Seasons Change…

seasonsI have always said that we go through seasons. Just like the earth goes through winter, spring, summer, and fall, we too, go through times of cold, harsh winters, awaiting a change in the season. We look forward to and pray for the refreshing warmth of the spring. We sit and watch the leaves turn green on the big, old trees that were murky and gray during those cold winter months.

I used to sit in my family room in Texas with its many large windows, looking out at the abundance of trees in my back yard. I can remember vividly, watching the green leaves on the trees during the warmer months and I recall being in awe when I would notice how all of a sudden, the limbs were bare again. I would go through months sitting in that room each day, reading my Bible and journaling my prayers, and looking up at the trees for inspiration. All of a sudden, one day I would look up to notice tiny little green buds starting to appear on those big, gray limbs. Even the limbs looked to have turned brown again.

I share this visual because of those trees. For some reason, they have always reminded me of life and the goodness of God. If nothing else, take one thing away from this reading today, if you are going through some challenges that you feel is overwhelming, if you don’t understand the difficulty you are dealing with, if you are at a loss as to how you got to where you are right now, remember this, trouble won’t last always and joy comes in the morning, is what the Bible says in Psalms 30:5 and 1 Peter 5:10. Just like the seasons that occur on the earth, we experience seasons of drought and times of prosperity. We experience times of isolation and coldness, and we will experience joy and a sense of being if we look for those opportunities.

I know it is easy to lose hope when you are going through stuff. Don’t. Do as David in the Old Testament did, he encouraged himself in the Lord. I am not saying that it is easy to deal with hard times; of course, it is not. However, I will tell you that it is easier if you trust in Jesus.

Listen, seasons change, but God remains the same. In fact, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You can believe that God remains faithful.

All In God’s Timing

Have you ever found yourself praying and praying for a thing and it seems that nothing, absolutely nothing, is happening? It appears that your prayers are not getting through or psalm 43-5-hopeyou feel that God is hearing you, but choosing to ignore you?  Have you experienced a change of some kind? If you sit quietly and think about it, maybe you have felt a shift in your life.  You don’t know why things have changed to your disadvantage when they were always to your advantage?

The only advice I can offer is found in Matthew 5:45, “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (ESV). When I have read this passage in the past, I took it as God blesses the bad person and the good person equally, but as I read commentaries, the scripture makes a lot more sense.  Jesus was teaching the Disciples that they should be good to their enemies (us too).  His example to them was that God lets the sunshine and the rain fall on both the good person and the bad one. However, God does not give spiritual blessings equally.

A light bulb went off when I thought about what the commentary stated, “if your enemy is hungry, feed them as you would feed yourself.” It takes a specific and rare quality to do that.  I say it takes a person of deep-abiding faith, a person who keeps a positive attitude during pain and struggle, and a person who stays clear of gossip that will inflame their already upset conscious, instead, they seek out God to talk to about their struggles.

This particular person understands the spiritual undertones, and they don’t seek to get revenge, they may want to understand what is happening, but most importantly, they go to God in prayer. This person is filled with the Holy Spirit, and although far from perfect themselves, they know their God is perfect, and He may seem to be far away, but He isn’t. He is sitting high and seeing all things. He may be quiet, but He has not abandoned them.

Yes, God reigns on the unjust as He reigns on the just.  Times change, people change, situations change also. When life shifts from good to bad, you may fret initially, that is understandable. After a little while, ask yourself this: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior, and my God.” Then begin praising Him no matter what the circumstances because times change, people change, and situations will change again in your favor.

Waiting For You..

waitingI haven’t been able to shake a particular song all week. In fact, the song has encapsulated me.  Has that ever happened to you? A song is so strong that it just stays with you? This particular song was ringing in my ear, almost like a whisper, as I slept throughout the night. I woke up this morning and could still hear it. I went for my morning run, and yes, there it was again. When I returned home, I reminded myself to find that song on YouTube. I did and saved it, so when I got into my car, I could blast it.  Well, when I got into my car, that’s exactly what I did.

