Monday, July 21, 2014

Watch Your Thoughts

“Watch your thoughts. They become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions” (unknown). Until recently, I didn’t pay much attention to this quote; however, Heavenly Papa found a way to make sure that I learn this lesson. Each day, life presents an opportunity for my growth and development and I appreciate all of the moments that I am able to acknowledge, learn, and apply my lessons.

A couple of months ago, my Bestie put us on this workout regimen, nothing strenuous; we just had to run at least three miles a day.  To ensure that I got my miles in, I participated in this fitness initiative in which an organization would donate a dollar per mile to the Mt. of Olives church in Haiti’s Raise the Roof fundraiser. This all sounds awesome, right? I’m getting in shape, working on ensuring that I’m taking good care of my temple, while contributing to a greater cause..Perfect! Wrong, to be honest, my thought process was the absolute worst and it would show in my workout.

Proverbs 17:22 reminds me that “a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Anyone who really knows me can attest to the fact that I detest running. If I had to choose between eating a spoonful or worms and running, (well I’d probably just run…eating things is gross, but you get my drift). So, we started this workout regimen and out of my mouth would come words like, “oh yeah, this is great. I’m about to go get these miles in!” My tone portraying that I’m extremely excited about the task at hand, but in my mind, I’m thinking, “Heavenly Papa, please let it rain so I’d have an excuse not to run today. In other words, my heart was far from joyful, and my thoughts reflected that. It was even more difficult for me to get my runs done because I focused more on how much longer I had to go. I’d be about a quarter mile into the run and about to collapse; however, with time, my endurance got better.

For instance, I was running so often that I could jog up to two miles straight and then an additional mile and a half of walking and running. During the run, you could not tell me I wasn’t Gail Devers, [although I probably looked more like Betty White (Rose from Golden Girls)]. I was in complete beast mode; however, my thoughts prior to my run were still the same. Everything in me still dreaded the idea of running. Heavenly Papa knew it.

When I went home for the 4th of July, I made a pact with myself and one of my friends that I was not going to get out of practice and that we would run together every day while I was in town. That was the game plan, until I broke a bone in my foot three hours after being home. The Dr. told me that I could not run, or bike, (heck, I could barely walk), and that I would have to be in a boot for at least six weeks. I just threw my hands up in the air and said, "Heavenly Papa…I really did it this time. I understand," and I hung my head in shame and began to think.  I haven’t run in over two weeks and this current situation has made me realize that I need to mind my thoughts.

It’s not always good to just do good things for the sake of doing them. You have to wholeheartedly believe in the reason behind your actions or you won’t be doing it to the best of your ability. This is the same when you make the choice to give your life to Christ. One can’t just say, "I believe that Jesus is the savior; I’ve been saved," and continue to live life the way it was when the person was unsaved. Negative thoughts plant negative seeds which impede the production of good fruit. This is a reason why you should be mindful of what you think and be honest in the words that you say. Your thoughts eventually become your actions and even though I was out there running, my runs could have been a lot more productive had I just encompassed a positive attitude. From now on, I’m going to do my best to “let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in [God’s] sight (Psalms 19:14). After all, I don’t need to learn all my lessons the hard way.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Show Me Your Love

1 John 4:12 states that “no one has ever seen God, but if we love one another God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” Any time that I get to go out into the world and recognize Heavenly Papa’s love is a great time for me. This past weekend was perfect. I like to think that all days are perfect because they are created by our Heavenly Papa and even though they may not turn out how I envisioned them in my mind, they each play out exactly how Heavenly Papa designed it. For that, I am grateful.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Heavenly Papa for my perfect Saturday. First, I woke up, which is always a blessing and I had the opportunity to connect with friends and family that I hold dear to my heart. Whenever Heavenly Papa creates unexpected moments of fellowship, I have to take the time to thank him for that. 

