Make A Connection

Make A Connection

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”-Romans 15:13*

I know it has been a while since I have written, but it is okay.  A break now and then can only help one recharge, renew, and regroup.  I needed all three!  Thank you for those who have missed my writing and reached out to me, I feel so loved!  And you know what?  I needed the connection.

One thing I have noticed in my time away is how important it is to connect with people.  Not in social media, texting, or the internet, but to look someone in the eye and offer or receive hope in the moment we connect.  It is what I crave for anymore.

Hope.

Over the past several months there have been horrific acts of violence, terrible tragedies, and destructive weather episodes.  It is so easy for me to be sucked into the doom and gloom of current events and I realize I don’t want to do this.  I want to find the good, the blessings, and the genuine.

I will choose to seek out hope.  tweet-graphic-4

The first step is to look for a human connection.  Whether it is going into ground zero after a hurricane, meeting new people at church, visiting with family, or feeding the homeless, I choose to look someone in the eye and be available.  Let them know they are the center of my attention and focus on their needs.

Second is to listen.  Listening to someone without formulating a response, resolution, or opinion is a huge challenge for me.  The only way I can get better is to practice, which means I need to have face to face interaction with others.  One thing I have been working on is focusing on keywords which are being discussed and to mention the specific words back to the person.  It helps me retain what is the need and to let the other person know I heard them.

Lastly, I need to follow up and pray for them.  Sometimes the situation may be a one-time connection but I can still pray for the person.  If I am able to continue talking to them, this is where the good stuff starts happening.

We build a relationship.

Not only do we connect but continuous interaction enables me and others to build a rapport with one another and this is where I find hope in humanity.

One connection at a time.

I believe we are created this way, to crave human interaction, to seek networking with one another, and to build alliances.  I believe the only way I will find hope is to trust in God and learn from His people.

Everyone.

Whether they believe in my same God or not, I am not to judge, but tasked with making the connection.

I am going to explore ways of capturing hope in our civilization and sharing the experiences with you through my blog.  I am choosing to focus on the positive, the good news, and the optimism which surrounds me each and every day.  No matter how big or small.  My desire is for you to join me in recognizing and celebrating the daily connections we make with one another and be reminded there is hope.  Blessings on a beautiful week!

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

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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!

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

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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