I arrived at my office, played the song on my iPhone as I walked from the parking lot to my building. Once I got in the office, I played it again.  The song just got to me; I kept lifting my hands to heaven, worshipping God.  I had to get up and close the door to my office because I became so overwhelmed with emotion just listening to the words and focused on praising God.

lifted handsYou probably want the name of that song, don’t you?  Well, okay, the song is titled “Waiting Here For You.” The words say the same, “Waiting here for you with our hands lifted high in praise. And it’s you, we adore, singing alleluia.”  I guess when you read this line, you may have said the words are no big deal. Well, maybe not, but they were for me today.

Why is this song getting so much of my attention today? Why am I getting so emotional when I sing the words?  When I watch the singers sing? My God, what’s going on?

I tell you what I think. I believe the song activated my “Stop & Reflect” button. It brought me to a sacred place mentally, and I was able to be refreshed.

I don’t know about you, but I get busy, real busy.  I am consumed with getting ready for school to start, travel schedules and speaking engagements. I am writing a prayer to say at Convocation this week also. As I began thinking of that prayer, my heart became full.  Yeah, I know this is weird to some of you, but that’s okay. If you are my friend, you know that I can get this way when it comes to God. If you are not my friend, but you took the time to read this, thank you for reading it.  I know that many do not believe in God.  I know many of my friends are professional people and many of you are too “intellectual” to believe.  I don’t care how intelligent you or I become, how many degrees we earn, or how many positions of influence we hold, I will always, always, give honor to God and make no excuses for my deep love for Him.

It is easy to rely on our own devices, our wit and cunning. It is easy to look to others to help us get the next contract, the next promotion, or whatever next thing there is to get. When we stop that and start believing that all things come from the Father; When we trust Him and show Him our love through our actions, that’s when our lives will change. The reason so many are downtrodden, pessimistic and negative, is because they haven’t learned how to look at God.  When we learn to lift our hands in praise, physically or metaphorically, our minds will be transformed and so will our actions. We won’t take part in silly arguments or fights. We won’t belittle or defame others just because we disagree with them. I think we will change because He will change us.

I will happily wait for Him because I have noticed when I do, I gain a sense of calm. My worries and stressors become small in His presence. Lifting my hands seem to break the chains of stress and worry.  He gives me peace that surpasses my intellect.  He can do the same for you too. I will close this with a scripture for 1 Samuel. I hope you will think about how stressed David was, but also consider how David responded.

Moreover, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:6

 

It’s In the Quiet Times…

The_Quiet_Time_-_QT1.jpgLately, I have felt unsettled.  No, I didn’t say that I am not content; I said unsettled. There is a big difference.  For days now I have felt this unsettling in me.  I have been praying for a person for weeks now, so that may be the reason why. I moved last year and just experienced the 1 year anniversary of that, so maybe that’s why. I don’t really know. I just feel that way.

In the rush of everyday life, when we are busy moving here and there, working, socializing, and just living life, the noise of life can be overwhelming. In fact, if we aren’t careful, the sounds can drown out what we should be listening to.

That’s why quiet time is so important. We need to set aside time to contemplate, decompress and live quietly.  At least that’s what I need. I do it each day; usually, early mornings with shorter times. Also, I do a bigger block of time each week just to sit quietly and think. Life can be busy and the important things can be easily missed in our rush to achieve the next thing.  I will admit it, I can’t seem to sit still and be satisfied. If I am not working in my office, I am writing a book or an article or a blog. I do several things at once. I work on several emails to various people while I may be working on establishing some new program or I am setting up some kind of meeting, working some marketing strategy or coordinating some speaking engagement. It’s always something.  I push hard to get things done each day, and I will admit, I don’t have patience with what I perceive as “excuses”  for not doing something. You see, I can’t stop striving.

