Doing the right thing is not always easy and as a Christian, I’d love to tell you that I always do the right thing, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes doing the right thing is hard. This blog post started as the “the courage to obey” because I thought it would be easier to write about how we should do the right thing even when it hurts, but for the life of me I could not put words on the paper. I would get started and get stuck, get started and get stuck, get started and get stuck – it was a vicious cycle and I could not figure out what the problem was. I soon realized that the problem was me I was focusing on the wrong thing not the main thing. You see this was about much more than obedience because I can obey doing the wrong thing, but I am still obeying aren’t I? And when you make a choice to do the right thing no matter what that can, at times, look just like rebellion (think about Jesus turning over tables or Jesus healing on the Sabbath). What I realized is that this post needed to be about doing the right thing because while doing the right thing will lead you into a life of obedience; doing the right thing will obedience is great and necessary, doing the right thing often is often accompanied by obedience.
As a believer, there are certain things I know I should do and there are certain things I know I shouldn’t do. I know that I am supposed to read my bible, pray, fast, love my neighbor, etc. I also know that I am not supposed to lie, cheat, or steal. These are the basics, for most of us, the basics are easy, and we are good with easy. But sometimes a shift takes place and doing the right thing causes friction, frustration and downright pain. In fact, the bible lets us know that doing the right thing can cause challenges and friction (see I Peter 3:14). So, how do you do the right thing when it is not easy? How do you say “yes” to God’s will and obey him when it “feels” so much better to do what you want? (Just a quick note, doing the right thing to you and me may be different but it’s doing the right thing to God that counts).
Doing the right thing or doing things God’s way is not always easy and unfortunately we often stand in our own way with fear, doubt, and anxiety. Let me give you an example from my own life. In the past, whenever I would get frustrated by a situation or a problem, I would vent out all of my problems, typically exacerbating the issue because I would not shut up about it and because I did not shut up about it, I would also say things I did not mean, which caused things to happen that may not have happened if I had just kept my mouth shut. So, when people were mean to me, I would make the situation worse by talking to other people which always led to gossiping (the wrong thing) instead of praying (the right thing). God has been dealing with me on this because as a woman I am built to talk out my issues, but now instead of ranting to people who may or may not keep what I say to them, God has me come to Him in prayer. For me, doing the right thing in this scenario is bringing my problems to God for counsel, wisdom and instruction (because sometimes I am the problem but that is a whole different blog post). However, when I am upset and frustrated in the heat of the moment I just want to say everything that is on my mind in the loudest, meanest voice I can muster, but I know that is not the right thing to do (and I know that because when I do slip God convicts me immediately). For me, doing the right thing when I am upset defies every behavior I grew with and around, yet when I do it God’s way, I not only feel better, but the sting of whatever problem I had goes away and the resolution to the matter comes quickly.
So how do you effectively do the right thing? First, know what God says about your situation. In my case, it was gossiping mixed with anger. I know the bible tells me that it is not good to gossip. I also realized that God Himself gave me a conviction in my heart and spirit about it. And even if I slip, I am convicted and have a gut check every time. Second, let God be your guide. He will always give you the right way to go because He wants you to do the right thing. Third, make the choice that even when it hurts and even when it is easier to do it your way, choose God’s way – the best way.
Doing the right thing is not always going to be easy, but know this that if you trust God, trust His timing, and His plan you will see that even when it hurts, doing the right thing will prove to benefit you. Today and every day have the courage to do the right thing and if you fail one day, get right back up and try again. We are not perfect and you may not always do it the right way, but our focus is not in the fall but in the get up and as Spike Lee says “do the right thing!”
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:
No, it is such a powerful 2 letter word; some of us struggle with using it, while others have no problem saying it. For me, it was a word that I struggled using, not because I did not understand it and not because I was unaware of its meaning, but simply because I was afraid to say it. When you get right down to it, I was afraid to use the word “No.” I was afraid of what people might think when they asked me to do something and my response was no. I was afraid of what people might say if I said I did not want to do something and truth be told, there are times where I still struggle to use this word. I realize that it really takes courage to say no and actually mean it.
