Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How to hit rock bottom and live to tell about the climb up...

I had breakfast with a friend today and it was great to see her, yet sad at the same time. The great part was that this woman is high spirited, vivacious and extremely intelligent. She’s a thinker, so chances are I can pick a topic and her mind has already been there and colored in every element of thought that I am about to share. She’s beautiful and sensitive and caring and did I mention how smart she is? Well, she is…

The sad part was that there is only one small fraction of her that can even fathom how awesome she is. Like most of us, she has been berated with lies from the enemy of her soul and somehow, those lies have intermingled with her own voice, which is even more confusing. However, her audible confession today springs hope in my heart: “I refuse to give up!”

Because my dear friend is a fighter, which is highly required to make it these days, I have a strong belief that she will begin to heal and strengthen very soon.

In this life, when we are surrounded with lies from our earliest memories until our current age, it’s almost impossible to believe that we can be motivated, productive members of society and leave an indelible mark on this world. But as long as there is an almost in front of impossible, then it is highly possible.

In the spirit of my determined friend, I would like to offer some suggestions that may help, while fighting for your life…in any capacity.

1        Don’t pretend like everything is okay. Being fake has never healed anyone. In just about every passage  in the New Testament that had to do with miraculous healing and deliverance, someone was yelling: “HELP!” and Jesus heard them. He will hear you too.

2       No more “woe is me”. It’s not that people don’t care to hear your woes, it’s just that most folks know that those woes lead to nowhere. Without a plan or direction, you’re bound to be in the same situation this time next year. Ask God for a plan.

3       Let’s not dwell on who doesn’t love us. When we do that, we are almost always blinded to the fact that someone out there does. And that someone is God. God’s love gets second billing when we dwell on those who don’t care for us.

4      Try to allow some positive eek of a confession to begin to come out of your mouth daily. Something as simple as “I am loved by an amazing God” can really change your perspective on life.

5       Don’t look for company in your misery, look for inspiration and guidance from someone who has gone before you and made it through. LISTEN and don’t try to contradict them with a bigger woe story. Remember, they made it out and are trying to help you through it. You wouldn't stomp on a fireman’s hand when he was reaching through a smoke filled window to save you would you? Imagine: “But Mister Fireman, you just don’t know how hard it is for me to leave this burning room…YOUR HOUSE ISN'T BURNING LIKE MINE IS!!!” That just doesn't make sense does it? Okay then.

6       Unforgiveness brings torment. This.I.know.for.sure. If you have to start by writing it on a sticky note   until you can begin speaking it aloud…forgive those who have hurt you deeply. It’s truly the only way   out.

7         God’s waiting for a heart to heart conversation with us every day. This is the hardest thing to get  Christians to understand because so many of us talk to Him for 2 minutes and expect to get 12 hours  worth of grace to carry us through the day. And then we don’t understand why we’re defeated by  lunch. God’s not looking for busy bees. He’s looking for planted flowers to rain on and make more  beautiful.

8         Pick a side and stick with it. Either we believe God or we don’t. We cannot agree with the voice of  heaven and the voice of darkness at the same time. The enemy always lies.

9          Don’t diagnose yourself and then waive it like a banner: “I’m OCD, PSYCHOTIC AND NEUROTIC,  that’s why I’m not able to get my stuff together!!!” Even if you are actually diagnosed with a  disorder, it DOES NOT have to define you! Try singing: “I am a neurotic, psychotic friend of God…”  Go ahead I dare you to sing it at church. That would go over like a lead balloon, just like it does with  God.

1        Never limit the healing power and deliverance from such a big God to 10 simple steps. These are just   mere suggestions and things that I've learned along the way. God has infinite ways of bringing his     children to safety. Be open to all of them…

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I Found Me...

Feet dangling
Playing in the streams of life
Giggling like a school girl at a never ending slumber party
Dancing to music piped in from Freedom’s Broadcasting Network
And feeling lovely about me

After a lifetime of being trained
How to be the perfect women
How to pretend
How to submit
How to look the other way
How to hold it together
While feeling like the crazy part of the glue
 Watching all of my dreams go floating out the door

I was crumpled up and tossed behind
Life’s wastebasket
A half written to do list
An unfinished poem
A check mark next to a mundane chore
A note asking for more

There I was
You picked me up and smoothed
My crinkled life
And began deciphering the cryptic messages of my heart

You Abba explained my own pain to me
In ways I could have never understood
You taught me how my mind worked
And insisted that despite the many
Blows that I suffered to my emotional cortex
I still functioned well
You said I was whole
Long before I understood what wholeness was
And when the pipe burst in my heart
And I could no longer contain my emotions
You held me
And all of my liquid pain

At night you sang a lullaby to my spirit
That spoke directly to each day of my life
From birth till now

You remembered what I had forgotten
Or refused to acknowledge
You showed me that pain ignored
Will devour your soul
And become the monster inside of you
That you see in others

You Daddy G
Gave me my first nickname of honor
You called me “Princess”
And laced me with your love

You took me back home
To the foreign land from which I hail
A place called “Innocence”

You said that I was still
A native and would forever be so in Your eyes

We sat on the side of a mountain
And skipped wishes across the lake
As the sun set in sapphire hues
You gave me a stern directive
With more love than I could gather in a lifetime
“Live and Be Free!”
And showed me my reflection in the mirror
Of your Glory
For the first time in my life
I saw radiance
And it was coming from under my skin

Beauty rested in my eyes
And honor (which comes from being your very own)
Adorned my quaff
Like a diamond studded crown

You lifted me
High into the heavens
And baptized me
In eternity
Then placed me gently back in my today
With a new heart
And a restored mind
Nothing missing
Nothing broken
Forever gifts

BFP (c)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Christians, who is this Angry God you worship?

