October 23, 2013

Christian Living: What I SHOULD do!

This past Sabbath, my pastor shared an incredible message on faith.
It was a message that I had been praying for. Truthfully, I almost didn't go to church but I read a quote a few days before that was pretty convicting: 

"Don't let anything keep you out of church today that wouldn't keep you out of work on Monday."

I can appreciate the sentiment and so I went to church. 

The sermon was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I was sitting in the fellowship hall taking notes like crazy. The sermon was based in Mark 9: 17-24 where a man needed deliverance for his demon-possessed son. I just want to share two critical points for us to remember as we figure out life and faith. 

1. Your face/reflection/countenance should never reflect your circumstances. Your face should reflect your God. How can this happen? Take EVERYTHING to God in prayer and make sure you are getting your DAILY bread. Make sure you talk to Christ daily and get in the Word daily. 

2. Never underestimate a seed. The seeds (habits, practices) you plant today can morph into a giant powerful tree. Make sure you are planting the right seeds. Plant seeds of faith, discipline, positivity, beauty, love, diligence and endurance. 

Tony Robbins is one of my favorite motivational speakers. When it comes to changing your life for the better, I've heard him share the difference between what we should do and what we must do.   He says that we always know what we should do. The problem is that we don't turn those "shoulds" into "musts" so we end up "SHOULDing" all over ourselves (haha, get it?) (his words not mine) . Make sure that reading the word of God, being in constant prayer, and planting the right seeds are habits that you MUST do and you will succeed! 

God bless you!


October 16, 2013

Christian Living: Let go and Let God!

Oftentimes in our Christian walk of faith, we hear the cliche colloquialisms: 

1. God is good...all the time...and all the time...God is good.
2. God's got it. 
3. I'm blessed and highly favored. 
4. Show up and show out!
5. Let go and Let God. 

Because these statements are repeated so often, it can be easy to miss the fact that these are powerful truths. I woke up early one morning feeling completely stressed out about a whole bunch of things. There were so many concerns floating around in my head and I literally had to call out to God and tell Him to take them out of my head. As I drove to work, I told God I was letting go. I told God that I wasn't going to concern myself with the worries. I was going to do all I could do and leave the rest to Him. A couple minutes later, I received a text that was an immediate answer to one of my prayers. I couldn't believe it but at the same time, I could. I loved how God was trying to show me to lean on Him for everything and literally let go. As soon as I made the mental decision to stop stressing, God took over and did something powerful for me. God can order our steps if we let Him. The problem lies in the fact that a lot of times, we don't truly trust God to supply everything we need. We don't trust that He can do exceedingly, abundantly above all we could ever ask, think, or imagine in our lives. We read about it in the Bible. We hear about in sermons. We hear the testimonies of friends and family members. We might've even see it in our own lives in the past but to believe that God can show up and show out again in our favor...? That has some of us in a nervous place. We add nothing to our lives by stressing and worrying. What would life look like if you decided to truly let go of your worries and anxieties? I'd strongly encourage you to let go. God is waiting to be all you need and more. 

Here's another cliche colloquialism for you: 

Trust God. 

God bless you. 

October 15, 2013

Christian Living: Functioning in the Dysfunction

Recently, my cousin brought up a really thought-provoking concept that I haven't been able to shake since he said it. This happened a couple weeks ago but it was incredibly poignant for me. Allow me to explain. 

Point of Consideration: People can know and be forewarned about impending disaster and choose not to do anything about because of what it could cost them. As a result,  they learn to work within the confines of the disaster when it arrives. He used the example of a cracked iPhone screen. If a screen protector and case are not applied to the phone, if the phone drops, the screen will more than likely shatter because it is made of glass.  Because Apple repairs can be very costly, based on how badly the screen is shattered, people will still try and use the screen. They will learn to work within the confines of a bad situation because it is temporarily convenient. 

As I sat there and listened, I had a cracked screen on my iPhone. It's the second time I've cracked my screen within six months. This time is not nearly as bad as the first time. The first time I cracked the screen, I really did get it fixed as soon as possible because the phone was shattered. This time, the crack is barely noticeable to be honest. But, there was a lesson there for me...and I'm hoping someone can get something out of this too. 

