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The Plan

​Perfect timing.

Just when I was questioning the blueprint and the Architect’s design, He gives me this beautiful reminder. He knows the Plan. I just need to keep walking in His direction.

I mean, really… who argues with the Architect? Especially years after the Masterpiece is built. Who questions the plan after perfection is proven? Certainly not me. An architect knows the pressure that each beam can hold. She knows which materials are best for the purpose of the house. He calculates the foundation and its ability to host the vision. There’s wisdom and care that materializes into a physical plan… a plan for a future and hope.

Because I trust the Architect, I put my faith in the blueprint. It just seems like the journey is dysfunctional and pieces won’t fit, but the Builder used a wooden cross as the Architect instructed so I have no need to worry about the structural integrity of my life. It has an expected end, a hope, not some aimless steps that happened to host good things along the way. He knows the Plan. I just have to keep walking.

Jeremiah 29:11 was a good dose of medicine for my aching soul. Take some for yourself.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

In the Moment

Good Day, Good People!

I had a great conversation with a girlfriend of mine on March 14, 2017. We established that fear of the good is real. What do I mean by the good? You know, the good stuff in life. That moment when you have a smile on your face so bright that it could burn the sun. The moment when all feels right with your world. The instant you close your eyes and tilt your head back. When the good happens, you know it. You feel it. Everywhere.

Unfortunately, you can have so many scars from the not-good (because there are some that feel the bad are just “life lessons”) that you expect it to come around the corner at any moment. Lurking like a burglar, the not-good appears to be ready to stand in your sunny spot on the concrete and steal your shine. Fear of the not-good coupled with a fear of the good can cripple the strongest of souls. You can be scared of success and fulfillment and the responsibility they could bring to your current and future statuses. You could also be terrified of the good holding hands with an invisible evil twin that could devastate your life in a single breath. Both fears are real. That’s what she and I discovered that night. That’s what we share. What a beautiful moment of transparency.

Fear has the capacity to suck in all the hope you had in your hands and leave you cold and isolated. It’s a sad transaction. The exchange of wanting more out of life and being anxious of the deficit of despair in return. Who doesn’t want to take a month long vacation? Or sail on a cruise ship more than twice in a lifetime? Or sit still in a cabin in the mountains and drink hot chocolate while gazing at God’s Handiwork? What would actually happen if in the moment, we absorbed the good? Not anticipating the bad news, the hiccups in the plan, or the no-show of the crowd, but soaking in the goodness of expectation? It can actually be sweet, you know. I’ve tasted it once or twice or three. Somewhere along the continuum of God’s favor, grace, and purpose lies me… scared of both ends. Then, there comes a time when you are simply sick of being afraid. You want to drink the sunshine with the biggest cup you can find in your heart. You want to dance the street (with or without rhythm) because you got the best news of your life. You want to walk into the interview like a victor, expecting to get the call back. It doesn’t matter if 5 minutes from that moment you get a phone call that’s nerve wracking. Maybe the sunshine in which you chose to stand can grow your tree of hope a little taller and set the roots a little deeper to withstand the winds of the storm ahead. You won’t know until you stand in the moment and the take the good and all she has to offer.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

I’m convinced that the power, love, and discipline (also called “sound mind” in some versions) come from standing strong in the good and soaking it well beyond your pores and into your soul. Beyond that polarized fear, there’s all Three waiting to secure our hope, to anchor it down deeply in His omnipotence. That’s the power of the good. It serves as a reminder when the not-good comes.

So, what’s stopping me from hugging the good with both arms? Absolutely nothing.

What about you?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of The Chicago Now

Gear Up

After reading 1 Samuel, Chapter 17 –

Lately, I keep being reminded that the battles I’ve won before are preparing me for what’s to come. When God gives me repeated messages, I spiritually sit up. My YouVersion devotional “The Most Excellent Way to Lead” by Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church dropped another bass note on the track to get my attention this week and I just had to share it with you.

In 1 Samuel 17, David is obeying his father by going to check on his brothers on the battle field and he grows offended by Goliath’s proclamations to annihilate the Israelites. For 40 days, the Philistine stood morning and evening talking trash and by the looks of his stature alone, he could back it up.

David was the youngest son of Jesse the Bethlehemite and yet had the strongest passion to silence Goliath. His intentions were in question by his oldest brother, but the accusation didn’t stop him. When Saul misjudged his ability to slay the giant, David went down his list of victories. There was no second thought, no “Maybe you’re right. I just came to give my brothers some cheese, so let me go back home.” No, he recalled his past battles and that he was only standing there ready to fight because he was already a winner. A lion, a bear, and a rescued lamb served as the proof. I was encouraged just visualizing it. Besides being in the lineage of Jesus, David is also known as an archetype or foreshadowing of Him. That got me excited again by the time I finished the chapter although I have read it numerous times. Apparently, there was a different purpose for this passage in my life.

Have you ever felt like this? That you were training for the next fight, and it’s scheduled in a bigger boxing ring than the last time?

