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ACAD – Accepted: Genesis 32

Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him; and when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called that place Mahanaim.[a]

Jacob Sends Presents to Appease Esau

Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have lived with Laban as an alien, and stayed until now; and I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male and female slaves; and I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’”

The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies, thinking, “If Esau comes to the one company and destroys it, then the company that is left will escape.”

And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, and I will do you good,’ I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan; and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. Yet you have said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted because of their number.’”

So he spent that night there, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. These he delivered into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me, and put a space between drove and drove.” He instructed the foremost, “When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob; they are a present sent to my lord Esau; and moreover he is behind us.’” He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you meet him, and you shall say, ‘Moreover your servant Jacob is behind us.’” For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterwards I shall see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” So the present passed on ahead of him; and he himself spent that night in the camp.

Jacob Wrestles at Peniel

The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man[b] said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,[c] for you have striven with God and with humans,[d] and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel,[e] saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.


Footnotes:

a. Genesis 32:2 Here taken to mean Two camps
b. Genesis 32:28 Heb he
c. Genesis 32:28 That is The one who strives with God or God strives
d. Genesis 32:28 Or with divine and human beings
e. Genesis 32:30 That is The face of God


New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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ACAD – Giving Thanks: Isaiah 51

A Call to Trust the Lord

“Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance—
all who seek the Lord!
Consider the rock from which you were cut,
the quarry from which you were mined.
Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor,
and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation.
Abraham was only one man when I called him.
But when I blessed him, he became a great nation.”

The Lord will comfort Israel[a] again
and have pity on her ruins.
Her desert will blossom like Eden,
her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found there.
Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.

“Listen to me, my people.
Hear me, Israel,
for my law will be proclaimed,
and my justice will become a light to the nations.
My mercy and justice are coming soon.
My salvation is on the way.
My strong arm will bring justice to the nations.
All distant lands will look to me
and wait in hope for my powerful arm.
Look up to the skies above,
and gaze down on the earth below.
For the skies will disappear like smoke,
and the earth will wear out like a piece of clothing.
The people of the earth will die like flies,
but my salvation lasts forever.
My righteous rule will never end!

“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong,
you who cherish my law in your hearts.
Do not be afraid of people’s scorn,
nor fear their insults.
For the moth will devour them as it devours clothing.
The worm will eat at them as it eats wool.
But my righteousness will last forever.
My salvation will continue from generation to generation.”

Wake up, wake up, O Lord! Clothe yourself with strength!
Flex your mighty right arm!
Rouse yourself as in the days of old
when you slew Egypt, the dragon of the Nile.[b]
Are you not the same today,
the one who dried up the sea,
making a path of escape through the depths
so that your people could cross over?
Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
They will enter Jerusalem[c] singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

“I, yes I, am the one who comforts you.
So why are you afraid of mere humans,
who wither like the grass and disappear?
Yet you have forgotten the Lord, your Creator,
the one who stretched out the sky like a canopy
and laid the foundations of the earth.
Will you remain in constant dread of human oppressors?
Will you continue to fear the anger of your enemies?
Where is their fury and anger now?
It is gone!
Soon all you captives will be released!
Imprisonment, starvation, and death will not be your fate!
For I am the Lord your God,
who stirs up the sea, causing its waves to roar.
My name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
And I have put my words in your mouth
and hidden you safely in my hand.
I stretched out[d] the sky like a canopy
and laid the foundations of the earth.
I am the one who says to Israel,
‘You are my people!’”

Wake up, wake up, O Jerusalem!
You have drunk the cup of the Lord’s fury.
You have drunk the cup of terror,
tipping out its last drops.
Not one of your children is left alive
to take your hand and guide you.
These two calamities have fallen on you:
desolation and destruction, famine and war.
And who is left to sympathize with you?
Who is left to comfort you?[e]
For your children have fainted and lie in the streets,
helpless as antelopes caught in a net.
The Lord has poured out his fury;
God has rebuked them.

But now listen to this, you afflicted ones
who sit in a drunken stupor,
though not from drinking wine.
This is what the Sovereign Lord,
your God and Defender, says:
“See, I have taken the terrible cup from your hands.
You will drink no more of my fury.
Instead, I will hand that cup to your tormentors,
those who said, ‘We will trample you into the dust
and walk on your backs.’”

Footnotes:

  1. 51:3 Hebrew Zion; also in 51:16.
  2. 51:9 Hebrew You slew Rahab; you pierced the dragon. Rahab is the name of a mythical sea monster that represents chaos in ancient literature. The name is used here as a poetic name for Egypt.
  3. 51:11 Hebrew Zion.
  4. 51:16 As in Syriac version (see also 51:13); Hebrew reads planted.
  5. 51:19 As in Dead Sea Scrolls and Greek, Latin, and Syriac versions; Masoretic Text reads How can I comfort you?
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ACAD – Praise: Psalm 49

Why Should I Fear in Times of Trouble?

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

Hear this, all peoples!
    Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
both low and high,
    rich and poor together!
My mouth shall speak wisdom;
    the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb;
    I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.

Why should I fear in times of trouble,
    when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
those who trust in their wealth
    and boast of the abundance of their riches?
Truly no man can ransom another,
   or give to God the price of his life,
for the ransom of their life is costly
    and can never suffice,
that he should live on forever
    and never see the pit.

For he sees that even the wise die;
    the fool and the stupid alike must perish
    and leave their wealth to others.
Their graves are their homes forever,[a]
    their dwelling places to all generations,
    though they called lands by their own names.
Man in his pomp will not remain;
    he is like the beasts that perish.