During my Saturday escapades, I was able to become one with the Father and identify Heavenly Papa’s love through nature all throughout the day. Upon stepping out of the house, the clouds opened up to let the sun shine through.  The morning sun kissed my skin as I walked along. The cool breeze whispered softly in my ears. I wandered across a field of giant sunflowers, (it was placed there just for me. Sunflowers are my favorite). The morning could not have been more magical. On top of that, I got to spend time with my Godmother who treated me to lunch and I found that I like cashew butter, yumm. All mega bonuses!!

It did not stop there, I went to pick up my laundry and our laundry guy said that we’re one of his most consistent customers. He even made a joke about me not ever picking my clothes up on time, but he would never sell them because he knows I’ll be back. When I offered him a tip, he refused and said that my smile was tip enough. After thanking him kindly and making my exit, I started to think about all the many reasons why Heavenly Papa was making my day so perfect and then it dawned on me that I was to continue to spread the joy, happiness, and love that he was showing me. I became eager and added a little bounce step in my walk as I headed back to my car. I now had a daily mission to spread joy and cheer as I continued throughout the remainder of my day.

This was achieved on many different levels. Most people think that in order to add to someone’s happiness, you have to do something elaborate and specifically tailored to that person. While this is one way of doing so, we must remember that Heavenly Papa took his time to orchestrate the earth, but even in his story of creation…the acts were all simple. He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light and the light was good. By simply speaking things into existence, they became. I decided that this was how I was going to make others happy. Some people thought I was crazy because I went on a greeting spree. I smiled at everyone that walked past me. Said hello to random strangers, and struck up several conversations that turned out to be really inspiring.

Then, I decided that I was going to reach out to some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while because catching up with good pals always makes a person happy (that one was more so for me, but it also brought great joy to my Bestie, very nostalgic moment having everyone around for her).  That one decision also opened up the opportunity to give praise and thanks to our Heavenly Papa and it made my heart rest easy to know that I’ve picked a good group of people to call my friends.

This post is just a friendly reminder that Heavenly Papa sends us out into the world every day to be its “salt and light.” He shows us he loves us constantly and expects us, "to love one another: just as [he has] loved [us]. By this all people will know that [we] are [his] disciples, if [we] have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).

Even though the world is imperfect, everything in it is perfection because it was created to be exactly what Heavenly Papa wanted it to be. My days are perfect because there is always an instant in which I can see Heavenly Papa’s love, grace, and mercy on display. There is always an opportunity for me to be someone’s bright spot. Small joys are always worth celebrating. The world is a beautiful place and we just have to take the time to notice and remember.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dormant Demons

One Sunday our Pastor preached about human trafficking through the verse of Acts 16:16-20. There was an enslaved woman who was possessed by a spirit which made her see the future and in turn she made her owners tons of money. Clearly I am not forced into a realm of prostitution, but I do think that we as people have dormant demons that we must deal with. It is only through constant evaluation, prayer, and strong faith that we are able to confront them daily and move on.
An after church discussion brought to mind a conversation about Beyonce and how she claimed that when she’s on stage, she has no idea who that person is. She doesn’t feel like herself. In real life, if she was asked to move the way she does on stage, she would fail miserably; therefore, she created this alter ego to let the spirit that encompassed her exist peacefully. Mentally, we all have these internal struggles in which there are things that we would like to do vs. what we should/could do. The demons are not physical as they would be portrayed in movies, but mental and self-influenced, and in most cases they manifest in our insecurities.
I have a few  dormant demons hanging around in the crevices of my mental, but I’ve learned that in order to deal fully with them I have to first begin to call it them by name. Mommy brought it to my attention that there is power in a name, and as I began to think about it, I concluded that it was true. Think about your relationships and the phases that they move through: with each title/name comes certain guidelines, restrictions, expectations. Even when titling ourselves, we begin to think and act like the name we're given. In order to face our demons and exercise them out of us, we must first be able to honestly and openly admit what they are.
Two demons that I most recently dealt with were superficiality and lust. There have been many instances when dealing with men that I’ve made myself believe that this guy was perfect for me because aesthetically he fit my “Ken” requirements.  I would allow their physical features to blind me to the essence of who they really were (not saying that they were terrible people, they just were not right for me). I had found someone who met all of my physical desires and I lusted for him temporarily. Typically this guy would be tall, dark, easy on the eyes, in shape, great smile, and in my mind we’d make beautiful babies and take amazing wedding photos. We fit the standard for our wedding cake topper. I could wear my heels and he’d still be taller than me, and he would typically be begging me to jump into bed with him so he made me feel desired. Talk about wanting a man for all the wrong reasons.
I had gotten so entangled in my own selfish perversions and ideologies that I was willing to sacrifice my self-respect, self-worth, my time, the respect of the people who have proven on a daily basis how much they love me, and my relationship with our Heavenly Papa for a delusion.
Mark 16:17 states that “In My name, they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues.” It was not until I began having constant conversations with Heavenly Papa, Mommy, and anyone else who was willing to listen that I realized the only way to deal with my convictions is to name them one by one and turn them over to Heavenly Papa. Sounds simple, right. Wrong. It takes a lot of faith and a whole lot of patience to change, but I’m working on it and Heavenly Papa is working on me. When I learn to be most comfortable with him and only him, he will provide for me what my heart desires, which should only be to walk in likeness of him. Until then, I will be calling out my demons one by one, turning them over to my Lord & Savior.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Stepping Stone to Faith

