READ Initiative (Bible in 365)

READ Day 16–Results-Oriented

It’s actually Day 28, and I realize that instead of trying to write every day (which is not feasible right about now), to high light some of the days as the Lord leads.  Reading at this pace each day is like watching a reality show unfold.  Just when it gets good, you’re left with a cliff hanger!  I kinda like it this way because even if I’m a few days behind, it’s not that hard to catch up.  

Matthew 11:15-18

15 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand! 16 “To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, 

17 ‘We played wedding songs,

    and you didn’t dance,

so we played funeral songs,

    and you didn’t mourn.’

18 For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man,[a] on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”

This was a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t type” of scripture for me.  If I were to interview every person in my life, I’d find that there would be various ways of describing my motives, the essence of who I am, and my worth in this world.  I’m willing to bet that each person would base their responses on life experiences they have gone through with me, be it good or bad.  One would call me a witch on heels and another may nominate me for sainthood.  

Apparently this generation that Jesus described is no different than the one we now live in.  It’s a generation that isn’t quite sure where to place themselves or what to believe in.  If the season is especially joyous, they’ll find something to complain about.  If it’s a difficult one, they’ll remember the “good ol days.”  Jesus and John were as different as two people could be but the people weren’t happy with what they saw in each.  Yet that last verse is what I stand on.  “But wisdom is shown to be right by it’s results.”  At day’s end, regardless if we lived like a pauper or prince, it’s the wisdom we use to live out our lives that will be the proof in our pudding.  So, I’m remembering to be more “results-oriented” in my walk with Christ.  I’m asking the Holy Spirit to yield these same generational comments from others in the belief that my work, my life will speak for itself.  How are you allowing wisdom to speak louder than the judgments?  Be purposeful in your profession, in raising your children, in being a good spouse, in being a student–the results will be all that matters in the end.

 

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READ Initiative (Bible in 365)

READ Day 7: Genesis 13–Running Away

It’s actually day 20 in our Bible reading but I haven’t had time to sit and mull over what I’ve been reading.

I did come across something that struck me as odd in the telling of this story:

Genesis 13:7-10

“The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur.  The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where you have come from, and where are you going?”  

“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.  The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.”  Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”

Hagar had only done what was instructed by her master and mistress, Sarai and Abraham.  She slept with him, had this baby and found herself literally left out in the cold.  But it’s the angel’s words to her that quite frankly bothered me.  “Submit to your authority,” he said.  After all that she’d endured he asked her to return to her mistress and as a caveat, he made a promise to her–one that’s still stands today.

How many times have we found ourselves at the wrong end of the stick, being meted out a horrible injustice?  Sometimes the fleeing isn’t a physical picking up of your stuff and leaving, but an emotional shut down, where we decide to check out mentally. For all intents and purposes you may still be there in the present, but in your heart, you’ve already left.

The angel’s promise reminds me that I can be placed in difficult positions, sometimes of my own choosing, and other times because of circumstances beyond my realm of control.  Rather than “run like hell” I’m going to have to suck it up and learn to submit to that authority, face that personality conflict, confront that disagreement in values and be where He’s called me to be and do what He’s called me to do.  After all, the promise that He’s laid in my heart and in your heart for the secret desires we have, can only come to pass if we just buckle down and face the music.

My husband did a preaching in his early years about God placing us in a room and not unlocking that door until He knew we had truly overcome that sin or personal issue.  Here’s to not running away.  Here’s to returning, to staying, to heeding God’s request and waiting on the promise.

 

READ Initiative (Bible in 365)

READ Day 10-Loyalty and Kindness

Proverbs 3

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
4
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
and you will earn a good reputation.

You know it really pays to be cordial and respectful to folks even when I don’t really “feel” like doing neither. There are what I call “sandpaper” people who really rub me the wrong way and my first instinct is to ignore or to write them off. But I am always reminded by these verses and others to take that extra mile in doing my part to live in harmony with folks.

As a pastor’s wife, I find loyalty is something that some in the faith profess to have but really don’t know the true meaning of. Loyalty isn’t a feeling it’s an action you do whether you feel like it or not. People tend to forget the bigger picture and are more interested on getting their piece of the pie and walking away when they have bled the ministry dry. Growing up in the faith, my former Pastor, Tom Pokorni, taught us that hard work and loyalty is what keeps a ministry going among other things. If you don’t know what it is to serve and obey your pastor, boss, parents and anyone else God has appointed as your leader, you are in effect signing away your blessings.

That last section promises earning favor with both God and man and a good reputation. I am often reminded that my name is what I got at birth and its what I will leave with when I die. For everything that I do in between, I must strive to keep it unsullied and a testimony to God and His good works.

I remember working at the police department as an undergrad student. I received a much wanted transfer to a better paying job. I could have easily thumbed my nose at my former boss, spread rumors about her, or just plain out “showed my behind.” I did neither. And when my position was terminated, guess which job I was summarily transferred back to? My former boss welcomed me with open arms and I finished my degree in that position. She even allowed me to come in earlier than the office staff just so I could leave for my internships. Only God! And only a humble spirit.