Is the God that Christians talk about as angry and blood thirsty as they are?

I've been analyzing the anger ratio of some Christians versus “worldly” people over the last few years and I can honestly say that I really can’t tell the difference between the two. Oh wait, some Christians do justify their anger over whatever the political, social, economic situation is with scripture and tagging “EVERYBODY PRAY!” at the end of their inflammatory statements….that’s the difference. The world just says “I’m mad as hell and I can’t take it anymore” rash but honest. I can deal with honest without a false religious agenda.

Are Christians supposed to get angry? My answer is of course, it’s only normal to react to the social ills that plague our society. The bible that many seem to quote to their own advantage these days says yes, but do not sin and don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.

The real question is what is that anger supposed to look like? Is it supposed to come out in the form of obnoxious statements and behaviors that have no sound thought or decent judgment with them? Is it supposed to resort to calling all of their personal enemies God’s enemies, while rubbing both hands together and drooling at the mouth for the blood of those they disagree with? Umm, I doubt it, but maybe I missed the scripture that said: “vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay and then we will rejoice when I smite all the people that the church disagrees with and we will dance on their graves.” I could have missed that one for sure.

The saddest part about this hate fest disguised as doomsday prophecy is that it all goes against God’s will and it does nothing for the world we live in. We are supposed to be light, illuminating God’s love and sharing the message of peace in a hopeless world. Instead, I hear nothing but how the world is going to hell in a hand basket and apparently God is running around in heaven without a plan!

The problem with rage of any kind is that it fuels uncontrollable fires that never seem to burn out. It stops all manner of logical thinking and it NEVER initiates peace. I’m starting to believe that you can gauge the faith that a person has in God, by their reaction to the world today. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that “In this world you will have trouble but fear not, I have overcome the world.”2 I chose to believe it.

Maybe for me it’s just this simple: I came into the world with nothing. Everything that I have comes from and by the grace of God. I own nothing that He hasn't allowed me to have. I stand ready to surrender whatever gets in my way of Him and at the end of the day, I want to stand in front of Him knowing for sure that the people who heard my voice, read my thoughts and saw my life, saw the grace of God in action.

Yes, I get angry but mostly I get distressed at how the “church” doesn't seem to be able to get its act together when the rest of the world is running in chaos. It saddens me to be a part of something that is becoming nothing but a spectacle for rational people to criticize. I struggle with the title “Christian” not because of a lack of my relationship with God but because it just seems to represent enraged people without any answers to today’s questions. What if God suddenly commanded us to stop using the title Christian and start referring to ourselves as Peace Makers? I wonder how many converts we would have with that movement.

1Ephesians 4:26
2John 16:33

Monday, September 30, 2013

When recess seems too far away...

I was just finishing up my first class and I was actually feeling quite excited about my morning so far, when I went to the hallway and saw a little boy standing outside the classroom that I was about to enter. He was obviously being punished and very angry about whatever he did. I walked passed him thinking “I wonder how long you can keep a child in the hallway?” I was also a little relieved that I didn't have to start class number two with a possible heckler in my midst. With this dichotomy playing in my head, I started in on my second group of kids for the day. We were just about to go for some fun rhymes and rapping when the door opened and in entered Anthony, our friend in the hallway.

The teacher opened the door and without explanation or introduction let him in the room while he was seething with anger. She did not come in with him. I was on my own to handle the situation. Anthony sat down in the back of the class far away from everyone and began to rip up a piece of construction paper with a vengeance, as if it were someone’s head he was tearing off. He had big crocodile tears in his eyes, yet he was visibly enraged.  

Without much thought, I walked directly back to his seat and knelt down beside him. It was as if I was being pulled in his direction. He was still growling with anger and ripping the paper as tears hung on the end of his big eyes. I immediately felt that this was too much rage for such a small child. I spoke, not from a premeditated speech for ill-tempered children but with a pain in my heart for Anthony.

This is what I said to him:

“Hey, can you hear me?” (Rip, rip, rip, grunt) “Shake your head if you can hear my voice.” Small nod of the head. “I want you to take a deep breath and let some air into your body.” One deep breath. “Good, take another one to help you calm down.” He breathed again and very deeply. “Good, keep breathing until you feel better.” He did. “Now what I want you to know is that you haven’t done anything wrong with me. So if you want to, you can start again in my class and have some fun. I’m not angry with you, so we can just start fresh…okay?” Small nod. “What’s your name?” “Anthony” “Oh, cool, I know some really nice Anthonys. Now when you’re ready, you can join the class, okay?” Bigger nod no more ripping.  It was later that Anthony would collect all the crayons for me and bring them to me after class with pride.

In all my years of hearing messages of redemption and forgiveness, I've never really been able to quite grasp the concept the way God has wanted me to. I've always struggled with not being forgiven by others and myself. I simply did not believe that people had the capacity to move pass major errors and truly forgive and by people, I mean me. However, after talking with my young friend this morning, I realize how God does it and how He wants us to follow His lead, with a simple wiping of the slate and starting fresh. I saw how a second chance can really free a person, namely the one who is hurting the most. So, I decided to forgive me, fully and completely for all the things that I have been holding against myself for so long, with a simple do-over. I also decided that by the grace of the One who knows me best, I can be okay with a new chance to be a better more peaceful me. I suppose Anthony felt the same kind of relief this morning as I do now, perhaps feeling as if he’s worthy of another chance.

Like Anthony, I get to join in on the fun of life again…without feeling guilty about yesterday’s mistakes.

Friday, August 23, 2013

In the face of true beauty...

