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Shake The Dust Off Your Feet

hello 2019

The new year always seems to bring a freshness with it.  With that freshness often comes a drive to start over, and the feeling that the slate has been wiped clean.  This is a wonderful feeling to experience, but the reality is that the clock striking midnight to signal January 1 does not miraculously erase everything that took place up until December 31.   So we’re clear, I’m not going all “Debbie Downer” on you.    I love the idea of a fresh start and a clean slate.  I also recognize that many people (myself included) don’t always know how to achieve that fresh start while reconciling existing issues.  The hard truth is that there are some things that we will contend with in 2019 that are a carryover from 2018.

But that does not mean that we have to contend with EVERYTHING.

In my communion time with the Lord, there has been a prevailing theme that has resonated in my spirit:  shake the dust off your feet.  This is a term I first encountered in the Biblical context.  Matthew 10: 12-14 (KJV) states:  And when ye come into a house, salute it.  And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.  As whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake the dust off your feet.

You may be thinking to yourself that that his has nothing to do with you.  After all, that scripture is Jesus letting the disciples know that if they present the Gospel, and are rejected, they are not held responsible for that rejection.  They can literally shake the dust off their feet, release that rejection, and move on to the next assignment.

I believe that same principle applies today.

You see, the act of shaking the dust off one’s feet symbolizes release, particularly releasing something that has unjustly injured or affected you in a negative and counterproductive way.  That takes me back to what I said several sentences ago, and I think it bears repeating:

We do not have to contend with everything.

The act of shaking the dust off your feet means that sometimes/oftentimes, YOU have to be the one to walk away.

From that toxic friendship.  From that job that stresses you more than it blesses you.  From that compunction to say “Yes” to everyone for fear of offending anyone.  From all those church (yes, I said church) responsibilities that have you doing good things, but not necessarily doing God things.  From perfectionism.  From procrastination.  From people pleasing.  From codependency.  From that relationship. From that habit.  From that shame.  From that guilt.  From that worry.  From that stress.  From that addiction.  From that past hurt.

From ANYTHING that would exalt itself against the knowledge of God.

You see, the beauty is that a step away from those negative things is a step towards God’s best for you.  Toward his Grace and His Mercy.  His promise is to NEVER leave us or forsake us.  I believe that what you have to gain by walking away far outweighs anything you think you stand to lose.

I’m not saying that it will be easy.  But I am saying that it will be worth it!

It’s okay to walk away.

WORSHIP BREAK!

Do It Again (Live) – Elevation Worship

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Legacy Bearers

If you have been called to be a Legacy Bearer, stand your post.

In two days, it will be my Grandma Kearney’s (also known as Miss Cicero) birthday. She is in Heaven now, and has been for several years, but that doesn’t mean that I miss her any less. Grandma Kearney always made me feel like I was the smartest, brightest person on the planet. She found joy in something as simple as hearing me read from the newspaper. She used to brag that I liked to read the encyclopedia for fun. She encouraged me when I sang solos at church on Sundays. She was one of my biggest cheerleaders. I’m thinking about my Grandma Dora as well. She was no-nonsense, old-school, and strict, but I know that she loved me. I remember how she used to cut out the newspaper clippings when I won a spelling bee or made the honor roll. She couldn’t afford to buy me the latest fashions, so she would go to the fabric store, find a pattern, and sew clothes for me. She cried when I gave my Class President’s speech at my high school graduation, and beamed with pride when I went off to college.

They don’t make ’em like Miss Dora and Miss Cicero anymore.

That got me thinking. One of the most important things that I remember about both my grandmothers is that they were women of faith. They were not perfect (noone is), but they were praying women who loved the Lord, and I know that I and many of my relatives are still here because of their fervent prayers. I remember watching my Grandma Dora silently weep when we were at church and a hymn would strike her in a place that only her soul understood. I remember passing by her bedroom and seeing her either reading her Bible or on her knees praying for what seemed like hours. When we were going through my Grandma Dora’s things after her passing, I asked for her Bibles. Grandma had Bibles that were so worn, she had to tape the spines together. They were marked up, highlighted and dog-eared. I don’t know how many times she read the Bible cover to cover, but I do know that during the course of living with her, I did the same. I remember my Grandma Kearney’s resounding “Halleluuuujjjaaahhh!!!” during testimony services, and listening to her and her friends talk about the goodness of the Lord. I remember watching her minister with a fire that was indescribable. I remember even as a child knowing that there was something larger than life about both my grandmothers.