I have to give myself a break though. I know for a fact, God made me this way. He made me passionate, resilient, persistent and strong. As much as I appreciate the woman God has made me, I also know that I can turn my strengths into weaknesses. The same is true for you too. If you are always working, pushing, striving and achieving, do you have time to stop and enjoy the accomplishment? Do you stop and savor the moment in quiet solitude before you jump to begin again?  These are a couple of the questions I have had to ask myself lately. You see if you have always been the kind of person who believed that doing proves your self-worth, you need to rethink that. You know who proves you are worth something?  God. However, you won’t know it, if you never sit down and take the time to hear from Him.

quiet-the-mind-soul-will-speak-life-quotes-sayings-picturesTurn off the music, turn off the television, put away your computer, put down your phone, sit quietly in His presence and open your heart and your ears. Stop thinking about what you have to do next and be fully present to hear why He has you where you are now.  For the unbeliever, this is foolishness the Bible says, but to you who believe, you know what I am talking about.  1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural [unbelieving] man does not accept the things [the teachings and revelations] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness [absurd and illogical] to him; and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned and appreciated, [and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters].”

God needs your attention and your time. Not after you are exhausted but He needs to talk to you when you are alert and ready to hear. He may have been trying to get your attention for a while now. Has He?

Love Should Build Bridges…

Is it julove builds bridgesst me or do you have trouble comprehending the anger seen in society today?

Most times I can’t comprehend the anger and hate that some people carry around in their hearts. I often wonder what makes them so bitter. so hateful. At times, the hate extends into pure evil.

Like some of you, I too read posts on social media. Some are filled with such divisiveness and hatred. There is no one group that has the corner on the ugliness either. I see people who  range from everyday folks to those who have huge followings writing things against people we should be praying for. Yet, we wonder why we see people acting out so terribly. They are following their leaders!

Do we ever think that we have a responsibility to speak love and acceptance rather than always focusing on what is so different about each of us? If we sat alone and asked the God that we say we follow if what we do day in and day out really represents Him, do you know what He would say to you?

I have a theory; I can have my own theory.  I am not saying that it is right, but for me, I think it is. My theory is that God is displeased with many of our actions when what we do brings about divisiveness and hate. I just don’t see God sitting back saying “you call them out of their names; that’s good.” Nor do I see Him saying “Kudos to you. Just run that idiot over with your car.” or for goodness sake, I sure don’t see Him saying “just kill them!”

When I wrote that last one, I felt right away that someone would say, “He did tell them to kill in the Old Testament.” I refuse to believe that He is happy with hate-filled actions.  You don’t have to agree.

loveoneanotherI sit here and stare around my office and look at the framed art on the walls. Many relate to Love. If you recall, my last book was titled, You Call That Love?  I think about this topic a lot.  One piece of art says ” LOVE builds bridges where there are none.”  I sat watching this and thinking about what was being said.  I agree love does build bridges. For one thing, when we want to dismiss the opinions of others, love will cause us to stop and rethink their point of view. We are challenged to listen. We don’t have to agree, but we listen out of respect for the other person’s opinion. Love causes us to stop and think about whether what we do or say hurts another person.  Now, I know many don’t give a crap about hurting another person’s feelings; they say, they need their feelings hurt.  I say, that may be true, but I sure would like another person to give me the benefit of the doubt when I may not be at my best. Wouldn’t you?

Whether we disagree politically, religiously,  or socially, we should be able to do so without being outright nasty to each other.  If you don’t like how I grade your paper, that’s okay, I still respect you and ask the same. If I don’t care for how you raise your kids, that’s okay, they are not mine, they are yours and I should respect that you are doing your best. Just as I would want you to think that I am doing my best also. If we don’t agree politically, I won’t trash talk your position and I don’t want you to trash talk me. When we hold different religious views, I promise to respect how you feel and I pray you will respect how I feel.  In the end, when we disagree, let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt. For us that are Believers, remember what the Word of God says…

“…Knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him”

1 Corinthians 8:1

I know that I am not always right in every single thing I think or do. However, neither are you. Let’s value each other’s differences and seek to see what makes us more alike than different. I think if we do that, we will show LOVE. I believe that’s when the Father of Heaven will be pleased with us.

Only So Much Time…

 

reflectionsA few days ago, I was walking to the park, letting the breeze hit my face. (This is something I do a lot of the time. I do it as my second exercise of the day, but also to talk to God). When the wind brushes against my face, I have a habit of saying “Lord, I feel You in the wind.” Just a little thing between God and me.

