In Due Time, It Will Be Revealed…

God has a planEvery year in May, my husband and I put aside the chaos of life and spend one full week together doing nothing but hanging out. We always go to New York City and spend time walking the streets, eating from the street vendors, going to different kinds of restaurants, going to see a play or two and if family is close enough and have time, we see them. However, the trip is for the two of us to enjoy one another and to decompress.

Recently we attended the play, The Book of Mormon, on Broadway. I generally read reviews before I purchase tickets, but I only heard that it was a good play, so I didn’t read the reviews until a week before leaving for the trip and I had already purchased the tickets.  I have to admit, I enjoyed the play. Of course there were scenes that I felt were obscene and I would not have preferred to see them, but overall I liked the play.

As we were walking back to our hotel, my husband asked me if I was okay with the play and I asked right back, “were you?” He loved it. I asked him how would he have felt had the play turned from a particular group, the Mormons, to the Assemblies of God denomination (our denomination) or any other Christian denomination. He said, “well, I probably would not have liked it so much.” I said to him, “me either.”

I really didn’t give the play another thought after that until I sat down and began to write my weekly blog. The play was comical at best, but I thought about my stereotypes of different groups and I began to ponder the stereotypes that others have of Christians.  Why are we so weird to some? I have heard the comments “who would believe Jesus is God?” “the stories in the Bible are not believable, they are made up by men” “if there was a God, why would he be racist, sexist or favor one group of people over another?” ‘how can you believe in something that is not logical at all?” and the questions and comments go on and on.

lord teach meFirst off, I don’t claim to know nor understand the mind of God. So, I am not one of those Christians who believes that they have it all figured out. I just don’t. I know some will say, “see, you don’t know, yet you believe. You have simply been brain-washed your entire life.” I didn’t say I was stupid. I only said that I don’t have to understand everything. I believe that in due time, everything will be revealed.

I am not an ignorant person. In fact, I am highly educated. I have an undergraduate degree, two graduate degrees and one post-graduate degree. Oh and no, I have not only experienced life in America; nor been confined to only one area of the country, and I have hung out with people who are not like me. On the contrary, I have lived in two countries and I have traveled to Cuba, India, Sri Lanka, France, Italy, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Guam, the Bahamas, Greece, Turkey, England, Kuwait, Iraq and a host of others. I have been to just about every state in the United States too. I have eaten with my hands, with chopsticks and with utensils. Yes, I am well-traveled, yet I still choose to believe in Jesus.

I have friends from other countries that I can call on by name. They communicate with me and I communicate with them frequently. So I am not a closed-off person. In fact, I like to think of myself as a woman of the world. I don’t force what I believe down anyone’s throats, but I also do not stifle what I believe.

The point is this, if someone wants to make fun of Christians, I say let them.  We won’t make fun of you. I hope that we do not get angry at comedies or parodies of who we are and instead love more and trust God. I pray that in due time, not only will our trust in Him show the world why we trusted Him so much, but that our love will show the world why He is worth trusting.

Listen and trust me. Everything is by design and it will all be revealed in due time.

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby

Come-a-long-wayHave you ever looked back on your life and thought to yourself, “Wow, I have come a long way?” Ever sat around collecting your thoughts and considering the life that’s right before you now and thought to yourself, “What a blessed life?” or “What a crummy life?” Have you ever been so mesmerized with the status of your life that you just could not believe you made it to where you are now or are you terrified by the choices you have made and regret every moment of everyday of being you?

Whether you are living the life that you have always dreamed of or if it is just a mess, I believe that you have come a long way.  Everything that we experience in life has been designed to bring us to where we are right now. All of the choices we have selected and the decisions we have made along the way, have all been a part of the process that makes up who we are right now. Good or bad; it is what it is.

It is always good to evaluate where you are. Even if it’s hard to face. By doing so, you have an opportunity to either continue down the path of success or you can now course-correct; you can make adjustments that can alter that path you are on. Maybe you have made many mistakes or bad choices, but I don’t believe it is ever too late to make your life count.