Lesson: A lot of times, we can get so comfortable in dysfunctional situations because of laziness. It takes work, time, effort, skill, money, etc. to change a problem. Too often, people are lazy and decide "no, i'm going to hold off that repair until later." When they check back later, the lack of urgency made problem even bigger and the work becomes even more consuming. If there's something you can do about your dysfunction now, do it. Create a plan to conquer whatever problems you have. The longer you sit on your issues, the longer you live in dysfunction. I don't care what anyone says. You do not have to live with dysfunction as your reality. Do it right the first time and take care of business. You'll be glad you did. 

God bless you. 

October 14, 2013

Christian Living: Nothing is Impossible

Luke 1:37 reminds us that nothing is impossible with God. In Luke 1, Elizabeth and Mary receive the news that they will be giving birth to amazing men. Elizabeth, who gave birth to John the Baptist, was old and barren. However, the Holy Spirit opened up her womb and blessed her with an incredible son. Mary, who have birth to Jesus Christ himself, was an engaged virgin when the Holy Spirit planted Jesus in her womb. Both situations were impossible by human standards but in this chapter, God reminds us that ALL things are possible.

It's interesting to note the encounter between the angel Gabriel and Zechariah. When Gabriel told Zechariah that Elizabeth was going to have a son in her old age, Zechariah questioned Gabriel. He asked him how he was supposed to believe such a thing. The angel Gabriel then told him that since he didn't believe, Zechariah would not be allowed to talk about the pregnancy until the son's birth.

Now if you've had a child before, you know the excitement that comes along with it. Your life becomes consumed with all things baby related. It's all you can talk about and share with friends, family, strangers, social media, etc. So you can imagine how difficult it must have been to mute during your wife's pregnancy. Well, that was the plight of Zechariah, the unbeliever.

On one hand, you really do want to give Zechariah a break. He had valid points as to why it would be hard to believe that he'd never have a son. However, when the angel Gabriel came and spoke it into his life, he should've believed right then and there. It makes me wonder how often have I questioned God and as a result received a punishment based on my unbelief. I can't dwell on that but I do believe that God takes it personally when we doubt Him. He has given His word which is FULL of His promises. He sent His ONLY son to die for our sins. He has shown His love to us countless times and yet still we can't even believe Him to provide the desires of our hearts. Shame on us.

Let this post serve as a heart check. Make it a practice to believe God at His word. The longer we meditate on His promises and focus on what He is doing in our lives, the less time we have to doubt Him. We mainly doubt because we don't know Him like we should. Cling to Jesus Christ in your moments of weakness, vulnerability and unbelief. He WILL show up and show out every time.

God bless you.


October 11, 2013

A Beautiful Struggle

**Note: I wrote this on Wednesday December 3, 2008 and I figured it would be really nice to share! This was written just a few months after graduation from Oakwood and I was living in Atlanta. 

A Beautiful Struggle
You know how some people have what seems like "instant success"? It's like they get the right grades, get the right degrees, get the right jobs within two wks. of graduation, get the right cars, get the right houses, get the right salaries, get the right ladder to climb up on....( you catch my drift?) It's the type of person where, yes, God is definitely working in their life and you can look at their life and say "Man, I need to get prayed up because whatever they're doing, I need to petition the father to encourage me to do!" LOL.
But, that's not everyone's story! :)
And it's definitely not mine!!!!

But, I'm at the point where I praise God for that! Praise God what He's doing in the lives of others' but, what I have is for me and I can't miss that! So many times, we tend to look so much at what other people have and ask God for what they have so that we can compete, feel better about ourselves, feel validated, whatever. But, we're insatiable as human beings. We're never satisfied. Once we get one thing, we're already looking at what's next as opposed to what's in front of us.

I'm jumping around. Let me make my point and go back to work! LOL.
My point is this: sometimes, God allows us to struggle so that we can see the beauty in living life and achieving goals. If we never had it hard, how could we possibly appreciate an easy-going life...or moment even; and savor/enjoy it to the fullest?

