If you love me…
John 14:15 – If ye love me, keep my commandments.
When I was a little girl, I can remember watching soap operas with my mom and grandmom. I was always amazed at the story plots and twists as characters promised and vowed to love one another. Many promises were made about their love and many would issue some ultimatum or some hidden agenda for their love. “If you love me, you would give me all the money in your bank account.” “If you love me you wouldn’t tell people my secret.”
This was a very different kind of love than the love that God has for us. His love simply says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Just a special reminder that our love is an action word… obey. And guess what? There are only 10 of them! 1 John 5:3 says “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome”. God doesn’t give us burdens that we can’t handle and commandments that we can’t keep. His yoke is easy. His burdens are light.
In the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy, God tells the Israelites the blessings that follow obedience. Some are… You will be set high above the nations on earth; You will be Blessed in the city and the field; The fruit of your womb will be blessed; You will be a lender and not a borrower; and have abundant prosperity. Read Chapter 28 for ALL the blessings of obedience. But notice that following the blessings for obedience are the curses for disobedience. If you read all the curses for disobedience, they are the opposite of the blessings for obedience.
God gives us the choice of blessings or curses based on our actions. He even says “If”, which is a conjunction introducing a conditional clause. If you love me, then obey my commandments. He is not forcing us to do it, but he says your love for me will show in how you keep my commandments.
I absolutely love the account of Jonah. I believe I am a direct descendant of Bro. Jonah. Here is the gist of Jonah’s account. Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh to tell the people to get their lives together and repent. The people of Nineveh were very wicked enemies of Israel. Jonah was an Israelite and decided that he would not be going to Nineveh to preach to “those” people. So Jonah headed to Tarshish which was the exact opposite direction of Nineveh. He boarded a ship to escape. A storm arose and the men on board realized that Jonah was the cause of the storm so they threw him off. As soon as Jonah hit the water, the storm stopped. Jonah was then swallowed by a whale and stayed in the body of the whale for 3 days. In the belly of the whale, Jonah repented and prayed. He eventually went to Nineveh when he was thrown up by the whale.
To Jonah going to Nineveh made NO sense and he decided that he would go in the opposite direction (disobedience) of where the Lord was sending him. Nineveh was a country ridden with sin. It was the original “Sin City”, full of lawlessness and debauchery. Why Nineveh? We have to do what God says whether it makes sense or not!
Sometimes being obedient to God seems strange and is difficult to understand. I can only imagine how Mary, the mother of Jesus, felt when the angel told her that she would give birth to the Messiah. But her final response in Luke 1:38 was simply, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.” Simple obedience. I crave this type of obedience. I need this type of obedience in my life. Mary only asked how could this be I am a virgin (Luke 1:34), but her final response was that of obedience.
God requires our obedience. He doesn’t just speak to hear himself speak. He speaks so that He can convey a message or a command and our response should be obedience. We miss the blessings of God when we are disobedient.
Case in point… A few months ago as I was preparing for work, the Holy Spirit, clearly told me to pick up a box of pencils that were beside my bed and take them to work with me. Obedience would have been to just grab the box and head out the door, however, in my normal talk back, inquisitive fashion. I asked, “why do I need pencils?” Then I stated to the All-Knowing God of the Universe, “I don’t need pencils” and walked out the door to go to work WITHOUT the pencils. No sooner had I walked in the door of my job, did a young teacher, Mrs. Williams, walk up to me and ask me for pencils. I was in utter shock! I could not believe this was happening. A few things were running through my mind:
1) I had totally heard the voice of God. Some people pray to hear his voice and I had actually heard it even though I didn’t listen.
2) I missed an opportunity to testify to the younger teacher about how God was working in her life and answering her prayers through me. (Please note, she may not have prayed for pencils, but the fact that her need would have been met would have still been a blessing and maybe an opportunity for me to witness to her.)
3) I had to confess my sins – 1 John 1:9 says that “if we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I told my coworker about the pencils and that God had clearly told me to get the pencils and I had been disobedient. She accepted it, of course and said it was no big deal. But to me it was a HUGE deal.