This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;
    yet after them people approve of their boasts.[b] Selah
Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
    death shall be their shepherd,
and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
    Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.
But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
    for he will receive me. Selah

Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
    when the glory of his house increases.
For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
    his glory will not go down after him.
For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
    —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—
his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
    who will never again see light.
Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 49:11 Septuagint, Syriac, Targum; Hebrew Their inward thought was that their homes were forever
  2. Psalm 49:13 Or and of those after them who approve of their boasts

English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

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Good Cop. Bad Cop. Life is not so simple.

There’s a lot a rhetoric, talking and writing about how the majority of cops are “good”. I cringe when I hear that. Not just because I don’t believe it, but because it doesn’t mean what people would like it to mean. According to the current use of the word, “good” cops don’t kill unarmed men who don’t do what they were told to do.

Does not killing another human being really make someone good? Is our bar really so low for those responsible for our physical security within our communities? You are a good person as long as you don’t kill anyone? Not really. In reality, a combination of many small daily actions impart one’s goodness (intent, nature, personality, etc) to others.

I would rather hear about the police officers who act with integrity, treat the people they encounter (even known criminals) with respect, and make wise decisions with the full knowledge that every decision they make has an impact on someone’s life – most especially their own.

In my mind the translation of “good cops don’t kill unarmed people”, is that “bad” cops are “good” up to the point they kill someone the public deems should be allowed to live. That’s not the measurement of judgement we are provided in the Word.

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. ~Luke 6:31

My mood has been worsening – darkening, actually – over the last few weeks. Actually, it’s been longer, much longer, but the darkness has found a cause to focus on recently. My frustration has found an outlet – speaking out against injustice in America. What I’ve found to be true with the recent protests sweeping this country, is that the more I focus on the anger and outrage, the more angry and exhausted I become. The more helpless I feel. It’s overwhelming, really, the amount of injustice in this country…in this world. Thinking about the many ways humans find to justify hating and killing each other is a demoralizing and debilitating exercise. Quite honestly, I can only do what I can do. And doing all I can do does not solve the worlds’ problems. I know that. But it’s in the doing that we get caught up in what’s been done.

I don’t want to be caught up and focused on the wrong actions that have been done. I have to continually remember that the people who are okay with injustice, state-supported murder and torture, the rape of women, the abuse of children, the subordination of any human being are still people who Jesus died for. He did not only die for me. He did not only die for believers. He surrendered His life so that people the world over may have access to true life – eternal life. So that every human being would have the choice to live. This is the action I choose to remember each time the happenings in the world try to make me forget.

I will not be governed by fear. Nor will I bow to those who lead with fear. Fear is not of God. So in fear, there is no good thing.

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”   ~ Mark 10:42-45

Police officers are human, they are created of the same substance the rest of humanity is created of. They are not inherently good. They do not supply safety or generate trust simply because they wear a uniform and a badge. Neither do you. People who encounter you – the people you serve in your own life – know you mean no harm when you do no harm. They feel safe because you do not threaten them or hurt them or others they know of. They trust you because of continual trustworthy behavior on your part. This is not a perfect equation, but it’s generally applicable to most people’s lives.

Throughout December 2014, I had conversations online and in-person, and read comments that caused me to reevaluate the character of people I thought I knew something about. I have also had to continually reevaluate myself.

Hatred is an awesomely powerful emotion. It negatively impacts even those who are only observing hateful acts, reading hateful words and listening to hateful speech.

Hatred and fear are interconnected and reflective of each other. They both spread like an infection. Anyone who knowingly operates in fear or hate is not trustworthy nor can they provide safety. Yet, nearly every officer who made headlines in 2014 and 2015 for killing unarmed individuals, claimed that they feared for their lives and, almost universally, their fear has been upheld as a valid reason to kill the unarmed people they killed. Even more disturbing: their fear received an outpouring of public compassion and support while their victims were dehumanized and vilified.

Once upon a time, bravery and courage were honored characteristics of public servants, especially for police officers, but the rhetoric in recent years across America has allowed for the claim of fear to be sufficient justification for committing murder – however, only for police officers, of course. Women, for example, are not able to kill men they simply fear, even in violent situations. Fear is not justification for taking a life.

Bravery and courage are the result of overcoming fear; cowardice is the result of giving in to fear. Police officers who are too afraid to perform their job with integrity, respect and honor should have, at the minimum, enough self-awareness to step aside and leave the job even if only for public safety reasons. In the absence of such a minimum of self-awareness, fellow officers and supervisors should step in and weed out the officers who allow fear to rule their judgement.

Several times over the last few years, I had to step away from my Facebook feed because it stirred up and kept up a great deal of anger and frustration. Since I’ve been paying attention to all the trending senseless killings by police officers (since Trayvon Martin’s killer walked free), I’ve become more and more outraged by not only the failure of police chiefs, mayors, district attorneys and grand juries to see and prosecute murder for what it is. On top of that, I’ve become even more outraged by the willingness of members of the public – fellow citizens and residents of this country – to justify murder as a necessary action for sleeping on a park bench, walking in the street, playing on a playground, walking up a dark staircase, bringing dinner home to the family, standing outside a convenience store or shopping in the toy aisle. It’s incomprehensible to think that anyone can break these actions down to their simplest form and still conclude that these human beings deserved to be shot and killed in the midst of their respective actions because of another person’s fear or hate. Wrong is wrong – no matter the uniform or badge worn by the perpetrator. Murder is murder.

