Author's Note: This is not a political post. I have purposed not to write politically on my blog because politics is so polarizing. Politics will cause you to lose and gain friends quickly because everyone has an opinion and most think that their opinion is correct. Well, today we won’t have to agree or disagree about the political climate in America today because while this post is about President Barack Obama it is not about his policies, but about his family.
Growing up in a predominately black community, there were not a lot of examples of good marriage and family. Most of the kids in my neighborhoods were being raised by single moms, by a grandparent – usually the Grandmom, or some other female head of household. I knew very few kids that were living with both their Mom and Dad in the same house. Growing up, there was not a whole lot of healthy love and affection displayed on TV shows with actors who looked like me. Until the Cosby Show. The Cosby Show transformed not only how America saw black families but it also redefined how we as black people saw ourselves. We had an example for ourselves of what love in a black family could look like. Cliff and Claire were great parents with great educations and great careers and they really loved their children. But the Cosby Show was just a TV show and while I knew that there are living examples of this type of loving, well-educated, well-spoken, well-read family in the black community it was like a well-kept secret that was almost too good to share, at least that is how it felt to me. We all wanted some aspect of that life – The Cosby Show life – whether it was Cliff and Claire’s love for one another or the love they had for their children or just their life in general – there was something wonderful about seeing an image on TV that reflected the good we (black people) could be. But again, it was just a TV show.
When Barack Obama became the first black president of these United States, almost immediately he began to show the world what real love should look like. Having matured by this time, I realized that finding, keeping and displaying real love was not just a black issue. Growing up in a black community “us” was all I knew, but in 2008 I was an adult who knew that America’s divorce rate was hovering around 50% and I also knew that in certain communities, including the black community, the divorce rate was much higher, if we married at all. But just like Cliff and Claire did in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, President and Mrs. Obama defied the stereotypes for love, marriage, family, and education.
Almost immediately, I could see that President Obama was completely and totally in love with his wife Michelle. Even after years of being together, you could tell that if she ran to the moon he’d be right behind her. After years of being together, their public displays of affection were akin to two teenagers in love – she could not keep her eyes off him and he could not keep his eyes off her. It was so beautiful and so influential. With Hollywood A-listers getting divorces like new dresses; women deciding to just become single moms because they were tired of waiting for the right one; and men deciding that they’d rather play the field than settle down, Barack and Michelle were showing the world a different view. They were showing the world that you could be educated (they both graduated Harvard Law), well read, well spoken, be black and love your family. They showed the world that the stereotypes regarding marriage in the black community and in America can be broken. The Obamas showed us that a husband and wife can both be successful and cheer each other on. They showed us that PDA (Public Displays of Affection) with our family is not just possible, it’s actually cool. The Obamas showed us that we don’t have to sacrifice family for our career, we just need to work hard at achieving greatness in both because we can have a successful career, a wonderful family and not have to compromise on either. The Obamas showed us – not just Black people – but all of us that a good marriage is possible even after 20+ years. For the last 8 years, I have watched the Obamas not just for political reasons, but because I absolutely love their love. They displayed the perfect balance of cool, charm, grace, and poise no matter where they were all the while, showing the world that being happily married with a beautiful family is not just on TV but it’s happening in real life and it’s on display for all of us to see.
Today, as President Obama and his family leave the White House for the last time as the First Family of these United States, I am thankful for the example that Obamas have set for marriage, education and family. It is an example that I will never forget.
When trouble hits your life, do you feel like you're the only one? It seems like whenever we (human beings) are going through a test or a trial, we think we are the only one and that's how it feels right? But, the truth is that we are far from alone in how we feel and we're not alone in dealing with trouble hitting our lives. I'm sure if you took a poll of those closest to you, you’d find that most, if not all, of your friends, family members and acquaintances are all having some type of trouble. And the bible is full of examples of prominent people going through difficult times. Let's take a look at King David.
In the book of I Samuel, Saul is a King without the Lord, Before David entered the scene, Saul had unseated himself as King and while he was still over the kingdom, God’s favor had moved from Saul and God had found David favorable and fit to replace Saul as King. Saul was initially fond of David (see I Samuel 16:21), but after David was elevated, the people began to cheer about the tens of thousands that David had killed vs. Saul’s thousands and Saul became jealous, so jealous that he plotted to kill David on multiple occasions. David says to Jonathan, Saul’s son, “…What have I done? Of what am I guilty? What is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” ~ I Samuel 20:1b. David could not understand what is was that he had done to provoke such hatred from Saul. I’m sure that David felt like the only one with trouble. I am sure he felt alone, even though, his best friend Jonathan and his wife Mikal were there for him, after all Saul was not seeking to kill them.