4) I had to ask for forgiveness for my disobedience. I was not obedient and as a result I missed an opportunity to be blessed and a blessing to someone else.
Our obedience can change lives and situations. Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh, warned them to repent of their sins or their city would be destroyed in 40 days. The people repented and turned away from their sin. Jonah saved a city with a population of 120,000 citizens just because he was obedient. He kept God’s command to GO!
Remember, obedience and keeping God’s commandments are directly tied to God’s bountiful blessings. We show our love for God by how we keep or obey His commandments. Be obedient and live in the RED - loved and forgiven.
Living in the Dash
Living in the Dash
John 10:10… I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
On April 6, 2016, I lost a good friend of mine, “Rod B”. Rod was such a good friend because he was the absolute polar opposite of me. For every plan that I wrote in my schedule, Rod spontaneously lived his life. For every healthy meal I tried to consume, Rod wanted hot wings. He cracked jokes, talked loud and lived life to the fullest. He died of Leukemia in 2016 and I was heartbroken. I mean, really?! This disease had already taken my mom and now my friend, Rod.
I was mad, but then I realized that something has to take each us out of here. If the Lord tarries, we will all die. Whether it’s disease, an accident, a car wreck or just passing peacefully in our sleep, we all have to leave here in order to get there – you know, Heaven. Unless of course we are like Enoch who just walked with God until he walked on to Heaven (Genesis 5:22).
When people die now, in this age of technology, it is often posted on a social media platform. I find myself going to look the various profiles to look at the person’s life. It’s as if I want to know all about them, what they did for a living, who they loved, what their hobbies and habits were and if they died in the Lord. This may be a strange practice of mine, but I am always curious about whether or not they lived their dash.
The dash is that tiny little symbol that is seen on funereal programs and headstones. My mom’s dash was July 5, 1954 – February 25, 2001. The dash represents our days from birth to death. It is so small and often times we think, so insignificant, but it’s so much more. The dash is the most important part of life. How you live in that dash, is the key to where you go after you die and what legacy you leave when you die. The dash symbolizes your life. God said that he came that you may have life, and life more abundantly (John 10:10). He offers an abundant life to all of those who choose to live that life and want to live in that abundance.
The dash is where God can work and move in your life. What are you doing with the dash? How are you living? Are you following the Great Commission and telling others about Christ? Are you living your best life? Are you seeking and surrendering to God’s plan and will for your life? Are you living a congruent life – one that is aligned to what you say and who you say you are?
I want the abundant life that God has planned for me. I want every single thing that He has promised me – every blessing.
In 2001, my mother passed away. At that time, I was too young and grief-stricken to really reflect on her dash as I now can as a full grown adult. However, in 2016 when my friend, Rod passed away as a result of the same disease – Leukemia, I stopped to reflect on both of their lives. My mom lived her dash. She was funny, caring, so genuine and classy. I can remember her singing in the mornings as we got ready for school and work, turning flips in the backyard, going to the movies over and over, singing our made up songs in the laundry mat, taking road trips, Thursday night hoagie nights and making ice cream floats with sherbet and Sprite. She lived her dash to the fullest! She lived, laughed and loved and left a legacy for her children and family.
Rod did too. Shortly after he passed, I remember all the tributes and the pictures that showed up on social media. Even though I was sad, I remember laughing and smiling at the old pictures of Rod and the tributes that his family, friends and kids posted about him. Rod lived an abundant life.
God has promised us an abundant life. A life filled with good things. However, we also know that satan’s job is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), so there will be bad things as well. We have to do all we can to live a life pleasing to God and one that our families can be proud about when we close our eyes. Remember to live your Dash in the RED ~ Loved and Forgiven
Luke 5:16 – And he withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed.
My favorite past time is sitting in my car on busy parking lots. It seems that I make my best to-do lists there, read, find peace and often whisper words of prayer. I love to people watch, so in between the reading, sitting still and praying, I glance at people – observe their nuisances, notice their idiosyncrasies and just enjoy looking at God’s creation.