A few years back, my daughter came to me and asked when she could wear makeup. The question perplexed me at first because the child needs nothing but a smile to make her face up. Then I realized that she was starting to see cosmetics emerge on the face of her friends and so naturally, she wondered when she could partake.

I honestly wasn't prepared for the makeup talk since I rarely wear anything but lipstick on my face. I tried it in my younger years and it just didn't suit me. I decided that I would make do with the face I’d been given and see what would come of it. Years later, so far so good, at least that’s my humble opinion.

I told my daughter that she didn't need makeup, at all…ever…in her life. I wasn't harsh but I was honest about what kept me away from becoming an everyday user of cosmetics. I told her about being 14 years old in my first high school and hearing a girl say that she couldn't even go to her mailbox without makeup and that NO ONE saw her without it and I was in shock. I’m thinking we’re 14, we just got these faces! No one here has a wrinkle line ANYWHERE!! That’s when I decided that I only wanted one face because having to be so guarded about my God given features was just too exhausting. Besides, the first time I got on the school bus sporting blue eye shadow, after an in school makeover, there were giggles-a plenty. That also sealed the deal.

I told my daughter that she wasn't ‘not allowed’ to make her face up but that it was just too early to make such adjustments, along with the fact that she didn't need it…like, ever. Apparently I was stuck on that fact and couldn't get off.

She dropped the makeup request and never picked it up again. She had apparently made her own evaluations and came to some conclusions about how she chose to emerge into womanhood. What she came up with makes me proud. Her choice of interests, her academics, her spiritual life, her social views, what makes her laugh and cry all somewhat adorn her in the most unique way. She has grown so much in so many interesting ways and it shows. We often discuss female objectification in Hollywood (which she did a presentation on for school) and how there is an expectation that women should not age in front of the camera. We find it insane not to be allowed to show your age in this society when aging is a natural progression in life.

We celebrate birthdays but begin to hide the numbers as the years go on. We hide our gray. I tell myself that it doesn't look good on me but vanity plays a major role in that decision. And as women, we struggle with the image in the mirror more and more as time goes on as if time should not go on.

A while back, I decided to go with a beauty treatment that would last a lifetime and hopefully it is beginning to take effect. I decided to rid myself of all bitterness, contempt and poisonous behavior and boy has it been a journey. I knew that my heart needed a makeover for a long time but I wasn't sure how to get there, so I handed it to God and left it with him. When God allowed me to see the visual in my mind’s eye, I tell you, I have never seen a more putrefying site. My heart looked like its own rotting corpse full of holes and puss oozing out everywhere. That thing had been beating in my chest all these years with so many pains and hurts trying to hold me together. No wonder I felt so weighted down and bedraggled.

 In the vision, when God took my heart from me, He didn't pop into a magical factory and reappear with a bright shiny new one, He kept it and it’s been with Him ever since.

There has been a constant cleansing that occurs when one has an organ so full of muck but I gladly surrender to it…most days. God is an amazing surgeon, one who sees without needing to make incisions because we are His very own design. Having my heart in His care has made all the difference in the world and I really rather not have it back.

I still experience pain and ill feelings. I still feel its pulse speed up whenever my emotions are alerted. What I don’t feel is the overburdening residue of never being cleansed and cared for. I will admit for sure that my heart is in good hands.

When our hearts are constantly being cared for to such an intricate degree, we have no choice but to be beautiful. The glow is inevitable and the aging process doesn't go away but it is displayed in the most honorable way.

Last Christmas, I bought my daughter a full blown makeup kit because I could see the depth of who she was and I trusted her judgment and confidence about her looks. I took notice that she put more stock on the inward things than outward and I knew she was ready if she wanted it. Except for special occasions, she barely uses it. The timing was indeed right… 

J sporting her natural twist and that smile.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ministry Fatigue...

Everyone I talk to lately is tired, whether it’s of work, family problems, church obligations or just plain life. There is an overwhelming exhaustion that seems to be symptomatic of something deeper within gnawing at our lives. The ironic behavior that comes from being tired is to engage in more busyness! I very seldom hear people say: “I’m tired; I’m going home to be still for as long as I can. I’ll read, listen to music, pray, meditate anything but run around.” If anyone suggests that you take a break the response is somewhat familiar: “But you don’t understand I have to work for a living” or “I’m on the committee for all the committees and they need me” or “I promised I would (insert good deed for the day here)” or “my church needs me, I’m the only one who knows how to…” Really?

So there’s no down time, whatsoever? No quiet moments listening to God before dashing out the door to save the world? No meditation? NADA?  No wonder everyone is so short fused lately. Who’s doing the listening?

Christians are absolutely the worst for feeling like what we do cannot be done by anyone else or that every task that we take on is holy and God ordained. News flash, it’s probably not. It’s probably something that you agreed to do because it would please someone else who you really admire or bring you into the next big position that you’ve wanted for sooo long or worst of all, you’re just afraid to say no.

Have you been pining away at a certain spotlight that you would love to step into so that everyone can finally see how anointed, blessed, gifted and called you are? Is there a ministry within you that needs birthing and you think that there is only one delivery room and it is manned by the church? If that’s the case, be prepared to be in labor for a long time. Do you know how many pregnant visionaries there are inside those walls? Get in line and take slow deep breaths but in the meantime, be prepared to be exhausted.

God has a habit of pulling people aside to be alone with Him before launching them into ministry. Ask David, Moses, Abraham, all the prophets and oh yeah, ask Jesus. None of these men by today's standards would be considered qualified for ministry at the time when God called them. Jesus would probably be considered far too radical to run a congregation.