So many times we get in our own way of God blessing us. Remember He uses people to bless us and bring about that much needed change. You could be one reference letter, one phone call away from a life changing destiny. And it will all hinge on your loyalty and kindness to people.

https://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/60-the-one-year-bible

READ Initiative (Bible in 365)

READ–Day 9: Solid Foundation

Matthew 7

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

This is yet another reminder that God didn’t promise a life without difficulties and challenges. What He did guarantee is that although I might face unexpected “storms”, as long as I consider and follow his teachings, my “foundation” won’t collapse. An image of a home keeling over into a huge sinkhole comes to mind. How many times did I trust my so called instincts and they led me to make mistakes? How many times did I look to secular theories and teachings only to find that they were missing critical ingredients to solving my problems.

The Bible is the greatest self-help book ever written. There is a teaching, a precept, a truth for every concern or issue under the sun. Sometimes we may feel like we need that next best seller. Nothing against these books, but there is only one book that’s stood the test of time and has been tried and true–the infallible Word of God.

Love & Marriage

Movie Review: This is 40

Our couple’s group went on a last winter-break fling at the movies to watch “This is 40”.  It  stars Paul Rudd (Pete) and Leslie Mann  (Debbie), both reprising roles from “Knocked Up” (which I hadn’t seen).  Nothing remarkable about this couple other than they both turn 40 days apart from each other and there’s a big party they’re throwing to celebrate.  They are the proud parents of two girls–a thirteen year old (Sadie) who is a “Lost” series junkie and an eight-year old (Charlotte) going on 80.

From appearances, this upper middle class family seems like they have it all together.  Nice home, both drive luxury cars, and they each have time to take their kids to school and actually walk them to class.  Hubby owns his own record label and his wife owns a chic boutique.

Nothing like  annoying in-laws to get things going.  Pete’s dad is a new father again and expects his son to finance his 2nd family’s expenses and really lays it on thick with the guilt.  Debbie’s dad (played by John Lithgow) appears to be the missing iceberg from the North pole and has very little to say during his sporadic appearances in the movie.  Throw in a couple of wacky friends, colleagues, and employees and you’ve got a movie.

I have to say that the profanity level was way more than I expected out of a family movie and once you try and get past that, there are meaningful subjects covered.  Issues of men’s insecurities in turning 40 is a biggie in this one.  Apparently, women at 40 go through a midlife crisis too (smirk)–it’s called wanting to stay 38 forever.  I admire this couple’s determination to keep talking things through even when sometimes they arrive at some awful conclusions. They miss the mark several times in blaming others for the faults they have, but thank goodness for decent endings.

My takeaway from this is three things:

–Keep the real conversations going.  It may be about debt, raising children, eating habits, whatever it is, just don’t let the silence that eats at so many couples become the norm in my home.  Avoid superficial talk and don’t be afraid to get in your spouse’s grits.

–Keep the fires burning.  I don’t hear it enough, sex is just not for old people.  Taking time away with your spouse is what makes you appreciate what you have when you return back to the humdrum of life.  Be creative in what you do.  Learn some new tricks and “go in” on that lovemaking.

–Make room for change.  Marriage is an organic thing that keeps evolving, whether we want it to or not.  Breasts and erections may go south, but acceptance of new seasons in one’s life is what allows each person in the marriage to be comfortable in their own skin.

I’m not big on comedies, but whenever I watch one, I’m reminded as to why laughter is indeed good for the soul.  Great conversation starters from this movie!  Hope you watch it.

Random Thoughts

Birthday Reflections

First published 2/20/11 (36th Birthday)

In West Africa, after the baby is eight days old the mother takes the baby for it’s first walk in the big, wide world, and friends and family are invited to meet the new baby.  That’s how I look at my birthdays, an introduction to walk into this great big world, inviting others to meet me on this walk.

Birthdays, like me have evolved.  My early recollections are of sitting at the table with my mom, packing ziplock bags full of sweet and salty snacks, excited to share it with grade school friends.  Then there were the “quiet birthday years” as I call it, where parties and cakes weren’t in the budget, but a card and some cash could always be found under my pillow.  College years meant introduction to “Girls Night Out”  and just celebrating life as only a eighteen year old would want to do–no parents around, just having a good time.  Marriage years mean really nice gifts, romantic dinners and chocolate covered strawberries shared with colleagues because it was just too much to eat alone.  I am the Queen in this home and treated as such on birthdays AND everyday!

 

Now here I sit contemplating life at thirty-six.  I’ve gotten past the insecurities of aging and when that gray brow hair found its way on my face, I gasped and turned to my hubby who had seen it the night before, but mercifully didn’t say anything.  Leave it to him to let me discover it on my own.  And that’s what God has allowed me to do Himself.  Discover life on my own.  No friends to push me into doing anything I didn’t want to do, no family members imposing their value systems on me, just Him being that constant “lamp unto my feet.”