The totality of who you are and what you want to be all fall into one camp; the decisions you  make.  You want to get on the road of success?  Whether that success is in your personal life, professional life or spiritual life, think differently and act differently.  Start to move into the direction of what you deem as success. Don’t sit around and continue to accept mediocrity, or accept excuses or place blame, just do something and make it productive and positive. Make it something that will move you towards your goal of succeeding.

you've come a long way3You have come a long way baby whether you think you have or not.  You have come a long way whether you have succeeded in attaining your goals or whether you have fallen short. If you are where you want to be, great. If you are not there yet, you still have time to get there. However, you must act. You must make changes and do things differently than you have in the past. You see it is easy to accept the status quo and easier to remain complacent. It’s easy because it is comfortable. Doing the same things the same way won’t get you to where you want to be. Be daring, be a risk taker, use your past experiences to your advantage. What have you learned from them? If you re-evaluate them, you will find you have learned a lot.

Whatever you want, won’t just happen, however. It will happen when you begin to do. So get up and get started. You may not have as far to go as you think!

 

Generosity or Greed?

generousMany of us would like to think that we are generous and we would never admit to being greedy. Let’s face it; greed is such a distasteful word.

The Bible tells us “a generous person will prosper; the person who refreshes others will also be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11: 25).  I think we can measure whether we are generous or greedy.  I don’t mean at times you are generous; many are. What I mean is do you hold your “stuff” loosely?  Or do you hold on tight to your “stuff?” Your money, your time or even your skills and talents? Do others have to beg you for everything?

My husband is a generous giver; he has always been that way.  One lovely night, we were walking hand in hand, leaving a Hilton hotel heading to a 5 star restaurant when a woman came out of nowhere and walked right up to him and asked him for money for food. He did not hesitate. He just took money out of his pocket and handed it to her and we begin to walk hand in hand again to dinner. Not saying one word about what had just happened. I remember thinking that I would have never stopped and done that.

Another time I was in Washington, DC with a friend on a freezing cold night. We were driving onto the off ramp, when I noticed her feverishly digging in her purse and braking as she was slowing down on the ramp; I had no idea what was happening.  All of a sudden, she just stopped on the ramp and yelled “Hey, come over here and get this!” a homeless man was sitting on the railing on the ramp in the freezing cold and her goal was to feed and shelter him. Again, I was struck by her generosity.

After witnessing those two acts, for some reason I changed. I stopped thinkinggenerosity 2 the worst when people would stop me on the streets and ask for money or if I would see them on the corner with a sign. Instead of judging their situation, I started thanking God that He had blessed me so and I prayed for them as well as just hand them what I had in my purse.  I used to be good about thinking that people should go and find a job or I would think they are going to get that money and go and drink or buy drugs. I stopped doing that. Why? Because like the two people I witnessed up close and personal, it wasn’t for me to question. I was to do what God led me to do and watch how the person I gave to was blessed; ultimately I was too. Now, I won’t say that I give to everyone; I don’t. However, I do give more than I should probably, but that’s okay, God gives me more than He should also.

I have read that scripture in Proverbs several times. In the Message version, it reads:

                                      The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed ;those                                         who help others are helped.

You see we all benefit from being a little more generous. Not only do we help others, we also help ourselves in that we lose a little more selfishness each time we release something that we want to tightly hold on to.  In the process of developing generous habits, we become more Christ-like. We lovingly give to the poor, we take care of the elderly and orphans, and we enhance the world we live in.

 

What Are You Lacking?

those who seek the lord lacks nothingAre you like me and once you have attained one thing, you are on to the next?  Is your life about one accomplishment after the other?

I sometimes sit back and look at all that I have accumulated over the years. I think about my successes. I dream about where I came from and where God has brought me to. I contemplate all the challenges that I have had to face over time and I am overwhelmed and I am grateful.

Taking inventory in an exercise that I believe many of us can benefit from.  When I take the time to reflect on all that I have, all that I have accomplished and all my blessings, I immediately feel stupid asking God to bless me with anything else. Shouldn’t I stop asking for stuff and just start thanking Him for all that I have right now? How can I get up and walk out looking for the next thing when He has blessed me with so many things already? I lack nothing.

Then there are times that I stop and think about faith; my faith.  I love that I have it.  My faith has guided my life for a long time. At times I have wondered if one of the reasons I am so serious about what I believe and in how I practice what I believe, is due to how blessed my life has been. One might think that I have had it easy but you would be wrong. I have had my share of troubles too. However, I have learned some valuable lessons from those troubles; I have learned that they built my faith.