What comes after outrage? Who can sustain anger and frustration for the continued state-supported murder and the hate-filled violence that it gives freedom of expression to? I can’t.

I cannot sustain such an extreme level of anger and outrage indefinitely. Non one can. Fortunately, as a fellow outraged  citizen pointed out, organization, on the other hand, can be sustained.

After another failure in late December 2015 to indict a murderous cop in Milwaukee, WI, I essentially threw my hands up and rolled over in prayer. What is the purpose of all this, Father? How will you be glorified through all this violence and hatred? What do you want me to do? I awoke the next morning with a will to write.

I am an instrument secure in the hand of my Creator. God is my safety and in Him is all my trust. He is just and He will not be mocked. His ways are above our ways. Those who think they are free to live without consequences for taking human life without cause will learn in time that God’s vengeance will be much more than they can bear. With this knowledge, I urge all police officers who have killed, to repent. Turn yourselves in, ask for prosecution and make reparations to the families you have shattered and to the communities you have betrayed.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. ~ Luke 6:27-36

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Let Ferguson – and the United States – burn!

This post erupted from me a couple of days after the Grand Jury in Ferguson, MO decided not indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen who was found guilty and executed for the crime of walking in the street on his way home. I sat on this post because the raw fury burning through me was a very unusual and unsettling feeling. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t posting thoughts that were only contained to the moment I wrote them down in. Now, nearly two weeks later and after several more murders of unarmed men (Rumain Brisbon of Phoenix Arizona) and boys (Tamir Rice, Cleveland, OH) by police officers across the United States and yet another Grand Jury decision to not indict at least one police officer, Daniel Pantaleo for the murder of Eric Garner in New York City who was found guilty, then jumped by at least five police officers and choked to death for the crime of standing on a street and possibly selling single cigarettes, this post, in its original form, is tame.

Police officers approach Eric Garner in front of a convenience store on July 17, 2014. He was suspected of selling single cigarettes.
Police officers approach Eric Garner in front of a convenience store on July 17, 2014. He was suspected of selling single cigarettes.
Police officers take Eric Garner down in front of a convenience store on July 17, 2014. He was choked and remained unresponsive after the police officers got off of him. He was pronounced dead shortly after. He was suspected of selling single cigarettes.
Police officers take Eric Garner down in front of a convenience store on July 17, 2014. He was choked and remained unresponsive after the police officers got off of him. He was pronounced dead shortly after. He was suspected of selling single cigarettes.

My rage is no longer boiling over, it’s crystalizing.

November 26, 2014

All the people outraged about those expressing anger by rioting and burning down a community, I say who gives a fuck? Seriously? Police officers around this country are killing unarmed CITIZENS, i.e. PEOPLE, without any fear of prosecution and the main concern of those watching is “be careful of other people’s PROPERTY?”

WHY NOT BE CAREFUL OF OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES?

WHY NOT BE CONCERNED WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO LIVE FREE OF HARASSMENT AND THE VERY REAL THREAT OF DEATH BY OTHER PEOPLE WHO SWORE AN OATH TO PROTECT AND SERVE THEM?

What is wrong with this country? What is wrong with the people who can justify in their minds that the killing of ANYONE over a presumed suspicion of cigarette theft is okay? Do you think YOUR life is worth more than a handful of cigarettes? Is it worth more than a pack or a carton, do you think? I think you’re thinking “YES, of course, I AM worth more cigarettes!” Then how can there be a debate about the worth of this child’s life? And how can people be more outraged over the lost and damage of property than they are over the destruction and loss of life?

All over the internet people are lamenting “How can ‘they’ destroy their own community?

Who are the “they”?

The people who were supposed to stay in ghettos? In neighborhoods cut off from civilized society?

Who are the “they”?

Why is no one thinking the “they” are “us”? Why is no one talking about how America has destroyed its own? The media isn’t talking about how America hates its own. People with a conscience are infuriated with America ignoring, diminishing and murdering its own.

Some Americans are mad because buildings are burning and cars are being overturned? Well, I’m undone by the deaths of people who have been burned, shot and suffocated. “They” – Americans – are mad because humans are being categorized and treated as meaningless in this country.

The burning of Ferguson is a REACTION to continued blatant injustice in one case that is rooted in a history of blatantly sustained inhumane injustices toward a group of people in this country. If the out-of-touch Americans want a reasonable reaction, then ‘they’ should insist on reasonable justice being applied in every facet of these United States of America. Had the bare minimum of an indictment been issued for Darren Wilson when he murdered Michael Brown, an unarmed teen, then neither the first riot nor the second riot would have happened in Ferguson, MO. The people have a right to expect law enforcement officers to be answerable to the same laws they are responsible for enforcing. That is the true American way.


December 6, 2014

Upon hearing the grand jury in NYC saw no reason to hold Daniel Pantaleo accountable for the killing of Eric Garner, all I could think… indeed, all I could write was:

December 3, 2014

I’m out of words.

But I won’t be silenced. I will not be rendered immobile.