As I endeavor to raise my own sons, I think often of legacy. What will be my legacy? It has been my prayer since my boys were in the womb that they prosper and be in health even as their souls prosper, but when I think of legacy at this point in my life, I think about the spiritual realm. It is my goal to leave my sons with a Godly legacy. When God chooses to call me home, I want my sons to look back on my life and remember me the way that I remember my grandmothers–as a woman of faith. As a woman who loved the Lord, and taught them to love the Lord. I want them to remember me as a praying woman whose prayers were answered, and as a light, a beacon, a warrior.

I chose to go my own way at a certain point in my life, and during that time I made some bad decisions, and reaped the negative results. There was a point where I contemplated giving up, and I know that I was able to find my way back home in part because of their intercession. I believe in my heart of hearts that it was the prayers of both my grandmothers to see all their children and grandchildren come to know the Lord. I also believe that there are members of every family who are called to continue the spiritual legacy. They are called to pray, to fast, to intercede, to witness. They are watchmen on the wall. I will continue my Grandmothers’ legacies. I will pray for my family, covering them, bearing them up, believing God that those who have come to know Him will continue to grow in grace, and those who have either gone astray or are still in a valley of decision will accept Him once and for all.

There are certain people who come to mind as what I call “Legacy Bearers”. It’s not necessarily a mantle that they have chosen. But they have been chosen to be the Joseph, the Abraham, the Deborah, the Moses of their families. If you have been called to be a Legacy Bearer, stand your post. Pray for others the same way that others have prayed for you. Fast, intercede, witness. Spread love and light wherever you go.

That is the greatest legacy of all.

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Faith and Kryptonite

True faith is like Kryptonite for a control freak.

Yesterday, I received some discouraging news.  Something critical that should have taken place without issue now appears to have completely fallen through.  This thing, should it fall through, will not only affect me, but my family as well.  As I was receiving the information, I could feel myself getting emotional, and the urge to panic lurked in the back of my mind like a stalker waiting for the right moment to pounce.  I processed the information that I received, and determined in that moment not to let it send me into a panic.

So what, right?

No, not right.

This, for me, is a major breakthrough.  

I am a reformed worry wart.  I would obsess over an issue until it all but consumed me.  In past times, a situation like the aforementioned one would have sent me into an emotional tailspin.  I would have focused so much on the information that I was receiving that it would become this mountain that I could not scale or this chasm that would swallow me whole, and  I would have thought about it so much that it would have crippled me.  Here’s the kicker:  I would also pray in that same situation.  Pray for clarity.  Pray for an answer.  Even thank God for the end at the beginning.  My next thought after I said “Amen” would be, “now what am I going to do,”  and I would have gotten busy helping God do His job by trying to orchestrate the outcome as I thought it should be.

Purpose defeated…prayer null and void…wasted breath.

I am the same person who can give advice to anyone about how to press in, how to go through to get through, how to have faith in the midst of disappointment.  Sound advice.  Sage advice.  Heartfelt advice.  Advice which I have often missed the mark on taking for myself.  

Hi, my name is SelahSunshine. I have faith. I have control issues as well.

THIS JUST IN from Captain Obvious:  Faith and Control don’t go hand in hand.  As a matter of fact, they are sworn enemies!

True faith is like Kryptonite for a control freak.  Having true faith means doing all that you can from your end and surrendering the rest to God.  In situations where there’s nothing that you can do, it’s all about surrendering the situation to God.   In situations where you need a miracle, it’s all about surrendering to God.  Do you see a theme here?  Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, and a control freak’s worst nightmare.  Having faith is the ultimate test of endurance and trust.  It’s like closing your eyes, falling backward, and trusting that someone that you can’t even see will catch you.

I don’t know specifically what’s going to happen regarding my situation.  But I am determined to remain calm about it.  I spoke to the situation.  I verbalized that something would work out.  I am doing what I can on my end.  And God will do the rest.

A friend of mine used to quote the lyrics to an old gospel song:  “If you gonna pray don’t worry.  If you gonna worry, don’t pray.”

More and more each day, I’m learning that faith is more than a choice.  It is an action.  You must actively relinquish control if you are going to see the fruit of your faith.

I fancy myself as a bit of a poet, so I’ll leave you with my “Faith Haiku:”

You say you have faith

Can’t have faith and have control

Which one will you choose?

 

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Reclaim Your Place

There are many people who love you, but nobody loves you like God does.

There are many people who love you, but nobody loves you like God does. Nothing you’ve done is wasted. Nothing you’ve done is for naught. You are fierce like David (even if you don’t feel like it). And Goliath must die.