I believe that’s the point of the difficulties and challenges.  We can either collapse under the weight or we can stand tall, believing in God and trusting in ourselves and our abilities because He is with us. Difficulties and challenges don’t always create a lack of something, instead it fulfills a divine purpose; we grow stronger and stronger with each challenge.

Without challenges and difficulties we become weak like a muscle that hasn’t been exercised in a while. If you exercise everyday, you have probably noticed that by doing so you get stronger and depending on the type of exercise, like running, your stamina increases.  The more you do whatever you do, the better you become at it. When I first started running, I could barely run a mile but now, after doing it for a while and doing it consistently, it is easy for me to run 6 miles a day. Why? I have stamina.

faithFaith has to be exercised too. If it is never tried or tested, you don’t have a need to use it.  You will lack strength. Some say that they have faith until something happens, but that’s when the real test of your faith begins. That’s when you can see what you are made of. You can figure out quickly if you can go the miles that it might take.

We freak out when we are tested because whatever it is we are facing there is this fear of lack. We think that we cannot face it because we lack the capabilities or the capacity to handle the test.

I have good news for you, we don’t have to fear lack. God has everything we need.Our part is to trust Him and to have faith that He will deliver. The only way you can build faith is to exercise it. How do you do that? Pray, Read your Bible and surround yourself with others who may be more disciplined, more consistent and more positive. Then practice trusting God. I trust that He will work things out as they should be. Don’t you?

 

New Beginnings…

yournewbeginningCan you feel it in the air?  I can.  There is something new and fresh that is about to happen and I can just feel it.
I get excited when I think about all of the blessings of the past, but I am
excited about what the future holds.
As I have thought about this year of new beginnings, the scripture in Isaiah comes to mind. God says that He is about to do something new; it can be a new life, a new relationship, vision, hope, dreams or opportunities.  Will you be ready?
As you enter this year, are you entering it with an attitude of optimistic expectations or are you locked into your past, holding onto all the disappointments that you experienced?  Will you walk into this year with the attitude that says to anyone near you that you are going to move mountains, live out your dreams and take a more positive and assertive position in pursuing God’s will for your life or have you decided that whatever happens to you is God’s will and what will be will be?  Are you bent on holding onto negative attitudes? Are you comfortable with being passive, waiting for life to hand you your dreams?
11690912-attitude-is-everything-text-written-with-chalk-on-a-blackboardI don’t know which of these descriptions describe you, but I do know that you don’t have to let anyone lock you into a box. If the latter has been you in the past, it doesn’t matter and you do not have to continue that way.  You can decide to change the channel of your life.
I have gained great insight into the psyche of people over the years. I can almost intuitively figure out those who are just talk versus the ones who are a little envious of others. I can even tell the ones who will say they are going to do something and will get it is  done no matter what versus those who say the same thing and will never make one move toward doing anything.
Success, whether in our personal or professional lives, can be measured by our attitudes. God tells us that He has a plan and purpose for each of us, do we believe Him? He also says that He is about to do something new, do we optimistically look forward to it? Or do we brush it off as just historical sayings or stories of Old Testament Prophets?  I am crazy enough to believe Him and maybe that’s why my life seems to experience abundant blessings.  I not only believe Him, I expect Him to do something new. Heck, it’s already starting.
Don’t allow your blessings to slip away because you want to hold onto a pessimistic and naysayer-type attitude.  Look for opportunities that may be right in front of you if you would look for them.  A new thing is going to happen for you. Not because of magic or anything like that. A new thing will happen if you move towards thinking  positive, speaking positive, and acting in a way that will attract the positive things you rightly deserve in life.  Hey, He is about to do a new thing, can’t you feel it?

Stop Second -Guessing Yourself

confidently2Have you ever made a decision only to go back to it over and over again wondering whether you made the right one or not? I have.

Like you, I have made so many life decisions. Especially when it comes to my professional life. I have always been driven to succeed. To me, I take a no hole bars approach to my life. I take an attitude of “the sky is the limit” approach.