In a world where chaos is the new norm and the people are becoming desensitized to random acts of violence, sexual deviance, and any other example of immorality, one may find themselves asking, “Where’s God?” Proverbs 15:3 states that “the eyes of the Lord are in every place keeping watch over the evil and the good.” Even though the world is full of despicable things, Heavenly Papa sees and knows all, but it is only those “whose hearts are fully committed to him,” that will be truly saved through Jesus’ redemption.

The problem with that is that not everyone knows quite how to allow Jesus in their hearts. To reiterate my previous post, we as people are in a constant state of brokenness. It is only through this state that we can be redeemed because if we lived in a perfect world, there would be no need for Jesus. The issue that arises is that some people are so victimized by their brokenness that instead of seeking God, they begin to resent him and start to lash out in other ways. Think of the child who lost his/her parent to an untimely death and was left to fend for itself in a world that is harsh and cruel to vulnerable people. The girl too afraid to call herself pretty because her mom was too busy working two to three jobs to notice and her father wasn’t around, or the young boy who will never know what it is to be a man because he’s spent his days watching men disrespect his mother, with no Christian male role-model in his life. What about the children who spend hours alone or feeling unloved because their well off parents were too busy traveling the world without them or focused on loving their money? People who’ve been raped, battered, victim of hate crimes, the list goes on. All people find themselves victims at one point or another, but the way to pull you out of the dark place is to find something to believe in. To come to an understanding that Faith & Hope saves lives.

There are many means of learning about the word of Christ and how to apply it to the current situation and help you through. The Bible, real life situations and circumstances, other people, nature, music are all means of learning about Christ. All of these useful tools can be found in one place in particular: the church.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 states that “you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you.” For those people who do not know God or have not accepted our Heavenly Papa in their lives, the church can be a stepping stone to allot them to begin thinking about a working relationship with Christ. It is only by accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior that one begins to realize that the body is a temple in which Heavenly Papa dwells.

My Bestie took me to fellowship with her at church and it was through those meetings when I began to acknowledge that there were changes I needed to make in my life and that I wanted to be a warrior for Christ. Since that time, I’ve had a much more peaceful life knowing that I can Hope for a better future by trusting in the Lord.

There is a Mount of Olives church in Saint Louis du Nord, Haiti that is in need of a stronger roof that will withstand the constant tropical storms that plow through the area. The building project is $15,000. So far, the organization has raised $12,520. That leaves only $2,480 left to be raised. If you’re interested in helping to secure a church home that will help bring the brokenhearted closer to Christ, please click on the following link Remember every little bit helps!! We all could use just a little more Jesus.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Roll of Thunder

Today, it’s storming outside. The thunder is roaring louder than lions, jet planes, and trains on tracks combined. It makes me feel at peace, and reminds me of a time of innocence. When it would thunder like this, as a kid, my grandmother would turn off all the lights and the televisions, unplug the phones, and say, “Hush child, that’s God talking.” I would sit still for about fifteen minutes, and then try to ease my way back into conversation about questions that danced around in my head. Each time, she would repeat the phrase, and the cycle would continue until I either fell asleep or the storm ended. I miss those days.