I lost my phone charger on Sunday and was feeling really out of sorts with a dead phone. The MARTA (bus) system in Atlanta isn't the greatest and so I had to take 3 buses to go literally what would have taken 5 minutes driving (but 2 hours walking in the cold...I tried that once, no fun!). I got there and then Goodwill was right behind the store so I also stopped in Goodwill. While there, I saw the cutest picture in a frame. It was a woman at the beach with a parasol and something about it was so cool to me.So I bought it. It was funny because just as I grabbed it, a man behind voiced his disappointment saying had I not grabbed it, he would've taken that picture home! I smiled because I couldn't leave that girl in the frame behind. Mind you, I still had to take the bus home and the picture was almost half the size of me! So, I asked the people at the front if I could buy the picture and come back later to pick it up when I would have a car....they said no. So, in order to have the beautiful picture, I'd have to endure what ended up being a three hour trip with that large frame in 30 degree weather.
As I stood underneath the last bus stop, I looked around: no street lights, the waffle house lights were in the distance but honestly, if I was raped, I couldn't even be mad because I was a female on a long highway alone, unarmed. Then across the street, a man paced up and down the street and for sure, I knew my life was over because he would take advantage of me. But, when the last bus finally arrived, he walked away. I think God sent him to stand as a watchguard for others. :)

But, back to the point.
When I walked inside my house at 12 midnight, I had gone through all types of emotions. But once I got ready for bed, I propped up my picture and quickly got under the covers and just stared at it and smiled! I could look at the picture and appreciate what I'd gone through to bring it back with me. There's a story behind that picture and even though you may not find it attractive, to me, it's one of the most beautiful pieces of art in the world simply because the girl in the picture reminded me of something I'd forgotten: I'm supposed to live a life with beautiful struggles. Not to break me down, but to allow me appreciate the goodness of God and live each day with gratitude in my heart.

October 10, 2013

Christian Living: You are Stronger than You Think You are!!!

I had a REALLY tough time getting out of bed this morning. I woke up around 5 am and happily snuggled back under the covers, knowing that I had two hours left of sleepy time. I woke up around 6:30 am decided that I'd do devotion in bed. Something about the rain and the way my stomach was feeling kept me glued to the bed until the last minute. I rushed to get dressed and ready for work but it took a pretty substantial pep talk to get things moving. As I pushed and got ready for the day, I mentally made the decision that no matter what happened, I would make it through the day. Mind you, I LOVE my job. I LOVE the people I work with. I actually look forward to work every day. Why was I in such a weird place? Well, it was cold and rainy outside. My body was feeling a little weak and my stomach was a little crampy but that usually doesn't stop me, right?

As soon as I got to work, my stomach went into cramping hell. I gave my high-fives and good morning hugs to the kids and then made a beeline for the bathroom. I then took some medicine, ate some oatmeal (something to stick to the bones when you take medicine) and decided to keep the promise I made to myself only hours before. My boss informed me that we had quite a few errands to run: doctor's office, Wegman's and Toys R Us. Fun day, right?

As we drove to the doctor's office, my body felt like it was in the midst of a controlled fire. I could contain the pain but it was very very real. Within 20 minutes of arriving at the doctor's,  I had been in and out of the bathroom three times. I took two more Ibu Profin for a total of 800 mg in my system and then vomited it all up. Gross, uh? I began to pray because of the promise I made to myself and I really didn't want to go home and be stuck in bed all day. After praying and vomiting, I instantly felt A LOT better. I was so surprised and happy about it. My boss, at this point, was super cool and was kept checking on me to see if I needed anything. I assured her I was fine and then we headed to Wegman's. While in Wegman's, we stopped to purchase a hot cup of tea. I made it around the store just find and got to the check out line and the tea started to come back up. Thankfully, I made it to the restroom right in the knick of time to vomit the tea and remainder of my breakfast (sorry this is a gross post today). After that, I put on a Icy Hot medicated patch on my lower abdominals and went on with my business. By the time we arrived back at the house from Wegman's, I was perfectly fine and finished my day as if the dramatic morning hadn't happened. I ended up having a great finish to my day and got a ton of work done!

