Uh, hello! Tornados have hit the metro Atlanta area where I live three times since March 2008! If that ain't "pestilences...in divers places...", I don't know what is! So, what do we do? Huddle under all the blankets and pillows we can find (as one of my friends admitted doing on her Facebook page earlier this week) in fear of what might happen - or, "lift up [our] eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh [our] help" and know that God is still in control of all the foolishness. (See Ps. 121:1 for that scriptural reference). I opt to look to the hills, but even as I type that, I know that I am still acting as if I am not living on borrowed time. I KNOW the issues God and I are struggling with...ok, maybe He's not struggling, but I sure am! Believe me, temptation comes in many shapes/forms/manifestations. [Pray for a sista, will ya?]

All that to say, things may look crazy. The sky above may be green and orange and every color but blue; the storms may be raging - physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, in every which way you can think of...but remember the promise in Jeremiah 29:11 (my favorite promise in the Bible, by the way): "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future..." No matter what you are going through, God's plan is for you to get through it triumphant and victorious. And that is my prayer for each of us...victory in Jesus.

Be blessed.

15 May 2008

A testimony: Always on time

"Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear." Isaiah 65:24 NIV

The month of May is always a stress financially - between my mother's birthday, Mother's Day, graduations and weddings - May is a "money depleting" month. You would think I would plan for it better, but I am always caught off guard by the amount of money I spend every May. To top it off, this year, I serve as Home & School Leader (similiar to PTA Chair) at my church's junior academy and have been called upon to provide gifts for ~50 students graduating from Pre-K, Kindergarten and the 8th grade over the next week or so. (CONGRATS to all the kids!) But, can I just say it: A sista is broke! And then yesterday, I got an email from the school's secretary asking if I would provide the funds for the celebratory cake to be served at the kindergarten ceremonies next week - to the tune of $60. (can you hear me sighing?) I agreed to do it, but truly was wondering where I would find the funds. And here's a small confession - I never prayed about the situation. Just said I would do it, figuring I save pennies, nickels, and dimes everyday for the school, so it would all work out.

Unbeknownst to me, God had a better/different plan.

I serve as team leader for the group of secretaries on the floor within the law firm where I work. Last month for Staff Appreciation Week, I pulled together small gift bags that included personalized coffee mugs filled with all kinds of goodies for each secretary. I was reimbursed from the firm and everyone said "Thank you" and trust me, that was sufficient for me. I figured it was just part of my job as team leader. But some of the secretaries took it upon themselves to say thanks in a more tangible way - and yesterday, presented me with a card that I thought contained $60! (Well, when I counted again, it was $80 - so God gave me a tip!) And it was RIGHT ON TIME!

But the story does not end there...I am not shy about testifying about the goodness of the Lord (you might have figured that out by now...) and so, as I was telling each of the secretaries a personal thank you, I also told them about how it was right on time and how God had blessed. Within 15 minutes, one of the secretaries handed me an envelope with $60 in it marked "For your cause." When I called her to tell her that I would not accept the funds and that she had done enough already - she responded, "Only God can tell me when I have done enough - not you." Now, how you gonna argue with that kind of logic? Again, "Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear." Isaiah 65:24 NIV

I don't know what you may be going through today, but I implore you to remember - God is ALWAYS on time and will deliver you - exactly when you need to be delivered.

Be blessed.

12 May 2008

The power of the written word...

I love writing this blog, but I especially love getting feedback. What a powerful thing to be able to impact people with your thoughts and words. So I love when my friends reach out to tell me that a blog touched them or moved them or otherwise impacted their live, if only for a moment. Some comments have been tear-producing (in a positive way)- although, as one friend of mine told me recently, that doesn't take much these days. In fact, she has started calling me "Jeremiah's sister" after the weeping prophet of the Old Testament. (Am I really that bad? Don't answer that!)

Some comments have made me laugh. Like my friend, Erroll, who told me this weekend: "I really like your blog, but boy, you sure have a lot to say!" hahaha. He doesn't know the half of it. I have a notebook where I am jotting down ideas for future blogs. But since I only want to post one a day - I am sure there were several thoughts that will go unpublished.

Some comments have blown me away. Like when people write me to tell me, "your blog was JUST WHAT I NEEDED TODAY". How powerful is that?! That God would use ME(!!) to bless someone in a significant way. I stand in awe every time that happens because I truly am aware of the wretchedness of myself. So, all praise and honor to Him when/if you are ever blessed by anything I sit down to write.