In recent years, I’ve often asked myself why I enjoy this practice so much. I think it is because I have built, by design, a very busy life for myself. I think it is directly related to that old saying that the “idle mind is the workshop of the devil.” I decided years ago that I would never have an idle mind. So I have made “busyness” a part of my day – writing, reading, speaking engagements, teaching, working, and the list goes on. So whenever I find a small piece of time – whether it’s 15 minutes or 30 minutes to simply wait in my car for the next event, I find it so relaxing and refreshing.
Please note that busyness of not of God. Sometimes we busy ourselves - doing the wrong things with the wrong people. We often busy ourselves to avoid dealing with life in general. I have been known to fill up my schedule with the mundane to avoid the necessary things and tasks that I abhor. Our women’s Bible study leader says, “If satan, can’t make us bad, he will make us busy!” So be careful as you busy yourselves. (I am talking to myself mainly).
To steal away is an idiom that means to leave quietly without being noticed. In Luke 5:16, I find it interesting that Jesus, the savior, the author of the universe, the lover of my soul, the Christ – the anointed one, the God of creation would take time to withdraw to himself. Various Bible translations say different things – some say he withdrew to lonely places, desolate or deserted places. The translations also note that He withdrew, retired, and slipped away to these places. As Jesus’ ministry grew, he took more time for silence and solitude with the Father in prayer.
As busy women – wives, moms, sisters, aunties, daughters, professionals, teachers and the list goes on, we need to follow the example of Jesus and withdraw to our secret places of solitude and silence. Maybe your secret place is the laundry room, or the back yard or the garage or the small seconds you have for yourself in the bathroom. As your ministry – as your territory is enlarged, so should your practice of stealing away grow. In those moments of solitude and silence, we breathe deeply and encounter the lover of our souls, who longs for those moments with us, just as much as we need those moments with Him.
Today, promise yourself time to steal away; to find time to sneak away to talk to the Father. Follow the example of Jesus, take a breather from all of the cares of the world – the piles of laundry, the unpaid bills, the active kids, the grocery shopping and all the to-do lists that you’ve created and not followed. It doesn’t have to be a vacation with all the works, but merely a drive down to Target, a slow walk through the shoe store, a walk in the park. You can take 15 minutes in a bathroom, car, board room, wherever you can find solitude and steal away for a talk with your Heavenly Father. He’s waiting to hear from you and you’ll be glad you spent time with Him!
Don’t forget to live in the RED – under the covering of the blood and the forgiveness of SIN!
Luke 15:17 … and when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
Have you ever been somewhere you know you didn’t need to be and then you remembered who you were and whose you were and decided to go home? As a child, my mom used to tell me she had eyes all over the city and I believed her. But one or two times, I found myself in a situation or with people that I knew that I had no business with and that my mother would not approve of at all.
The prodigal son is such a thematic story about grace, forgiveness and love. A son – the younger son, decides he wants his inheritance NOW. Once he gets his wealth, he decides to go on a journey and soon wastes all of his inheritance quickly with fast living. Poor and desolate, he finds work for a man taking care of his pigs and is so desperate that he wants the pigs’ food. I love verse 17… “and when he came to himself”. He had an awakening and remembered who he was while tending to the pigs.
You remember in the Lion King when Simba had run away from his homeland because his uncle, Scar, made him believe that he was guilty of killing his father? Simba, the son of the mighty King Mufasa was out and about running around like he was a regular everyday commoner, a common joe and not the prince. Sound familiar? We often forget we are of a royal priesthood, a peculiar people and we walk around acting common. However, Rafiki, showed up and helped Simba find his way back home. After a little cajoling, Simba “came to himself” and decided to return home. He remembered who he was. He was Mufasa’s son, the heir to the throne, the savior of the pride, the mighty successor who would save his people.
Listen, girlfriend, sister-girl, it’s time to come to yourself. It’s time to remember who you are and whose you are! So what, you had a baby out of wedlock? And that man that you gave your heart to, broke it? Ok, now what? Who cares that your marriage is falling apart? Hey sis, that addiction to pills is not who you are! Hey ma’am! Alcoholism doesn’t look good on the King’s daughter. Drug abuse doesn’t go well for the child of the Most High. It’s time to come to yourself and remember who and whose you are! I know! I get it! I do; life has been hard; it’s knocked you down. You’re ridden with guilt and depression. I get it, but it’s time to come home.