It’s not in your education. Or your wisdom. Or your talent. Or your gifts. It’s in HIS name that you overcome. Invoke HIS name in every situation today. Invoke HIS name before you respond. Invoke HIS name before you react. Ask Him to set your heart to beat to His rhythm. YOUR victory is in HIS name.

What a Beautiful, Wonderful, Powerful name it is!!!!!!

***WORSHIP BREAK***

Voices of Lee – What a Beautiful Name

Do not not allow the cares of this world to dull your sensitivity to HIS power.

Do not let the deceitfulness of riches dull you to the knowledge that HE is your source.

Do not let the lust of the flesh dull you to HIS way of escape.

Do not let the lust of the eyes dull you to HIS vision for your life.

Do not let the pride of life dull you to the knowledge that without HIM you can do nothing.

Remember, it’s not for you to know HOW He’ll do a thing; you only need to trust THAT He will do it!  Don’t let the “how” overshadow that “that”!  The “how” is a distraction.  The “that” is an exercise of Faith!  

Time to work those spiritual muscles!!!!

Reclaim your place IN HIM!!!!

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When It Rains

The bottom seemed to drop out of the sky and the rain came tumbling down.

I recall a trip that our family took to the beach. The forecast called for stormy weather along our journey. As we started out, the weather was sunny to fair. About an hour into our journey, we encountered remnants of quickie downpours. As we drew closer to our destination, the clouds became more ominous. They were dark, and low, and they seemed to rotate. For a second, I contemplated telling my husband that we should turn back, or at the very least stop and wait for things to clear up. I could feel a sense of anxiety wash over me as I imagined what we might encounter as we drove through what looked like the makings of a serious thunderstorm. High winds. Hail. Torrential downpours. Tornadoes. The other drivers who behave like it isn’t raining. The other drivers who behave like they’ve never encountered rain. What if, what if, what if?
Then it happened. The bottom seemed to drop out of the sky and the rain came tumbling down. It was steady and heavy, and the clouds were thick and dark. I was genuinely afraid. I opened my mouth to suggest we turn back, but I quickly reconsidered, realizing how ridiculous it would be to suggest to my husband that we turn around when we were less than an hour from the culmination of a three and a half hour trip with two very excited boys in tow. I did the spiritual thing. Recited to myself, “Power, love and a sound mind. No fear.” I had prayed before we started our trip, after all. I resumed playing a game on my phone, still a little nervous but determined to work through the nerves, when something prompted me to look up. It was still raining, but the sun had come out. The clouds had broken. And there were rainbows. One rainbow. Then two. Then three. Then four. Five. Six. One rainbow after another. I marveled at them with childlike glee and awe. I took pictures of as many of them as I could. I had never seen rainbows so vivid or so beautiful. I wanted the rain to continue. I wanted the rainbows to stay.
As I gaped in wonder at their beauty, two words came to mind: “the promise”. I began to thank God for His many promises. I thanked Him for the combination of the rain and the sun, for without that combination, there could be no rainbows. As I meditated on God’s promises, something dawned on me. The storm was nothing like what I imagined/concocted in my mind that it would be. It was unnerving, and intense, but it was just a summer storm. I already had preconceived notions of something foreboding based on the forecasts that I had heard prior to us leaving home. That coupled with what looked like truly ominous clouds led me to the conclusion that an awful thing was looming beyond the horizon. Tempest in a teacup.
How often do we do that to ourselves in everyday life? We hear a potentially negative report, and certain circumstances seem to line up in a fashion that would render that report accurate. We start to behave like that negative event has already taken place, when in fact the actual event, while intense and maybe unnerving, is not the end of the world; and oftentimes minimal at best in the grand scheme of things.
How often do we miss out on the rainbow because we’ve already decided that the storm is too much to endure? How often do we miss the promise because the process appears to be more than we can handle? I’m going to make it a point to look for rainbows on the other side of my storms.
I challenge you to do the same.
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Miss Fix It

Are you a flat out control freak?

I frequently tell my sons to come to me or their father if they need help with anything.  They are, however, fiercely independent in certain areas, and I often end up fixing something on the back end that could have been avoided on the front end had they come to me first.  Such was the case this morning.  My youngest son was having some trouble with his tablet, and by the the time he came to me for help, he could no longer get it to function as it should.  You can imagine my frustration as I clicked on one thing, and then another, troubleshooting it as best I knew how, all to no avail.  The more I tried to fix it, the more frustrated I became.  I was strongly considering tossing it out the window while  I gave my son a nice little “what have I told you about coming to me first” lecture, when something checked me.  It was as if a voice played in my head saying “He’s a lot like you.  Trying to fix things on his own.  Until he realizes he can’t fix it, and then he comes to you.  The same way you try to fix things before going to God.”