Some comments have been encouraging and uplifting - a special shout out to my godsister in Seattle; to my boss' wife, whose comment in response to HONOR THY MOTHER was so amazing, I had to post it; to my co-worker (JJ) who has set a "to-do" reminder on her calendar to check my blog every afternoon at 1:00p - and if I don't have something posted, I get an email saying, "where's the blog?"; to my best friend from college, who used one of the blog messages in her radio ministry this past weekend; and to my other co-worker (JT) who consistently prays with and for me as I send these messages out into cyberspace. And, any time someone tells me that they passed the blog contents along to someone else, I am amazed and encouraged and amazed and inspired to keep writing. [Did I mention, amazed?]

But on another level, I understand the power of the written word. Over 2000 years ago, men, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, wrote down some words that told the story about a Man who walked this earth and lived among us and then died to restore us to the perfect creations we are intended to be. For 2000 years, evil men have tried to destroy these writings, to discount the writings as "good stories" or fables or fairy tales. They have tried to negate the belief that people have in them - to no avail. The Bible remains the #1 bestselling book of all time and I, for one, don't believe that is just happenstance. There is power in the Word of God. If you haven't ever read it, I encourage you to do so. And if you have, I encourage you to spend more time reading it. I know I need to. It is so easy to get distracted by all the other ... stuff ... that is out there to read, but just a few minutes a day (to start) reading the Word of God can make a world of difference...

Thank you to all of you who take time to read this little blog. I pray that God will continue to use me to be a blessing to everyone who chooses to read this.

Be blessed.

09 May 2008

Disobedience has a price...

About three months ago, my mother lost her voice. Since my mother and I live together, a lot of my friends teased me that this was a blessing in disguise. But after two months of living with whispering and repeated "what did you say?"s, my mother finally went to a series of doctors and got tested. We found out that she had severe bleeding underneath the lining of her vocal cords and she was placed on two weeks TOTAL VOICE REST! No talking, no singing, no whispering, nothing. Now, you might think this would be bliss, but you ain't never seen my mother trying to charade her way through an explanation of something...Lawd, hav mercy!

Well, we made it through the two weeks and my mom goes back to the doctor and is told, "you can talk on a LIMITED basis - you still need to rest your voice." So what does my mother do? Starts talking and laughing and talking and...you get the picture. I mean, it was so bad that I had people at church telling on my mother..."your momma is in there talking again"...and one sister even threatened to bring duct tape to the church to tape my mother's mouth. Needless to say, when my mom when back to the doctor this week, she was told NO TALKING again! So, we are back to charades, text messaging, erase boards at the dinner table and other creative forms of communicating - as well as a minimum of seven weeks of speech therapy and treatment - and beyond that, we have no idea when she will be able to talk, sing, or laugh without causing additional damage to her voice chords. ALL BECAUSE SHE COULD NOT BE OBEDIENT!

I can complain about it, but I'm really no different. God gave us instructions on how we are to care for ourselves, our bodies, our lives - and yet, daily I am disobedient. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes and placed on oral medications. I was told then, "you need to change your diet and exercise more", but have I done it? Uh...no. The Bible gives instruction on chastity and purity and modesty - yeah, I struggle with those issues on a daily...make that hourly basis! In the Bible, we are given principles about stewardship, diet, relationships - with God and with our fellow man - and yet, I am disobedient - I reach for the key lime pie instead of the apple - and consistently reap the consequences of that disobedience - larger sized clothing, wider hips, you get the picture.

And believe me, there are ALWAYS consequences. The enemy knew that when he tempted Eve in the garden. But he does not want to suffer the consequences of sin alone, so he tempts each of us every day to fall into his trap and suffer with him. I pray that each of us will think about how our actions impact us and what the true consequence of our disobedience can be as we go through each day.

The good news is we don't have to suffer the consequences. We can make a choice to do the right thing, follow the principles laid forth for us, and reap the benefits of obedience. IF my mother does what the doctors tell her, I am confident that she will be restored to full voice...but that will be the subject of another blog!

Be blessed.

Honor thy mother...