The church has a habit of running people through a battery of tests, which usually consists of running various and sundry ministries or at the very least assisting in various and sundry ministries, until one has proven their worthiness to hold the beloved title of: 
Pastor GotalottodofortheLordbutnotimetobewithhim.  

Can you see the stark contrast?

With God’s method of “promotion” He pours into us, instills His love for us and teaches us from His Holy olyHHmouth in the most intimate way.

Man’s method, takes time from us, asks more of us and leaves us feeling depleted and asking God why all the time. Usually, in the end we don’t even know if we want to be involved in any ministry, let alone the one we we’re pining after.

Since I've been on my new path, I've wondered several times why we Christians and the church in general choose to do things completely opposite of Jesus example in the Bible

Jesus loved everyone.  It seems that today’s Christianity feels the need to label everyone.

Jesus broke bread and accepted those that we would call sinners and allowed His love to cover them until they were in step with Him. Today, one must prove themselves first a convert in order to be accepted into “the house of the Lord”.

Jesus was in direct opposition to religious rituals that kept to the law and made the word of God to no effect. Fast forward to today’s church and just try to scramble a Sunday morning worship service in order to allow the Holy Spirit to speak. And let’s not get started on the subject of who The Holy Spirit really is.

Jesus chose the motley 12 to walk closest with him with no regards to resume, Bible training, spiritual enrichment seminars or recommendations from their former pastors. I think you and I know that this concept wouldn't even get past the committee meeting, let alone put in practice.

Sidebar: the reason Jesus could do something so bold as to choose “unqualified” men to walk with him closely is because He could discern their hearts. Discernment is missing in many churches and has been replaced with being impressed by credentials.

Last but not least, Jesus got away to be alone with His Father, to hear His voice and be refreshed. It was during His most crucial hour on earth that Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pour his heart out to God and receive strength for His crucifixion. We often remember that He begged for the cup of death to pass before Him, I believe that it was in the moment of “nevertheless” that He received His strength.

Why would these distinct behaviors and characteristics of Christ be highlighted in the Bible only to be ignored thousands of years later? Why is the model of Christ and the early church (the one birthed on the day of Pentecost) obsolete today? Who are we to insist that Christ’s way wasn't effective enough and that love alone is too weak a motivator to change lives?

I shudder to think that many of today’s decisions are being made by too many corporate Pastors with boardroom behavior who are worn out and spiritually depleted, instead of being prayed over with passion and hunger, while being away with God on a constant basis and not just during yearly retreats.

Daily respite, constant hunger for God’s voice and the need to be alone with Abba is the only way that we will spiritually survive in a task driven world.

In a nutshell: Busyness is not close to Godliness…

“Martha, Martha you are worried and upset about many things but only one thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her.” Matthew 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Being a Christian in a Racially Divided World...

Being a Christian in a racially divided world comes with great responsibility.

You see, we don’t get to pick a side and stand on the street with a bull horn yelling “THIS IS WHY WE HATE ALL OF YOU!!!” We don’t get to wage in hatred driven commentary that further divides a nation while reliving past pain that has been grandfathered into our present society. It’s not even productive to try to defend evil out of a guilty conscience or lack of understanding. Being a Christian in a racially divided world simply means choosing the greatest way of all…the way of love.

I realize how frustrating that is to hear for some of you. The truth is, when we speak of race and the history of this nation, love does not seem to be the foundation. When people want to boast on the greatness of America (specifically Christians) I sincerely hope that it comes with repentance. True greatness is not gained by the disenfranchisement of others (ask the Native Americans how great this country is.) It does not take from the innocent for personal gain. True greatness is not rooted in pride or greed and it certainly doesn't need to enslave an entire culture in order to build a legacy. I don’t believe that our Jewish brothers and sisters woke up each morning in Egypt thousands of years ago and exclaimed: “This is the greatest country on earth!” while slaving to their deaths at the hand of evil rulers.  If you can see that, then you can certainly understand why Black Americans have a hard time claiming America’s greatness while still hearing the screams of ancestral pain.

Being a Christian does not mean participating in blind patriotism while turning our heads the other way when America is at its absolute worst state in decades. It does not mean ignoring the obvious and continuing with church business as usual, increasing attendance, launching new building projects, numbers, numbers, numbers…while the rest of the country is full of despair.

It cannot continue to mean that we chose neutrality or silence in the face of racial adversity. And it certainly does not mean insisting on an inferior or superior race mentality. It does not apply the entitlement theory to every disparaging situation and it cannot assume that only two races exist in this country when countless others work, live and sacrifice everyday on this same soil.

Being a Christian in this climate does not mean that we hide behind a barrage of scriptures in order to support our opinions and theories while lacking the God-given instinct to pray in the midst of this madness.  It is not impressed with who came up with the better argument and who has more rights than others. It doesn't applaud the punishment of a culture by not allowing the same rights as the majority, simply because “we were here first.” By the way,saying "we were here first" in this country, will ALWAYS be a lie unless you are Native American. Not a favorable truth but the truth nonetheless.

Being a Christian in a racially divided world means seeking truth at all times. Asking God to search our hearts and cleanse us from prejudice, hatred, unforgiveness and yes even a murderous spirit. If in fact the sins of the fathers are handed down to the fourth generation…then we MUST pray and repent.
I remember hearing from an older blood relative to never trust white people. At the moment I was put off by the statement because I was determined to carve out my own social paths in life by not carrying any unwanted baggage with me. I decided to ignore the statement and take my chances.

Years later with many opportunities to buy into that bit of advice along the way, I have found that a person is either trustworthy or not simply based on the spirit that resides within them and not the color of their skin. That’s not the only race lesson that I've learned throughout my life.