*Mental Mic Drop*  

I froze in my tracks.  I knew that what I was experiencing was meant to be a lesson for ME and not for my son.  You see, I have a problem with control.  I am a fixer.  I tend to do all I can to fix something before asking for help.  There’s a little pride mixed in with that too.  I don’t like to ask for help.  This morning was  a reminder for me that at the top of my list of things to fix (see what I did there?) is my own need to control things.  

Can you relate?  Are you a fixer, doing what you can before going to God for direction or help?  Are you good at helping everybody else “fix” their issues, but not so good at taking the advice that you give?  Do you think that the promises of God that apply to others somehow don’t apply to you?  Do you struggle with feeling like you should be able to handle everything on your own?  Do you have a hero complex?  Do you have a martyr complex?  

Are you a flat out control freak?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, I appreciate your honesty.  Now for the hard question:  What are you going to do about it?  Hint: Fix it is not the answer.

The first step is to STOP!!!  Stop fixing everything.  Stop being a hero.  Stop being a martyr.  Oftentimes, God is waiting for us to take our hands off a thing before he’ll put His hands on it.  The next step is to release.  Stay with me on this one.  It’s a doozie.  It requires you to do the opposite of what you’re used to doing.  It’s not easy, but it can be done!  Release the need to control things.  Release the need to fix things!  In the words of the great Princess Elsa, let it go!!!  The next step is to trust.  Trust that God can fix it far better than you ever could.  Trust that He’s heard your prayers and that He is moving on your behalf.  Side note here: God does not always fix things the way that we might prefer or within our time frame, so trust that whatever He chooses to do and whenever He chooses to do it is for your own good.  Lastly, wait.  This is another challenge for the recovering fixer,  because waiting often involves doing nothing.  Waiting goes hand in hand with trusting.

I can’t promise you that if you follow these steps that your urge to fix things on your own will go away.  But I can promise you that practicing these steps consistently will change your default setting from attempting fixing it on your own to giving it to God.  As someone who’s name I truly cannot recall used to say “Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it!”

We can do this!

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FOMO

Many of us cannot fathom a life without social media, and many of us can’t remember what life was like before it.

There’s a lot of talk about “FOMO.”  Most people who are social media savvy are familiar with this term.  For those of you who are not, “FOMO” means “Fear Of Missing Out.”  Missing out on what?  I’m glad you asked.  Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines FOMO as fear of not being included in something (such as an interesting or enjoyable activity) that others are experiencing. In other words FOMO is fear of missing out on essentially EVERYTHING.  I find this concept fascinating.  It’s one of the engines that drives social media.  We have to be up-to-the-minute-and-in-the-know about it ALL, because we don’t want to miss A THING.  What someone ate.  What someone wore.  Where they are headed.  Where they have been.  We receive notifications all day and into the night and we wake up in the morning and immediately check for more notifications, because WHO KNOWS what we missed overnight?

We have to let everyone know what we’re up to.  We cannot be perceived as disconnected from all the goings on.  After all, people need—want—DESERVE to know the play by play details of our lives.  They need to know that we had the best donut ever today, and that we can’t wait for five o’clock because work puts a real crimp in our lifestyles.  They need to see the pic of us modeling the trend of the moment, at the hot spot of the moment, with all the people who matter.  They need to see that if they don’t follow us, they too are missing out!

Many of us cannot fathom a life without social media, and many of us can’t remember what life was like before it.

Disclaimer here:  This post is not intended to be a knock against social media.  That would make me a hypocrite.  After all, that’s how I deliver this blog to many of you.  Social media have made an indelible mark on society, and it has transformed life as we know it.  It allows us to connect, to reconnect, and to stay connected.

To repeat said disclaimer, I am not anti-social media.

BUT…. (You knew that word was coming, right?)

I AM pro-moderation.

I AM pro-quiet time.

I AM pro-unplugging.

I AM pro-priorities.

Priorities.  That’s it.  FOMO has clouded our focus to the point where we’ve lost sight of what matters MOST.  Here’s a hint: it’s not how many likes, retweets, or reposts that you get.  It’s not the number of followers that you have.  It’s not following all the “right” people.  Make no mistake, those things have their place.  They are part of the social media machine, and provide valuable information regarding who is reading, responding to, and affected by what we are saying.  Followers, likes, retweets, and reposts matter.

But they are not what matters most.

