Lookin’ and Listenin’

Phillipans 4:7 (NIV) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I find often when I am driving that’s when I really reflect on my life and spend a little time with God. Today as I was driving across town I started thinking about my grandfather. I was imagining him sitting on the porch in his favorite chair. I smiled as I began to think about what my grandfather would say when people would call him and ask what he was doing? He would often say, “oh, just sittin’ here lookin’ and listenin’.”
Growing up I would sometimes get the honor of sitting on the porch with my grandfather. In those quiet moments as we looked at God’s beauty taking in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood, I would often wonder what is my grandfather thinking about in these quiet moments. He came from the Delta of Mississippi where he was a sharecropper. He wanted something better for his family, so he moved to Iowa.
In Iowa he and my grandmother raised 11 children. I would look and at my grandfather and witness the joy and sometimes the pain of life. I would think is my grandpa sitting and reflecting on where God has brought him from or and where God is leading him to? I will never know. But I was able to see and feel God’s presence. My grandfather would sometimes begin to sing or hum. It was almost like that was the only way to share what he was feeling in that moment.
As I have grown older I find myself having lookin’ and listenin’ moments. I think about where God has brought me from and talk to him. I want to know where he wants to take me. I imagine God looking and listening at me as I live each day. So when I begin my day I ask God to lead me and guide me and I will follow according to His plan.

Dear God,
Thank you for being such a gracious and loving God. I want to give you all the praise on where you have brought me from. I ask that today as I take the time to look and listen to You that my heart and mind be open to receive your message.
AMEN

Who’s in your Bouquet?

2 Timothy 1:3-4 NIV – I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.


It wasn’t so long ago that we celebrated Mother’s Day. I received a lovely bouquet of flowers from my husband Drew. I could tell he hand selected each and every flower that went into the bouquet. When he presented me with the flowers a smile filled with joy appeared on his face.
As the days passed I was able to see, smell and relish in the beauty of the flowers. Each time I looked at them I was reminded of my husband and our relationship. One morning I realized some of the flowers were beginning to wilt away. I pruned and refreshed the water for those remaining. I sat at the dining room table looking at the beauty of the flowers remaining and looking at the petals that were fading and would soon be falling off. In those moments of mediation, reflection and sitting in the stillness I thought about the bouquet that God has presented me with. Instantly I was reminded of some of the people that had passed in previous months.
Each person that has walked into my life over the years is like a flower in a bouquet . Each have spirits of joy that make me smile, laugh and grow. They each hold a special place in my life and heart. I thought about how God might have felt when he began to put together my bouquet. The realization struck me that for some of the flowers/people who have touched me and gifted me I may not have ever told them how much I appreciate them.
I thought of my Aunt Lela, Uncle Greg, and my son’s barber Shay Each and every one of these people were like flowers in my bouquet . I did not tell them the last time I saw them or spoke with them how much I enjoyed them and how they impacted my life and my family’s life in such major ways. I was reminded of all we shared in both the good times and the bad times, the support they offered and the support I offered back. I had taken my bouquet of flowers of family and friends for granted.
Just like the bouquet of flowers that my husband presented me with people are only here for a moment in time and you don’t know when that flower will wilt or pass away. Each of these people I was blessed to speak to only hours or a couple of days before their passing. I never took the time to tell them thank you or how much they meant to me.
As I reflect on the colorful bouquets of people God has gifted me with, I will treat them like my beautiful bouquet of flowers. I no longer will just look at the flowers but I will begin to water them and smell them And enjoy them to the fullest, be thankful and grateful for the flowers that God has given me and continues to place in my life.

Dear God,
Thank you for being such a wonderful and understanding God. I ask that you be with me as I go through the week and that I will remember to take time to let someone know I appreciate them.