I have come to study the Abolitionist movement with as much interest as I study the sadness of slavery in America. I have fallen in love with many cultures, languages and yes the beautiful food that represents them and I am raising my children with a multicultural perspective even when diversity is still scarce in our environment.

By the way, diversity is not a pet project for the socially elite…it’s simply a mirror reflection of what heaven looks like. You don’t launch diversity campaigns, you begin your foundation with the desire to serve and be a part of all cultures. In short, diversity simply does not work as a back end project. If it was never in the heart of the vision (whatever that vision may be) it will never be a tightly woven tapestry of beauty in your ministry. Repentance is the key to change when it comes to diversity. After we repent, then we write out a new vision and begin again.

I am by no means saying that I don't experience the frustration and anger that comes with witnessing the behavior that comes with the racial divide. And I am tempted to enter into the conversations about our current climate from time to time but I try to let a cooler head prevail. Prayer helps.

Of all the experiences that I've had, people that I've met and conversations that I have been a part of, the discussion I love the most is based on a mutual admiration for the love of our Savior. When we all meet at the cross bringing our ethnicity, languages, experiences (good and bad) with us, we form a bridge of unity while receiving healing at the same time. When we leave behind our denominations, political viewpoints and socioeconomic statuses, the bridge becomes stronger and unity becomes the structural support.

When we cease to involve ourselves in the discussions of hatred, mindless finger pointing or the refusal to take the moment to stand in someone else’s shoes, we become more palpable to the world that we are trying to influence. 

So you see, being a Christian in a racially divided world means being a bridge; a solid structure that one can cross with confidence and peace to get to a God who created us ALL...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Thank God for Grace and a Good Mirror!

One of the most incredible stories of my life has been the time when I first experienced God for myself. It was as pure and as unadulterated as a God experience could be. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I had just been introduced to the Great I AM.

I was alone, in my apartment, crying on my knees, completely lost in pain and depression. I spoke aloud to a God who I hoped was there and right in the midst of my wrenching sobs…a calm came over me that was out of this world, literally.

I was not a Christian, did not attend church, did not believe in attending church and could care less about the “process of religion”. But I was desperate for the pain in my life to cease, and He showed up.

Over the years I joined a church, publicly ‘gave my life to Christ’, got baptized, busied myself in church activities and so on.

While I believe that those things were part of a greater purpose for my life, I wasn't always on the ‘right track’ in the midst of my new found and extremely active church life.  There were plenty of days when I felt like a failure, that I couldn't keep up spiritually, that I would never overcome certain obstacles and sins in my life, that I wasn't good enough, or pure enough, or just plain enough to represent God.

There was always a comparison going on in my mind with the ‘elite’ of the church who got to run Bible studies and women’s groups or prayer groups. I had been interviewed but never ‘chosen’ to take the lead in such things because (I imagine) I just couldn't seem to be the image that goes along with such privileges. It seemed that this God that had met me on my living room floor in my tiny apartment so many years ago had far too many demands that I could not keep up with, and He had no time for an average sinner like me anymore. It seemed that I embarrassed Him or His image far too easily and I couldn't wear my Christian badge without getting smudges on it. It was as if I was ‘saved’ only to feel ashamed of my own existence once again.

Now, those of you who truly have an organic walk with God know that those feelings did not come from Him but they came from my internal dialogue, the enemy of my soul and yes, the religion that I immersed myself in.

It has taken a GIANT step back from all that has become familiar to me by way of Christianity to regain my footing and once again walk with the God who visited my apartment many years ago. It has taken much failure, to understand His mercy, which is a humbling and needed experience in order to be a compassionate person once again.

You understand that with religion sometimes comes a sanctimonious mindset that sets oneself above others, particularly “unbelievers and people of the world” (which are labels, tags and misconceptions about people we don’t really know.) I would have easily fit those categories many years ago. Fortunately, there was one person in my life at the time who never made me feel like an “unbeliever” but simply a friend and she didn't always bombard me with invitations to her church when we talked. Sometimes we simply talked about life.

When I listen to Christian dialogue now, I sometimes cringe at the way we shout to the roof tops our beliefs on social media and in any other forum that we may be heard from, without so much as listening to the hearts of other people around us. It’s as if we are so spiritually fragile that we think that listening to someone else’s heart or opinion may damage us for life. It may just do so, if your foundation is purely made from an inherited belief as opposed to having a true encounter.

I find it hard to believe that in the midst of Jesus eating with “sinners” that he never once listened to their hearts, looked at the pain in their eyes and was moved with compassion to show love and mercy.

I sometimes see scriptures plastered on social media in what sounds like an angry voice or with condemning intent, in order to convict others but done so with an enormous lack of compassion and love for the hurting people all around us. Such behavior is often doing more harm than good and creates a greater resentment for those of us who use the term Christian to describe ourselves.

We forget to share our own stories and struggles because either we feel that we have come just that far from imperfection, or we were simply born into Christianity and have inherited this way of life from our family, so we can’t relate to anyone but other believers.

We use our own personal convictions, such as what we eat, when we fast, our choice of entertainment, what we do on Sunday mornings etc… as a banner to show others the life they should be living. We find it easier to control with our message than to love from our hearts, people who are making different choices than us. And we call our way right as long as there is scripture to support it.

I can honestly say that I would have probably never walked into a church building or become a friend of Christianity had God sent a ‘Super Saint’ my way who did not have any faults and failures of her own. The mere fact that her life was so humble and open, yet she was able to speak the name of Jesus as if she truly knew Him, floored me. I grew up believing that if you weren't the best example of living pure and holy, then you were no example at all. Thank God for truth.

I have a loooong way to go with my approach to living out my faith. I don’t always say the right things when challenged, not by the world but by other Christians. I seem to understand the outside viewpoint more than I do the “inside” mindset, mainly because of never feeling quite “good enough” within those four walls.