Did you read the end of the story? The son came to himself – remembered who his daddy was, got himself together and made his way back home. I can imagine the scene as he walked home thinking of the words he would say to make his dad forgive him for taking his inheritance and throwing it away. “Dad, I’m sorry, I was foolish. Will you forgive me? Dad, I know you have denounced me as a son, I am content with just being one of your servants”. I am sure his heart was racing a mile a minute as he turned the last corner heading home. Rejection! Fear! They were probably walking hand and hand with him. What would his father say? What would his brother say? What would the others say?
But oh the scene! The father saw him in the distance and began to RUN to him. And when he made it to him, he fell at his feet and kissed him. The son tried to explain and apologize and the father simply said… Welcome Home and then said to his servants, “bring the best robe, shoes and put a ring on his hand; and bring the fatted calf.”
Then they ate, drank, and were merry. But, the oldest son heard the commotion and came in angry! You mean to tell me that this joker squandered his wealth and left us here and you are throwing him a party and I have been here all the time! But the Father said, you are mine and always with me, but this is my son who was dead and is now alive, who was lost and is now found.
As you make your way home, don’t let anyone tell you that you are not deserving of our Father’s unconditional, everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3) love.
I love this story! This is the heart of God. He is waiting for you to come home. There is nothing too terrible that you have done or are doing that will make Him turn you away. Just as the father in the Biblical account did, our Heavenly Father wants to RUN to you, bring you His choice blessings, throw a feast for you and have a praise and worship service like none other. He’s waiting with open arms, waiting for you to come to yourself and remember that you are the child of the Most High God, El-Elyon. Come home! He’s waiting. You are loved and forgiven.
My Appointed Time
Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.
Did you know that I was supposed to be married when I was 30? No?! Apparently, my husband didn’t either because, he still hasn’t found me. I feel like he is lost or maybe he saw the wrong girl first and took a chance on her. I had a beautiful fall and small courthouse wedding in mind and then a reception that was more like a family reunion with people galore – eating, drinking and being merry!
Did you know that I was supposed to have three boys by the time I was 36? Their names were to be Jordan, Joshua, and Jaylin. That way my husband and I could enjoy a few years of marriage alone first, then usher in the joy of parenthood. No? You didn’t know that either?
None of those things happened and like many when we don’t get our way, we think of alternate plans. Sarah took matters into her own hands by telling Abraham to sleep with their servant, Hagar. Hagar then got pregnant and bore a son to Abraham named Ishmael - who by the way was not the son of promise that God would give to Abraham and Sarah. Unlike Sarah, I didn’t involve anyone in my plan of action, I simply switched gears - went back to school, started a non-profit, and lived life as it came. For once in my life, I threw out my planner, full of appointments and schedules and surrendered to God, my will for His will.
What I am now realizing as I grow older is that there is an appointed time for EVERYTHING. Yes, everything. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to sow and a time to reap (Ecclesiastes 3). But God owns that time. When we put limits and time constraints on our life, we handicap God. We take away His ability to do the impossible because we lose faith or interfere with His plans. Not that it stops God’s plans for us, because what He has destined for you is for you! I had a friend who literally prayed for a wife for two weeks. Two whole weeks!! When she didn’t appear in those two weeks, he stopped praying for her and said that God must not have wanted him to have a wife. Really? Is that your final answer?
Many times, when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the time that we have allotted, we give up hope. We lose heart and like Sarah we interfere with God’s business. Believe or not, the Bible says ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you will find and knock and the door will be opened for you (Matthew 7:7), but you notice how the Bible doesn’t give the time frame for when you will receive the blessing? It doesn’t say on the second knock the door will be opened or the third time you ask it will be given to you.
God has perfect timing. I remind myself of that often. No husband yet? It will come at the appointed time. No degree yet? It’s coming at the appointed time? No house yet? It has an appointed time? No car, finances, job, etc. yet? It will come at the appointed time. Habakkuk 2:3 says “for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry”. God is a promise-keeper. He doesn't renege on His promises. If He said it will happen, then it will happen.
