#8 – I actually rested on an inclement weather day.
See that lioness? Well, she is me and when I got the chance to rest on an Alabama snow day, I took it. Guilt-free. Yes, the semester had just begun, but that didn’t matter. I was determined to do absolutely nothing with a pinch of homework. Just a pinch… nothing more. Usually, I fill surprise off days with as much work as they can hold. Why? Because there’s always something to do! Well, not this time. Nature called for no traffic, no hustle-and-bustle, no excessive noise… just a day of rest and whatever I wanted to do. *smh* It was great.
Stillness is a precious gift, and what a gift it was to be still for a day. Definitely introvert approved. More importantly, I realized that I could do so much by doing “nothing.” My “nothing” was actually “everything” I needed to do “something” the next day. I needed to regroup and gear up for the journey ahead. My mind, body, and spirit thanked me for it, too. Stillness doesn’t have to carry guilty baggage. It can simply sit with you as you binge watch episodes of the favorite primetime TV show that you always miss. It can also lull you into a nap while the sun is still shining. Stillness can even accompany you as you read a magazine, not online, but in your hands.
I pray that you find your Peace, Be Still Day before the end of the year. If not, plan it for January and stick to it. Doing nothing can be your everything.
Have you ever felt full, like you were about to pop? Well, me, my Converse sneakers, and my school uniform made a break for it this week.
It was Monday and I was full of everything – grief, fatigue, anticipation, excitement, concern, questions, tension, gratefulness… I was just full. After all, it was my birthday and that came with a cacophony of spiritual noise. I had been fighting to stay afloat in the midst of recent rip tides and I was doing a pretty good job, but when you wake up on your birthday and wish you could just sleep in, that’s when you know the jig is up. I couldn’t do most of what I wanted due to surgery recuperation and two financial surprises, so I had to make some adjustments to keep my annual self-care ritual.
Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. It’s like my body and spirit know it’s August as soon as July ends. Well, with a few modifications, I still managed to uphold my law.
Week 1:Weekend road trip with Mommy. Music, laughs, and priceless convo. Week 2:Ate pancakes the night before surgery. Binge-watched Blue Bloods and The Resident from the beginning. Man, I love those shows. Week 3:Sister Time with sisterfriends. Ate half of a Ribeye from the Hickory Chip. Week 4:Drove to Noccalula Falls (Gadsden, Alabama)
Now, about this drive… it was a serious mission. I almost didn’t make it in time due to my car repair, but I’m so glad I kept going. When I arrived, I had 25 minutes to make my birthday wish come true, then when I got there, I didn’t follow the map correctly and got set back 6 minutes. Noccalula Falls is special to me because it is one of two places in the world (so far) where I can breathe without respiratory rudeness. Something about that Gorge Trail makes me giddy like a school girl waiting on a glance from a crush. I don’t have to scale or climb, but a fall can easily be in anyone’s future along those jagged rocks. It had been years since I stood beneath the falls, but I never forgot the way I felt taking that deep breath in without clearing my throat for the first time. (A picture of it is on my About Me page.)
I know God is everywhere, but it seems like that is our sweet spot. I just have to push beyond the tough part. On the way to the cave beneath the fall’s cliff, it was difficult to breathe and believe me, there were plenty of opportunities to give up and turn around having had surgery 10 days prior. The impending thunderstorm, the 5-minute grace before getting a ticket, the throbbing headache and sore muscles, my ill-prepared attire… I could have easily said forget it. Not to mention that I kept hearing a loop of negativity in my head along the way. But with every step, I felt the reverberation of my soul making a judgment call to not accept no as an answer to my prayer request. Needless to say, I hustled in all of my sweaty glory to reach the cave by 5:00 PM and made it on the dot. When I finally reached the spot, I took that deep breath and teared up. Everything that filled me up finally had a place to go and I could empty it out before His perfect blend of peace and power. There I was, looking up at God’s natural wonder, and once again His Word met me there. Here’s what I heard. I hope it helps you too.
Pride, like a tumor, must be removed – not ignored.
Like a tumor, pride metastasizes and blocks your divine purpose.
You can’t ask God for miracles and control how they arrive.
You have to go low to be lifted high. You can’t start at the top.
God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. If you never admit your weakness, there is no room for His strength to take over.
Water smooths the rough edges. So do life’s challenges shape you.
No, there was no surprise party waiting for me when I got home and just 10 years ago, I was celebrating my birthday with my fiancé. I had plenty to swirl in as I recalled my battle scars, but standing there made everything feel small and made me feel safe enough to receive His strength. The exchange was available, just like air, and all I had to do was let it happen.
You know that exhale you do after ripping and running all day or removing an overcoat after a long day outside? That’s where I was. Pure relief.
And what was that overcoat? Pure Pride.
I hate asking for help to carry my bags during recuperation, accepting kindness in resources and deeds, or saying “OK” to a surprise provision that I prayed for…. how ridiculous is that? So, just like the benign tumor that was removed from my neck recently, it was imperative that God was still working on me and my foreign-body attachments.