Moral of the story: Sometimes the immediate pain may feel unbearable but push through it! You can do it. Granted, you know your body and what you can handle. I knew that my pain would be temporary so I decided to keep pushing but sometimes it's good to push past what you think you can do because you'll surprise yourself. We are much stronger than we think we are. It's just that we've never had circumstances that really highlight that strength.  It's ironic that I gave myself the morning pep talk and promise not knowing what was in store for me. It was almost as if I was being set up for a test. I'm glad I stuck it out though. Demand a commitment from yourself and stick to it.
Your future self will thank you. Now excuse my while I pull a muscle patting myself on the back. I was a G today!

October 9, 2013

Christian Living: God Cares About the Little Things

Today was a pretty rainy day. Once I left work, I decided to take the long route home. Since I've been increasingly inspired by HGTV, I decided to stop by a furniture store that I always see from the road but never stop in. 

After a quick walk-around, the store didn't inspire me as much I thought it would so I kept moving. As I continued to drive, I ended up seeing The Salvation Army store. I went into this particular location a couple years ago and was sorely underwhelmed. However, that was a couple years ago and things could've changed. I figured I'd stop in and see what was new. Man, was I in for a real treat!!

There were so many great pieces of furniture that were dying for an update and makeover. I had to restrain myself from purchasing this incredible mirror. I have absolutely no use for it now and can't stand hoarding so I decided to let it go. However, I did pick up three fantastically awesome fitting sweaters!! I really do need winter clothes. I'm not just saying that because girls like to shop. I actually am in need.  The blessing was that everything is half-off on Wednesdays so I bought three beautiful, flattering, great- quality sweaters for $9.02 total! What a deal! I really do love how God cares about the simple things. Only God knew that I was struggling to find winter clothes that were in my budget and fit really well. Only God knew that I was trying to wear out all my summer clothes until the last minute. Now, I have three new really pretty sweaters to wear AND I know where to go on Wednesdays in order to get some more! 
Think about someone you love dearly. Don't you want to do everything in your power to make sure all their wants and needs are fulfilled? God is like that towards us but multiplied by infinity. The depth of His love isn't based in the mere material things. His love is an eternal kind of love. Our mere mortal minds can't truly comprehend it but know this: the thoughts God thinks towards us are really really good thoughts. He wants the best for us even in the things we think are simple or insignificant. He cares. He really does care. 

I'm grateful for a God who cares about the simple things! Aren't you? 

October 8, 2013

Christian Living: Sermon Notes

I am someone who loves to take notes when listening to a sermon, podcast, etc. I was going through some of my notes on my phone and I found this message that my pastor shared in June of 2012. This was such an encouraging and timely message then and it still is now. I figured I'd share the brilliance with my readers! Enjoy! I hope it is as much of a blessing to you as it's been to me. God bless you! 

6 Steps to Becoming a Confident Christian- Pastor Brenda Billingy

1. Be certain that God loves you. Receive God's love. God will send people who love you. Focus on the ones who love you. Accept the people God brings into your circle. Love them and break the cycle of negativity. 

2. A confident christian refuses to live in fear. Perfect love cast out fear. 1st John 4:18. 

3. A confident christian thinks and speaks positively. Confidence and positivity is a choice. Let the poor say I am rich in Christ Jesus!

4. A confident christian recovers from setbacks. Look to the hills from whence cometh your help. Pray with expectancy Take off the "if only". Press toward the mark of the high calling! 

5. A confident christian avoids comparisons. stop it. It will kill your confidence. Be the best you can be. God does not make mistakes. Accept your differences. Count YOUR (not your neighbor's) blessings. God will help you become a better you. Psalm 139.

6. Take action and give it to God. What you have may not seem like much, but God will do something amazing with it if you give it to him. It will not come when he takes you or breaks you (think of taking/breaking the bread at Communion). It will come when he blesses you. Deut. 28. 