 

I recently posted a picture I came across, of a long winding country road and it was a revelation to me that this is how life is, a road with dips and curves, rough terrain, smooth trails–all pointed towards a beautiful sunset.  A dear friend of mine was kind enough to remind me that it isn’t a journey I have to take alone.  That family, friends, colleagues, associates, and “gasp” dear I say even enemies are on this journey with me.

 

Enemies, in my dictionary, are those who I either misunderstand or those who misunderstand me. They are people who bring out the worst in me and who God is continually reminding me to deal with as part of my responsiblities as a child of of the King.  I honestly regret their presence in my life, but since this isn’t utopia, they serve a purpose that is not malicious, but rather necessary.  They are on this journey with me, forcing me to look in the mirror each day and check myself.  Prodding me to humility, assertiveness, prayer . . . They are that rough terrain, forcing my legs to work that much harder and forcing my arms to reach upwards to hold on to God when I’d rather wrap my hands around their neck (just joking, I think) 😉

 

Colleagues and associates are those people that propel me to grow in a world that is more than “church life”.  They are my reminders that there’s a whole world needing to be saved and like Paul, I have to be “all things to all men.”  They come and go like seasons.  And like seasons, some must go their own way and return again when the time calls for it.  They are fluid in my life, taking on various roles when I need them the most:  nurturing mother hens, blabber mouth older sisters, diva-like younger sistrens, rough-housing big brothers, mentors to glean from, mentees to impart to.

 

Friends & family are interchangeable phrases in my world.  I grew up in a household where no blood relatives lived nearby and friends of my parents and their children became family.  I’ve grown up with that ideal and look at friends as part of my family.  I am who I am because of my upbringing.  My mother raised a child who can walk with kings and paupers and never lose myself in either.  Those Sunday afternoon etiquette dinners, a glass of red wine included, (yes I been dranking since I was 7!); taught me to place my best foot forward–always!  My father’s lessons were of being a young lady above reproach, doing for myself and not relying on anyone else to do it for me or get it for me.  Thank you Papa for teaching this Daddy’s girl to excel in all that I put my mind to.  My brother reminded me of all those inner faults that I have as a human being–that mean streak of unforgiveness and the tendency to hold on to things that shouldn’t matter anymore.  Thank God for college and life after home, because although I’m still the bossy one–I’m not the mean big sister anymore! My half-sister is new in my life, and truthfully we are still learning each other in this new relationship as me being the big-little sister in her life.  Yep, I told you I was bossy.

 

Marriage means an inheritance of family members as well.  I gained three brothers, three neices, one nephew and one sister-in-law, and a friend for life.  There’s a heap of cousins aunts/uncles, on the hubby’s side.  Each reminding me of how different people can be and how I fit it into the grand scheme of things.  Each relationship teaches me of where I should place myself–that I can’t be the “know it all” with this person, or that I should “step it up” with this group or that I should “speak up” before I get trampled with this other group.  I love his family.  They make me mad, make me laugh, make me sad and make me love them no matter what.  For this island girl who was raised with only one sibling and no cousins or uncles/aunts around, I am blessed to be surrounded by such colorful individuals.

 

Friends, ahhh friends!  From the time I could engage in conversation, God has blessed me with friends that now span several continents, languages, cultures and backgrounds.  I remember being with my college roomies for a slumber party (yes grown women have those every now and then) and saying that I had gained all the friends I would ever want to have.  I’ve had to since eat those cavalier words of my 24 year old self (lol!).  I have gained a treasure trove of friends from high school on… Are we all in the same state anymore?  No.  Are we always yacking away on the phone or texting 24-7?  Not really.  But oh, when we get together–it’s like putting on that old sweater and realizing it still fits.  But my friends aren’t old “sweaters”.  They are men and women who take fabulousity to the next level professionally, spiritually, and personally.

 

One of the best things about aging with friends is seeing how God does His thing in each of their lives.  I would have never imagined in a million years how our lives would turn out and where this journey is taking me with them along the way.  Granted, some do get on my nerves occasionally, our differences are what attracted us to each other and what can send us over the edge as well.  Others confuse me with their decisions/choices, and yet even others I don’t speak to or see as much–but I know when I will need them the most, they will be there.  My friends all have one thing in common.  They pull me out of that quiet place I tend to prefer, and make me do wild and crazy things!  I dare to dream bigger, I dare to act “out of character”, and I dare to just be me.  They accept the “bourghie” Del, but are always there to take me down a peg of two.  They accept the “perfectionist” Del, but remind me it’s okay to make mistakes and to  laugh at myself.  They accept the “know-it all” Del, but remind me ALL THE TIME, that I really don’t know it all; as a matter of fact I know nothing! (lol!) Finally, they accept the “closed” Del, always taking the time to peel back those layers, one at a time.

 

This brings a close to my birthday reflections.  I’m thirty-six today!  This shy and and unassuming “child of God” relishes her time in the sun.

 

In the words of Picasso, “It’s taking me a long time to grow young.”

 

Carpe Diem!