So while you are waiting for your appointed time, what should you do? You should be working. Work while it is day; when night comes, no man can work (John 9:4). You should open that business, write that book, sing those songs, mentor that child. Live Life! Do all the things that God has placed in your heart to do. Every desire and every dream that He has given you, should be pursued. Have you noticed that when Boaz found Ruth, she was working in his fields (Ruth 2)? She wasn’t sitting still twiddling her thumbs. When Abraham’s servant found Rebekah she was watering the flock of camels (Genesis 24:15). Be about your Father’s business as you wait on your Appointed Time.
Keep the faith and keep working. God still has appointed times and they are not in your hands. Wait in the RED – Loved and Forgiven!
So Sarah laughed to herself and thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I have now this pleasure?”
Have you ever heard something so ridiculous that you laughed? Something so absolutely ludicrous that you threw your head back and laughed? I am sure you have. Like you and I, Sarah was told something so utterly ridiculous that she couldn’t help but laugh! Sarah was 90 years old when God came to her and promised her that she would be a mother. What?! I believe my reaction would have been the same as Sarah’s reaction. I would have laughed as well. How ridiculous does it sound that a 90-year-old woman would give birth? Sarah laughed out of a notion of utter ridiculousness. She laughed at the “impossible”.
Often times God will give us a vision, a dream or a promise and we and maybe sometimes others will laugh at the idea, because it seems so impossible. God often gives us visions and dreams that don’t match our “right now”. He grants us grace to dream bigger than our reality will allow us to think or dream. Sarah’s right now was her age. She was 90 years old when God told her that in a year she would have a baby. What’s your “right now”? Maybe it’s a dead end job or a broken relationship or a lack of finances. Whatever your “right now” is, know this – God isn’t worried about your “right now” and He doesn’t take all day to do anything.
In my junior year of college, I was in desperate need of a computer. I had a simple, yet cherished word processer that was near and dear to me, but as a business major, I was competing with people with $2,000 Apple Macs. Trying to find a vacant computer in the library each day was like looking for a needle in a haystack. So I resolved that I would compete by getting up each day at 2am and working until 6am. Surely the library would be empty by this time.
My mother had a fit. She did not like the idea that I was out around the campus that time of the morning. But with diligence, I got my work done and competed with my classmates with those high-powered computers. I kept praying about how I would come up with the money to buy a computer, but being on scholarship with limited work study hours, I didn’t see a way to get a computer.
I was like Sarah I just laughed. My right now was my finances. I had no way of even buying a bad habit because my pockets were so empty. However, one day while at home, I stumbled across an ad in an Essence or Ebony Magazine. At the end of the ad, there were 5 questions. If you answered them correctly, they would send you a computer. Too good to be true right? Like Sarah, I laughed! But you know what? I sent in that form and about 6 weeks after answering that ad, a brand new computer and printer showed up at my house. My mom and my grandmom were in awe; I was overwhelmed. Had God really heard my impossible prayer? Had he answered in the most “ridiculous” way? My Daddy-God had come through.
I can’t imagine the joy that Sarah felt at having a son in her old age, but if it was anything like the joy I felt when that computer arrived, it was one of the most exciting and overwhelming days of my life. In verse 14 of Genesis chapter 18, God asks, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord”? I now know, there is absolutely NO. THING. too hard for God!
The message… God always gets the last laugh. Trust him and Believe His promises. Don’t forget to laugh and live in the RED!
Handing Out Hope
Romans 4:18 (KJV)
Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, so shall thy seed be.
In January of 2000, I moved to Nashville, TN to work for Saturn Corporation, a subsidiary of General Motors Company. I had mixed feelings about going. Intrinsically, I knew something was happening in my life. I felt much like Abraham, when God sent him away to another land. The move to Saturn in Springhill, TN was hard because I was leaving my family behind. We are a close knit clan, so leaving them for just a 3-hour car ride was still hard. In October of 1999, we had just buried my uncle Walter, who was like a father to me, so my heart was still tender. But God orchestrated this move to Nashville and I was obedient to the call.