Earlier in life, I would just make a decision without thinking of the consequences and go for it; many times it worked out. I think God knew I was young and silly, so He sent angels to watch out for me (at least that’s what I have told myself throughout the years). Later in life I learned the importance of praying before I made a decision. I had heard others say that people do things and pray about it afterwards, asking God to bless it, when they should have prayed about it ahead of time to see if it was God’s will.  That made sense to me so that has been my practice ever since hearing it. On the big important things, it was especially critical for me to stop and pray first before moving forward.

Once I have prayed about it and waited to hear from God, I feel good about moving forward. Here’s the problem though. Suppose you prayed and felt that you heard from God, so you moved forward believing it was Him only to find yourself going back and forth re-thinking or even regretting your decision?  What if you made the wrong decision? What if you didn’t hear from God as you thought you did? What if?

Let me help you with this issue.  I went through this just recently. I made a life-changing decision that would affect not only me, but my family. I prayed and prayed and made my decision only to question whether I had made the right one.  Early one morning during prayer as I talked to God about my insecurities, what came to me was this:  “Stop second-guessing yourself.”

Hmmm. It think it came to me from the Holy Spirit because I was saying to God that I had prayed and prayed and felt I had His answer and now I don’t know.  When I looked at other elements of my decision, I thought to myself well this change puts a dent in my 5 year plan, yet, I wanted to go with the decision I had made. I needed  to make sure God had blessed it.  As I sat in my “prayer chair” again, the words resonated in my mind, “stop second-guessing yourself.”  I smiled because I accepted what I was hearing.

The word TRUST carved into a stone wall. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.
The word TRUST carved into a stone wall. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

Many times you will make the best possible decisions you can with the information you have. You do your best to do what’s right. What happens is people who don’t want you to do something or maybe they want you to themselves, will speak things into your life that make you second-guess yourself. On the other hand, your mind will play tricks on you and have you question your decision and if you are not careful, fear will consume you. When that happens, tell yourself what is written in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline.” If you have to say it over and over again, do that.

Anxiety is natural when you are making major life-changing decisions.  The question becomes, do you want to live a life that is full and purposeful or will you allow fear to stop you from fulfilling your destiny? When you make decisions, always pray about them first, wait to hear from God and when you believe you have and He says it’s okay, then move.  If he says no, then stay.  If He says okay and you are fearful to move, ask yourself, “Am I telling God that you don’t trust Him?”  I am sure you don’t want to say that, but your actions are.

Stop second-guessing yourself. Trust God and trust yourself.

 

An Issue of The Heart

Guard-your-heart-above-all-else-for-it
I ordered these killer boots from Amazon that were to be delivered on Saturday. Doorbell rang, my husband goes to the door.  UPS had delivered an order. My husband brings the box inside and hands it to me because it had my name on it.

I tell him thank you and when I opened the box, I found a pair of young girl size 6 Nike shoes from Zappos.  UPS mis-delivered so I pick up my phone and call Zappos to tell them that someone will be looking for these shoes.  I asked them how I could get the shoes back to Zappos or the intended customer.  The lady on the line says, “Oh thank you so much for being honest” (I hate it when people say that to me) and then she told me what to do next. Easy right?  It was.  However, during the course of our conversation she said, “you probably want to check to see if something was supposed to be delivered to you today from Amazon because we share truck space with them!” Oh no, I thought and then I went into panic mode. I was expecting these “Killer Boots” today!

I logged onto the Amazon site and looked at all my orders, you guessed it, my boots were marked “delivered today” so I frantically began writing to Amazon about the mix-up. Eventually I spoke to a young woman over the phone. She was really nice, I can’t say that I was pleasant to deal with. I was only focused on my boots. Where were my boots is all that was turning in my head.  She continued in a pleasant manner and readily gave me a refund, but I still wasn’t happy. I didn’t want my money back, I wanted MY boots! I was frustrated and unhappy. My husband tried to ask me questions and I was snippy. My son was instant messaging me and I was telling him what had happened, which got me even more frustrated the more I typed. I think he sensed my attitude and stopped.  I could feel my blood pressure rising.  My grandson sat quietly on the couch playing on his IPAD but watching this scenario play out.  Occasionally he would look at me and say, “Grandma, you ok?”  I explained to him my side and he listened sweetly but I am sure he didn’t understand why I was letting this situation get to me.

