Tag Archive | peace

He Is Faithful and Good

For whatever reason, the blog has been getting a lot of views lately – both on the wordpress site and on Facebook. As you may have noticed, nothing has been written in quite some time. Well, nothing blog worthy anyway. With all the looks, though, I’m guessing that it means I might need to write something.

“Something.”   😉

Truth be told, it’s been a very trying and difficult season. None of which I will go into now 3e28307761b240f34c56bdf91cd6ea31– I do love my transparency with things, but most of this isn’t mine to share and some of it I’m just trying to process still. Sometimes, writing can be part of the process, but other times, we just need to be still and find answers and peace in His solitude.

And that’s exactly where I’m at right now. Sitting at His feet, thanking Him for the little things, praying for big things, and doing my best to stay in His presence despite the enemy’s desire to pull me away.

When times like this come, and they will and do come, please please please – find Him and find the people
whom He has put in your path to help hold you up. Life is not about doing it all by ourselves. It’s about leaning into Him and His people.

The good news is that He is faithful and I am seeing the fruits of consistent prayer in this challenging season. Prayer really does change things, friends. Not just the things for which we’re praying, but it changes us.

My head is above the wave, the tides are changing, and He is good. All the time.

Finding Financial Victory… or really trying to anyway.

Financial victory is amazing, right?! Well, I’m about to find out! A few weeks ago, Dave Ramsey offered a great deal on his total money makeover package and I grabbed it!

Since it’s been delivered, it’s been sitting on my dining room table.

Box opened.

Just sitting there.

Like, I know Dave… I know. Stop bossing me!

It’s funny because I’m not one of those people who has debt racked up in credit cards or anywhere else for that matter. I have one secured credit card for the sole purpose of renting a car, if I ever need to.  And that’s it. The last time I went over my finances with anyone, and I was clearly distraught about them, the couple took one look at my “sheet” and kinda looked at me like I was crazy. Their words, “you realize you have no debt and you’re really not in a horrible place, right?” Well, no. I feel like I’m in a horrible place!

In reality, I’m not in a horrible place. However, I do live paycheck to paycheck. When I moved, I was hopeful to secure a job so that I’d have a bit more breathing room financially, but as of now, that isn’t the case. So, while I’m not worse off than I was prior to the move, I’m really in the exact same place I was before. Paycheck to paycheck. I’ve sat back and asked God about this…”why can’t I be in a place with more financial stability? Why can’t I feel what it’s like to not have to live paycheck to paycheck? Why can’t I just have a wee bit more, God? Not a lot, just a little.” Doesn’t that sound so whiney?? Like, “hey, God, thanks for that job you provided me. But could You please do a little better next time?”

Ugh. I’m an awful person sometimes.

So here I am, trying to find my lesson in all of this. I feel like I’ve cut out lots of things that weren’t necessary, but I’m also holding onto things that I “deserve” because I work really, really hard and NO ONE is gonna take it away from me! *stomps feet!!* (insert awkward, in my heart temper tantrum)

Back to finding that lesson…a890fb13f5cdbe263bd0df1267049d77

How and WHY would God give me more if I don’t always manage well what He’s already given me?? It’s not even that I’m frivolous or living outside of my means because I don’t think I’m either, but I’m clearly not a good manager. In fact, I would say a good bit of my financial stress is brought on by my generous heart toward others and not wanting that person (or people) to want for anything. The problem is that I don’t have the kind of income to do that. But I really try to live like I do. I’m really trying to get a grip on that. I am. (I know my friends reading this are giving me the eye roll, like yeah yeah… heard it before. I’m totally serious this time, guys!)

In the end, today, I know this is one of those areas in which I want to become victorious. It’s one of the areas in my life that God doesn’t want me to struggle and He’s just waiting for me to learn this lesson. So today, as soon as I pay my bills for this month, I’ll begin a new journey to financial freedom.

If you’d like to do the same, so many people I know have gleaned great wisdom and tools from Dave Ramsey’s ministry. Check him out here. Let me know what you think!

One Word 2015

The last post I wrote feels like a lifetime ago. It was a hard post to write and I’m thankful that so many people were touched by it and shared it with their own friends. So, thank you. I appreciate that support and the love that was shown to me because of it.

Since then, I’ve started a new job, added a new addition to my home – a living, breathing, human girl! It’s so rare that girls come into my home, it’s usually the boys – and been in a place where I am chasing down peace in my heart. It’s meant taking time away from certain things or places or even people when I don’t feel peace in the middle of it all. So, naturally, when I started to pray about my word for 2015, peace was the first one that came to mind. I assumed that God would lead me in the same direction. But, alas, as He so often does, He pulled me into a whole ‘nother direction and pointed me to HIS word for me. Isn’t that just like Him? 😉

I have to say that this is the first year I am doing my word alone. Without my FCFC girls walking it out alongside me. It’s going to be different because they helped me to be accountable and helped me when I wasn’t putting my word into action. They would remind me when I wasn’t being “better” or remaining “constant” or finding “serenity” in my life. Each year, those ladies held my hand. And I suppose that’s part of the reason the Lord walked me into my word for this year. He knew that while I’m not totally alone (I mean we all love Facebook, right?), I will be more alone on this than I have in years past.

