19 January 2017

What's In Your Playbook?

...the plots we create in your minds on how the best moment in our lives would play themselves out.
...our secret wish or fantasy ... so EXTREME that the fear of sounding foolish has overtaken the desire to make them into accomplished goals.
...the treasures we quietly request, while singing through folding piles of fresh laundry.
...our imaginations filled with extraordinary plans, and higher levels, we dare not speak aloud.
...the hidden burden in our heart to locate our childhood friend - the one we've known for 40+ years and sadly, somehow, disconnected from along the way.


Jesus knows all about it... because He placed it there.

If only we could stop over thinking things and begin stepping out on the soft promptings of the Holy Spirt.
Step OUT IN faith.
Faith will not develop in the knowing of the thing.
It isn't faith, if you wait to be told you have the job, before you've submitted the application.
It isn't faith, if you receive the answers beforehand, guaranteeing a passing grade.    

The knowing of the thing isn't where faith is being produced.
It's in the unknown that we strengthen our personal walk with God.

Feeling the dark loneliness of a wintry Friday night; while scrolling through photos on your feed and staring fondly at images of couples that are DEEPLY IN LOVE, seeing how great a date they are experiencing, but where is your Prince Charming?  
Matthew 6:33 - But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
This life-altering faith will have you swiping over to the bible app to recite all the verses you can find on promises & miracles. 

This faith, in combination with your loyalty to God, will bring about amazing results.

Let's take a close look at the following occurrence...
Matthew 14:25-29 - Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take Courage!  It is I.  Don't be afraid."  "Lord, if it's you, " Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."  "Come," he said.
Consider the faith Peter must've acquired to believe that, not only was the figure they saw on the surface of the water Jesus, but that Jesus had actually called Peter out to walk the surface of the deep with Him.  To understand that the molecular structure of any body of water is not built to support the weight of a human... yet to also have the word of the Son of God, "COME", weight-in heavier and louder than the doubt in one's mind.  This is the beginning of faith.

Because if you remember the story well, Peter was able to take a few steps on the water.  His initial response to the word of Jesus was wrapped in confidence.  Not confidence in himself, but confidence in the ONE who called him out of the boat.  But somewhere between safety (the boat) and safety (Jesus), Peter lost his focus.  He turned his sight from his Savior to his Situation.  The change in his perspective caused his faith to fail him.  His trust slowly dwindled.  And Peter found himself sinking.  The same component, that just moments earlier held him up - being supported by God's word, was now losing it's stability.  What happened?  Peter lost his focus.  It wasn't Jesus who gave an incorrect command.  Because if we consider that in Proverbs 30:5 we come to know the word of God is flawless, then the mere fact that Jesus said "COME" would place the burden on Jesus to fulfill His own command.  And He did.

I recently experienced this "stepping on the unknown" type of faith.

Just recently I was able to reconnect with my old bestie.  Back then we called each other Best Friends, as opposed to BFFs.

Image result for 80sBack when REAL mix tapes were neon and were made on your pink Sony boombox.  And switching radio stations were considered an art-form.  Tracking your favorite jams, just in time to press that "Play" & "Record" button combo, hoping the DJ wouldn't ruin the ending with a mindless Motorola Beeper 30 second advertisement.  And only certain pens was permissible to label those radio-recorded tapes.  Then listening to those tapes on your walkman, making sure you were fully stocked with batteries.

Back when handheld video games were the size of a small laptop, required 4 C batteries and were only made in black, white or green font.

Back when it was cool to sport your favorite musical performers' buttons on your shirt... And even cooler if your denim jacket was filled with them.  Katty had hers filled with Menudo.  Remember them?  I think I had a crush on Charlie or Miguel.  I forget which.

I distinctly remember picking out my radio.  I got it as a gift for graduating 6th grade.  Up north it's called Elementary School until you reach 7th grade; which begins Junior High School, not Middle School as they do in other states.  And each passing grade meant another gift.  But on milestone graduations (which meant you left your current school and "transferred" to another), those gifts were special.  I took it everywhere.  I even took it to kids camp that summer.  I remember walking all over the campus with my awesome radio.  When no one was looking I'd switch from Rene Gonzales over to Gloria Estefan "Rhythm is Gonna Get You", and Whitney Houston... Back when the songs were less controversial.  I mean, all she wanted to do was Dance With Somebody! - Get the lady a dance partner! - lol...   Then I'd quickly flip the tape to side A (the religious coritos), when a camp counselor was approaching.  Now... if you really wanna get personal on music, let's discuss 1988, (the following year), it was all about Stevie B. and "Spring Love".  And I was right on it (having a solid year of perfected radio recording experience under my belt), with the double fingers on the "RECORD/PLAY" buttons.  There was a method to the press, y'know.  You had to put the exact amount of pressure on both buttons, simultaneously, in order for the recording to work.

aaah.
#ILoveThe80s
I miss those days.
I missed Katty.