During the course of all of this, I looked to see if I could simply re-order the boots. No, because the boots were no longer available in my color on Amazon at all. I looked out on Google to see what stores carried it. I went to the Nordstrom site, Macys, Dillards,  and everywhere I looked for that boot it had sold out!   Not one single site had that boot; not one! I was becoming consumed with a boot.
collect-moments-not-thingsI finally felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit say to me, “Stop. If these boots are for you, you will get them, but maybe they are not for you.” I looked around at my husband and grandson sitting quietly and calmly and thought to myself, what’s wrong with you? You are acting like a spoiled brat. Those boots don’t matter; they do.

I turned off my computer and got up and went to a quiet place to calm my spirit and pray. I went to a place that I would be able to relax and reflect. I went to my room. I could hear the dialogue going on in my mind. It went like this.  Don’t you dare allow “boots” to get to you. Look around. Look at what you have; you have so much to be thankful for; don’t you dare let boots create an attitude  that will affect the mood of this house.

That was the Holy Spirit speaking to me. That’s why I say that we can choose. We can choose how we respond to negative and frustrating situations or how we respond to frustrating people. I know the Holy Spirit will do His job, our job is not only to listen, but to obey. In the big scheme of things, do material things matter? The answer is no. It’s that simple. A relationship with God and others is what matters most.

 

 

 

You Taught Me a Lesson…

lessons-learned
I know I am not the only one who has asked herself, “Why do I feel that I am a target lately?” Have you ever wondered if it was just your time to be the focus of “people messing with you”?

Well, that’s how I have felt over the last several months.  It’s been one attack after another.  As a woman in her 50’s I have been good about not letting people get to me.  Because when I was in my twenties, had anyone tried me, I would have not given a second thought to taking their heads off. Nowadays, I pride myself on not even responding. However, I think because I don’t respond like I did 30 years ago, some may take my silence for weakness. That’s a big mistake.
Attacks are hard, I don’t care how they come.  But when they come from someone you thought you could trust, they are particularly hurtful. It makes you wonder why someone you thought you could trust, would take underhanded approaches in dealing with you. Well, they may say, “You’re unapproachable” and that could be true, I guess. But honestly, would you believe them? I wouldn’t.

When people are underhanded, two-faced, gossipy and just down-right messy, they teach you valuable lessons. One of those lessons is that they can’t be trusted! So learn not to trust them!

What makes a person messy? It became apparent to me a long time ago that there were people who seemed to be just wired that way. Their lives seem full, but that is a fascade also. They do not have meaningful relationships so I think they secretly envy those who do.  A person who always finds themselves in the middle of mess, should ask themselves “why”? but they won’t because they like being in the middle of mess.  In fact, I bet you will find them so busy messing around in another person’s life that they cannot make positive strides in their owenvyn.  They can’t be happy!

Maya Angelou said, and I have said it many times as well, “When a person shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” That really hit home recently.  I believe in what Maya Angelou said, I should have been on guard with the person who betrayed me. But like so many of you, I let my guard down because I wanted to give another person the benefit of the doubt. I wanted them not to be an ingenuous person; I wanted them to be honest and sincere. Turns out they were not.

So what do you do when you face an insincere person? What do you do when you find out that you have to watch your back around a person who is waiting to put a knife in it?  You do nothing.  You just watch and guard yourself; that’s it.  They are the ones who are insecure. They will never accept that they have these deep insecurities, but they do. You don’t have to argue the point them; you just need to remember.  Keep their tactics close in your mind; don’t keep it in your heart; just remember. Don’t hold grudges; just remember. Because there will be another time when their true colors will show and you will stop and remember that they showed you who they were many times before. This difference the next time is that you will not be surprised or caught off guard or ill-equipped to handle their tactics because you have paid attention.

Life’s lessons can be hard, but they are designed to help us mature and survive.  In situations like this one, you don’t get bitter, you don’t get even, you learn the lesson. .

Happy Attitudes = Happy Lives

ecclesiastes-3-12-13
Ecclesiastes 3:12 reads “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.”  See, there it is!