That night I marched. I shouted through the streets. I stood in solidarity with thousands of Americans across the country who are also outraged by the assumption of power the police in this country have taken upon themselves. Two comments within my hearing enraged me enough to shout directly at the police officers while demonstrating my outrage. The first was when a police officer threatened to arrest people if they sat down in the street. Sitting in a street is not a crime. Sitting in a street that is occupied by people standing and chanting while being closed to traffic presents no danger to anyone. The second comment was shouted by a cop as we walked through the streets. “Get on the sidewalk!” “No, we’re taking the streets,” we chanted. “Do as you’re told,” the officer shouted back. For that he got an infuriated, “Fuck you! I don’t have to do as you say,” from me. Apparently the fact that Michael Brown was killed shortly after he flippantly refused to walk over to Darren Wilson when he was waved over seems to be lost on police officers. Police officers themselves are NOT the law. Their job is to uphold the law. Satisfying their egos is not a citizenship obligation for Americans.

eric-garner-protestsThe police essentially justify their killings of civilians by two sets of reasoning: 1) The person did not obey them; and 2) they feared the person, i.e. they thought the person was a threat to them personally.

Do as you’re told.

Again, I say, “Fuck you! You do as you’re told!” The people trump government.

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BOOK REVIEW: Promise: Inspirational Fantasies by Jeannette Drake

This review is from Amazon: Promise: Inspirational Fantasies (Kindle Edition)

Promise: Inspirational Fantasies is more inspirational conversation than fantasy. Much of the book is a transcript of an ongoing conversation between the author (Me) and God. The rest of the book is descriptive prose about encounters where Ms. Drake sees or hears God in other people, wildlife and nature. Promise is engaging and insightful. To some people it may seem fantastical or other-worldly, but to me it resembles my own experience with God in conversation.

Ms. Drake discusses topics ranging from weather, animals, the universe, career success, finances, fear and death. If any one thing struck me, it was the numerous times the author acknowledged the control fear had over her even as she spoke with God and sought His guidance. I had hoped there would have been an indication before the book ended that described how Ms. Drake let her many fears go. But understanding this is a work from a life in progress, I can only trust that in the years since writing this work, the she has indeed conquered the demons crouching at her door. That being said, Ms. Drake’s emotional honesty is refreshing to experience in Promise: Inspirational Fantasies.

LaShawnda Jones
Author & Independent Publisher
http://spiritharvestblog.wordpress.com
My God and Me: Listening, Learning and Growing on My Journey
The Process of Asking for, Receiving and Giving Love & Forgiveness (MeatyWord Series)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author in exchange for writing a review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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When what you want most is what frightens you the most

A few weeks ago, I took a walk with a stranger on a dark night. On the surface, I’m sure he wasn’t really interested in conversation, but he provided good insight. Some of his assessments of me are still playing in my mind.

One of his seemingly unloaded questions to me was, “Do you want a relationship?” I replied with a slight grin and nodded in the affirmative.

He continued, “That which you want most, frightens you the most. You will never get what you want if you continue to fight it and run away from it.”

That was unmistakably loaded. So much so, I asked him to stop talking so I could let that sink in. The statement is still rolling around in my mind weeks later.

Over the years, people have asked me often about my fears. For a number of years, my general response from a place of spiritual victory has been along the lines of: I’m fearless! I ain’t neva scared! However, this has been a summer where fear came to roost in my heart. It became an insidious transformer that greeted me throughout each day.

Throughout the last year, I had been thinking of relocating to Nashville, TN. The main lure had been the thought of coming across a crop marriage-minded Southern men, as opposed to the single-minded Northerners I encounter. Another lure had been the possibility of adopting children on my own and being able to manage it in a slower-paced environment. Neither of those ideas would have been sufficient “lures” had I not been afraid of never connecting with someone where I am. If I hadn’t given up on the thought of welcoming love in New York City. I had essentially come to the conclusion that if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s never going to happen.

During my visit to Nashville in August, I was fortunate enough to meet with a couple of ladies who unwittingly forced me to face the fears attacking my life. I remember telling them both, in different meetings, “I’m not in a real hurry to move. It’s not like I’m running from anything.” Or perhaps one of them first suggested to me that I need not be in any hurry; I should take my time with my decision as I wasn’t running from anything in my life.

Either way, that phrase has been haunting me since.

This week I realized all the roads of my life lead to New York City. The more I try to pull away from this city, the more I realize my purpose here isn’t complete. I also realized that I was running away – from my life. I was trying to run away from the hopelessness that my hope had turned into. From the sadness that my joy had descended into. From the dreams that had never manifested. From the vision of love that had become an instrument of torture simply because of the absence of love in my life.

How profound is it that three strangers would enter my life in the space of two weeks to point out my runaway tendencies? How amazing that God would halt me in the midst of my self-sabotaging plans?

That which you want most, frightens you the most, the stranger-man had said. What an amazingly astute statement for someone I had met less than two hours prior. Supernaturally so.

It brings to mind God’s pursuit of us and our pursuit of Him. How completely overwhelming the thought of His awesomeness is. And yet we are fearfully, intricately and wonderfully made in His image. It makes sense that the relationship I envision – one that physically represents my spiritual relationship with my Creator – would overwhelm me, because everything about Him is overwhelming. However, in the natural, if I’m running from someone who is also running from me because he too is overwhelmed by what he sees in me, then how do we ever meet up? Impossible — but for God who provides the sure knowledge that whatever track I’m on, I’m not on it alone; and whoever was at my back will eventually be coming towards me after we’ve both completed our individual laps of endurance and testing.

Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them. You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. Lord, even before I say a word, you already know it. You are all around me—in front and in back— and have put your hand on me. Your knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand.