The search for her all those years had been quiet a quest.
I had such a huge and utter longing to talk to her, hear from her.  Know if she was okay, if she was happy.  I didn't realize how much time had past since our last interaction.
6 years.
She didn't get to experience my late night grilled cheese pregnancy cravings.
Or the crazy birth of my son.
And I was longing for her friendship.
Misunderstandings and distance kept us apart.

But God...

He knew the desires of my heart.
He knew I wanted her back.  I wanted to help her.
I wanted to let her know about the love of God I have experienced.

The grace, that she and I didn't know about when we were young... how it was okay that we snuck away from home to go to the movies.
He still loved us!

I wanted to let her know that what we learned as teens was not entirely accurate.
He didn't want to condemn us for every mistake we made, but restore and redeem our lives.
And I needed to let her know we can come back to Him.
He won't turn His back on us, for the sins we've committed or even for what we may still be doing.

The very point of Jesus dying on that cross, was for that exact purpose.
For redemption.
For the washing away our damaged and derailed past, and to bring us into a new relationship with Him.

I needed to find her to tell her I'm sorry.
That I didn't know what happened, and it didn't matter anymore.
To tell her how much I missed her, loved her.

I knew she needed saving.
From a life of heart ache and loneliness.
From misery and deception.
I longed to be the light in her life.
The mouthpiece of God.

But I couldn't find her...
Years of searching MiGente (taking it back!), Facebook, Instagram and Google for all possible name combinations left me no where.
I even reached out to mutual friends and her old boyfriend for help.

Each time I came back empty.

I remember fervently praying one night.
I cried out in desperation for Katty.
I asked God to make a way.
To find her.
To bring her back.
I boldly declared for the answer by my birthday.
Because if He was going to give me anything this year, it was going to be this!
That unshakable faith prayer brought me to Friday, January 13th.
(God's funny)...
Roughly 25 days before my birthday, I received the very thing I had been wanting.

I reached out to her via text.  I expressed myself.  I cried.
And cried.
And texted her all day.
And cried.
And was filled with such overflowing joy.

Jesus knew I needed to find her...
Because He placed a desire in me, to share with her, all about the goodness and greatness of God we didn't know or had experienced as young adults.

We had one (very long) phone call in the last week.
I hadn't heard her voice in over 11 years, and even forgot what it sounded like, but we picked up right where we left off.

What a mighty God we serve!
That is interested EVEN in what we consider the 'minor longings' we have.

I am excited about mending and renewing our friendship.
People like Katty don't come around often (or even at all anymore), and I declared that I was going to pursue her, nag and bother her until she came to visit; which ***UPDATE*** may happen for Memorial Day weekend!
Psalm 27:4 - Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
The story itself, on how I found her, is pretty amazing; maybe I'll share that one day.

Right now I just can't help but think about that crazy prayer.
If it weren't for that prayer, I'd still be wondering.
If it weren't for my radical request, I'd still be weary and anxious.
There would still be an unsettling and insatiable yearning to find her.

So I urge you...
The thing that's missing, or hurting or keeping you up at night...
The hope or daydream, that's too incredible to whisper...
Jesus knows, because He put it there, and it's been in the playbook all along.

Pursue it in faith.
It's yours to have and delight in.

Just in time for #ThrowbackThursday ...
Katty, myself & my pink Sony boombox, at kids camp.  Allentown, PA.  Circa 1987.
x0, d

10 January 2017

A.T.M.



Imagine a world where your parents, children, siblings, spouse, maybe even favorite cousin or best friend devoted all or most of their attention to themselves, their work/career, housekeeping or home upgrades, social pages (like Facebook or Twitter), shopping, detailing their car(s), traveling, fancy dinners, TV & movies, business trips, gadgets, music, video games, hobbies, fitness, and at this point, I'm pretty certain you're able to add 3 additional examples of your own.  I can only imagine their world being pretty luxurious, surrounded by breathtaking sceneries and beautiful flowers... until clouds start forming and hail storms of chaos roll in, destroying their perfectly self-maintained haven.