No sooner had I arrived in Nashville, (Franklin, TN to be exact) did my mom get diagnosed with Leukemia. Devastation is the word that I would use to describe my whole life at that moment. My mom was my very best friend, my confidante, my champion, my “Day 1” as the young people say. Instantly, I knew that I had to start a radical prayer journey. I knew that God would meet me on this journey. I started getting up every morning before going to work in order to pray and read my Bible. My prayer was that my mother would be healed. From the moment, I found out about her illness, I started chasing God.
Every Sunday, I would attend church and take copious notes and then re-read them as I got time throughout the week. I now realize that I was in a spiritual battle. Since the battlefield is the mind, I had to constantly take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). The catch - I had to make sure that I knew enough word to snatch them back. So I attended Bible Study, Sunday School and even joined the tape ministry. Every Sunday, I was granted access to old cassette tapes that weren’t purchased in prior weeks and I loved it. In my car, in my home, and at work I listened to the word of God, ran to the Bible to read the references and memorized verses and scriptures with fervor.
In the midst of my pain, I learned to hand out hope. It was like I was an ear hustler, an eavesdropper. Every time, I heard someone with a problem, I’d offer them a cassette tape. You’re having problems, in your marriage? There’s a cassette tape for that! You have a wayward kid? There’s a tape for that! Financial struggles? There’s a tape for that! And that’s how my ministry started. That’s how I started HANDING OUT HOPE!
Those cassette tapes brought me so much joy and hope! They taught me to hope against hope. I was like Abraham, believing even though the situation was unbelievable. They gave me courage to keep going and I shared that courage with others every day, every week. The tapes weren’t some magical pill or a placebo that hid my pain, they contained the faithful word of God that did not return void and did what it promised to do.
Isn’t it amazing how God uses us when we are down to our last, when we have counted ourselves out and have thrown the towel in, in defeat. Ever wonder why? I believe it is because at that point, we have surrendered our will to His, given up the fight, and finally learned to live in the RED.
As you go through your trials and tests, don’t forget to tap into the spirit and find out how God wants to use your pain. All pain is for a purpose. I promise; pinky promise. In the midst of your pain, don’t forget to hand out hope!
Stay in the RED!
Living in the RED!
I love the Lord! But I have road rage... The kind of road rage that has sent me zooming behind someone issuing idle threats, blowing my horn, and acting completely out of character. The same passion that I put into everything else in my life, I put into my road rage. It’s the kind of road rage that makes me see RED! Bright beautiful red! Well, I used to. One day I had road rage with my grandmother in the car and she was mortified, outdone and disappointed in her granddaughter. And all the heat and aggression I felt went out the window when I saw my 85-year-old grandmother clutching the door for her life! Whew! What an awakening! Since then I have significantly reduced my road rage to an under my breath whisper or a silent roll of my eyes.
Because I have this outlandish case of road rage, I often struggle with my Christian walk. In the middle of an amazing worship song that I am singing in my loudest voice on the freeway, someone will cut me off and I will have an overwhelming desire to revert to road rage. It’s a daily struggle! And because we have people in our lives who want to remind of us of what we once were and forget that we are delivered or in the process of working on deliverance, we constantly berate ourselves for the sins that we struggle with. Is Road Rage Bad? Why yes, it is. Is God pleased with it? Why no, He isn’t. Is it a sin? Anger itself is not a sin. Even Jesus got angry. But when we sin as a result of our anger, that's where we mess up. That’s why I pray about it daily.
Along with prayer, I try to Live in the RED! Now I know, you might say, RED? Yes, Red. Red is often associated with anger or rage. Any bank, financial institution or business would laugh at me if I told them was trying my best to live in the RED, and they will tell me that “you are crazy”. They may call a psychiatrist or a therapist to speak to me immediately. Why? Because living in the Red in the financial world or even in your world, means that something is wrong. Living in the RED means that the books are unbalanced, there is a deficit, debt has amassed. In the financial world, it is a tragedy to live in the RED. Black is the expression that means you are on the right track financially. Living in the Red is not the place a financial analyst or CPA would tell you to go or do. But as a Christian, it is my honor to tell you to live in the RED.