Marriage

Matthew 19:6 (NIV) 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

It’s spring again! The long winter with its blustery winds, mountains of snow and sparkling ice are lingering thoughts. We are in the midst of wedding season! I am reminded of the day I exchanged vows with my husband.
I remember our wedding day like it was yesterday. The sun was shining, the smell of bouquets of flowers was in the air and the sky was the perfect blue. The hustle and bustle that had taken place to get ready for this day was nowhere in my mind. As I walked down the isle with our son by my side I knew that I was embarking on a wonderful journey. The excitement and this unspeakable joy that was present as I looked into Drew’s eyes was and remains a powerful and comforting memory of what happens when God brings two people together. I knew this was going to be a blessing for us and our children.
As I began to say, “I, Shavon, take you Drew, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance”, my spirit lit up inside of me and let me know that all was well. While we were celebrating on this glorious day with members of our families and friends I knew something else was occurring at the same time. The enemy was having a fit and trying to create a plan to destroy this union.
I am saying that because one thing I know is the devil does not want marriages to work. So, after we said our vows our journey truly began. We soon were challenged with health problems, sickness, outside forces trying to cause division in our family, and other things. These issues scared us both. But with our faith, commitment, and love to God and each other He kept us. Drew is my spiritual, emotional, and intellectual partner. Having those three core things has given us a solid foundation. Each day as we pray together to seek guidance, strength and wisdom we know our union is blessed. We will continue to live, laugh, love, and keep God at the center of our marriage.

Dear God,

Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do in our marriage. You are all-knowing, all-powerful, and we just want to lift you up and give you praise. Lord I pray that you continue to guide and protect our marriage. Allow us to be an example of you Lord being present in a marriage. We give you the glory!

Amen

Sticks and Stones

John 8:7 (NIV)
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

When you are growing up, you hear adults say all kinds of things in short metaphors. As a child I would often hear people say, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” On hearing that I would say hmm-mm…

Trying to figure that out was really confusing. My experience was if someone hit you with anything, especially a stone that would hurt. And, some times people said things that weren’t nice and they hurt too. What a quandary. Yes, I would think and say to myself, “that was a very silly thing to tell me, because they both hurt.” Now, as a parent, I find myself repeating to my children that same silly saying. Every day, there is a constant barrage of sticks and stones being thrown.
Today however, the stones people throw are with their words. We as people are so quick to gather all the stones we can and throw them at each other. On a daily basis I watch so many people be publicly stoned. I have seen lives destroyed and families broken apart. All this because someone feels like it’s their job to tear someone down. Do we have the right to do this?
Free speech is a constitutional right. Yet, the way in which we dehumanize one another is saddening and sickening. As a Christian, a child of the most high God, how are we showing up? It is my belief that none of us have the right to throw stones at anyone and especially those of us who are Christians. The stones that we may want to throw at others, perhaps we should save them for ourselves. Why? If we think about it, you nor I are perfect.

Dear God,

Thank you for your continued grace and mercy. You keep forgiving me even when I have sinned. Please allow me to remember we don’t live in a perfect world and I am not perfect. Remind me to give my neighbor the same grace, just as you have shown and given me.

Amen

Learning from your children…a child with a mission

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7 KJV)

Every day I am amazed by my daughter. Her sense of purpose and focus is unlike most anyone I have known. She sets her mind on something and takes the task on with a spirit of “I own this.” Her name is Maya. I like to call her my miracle baby.

Throughout my teens, and as a young adult, I suffered from endometriosis. It’s a horrible and painful illness. I was told I couldn’t have children, because of it. Oh how I lamented over that!

Thinking I would not get to carry, cuddle and have a child that would look like me. God stepped in and it was one of those “but God” realities. He definitely had the final say. I was blessed with my daughter 11 years ago.

Before she arrived I had some of the most beautiful dreams about her. I visualized her just as she is and continues to become. A gorgeous, strong, brilliant, confident, spirited and passionate soul.

After her birth I knew she had a great destiny. This has been confirmed repeatedly by the elders in my family who have seen her wisdom. Since she was a toddler she’s engaged in conversations that amazes them. She is a child who is running for the Lord.

Last year she started a new school. She met a little girl who was also new to the school. Maya quickly realized this girl was hurting. The girls’ parents had separated at the beginning of the school year. Each day Maya would come home with stories of the different things this young girl would do to deal with her pain. She told Maya that she didn’t believe in Jesus, because he didn’t help her parents stay together.

