Word Nerd Wednesday

Theology

I am so blessed to write over at my friend’s site, My Messy Desk by Liz Giertz.  She has sponsored #WordNerdWednesday where we sign up and accept the challenge to define a word, dig deep into the Word, and bring it to life through definition and scripture.  I chose the word “Theology” which really stretched me in my writing.  It was not about my experience or knowledge, but how I leaned into God and truly discovered what He wanted me to share.  Please check out my friend’s blog Word Nerd Wednesday.  Blessings!

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Another First!

A BOOK REVIEW

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”-Matthew 11:28*

I know it has been a while since I have done a blog, but you know what?  It is okay.  I decided to take a break this summer and spend a little time on me.  I enjoyed my family, was a little lazy, and participate in a few other writing activities.  I joined a book launch team for Chrystal Evans Hurst to read and promote her new book; She’s Still There.  This was my first time to be part of a book launch and let me share this little secret, it was awesome!   First, the book is a great read and I will share my review at the end.  Second, being part of a group of women who rallied around a sista to help her promote what God has done in her life is inspiring.  Getting to know Chrystal through this process has renewed the search for my purpose and learning to embrace and graciously accept what talents God has given me.  I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to reconnect with the girl in you and love ALL OF yourself, the way God intended.  Chrystal’s book will also be offered as a fall bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Check out Chrystal at her website chrystalevanshurst.com.  Blessings!

She’s Still There

Rescuing the Girl in You by Chrystal Evans Hurst

Zondervan
Christian

Pub Date 08 Aug 2017

What is my purpose?  I have struggled with this idea for years wondering what are my God given talents and what does He want me to do for His kingdom?  And then I had the opportunity to join a book launch team for Chrystal Evans Hurst.  BAM.  She’s Still There-Rescuing the Girl in You is an honest and transparent approach to digging deep, finding your purpose, and loving the journey.  Chrystal uses her own experiences, both painful and rewarding, to help the reader realize this life is always moving forward and what we can do to stay focused and on track.

The book is divided into six parts and easy to read chapters which assist the reader in spending the necessary time on her.  A woman can explore the ideas of what makes her unique and identify her special gifts, abilities, interests, and her nature.  At the end of each chapter is a reflections page which allows the reader to remember, reflect, and respond to the heart of the chapter.  In addition, there is a list of scriptures which support the idea of the particular section.  Being a detail oriented person, I noticed the scriptures were listed in no particular order, which I would have preferred for easy thumbing through the bible.  Well, I heard the back story as to why the scriptures were listed in no particular order (Chrystal had her own scriptures she wanted to use and asked others for their suggestions) hence; they were listed in no particular order.  As a bonus, skipping around my bible and looking up the scriptures has assisted me in sharpening my scripture search skills without using my table of contents!

This book opened up my mind and heart to invest quality time in me and to understand and explore my God given talents.  Chrystal’s approach to tackling one of the great mysteries, purpose, is both refreshing and real.  So many times we feel alone in our pain and She’s Still There is a comfortable reminder this is not the case.  Learning to live in and through the pains of life is what makes us stronger and more passionate as women.  I feel more empowered knowing my girl is still worth the work and the rescue.   A must read for anyone willing to do the hard work and reap the rewards.

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

We All Bleed Red

We All Bleed Red

I love my dogs. Between the two of them, they weigh about one hundred and thirty-five pounds.  For some reason, they think they are small creatures who love to get underfoot.  I have repeatedly yelled out their names as I trip over a body and crash to the floor.  And there they are, licking my face and forgiving me for hurting them in my uncoordinated fall and words of anger.

I can’t think of any creature on earth who demonstrates such unconditional love.  Our dogs do not care about a person’s gender, color, religion, or creed.  All they know is when they come in contact with a human being; they wag their tails discovering a new best friend.  As a human race, we can learn a lot from man’s best friend about how to treat one another.

God made us unique and diverse.  How boring would mankind be if we all looked, talked, thought, and acted alike?  I think the enemy wants to use our differences to divide us, from each other and God. Why can’t we embrace our differences and find common ground?   We all look vastly different on the outside, but if you opened us up, you would see we all bleed red.

We all share similar behaviors and traits known as a commonality.  First, we all sin.  Whether you believe in God or not, sin is part of our world, and we all partake in our fair share.   Second, we all have a family. It may not be a traditional family, but it is our inner circle where we can let our guard down and share, confide, laugh, and cry. Lastly, we have physical, mental, and spiritual needs.