As with David, when we are in the midst of trouble, it can feel like no one can really understands what it is that we are going through and support is great, but even with support there are times when we still feel like we are weathering the storm alone.
How often have we found ourselves in the midst of trouble looking for the solution, unsure why we are even in this trouble? And your trouble could be anything from debt to layoff to losing your home to something even more tragic, whatever the trouble, when it strikes the question usually is, “Lord, why me?” But, perhaps the answer is “Why not you?” Have you ever considered that God chose you for this trouble because he could trust you with it? Sounds absolutely nuts, right! But, for a moment let’s go back to David. There is one part that you should know, Saul’s jealousy was a setup from the beginning! Remember David had already found favor with the Lord and Saul was basically warming the seat of the throne for David (Saul was out of position and out of favor), so Saul’s jealousy was part of the process to get David where he needed to be. Have you ever thought that the trouble you (and I) are facing at this present moment is preparing us for greater?
I often say to my son, nothing worth having comes easily and if you really think about it, you know how true that is. When you get something easily you don’t care of it as well as you do something you worked hard for or toiled for. Almost no one gets to the top without encountering some kind of resistance and the higher you go, the more resistance you have to go through. So what am I telling you? I am telling you everything you are going through is going to work out for your good. In fact, the bible says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28 AMP. What I am telling you (and telling me) is that every trial, every trouble, every issue, every challenge is all going to work out for your good. God does not waste anything that happens in our lives and somewhere along the line, He will use this very trial to take you to a new level in Him or in life; or He will use it as a testimony to others or He will do both. God is not going to waste any part of our trouble at all.
Friends, we all go through trouble (trials, challenges, issues) but be encouraged that:
Did you know there is something more precious than diamonds, rubies, and gold? Yes, time is one of the most precious commodities we have. It is the one thing we will never get back once it is gone; Time is the one thing people who are dying wish they had back. Time is the one thing parents wish they had more of with their children and spouses often wish they had more of when they get to the end of their life. No matter who you are, where you come from, what your religion is, or what your race is – time is universally something we will use (or waste) and when it’s done – it’s done.
I am thankful for time but I must admit there are days I do not feel like I have enough of it. My son, Malachi, will be 18 this year and to be honest with you I don’t know where all the time went. There were only a few days that I did not spend with him but it seems like overnight he went from this little guy who’s feet I used to hold in my hands and now he is now taller than me with more hair than me; someone with his own opinion about life and I think “woah, what happened?” I was present for nearly every milestone and it does not feel like 17 years have come and gone but they have and he is staring manhood in the face as I cover grey hairs.
Time is a beautiful thing, and it is something you can never get back. As I mentioned earlier, time is one of the most precious commodities we will ever have. Unlike money, gold, and jewelry, time is something we can never get back. Knowing this makes me keenly aware of how I spend my time. When I was younger (early 20s), I did what I wanted and wasted a lot of my time doing things I had no business doing but as I got older and had my son, I began to see how very precious time was. Now that I am 40, I understand better the phrase, “don’t waste my time,” because now at 40 I have the understanding that time is something I would rather not waste on foolishness.
Our time is so precious, whether we realize it or not, and one day we will get to the end of all of our days, I want us to be able to look back at our life and enjoy the time we had and the time we used wisely. Today and every day I am thankful for time. I want you to remember that while time is precious so are the moments. One thing I have to work on is balancing my need to work with my family time. I am a hard worker, mostly because I am always thinking about a book or a project and because I have multiple businesses operating at once, but I have to remember to stop and enjoy the time I have with my family because every moment with them is precious.
Malachi and I are avid Marvel movie fans but that was not something I did, it was something he wanted to do, but years later we still talk about the trailers and the previews and the movies. We watch them over and over again until we know all the scenes then we eagerly await the next Marvel wonder. It’s our process and while some may think that it’s foolishness, for me it is the best time ever! We laugh until we are crying at the silliest things while we wait in line and as his wall comes down, we talk and he listens and if you have a teenager you know that is time well spent. I know that when he is older with his own family, I will look back on our Marvel movie days with joy because it was time well spent. When he is older, and I have gone on to be with the Lord, Malachi will still be able to think back at those times and laugh at our silliness. That is time well spent.
So today I just want to encourage you as I encourage myself to spend your time wisely, use balance and remember you only have so much time so make the best of it, I know I will.