Now, check out an excerpt of what I journaled in September 2016.
“My mantra in August was to unleash the beast.
Each birthday month, I vow to do something I enjoy and spread it out across each week. Sometimes, it’s small like a milkshake or a little bigger like a solo road trip. Well, this year I decided to embrace something that I don’t like…and it hurt like hell.”
Isn’t that crazy? Well, Sweetheart, that’s where Part II comes in. It’s great to celebrate and it’s beautiful to exhale, but we must deal with the Beast within us in order to be healthy.
Peace, see you next time on the blog, and thanks for making it to the end of this post. lol I love y’all. Let’s keep walking. If you have a birthday ritual, let me know. If you don’t, make a pact with yourself to start one. It will bless you more than you can imagine. XO
As I sit here gearing up for a late night homework/study stint before bed, I thought of something I said to myself yesterday and hope that it helps you too.
I was tempted to say something out of character and in a split second, the following words flew out of my mouth, traveled into my ears and pressed the kill switch on what could have been a negative interaction:
You’re better than that.
I had to remind myself of the Queen I am. Queens don’t bicker. They reign. They exert their authority and move on with their daily agenda. They don’t stoop; they glide. So that’s what I did. I floated right over that situation and kept my mouth shut. What could have been a moment of spiritual quicksand ended up being a day of personal peace. The trajectory of my life was better because of that reminder and the chain of events that could have ensued did not have a chance to weigh down my royal adornment.
So tonight, as you wind down, remember that you’re better that – whatever that is for you. Maybe it’s smoking, drinking, cutting yourself, bingeing on porn… my Love, you’re better than that. Stop stooping and starting reigning in the authority God gave you.
Peace, Thanks for listening, and wind down safely.
“You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which the LORD swore to give your fathers,” Deuteronomy 6:18 NASB
I like to read the Bible before bed. It’s like a spiritual palate cleanser for me after a long day. After reading this verse two days ago (and later the chapter), I turned over in the bed and contemplated the directive and the promise. The instructions seemed so simple, yet intimidating. So, I jotted notes to digest. Hope it helps you too!
Step 1: Because God sees everything, do what is right. I know you may not get “credit” for it, but your character counts in the eyes of the Father. You don’t have to wonder if He’s keeping tabs or forgetting to write something down. He is omnipresent and omniscient.
(I truly try to live this out everyday. Challenges come, but this part doesn’t trip me up.)
Step 2: When you do what is right, your actions and the outcome will be well with you… you will be at peace with what was in your control and what was out of your control.
(I believe that peace makes a mighty fine pillow and I enjoy sleeping on it every night. Knowing that you did everything you could to be in right-standing makes you accept the serenity of not being in control of everything. So, this part doesn’t get me either… but let’s look to the last one…)
Step 3:Then, because you have Peace, you can go possess the land… the good land… the promise.
(OK, so this where we need to talk. Why do I have problems possessing the land, or in today’s case, the dreams and promises God gave me? If I’ve done the steps to get to this point, why am I apprehensive about #3? Is it a fear of not being able to live up to the dream? Am I afraid that the promises are ethereal and not obtainable? What causes me to pause when it’s time to take a step into new territory? Apparently, the land is not new to God because He promised it before I was born. So, why can’t I rest in His confidence in me? Honestly, I’m still chewing on this one. I want to get to the bottom of it. Yes, I know bible verses and songs that say otherwise, but there is still trepidation before I put my weight on the leg that extends into unknown territory.)
Is there anyone else out there that is shaky on the 3rd step? It’s OK to be human enough to answer YES!
So, I have to remind myself that the promises of God are secure and that even Jesus had to take a step back to get ready for the cross. It was His mission and He knew it was coming, but it didn’t make the step easier to take. So, He prayed… more than once (Matthew 26). I have to believe that His multiple prayers validate my questions and fears just as much as his humanity colliding with his Deity.
Follow the steps according to HIS plan, put your foot down, and walk across the bridge into the unknown. I’m stretching to do the same.
Caution: Let’s go swimming in our thoughts for a bit…. 622 words deep to be exact.
I don’t know how to swim (effectively), but I love the beach. I see a swimming pool and I want to jump in like an Olympic diver and scuba diving is on my LTD (life-to-do) List. With all of this enchantment over water, such a simple necessity, it would make sense as to why God would use it to get His points across.
THE LATSOL MOMENT
One morning while I was walking my dog Sammy, I noticed the dew on the grass. My dog loves to slurp it off the grass in order to prolong his morning ritual. It was nothing new, but the temperature had been consistently 90 degrees or more in Alabama for a week and even the evenings felt like a cough of heat from the daytime. On this particular morning, the dew arrested my attention. How was there dew on the grass in the midst of heat?I know the scientific answer, but that wasn’t satisfying at that moment. Then I heard God say gently…
“No matter how hot it gets, there’s always dew on the grass in the morning.
That alone should be proof that I will take care of you.”