Now, let’s be clear I am not a pushover, but there are some people whose connection to my life, make it easier to say yes and very hard to say no. However, what I am realizing is that there are times when I must say no. Here’s one example: very often I find myself taking on tasks that I shouldn’t or accepting assignments I shouldn’t because someone has asked me to do it and in doing saying yes, I have created a situation where I am overloaded and overbooked. As I analyze these situations, I am realize that it is not always that I want to say no and can’t, for me, sometimes it’s actually that I have caught their vision and I’ve already envisioned myself completing the task with great vigor, stamina and excellence. The problem I have is that the minute I see their vision and see how I can make it happen, it is usually in the conversation and I say “Yes” without reconciling all of the other things on my to-do list! Since I now recognize that this is a problem for me, I take a moment to think past the glitz I see at completion and think to the massive to-do list I have in my Evernote, then I answer in the way that is best for me. This frees me to say no and it also allows the other person the opportunity to find someone who has the time.
But there are still some instances where I can actually need courage to say no and it is in those times that I have to reconcile within myself what is best for me. I used to think that it was selfish to put me first, but I am growing to understand that it isn’t selfishness at all it is prudent. When you go on any commercial flight, one of the safety items the flight attendant tells the passengers about is about the oxygen mask. The flight attendant does their demonstration and one of the things they tell you is to put your mask on first and then help the elderly and small children. Why do you think that is? It is because you have to ensure that you have enough oxygen first, so you don’t pass out trying to help your loved ones who cannot help themselves. When I apply that same principle to my life, I realize that I have to be OK with taking care of myself first and then caring for others, because if I don’t I may not be able to take care of people the way I would like to. This does not mean that I am selfish, but it does mean that at times I must say no. I am not sure about you, but sometimes it is so hard for me to say that little word, but the more I train myself to think of me first (and all of the things that I have to do), it gets a little easier. I admit that I am not perfect at it and there are times when I know I should decline but I accept anyway. I am still a work-in-progress and I am so much better than I used to be in this area, so I am thankful for steps in the right direction.
Let me encourage you, if you are challenged with saying no, remember what you’ve read here and do not let anyone discourage you when your courage to say no fails. This is not a science, and there will be times when we say “yes” even though we should really say “no.” Guess what? We all come short, but going forward make sure that you put your oxygen mask on first (take care of you first) and then take care of those around you.
“And you know shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” ~ John 8:32 NKJV
I am certain that my Great-Grandmother, Dorothy Trueblood, was not the first one to say “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all,” but she was the first person I recall saying it to me. I am not sure who came up with it initially or who said it first, but what I am sure of is that when I heard it the first time, I did not fully comprehend the meaning. As simple as the statement was/is, there is so much more to it. In order for you to completely understand how this statement came to be in my house, you have to know my Mom-Mom. She was a tough cookie and she never held anything back, but it was never her intention to hurt anyone with her words, so she taught us that if we did not have anything nice to say, we should stay quiet. Years later, I have to admit that there are times when this still applies in my life, but now more than ever I have decided to have the courage to speak the truth in love. For most of us, being honest is no big deal – we can be honest about what we like, what we don’t, and even to some degree who we like and who we don’t, but what happens when your truth threatens the very fabric of your life? What happens when speaking your truth means letting people know how they’ve hurt you? What happens when speaking your truth means no longer settling for the mundane things you’ve settled for in the past? It’s at these times where we need to have the courage to be honest and speak the truth in love.
The definition of courage is strength in the face of pain or grief, but it also the ability to do something that frightens you. Courage is something we have all needed in the past and it is something that we will need again at some point in our lives. Some people need courage just to get out of bed in the morning and face a new day. Some people need courage to move from one city to another. Some people need courage to say what they have longed to say for so long. No matter who we are, courage is something that we all need; courage is not based on race, creed, color, size, gender, or financial outlook – courage is something that anyone and everyone will need to utilize at multiple points in their lifetime. We will discuss some of these points in my blog over the next few weeks/months and it is my hope that as we learn together and grow together we will also gain courage together.
Today’s topic, the courage to be honest, came while I was driving home. I was thinking about a situation that I was facing. I need to tell a very good friend something and I did not want to do it, but I knew that if I did not tell her I would not be honest with her or with myself. Sometimes, it takes courage to be honest and tell the unadulterated truth, especially when that truth may hurt another. It’s not always easy to say what you need to say to someone, especially when you know that person may be offended or upset by what you are going to say but that is where courage comes in.