Where can I go to get away from your Spirit? Where can I run from you? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I lie down in the grave, you are there. If I rise with the sun in the east and settle in the west beyond the sea, even there you would guide me. With your right hand you would hold me. ~ Psalm 139:1-10

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Where my help truly comes from…

I wanted to write about three conversations I had last week. I spoke with three women I’ve met at different stages throughout my life, they’re scattered across the country and have never met each other. They know nothing of each other, yet their current struggles and complaints were very similar. The underlining cry of each conversation was for help and a trustworthy companion. They didn’t all claim defeat but they each seemed to believe they were living defeated lives. They didn’t see themselves as overcomers with victory a mindset away. I had several working titles for this post: The Lie of Powerlessness; The Masquerade of Fear; Self-Defeat: The Only True Failure; and Where My Help Truly Comes From….

Fear is a real illusion. What the women spoke into my ear revealed the fear they are living with in their lives. Their fear is masquerading as an insurmountable obstacle. In each of their minds, they can’t see their way through, around or over this obstacle.

The God I believe in is bigger than anything I can see. He’s the creator of everything in my environment and neighboring environments. Therefore, in my mind, He has control over everything I encounter.     

I look up to the hills, but where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let you be defeated. He who guards you never sleeps. He who guards Israel never rests or sleeps.
The Lord guards you. The Lord is the shade that protects you from the sun. The sun cannot hurt you during the day, and the moon cannot hurt you at night. The Lord will protect you from all dangers; He will guard your life. The Lord will guard you as you come and go, both now and forever.
~ Psalm 121, NCV

What part of Christ do you claim?
As I grow in my walk, I become more able to discern various levels of Christians:

  • There are those who know of Christ and think saying His name makes them holy
  • There are those who claim Christ with no personal experience of Him at all
  • There are those who know some scripture and think recitation makes them faithful
  • There are those who claim a relationship with Christ but don’t obey His teachings and commands
  • There are those who believe in Jesus but don’t have time for Him
  • There are those who put Christ on in the morning and take Him off at night
  • There are those who dedicate themselves to Christ but don’t share Him with others
  • There are those others can see Christ in but who can’t see the Christ in themselves
  • There are those who believe God’s word and see Christ in every created thing and being, including themselves
  • There are those who die to themselves repeatedly, thereby allowing Christ to increase in them continuously

There are many variations and expressions of Christ in the people of the world. I understand we all have our own personal journey with our Lord. But I have perhaps tripped up on Christians who don’t have faith, hope, joy, peace or love. I believe these spiritual gifts are inter-linked and interactive. Truthfully, what can someone possibly be reflecting of Jesus Christ if they aren’t reflecting His faith, hope, joy, peace or love? How can anyone call themself after Him, if His Spirit has not been allowed to root within them?

Last summer, I asked my readers to pray for me regarding my impatience with the weak-minded individual (see Don’t Be Weak Minded, Please!). I’m not sure if any of you truly heard me, but God certainly did. This year, I’ve been inundated with fearful, self-defeated women who blame everyone but themselves for the circumstances they’ve experienced in life. They complain bitterly that no one is helping them, they have no one to depend on, and no one in their life has proven to be trustworthy. One at a time, I have been able to offer words of comfort and hope, and advice when solicited. But recently, I was overwhelmed by the hopeless frustration and angry resentment being shared with me by women who claim to have faith in the power of Christ to overcome everything they encounter.

Question: If you believe in Jesus Christ and you believe He can/will/has overcome any/every obstacle, then how can any obstacle in your life possibly defeat you?

Last week, my patience was sorely tested. Actually, as I think of it, the fiery assault against my patience and willingness to support the weak-in-spirit within my circles began in January with a visit to my grandmother (see How do you celebrate a life that was not appreciated during its lifetime?) and continued throughout my tour of Israel in March. Over the course of three days last week, I engaged in long conversations with three women I’ve been a sounding board for throughout the years. Having all three of them unload their emotional burdens on me back-to-back in a matter of days made it clear to me that God is working something out in me. He’s refining His message in me and through me for sure. Through the refining, He’s teaching me the patience I somewhat unwittingly asked for, but knew would eventually come.

I was frustrated when I began writing this post shortly after the third conversation last week. I had gone from gentle rebuke (get over yourself and look at this from another perspective), to irritation at listening to the same type of complaint for the umpteenth time (seriously, you have the power to change your life; begin with one choice at a time), to anger that three women who claim Christ, know scripture and understand something of the nature of praising God, could be so defeated in their speech (thank God for this trial and make sure you ask Him what it is you’re supposed to learn from it). I asked them each about their faith and each was quick to say that their faith was not an issue. They were also quick to recite scripture and teachings applicable to their situations.

This left me flabbergasted. I can’t do more for you than Jesus. He is the Word of Life. Though I consider it my duty to make myself available to anyone who calls on me, my advice will always point you to the Lord (God willing). I’m not interested in having a “scripture battle” and I don’t throw God’s word around like a weapon; I share it as a guidepost. So, if you already know His word, please apply it to your life.

This is what the Scripture says: “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.”That is the teaching of faith that we are telling. If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. We believe with our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we declare with our mouths that we believe, and so we are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disappointed.” ~ Romans 10:8-11, NCV

After I got over my frustration with the women for what I saw as self-defeatist attitudes, I was able to see an incredible opportunity to minister to the seeds God has planted in them. I can see now that it’s not the quality of their faith I need to be concerned with as much as the quality of my testimony of Christ. How am I speaking and sharing the Word with those who come into contact with me?

