Stretch Out Your Hands!

stretching forth your handsI am an animated worshipper of Christ. Sometimes I can be in my car and feel the Spirit of God move on me and I raise my hands in praise. I have to be so careful when I am driving,though.  Some days I can be sitting in my office listening to a praise song and can be overcome with joy!  I feel the Spirit of God so strong at times that my emotions take over and I have to remind myself that I am at work. My eyes fill with tears for nothing more than I am in the presence of God.

I was recently sitting and working, and I kept hearing the words of a song that said “Spirit Move. Come and do what only you can do.” As I mentioned, I was quietly working away but all of a sudden, I felt my hands stretch out towards heaven. I heard my voice say “thank You for Your presence.”  For the longest time, I could do nothing but sit and contemplate.

As I sit here now, I think about all that has happened in my life recently. One was that of loss. The loss of my sister-cousin hit home. She was one year younger than me, and we were raised as sisters by our grandparents.  We both grew up in that Pentecostal home of our grandparents. We were both Believers who ended up still Pentecostals even after we were long gone from that environment. We both went to college and got advanced degrees, both married military men, although her husband of 35+ years was her high school sweetheart. We both had only one child, and both loved God with all of our hearts.

It is hard to swallow that she was taken away too soon. In the middle of my sadness. stretching forth your handThere is one thing I know for certain, she would be the first to stretch out her hands to worship God no matter her circumstances. That is something I can rejoice about and so can her beautiful daughter and granddaughters. Their mom was a warrior, a fighter, and a bold Born-again Believer.  In their sadness, that’s what I want them to remember. I want to think about how passionately she praised. I want them to think about how much she would want them to do the same. She would want us all to miss her, and we do, but she would want us to know that she is with Jesus and she is shouting and praising her way through heaven.

Look, I know there are those who don’t believe in heaven or hell. I do. I even know that there are those who don’t believe in Jesus. That’s ok, that does not stop me from believing in Him. I know some even think that once we are gone, that’s it. Hey, I don’t. I look forward to a day that my cousin and I will see each other again. I look forward to joining her in the presence of God and Jesus with outstretched hands praising Him.   In the meantime, I will stretch out my hands towards heaven in praise. I will stretch out my arms to my niece and my grand nieces and love them like their mother did. I will assure them that they are loved and adored. I will remind them to stretch out their hands too and worship because strength comes through worship. Finally, I will remind them to be “strong and courageous” for the Lord our God will be with them where ever they go. And where they go, their mother, my cousin, will be there with them.

Father, I pray that you will pour out your Spirit on us now. You said you would, and I lift my hands as a means of saying I receive Your Spirit.

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.

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?

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.

 

 

 

Luck or Faith?

God's favor

I hear people say, “It was just my luck” or they say “I was lucky” and I don’t say anything, but I do wonder. I wonder if they hear what they are saying.  I have said before that if we would take time and consider what we say, we probably would rethink our comments. I have also said many times before that we have to be careful about what goes into our minds, because eventually it comes out of our mouths.  It’s really important to consider the impact of what is taken into our thoughts because they will end up as actions.

But going back to my original thought about luck. Luck means that success or failure is brought on by chance rather than through one’s own actions. To be clear, you think whatever happens is just a chance thing. That’s fascinating to me.

What’s fascinating is that it is easier for a person to say that they have, or had, luck on their side rather than to say that God blessed them.

It seems to be a trend that it is hip or cool to say one does not believe in God.

Now listen, I don’t care to get into anyone’s business; if you don’t believe, you don’t believe, end of story. However, I just don’t get how it is easier say that one believes in luck rather than in God.  I do believe that it is every Believers responsibility to tell others about Jesus, so I am not saying that I don’t care about that, I just don’t believe that I have to be bothersome, judgmental or pushy in doing so.

divine-beingsBelieving in luck is as ridiculous to me as me believing in God may be to another. I know that some will argue that God is not real and that He is just something or someone I have made up to believe in because I and other Believers have to be dependent on something other than ourselves. Well, I don’t have to convince anyone that I am pretty independent but I am also totally dependent on Christ.  I have no room for luck. I believe everything happens for a reason and ultimately what happens to us ties back to God’s grand plan for each of our lives. I believe that being on this earth has absolutely nothing to do with luck and everything to do with God’s purpose for my life.  Guess what? According to Jeremiah 29:11, He has a plan and purpose for your life too.  Argue if you will, but too many things have happened in my life that convinces me that a divine hand is in it all.

As much as I believe in a divine God, I also know that I have free will. I can choose to do whatever I want. When I do that, things happen that have nothing to do with luck either, it has to do with a decision I made.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes not.  I am thankful that I have never doubted that God exists and controls all things. As the scripture says, “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28).  Hey, I love Him!

So, when you say, “It was luck” or “I was lucky”, no problem, that’s your right and your choice, but please show me the same grace, respect and patience when I don’t believe that and when I say how much I believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Accept me for my beliefs.  One of which is I was placed on this earth with a purpose in mind and trust me, I am going to live it happy and out loud.  My life on this earth is not by chance, by luck or coincidence, it was because the God of the universe decided on me before I was born (Jeremiah 1:5).  It’s because I know what the scriptures say about all of us, I have confidence in me.

Luck or Faith? You decide. I have…

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

A Pentecostal Perspective …

Jesus-is-Lord-Manila-1

I am a Proud Pentecostal.  I am a Positive Pentecostal too. Pentecostals are known for being charismatic and excitable people. We show emotion in our worship and some may think that we are weird. When I was a little girl, I was thought of as weird for sure.  We were the people in the church where people were “dancing in the Spirit” and No, we were not snake handlers!

Many people meet me and don’t believe that I would buy-in to this type of religious group.  You know, they think I am too intellectual, too smart, too informed and educated, to be a part of such a group. I am!

I love being Pentecostal.I love the excitement and the emotion expressed in our worship. I would not want to be identified with any other group. I am devoted to my faith.

My faith influences every part of my life!  My faith has not only informed my life, it has been the key element in me believing in myself and in the creation on my ideal life. I believe in prayer, Bible reading and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Because I am a follower of Jesus and believe strongly in the tenets of my faith, I don’t think that I am supposed to live a life of negativity, pessimism nor poverty. The Bible says, “All things are possible” and I truly believe that all things are. I believe in hope; my faith tells me that I have a blessed hope.  My faith also helps me overcome my fears, helps me to believe in myself and has enabled me to take risks that I may not have ever taken had I not believed in what my Bible tells me about me.

You may ask, how does religion help you to live your ideal life? For me, it certainly gave me self-confidence, which of course affected my self-esteem. I don’t see myself as less than anyone. I don’t feel inferior, I don’t feel inadequate. That’s how my faith has helped me move forward and why I have achieved so much. I am not afraid to try. I hope you won’t be afraid either, ever.