My heart is so saddened by the polarizing of groups in our country.  Whether it is political, racial, or social commentary, I wonder what I can do to make a difference.  I have prayed about this and God has revealed three actions for me to focus my attention.

Change-There will always be those who I disagree with on a variety of topics.  It is not for me to change them to think as I do; I need to change.  I need to recognize our differences and respect those who don’t see the world as I do. I need to recognize we are all children of God and to accept and extend grace to those who do not concur with my beliefs.  A perfect example is the use of social media.  I try and screen carefully items I would put out there in internet land and resist from responding publicly to friends or family who state thoughts which are different from mine.   I need to treat others and their opinions with respect as I would like to be treated when expressing my views.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”-Psalm 139:23-24*

Cherish-I need to be thankful for my life and the people who are in it.  Life is too short to be mad and waste time on petty issues.  There are family members and friends who I need to reach out, forgive, and extend the olive branch.  It will not be easy, and it may not go according to my plan, but I know God would want me to make an attempt and try and bridge the chasms created by anger and pride.  I know there can be toxic relationships and I find myself praying for guidance and direction from Him.  If God nudges me to focus on mending the damage, then I know this is a relationship I need to embrace and nurture.   “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”-Colossians 3:13*

Challenge-God has asked me to step out of my comfort zone and volunteer and minister to those who are not like me.  Feeding the homeless has been a wake-up call to me and how I viewed people.  It was easy to sit in my comfortable air-conditioned house with a belly full of food and pass judgment on those who lived on the streets.  In my mind, they were addicts who threw it all away to get their next fix.  My opinions have changed drastically since feeding the homeless and learning about them as individuals.  Yes, there is addiction and mental illness, but they are people, who have stories, and want to be heard.  They are so appreciative of the meals we bring, along with clothing, books, bibles, glasses, and toiletries.  God has opened my eyes and shown me how to put aside my prejudices and see people for who they are, like me. –“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”-Proverbs 11:25*

We all have as much commonality as we do diversity.      tweet-graphic-4

I believe my true growth is to discover the importance of both facets and how to find common ground.  I do believe we could learn a little from our canine buddies about unconditional love and how to show it to others.  We may look different on the outside, but on the inside, we all have a heart and blood pumping through our veins.  Unlike my dogs, instead of wagging my tail, I will grace a smile to show my genuine acceptance of a new best friend.

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

The Promise of Tomorrow

https-amensistablog.wordpress.com

Today, we are celebrating the graduation of the Mandeville High School seniors class of 2017.  Tonight after graduation, is the traditional Project Graduation party which I will be attending ALL night long!  It is a great way to honor their accomplishments and keep them protected.  I thought I would share the blog I wrote last year when my nephew graduated.  Join me today in lifting up this generation in prayer for a safe, successful, and blessed graduation.  So exciting to see what the future holds!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”-Jeremiah 29:11*

We were seated in the auditorium when the crowd burst into cheers and applause and my skin tingled with the excitement.  The 2016 high school seniors had officially graduated.  My nephew was one of this acclaimed group.  I sat there with a big smile on my face and tears in my eyes.  We were a hodge-podge group of family and friends who overcame all obstacles to be there in support of his big day.  We wanted him to feel the love because there was one person who could not be at his one and only high school graduation.  The void which we all were feeling was his mom and my sister in law, who had passed away seven years ago.  Oh, how she would have been the loudest and proudest one in our group! This day was bittersweet for all of us and a reminder even in grief, there are joyful moments.

As I looked into my nephew’s eyes, I saw a world of possibility opening its doors to him.  What a euphoric rush to think about his future:  pursuing a career, falling in love, and raising his own family.  As I reflect on the promise of tomorrow, I am reminded of God’s intentions for us daily.