So, my conflict is in reverse. I don’t see the need of always bragging about my moral stand when I know good and well that I only have a moral stand because of the grace of God. I don’t in anyway feel superior about my life choices because they are different from the current cultures, simply because in one instant my life can change and I could be standing face to face with a decision that I never had to make before. It’s by the grace of God that I will know what to do.

Having been on both sides of the glass, this I know for sure: a stone can be thrown on either side but all it will do is shatter the walls, and injure the innocent, while causing more harm than good.

May we all come to understand the loving power of true humility…  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Does The Holy Spirit Come to Church Anymore?...

I've been on a silent search for a few months now, to find the Holy Spirit outside of my home and inside of a church. You would think that this would not be a hard task but believe me… it’s been somewhat of a challenge.

Not that I haven’t experienced Him in a church service lately, I have but it’s been short lived. He usually shows up in a song or a person’s prayer or by chance in another member who speaks to me from the heart.  I’m starting to believe that He is partially welcomed because there is so much on the agenda and we can’t have Him messing the order of service up and prolonging things that need to be kept short and tidy.

Some people think that the Holy Spirit is a havoc wreaker causing people to jump and shout uncontrollably for hours and that He is egged on by the person on the keyboard, piano or organ…I've seen that recently as well.  I don’t personally think that the Holy Spirit is unruly and needs music cues as much as He does a simple welcome.

I think that I need to make peace with the fact that church is partially spiritual but mostly informational by way of a motivation or spiritual dissertation. If I can settle that in my heart then I won’t be so disappointed when I go to church anymore.

With that being said, I had the unique experience of visiting a good friend’s church a few weeks ago that may be among the remnant that welcomes the Holy Spirit to come, stay and abide. It will not be because of what they plan for the service, as much as whom they welcome into the building. Being welcomed anytime you come is major.  Being treated the same by the members whether you come once a month, twice a year or every single Sunday is huge. Why? Because there is a feeling that one gets when he or she leaves a church to branch out on their own and actually seek God in other ways, when they see their former church “family” on the outside.

The feeling is like being the black sheep of the family or running away from home or in my case needing a divorce and knowing that my choice would be sorely disapproved by the powers that be and the truly religious.

I grew up in a cult (I mentioned that in a former blog) and I know what It’s like to leave a cult and have to start a new life…you are virtually disowned and it’s a tough road ahead. What churches don’t understand is that they are not so different from cults at times in the way that everyone is on the inside and once you leave, you are an outsider. People don’t know what to say to you, if they say anything at all. It feels the same, it really does.

When I visited my friend Ken’s church, I came in and got the feel of the building. I sat in the third pew from the front on the left side and waited, for what, I’m not sure. As I waited, I browsed through the church bulletin for the usual announcements and committee meetings but when I got to the Welcome I was overcome with emotions.  I can’t quite describe how I felt but one thing is for sure, I know that I felt welcomed. It was as if someone sat and prayed for hours thinking about the lives of everyone around them, including their own and wrote these words. I was told that the church came across this welcome on the internet and decided that it fit Mulberry perfectly.

If you are a stark traditionalist than the following words will mess with your theology in a way that will force you to disapprove but since I don’t prefer to cling to theology but only to Christ, I truly understand why this welcome was put in their bulletin.  Here it is:


We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no hablo ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying newborns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds. We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsin,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast.

We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree huggers, latte sippers, vegetarians, junk food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion” because many of us have been there too. If you blew all your offering money last night at the club, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church. We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts…and you! 

After reading this welcome, I relaxed because I realized that if any or all of those people were sitting around me waiting to worship on a Sunday morning, then Jesus had to show up because those were the people that He preached to when He traveled on the roadside, the seashore and in the streets.  That’s when I said quietly “welcome Holy Spirit” and He showed up.

I would like to thank Ken Fuquay for allowing me to use this welcome in my blog. Your friendship is becoming more and more priceless to me every day and I thoroughly enjoyed your message, singing and directing of the choir. I’ll see you again some Sunday morning my friend…

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

You know you're living the good life when...

How do you know whether you’re living a good life? Do you compare it to your neighbors, family or friends? Is it in direct proportion to your bank account or children’s success?

Travel and plenty of it! That has to be a sign of the good life. At least that would be my definition. Oh, and good food, exotic food that you only get when you travel. Yes! That’s definitely what I call living well…

Oh but wait, what if I experience something more grand than travel and good food? Would my perspective change then? Would the grander thing become my new utopia? I could see that happening. 

I could change my viewpoint, only to check social media and find out that one of my 242 friends has achieved her lifelong goal of becoming a professional performer. Darn!! Just when I thought I was living my best life possible!!! Now I have to go back to the drawing board…or do I?

Why is it hard for us to understand that we are all called to different paths in life? Why must we constantly compare our lives to others in such a way that causes us to either become envious or inflate our own existence by exaggerated degrees? 

With current technology and our ability to share our day to day lives at the click of a button, it is incredibly easy to become discontent with one’s own mere existence. How did we get here? 

I mean, I love posting pics of me and my kids at the beach or having some fun event in our lives…but they could personally care less if I hit the “share” button right after snapping the picture. In fact, sometimes they complain and roll their eyes.

I’m trying to practice being in the moment a bit more than I am now. I listen when my kids say “this pic is not for facebook Mom!” So I just keep it to myself and look at it from time to time, simply to enjoy the sweet memory for what it is.  Ah, the good life, a beautiful moment with my family.