One writer stated “The goal of every Christian should not be happiness because the Bible never promises happiness to the believer but joy, that is a totally different story.  While happiness is temporary and is based upon happenings, joy is from the Lord and you can still experience joy during trials, suffering, and testing.  Joy is permanent but happiness is fleeting.”

I understand what this writer is saying, but isn’t this just semantics? I don’t disagree, but I don’t think we have to get hung up on this either.  In fact, I feel if we are going to disagree on something, it should not be on whether or not God wants us to live a life of happiness?

11690912-attitude-is-everything-text-written-with-chalk-on-a-blackboardWe should not be fighting over this. So why do we? Is it just easier to sit and fight and to be negative?

Do you think that God designed us to with the attitude of negativity? No, He did not. In fact, the Bible tells us in Philippians to think on things that are good, pure, honest, all of these are positive thoughts. I know that it takes intentional effort to be positive, that’s why Romans 12:2 tells us that it is important to transform our minds and that’s what the Holy Spirit does for us. He helps us to draw from His strength when we would automatically default to the negatives in this world. When our minds are transformed and when we focus on what we are thinking about, I think we will work hard to stop random negative thoughts from becoming permanent negative thoughts that become our daily lives.

The Bible tells us “there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good.” I bet the happiness that is talked about here is not seeking to live our lives out of selfish gain, nor out of stepping on others to get to the top, nor is it in fame and popularity; neither is it just an emotional state that one feels just because something good happened. I think the end of the scripture really tells us how we will live a life that is happy and positive; a life that rejects negativity. We do it in being productive and not idle. We live happy by working and seeing the works of our hands, whether it is something tangible or intangible we produce.

When we reach out and touch the lives of others and when we add to the lives of others, those kinds of acts bring about joy and joy produces happiness in our lives.  Happy attitudes result in happy lives. So, can we actually accomplish what is stated in Ecclesiastes 3?  I think so. That, too, begins with our attitudes towards work and life

What Will You Do When Opportunities Knock?

opptyknockingI am not a comedienne at all, but sometimes I get one in there when I said “when opportunities knock, don’t send them to your neighbor.”

Recently a person I know had a great opportunity to show their skill and expertise but was too shy to do so.  Their boss automatically thought the person could take care of a major job without questioning at all if the person had the skill.  When the boss said to the person to take of it, they replied “Well, I will try; I don’t know if I can handle it.” Yikes! I asked them if they could handle the problem and the person said, “I think so.” Knowing full well that they could, as well as knowing that they had probably royally messed up a chance to show their skill, they called me after the fact and told me the story. then asked me “what do.you think I should do?”

What do you think, I said? “Hang up and go and take care of it! Don’t let them go outside the company and pay for another “expert” to come in and fix it when you can do it yourself.” It didn’t take much convincing. For them to pick up the phone and call me already said something about them knowing that they had made a mistake. The good news is that they recognized it and did something about it.

Once the situation was taken care and the person had successfully handled the problem, they sent me a message telling me that they had handled it. I congratulated them and went on my way.

Later, I was thinking of that particular situation and wondered many times the exact same situation had happened to others but they did not rush to self-correcwalkingthroughdoorofopptyt. How many times do you allow others to seek out someone else to do a job that you could do? The question that follows is, why?

Is it because you don’t want the responsibility? It is because you have self-doubt? Or is it because of laziness? I would like to think that the latter isn’t the case the majority of the time. I would like to believe it is because you are shy or fearful of failure.
I can just hear the wheels turning and the doubts beginning to pop up as you consider if you would have jumped in and volunteered your expertise. Many of us would say that we would, but trust me, others would not and it’s because of a lack of confidence or maybe the fear of being embarrassed or criticized if what they tried did not work.

May I suggest that you won’t know if you don’t try? May I also suggest that one thing that you will find out, if nothing else, is when you try,you show not only others, but you show yourself, that you are willing to take a risk. You demonstrate your willingness to help which shows that you care.  It shows that you have initiative, at a time in history, when it seems to be lacking.

You might not always get it right, but you will gain experience and, hopefully, good exposure.  You will increase your confidence, your boldness will develop and you will own your own decisions and contributions. This may seem difficult to digest, but once you step out and try, I don’t think you will ever look at problems the same again. You will grow.

Remember, when opportunities knock, open the door and invite them in. Don’t send them to your neighbors…