When you pray it won't be about you anymore. When you pray God's promises, you will have powere. Memorize scriptural promises. 

October 7, 2013

Christian Living: Character Buildings

A little background: House Hunters Renovation is a show that airs on HGTV. Each episode is based around people who are looking to buy a home. The potential buyers choose between 3 homes that need some renovating. Once they purchase the home, the cameras document the renovation project. It's quite interesting because I love to see makeover segments. The transformations are usually incredible! FYI: You can purchase the episodes you've missed on iTunes! 

I recently watched an episode of House Hunters Renovation. 30 Rock actor Keith Powell and his visual artist girlfriend, Jill Knox purchase a beautiful home in Los Angeles and decide to tackle the kitchen as the first renovation project. I loved their home because it had so much character. I even reached out to them on Twitter to tell them! Keith actually responded! Cool, uh? The house was an older building. Older buildings usually tell lovely stories. This home was a great canvas to facilitate the dream the couple was really looking for in a home. 

In order for a home to have character, it must have a story. It must have quirks. It must have interesting details, curves, shapes, bends and scars. A lot of times, there are areas where renovation needs to take place. A negligent owner tries to avoid renovations because they are often costly, time-consuming and inconvenient. A sensible owner understands the value in a good renovation and how it can greatly increase the home's value as well as the overall living experience.  I've ALWAYS said that I'd love to purchase a home with tons of character. I understand that renovation projects can be pricey so I will be sure to budget for what I want. 

As much as I want a home with character, I also desire to have a life filled with character. God gives us plenty of character-building opportunities to grow, shape, renovate and improve the value of our lives here on Earth and eventually, in the Earth made new. Don't dismiss the renovating project God may be doing in your life. No, it probably won't be convenient or feel good. Yes, it will be costly. However the value you'll get out of it far exceeds the costs. 

After all, a home imprinted with character is temporary. 
A heart imprinted with God's character lasts forever. 

October 4, 2013

Christian Living: Believe.

I was recently in conversation with a friend. We were talking about deeply rooted beliefs that we learned through church, school, home and popular culture. We also talked about popular quotes that we often mistook for scripture. 

"By beholding, we become changed."

Granted I wasn't able to say where in the Bible that verse was but I whole heartedly believed it was there. Imagine my horror when my friend shared that it was a quote by Ellen G. White (one of the pioneering members of the Seventh-Day Adventist church).  

How could this be? 
I believed something was true so I couldn't fathom the possibility of it being false. 
It got me to thinking. What else am I completely ignorant about? 
It's not to say you'll get to a place where you'll learn everything about life. That won't happen. There are never-ending ways to learn new information. Understand that life is a not a place you get to. Life is more of a journey. Make it a sweet journey of "aha" moments and soliloquies of wonderment. 
You'll never arrive.  Just be open to be present. Operate with an open heart and open mind to mysteries that God, in time, reveals that will mold you into a more perfect creature. Be ready to believe. 

God bless you!


October 3, 2013

Christian Living: Share.

I decided not to share my blog on my social networks this week. 
I didn't want to. 
I decided that I'd much rather write and whoever stumbled upon it would find it. 
Cool, if that's your thing. 
It's not my thing. 

I hope this will resonate with someone who may, like me, be afraid to self-promote their unique brand: 
Put your best work into the world. 
Share whatever God has placed on your heart to share. 
Share boldly and selflessly.
Give with a heart that is full of excitement about what you have to offer.
There are people who need your message. 

If you're a talented artist, a loving listener who also gives sound advice, a savvy administrator, a compassionate speaker; whatever God has given you to share, please do.
There is someone out there who needs your light so that they can be strengthened to shine their own light. Be the catalyst in your microcosm that decides to be great because their birth implies the charge to do so. 

Share. Connect. Believe. Inspire. Grow. 

It's in you to do so. 

God bless you.