Maya understood the pain and could empathize with her new friend because her father and I had gotten a divorce too. Maya came home one day and said, “I know what it is mommy. My friend doesn’t know the Lord.” She went on to tell me how this year she was going to make it her mission to introduce her friend to God. Maya said, “God helped me so I know He can help my friend.”

The very next day Maya went to school and asked her friend, “have you ever asked for something that was not possible, but it happened?” She went on to say, “if so that was God…he will make a way out of no way.” That year Maya allowed God to work through her.

She continued to share stories and speak to her friend about how God has been there for her and how He will do the same for her. Maya embraced her with love, understanding, and acceptance just the way Christ does for us.

Dear God,

Thank you for your favor. In spite of my faults and mistakes, your love shines on me. Thank you for being so patient, understanding and gracious. Thank for giving me the opportunity to see another beautiful day. I ask that this week you continue to order my steps each day. And, let me be a blessing to others I meet along the way.

Amen

The World

John 12:46-47 (NIV) 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. 47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.

Every day when I wake up I am grateful. In the quiet moments as my body tunes up my mind begins to sort through my dreams and my realities. Of course, I think about my children and family. As I ease into the day I begin to think a bit broader. I turn the TV on and begin to watch the news. My hope is to hear something positive and uplifting.

As I tune in mentally, spiritually and emotionally unknowingly I am sitting on the edge of my seat. Yes, I listen and I see that by tuning in to the news all I see is a world divided. I see so much hatred and fear. I see a nation that is falling slowly into a deep depression. With depression comes loneliness, isolation, anxiety, sadness and stress. That is right where Satan would want us to be.

Each of us interprets and reacts to what we see and hear on the news. I decided that today I am going to talk about this elephant in our nation. If I steep myself in the belief that elected officials, corporations and our systems have the final say, I would be one of those people who is stressed and depressed. But, because I am a child of the most High God, our creator. The one who knew me even before I was born. The one who saved me and cares for me, “Our Father, who art in heaven”, I would fall into thinking my life is up to others who are in high positions of power.

But I know Him and I know I am His child. So, I am going to lift up the name of Jesus Christ and remember He has not forsaken us. I think about the many times that this world has left me feeling discouraged. Yet, every time I pray to Jesus He keeps me and reminds me that this too shall pass. I will stay encouraged and will continue to pray. Won’t you do do the same?

Dear God,

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Amen

Self-care

Self-care: Don’t forget your hat

Isaiah 66:13 – As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you

Do you ever have a day where you just feel depleted? You’ve given everything you got and you just can’t give anymore. Yesterday was one of those days. If I could’ve just locked myself in my room, curled up in a ball and cried, I would have.

All three of my children are recovering from strep throat, my daughter is crying because she didn’t get the lead role in her school play, my middle child is having a meltdown about screen time, my husband is stressed about finances, and my youngest son has taken up bug eating for the day. Meanwhile I’m trying to help with homework, prepare dinner, clean the house, and find a quiet place in my house so I  can continue writing.

For whatever reason, I’m always able to go in my bag of uplifting quotes or funny jokes and lift up my family’s spirits in a time of personal crisis. My quotes and jokes ensure everyone is happy, feeling good, and restored to their harmonious selves. I just don’t know why I couldn’t do that for myself yesterday.

As a mother, I feel it’s very easy to put on my many hats throughout the day and forget to put on the most important hat, self-care.  I had to take a minute, to look in the mirror, and ask myself, when was the last day I had a ME day. Why is it I feel so guilty about spending money or time on myself?

I hear this same story too often in our society when it comes to women never getting enough time in the day for self.

So on this day, I send a hug, smile, and message to every woman. Whether you are a mother, a caregiver, or a single woman in this world trying to make a difference: remember, you are strong and powerful, an overcomer, beautiful inside and out, and God has a plan for you!

Dear God,

I want to say thank You for making me into the woman I am today. Allowing me to be a mother to my children and a wife to my husband. You keep me safe in Your arms when I feel I don’t have enough energy to continue. Please give me the discipline to practice self-care.  Please continue to give me the strength to persevere through life’s obstacles.

Amen