The choice of my words this year was hard to whittle down into “the one.” Here was my list that He kept running through my mind… Expect, Shine, Possible, Victorious, and Conquer. Really? Really. I mean those are ALL great words. I prayed and prayed. One by one, they were crossed off the list until only one remained. Let’s look at why I even thought about my words…0c767df21111c6ab1cf9f8f3ad73a931

Expect – I wanted to live a life of expectation that God WOULD show up. Every single time. He promised me that He would and I need to walk in that and remain in that.

Shine – I wanted to live a life that shines with His love to everyone around me. I don’t want to be in situations where my sparkle gets dulled.

Possible – that’s pretty self-explanatory.  With Him, all things are possible. Right?

Conquer – I want to live a life that conquers the things that God puts in my path and the things that aren’t easy to overcome, but they are possible to overcome.

And, finally, the winner, folks… Victorious. That’s the one. The word. His word. I suppose it’s coupled with conquer or conqueror because in order to be victorious, we also have to be conquerors. I feel like a little bit of a cheater because I have a two for one here. I’ll take it, though. He gave it to me! Free and clear, y’all!

There are so many areas in my life in which I want to feel and be victorious. There are so many small things that are begging for me to find victory over them. There are areas in my heart that long to be conquered and come out victorious on the other side.

I’ll be hurtling, head-first, into my own junk to find the places the Lord is calling me to be victorious through Him and with Him.

Rom_8-37_Image

 

How about you? Do you have a word for the year? Tell me about it! I wanna know. =]

Racism is ugly. And real. I loathe it.

I’m going to try, really hard, to put my thoughts down in a way that makes sense. I would encourage you to read what’s written with an open mind and a heart of compassion and understanding. Okay?

I’m white. My son is bi-racial; his dad is black. Though, he isn’t bi-racial to the eyes of those who don’t know that I’m his mom because he doesn’t look bi-racial. At all. It’s still a bit funny to watch people’s expression when they make the connection between the two of us. We both find it humorous.

In the area where I grew up, at least when I moved away 10 years ago, it was still pretty racially segregated. It’s surprising that it’s like that since it’s one of the major metropolitan areas in the country, but that’s how it’s always been there. I grew up in the city and moved to the suburbs just before starting high school. I hated it. Eventually, I found my way back to the city – to my parents’ displeasure. They felt like my being in the suburbs was safer – and granted, on paper, it was safer – but I was unhappy there and it wasn’t any safer in the suburbs. The crimes were just different there. Instead of a mugging or shooting, it was a rape by a “popular kid” who would ruin your life if you told. Instead of a carjacking, it was high end cocaine deals going down in the hallways of the high school. Instead of breaking and entering, it was convincing some poor sap to do something illegal so that he could fit in with the cool kids. Instead of gangbanging, it was the “mean girls” shaming anyone in their way – sometimes for four solid years with no end in sight for the person on the receiving end. Forgive me, if while reading comments and posts lately from people about how they ALL raised perfect children, for being a little bit cynical about the whole thing. Yes, parenting has so much to do with how our children behave as they get older, but even kids raised in seemingly good homes make a lot of mistakes.

Do you know that I almost killed a man? Seriously. I was raised in a two parent home, in the suburbs (for my teenage years), as part of a middle class family. I should have it all together, right? Yeah… no. I was enraged, angry, furious, etc… I acted in a way that wasn’t rational, not even for me. Thankfully, a friend was there and stopped me – but in just a matter of moments and unbridled rage – my whole life could have changed and been different. It’s funny how anger can drive us to do things that we don’t even think through fully. We don’t consider consequences, we don’t think about the big picture. We’re in the moment. We’re hot-blooded and irate.

Which brings me to my whole purpose for this post…

In my lifetime, I have seen racism first hand, up close and personal. I’ve seen police abuse their authority for NO REASON AT ALL. I’ve also seen police who treated everyone with respect and dignity. Let’s talk a few examples…

When I was about 19 or 20, I went with some friends (4 black males) to a local strip mall, in an almost entirely white community, next to a high school that had an open campus lunch. The students from the high school would all linger around the strip mall, sitting along the benches, grabbing food, skateboarding, etc… A couple of my friends were dating students from the high school. We were all visiting. I would say there were approximately 250-300 students and young people. No one was misbehaving. A few minutes later, the police showed up and began to question the black males I was with, pushing them against the walls to search them, throwing them down to the ground, and eventually arresting them. For loitering. I approached the officers, tried to explain that we were ALL loitering and that we were all together. I wasn’t arrested. Nor were the other 250-300 people doing the same.exact.thing. uh. Okay. That just happened.