Over the years, I have tried to learn the art and practice of listening, but one of the things that sometimes comes with listening is giving advice. Now, when we’re talking fish vs. chicken or natural hair vs. relaxed, I can do that, but when the conversation turns to the hard stuff like when the person is in the wrong and they need loving correction, or when they have done something and I know I have to speak up or having to tell people what God has said, I have to admit those conversations get a little tougher. As much as I hate to admit it, I would really rather not have the hard conversations at all. I guess I am a softy, but what I find is that most people are like that. We’d much rather things be all good all the time, however, it simply cannot be that way because we don’t live in a fairy tale. Speaking the truth in love is essential and while difficult, we must learn to communicate even the hard things so that we and others can grow. Having tough conversations are never really easy but here are a few tips that may help:
1. Pray. Talking to God before you have the conversation will help you to speak the truth in love and it will invite God in to that conversation. Seek His counsel and wisdom about the matter before you dive right into a discussion. Praying is important because there may be times when God will instruct you not to have the conversation for one reason or another, be open to doing (or not doing) whatever He tells you. *Note: If God tells you to say something to someone, say it without delay or hesitation – just obey.
2. If you are angry, delay your conversation. Take a moment to center yourself in the Lord and when you are able to speak with peace, and then come back to the conversation. Speaking in anger will never correlate to speaking the truth in love – I don’t care who you are. You have to have a cool head and not an angry one.
3. If you have trouble remembering or feel like you may get flustered, write down the points you want to make. This will help you to stay on topic.
4. Listen. Be willing to listen to what the other person has to say. Listening is a critical skill and you must use it to effectively communicate. Listening effectively means not talking over someone or showboating the conversation; active, effective listening requires a closed mouth and open ears.
5. Be open. Sometimes the moment you begin having the tough talk you will find that the other person knows already and are willing to admit their mistake and apologize, so be open to that. Sometimes being open simply means providing the flexibility in the conversation to change direction, pause or stop all together.
Bonus: Keep your ears attuned to the voice of the Lord. He may give you wisdom, insight or instruction that could help your conversation.
The courage to be honest is not always an easy thing to have but I believe that we have to do a better job about speaking up when things bother us or get in our way.
This above all:
To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
- Hamlet, Shakespeare
Recently, I sat down with my son for breakfast on a Sunday Morning which is abnormal for us because I tend not to eat before service on Sundays. As we sat at the kitchen table eating, I was led to ask my son if he preferred it when people were authentic with him. He told me that he did and I instantly knew why my son struggled with certain people and certain surroundings. I also understood why my son and others in his generation (generation Z) struggled with fully accepting Christianity based on what they see. Let me explain.
There used to be a saying when I was growing up, “Real recognizes real.” I am not sure who first coined the phrase, but as I sat down with my son that Sunday morning it was suddenly crystal clear to me that in order to reach his generation we have to offer them the unadulterated, authentic truth and not just about Christ, but about us as well. While it was not a conversation I expected to have with my son on a Sunday morning, it was one that I needed to have. At times, our children can be our mirror – showing us who we are and how we can improve and that Sunday morning my son’s frustration with unauthentic people was clearly evident. And while he did not say as much, I could tell that for him (and others in his generation) authenticity is the key, but the moment you flip-flop it becomes hard them for to believe anything you say. My son’s generation wants authentic worship to God and not just worship in church, the expectation is that worship is a lifestyle not just something we do on Sunday. They want authentic praise, but not just on Sundays, the thought is that if God is God, we should commit to doing it His way all the time or not at all.