But before people can ask the Lord for help, they must believe in him; and before they can believe in him, they must hear about him; and for them to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them; and before someone can go and tell them, that person must be sent. It is written, “How beautiful is the person who comes to bring good news.” But not all the Jews accepted the good news. Isaiah said, “Lord, who believed what we told them?” So faith comes from hearing the Good News, and people hear the Good News when someone tells them about Christ.  ~ Romans 10:14-17, NCV

In the same way, trust comes by seeing someone do what they said they would do. With each action that follows a word/declaration/promise, trust increases. The third woman I spoke to last week complained bitterly about being unable to trust anyone, having no one to turn to for assistance with her children and being weary of inviting anyone into her home for fear of how they would take advantage of her situation. In exasperation, I told her, “At some point, you’re going to have to just decide to trust someone. Before you get to that point, you have to trust yourself. Do you trust yourself?”  

My question took her by surprise. She paused for a breath of a second and replied, “Yes, I trust myself.”

“Then that means you need to trust your instincts, trust your decisions, trust your resourcefulness and trust your abilities. And trust that God is with you to help you. Start with what you have; start with trusting God and yourself and eventually other people’s untrustworthiness will have no effect on your life.”

And now, dear lady, this is not a new command but is the same command we have had from the beginning. I ask you that we all love each other.And love means living the way God commanded us to live. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is this: Live a life of love.  ~ 2 John 1:5-6, NCV

If you are frustrated with an issue in your personal ministry to people in your circles, give your frustration over to God. He’s going test you and the circumstances causing the frustration will increase in scope and intensity. But when you get over yourself, the revelation God gives you will make you a much better vessel for His use.

Be blessed and keep on blessing others with the Word God has put in you!

[Related post: Getting Over Yourself to Perform God’s Will for Your Life ]

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Don’t Be Weak Minded… Please!

Okay, confession: I have recently discovered or rather acknowledged that I have little to no patience for timid or weak minded individuals. Pray for me – in all seriousness – because I need to work around my low regard and figure out how to effectively minister to such individuals within my sphere.

Let me be clear here, I am not talking about the average person who falls into sin and struggles out again. I’m talking about the person who is tormented in sin and lies there and accepts the torment as their due – primarily because they can’t envision anything else. Or the person who doesn’t cultivate their faith, but leans on what they are told about their faith. Or worst yet, the person with no faith at all. 

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.    ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:14 NLT

I had a conversation with a woman some time ago who was speaking about how her night terrors were so bad, she rarely slept. They had been going on for so long she said she had basically adapted to not sleeping. It was just the way her life was – when the terrors came there was no sleep and that was “okay.”

I pieced together her story from several hours of group conversation. Towards the end of the gathering I turned to her and said, “May I ask if you’re Christian?”

“No, I’m not. I’m Jewish.”

“Where does the Torah stop in the Old Testament?”

She gave me a blank stare. “I’m thinking of some scripture to share with you,” I went on, “in Psalms, but I’m not sure if the Torah covers Psalms.”

“It doesn’t, it’s the first five books of the Old Testament, I think, but I don’t study the Torah.”

“In that case a scripture that helped me a great deal when I had fears was 2 Timothy 1:7, ‘God did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind.’”

She shook her head at me as I spoke and told me in so many words, “I am not receiving what you’re saying. I understand it may have worked for you, but I am okay with where I am. I’m not interested in what you’re speaking to me. I’m not interested in being fixed. I’m okay how I am.”

Let me tell you, that had to be the first time I approached someone I had just met in an unfamiliar environment and tried to provide them with a healing word. And it so happened that it was the first time I got shot down in mid-word for my efforts! I was stunned. And I struggled to not be offended. Belief is a choice. Faith is a choice. Accepting God’s Word is a choice. I can’t be upset with how others choose, but I couldn’t help but think of the setting we were in at that moment.

It was a potluck with interfaith individuals at the home of a common associate. Throughout the afternoon we had discussed Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, various forms of holistic care, faith practices and histories as well as lifestyle behaviors and opinions. I sat with very little to moderate comment through most of that, but the one time I uttered scripture I got shut down. In the next breath she said she enjoyed visiting churches, especially Episcopal churches – they were so pretty…. And she was still looking for faith practice that would work for her…. I wanted to ask her if she realized the Episcopal Church was a denomination of Christianity, but I let it go….

I think what stunned me most about this encounter was how some people are really eager to try any and every thing in the name of religion or “spirituality”, but they aren’t willing to even LISTEN to the pure, unaltered Word of God. They aren’t willing to LEARN it. And it’s in the Word that we find true life.

So, needless to say, I was flabbergasted. Here was someone who aggressively rejected the Word of God as it was spoken to her, yet felt comfortable speaking about walking into buildings dedicated to His worship. There was a huge disconnect to me. I didn’t feel right for the remainder of the conversation. I still don’t feel right when I think about her and that conversation. So, I repeat my request: pray for me that I have patience and grace in dealing with the truly lost souls, the timid and weak and underdeveloped souls – those stumbling in a darkness they consider to be self-awareness, but is as far from true awareness as the east is from the west.    

At some point the woman looped back to my comment about “when I had fears.” She looked at me sideways (we were seated on a two-seater sofa), “Surely you still have fears?”

Shaking my head, “Not one I can think of right now.”

“Spiders? Aren’t you scared of spiders?”

I laughed. “I’m not scared of spiders. I don’t like them. There’s a difference. I will kill them if I have to, but I’m not scared of them. I can’t think of anything that I fear so much that I can’t sleep. I confronted all the fears I had – in my waking life and my dream life.”

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”   Mark 4: 39-41

Before that night, I had never met anyone who was so miserable in their life AND so comfortable in their terror that they preferred that misery and terror over change – over speaking over their own life, simply because they couldn’t envision their life any other way. Therefore, their constant terror was “okay.”