Ok, so this should be a "no-brainer" since Sunday is Mother's Day. The day where everyone honors the woman who pushed them out into the world and gave them life..."I went through 42 hours of HARD LABOR to get you here and THIS is the thanks I get...!" (smile) So, here is my tribute to mothers everywhere:

To my mother - who endured the said 42 hours to birth me (and 28 hours to birth my brother); who had brain surgery when I was 6 years old and prayed to God that if someone else could raise her children better to take her life, but if it was her job to raise us, to spare her; who suffered years in an abusive marriage and became a better, stronger person because of it; who always supported any crazy idea my brother and I ever had; who still tries to dress me at age 43; who is always proud of me and is my staunchest supporter; who loves me unconditionally. Thank you for being the perfect mother for imperfect me.

To my godmother - who loves me as her own; who is a willing sound board when my mother gets on my last nerve and I cannot take it anymore! - (inside joke); who "oh, honey"'s me when I need to be "oh honey"ed.; who loves me unconditionally. Thanks Momma Anne.

To my paternal grandmother - who I speak with every Sunday morning from 7:00a until she stops talking; who has learned over the years to say "I love you the best way I know how" (and she does); who is learning to listen when I need to talk; who reminds me that my ultimate goal is heaven and whatever I have to go through here on earth is only temporary; who taught me the importance of independence, even in old age. To Miss T. Love you!

To my "other mother" who married my father; who challenges me to think for myself about what I need and should ask for from others; who, since we haven't always had a perfect relationship, continues to strive with me for a mutually acceptable middle ground of existence. It is not a perfect relationship, but it is getting better and I am happy for that.

To all my aunts, cousins and other family members who are mothers. Ok, I have a LARGE family, so I ain't even gonna try to name everyone here. You know who you are! Happy Mother's Day.

To my "play moms" who all play different roles in my life - or played them at different times in my life, but who also love me without judging, who support me with smiles, phone calls when I'm down, letters and cards that just say, "I was thinking about and praying for you." - to Jane B., Dr. Sis. Juanita B., Eliza S., Dolores K., and Leah M.

To my friends who constantly amaze me with their love, compassion, caring and support of their children as they struggle to raise them to be caring, compassionate, responsible people who love the Lord and their fellow men and women. Some are single and doing it all alone and my hat goes off to them especially. Some are married and juggle home, work, children and whatever else they have on their plates. Some are separated or divorced and dealing with those stresses while raising their children. And sadly, some are widows who find themselves alone at a time when they expected that their mate would be here to help raise their children to adulthood. So here's to: Linda A., Julie J., Jacquie T., Shana T., Deborah M., Vonda H., Metha C., Vicki M., Marecha B., Lisa S., Sue K., Sonya S., Tracey S., Laura H., Randi C., Pat C., Kendall T., Marion C., Brenda M., Robin W., Jackie Q., and countless others.

And finally, to the unsung women (like me) who have never birthed a child and yet, still "mother" others by caring for them or by mentoring them or by encouraging them. It takes a special woman to take on the cares, joys and sorrows of others when there is no "obligation" to do so. This tribute is to Ginny B., Carol M., Lisa A., Cheryl V., Alice H., Dorothy J., Tamika W., Cameron C. and others I am blessed to know.

[I am sure I am missing someone - I pray you will charge it to my head, not my heart]

To mothers - women - everywhere....be blessed and have a happy happy Mother's Day.

02 May 2008

Some "clean up" issues

Hi. I will be on vacation and away from the computer until Thursday, May 8. Please pray for safe traveling mercies for me and my mother as we travel. I hope to join you on Thursday morning with another posting.

Also, I have been asked a few times, "how do I leave a comment?" If you read the day's entry, at the very bottom of the post, there is a link that says, POST A COMMENT. It is kind of small, but it's there below the line at the bottom of the post.

Have a great weekend and be blessed!

Confirmation / All we need is love...

“What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.”

Yesterday, I wrote about calendars and scheduling. When I checked my online calendar (WOMEN WHO DO TOO MUCH), the above quote was the message for yesterday. God works in amazing ways sometimes and it is my opinion that the above quote just serves as confirmation that we need to be faithful stewards of our time.

ALL WE NEED IS LOVE: A popular song made famous by the Beatles is also a Biblical principle. When asked what the greatest commandment given to man was, Jesus responded, LOVE - first, love for God and then, love of each other. [Matthew 22:34-40] Our devotional this morning in my prayer group was about this topic. How, because God loves us, we are commanded to 'repay the debt of love He showed to us, by loving each other'. And He ain't talking about loving those who are "easy" to love - our family, our friends, the person who smiles at you every day...we are commanded to love the "unlovable". And, believe me, that ain't always easy.

