Refreshed

It took a little while but this morning I was able to complete my 90-Day study of Awaken by Priscilla Shirer.  I love the format in which this book is written.  Each day begins with a scripture and then a short discussion followed by time to write down your thoughts.  If you are looking for a short daily devotional with high impact, I would definitely recommend this book.

On Monday, when I realized that I was almost done with Awaken, I stopped at my local Lifeway Christian bookstore to find my next bible study jewel.  I had no idea what I wanted to read/study next so I browsed the shelves for about an hour trying to find a book I was hoping would speak to my mind, spirit and soul.  I thumbed through all of the authors I am familiar with but nothing felt quite right.  I then turned my attention to authors I had not read before.  Low and behold I came across a book titled Craving Connection by (in)courage.  (in)courage, I have since come to know, was founded by Dayspring as an online community for women to share stories about their every day lives with God.

I purchased this little gem and brought it home.  I am looking forward to cracking it open in the morning and taking the next step toward building an even closer, deeper relationship with my heavenly Father.

On to greater heights...😊

It’s Her Birthday

Today is a very special day for me. It’s my momma’s birthday! She would have turned sixty-six on today.  I lost my momma in June of 2015.  Even now, it’s still very hard for me to believe she’s no longer with us.  Grateful that she’s no longer in pain but so sad she had to go.

The months of November and December were her favorite.  She loved cooking so Thanksgiving and Christmas gave her the opportunity to go all out.  Feeding us and making a plate for anyone who stopped by gave her so much joy.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of both my parents but I think of them most often during this time of year.

Time is not always on our side and everything can’t wait.  There is one thing I can be whole about when it comes to losing my parents and that is we had no unfinished business at the time of their deaths.  I can mourn and be sad without guilt or feeling as if I should have said something or done something prior to losing them.

Be authentic. Love your family, love your friends.  If you have something to say…say it.  If you know you were wrong…humble yourself and apologize.  If someone hurt you, tell them and clear the air.  Remember…forgiveness is for you.  You walking around in hurt and anger is only further hurting you.

Missing my momma…

 

Life Is Like A Boat!

Jonah 1:15 – Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.

I read this passage during my quiet time this morning and it got me to thinking! Jonah boarded this boat headed in the total opposite direction that God told him to go, right?  Jonah was running and yet the other guys on the boat had no idea what Jonah he was up to.  What should have been a normal, easy trip to Tarshish turned wild as the sea began raging.  The other sailors weren’t certain but they had a feeling something wasn’t right and that maybe someone was in trouble with God, but who?

As they began tossing their cargo and trying to figure out how to calm the raging sea, Jonah said nothing.  In fact, Jonah was sleeping like a baby.  It wasn’t until the sailors woke him and told him to pray that Jonah became aware of just how dangerous a situation they all were in.  When they sat down to cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah, they asked, “what should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”  Jonah’s reply, “pick me up, and toss me overboard.”  They didn’t what to and they tried to go back to land but the raging sea only grew worse.  Finally, after praying, they threw Jonah over and the sea grew calm.

How many people do you have riding in your boat that’s causing the sea of your life to rage? We so often spend time trying to figure out why things in our lives are “raging” and why situations just won’t go right.  At times like this, yes, it’s great to look within ourselves to make any necessary corrections but we also need to take a closer look at the people in and around our lives. Just as God was calling to Jonah and the crew on the boat inadvertently got caught up in his correction, we, too, can sometimes get caught up in God’s correction of others.

Our sea of life could be raging because of a relationship, friendship or acquaintance.  We may not be able to cast lots but we can pray for God’s direction and ask him for clear eyes to see if those in our lives are right for us.  Then to calm our sea, we just may have to throw some people overboard.