That is not God’s way, nor is it His preference for our state of being. If you are extremely timid and weak-minded, know that you only need enough strength and courage to trust in the Lord. He carries you from there.

I tell you truthfully, as I learn God’s Word, I learn His will for my life. Within His will, He outlines how we should live, what thoughts we should keep and what type of outlook we should have. He explicitly tells us that He did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power. He tells us that our measure of joy will overflow in our lives. He tells us that the tiniest bit of faith will move mountains. But even if that is difficult to grasp, He tells us that He loves us and will never leave us. Having that knowledge in my spirit allows me to walk tall in the darkest streets and speak up in the largest crowds. If my God is for me, what does it matter what is coming against me? I’m already a conqueror. I am already victorious. Being afraid of anything diminishes God’s power in my life. My God is indeed mighty to save and I shall fear no evil!

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.    ~ Psalm 23:1-6

Get that into your spirit! Know it! Believe it! Live it! 

Amen!

“Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”   ~ Zephaniah 3:16-17 NLT

“Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”   ~ Zephaniah 3:16-17 NIV

 

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Life on the Rapids

Years ago I took a road trip with a friend. Up to that point we would have said that we knew each other very well.  We had planned to drive across the southwest on a tour that was to last a week or so. We were sick of each other inside of 24 hours. Within 3 days we were seeking separation – she went her way, I went mine, we met up for a major celebration then went home.

She was a different person on the road – out of her comfort zone, coming against road blocks and unexpected detours. As well as I thought I knew her, I really didn’t know her at all. And vice versa. There’s a softness about me that people comment on all the time. A sweetness. An easy-going spirit. It usually leads people to think they can take advantage of me, manipulate me, control me. You know, generally be the wolf to my Little Red Riding Hood and try to devour me. They soon find, after some expended energy and headaches, that sweet softness surrounds an iron core. I’m not easily shaken. Nor am I easily led astray. I’m focused. I’m committed and I’m loyal. Above all that I’m an honest, faithful person of integrity. Dealing with me any other way reflects poorly upon you.

That road trip was a life lesson. I immediately decided that should I ever get to the point of marriage my groom-to-be and I would take a pre-wedding road trip. The purpose: to see how different he would be towards me when life just came at him. No time for rehearsals, no hiding, no do-overs. Just committing to a course and doing what you know. Being true to yourself and acting on faith. How and where would his faith lead him? And how eagerly and willingly would I follow?

Some time ago, my pastor said during a teaching on marriage, “Marriage isn’t about the person, it’s about the commitment.” Periodically, I meditate on that. I didn’t get it at first. Why wouldn’t it be about the person you marry? Why would the commitment be more important? Well, the commitment is key. When two people are committed to a course of action, nothing can really stop them. And if God is there between them, they’re guaranteed success.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”  ~ Matthew 18:19-20 

I went whitewater rafting for the first time a few weeks ago. We were in the water for about four hours, and traveled 12 miles down river. They did a brief orientation. We had to pick our raft team, appoint someone captain, put someone in charge of our two buckets, and generally be ready to work together. I went with someone I’ve had limited social interaction with and we met up with two couples there that weren’t part of a group. The six of us became a team. We discussed our history with the activity (two of us had never rafted, the others ranged from limited to experienced.), we discussed our objectives – stay in raft and enjoy ourselves. From the first stroke we operated in unison.

Within ten minutes we watched a raft go in circles for quite a while. They were literally rowing in a circle in one spot on the water. The only way to do that is when the left is rowing in the opposite direction from the right. After the second or third circle you would’ve thought they would’ve stopped to discuss strategy or something.

On another raft, a guy jumped or fell into the water. His friends rowed on and made him chase the raft for while.

On yet another raft I heard a wife snapping hard on her husband (assuming they were married, girlfriends are somewhat milder in their word choice). I don’t remember her words, but she took an exception to him needing more help from her to steer the raft clear of the rocks.

Many, if not all, of the rafts rode up on large rocks at some point. We rode up on several. In orientation, we were told that for every minute we stayed on a rock (stagnant, not moving forward), we would fall ten to fifteen minutes behind the group.  We didn’t stay on any rock for a minute.  As soon as we crashed onto one, we all went into action. And it wasn’t the experienced rafters directing the “rock dismounts”, it was the other newbie. From a distance we could see other rafts landing on rocks like they were Plymouth, the rafters showed very little interest or enthusiasm in getting off of them.  One person worked to get the raft off while the others sat and looked at them.

We saw one raft almost sink after spending five to ten minutes partially on a rock. I just wondered how they managing to nearly destroy a raft. Luckily, the submerged portion of the raft came back above water after some more maneuvering.

All this to say, many people, some of whom apparently knew each other very well didn’t do to well together in this high stress, high energy activity.

Life to me is like those rapids, it comes at you fast, you don’t know what’s ahead, you know you’re going to hit some hard spots but you don’t know how you’re going to get through them until you get to them. You’re afraid of falling or getting in over your head, but when you do exactly that, you realize it’s not too deep to stand, you’re more resilient than you thought and helping hands are all around you. You have your quiet sun-dappled spots of peace and tranquility and your roaring, fast-paced movement when you can only react from knowledge and instinct. You come as an individual and you join up with others to maximize your experience and your enjoyment. That’s life – you never know what you’re going to get until you open yourself to receive. Sometimes that means letting go of what you already know. .. What you’re used to… Stepping out of your comfort zone.