I was pulled over when I was 21, while driving down the freeway – outside of the city limits – with my son’s dad and his cousin. The officer had me exit the vehicle, walk to the back of the car, and then asked me, with a very concerned look on his face, “are you okay? Are you being held against your will? Do you mean to be with these men?” I was visibly pregnant and explained that the guy is the passenger seat was my boyfriend and the father of my baby. His face changed and he went and wrote me a speeding ticket for 5 miles over the speed limit. uh. Okay. Yeah, I mean I guess I was speeding.

Later, when my son was a bit older, I was pulled over while driving from northern VA to MI for a visit. I wasn’t speeding. I was pulled out of the car again and told that we were pulled over because the road we were on (a major tollway) was a known drug smuggling route and he wanted a closer look. uh. Okay. So were you pulling over EVERY car, or just those with young black men in them?

My son has countless stories… he’s been harassed by police while walking down the street, walking through the mall, he’s followed in most stores he walks through. My kid is not a thief. He’s never been arrested. He works his tail off so that he can buy nice things and then is treated like a thug when he walks through a higher end store. For the record, I’ve never been followed in a store when I’ve been alone. I have been followed when my son is with me, though.

A couple of years ago, my son was at a 4th of July celebration at a local park. While he was there, a guy opened fire and shot at another guy, in the general vicinity of where my son was sitting. Of course, he ran. He was tackled, roughed up, punched, and kicked by police officers as he was brought down and held face down in the concrete. There were visible abrasions on his face and body. My son, then a minor, was held for questioning, not able to call his parent, for hours. He continually asked if he could call me and they refused to let him. By then, I had heard all sorts of rumors – he was shot, he shot someone, the police arrested him, etc… I called everywhere and received no answers. Eventually, I made my way to the local police station, after a sergeant called me to say they had him. In the end, my son served as a witness, but I’ll be darned if part of me wasn’t so mad for him that I didn’t want him to help. I knew what he had to do and should do… but I was furious that he had to go through that kind of treatment and then come around to play nice alongside the same officers who were punching him in the face. Why? Oh, that’s right… he was scared out of his mind because some dude was shooting people and then he was tackled from behind and maybe not completely aware of what was happening.

Guys, I know this post is long and I’m not going to express any opinions about some of the things happening around our country right now. I don’t think that’s relevant to what I’m trying to share from MY OWN EXPERIENCES. What I do know is that I have a ton of respect for all levels of law enforcement. Every day they choose to put their lives on the line for my safety. I appreciate anyone who can be that passionate about their work and do it for diddly squat salaries. My son has been taught to be a law abiding citizen. He’s been taught to respect the authority of police officers. He’s been taught to obey when he’s asked to do something. Okay?

With that said, some people have no idea what it feels like to be continuously singled out, maybe for no reason at all, and then wonder if the person singling them out is one of the good guys or bad guys. Many of us can say that if a person just follows the law, there will be no problem. Well, that isn’t true. Not for my kid anyway and not for several other young, black males that I know. Walking down the street is wrong. Driving down the street is wrong. Laughing too loud is wrong. Sagging pants is wrong (I hate sagging pants as much as the next person, but I also hate booty shorts with butt cheeks hanging out the bottom or fishnet tops with just a bra underneath and I don’t see them getting stopped in the mall to say that if “they don’t attend to and fix their attire, they’ll be escorted out.”

There is a problem. And I hate it. I also don’t know how to fix it. All I can do is teach my son to be above reproach all the time. All I can do is tell him that some things are gonna be a little bit suckier for you than the next guy. But keep pushing forward. Keep doing right. Keep being better. Keep working hard. Be kind. Be responsible. Be considerate. Don’t be a stereotype. Don’t be the expectation of someone else’s thoughts. Don’t hate a whole job title because of a few bad apples.402a8dc5bf307df6aa4d3f7b45b14333

Friends, please be gentle in your responses to all of these hot topics lately. Remember that we don’t know what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. When I see my friends jumping on the race-baiting bandwagon trying to convince us that these kinds of things don’t really happen, let me assure you that they do. Not always. But they do happen. We would be wiser to stop saying that “they should have raised better kids” and to, instead, come alongside those who are fatherless, hopeless, lost, hurt, angry, and confused. Only light can drive out darkness. How are we being light to others if all we do is talk about how awful the parenting is or how the person got what they deserved or the world is a better place? Gosh, that could be MY kid. Or yours. Where has our quest for peace gone? Where has our softness for those who are hurting gone? Where has our heart to be salt and light gone?