My struggle daily is road rage. We all have a thorn in our flesh. What’s yours? Living in the RED is a reminder that we are LOVED and FORGIVEN! Now I no longer see RED, I live in the RED.
When I think about RED as a Christian, I think about the blood. In Hebrews 9:22, the b part of the verse says that without the shedding of the blood, there would be no remission of sin. In the old testament of the Bible, when people made a sacrifice, they took an animal - one without spot or wrinkle or any kind of blemish and offered its blood in order to atone for the sins that they had committed. However, these were not permanent sacrifices. Each time you sinned, another sacrifice had to take place. You know how much sacrificing would have to take place to cover all of our sins? You ever heard of the phrase, Obedience is better than Sacrifice? Well of course, it is better to just do the right thing than to keep offering sacrifices.
When I think of RED, I think about love. I think about the EVERLASTING (Jeremiah 31:3) love that God has for me. The shedding of his blood was a symbol of His love for me – for us! I think about Jesus staying on the cross, not calling legions of angels, suffering and dying, JUST FOR ME! I heard a preacher say once, that if it would have just been me, He would have still laid down His life. For the ONE!! Let that hit your heart and spirit… Just for You… Say it with me… JUST FOR ME!
The ultimate sacrifice… Jesus’ blood would forever and ever free us from another sacrifice. After Jesus’ blood was shed on the old rugged cross, there would be no more sacrificing, no more shedding of blood. In his own words, “It is finished.”
Therefore, living in the RED means that we live under the blood. We live under an umbrella of the Father’s LOVE. We are sinners saved by a Savior who offered us salvation and grace and for that I am grateful. When God wants to punish us and dares to issue a deserved consequence for our sin, he sees RED - the blood of His only begotten son that was shed for me and you and for all who will call upon the name of the Lord. Living in the RED is simply living, a blessed, loved and forgiven life. I would love to say, I (we) get it right EVERYTIME, but I (we) don’t; God did! I am living in the RED and so thankful for the love I have and the blood that was shed!
Don’t forget to Live in the RED!
For years, I enjoyed Mother’s Day. It was a perfect time to tell my mom, grandma and aunts exactly what they meant to me. However, in 2001, that all changed. My mother who was my best friend and confidante, died. Life was so different. There was a void that no one and nothing could fill. In time, the pain became a dull ache. But, I don’t believe you ever get over your mother’s death, I believe God gives you grace to get through it.
When I turned 30, I felt like my life was just beginning. I was so excited about 30 being the new 20. I was looking forward to meeting my husband, getting married and having my 2.5 kids. I was excited about my share of the “Good Life”. I didn’t want anyone’s share, just my portion. So I waited patiently for Prince Charming. When I turned 39, I was quickly running out of my 30’s and 40’s looked good professionally, but personally, I was still waiting on Prince Charming, my babies and my piece of the “Good Life”. That year, I realized that Mother’s Day had a different meaning. Mother’s Day became one of those holidays that made me cringe. I didn’t have my mother any longer to celebrate and I hadn’t had any kids so Mother’s Day was quickly becoming a Holiday that I could skip. I would think, I can just stay in the house on this day and sleep or watch movies or just veg out.
To be motherless and childless on Mother’s Day was an albatross around my neck. What was I really celebrating? It was difficult to deal with the grief of missing your mom and the realization that perhaps you will never be a mom.
So what do the single women with no kids and no moms do on Mother’s Day? This year I made up my mind to be and do better. This year I decided to:
We have all heard the phrase… Life Happens. It has been poured over us like warm honey on a cold day. Our mothers, sisters, sister-girls, cousins, best friends, boyfriends, teachers, preachers and even our postman have used it to describe the theory of life! It happens. It (Life) happens in various ways to different people. Sometimes it comes in the form of a tiny new baby that stays woke all night long crying. To others it comes in the form of a new job, or a new house, or a new spouse! Others find that "it" happens at the gravesite when they must wave their final goodbye to a loved one. Some have sensed "it" happening at the end of a hospital bed when the doctor gives heartbreaking news or a terminal diagnosis.