PROVISION-God knows His plans for you and He will provide.  All you have to do is seek Him in everything.  It is not ever too late to build your relationship with God and understand your purpose.  In my daily prayers, I share with Him I want to honor and glorify Him in all actions.  I also ask God to PROVIDE me with tools necessary to complete His works.    “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus”. – Philippians 4:19*

PURPOSE-What are your goals?  Each one of us is made uniquely and God has an intended purpose for you.  I have reveled in the process of finding my purpose and look forward to how the journey will play out.  I know it is right because God orchestrates every detail and the pieces start falling into place like a puzzle.   I ask for my marching orders every day in my prayers and I know it is one more step in fulfilling my purpose; in His time.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”. – Romans 8:28*

PRESERVATION-Because I choose to walk with God, I know He will protect me.  There will be physical attacks and events on my body, (accidents, illnesses, injuries, aging) but He will ultimately guard my soul and deliver me to spend eternity with Him.   When I meet with Him daily in His word, I am assured of this promise to live with Him in His house forever.  “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”- Psalm 18:30*

In retrospect of my life over the last fifteen years, I am in awe where God has taught, inspired, and led me on this journey.  If I can get excited about the future in my fifty-something life, I pray for my nephew and all the 2016 graduates who are giddy about their future plans.  His generation will be the one to move our society forward, for better or worse, and I am optimistic God’s promise will shine through it all.

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

disTRACTION

DISTRACTION

I am working in my office and becoming increasingly frustrated at the fact my “to do list” is not getting done. The annoyance in my demeanor is coming through quite clear in my voice, e-mails, and the grunts and groans for all to hear in the office.  This is not one of my awe-inspiring moments and I feel the situation spiraling out of control.

I want to be calm, cool, and collected under pressure, but sadly this is not generally the case.  In these moments, I am drowning in the distractions and unable to focus and control my thoughts and time.  This is where I have to step back, take a breath, center my thoughts, and gain some traction.  Here are a few tricks I use to regroup and move ahead.

Breathe-taking a few moments to quiet my mind and take deep breaths to clear my lungs.  Sometimes there is a conversation with God about the circumstances in the moment where I can lay it down at His feet.  When I take a “breathe break” it reminds me of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”* To be still, allows me to renew and recharge and face the real world.

Sign Out-Isn’t technology the bomb Diggity?  It can also take multi-tasking to a whole other level.  In order to focus and complete my tasks, I will make sure my e-mail is closed down, and no other social media options are open on my computer.  Additional options are to shut my door and send my phone to voice mail to avoid any interruptions.

Focus-Frequently I will have to dig deep and use all my energy to stay sharp and on task.  Using time management, I will set time limits for certain tasks in order to hunker down and accomplish my goals.  For example, I have a project to complete in three days so I will break down what is needed to finish the project and assign time limits for all the parts in order to meet the deadline.

Count-I’m reminded to be grateful for all my blessings.  What I realize is I am experiencing first world problems and should be thankful for my life, job, family, and give the glory to God.  This is the point where I gain traction and realize what the true priorities in life.  I can release the frustration of “in the moment” trivial issues and embrace the joy of my journey knowing I am blessed.  “From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.”*-John 1:16  tweet-graphic-4

If I take the time to go through these steps when I feel the pressure of an unmanageable situation mounting, I can take back the control and gain traction.  In addition, going through this process enables me to adjust my perspective and embrace the challenges placed before me.  After all, how else will I learn to grow in my purpose?

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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Love One Another

LOVE ONE ANOTHER

This was a piece I originally posted in November 2015.  I am amazed at how much I have grown as a writer and I want to thank COMPEL (an online training program for writing which is part of the Proverbs 31 Ministries) in educating me as a writer and introducing me to an amazing group of people who give encouragement, edits, and suggestions in a loving and caring way.  I have gone back and done some minor editing on this piece and pray it speaks to those who need to hear it.  Blessings!

Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”*

In reading I Corinthians chapter 13, love is defined and revealed as to how we as humans should embrace and process this emotion.  We are so blessed to be able to feel the rush of euphoric passion for others and this is why a loved one’s death makes the heart and soul ache after the loss.  It is overwhelming to experience deep devotion for another human being and only now I recognize and acknowledge it since walking my grief journey.

In the sixteen years since starting my emotional wandering, each loss has been a learning and growth experience.  I know the separation is temporary and one day we will be reunited due to my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  But how do I endure it now?  I have experienced a few resolutions which have comforted me.

1) Focusing on others- there is so much pain and heartache on this earth, and I know The Truth and what better way to demonstrate it then help others.  One simple act is sending cards to those who are ill or have lost a loved one.  I remember how much it meant to me for someone to take a few minutes of their day and pen a note expressing their condolences or well wishes for me.