October 2, 2013

Christian Living: Don't Let Your Struggle Become Your Identity

Dysfunctional Family. Domestic Violence. Loneliness. Difficult friendships and/or romantic relationships. Financial distress. Undiscovered purpose. Lack of direction. Depression. Smoking. Pornography. Cutting. Laziness. What is your struggle? Many of us have at least one, if not more. Your struggles may have been picked up by associating with the wrong crowd. Your struggles may have been passed down through generations (that generational curse can do some serious damage). At the end of the day, you have them. They keep you up at night. They're the first words to pop into your mind's conversation bubble in the morning. When they go unchecked and unresolved, they plague you for years on end. They can rob you of your peace, happiness, joy and seeing the beauty that God and life have to offer. How do you get a grip? How do you bring an end to the constant state of struggle?

1. Identify it for what it is. 
Call a spade a spade. Don't continue to live in the denial. If you are dealing with people who have hurt you deeply and have shown no intentions to change, call it out for what it is. If you find yourself gravitating toward a cigarette after a stressful day at work, call it out. You shouldn't need toxic fumes that can destroy your body in order to get over something life throws at you. Call that spade a spade. The sooner you are honest with yourself about what your struggle is, the sooner you can deal and heal!

2. Ask God for help, healing, resolve. 
God knows the beginning to the end. He knows where your struggle started and why it's stayed with you for as long as it has. He knows the diamonds you can mine out of the coal. What the enemy intended for evil, God can use for His glory. Lay your weakness at His feet in prayer. Be in your Word and allow God to speak to you and give you strength through the Bible. A lot of times, we look at the Bible as just a book. The Bible has life-changing information if we would just simply open it up and read it. When you pray and seek God about a certain struggle you are facing, He will give you peace and clarity about how to deal with it. 

3. If necessary, seek professional help. 
God has equipped us with ability to get in contact with community. Community is very important when you are seeking help with a struggle. A mentor, physician, accountability partner, rehab specialist, minister, counselor, or a financial adviser are examples of people to reach out to depending on your struggle. There are people equipped to help you fight the battles life throws at you. It could be as simple as having someone to help you create a plan so that you lose the weight or a positive diversiona so that you don't pick up the phone when that ex calls. You need a plan to keep you focused and bring about change but you also need people to help be your support system. 

Whatever it is that is plaguing your mind, heart and/or spirit, follow this steps and you will see a change. Don't let your struggle become your identity. 

God bless you. 

October 1, 2013

Christian Living: What To Do When People Don't Like You

We're living in a time where love is shown through flourishing relationships, marriages, babies, successful "inner" circles, likes, retweets and large social media followings. Granted, the latter half of what I just mentioned could hardy be defined as love but this is what the culture has come to. 

I won't go into how to know when someone doesn't like you. If you've found this post, your intuition has probably given you a couple hints. Here are my two suggestions on how to move forward with the newly acquired information. 

1. Believe it. 
Maya Angelou so popularly stated that when someone shows you who they are, believe them. With all conceit aside, we know how awesome and amazing we are. It's hard to fathom someone who wouldn't want to like us or be our friend. I hate to break it to you. Not everyone will like you and some people will find pleasure in disliking you. The worst thing to do is be in denial about it. This has happened to me with people I was very very close to. I couldn't understand it and didn't want to believe what was staring me in the face. When someone doesn't like you, make sure you comprehend it and believe it because it is the truth. 

2. Dismiss it. 
Don't take time to internalize why a person can't love you, like you or be kind to you. It is what it is. Live in the truth and move on. Still continue to be genuinely kind. Never allow anyone to have so much power of you by hating them.  Now, it's easy to spend time dissecting why a person doesn't like you or what you can do to make a person like you. You shouldn't need to start a sales campaign for friendship. It just doesn't take all of that. God can place people in your life who love, support, and encourage you to be the best you can possibly be. People who don't like you will never be completely truthful as to what you can do to be better because they don't want to see you become better. 

I hope this encourages and inspires you to lay aside EVERY weight that can easily weigh you down including people who have ill will toward you. People didn't like Christ and He was perfect so don't be surprised when people don't like you with all your imperfections. God's love is perfect and fully capable to cover you.