Recently, I was having a discussion with my Aunt about a challenge I was having relating to giving of my time and myself. Let me go back a little bit, I am a giver – I used to be a really bad giver in the sense that I gave until it hurt, but thankfully now I have grown to a level of giving with wisdom rather than just blindly giving. But, when I give I have a tendency to expect that when I am in need those I have given to will be there to give to me. They may not be able to give at the level that I had given to them, but I expect at the very least a supportive “I’m here for you.” After talking to my Aunt, I realize that I am alone in my feelings on this and so I decided to write this post so together we can work through it.
So, how do we get past it when the people we give to (and the giving could be tangible items like money or non-tangible items like time) aren’t available to give back to us. How do you handle it? How do you get past the frustration that could occur from not receiving from those that you have given to? The answer is simple - be thankful for who is with you. That sounds a little different, but it’s what we have to do - be thankful for those who are there for us. Let me explain.
When I first learned about the principle of seed time and harvest time from a biblical perspective years ago, the one thing I expected was that my seed would come back to me the same way or better than it was given out. So, if I sowed $500 I expected to receive that or more back, but when my understanding matured, I understood that my seed would not always come back to me the way I gave it (and sometimes it would). For example, I have sown books into people, but I did not receive the books back, I received what I needed at the time (money, time, favor, etc.) as a harvest. So, what does this have to do with being thankful? Everything! You see when we give to people, whether it’s our money, our time or something else, we are sowing seeds into their lives that will one day produce a harvest for us. Here is an example, last year I won a prize that included a significant amount of grocery store gift cards and I knew that a friend of mine had a need for groceries, so I took her grocery shopping and let her get what she needed for her family. But, recently when I was in need of groceries, it was not my friend that brought groceries for my family, it was someone else. Even though I did not sow a seed into the person who brought us groceries, I received a harvest from the seed I had sown into someone who had a need last year. The example I gave is just one of many I could point out and yet, when faced with a different situation earlier this week, I was frustrated by the lack of harvest I received from someone I'd sown into and I had to take the moment to really find out why. The reason I was frustrated was simply because I was looking for my harvest in the wrong place. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever expected someone to do something for you only to end up with disappointment? Have you ever been on the expecting end of a deal only to be let down after giving all that you had? If so, then you know exactly how I felt (past tense).
In my situation, I was frustrated because someone that I cared deeply for and admired very much had yet to acknowledge a need and in fact, they were in my estimation having a very selfish moment. I didn’t need anything from this person, but I did want their support, but I was met with a conversation that lacked empathy and compassion. When I sought to reap the harvest I had sown into them, there was no harvest available. I had sown seeds, but when it came time for me to reap the harvest, I realized that was not where my harvest was. When my Aunt said to me, "be thankful for who’s with you and don’t worry about who isn’t" I was reminded that your harvest does not always come the way you think it should. We have to be thankful for the harvest when it comes and that may not be from the place you planted the seed. I believe God honors seed sowers, even when the seeds are non-tangible, and when the harvest comes, it may not be the way we think, but we have to recognize the harvest and be thankful for it.
As for me, I realized that I was expecting something that the other person was unwilling or unable to give me and I am now OK with that. I also understand that in the midst of my frustration about not seeing a harvest where I’d sown seed, God sent my Aunt to uplift me, encourage me and love on me (the harvest I was looking for). So, today I can tell you that I am not only thankful for her being there (harvest) but I recognize that God sent my harvest at just the right time to be a blessing in my life.
So, I say to you today, don’t be so caught up on where you’ve sown seeds that you miss the harvest coming up in a different location I know I almost did and boy, what a disaster that could have been. Be thankful for who's with you and as for those who are not, don't stop doing for them but do so with wisdom. This is a journey we're all taking together so as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Have you ever been in a situation where you stop and think to yourself, “If God had not changed me, I would be doing ____ right now?” I had this thought after a recent interaction that previously would have driven me to say some not so nice words.
God really has brought me a mighty long way. I was recently wrongly criticized for something that took major effort on my part. I was extremely annoyed by the comments given to me because not only was my effort not acknowledged, but also the other party’s criticism was misplaced because the other party felt they could do a better job. After receiving the criticism, I was hurt and very angry, but as I sat in my chair ready to throw in the towel and give up, God spoke to me. He told me to come to Him and while my first thought was to pick up the phone so that I could complain and vent to my friend, God said, “Come to me,” so I did. When I sat in my quiet place and talked to Him, I began to exchange my frustration for His wisdom and by the time I left His presence, I was feeling better than ever.
So, how is that different? Before, I would have stayed angry and been angry for a long time. I would have stomped around the house talking to anyone who would listen about my frustrations, about how unfair this person was being toward me, and about how angry I was toward the offender. I would have never prayed about it to get God’s voice on the matter, I would have walked around without forgiving, and I would have surely ignored that person completely until I felt they had suffered enough. But that is not how God wants any of us to live; The Word says in Luke 6:6 in God’s Word Translation, “Stop judging, and you will never be judged. Stop condemning, and you will never be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” It all applies, but the last part is what is key for me, “forgive, and you will be forgiven.” God wants forgiveness, not judgement or condemnation from us. It can be so hard to forgive, especially when you feel like you are right in your anger, but that is exactly what God wants from us.