What I learned in that conversation is that my son was watching every move I made and he was also watching every move my friends made, his friends made, and even the moves of others who I had not thought of and based on that he received cues about the authenticity of their relationship with God. And from that, he made a decision to believe them or not and he did all of this with very little dialog. The truth is that this is the way the world looks at Christians – watching our every move to see if we really practice what we see, hear and say we believe – is the same way our children are looking to us each and every day. The funny thing about it is that we tell other believers to watch what they say or do because the world is watching, but sometimes those watching are as close as the next room in our home. Let me just note here that I am not referring to making mistakes; I believe my son (and those in his generation) know the difference between making a mistake and living an unauthentic lifestyle. This was not and is not about mistakes as much as it is being “real.” This conversation, even though it was brief, made me stop, take a good look at myself and ask the question “Am I consistently displaying the real me?” Now, while that may not seem like a question one should ask herself, I submit to you more of us should be evaluating if we are projecting an authentic version of ourselves to the world.
For some being authentic is easy, it’s just like riding a bike and for others, it is more challenging, but we must always be mindful that someone is watching everything we do and every move we make. If you have read any of my other posts you know that I am not perfect (and I will never profess to be perfect) so as I am writing this, I am also taking inventory of the areas – large or small – where I need to improve. One of the top of those areas of improvement is my impatience, and while I am getting better with being patient I am not always the most patient person (my son can attest to this). As I have said before, we are all WIP’s (Works in Progress) and none of us is perfect, even the bible tells us that so this is not a condemnation to anyone, but I hope that this is as much of a wake-up call for you as it was for me. If we are not serious about being authentic then we should be because people are watching to see the real you; our children are looking for the real you. Be sure you are your true self no matter where you go or who you are around because someone is watching you. I hope that you take that truth, let it sink in and change you, it has for me.
Be Great at Being YOU!
Have you ever had one of those days when despite your best intentions you feel like maybe you should have stayed in the bed? Ever feel like you just can’t seem to get it right? Do you ever have those days where you wonder “why am I here?” If you have then you are not alone, in fact that is sort of how I felt today. I felt challenged in areas I thought I had overcome and the work I set out to do did not get done. Every time I sat down to work, I could not get it right no matter how hard I tried. I was really not feeling thankful at all for any of it. On top of it all I felt unappreciated by those I care most about – not a good place. So, what do you when you really feel like you have nothing to be thankful for? Be thankful anyway!
I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous to some of you and I will admit that I had moments where I just wanted to stomp my feet and cry like a 2 year old today, but God has done and is currently doing such wonderful things for me that I can’t really stay in the pit. And guess what? No matter where you are today, the same is true for you! God is doing great things and even when it does not feel like it, God is working it out for you and that is enough for us to give thanks. But in case you need a little bit more here are a few things we can be thankful for no matter what.
You woke up this morning!
No matter what you have going on at this present moment, you are living! Air is still coming in and out of your lungs. You still have a pulse and with that you still have another opportunity to have things work out for your good. It is not over yet and if God says it’s not over then you cannot throw in the towel just yet!
If you are reading this, you have eyes to see and that’s a good thing!
Have you ever stood in the park and just looked at the birds, the trees, the children playing and get lost? Have you ever stood looking at the beauty of God’s wonderful creations and just breathed? One of the things I do when life seems overwhelming is take in his nature. In the clip below, I was in Virginia Beach, VA and I took this video of the ocean. The waves crashing against the sand was so serene and so peaceful that I forgot all of my troubles and remembered that God is greater than all that I was going through. If you are having a moment, close your eyes and listen to the waves and remember how big your God is!
No matter what is happening for you today, there is something to be thankful for. I just provided you two things to be thankful for but there are so many other things. I urge you that when you are in the midst of trial, stop and ask yourself what you are thankful for, don’t think about the problems but think about what God has given you (tangible or intangible) and be thankful for it. I am sure that you will feel better.
I’m thankful for you!
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.
I dislike going to the dentist; it is really not my favorite pastime and while I don’t dread going to the dentist, I can think of so many other wonderful places I would like to be like Virginia Beach, VA (see photo above) but as you and I know that if we want to keep a healthy mouth, we have to go and visit the dentist at least twice a year, right?
So why am I telling you this? Because it hit me that sometimes the very thing we need to do is the very thing we don’t want to do. Praying used to be that thing for me; I did not want to pray. I knew I needed to pray, but I didn’t really want to pray. I would do what I needed and say what I needed just to say that I prayed but there was no power in my prayers at all. It was not until I got serious about my relationship with God, did prayer become a more serious tool for me. The same is true for anything we do – from going to the dentist, to taking out the garbage, to reading the bible – if you don’t fully understand the WHY in why we are doing a thing we may do it the wrong attitude. But when we receive a revelation on the WHY, we should have more of an incentive to do it.