Anyway, as I was walking, a thought occurred to me; “one minute you are 5 years old and before you know it, if you’re lucky, you are 55 or maybe 65.”  It is wonderful to be alive, isn’t it? My mom died at 28 years old, so I’d always feared that I would die before I made it to 28.  I am still alive and far pass the wonderful tender age of 28 and I am so grateful.

Still, I have been thinking about my mortality lately, especially since several people I’d worked with over the years recently passed.

The reality that there is more life behind me than what is in front of me, is daunting.  The reality of my humanness causes me to either push the thoughts out of my mlifeisshortind or I sit and contemplate what’s next. The latter can cause stress because, let’s face it, I want to live forever. Don’t you? Maybe I will feel differently at 90 or 100, but I don’t feel like leaving this world anytime soon.

In fact, I dread the thought of leaving this world. Not because I don’t know what is on the other side, I just don’t think in my humanness, I cannot accept that I will no longer be here in the thick of things.

Listen, I sure don’t want this blog to be a downer, so let’s talk about the time we do have on they earth.  What will I do with the time I have?

I want to make every day matter. I want to get up each day and get going. I want to do things that will make an impact on others and on me!  I just do. I can’t imagine not going after my dreams, whether that means trying to run my own business or trying my hand at a new job. It is traveling to places I have never been, experiencing people and things I have never experienced. I want to tell people about Jesus, but I also want to show people Jesus through acts of kindness. I want to offer hope to others and I want to share in the joy other people experience as they learn how to make their own dreams come true. I want to get up each day and run. I want to write books and articles and I want to speak to the masses. That’s a lot!

What about you? What is it that you have always wanted to do and just didn’t feel that you were qualified to do?  Or maybe you just felt scared. There is no better time than now. There is no better reason than you simply want to try.

life-is-so-short-1-728Occasionally, I remind myself that tomorrow isn’t promised and I then ask myself, what is it that you want to do? I then turn to the scriptures and try to hear what God has to say to me because it’s what He says that matters; not what other people “think” I should do.  How about you?

First and foremost, what should matter is your relationship with Jesus;  never forget that.  I make plans for tomorrow, but I also know full well that I may plan, but it is God who determines my steps (Proverbs 16:9). Knowing this also keeps me humble as I pursue my goals. Seek Him first in all things (Matthew 6:33).

James writes (4:13-14a), “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.”

Life is short. What will you do with the time you have been given? Make it matter.

God Is Faithful…

faithful-god-results-dayDo you believe that God keeps His promises? Do you have problems believing that? Is it particularly hard to believe that when you have unanswered prayers.

These are questions that I know we all have struggled with at some point, but I am here to assure you that without a doubt, God keeps His promises.

I am sure you have had challenges in your life. If you haven’t, just wait. No, I am not going to speak anything negative over your life, but just living will offer each of us some challenge at some point. Some reason to wonder if God cares enough about us that He will do something about whatever it is that maybe consuming us.

Over the last month or so, I have experienced one challenge after another. I am not complaining and that’s probably why they haven’t overtaken me; nonetheless, I have had them. My stress level has been very high. Many days I have had to remind myself that I need to stop and take a break away from everything. You see even with those who may be strong Believers, we can still become overcome with stress and anxiety.

I was thinking about all that has gone on in my life over the last couple of months and all of a sudden, I felt that God spoke to my heart,“ God is faithful.” Those words were powerful and stuck with me. They stuck with me because things were about to turn from dark days to days of sunshine even as a tornado was about to pound upon this part of Texas.

The Word of God says, “All things work together for good to those who love God.” If we aren’t careful, those familiar verses can become ordinary; they can become just common sayings for Believers, but I want to caution against taking familiar passages for granted. God is God and we can count on Him. He has proved his faithfulness over and over again. He was faithful from the time I was born, through relationship issues, self -doubt, mistakes, through my illness in 2011 and through too many other challenges I have faced in my life. He will be faithful to you too. His faithfulness isn’t just for someone special because to Him, we are all very special.

Whatever you go through, whether it is a super duper surprise or something that was coming for a while, nothing is a surprise, nor is it so huge that it will overtake Him. Things happen in our lives, good and bad, to help mature us. Other times, things will happen to test us and at other times things happen to help us learn to