I have…and I’m here now, looking ahead like Rocky Balboa getting ready for Apollo, the second time. I remember this feeling of anticipation training and I have learned not to ignore it. There’s always a purpose for it, so I take it seriously; however, for some reason, I keep forgetting that this isn’t my first fight. This isn’t my first bout in the ring. I’ve survived many opportunities to die. I’ve overcome many obstacles with the strength of God. My heart has been stepped on more times than I can count, but it keeps bouncing back, ready to love and live. It’s resilient because God is my Father and Jesus is my Champion. I’m already a winner. My rescued life is the proof.

So whatever battle is coming over the horizon, it is no match for my testimony and my training. It may have looked like I was just tending sheep, but in actuality, I’ve been gearing up. I am not afraid… I will be ready when it comes.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

To learn more about the devotional I’m reading, visit www.mostexcellentwaytolead.com.

Photo: Mickey training Rocky

#bloglikecrazy: Day 25 – Opposite Day

After reading Genesis 41:41-57 –

What if we did the opposite of what is expected? In times of opulence where more is more, what if we exercised the wisdom of restraint? Instead of gluttony and racing toward a fabricated finish line, what if our actions were governed by the Truth?

Joseph envisioned a day when years of plenty would run out, so he stored accordingly. Isn’t it interesting that the famine still occurred (it was predicated on his preparation), but Egypt wasn’t affected (which was predicated upon preparation)? The world was in the middle of the same timeline, but not experiencing the same thing. They were having opposite day because wisdom had her way for seven years. Then, to top everything else that was “a-plenty”, he was blessed with two sons. God must have known they would not lack as well because of Joseph’s track record of obedience. The truth was, if you read Joseph’s story, he had a lifetime of opposites and lived with flying colors (pun intended).

I love that last part – verse 54 – “but in all the land of Egypt, there was bread.” Even though times were shiny and bountiful, Joseph acted upon what He was shown… and stayed true to it. This resulted in a series of events that affected others positively. There was harvest in famine and all benefited…the economy, the families, and the leadership.

God keeps walking me down this “we’re all connected” trip. One act, one word, one person affects another. What we do now has a trickle down effect on the present and the future. Our obedience and disobedience makes pathways before us and others. I pray that I make a positive road as my obedience grows stronger. Then, I can be well on opposite day. When things aren’t lovely and plentiful, I can still smile.

What about you? Have you experienced moments of plenty and didn’t prepare for opposite day? What do you do differently now?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo Courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com/Orla via timeanddate.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 22 – Make Room

A short stop for your Christmas Day and Any Day

Luke’s account of Jesus’ life on Earth is one my favorites. There’s something about his physician perspective that humanizes the experiences I read.
This one in particular instantly opens the camera lens to a new mother that clothes her newborn in rags in unsanitary conditions. All because the inn was full. Why would God give Joseph a heads up that his family was in danger and not direct him to better accommodations? On a journey where it was already uncomfortable, here is a mother having contractions in a stable and having to trust that the feeding trough would be sufficient for the King of Kings. What a humbling and terrifying experience. Talk about faith… whew.

I’m always stuck at the “no room in the inn” part. Certainly there was a better option than an animal shelter, but apparently, Mary and Joseph knew something we didn’t.

No matter where Jesus was birthed, He was destined to fulfill His purpose. They just had to make it work. The hay, the rags, the filth, the trough… she made room. That’s all were required to do.

Whenever you are in life, make room.

Create space for purpose to grow. Stop making excuses for what you don’t have and use what is given. The purpose is in you, not the things. God will provide the necessary items in order to bless the readers of your story.

Whatever you do this week, make the room and prepare for it to be filled.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 12 – See So Much

I’ve had the pleasure and pain of seeing a lot around me…and so have you.

After a week of hateful spew oozing from the news channels, it was apparent that my eyes and my heart was in an overloaded state. I needed a break, a muse, a wisp of hope to flutter before my eyes and awaken my spiritual senses. Where was it?  The flutter. The glimpse of shimmer in all that was covered in coal. I couldn’t see it amidst the racial slurs on television, small-minded retorts, strong-willed behavior, and effervescent paranoia. My glass was half-full, but the vessel was cloudy enough to block the view that something good could be inside of it.

Then I came home to find a card in my mailbox from two friends checking on my health. The warmth of the contents were already seeping from the envelope, so after reading the beautiful words, I pressed the open card against my chest and felt the love that poured out of it. I remembered that in the same week, two friends invited me to their son’s birthday dinner because they saw me as part of their family. I recalled kind words, sweet gestures, and bleeding love from sincere hearts. Hearts encased in different shells than mine. I was grateful for my family’s consistency; however, the breath of fresh air at the top of that half-full glass was the perfect reminder that all is not toxic in the world of black, brown, white, etc.

For every thing I saw that ransacked my optimism, there were people with genuine respect that reminded me of something I had heard in my spirit earlier that week and that came up in conversation earlier that evening.

Hate the systems more than the people.