Of course, they still indulge me for the big events and for that I’m grateful. I have family and friends that I can stay connected with and watch the growth of their children in a very convenient way…it’s not all bad, in balance right?

The only problem is when we stop applauding each other’s accomplishments and big events and start trying to match them. That’s when it gets a bit weird. “Wait till they see this pic of me at the top of Everest! Everyone will just flip!!” 

Admit it, you've been there, not Everest but on the same pic posting head trip, I’ll admit that I have. I think we all long to feel applauded and special and seen. I posted a picture of my new haircut three days ago and got over 20 likes. After a while, I didn't know whether to feel special or embarrassed, especially since I changed it this morning back to its naturally curly state. Should I re-post a new pic? Would that be vain?

On second thought, I think I’ll just enjoy it and keep it to myself.

Being able to know when to hold’em or when to share’em while being determined to enjoy all of those beautiful, fun, fantastical moments just the same…now that’s the good life!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Awesome Legacy of Enoch...

For the last few years I have become slightly obsessed with my own personal legacy with questions such as:  What will I leave behind when I leave this world? What will my name mean? What will my children say was the single greatest thing that I passed on to them? What will my future generation thank me for…or not? And on and on…

Because of the fragility of life and its sometimes abrupt ending, it has become important to me that I choose to live on purpose. While I do welcome spontaneity and adventure (still a choice, mind you) I do not care for haphazard living at all at this age. Simply letting the chips fall where they may, in relationships, business or raising my children is not an option. There is too much at stake for me and those I leave behind not to give careful consideration as to how I live my life while I can.

I can’t claim that this has always been at the forefront of my thinking. I will admit to being rather careless as a younger woman, lacking the ability to see ahead and access what my decisions may cost me at some point. (I don’t believe that I’m alone in that retrospective tour.) But today, ah sweet redemptive today, I am fully alive with the “what if’s” of my next steps in this chapter of my journey and it excites me!

I believe that once God gets a glimpse of the fact that we want to change our world in some small or grand way, He steps in and provides us with the drive and desire to accomplish such a worthwhile feat. People appear in our lives to help us or add to the vision. Dreams expand and become more vivid. Details, details, details fall into place when we least expect it and before we know it, it’s happening. The thing that we have desired to become or be a part of begins to flow out of us.

It doesn’t matter what the vision is. At one point, all I wanted was the ability to raise my children with compassion, love and understanding. I wanted to leave behind some ineffective behaviors that were part of my own rearing. Later, I expanded my dream to releasing free thinkers and innovators into the world. I wanted my kids to see life through a non-traditional lens in order to make their own marks.

As of now, my vision is to demonstrate what it means to take chances, in order to speak in my own creative voice to the world and to make statements that can heal and unify humanity, instead of dividing it. 

Visions expand and so they should.

Whatever happens for and to me in this chapter will come as a result of a concerted effort on my part to be as considerate as possible to the people that will be affected by my choices and the unknown blessings of God which will raise me to a new level of experiencing life.

My greatest hope is that my future generation and the people that are in my span of influence will remember me with these three words if nothing else, she – walked with God

Enoch walked with God and he was not, for God took him.  Genesis 5:24

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Boys are gross and girls have cooties…

Can men and women ever really just be friends? If you would have asked me this question a  year ago, heck, a few months ago, I would have said “no” given the fact that the laws of physical attraction usually draw people together based on mutual chemistry. I would have said no because throughout my lifetime, I have never seemed to be able to achieve a certain emotional distance from the opposite sex that would allow me to keep a balanced perspective on the friendship. Finally, I would have said no because it has been surveyed and confirmed that most guys hang around girls that they are attracted to and are in pursuit of in one way or another. That last statement was based on a college survey I should mention.

What I realize now, is that  for me,the idea of a platonic relationship is based entirely on maturity. The older I get, the more in tuned with my own needs I become and with that has come the ability to categorize my wants. What I mean is: If I want to have coffee with a male friend simply to talk and catch up on life, I can do that because the want in this instance is face time with a friend. If I were to ask the same male friend out for dinner or a movie and I stayed in constant contact with him, then the want in this instance would be companionship. 

Because I am not in search of companionship but I do love good conversation and to reconnect with my busy friends, I am free to enjoy more platonic relationships at this stage in my life. I should note that the relationships are mutually platonic. I try to stay connected to people who are busy, productive and focused on their own goals. In other words, they are not looking for someone to complete them because they don’t feel incomplete.

I've also found that we women are sometimes in search mode and we don’t always address why that is, so that we can understand what we are really looking for. Sometimes we can apply the same answer to every need in our lives. For instance: I’m lonely. I need a boyfriend to take me places. I’m sad. I need a man to comfort me. I’m tired. I need a man to take some of this load off of me. I’m scared. I need a man to make me feel safe.

What happens if said “Man” doesn't show up for weeks, months or years from now? Do you trudge through life without ever experiencing relief until then? And when he shows up, does he know that he has a pre-written ‘honey-do’ list? That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone that you haven’t met yet. No wonder we can’t just have coffee and chat, we've been in interview mode from day 1! 

The only answer to that particular train of thought is if there is a man out there somewhere who is praying for a woman that he can rescue...could happen but let's not put all of our eggs in that basket, okay? 

The purpose of spending quality time with my male friends is not to interview them as potential prospects but to relax from that pursuit and just enjoy hearing a male perspective on life. I learn a lot from men, particularly if they are wise and mature. Sometimes the student can miss the lesson if all they are doing is making goo-goo eyes at the teacher.