Let me give you an example, I used to dislike exercise but now I do it more frequently because I understand the WHY. The why in exercise for me is making sure that my 40 year-old body is healthier than my 20 year-old body was. And the more I do it, the better I feel which makes me want to do it more and more. The same is true for prayer, reading the Word, etc. When you are doing a task for the right reasons, I believe that there will come a point where it is no longer routine, but rather something you look forward to. The more we pray, worship and read God’s word, the more we connect with Him and the more we connect to Him (the source), the better we will feel even in the midst of the storms of life.
So, let me ask you my friend, what are you not doing because you don’t want to? Is it reading the Word? Is it praying for someone you love to do better? Is it calling the sick and afflicted to check in on them? Is it simply listening to God and obeying Him? Whatever it is – find they why and make an effort to do it. We all struggle with what we want to do vs. what we should do, but sometimes what we want to do is not always the most prudent path; sometimes we have to take the road less traveled and do the thing we need to do to get the results we need.
Peace & Blessings,
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.
Do you ever wake up feeling as though you’ve just been hit by a MAC Truck and all you want to do is ball up and cry? Do you ever feel like you’ve given the world and those around you everything you have only to end up with the short end of the stick? Do you ever feel unappreciated by those in your life (family, friends, loved ones, co-workers, bosses, etc.)? Ever just feel like giving up? If you have ever felt this way or if you are feeling this way now, you are not alone.
I recently had a conversation with my Aunt and as I talked to her, one thing she said stuck out to me she said, “Be thankful for who’s with you and don’t worry about who isn’t” (more on that later). She said some other wonderful things too but this stuck out to me because I am learning to be thankful in the midst of all things. After the talk with my Aunt, I created a list of 10 things I am thankful for and I wanted share it with you. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it is a base to help you and I remember what we are thankful for when it feels like life is giving us more lemons than lemonade. I realize that there is so much that we can be thankful for and when we take the moment to meditate on the great God has already done, the stuff that bothers us might not feel so pressing anymore.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts. How are you going to be more thankful today?
10 Things To Be Thankful For
I am thankful that I woke up this morning with new mercies!
The reason I can [still] find hope is that I keep this one thing in mind: the LORD’s mercy. We were not completely wiped out. His compassion is never limited. It is new every morning. His faithfulness is great! ~ Lamentations 3:21-23 God’s Word Translation.
I am thankful that God has great plans for me.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
I am thankful that God gives me power and strength when I am weak and that means I can run on!
He gives strength to those who grow tired and increases strength of those who are weak. Even young people grow tired and become weary, and young men will stumble and fall. Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the Lord will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and won’t become weary. They will walk and not grow tired. ~ Isaiah 40:29-31 God’s Word Translation
I am thankful that I can have peace of mind in Christ.
I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. ~ John 14:27 NLT
I am thankful that I am more than a conqueror.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. ~ Romans 8:37 ESV
I am thankful that nothing can separate me from the love of God!
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39 ESV
I am thankful that God has not forgotten me.
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. ~ Isaiah 49:14-15 ESV
I am thankful that God provides for my needs.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:19 ESV
I am thankful that I can ask for and receive forgiveness.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ I John 1:9 ESV
I am thankful that this present challenge will not last always. God is doing something great.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~ James 1:2-3 ESV
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**Author’s Note: This is in no way a political post and it is not an endorsement (or non-endorsement) of any candidate presently running for President. **
A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Paula White came out and endorsed GOP candidate Donald Trump for President. As soon as the news broke, social media filled with outcries against Pastor White because of her endorsement of Donald Trump. Pastor White is the senior Pastor at New Destiny Christian Center near Orlando, Florida. She is also host of her own TV show entitled Paula. Pastor White was accused of bamboozling African-Americans because it was said that her ministry was built with black money and black influence. People complained because Trump had been accused of making racist comments, being indignant towards women, Mexicans, etc. and a few weeks before Pastor White gave her endorsement, former KKK member David Duke threw his support behind Trump creating a firestorm of controversy from both sides of the political aisle.