Please take a moment to go back and reread that very last sentence.  Slowly, deliberately, and with care.  What word, if any, jumps out at you?  You got it, friend:  MOST.  “What matters most.”  That’s a broad term, and subject to interpretation depending on – you guessed it – your priorities!

Take a moment to think about the top three to five priorities in your life right now.  Do they add to you?  Do they improve you?  Do they uplift you?  Do they enable you to carry out your God-given purpose?  Do they give you joy?  Notice, I did not say happiness.  Why?  Happiness is temporal and most often based on external factors.  Happiness ebbs and flows, even in the most ideal of situations.  Joy is something altogether different.  Real joy carries you no matter what’s going on around you.  Joy is tethered to your soul.

I digress.  Back to priorities.  And FOMO.  If your priorities are driven by FOMO, we need to talk.  You see, with FOMO comes a lot of noise.  Visual noise, audible noise, spiritual noise.  About spiritual noise.  When your spirit is inundated with noise, there’s an even bigger phenomenon with which you should be concerned.  I call it FOMG:  Fear Of Missing God.  The Apostle Paul said it best in Philippians 4:8 (KJV):  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

A wise woman once told me that as long as you’re chasing God, you can never miss Him (Thanks Miss Bev). That resonated with me profoundly, and became a guidepost for me where my priorities are concerned.  You see, I had a bout with FOMO.  It claimed my time, drained my energy, and clouded my priorities.  I would check my social media accounts before I went to sleep, and reach for my phone when I woke up in the morning.  I would look at all the beautifully filtered pictures of perfect families, perfect vacations, perfect jobs and perfectly cooked meals, and think “I sure do have a lot of catching up to do. I’m missing out on life.”

And there it was.  Just like that, my measuring stick shifted from how God would have me live, to how my life stacked up to the lives of all those other beautifully filtered folks.  I realized that I had to reassess my priorities, STAT, or there would be trouble.  The first thing I had to do was unplug. Side note: If, in this moment, you’re telling yourself that unplugging is impossible for you to do, ask yourself why it’s impossible.  Anyway, I went for a significant amount of time without looking at social media.  Period.  Not even my blog.  Not because I’m self-righteous, or super spiritual, but because this blog is my God-given assignment, and I dare not let the words that I produce be driven by anything other than what I believe God would have me share.  Once I realized that somewhere along the line I had allowed my measuring stick for progress to change, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I stopped chasing God, and started chasing ghosts.

Fear of Missing God is way more important to me than Fear of Missing Out.

For you this may be a non-issue.  You may be completely unaffected by the FOMO phenomenon.  That’s great for you.  Keep it up.  If you’re reading this, however, and find that your self-worth is in any way connected to your likes, number of followers, retweets, or posts, I’m talking to you.  And I’m asking you to consider unplugging, getting quiet, and communing with God.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made, UNFILTERED, IMPERFECT, and COMPLETELY loved by God.  I pray that you come to the place where that matters more to you than anything anyone else thinks of you!

You can do it!  I know you can.  Unplug, give yourself a spiritual reboot, and reconnect with the one who LOVES YOU BEST AND MATTERS MOST!

YOU GOT THIS! 

Psalm 139:14 (KJV) – I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Worship Break:  Fred Hammond:  Give Me A Clean Heart

That Still, Small Voice

Logic does not always win.

I recall a time when I left work in a rush to get home by a certain time.  I was working within a very small window, and left work during a time when traffic was thinner than usual, but still congested.  My drive time left little room for delays.  About two minutes into my drive, I saw several flashing lights up ahead, and a stream of white lights.  Accident, I instantly thought to myself.  There was a turn-off ahead of me that would have afforded me a shortcut, and as I was contemplating taking it, I heard Don’t take a shortcut.  Keep going. My logic said the opposite.  Cars appeared to be backed up on both sides of the road.  There were enough blue lights to tell me that multiple emergency vehicles were up ahead.  I was feeling even more pressed for time, in light of the slower pace at which I was moving. Others ahead of me were making the turn-off, but something nudged me to keep going.  Logistically it didn’t seem to make sense, but I obeyed that still small voice, and kept going.  

What I discovered was that the delay in my lane was temporary, and created by onlookers.  The accident and all the stalled traffic were in the opposite lane.  My drive home was smooth sailing, and I made it home with minutes to spare.

What’s my point?  Logic does not always win.  Sometimes things don’t make sense initially, but as you move forward, they become clearer.  Often what makes sense to us based on what we see in the “near sight” is not the true picture of things, and can create unnecessary side journeys and greater delays than we would have experienced had we taken the straight path to begin with.

Listen to that still small voice.  It will never lead you wrong.