Eventually, I imagine I will want more, but not before I can feel comfortable and complete in my own skin without needing someone to make me feel whole. In the meantime, I like my guy friends and I hope to learn a lot more from them…even though we all began with thinking that boys are gross and girls have cooties…

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Guys, I admit it, I have lost my desire to be in combative communication with anyone. As much as I like a good debate, with reasonable informed parties, the polar opposite for me, is a tense conversation that leads absolutely nowhere.

Whenever I’m listening to a hostile voice, I want to yell "SERENITY NOW" and walk away.  This has not always been my way. For years, I would stand you down and argue until the sun sets, if I thought it was necessary but now, all I want is peace. I've learned more in my silence than I ever have in my speaking and that my friend, has been one costly lesson.

 I finally figured out that a willing heart and open ears are a rare combination and I simply do not wish to engage with the opposite.

If I walk away from a conversation with an elevated heart rate and a banging headache, chances are, I engaged in some dialogue that will never get my attention again.

Trust me, if you find the veins popping out of your neck after a conversation one too many times, you may either be the carrier of far more rage than you realize or you have been exposed to someone else’s unhealthy behavior. Either way, it’s necessary to uncover the source and pray for guidance as to how to access the peace that you need to function well.

We humans have an incredible tendency to claw at the hand of reason, if we feel that we have every right to be unreasonable. We get angry when someone suggests viewing life from another vantage point because it implies that our perception may be just a bit askew.  We hold on to every single solitary offense and guard it as if it were a gold mine. Why? Because it fuels the always running engine of our unhealthy anger and without the ability to go from 0-120 in 6 seconds, we feel weak and vulnerable to those around us.

I was the scrawniest kid you could imagine, I vaguely remember someone referring to me as 6:00, (straight up and down.)  I used my anger constantly in order to feel stronger and to be heard. Most of the time my feelings were hurt but instead of saying so (because my environment did not lend to sensitivity) I roared my little lion roar in hopes of warding off my predators. I was deemed “the bad one” because of my inability to fly under the radar and respond subtly to anyone that  I felt threatened by.

When I got older…years older, I began to study my own patterns of behavior. I paid attention to when I felt most weak and vulnerable. I found that my anger was the trigger of not feeling heard or simply being belittled. I learned (not without much effort) how to communicate effectively without the use of venomous tones and words. Most importantly, I had to let go of many of the memories that did nothing but keep my anger engine in idle. I am still deleting much data from my past. 

I believe that communication has been my saving grace, unless I am engaged with someone who does not feel the practice of talking things through is useful. Whenever that’s the case, I retreat, because I know what I am capable of saying and doing out of self-defense.

Not everyone is striving to become a reflective being, one who thinks his/her actions through in order to grow. Not everyone will do the work of self-improvement…it is A LOT of work. So if you find yourself on the other end of fury and you are looking for a way to calm anger's flames, take a deep breath and pray for God’s help to smother that fire the quickest way possible. It’s not always easy but you stand a lot less chance of getting burned.

If that approach doesn't work, simply yell: “SERENITY NOW” and run!!!

Here's a little something for my Seinfeld fans:

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Done trying to be "MOMNIPRESENT"...

Are you tired to the point of emotional exhaustion? Has your body been giving you stress fits filled with ailments? I definitely know the feeling. What I gather from my current state of exhaustion is that I’ve somehow pushed myself too far while handling my daily responsibilities and expectations. When my kids get busy, I AM busier, trying to make sure that their events and schedules go off without a hitch. I become ‘Robo Mom’ wanting to fill every need, gap and possible want. Just this past week, my daughter performed in a musical at school, opening night was on a Friday, and Prom was the very next day. I decided that she was going to have the time of her life at both if it killed me. She did and I’m still standing but badly in need of a respite.

Each child has their highlighted time in my house and this is my only daughter’s time. When her older brother was finishing high school, the focus was on his activities and events. She patiently waited her turn or she may not have even expected a turn and now here it is. Plays, proms, community choir, college tours, SAT’s and the like.

I however, must keep one thing in perspective during this time. I AM NOT OMNIPRESENT. I simply cannot promise perfection to my children, it sets us all up for failure.

What I can do, is help them organize, strategize and prioritize their schedules so that they can be successful in navigating ‘the busy’.   I’m learning how to shift out of ‘do it all mode’ and into being their support. I welcome wise guidance in this area.

Now, what about that spent feeling that we’re all experiencing lately, how do we remedy that? Well, I’ve been thinking, there’s been a lot of bad news played out before us on TV, as well as the internet recently.  Right after we're done watching hours of coverage about tragedy, we follow up online, then we post updates, photos and commentary on fb, twitter and google. The very next day or hour we jump right back into our daily lives without so much as taking a breath.  If we keep this up, we’re all bound to need straitjackets and padded rooms.

Everyone needs a respite, a quiet time or a breather.  A long walk, exercise, a bubble bath, whatever momentary escape you choose.  When this sacred time is neglected it shows.

 I myself am currently suffering from the lack of fictional escape. What I am presently reading is somewhat apocalyptic and it keeps me thinking, which is the last thing I need to do when I’m weary. So today, I plan to go to the library and find some beautiful fiction that will take me on a faraway journey where there are no explosions or catastrophic events. I have no idea what it will be but that’s half the fun.

I will also to remember to light my aromatherapy candle and sit still for as long as possible and talk with God. Somewhere in there comes a nap and a healthy meal. I must, WE must remember that we are limited beings that cannot live out of balance and choose extreme busyness over our own well-being.

You may be facing something more intense than a busy teenager’s schedule and it may be costing you in sleepless nights and worry. I would not dare minimize your situation with light hearted suggestions that will not ease your load. I would however, encourage you to never forget the One who eases all pain and bears our burdens. May I pray for you now?

May the God of all peace guard your heart and mind as He leads you through the door of rest and hope in Him…Amen