Wow. That was my water proof. Finally. See a few years ago, I asked for God to help me understand him more… to make himself tangible to my curiosity and satisfy my itch to learn Him in a deeper way. So in order to understand my excitement about this “theorem,” you must hear my “proof.” (Hey, math teachers… two points?)
We need God. He created water as something that we must consume and depend on in which to live. We need Him.
We are made of God. God created each of us in His likeness.
God can affect, penetrate, or saturate anything over time. He is all-powerful.
God is underneath us, with us, and above us. He is omnipresent.
God has 3 forms and each has a specific purpose. The Holy Trinity consists of God the Father (the Protector and Judge), Jesus the Son (the Savior and Advocate), and The Holy Spirit (The Comforter and Guide).
God was made to move. He is omnipotent and can not be contained.
God can be customized. He manages to speak to anyone who desires a relationship with Him regardless of geographical location and demographics.
Proof: God is like water.
It is a representation of His deity and awesomeness and is not bound by circumstances.
Lastly and personally…
To say that water fascinates me would be an understatement. The shower is my thinking placeand a warm bath is a cozy envelope for my questions and feelings of frustration. I leave them there, in the envelope, to go down the drain forevermore. When I step out of the shower, I am new. I’m ready for the day or evening and mentally prepared for what’s ahead.
So, when I saw the blades of grass with dew and Sammy was enjoying the natural refreshment in spite of the heat, I felt like God gave my proof some recognition. More like I finally listened to what He had been saying all along. I am God. I will provide. I am not affected by your changes. I am always here.
I took a deep breath that morning and my soul agreed… and I felt amazing.
The White House. Diamonds. Museum artifacts. It doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them. They are protected to prevent abuse and to preserve their value. Their boundaries reduce the risk of them being abused and destroyed.
The wooden heart pictured here is just as fragile as we are. We appear fortified and impenetrable on the outside, but the reality is all it takes is a little fire and water to warp our behavior toward a situation.
God’s Love protects us. We are His treasured beings. His Son’s blood was used to redeem us, and it is also designed to protect us. It shields us from all hurt, harm, and danger that we cannot see. Does that mean we will not hurt? No.
Even museum artifacts must be taken from their protective cases to be cleaned and preserved so they can last longer.
So it is with us. Our hedge of protection is made pliable for a moment to strengthen us through an experience. That seems unfair, but consider the following: God knows that if we are to truly learn, we must experience. If all it took was our Father to tell us everything, there would be less hardship and hardheadedness. We can’t be trusted to simply take heed because we usually don’t do so. The lasting impression needed for growth is experience. God knows that. Your parents and teachers knew that. Even your manager knows that; otherwise, why ask for a resume and references? Experience matters… and there’s no way around it.
Secondly, one could say that the heart is the most fragile thing. Why would we hide the Word there and not in our minds? Because we protect our hearts more than our minds. Just think of all the things you saw or heard that were impure today or this week. Our eyes and ears are inlets to the heart, but the heart is the inner sanctuary of the soul. It has its own guard… Peace.
Peace protects us from the contamination of life. It causes us to remain fortified when the world is crumbling.
Thirdly, there is peace in saying “yes” and “no.” There is peace in stillness and in a joyous moment with others. Peace is not easily broken, but it can be relieved of its duties if you give the orders. Where the mind rationalizes, the heart leads. If it doesn’t “feel” right in the heart, we move forward in the mind. Decisions are rescinded often because the heart doors not agree. God knows the heart is where it’s at! David screwed up so many times, but God cherished his repentance and praise because of his heart.
What does your heart treasure? What’s in it and why is it there?
Is it worth protecting? Is your Peace on duty?
For my Grammatical Family Members – “Know The One With Whom You Are Walking” 😉
My dog taught me a lesson again. It’s such a simple one.
Let’s start with his swag. His confidence is pretty up there, especially when he’s with me. If he senses the need to bark, he does. It is only when he deems it necessary and it has kept us safe a few times already.
When we walk together, he watches out for us… All 8 pounds of him looks out for all of me. Sammy is never intimidated by larger dogs or people for that matter. You would think he was 10-feet tall. He’s not rude, but he’s secure in his walk with me because he knows I’m his owner and I will protect and sustain him.
How often do we discredit God’s ability by walking without the confidence in which we should have? Every step is made with faith in lip service, but not necessarily in the fortitude of God’s ability and good pleasure.
“God wants you to know Him well enough to trust him.
Just like He has your back, do you stand up for Him when it is necessary? Not that God needs your bark or bite, but do you live life with the peace of knowing that He is always in control, no matter what happens on the journey? Do you walk tall because you know who’s walking with you into work, school, or at home? I will admit that sometimes I don’t. I have to be reminded. When we know the one we’re walking with, we give in to the exchange of trust with no room for doubt and fear.
Sammy walks taller than me every day without thinking about it. You can best believe that is changing in me with every step I take from this point forward. My God is worth that level of trust. So is yours, so get to high steppin’.