Keep calm and trust God…:)

Throwing Up Hands

Remember those times when you’ve gone to the store and the item you wanted to buy (socks, perfume, underwear, sheets) comes all neatly tucked in a package? But, you wanted to see it up close.  Touch it.  Hold it up to see how it looked.  Ever so gently, you open the package, careful not to tear it.  You take the item out thinking you were going to remember how it came out so you could fold it back and replace it in the package just as you found it.  With your smooth operation, no one would be able to tell the difference.

Then there is just one problem…after you’ve examined the item, try as you might, it just won’t fold up and fit back inside the package.  You get one side in and just when you think you’ve got it…the other side pops out!  After a while of struggling, you throw your hands up in defeat, toss the item and its package on the shelf and walk away.

Isn’t it funny how life some times works that way too?  You are doing your thing, living your life and all seems well until an issue or problem pulls you out of your neat little package.  You try several different options to try to get your peace of mind back and the situation under control but nothing seems to work.  You work out one thing and something on the other side pops out.  When all is said and done, the only thing you want to do is throw your hands up in the air and walk away. If you are anything like me, you like to wrestle with a situation until it is fixed.  I do not like to quit.  When something in my life isn’t working all I want to do is dig in and fix it.  But then, I am gently reminded that I don’t have to wrestle and that I can throw my hands up and walk away.  I can do this because my faith in God allows me to trust that without my help, pushing, wrestling and Ms. Fix-It attitude, He can work things out for me.

My Love once told me about a saying his grandfather had.  His grandfather would say, “there’s no point in you and God being up at night worrying about something. He’s going to be up anyway so give it to him and get your rest.”

Give it to God…:)

The Difference

Writing is something that I absolutely love to do and I was inspired to write this post after reading Awaken by Priscilla Shirer this morning in my quiet time. Today was Day 10 of this devotional entitled The Difference.  The scripture reading for today was from Numbers 14:24 (NIV) and it reads…

But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to and his descendants will inherit it.

For much of my life and especially as an adult, I’ve been told that I was different.  That I think differently, talk differently and pretty much do my life differently than the norm.  For the longest time this bothered me.  I didn’t want to be different.  It seemed that whenever my thoughts and opinions differed from my friends, when I chose to eat healthier or when I spoke about God and openly practiced my faith, I was getting some side-eyed glance or turned up nose from someone.

At one point in my life I can remember being so annoyed with being different that I just started going along with the norm.  When asked, I agreed with the group even when I knew I didn’t share the same thoughts and opinions.  I made choices and decisions based on what others said I should do and lived the way they expected me to live.  The more I went along with the norm the more my head, heart and body ached.  I seemed to always be physically and emotionally drained. I was tired and unhappy.  I’d gained weight and developed anxiety.  A few years ago as I sat talking with a friend about my struggles, stress and sadness, she said to me, “there is no way you can please everybody.  Sometimes it becomes about self preservation.  People are going to do what they want and you will be stuck in misery trying to live down to their expectations.”

Live down to their expectations…wow!

It was in that moment I realized I was more miserable living life trying not to be different rather than simply accepting myself for who I was and living life to my own expectations.  So people talked about me and made fun of me.  Yes, it was furiously annoying but I was and am much more happier just being myself.  My quiet time this morning, reminded me that God purposely made me unique and different for a reason.  No one else can be me.  The path and life God has for me is for me and no one else can walk my journey.  Since that talk with my friend, I’ve been living my life according to me ever since and have been better for it.

At church this past Sunday a gentleman sitting next to me said to me, “you must have a good life because you are always smiling.”  When I woke up Sunday I really was not feeling as if I was living a good life.  But after a moment of thinking about it, I had to agree with him.  I do have a good life.  We survived a hurricane with no damage to our home; my love, my son and my family are healthy and well and I am gainfully employed.  I may be different but I am soooo very happy!

A different kind of spirit…:)

 

 

Welcome 2017

As 2016 has come to an end, just like my winter break, I spent a few moments last night and today reflecting on my life this past year.  To be perfectly honest, I am just grateful to be alive and as far as I know healthy.  I have my family, I have a job, I have a roof over my head and I woke up this morning in my right mind. Can’t ask for much more than that.  While I didn’t reach all of the goals I’d set for myself in 2016, I did make some very big gains in my personal, profession and spiritual life.  Of course, there were some good times and a whole bunch of not-so good times but all in all it was a very good year.