2) Giving unto others-My family frequently feeds the homeless.  Preparing a meal to share with those who are less fortunate warms my heart and the blessing I receive is in meeting and talking with the individuals.  Every person is unique and has a story, not constantly a glamorous tale, but their lives are as meaningful as any other.

3) Tending to others-My husband and I are part of an organization which supports families with critically ill children.  We check in with families who are assigned to us, pray for them, and support them as we can.  I am so blessed to have three healthy children and consider these families unsung heroes who make great sacrifices for their children.  Focusing on others has helped me realize my worries and situations are small compared to others who carry such huge burdens.

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4) Praying for others-I pray throughout the day, driving, sitting at my desk, taking a shower, falling asleep at night, whenever someone pops into my head from my prayer list, I stop and pray.  Again, it takes the focus off of me and shines on a person who needs to be lifted up and feel the presence of the Lord.   I love the Lord and I want to testify to others there is hope in having faith in Our Father.

My life lesson learned is to be thankful for my loved ones now and embrace the feelings I have for family, relationships, and memories.  I know with my faith and hope in God and Jesus Christ, I will see my precious ones again and the emotions will swell into some type of exultation which I have not experienced here on earth.

My friends, this is why love is the greatest of all of these.  Show some love today!

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

 

Through A Mother’s Eyes

Through A Mother's Eyes.png

In 2004, I watched “The Passion of the Christ*” in the movie theater with some ladies from my church and let me set the stage.  I had been widowed for three years and my focus the entire time was my children and their mental and physical well-being.  I was hypersensitive emotionally and as a visual person allowed the entertainment to paint the picture.   When the movie started, I sat in a movie theater in Grapevine, Texas and for the next two and half hours, I was transported to Jerusalem over two thousand years ago.  I could feel the dry, dusty dirt on my body, the heat radiating off the sun and the immense hatred of the crowd who wanted Jesus crucified.  I could hear the men screaming and women wailing and watched the merciless beating of Jesus. What caught my eye was observing Mary, mother of Jesus, in the back of the crowd, gazing at her precious son and connecting with her as a mother.

I am not sure if it was the timing of this movie in my life or the intensity of the film, but I was extremely moved as a woman and a mother at Mary’s part in the final hours of Jesus on earth.  I have not lost a child nor am I comparing my children to Jesus, but I can relate to a woman who gave birth to a child, raised him, provided protection, and prayed for him.  I found myself in the theater sobbing and grieving right along with Mary as a Christian and as a mother.

I realize in the movie there were added components to make it more dramatic, but I was curious what if anything was mentioned in the bible about Mary in Jerusalem.  In reading through the four gospels, I found it interesting only one mentions Mary, the mother of Jesus, specifically which is in the book of John.  In John 19:25-27 it reads, “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciples whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’  From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”**  Jesus identifies his mother and the disciple mentioned in this passage as John who wrote the gospel.***  There is not a great amount of detail around Mary but it does put her at the cross where Jesus was crucified.  I also know from history women of this time were not considered as important as men, so it is a safe assumption they would not be near the crosses but in the background.  I find it fascinating Mary and a few other women, made it to the base of the cross and with His dying breaths, Jesus acknowledged and spoke to her and John.  Mary demonstrated even when her actions went against the norms of the day, what a mother will risk in order to be there for her child.

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As a mother, I would want to try and deflect any type of pain, sorrow, embarrassment, or failure from my children.  I wish my children at a young age did not have to experience the death of their father.  I wanted to “fix” them with therapy, love, church, and praises.  I could not take this pain from them and they each had to go through the grief, grow into it, and accept it as a part of who they are.  Mary had to stand at a distance and watch her son ridiculed, mocked, beaten, tortured, and eventually hung on a cross to die.  We both could do nothing but be a witness to the pain and suffering of our children.  We are the mortal women who carry the burden of birthing, nurturing, protecting, loving and fearing for our children.

Easter is about the good news of Jesus and how he died and rose again for each of us.  I celebrate this joyous occasion and understand because of His sacrifice, I have a new everlasting life.  I additionally see Mary in a different light, as a mother, during this Easter season and have come to appreciate her role in the event which exhibited the sacrifice and true love for all of mankind.

*The Passion Of The Christ-A Mel Gibson Film-2004-Icon Productions

** The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

***Bible Hub 2016 and Berean.Bible-Benson Commentary John:25-27