During this time, I purposely stayed silent on all fronts and not because I did not have an opinion, but simply because I have learned the hard way that sometimes you have to let it all play out so that the whole truth surfaces. A few days ago as I was preparing for bed, I received a revelation; I realized that this had nothing to do with Paula White (or Donald Trump for that matter). What I began to understand is that the controversy is a pawn in the enemy’s elaborate chess game. In fact, if you unfollowed Pastor White on social media, unsubscribed from her blog/website you, my friend, took the bait. Why? Because, as a brilliant man told me recently, “the enemy is trying to kill us” – the devil is trying to kill us (and not just you or me, but the body of Christ at large) and he has used situations like this one with Pastor Paula White to take our eyes off the principal thing – WE ARE AT WAR! We are on the battlefield fighting a real enemy, one who has sent spies to our camp to cause division and stir up unrest in the body and we have not only allowed it but we’ve also participated in it! We have taken the bait and instead of fighting the devil, we’ve been fighting and bickering amongst ourselves. And while we are fighting with one another the enemy is stealing our influence, setting up camp in our church services and causing division amongst the body. He has kept us distracted from the real fight against him. Now, instead of fighting the enemy we are battling each other like we are enemy combatants. What happened to being our brother’s keeper? What happened to having each other’s back?
One day while watching a military show called “The Unit,” I heard the phrase “I got your 6,” and I didn’t understand what that meant so I took the time to find out. The idea behind “I got your 6” is simple it literally means I have your back. On the Unit, the soldiers went through their issues on base, but out on the battlefield it was a very different story. No matter what happened off the battlefield, if they were in a fight on the battlefield, they protected one another. If you’d come across them in battle you would have never known that there was an issue back on their base. They covered one another and you never saw their bickering, strife, envy, or jealousy on the battlefield because it would have been a distraction that would have caused them to lose the fight.
Recently, I have been thinking about the term, “I got your 6” as it relates to the Kingdom of God, but even more specifically, the people of God. How well do we cover one another? How well do we cover our brothers and sisters or even our leaders? As in the case of Pastor Paula White, there have been other prominent Christian leaders who, for one reason or another, have garnered negative attention and one by one, believers posted and shared these negative stories on their Facebook and Twitter timelines. The Bible tells us in I Peter 4:8 that, “…love covers a multitude of sins.” Love covers but what does cover mean? Cover means to shield, to protect. As believers – men and women of the most high God – our job is not to discuss or gossip about the issue, but rather to pray (cover) to God about the situation. We may not like what the leader has done, but we have to do as the Bible admonishes us and that is to pray for one another as well as our leaders (scripture references: Job 42:10 & I Timothy 2:2-3) The word does not say talk about or gossip about - we are to pray. What we must remember is that we are in a war – that’s right, you heard me we are in a battle with an enemy who does not quit, does not give up and while we know he has already been defeated, he is still fighting and trying to get us to die on the battlefield – We can’t do that!
Do you remember what I said about the members of the Unit? No matter what happened at home, when they were on the battlefield they covered each other; they had each other’s backs, why? Because they needed to protect each other and they didn’t want their enemy to come up behind them and take them out; even if they had the biggest blow up on base, when they got on that field they were a team and they covered one another; they protected one another. As believers, we must cover and protect one another. That does not mean that we condone the behavior of our brothers and sisters, but it does mean that we don’t judge them, or gossip about it, but we take it to God in prayer. We cover them with love and prayer, simply. And when you pray, let the Holy Spirit pray through you by using your Heavenly language. Holy Spirit makes the best intercession because He already knows the beginning and the end so let Him make the petitions for you.
Whether you know it or not, the world is looking at us to see how we will respond and how we will act, but what image are we giving them? The world does not always judge Jesus through the Word of God, but rather through us – the body of Christ - but how does it look to the world when we spend more time gossiping about others in the body. Let me tell you, we are in a war – some days it does not feel like a war because the enemy isn't bringing the problems to our door or dropping the crazy everywhere we go at the moment, but we are at war. We need to recognize that our Kingdom response should not be to repost and share on Facebook and Twitter, but rather to go into our prayer closet and pray. Just like we have the choice to post or not, we also have the choice to cover.