My grandma lives about 8 hours away now, and sometimes during storms, I call her and mention casually that its thundering and lightening outside, just to hear her say, “Hush child. That’s God talking. Get off this phone.” The phrase means something a little different to me now, and I’ve taken it to apply it not just to storms literally, but to problems (storms) that may arise in my everyday life. Any time, there is a storm brewing, I need to take the time to focus on the bigger picture that Heavenly Papa has planned.  

Whatever you want to call that tumultuous period in your life: storms, wilderness, mountains, rock bottom, etc., it is a time that Heavenly Papa is warning you to slow down, seek him, and see the bigger picture. I’m not sure if my grandma knows exactly how her words help to guide me through, but I now know that in the midst of a storm, I need to not focus on external factors that make up the storm, but be sure to hone into God and learn how to benefit from the storm.

I had the opportunity to watch the movie “Focus on the Family: Irreplaceable” in which the overall message was that we as people are all broken and it is through our broken state in which we can be redeemed. Redemption is the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. The documentary made a valid point when it affirmed that in order to become one with our Heavenly Papa, we have to go through pain and suffering, because if we are not tempted, broken, or in a constant state of loss, then  everything is perfect. In a perfect world, there is no need for redemption.
Storms are not only reminiscent of our struggles that force us to transcend, but they also reflect the relationship that our Heavenly Papa has with humanity. It’s this ongoing cycle; the reason behind our imperfections. Heavenly Papa gave us free will so that only those who truly believe in him and love him will be able to spend eternity with him in Heaven. When he administered that right, he knew that he would be opening himself up to disappointment because he’d expect everyone to follow him willingly, but he knew it would not be the case. I like to think that every time it rains, Heavenly Papa is shedding his frustrations with mankind, just like he did in Genesis 7:1,4 when he recognized that Noah “[was] righteous before [Him] in this generation,” and made the decision to “cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and destroy from the face of the earth all living things that [he had] made.” While he is not sending great floods, thunderstorms reminds us that he is present and we need to seek him. Those who truly believe will “hush and listen.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Jesus: Priceless or Nah??

Lenten Season and Easter is one of the most reflective holiday seasons as people sacrifice and attempt to further their walk with Christ in celebration of Heavenly Papa’s ultimate sacrifice for us, his son Jesus. This year, I realized that despite all my efforts to be good, I’m much better at being bad, especially before I came to this point in my walk. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out doing repulsive things, but some of my actions make me aware that at any given moment, it’s my human nature to reject my Heavenly Papa. The heart is a sinful tool.

A penny for your thoughts, a nickel for your kiss, a dime for your love? All questions posed to show that nowadays there is monetary value placed on everything, but the question asked specifically nowadays, “How much for your soul?” In an economy where trade and bartering reign supreme and the world places more value on a dollar bill than that of morality, one must ask themselves, “what’s Jesus worth to me?”

In the story of Jesus’ time on Earth, his demise and departure cost the Romans 30 pieces of silver. Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples sold him for thirty measly pieces of silver. Some may scoff and think that is the most ridiculous thing that Judas could have done; however, we sell Jesus on a daily basis for a lot less, regardless of what we’d like to tell ourselves.
I had a conversation with my Bestie about the whole concept of no one sin being greater than the other, and how we as people have to take accountability for our actions once we decide to live a saved life and follow Jesus. When living a saved life, this means that as a Christian I must “put off [my] old self, which belongs to [my] former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of [my] mind, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4:22-24). I know what is right from wrong, and although I do things incorrectly, I must attempt to do things the right way.