But isn't that the point? The Bible teaches that if you only love those who love you, you are no better than the heathens. [Matthew 5:46; Luke 6:32] It takes NO effort on your part to love someone who is nice to you, who blesses you, who smiles at you. It is the co-worker who snarls at you each morning, or the rude driver that cuts you off, or the family member who works your first, middle AND last nerve! That is who God commands you to love...love them as you love yourself. [And you know you LOVE yourself!]

As God loves us, we are to love one another. John 3:16 is probably one of the most familiar texts in the Bible: For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son...He loved, He gave. We can do no less.

Be blessed.

01 May 2008

Scheduling some time...

I LOVE CALENDARS! Ok, anyone who knows me knows this. I LIVE for September when the 16 month calendars for the new year come out. I go to Dollar Tree and Michaels and Party City and I stock up. Certain friends of mine know that, in September, they are getting a calendar from me. I don't do holiday gift giving any more, but if you have a birthday in September - March, you can believe that you are probably getting a calendar as a gift - or as part of your gift. Throughout my house - in the den, in the kitchen, in the bedrooms and bathrooms - calendars abound! And I don't get generic calendars - I get travel and big grid and scenery and flowers and quotes/sayings and page-a-day and ... ok, you get the picture.

And then there are the electronic versions: my Outlook, my BlackBerry, my electronic versions of my page-a-day calendars. The calendars that have the 30 minute increments where I can place the minutiae of life in its place - doctors appointments, lunch engagements, theatre outings, vacations, girls-day out with my sistafriends, etc. etc. And with some of them, there are even little reminders that pop up - "so & so's birthday is next week", "don't forget to pay this bill", and one of my favorites that shows up every 6 weeks: "time for a mini-vacation, don't you think?"

So, you would think I'd have it all covered, right? With all those calendars, all those reminders, I should be (as my godsister calls me) the most "together" sista on the planet...right? Well, I'm pretty good. I remember MOST things. But sometimes an item will get put on the Outlook calendar, but not the BlackBerry - or on the BlackBerry calendar, but not the master calendar that is posted on the kitchen wall so my mother can keep up with where I am (or at least, where I am supposed to be) at any given time. I drop the ball occasionally. (Praise God it is not very often, but hey, I ain't perfect!)

Aren't you glad that God is ... perfect, that is. He NEVER forgets an appointment. He NEVER has to be reminded. He NEVER drops the ball. And He doesn't "schedule" us into His busy-ness...He is always there, no matter the hour/day/season/year...ALWAYS. WE are the ones who are too busy for Him. I mean, other than my reminder to join my prayer group at 6:00a every weekday morning and my reminder for Prayer Meeting on Wednesday nights, I am ashamed to say, I don't have any reminders popping up telling me to "go spend some time with your Father." I don't have the note on the calendar, "spend some time in the Word." I'm not saying that I don't do those things, but I am aware that I don't do them as often as I should. [Y'all pray for me!]

There is a book on stewardship that I am slowly re-reading called OVER AND OVER AGAIN. This is a compilation of personal testimonies of how God blesses when we are faithful in our stewardship. Now, most of the time when you hear Christians talk about "stewardship", the assumption is that they are talking about tithing and money. But this book brings out that we are to be faithful stewards of ALL THINGS: including our time, talents, ministry...the list goes on and on. There is a story in the book of how one man's Christian walk was enhanced when he decided to return a "tithe" on his time. For 10% of his day (roughly 2.5 hours), he was going to devote his time to reading the Word and communing one on one with God. [I know, you're like me...thinking..."2.5 hours! Where am I supposed to find 2.5 hours in my day!?"] Well, he made the commitment and his story is amazing. I ain't quite there yet, but as I get older and as I grow in my relationship with Christ, I recognize that I have to do better. My 30 minutes on the phone each morning, communing and praying with fellow believers has blessed me in ways untold and it is the perfect start to the morning. But sometimes, in the busy-ness of the day, that 30 minutes of blessing is gone before lunchtime.

I encourage you today...make time in your busy schedule to commune with YOUR Heavenly Father. Start off slow...5 minutes in prayer in the morning, 5 minutes at lunch, 5 minutes before you go to bed. I am willing to challenge you that as you do it, 5 minutes will become 10, 10 will become 15, and that will (eventually) become 2.5 hours (or more) over the course of the day. See how it changes your life and how you react to the situations that are placed in your way. I bet you (and I) will be blessed...above more than you can ever imagine.

Be blessed.