In the case of Pastor Paula White, I will not say that her choice to support Donald Trump was right or wrong (and yes, I do have an opinion) but the issue is greater than that. Some of us have allowed her personal political preference to stop us from hearing what God has to say through her, and in doing so, you are missing out on the Word God has for you and that’s not cool! You may not agree with the political choice she has made, but do not tune her out because of it. God is still God and He will use whomever He will to get the Word to you, but don’t get so caught up in the messenger that you miss the message. Our job is not to judge her political affiliations, but rather to pray that she will align herself with Godly people. Our job is not to judge her political endorsements, but rather to pray that God’s choice will be the next President (not man’s). Beloveds, our job is simply to cover; there are so many more battles to be fought and won, but when we cover each other we are a whole lot stronger together than we are apart.
I Got Your 6!
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.
I had a dream, well really a vision, and there were lots of people in line at a store waiting to receive something. The line of people went through the store and outside onto the street. The person who was providing the item, made a statement that I thought was powerful, basically she said, “act like this is you up here because soon it will be and you will want those behind you to treat you with patience and courtesy so do it for those in front of you.” I woke up not long after having the vision and knew that I needed to write this post.
One of the things about being thankful or living a thankful life is that you must have patience. I can fully admit to you that this is an area where God is still working on me, but one of the things that I try to do is to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I used to be someone who was very angry – a lot and in fact, it didn’t take a whole lot to push my buttons. I would cuss you out and not think twice about it and because I come from three generations of folks who could cuss you out, I knew just how to do it without hesitation. Now, if you have never experienced this side of me, please count it a blessing as those who have probably are not going to read this, but if they do, I ask for forgiveness because God has changed me for the better. Moving on, as I matured, things happened and I began to see the world differently. I began to wonder if I was missing something and indeed, I was. One of the things I began to learn to do is to put myself in the position of others, especially when my patience is not high. (Let me just pause here and let you know that even as I am writing this to you, this is a work in progress for me. I don’t have this perfected and the moment I think I do, God throws me a curve ball and I realize I’ve still got more growing to do. Listen to me if you are not learning, growing and evolving, check your pulse because you are probably dead. We should always be learning, growing, maturing, and evolving in our thinking – always!)
Here is a scenario of what I mean when I say put yourself in the position of someone else. Let’s say you are at the doctor’s office, your appointment was at 10 am, it’s now 10:30, and the nurse has yet to call you. There is an office full of patients and they were all there before you. You fidget with magazine after magazine, play a game or two on your phone, jump on social media and scroll through your timelines only to have it be 11:15 am when you finally get back to see your doctor. No one has come out to say anything to you (and they probably should have but let’s focus on you and me). The nurse takes you back and tells you that your doctor had a family emergency, his mother died this morning and they have been scrambling to put his patients with different physicians all morning. She says, unfortunately, the front desk had not been informed when you checked in because he received the call on his way into the office and you were his second appointment of the day. Since he is the best doctor they have, they had to call in a doctor to help see his patients and that is what took so long to get you back. Now, grant it, she surely could have come out to tell you that and let you make the choice to see another doctor; that is just excellent customer service, but she didn’t and now you know why. If you are still thinking she should have done it, you are missing my point. The point is this, your doctor has lost his mother, something he could not control at all and the office had to scramble for a scenario no one ever wants to talk about – the loss of a parent. What if that were you? What if that were you? I am asking the question a second time because I want you to pause and think about it. Reread the scenario if you need to but really think about it – what if that were you? You planned on being in the office and you get the call that your mother has transitioned. At that point, you are not thinking about how the office is going to handle your work. Your thought is about your mother and the loss you feel at the present moment. When you think about it like that it should make you rethink how patient or impatient you are. If it doesn’t, it should. I can be honest and tell you that in this scenario, I would have been climbing the walls myself, but I would have felt guilty the moment the nurse communicated to me what happened. I would have felt horrible about my level of impatience because I would now understand the wait (not that I would have liked it any less but I would understand it).