In 2005, on September 2nd to be exact, I arrived in New York City. I had a little less than one months’ worth of rent in my bank account after I paid my move-in fees. I had been unemployed for about a year prior to the move, had no savings, no job lined up and no family or friends to fall back on.

Why New York? Because I had always wanted to live here. But I kept putting it off. Milwaukee was safe. It was comfortable. It was what I knew. But I was miserable there. Any opportunity to leave was eagerly accepted. In 1997 I left for Phoenix. It didn’t work out; I went back to Milwaukee. In 1999 I studied in Paris for a semester. Had to go back to Milwaukee afterwards. In 2000 I worked on the road for year. Job ended, went back to Milwaukee. In 2001 I moved to Los Angeles with a friend. Couldn’t find lucrative work on a deadline, bussed back to Milwaukee. Milwaukee became the place I couldn’t escape no matter what.

One day in June 2005 the bulb went off: I was willing try everything else, but kept passing up trying what I really wanted. I had dreamed of New York City most of my life, yet I kept allowing myself to get waylaid and distracted. I allowed fear to control me – the fear of not being able to get back to Milwaukee if needed; the fear of not being able to afford life elsewhere; the fear of failing yet again. That one June day, I realized I wasn’t happy where I was because I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I asked myself: Where do I want to be more than anything? New York City was the hands-down-no-contest answer. I resolved in that moment that that’s where I was going to move as soon as I could scrape together the funds to go. No other criteria was needed because perfect situations had never come my way.

Within a month I was visiting a college friend in Manhattan to scout out opportunities and possibilities. I interviewed for a couple of jobs and found an apartment in the Bronx. The landlord held that apartment for me for over a month. He and his wife committed to working with me through my transition. (And they did.) With that assurance I went back to Milwaukee and announced my imminent move, I held a yard sale and a massive give-away. I was committing to my course and the best way for me to show commitment for my move to New York City was by eliminating a need to return to Milwaukee (other than to visit).

The first six months in New York City was one of the hardest periods in my life to date. It was such a dark period of self-doubt and doubting God. I was questioning that voice inside me that insisted I take such a leap of faith. I castigated myself for my foolishness and shortsightedness. I was wondering how God was going to show Himself and provide for me. I had gotten to such a low by late February 2006 that while sitting in Central Park one day I started observing the homeless people to see how they were coping with the cold. How many layers of clothing, what types of blankets? How big were their bags and carts? And I started mentally cataloging my belongings and deciding what I would take to the streets with me. People laugh when I talk about this, but that was my thought process. I actually laughed at myself when the one thing I decided would have to come with me was my blue velvet comforter with scrolled lavender cutouts. I thought I would for sure get into a couple of fights trying to keep that on the street! Anyway, even at that low point, I wasn’t thinking of giving up. I was thinking of a way to cope with impending homelessness – how would I wash and clean myself to go on interviews, how would I avoid freezing to death…. I truly believed that what was meant for my next stage in life was in New York City. And I was willing to go through whatever I had to go through in order to get the prize – whatever that turned out to be.

I went back to my apartment that evening (after sitting in the park) despondent because I didn’t have any money towards my March rent and no way of getting it. The next day I got a call for a job interview – long-term temp position at one of the top three banks in the country. Within two days I was being finger-printed and drug-tested. The next week I started work – it’s been an upward climb ever since. I profusely apologized to God for questioning His interest in and ability to provide for me!

There is no math that can work out how I survived the first six months in New York City. But I actively did what I knew to do –  odds and ends around the city to get to the next day, the next point, the next level.

Living life fully requires a sense of adventure, not the reckless-dare-devil-machismo foolishness, but fearless, exploratory eagerness to experience whatever comes your way.

If you’re unhappy with your life, ask yourself: What would make me happy? Rather it’s a job change, a cross-country move, or something much simpler, work to make it happen. There’s no promise that everything will go smoothly but at least you’re working towards something you’re passionate about. That passion fuels your commitment. The commitment reinforces your energy to continue in your purpose. Living in your purpose has a ripple effect on more people than you can imagine. You become an authentic conduit of light that beckons people to you and accentuates the best of our humanity.

If you can’t get to what makes you happy with the direct questions, go around the bush and ask yourself: What am I afraid of? What is so scary about the course of action I would prefer to take that has me running, hiding and building forts for protection?

How comfortable is life when you’re consistently weighed down with protective gear? Helmet, blinders, heart-guard, elbow pads, knee pads, you name it! You can let all that go and simply trust in God. Trust that He will not lead you astray. Trust that nothing will harm you as long as He’s holding you. That’s what I did. I can’t describe the peace of mind that I have now. The level of satisfaction I have with my life. No matter who or what crosses my path on any given day, I’m at ease. Life is good, God is great!

But I had to go through my tests (read: deep valleys) to get to this point. My prize – a peaceful existence. No part of me is warring with another part. I was completely stripped. Wrote a book about it, then got flayed for the effort. Since then, I’ve been healed. And now I’m being covered in raiment more dazzling than anything I ever imagined. And life is only getting better the more aware I become and the more I grow. I don’t have words to explain how my life has prospered in ways I couldn’t even envision five years ago – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. All over.  Nothing I’m doing now was part of the life plan then.

A couple of weeks ago a life coach pitched her business to me – quite honestly, I have the universes’ best coach already, as do you! Towards the end of our conversation, after I had expressed no interest in coaching or being coached on life, she asked me if I was happy with my job. I said yes. She sounded surprised by my response. Then she asked me where I saw myself in five years. I told her, “I have stopped trying to limit God. I will be wherever He wants me to be.”