I am just as equally proud of my bad days as I am of my good days.  Over the years I have come to understand that without bad days I would never learn how strong, dynamic, resourceful and creative I am.  All the things I say I can do and will do won’t mean as much if I don’t have some struggle along the way.  I put forth every effort to live the life that my parents dreamed for me and one that will leave a legacy/impact that will make those around me proud to have known me.  I don’t always get it right.  I don’t always handle challenging situations appropriately.  However, every morning that God wakes me up, I open my eyes with prayer in my heart and I am grateful for another opportunity to get it right.  I’ve learned how to say, “I’m sorry” even if I may not be in the wrong because my relationships with my family and friends is important to me.  I’ve learned to forgive even when I don’t necessarily “feel” like it because I know forgiveness is for my betterment and well being, and not someone else.

There are so many things to look forward to that I didn’t spend too much time looking back.  We want to reflect not dwell!

Expecting great things in 2017…:)

 

 

 

 

Moments in Life

I’ve lived in Florida for nearly twenty years now and I still find it funny when people “tease” me about my free thinking spirit or strange thinking as I’ve heard it called.  What most people don’t know or understand about me is that I am very aware that my thinking is different from the norm.  I love being me, I love being different and I absolutely love my free thinking spirit.

I was born in San Francisco in the 1970’s.  Growing up there, what I remember most is family get togethers and lots and lots of people.  There were people who looked like me and people who didn’t.  I had friends of all shades, shapes and sizes.

And then it happened…I moved to my mother’s home state of Alabama to live with my grandmother.  I lived there for a couple of years during middle and high school.  The years I lived there were probably some of the darkest and worst times of my life.  Unless a person was born there, one, especially a free thinking, spirited kid from California, could never understand what pure hatred, negativity and ugliness looked like.

I loved being with my grandmother.  She taught me things I would have never learned or appreciated in California.  I learned how to wash clothes without a wash machine, pick fresh fruit and veggies, sew without a sewing machine, cook without processed foods, share without thinking what I’d get in return, to respect others, to do right because it’s the right thing to do and to act like somebody with some sense.  However, what I remember most was not only how blacks were treated in the south by white Americans but how we treated each other.  Living in Alabama was the first time and the only time I experienced bullying by my own peers.  Prior to moving there, I had no idea that my skin was “too dark” or that my hair was “too nappy” or that my last name rhymed with so many other negative things.  Living in California I grew up understanding that we are all different in some way but that people were just people.

When we finally moved back to California, I was lost, confused and scared of everything and everybody. Life for me had changed drastically.  I had the privilege of spending my last two years of high school at an all girls Catholic school.  Being there helped me to recover some of what I’d lost in Alabama.  I was no longer that “black girl with the nappy hair and funny last name.”  I was just me. Again, I was able to have friends that didn’t all look like me or talk like me. I found the girls and administrators at my school to be some of the most encouraging, loving, funny, and beautiful people I knew.  I know for certain it had nothing to do with the religious aspect of the school but simply people who wanted to be their best and helping others to be their best as well.

We live our lives never knowing which situations will break us or those that will make us stronger.  What I am most grateful for is that I had the experience of growing up in a place that allows people to be different.  I’m grateful that my experiences in Alabama didn’t strip away the heart of who and what I truly am.  I love that I don’t have a keep my head down mentality.  I’m not afraid of growing or changing. I’m not afraid to seek or ask for help from any person of any race. I’m glad that I see the bigger picture.  I don’t care what others think or say about me.  I’m grateful to be a free and reasonable thinker.  The only thing that defines who I am is me and personally, I think more people would benefit from being more open to the differences of others then taking the time to learn from them.

Learning from others…:)