God wants forgiveness from us because we can’t really love people completely holding onto anger. We cannot fully embrace others when there is hardness, bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts. Our mouths may say that we have forgiven, but God knows our hearts and our hearts reveal the truth of who we are and how we feel. God wants forgiveness from us because that is His word! Forgiveness is not easy, but it is absolutely a must for us yet, at times, it can be the hardest thing we ever do. In this case, forgiveness for me, meant that I choose God’s way – coming to Him to release the frustrations and anger I felt. It meant leaving my feelings with Him and receiving His instruction, direction and ultimately His peace. The old Liela would not have done that at all; the old Liela would have bypassed God altogether and I would have been stuck in anger for days or weeks. Thankfully, I am no longer who I used to be; thankfully, God has changed me because I can forgive and move on from those negative and toxic emotions. It took a lot for me to get here and even more for me to actually realize that I had changed, but I thank God that His way is better than mine every day of the week.
My friend, ultimately we are all a WIP (Work In Progress) and none of us are perfect at all. God is continually working on us to make us who He needs us to be. It will not always be an easy journey, but know that just like you, I go through things too, and just like you, sometimes I miss the mark and other times I land right on it. The goal is not perfection – the goal is being less of who we were and more of what God wants us to be. If any of this rings true for you, comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
My Mom-Mom used to tell us that if you want to make God laugh, you should tell Him your plans. I did not fully understand that when she said it, but I absolutely do now. The last few weeks have been tumultuous for me to say the least. In the midst of my "going through" I have also experienced God in ways I don't think I could ever fully describe. What I am learning is that even in the midst of going through it's not hard to see God's hand at work in your life. I am also learning that even in the midst of our challenges God is with us and for that we can be thankful. I can tell you that this time for me has not been without tears or frustration, but here are a few things that I have learned along the way and hopefully it will help you. God is with you.
As I note in my book, Trusting God, God is really with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. “You alone know when I sit down and when I get up. You read my thoughts from far away. You watch me when I travel and when I rest. You are familiar with all my ways. Even before there is a ⌊single⌋ word on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord. You are all around me—in front of me and in back of me. You lay your hand on me. ~ Psalm 139:2-5 God’s Word Translation. David declares in this Psalm that God is with us all the time; He is familiar with our thoughts; He knows us. God has put in you everything you need for this test or trial. He put it in you before you even arrived at the station of your affliction. God gave you and equipped you with everything you would ever need to fight this battle and on top of that He has equipped you with His Grace. He gave you everything you needed to win the battle, to endure the fight and to come out victorious. "And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]." ~ II Corinthians 9:8 AMP
It is OK to have a moment. Please know this because it is really, really important. Transparent moment, until recently the enemy tried to make me believe that I could not win this current battle with tears and weeping. He tried to make me think that I had to be strong all the time and that having a moment meant that I did not trust God, but God in His infinite wisdom directed me right back to Jesus. Jesus, the son of God, had a moment right in the Garden of Gethsemane. "And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, 'Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.' Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground." ~ Luke 22:41-44 NKJV. Jesus had a moment y'all! He had a moment right in the garden, even though He knew He had to do it, He asked if the cup could pass from Him, but Jesus did not stay there; He did not stay in the garden, He got up and He fulfilled God's plan for him. We must do the same - have your moment - cry, weep, be upset, but then get up and press through. It's OK to have a moment, it's OK to cry but you cannot stay there.
I will fully admit that being thankful in the midst of the trials is hard, but it is not impossible. I don't know what you may be going through at this time, but I do know that God is a good God and He will never leave you nor will He ever forsake you. If He told you something and it seems like it is not going to come to pass, don't let what you see deter you - trust Him. And while this may be a little off topic, I feel I need to say it don't always trust what your natural eyes see - looks can be deceiving. It may look like it is beyond repair, it may look like it is beyond help but if God said it, then He will do it. God will never embarrass you, He will never lead you on and He will never lie to you. So, no matter what it "looks" like, Trust God.
Looks can be deceiving, but God never is - He is always a straight shooter telling it to you and giving it to you like it is because God does not lie and He does not change His mind. What He told you will happen just don't give up in the garden.
Love, Peace & Blessings!
Liela Marie Fuller
Author, Mother, Friend, Believer in Jesus...Really Just Me.
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