This was a hard pill to swallow and a difficult truth to hear. If I inflict the pain that I felt toward those who support what I despise, I am no better than the racists doing the same toward me. I can’t be vindictive toward every White person I encounter. I simply can’t. I don’t have the right to generalize no matter how angry I am at the mountains of ignorance on both sides. I don’t live in a mental utopia, and I definitely do not encourage the use of a band-aid to cover up our wounds, but my anger has to go somewhere constructive before it causes me to see through its glasses alone. Swirling inside of my chest and making me sick to my gut are not the best activities for it. Paying attention to our local government is a productive start for us all, but first, we pray to see that which we are truly fighting. We pray not to plow over the good stuff to scream about the bad. In all of our ranting, we have to see. And honestly, I see so much. So much beauty in the ashes of this aftermath that are waiting to be fragrant. Such an open road between two mountains. Sincere people going to work everyday trying to make a difference. I see the wisps. The shimmer. It doesn’t extinguish my flame, but at least it can materialize into hope.

I truly see so much. Thank God for that.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 NASB

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of The Open Road

#bloglikecrazy: Day 10 – You Can Do It

Here’s another short stop for you. *smile*

This week has been an interesting blend of victory and funk. I’m so glad to see the weekend that I can hardly stay in my body.

Maybe you can relate. I pushed through because I kept seeing the light at the end of the tunnel called rest. Well…then, I go and volunteer to help someone before I even had to claws to catch the offer from my lips. I felt good about it during the transaction, like sunshine-y, highlighter yellow, this-is-what-you’re-supposed-to-do-right-now good about it. When the conversation ended, I looked up and smiled back.

Right after I volunteered a couple of hours of former free time and we left each other’s presence, I had three good pieces of good news from the sweet my Father. No kidding – it felt like manna from heaven. Freshly baked, sent with a special delivery sticker on it and all just for me. I couldn’t have timed it better.

manna-bread
Photo courtesy of Color Wheel Meals

Every time you do something kind, you won’t get manna right away. I can write a book on that alone. But, it was a pressing spirit that got me through this week even though I could have easily taken off work more than one day. At times, wisdom kicks me in the butt and says the opposite, but this week was almost like a testament waiting to be written and I didn’t feel like picking up the pen. I didn’t want to speak words of life. I didn’t want to be chipper and positive. I just wanted to make it through the work week. So, to see those three blessings right before me, I just shook my head and beamed with gratefulness. The following verse came to mind immediately as I had seen it the night before:

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
– Galatians 6:9 NASB

I want you to know that whatever it is, you can do it. Seriously. You have dynamite within that can crumble any obstacle. Know when to sit down and know when to press on. But, my dear, when it is a divine time to push beyond your natural state, do it with all of your might. Do it with everything you can muster and I promise you, the light at the tunnel will be so bright that you will need shades… all because you rested in Him through obedience.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 5 – Turned, not Stirred

How many times have you meant what you said, but didn’t mean to say it aloud?

This produces a rather sticky situation. On one hand, you have the badge of pride in saying how you feel in real time, which cuts down on the “he said/she said” debacle. On the other hand, this brash flow of realism causes a domino effect of emotions that cannot be reversed.

Let’s look at it through the eyes of weather. You can redirect a brewing storm of heated sensitivity or stir confusion into a conversation and create a wildfire.

Your words have the power to make peaceful waves or fatal tsunamis. It’s all in your mouth.

Sometimes the frustration we feel can add so much mud that both perspectives get infected and neither person can see clearly. The next thing you know, what started off as a simple misunderstanding evolves into an earthquake where intentions are swallowed up and forgotten.

But at some point, the Truth should float to the top, right? After the debris has damaged the walls of love you’ve built, shouldn’t Truth have a place to sit? That kind word that’s been whispering in the background of your heart deserves a seat at the table. She has something to say. She’s taken note of the ingredients used in the situation and has decided that a turn is due in the recipe of reconciliation, not a stir.

So, let her speak instead of your anger or pride. Allow a change in your normal and provide the room for her to turn the conversation toward the Truth. Besides, most situations taste better turned, not stirred.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 4 – Intimacy is IN

After reading Psalm 139

Wow.

You know everything.

Sometimes, I forget that.

In all of my humanity, I try to remind you of things I deem important. The urgency of replaying the days’ events and life’s intolerable moments weighs heavier than your grace at that time. It’s sad, actually… how I discredit your omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. I know you don’t mind my questions and misunderstandings of your commands, but Your ways are still far above mine.

I cannot compare my thoughts with Yours.

You knew everything before it was everything. You know every detail of my life… every artery near my heart, every exhale I release. You don’t need a notice. You created it. You created me. Even the parts I don’t like. They serve a purpose too.

So, search all of me since You know it all. Search the dark places I try to hide from You. Clear out the cobwebs and scrub the hardened layers around my scars. You are and will always be the perfect lover of my soul and I need to trust You more. I need to let you IN.

Intimacy is what we crave from others, but rarely give to You. There’s no way to relinquish control to someone else in a romantic relationship without allowing You in first. It’s the opposite of how You made us. Inside of our hearts is where You belong and where You long to be. You don’t need us; You want us. You want in…and being intimate with You starts within me.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

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