Often after the announcement, the initial feeling of loss or grief, there is a long tunnel in your soul that you are trying to escape. You’re trying to learn to navigate it and get out. Some people start running, figuratively and realistically to get out of the tunnel. But there is no escape. This is the new normal. Life will never be the same after this event, situation, and circumstance. It’s never going to be business as usual. Your normal has changed. It has a new attitude, disposition and focus and it’s NEW.
I remember vividly the day my mother passed away and my normal was made new. I kept saying as I called lawyers to get custody of my sister, “If mom was here”. In my new normal, my mom was not here and I had to learn to navigate the waters alone. I went into survival mode. You know survival mode is known as FIGHT, FLIGHT, or FREEZE.
Fight – You come out of the old normal swinging like your life depends on it, and it does. You come out in full battle gear. Nothing and no one can stop you. You have a singular focus! That focus is to survive. To push with all your might past the tears, the hurt, the depression, the anger, the sadness, the pain and fight like you’ve never fought before. It’s a battle every day and you have determined that you will be the victor. The last woman standing. You Fight!
Flight – You run faster than Forrest Gump! You run like your life depends on it and it does! Some run in the natural realm. They run marathons, they run every morning at the break of day; they run 5Ks every weekend. Some run figuratively as they search for the solution to the new normal at the bottom of a liquor bottle, or the back room of a strip club or at the slot machines at the casino. Some search for it in the refrigerator or their favorite restaurant. Others search for it at the shopping malls, in the latest name brands, at the counter of the phone company. Some believe they have found it, when they get 100 likes on social media. They run, too afraid to stand still and face reality.
Freeze – You stand still. Real still. Almost like if you don’t think about the event, the circumstance, you don’t have to deal with it. You win at the mannequin challenge. You stand in the same spot for years, as life passes in front of you. Your smile is one of yesterday, your memories too. You’re too afraid to move forward. It’s too painful to look back, so you stay glued to the same spot for years. Presidents have changed, Fads have changed, but you my dear friend have remained the same. Stagnated by your new normal.
So what do you do when life happens? What do you do when your normal is new?
Life does happen! No matter how much you loved a relationship or a friendship, it’s bound to change. Sometimes the change is growth and sometimes the change is total loss. When my mom died, I was in fight mode. It was the survival of the fittest. Determined to survive, I stayed in that mode for 15 years. But did you know that you’re supposed to be in FIGHT, FLIGHT, or FREEZE mode for only 1 – 2 hours? 15 years! Embrace your new normal. Accept that facts, whatever they are. My mother is gone. My 10 – year old sister needs me to feed her daily. Those were the facts.
LOOK FOR THE BEAUTY IN THE BAD!
Whew! I rested each day on Romans 8:28. All Things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, who are the called according to His purpose. I realized two things: 1) ALL things worked… So this thing (my mother’s death) was included in all things. 2) I had purpose. Sometimes I still struggle with this one. What I think my purpose is and what God knows my purpose is. But one thing that I did, was constantly look for the good. My mom left a beautiful legacy. She could out sing every bird in the sky. Every morning she woke up with a song. I still do that. I sing in spurts. Answer your phone when I call, I can normally be found singing a song as the phone rings. #TrueStory. My mom loved people. Hence, her profession as a nurse. As a result of her death, I saw so many people that she’d touched, so many lives. I was proud of her. She touched my sister and me and in turn, a wonderful organization was created to honor her memory and we continue her legacy of love, light, and lifting… San’s Child (www.sanschild.org). There is beauty in the bad!
TALK IT OUT!
There is an ugly stigma that keeps us bound in our communities. We hide behind strength. Strength is great. But everyone needs an outlet. I am a proponent of therapy. But if you are not, find a sister friend, a stranger at the library and talk. Yep, I have shared some things with strangers in passing that I haven’t shared with the people closest to me.
This is the new normal. Learn to live with it. Once a life-changing moment occurs in our lives, we are rarely ever the same. #Embraceit, #Lookforthebeautyinthebad, and #Talkitout! Welcome the newness of the #NEWNORMAL. Sometimes our greatest blessings are often born from our brokenness.