I don’t support acting out in vandalism or looting or rioting. Not at all. I think it’s careless and serves no purpose in the long run. However, I DO see how the frustration can build up to a point that anger just bubbles over. Remember, up there ^^^, when I said I almost killed a man? It’s been proven that bad behavior promotes more bad behavior. So, in contrast, shouldn’t good behavior promote good behavior? How are we promoting good behavior in the communities that are hurting? How are we supporting parents who need some help? Are we looking outside of our own spaces and accepting the challenge to become a helper to someone that might be different than us – whether it’s socially, racially, economically?

Thanks for sticking with me through this very long dialogue that’s just been part of my own frustrations. Like I said before, I don’t know all the answers. In fact, I know very few. I know that there is so much more going on in the hearts of other people, though, that I want to be more attentive to and help someone who feels hopeless find the needed hope to move on in life. Join me in this journey? Find someone, who is not like you, and be present for that person. There is blessing in unity.

Also, please listen to Jefferson Bethke’s take on it. I think his idea and approach is pretty similar to where my own heart lies.

Craving Peace.

Years ago, when I had the opportunity to go back to school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Well, I knew I wanted to love people and that was about it. I was a baby believer and didn’t fully understand all the changes that were happening in me and in my heart. But I knew that I wanted to love people.

You see, when I was younger, I wasn’t always very lovable. In fact, I was downright mean much of the time. I was always trying to prove myself, trying to win affections of those I shouldn’t have been worried about; I was a fighter and sometimes for no real reason other than a sideways glance that I didn’t like. I’ve done things and been part of things that would shock many people who know me now. However, I have no regrets. I am who I am because of my journey. Time and again, I can look back and see God’s hand of protection over me when I had no desire to acknowledge Him. Isn’t He amazing that way?!

So, my point to that last paragraph is that my life didn’t always seem very lovely or lovable and hardly ever did it seem peaceful. In fact, peace was a little bit foreign to me, I suppose.

When I initially started school, I was creating graphics and doing simple web design just for fun. I really thought that was the career path I would pursue. I realized, though, that it meant I’d spend most of my time behind a computer and little time interacting with other people. I knew I wasn’t cut out for the medical field, so that wasn’t an option. I didn’t yet have such a strong passion for cooking, but I sure wish I had! I’ve always wanted to do social work, even when I was younger, but the words of my mom would ring in my ear, “You know they don’t make very much money, right?” and so that was off the table since I was a single mom who needed to have some financial stability. In the end, I was down to two choices that I thought would be good for me:  psychologist or human resources professional.

I think I would make a decent psychologist. My fear, and what ultimately kept me from pursuing that path, was that I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to separate myself from my patients. Or more so, I was afraid that eventually I would. Neither of those seemed okay to me.

My idea of an HR professional, from my days in the factory, were that they were the mediator, the peacemaker, the enforcer, the encourager, the motivator, the safety patrol, etc… I looked over those traits and decided that’s where I would be able to use the gifts and talents that God was revealing to me, little by little.

Over the years, I’ve not wavered from that decision as I still think God opened my eyes to the career path He had for me all along. Sheesh… that was a long intro to get to my point in all of this!

In the supernatural way that only God can knit things together, He provided me with the extraordinary opportunity to work in an environment, for several years, where I could really cultivate these traits that He had given me. I worked under the largest umbrella of grace and mercy – probably in the whole world. I was able to love people. Encourage them. Motivate them. Fight for them. Be a refuge. And, believe me, they all did the very same for me!

What I’ve really learned over the years, though, is how much I desire peace. I crave it. We all thought it was silly when Miss America’s answer to the question about what she’d like to see in the world was peace. But, man… I get it now! It IS what I want to see! Not just peace in the world, but peace in my world too. Maybe it’s from all my years of little peace… I don’t know.f936528c1607ff11d030adb5c2cfe48d

Psalm 133: 1-3 :: 1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

In unity, there is blessing!

1 Peter 3: 8-13 :: 8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?

In unity, there is blessing!

Ephesians 4: 1-8 :: 1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call– 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

In unity, there is blessing!

Philippians 2: 1-5 ::  1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

Over and over and over again, the Bible calls us to live in unity and peace with one another. Of course, there will be conflict. It’s going to happen to everyone. But learning how to walk out the conflict, in a manner that is healthy, helpful, and uplifting is what we’re called to do. When we learn to be humble more often than our need to be right, there is some serious growth and renewing of the mind happening, my friends.

My encouragement to you is to choose peace, as often as possible. We may not be able to change the whole world, but we can change who we are, how we see things, and how we choose to live our lives. We have the opportunity, every day, to create a peaceful environment around us.

My heart is hurting for all of the unrest lately – in my own little piece of the world, in the country, over the whole world. Let’s choose to be peacemakers. To love in an extraordinary way. To be humble. To serve with abandon. I am but one person and you are too… but when individual hearts change, it leads to other hearts changing.