Here is another scenario for you to consider. Have you ever been stuck in traffic for miles? What is the first thing you think about? Is it what could be happening up ahead or is it how badly you need to get to your destination or is it a little of both? Factor in that you are low on gas, where do your thoughts go? Fast forward, and you get to the cause of the traffic jam – a 2 car crash with 1 fatality. How do you feel now about what you were thinking? If you are like most people, you were probably not really thinking of why traffic is snarled as much as you are thinking about what you need to be cooked, doing, etc. when you reach your destination, but what if you stopped thinking about you and started to be thankful that you avoided something and then begin to pray for whatever is going on ahead.
While the scenarios I provided were a bit exaggerated, we have all been caught sitting in the physician’s office longer than we planned. We’ve all been stuck in traffic and thought I need to get home now. I have as well, but I am learning to put myself in someone else’s shoes and while our society is a selfish one, we are designed to care about one another. This does not mean that you have people run all over you – no, that is not what I mean at all. It also does not mean you don’t get upset or have emotions, again not, what I am talking about. What I am saying is that there are scenarios where we get frustrated when we don’t necessarily have to; scenarios that take place in our lives that if we just took a moment to see how one might feel, we would change not only our attitude but also our perspective.
Perspective, that is the key word here; changing your perspective is key to really being thankful. Will you always get it right? No, you won’t. Do I always get it right? No, I don’t. But now I try to think about how someone else might feel when I hog the conversation; now instead of just talking to hear myself talk or vent to be venting, I let others speak their peace and I listen. Now, I try to think about what I am about to say before I say it and I think how will it make the other person feel. Do they really deserve the tone of voice I am giving? Or am I upset for something else and I am just taking it out on them because they simply asked me a question. The key for me is to never cause undue harm to anyone. I spent a lot of time regretting my bad behavior when it comes to dealing with people who are close to me, even in my thoughts. Listen, as much as we may think people deserve our bad behavior, they do not, even when they are acting a whole fool, we don’t have to go there with them; we have the right to walk away or take a breath and speak like civilized human beings. I know that this is a completely new concept for some of us, but it’s an idea that will revolutionize how you look at things. It does not mean I don’t have frustrations or issues, and it certainly does not mean I let people walk all over me, but I choose to not deal with people from a place of frustration and anger. I am beginning to see that it really isn’t all about me. So, the next time the cashier is taking so long be patient, you never know what’s happening ahead of you. The next time you are tempted to take your frustrations out on someone you love, stop to think about the damage you may cause, take a deep breath, speak if you need to or be silent if you don’t. What I am saying to you in all of this is that I want you to change your perspective. It won’t be easy, but it is necessary that we remember that just as you have emotions and feelings, others do too.
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!
A few weeks ago, I was having a rough morning and as God often does He let me see someone else who has gone through and come out on the other side. A friend of mine, who is very successful now, posted a picture of a trip he was about to take and said "remind me to tell you how I was homeless for 2 years" and I was floored! I never knew that he was homeless. I was then reminded of Oprah Winfrey, who has made no secret of her horrible childhood. I was reminded of others as well like Chris Garner, Will Smith, Tommy Hilfger who weren't born with a silver spoon but they made it through major obstacles to become successful in their respective fields and I began to understand that saying anything worth having is worth fighting for. I posted the following to my Facebook page and I wanted you to partake of it as well.
I've been looking at some major players in various industries and one thing they have in common is that they've gone through something. So then, going through shouldn't be looked at through a totally negative lens. There is a lesson in it; a testimony to be shared after a test. After all, you can never really have a testimony without a test. Your "going through" could be different from mine, but if I'm learning if we go through right, there are some major blessings on the other side. Be encouraged, whatever you're "going through" right now is what you are going through but you won't stay there. Note that the words "going through" have movement..."Going through"...look at those words... "Going through". It means you haven't stopped at the issue, it means you haven't taken up residency at the challenge. It may feel like, it might even look like it but if your "going through" you should be growing, learning, evolving, maturing, growing...something that says you aren't at the same place you were before. Even though the surrounding circumstances look the same, if you're going through something about you is changing. Something about you is evolving, something about you is growing. "Going through" is fluid...moving...so don't get stuck going through. Learn the lesson, pass the test and let God pull you out.
I hope that encourages you to keep pressing even as you go through.
Liela Marie Fuller
Author, Mother, Friend, Believer in Jesus...Really Just Me.
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