When I blatantly do things that I know Heavenly Papa won’t approve of, I am selling Jesus, and sometimes for a lot less than thirty pieces of silver. I am literally telling Heavenly Papa that I know you sent your son to save me, but ehhh…screw your grace. There was a time when I sold out Jesus for the potential of a relationship with this guy (and guess who didn’t end up in a relationship)? In the beginning, I had expressed to this man that I was not interested in partaking in any sexual endeavors, and he claimed to respect that, but as time moved on, he would try to pressure me into doing things. Even though I was uncomfortable with the situation, and stood firm on the no sex part, I would find myself thinking about complying with other requests that in my mind seemed not be that big of a deal. When it was all said and done, just the thought meant that I was selling Jesus and when I did agree to certain things, well…you get the drift.  

Anytime we make a conscious decision to do things that Heavenly Papa will not approve of, we’re selling Jesus. So anytime you get a little twitch in your twat, or an itch in your hot hand, and you decide that your own personal desire is worth more than what is right, you're selling Jesus. It’s the same concept with drugs, alcohol, unruliness, manipulating people for your own good, loving money before all things, etc.

Luckily for us, Heavenly Papa did send Jesus to be our saving grace and 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds me that God is faithful, and he will not let [me] be tempted beyond [my] ability, [and] with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, [and I will] be able to endure it.” Regardless of how many times I fail to please our Heavenly Papa, I know that his love is unconditional and he will constantly test me until I get it right. Some lessons take a little longer to learn, but as long as I am consciously making an effort to get it right, I put a smile on his face. I’m reminded of that every time the sun peeks through the clouds in the sky. He wouldn’t test me if he did not know I was able to handle it, and I’m hopeful that the day will come where Jesus will truly be priceless.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hold That Thought

Every morning my Grand-Uncle sends me a text message with a daily Bible Verse. The goal is to start my day with a positive word from God which helps me focus on doing what the word says and applying it to different aspects of life resulting in me gaining a different outlook. This morning, my Uncle’s text message came in while I was brushing my teeth. My response was to click the button so that the phone would stop vibrating and continue to brush my teeth. As I continued with my routine, the phone vibrated again as a reminder that I had not checked my message. My Bestie told me that it was going off, and I replied to her, “It’s just my Uncle with the daily word.”
After the message sat there for about fifteen minutes, I moved on to fixing my hair and as I was staring in the mirror at the light bouncing off my face creating a shadow in my reflection, it dawned on me: Did I just say it’s no big deal? Did I just decide to put the “word” on pause?
More often than not, this is an action that many of us do. We get caught up in the everyday routine of life and forget to take the time to appreciate what it is that Heavenly Papa is actually doing for us. We also forget to spend time in his word. For instance, it’s almost been a month since my last post. I was too busy to sit and reflect on the words that Heavenly Papa had given me. I read every day, mostly because I have many different streams of the word coming in. I get it via text, email, phone conversations, real life conversations, church, on-the-line, the Bible, etc. You name it, I get it. The word comes to me through many different venues, but a good work spoken means nothing if I don’t take the time to hear it and apply it to my everyday life. Receiving the word had become not a big deal, and I put the word on pause, which may have led to this anxious feeling I’ve been having lately.
There are several instances in life where complacency gets the best of you and you’re not sure what more it is you should be doing, but you know that you should be doing more. You feel like you’re getting too comfortable in your present state, wherever that may be and you begin to feel a certain level of anxiousness, at least for me I do. This period has come to roost for me. Over the past month, my time spent not hearing the word, I’ve been in a constant state of worry.
Romans 10:17 lets us know that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Because I was so preoccupied with things going on in the real world, I allowed my faith to be altered. If I were to continue to hear the word and not just partake in the word, the month would have been a lot better for me. I’ve scheduled 15 minutes in my day before work and 15 minutes bed to reflect on the word that I’ve gotten for the day. In the morning, I figure out how to apply it to my life, and at night I acknowledge whether or not I did it. If I did not accomplish application, then I explore the reasons why and try again the next day.
I don’t like feeling anxious or out of sorts, so I’m going to do my best to make sure I don’t put the word on pause again. After all, when Heavenly Papa is talking to you, it’s always a big deal. If he has seen fit to put someone in my life who will share with me his word on a daily basis, I’d better begin to appreciate it because there are so many in the world who can’t hear or receive the word on any level. Heavenly Papa. Thank you.