A sickness was reported on their yearly physical, or an accident has left them hospitalized.  Rumors that their company is downsizing and their job is about to be eradicated surface.  Or because the excess shopping and misuse of money has left them holding a Cup-O-Crispy-Over-Processed-Styrofoam-Noodles, wanting at least a slice of spam.  (which, ew, I'd rather have the freeze-dried noodles)...

Could it be, the reason they are now calling you, after a substantial amount of time has passed, be due to a breakup?  Needing someone that has proven to be a faithful friend, to now care for them and be a listening ear?  To come over with Ben n Jerry's and participate in a sobbing party?  To provide a list of ways to get their lover back, or have you speak wonderful things on their behalf.  Perhaps the overdraft fees, foreclosure, or incarceration is what brought upon the sudden urge to reach out you, after weeks, months and maybe years of unreturned calls.  Whatever the scenario, I believe, that after continual disregard and misuse of your love & devotion to them, your impulse (as a human) - your feelings and possibly desire to keep your connection or bond with that individual - would immediately side in favor of either ignoring them, abandoning them or confronting them.

Isn't it wonderful, that the penalty we are deserving of - when treating God like an ATM...
Automatic.
Taking.
Machine.
...is absolutely NOT what His Divine character allows Him to carry out?

God is Loving.  Full of Grace.  His intention, from the beginning of time, has been to create a people who truly desire Him.  A people who will worship, walk with and talk to Him on a consistent and daily basis.  Involve Him in all aspects of living.  Planning.  Ideas.  Hopes & Dreams.

If we could come to the understanding of who God is, as opposed to what God can do for us, our reaction and attraction towards Him will begin to shift.

For many years I had my substantial use of the "God A.T.M."                

I went to Him when I was about to be busted for writing a love letter to a boy in JHS, that spoke about how cute his eyes were.

I went to Him when I needed a quick miracle… like making the M15 bus hurry along, since I was over 30 minutes late for work (yet again), and had already been written up for tardiness several times in that one month.

I even went to Him when my house wasn’t clean enough to have surprise guests over, hoping He would make my arms and legs scurry faster in order to at least wash & put away last night’s dishes, and dust the crumbs off my couch.

Sure, these examples seem funny and simple, but if we’re being honest with ourselves (which is what I strive to do this year), then we can chuckle over them, but also agree to being guilty of them.  

God is much more than a quick fix.  I’ve come to know a God that is interested in day to day life; even silly crushes.  He wants to provide insight on that person of interest.  He wants us to, sure, enjoy the "butterflies" stage, but look deeper into who that person really is, and what their intentions are, and decide if they're worth our butterflies.

Are they beneficial to my spiritual growth? 
Are they going to lead me to be a better child of God? 
Will they pray for me to develop a better strategy when I struggle with waking up early enough to go to work because I spent the entire night writing in my diary or scrolling through Facebook? 

Whatever you you wish to call, where your most intimate thoughts and feelings are stored, why not share that with God first, or instead?  Why not make it a habit to speak with Him with whatever is on your mind?

He wants your enhanced connection to Him to sweetly remind you that before bed you should set your alarm 30 minutes earlier (maybe use that time to spend it with Him before you start your day and find yourself tired enough to miss your nightly chat as well).  Maybe that enhanced connection will pop a thought in your mind to throw a load to wash after work, and pack your lunch for the next day; because you just may enjoy that early morning worship time so much that you sing right past 3 alarms and all you have time left for is a quick shower, pulling a clean dress out of the dryer and grabbing your salad kit. 

What have you deposited into your relationship with God lately?  Or should I rephrase it to, have you deposited into your relationship with God at all this week?  This month?  This year?
Is your God Bank empty?
He doesn’t ask much.  
Just your heart.  
Just to put Him first.  
Above your crush or spouse. 
Above your peer's approval or appearance.
Above feeling part of the clique at school or work.

He desires our heart, wholeheartedly.   
And because we know the word of God declares in 
1 Peter 3:12 (NIV) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
...then we know He will take care of our needs.   He lends His ear to those that are in constant reverence to Him.  Let's not rely on making Facebook prayer requests, when seeing the tempest approaching.  We have the ability to be our own prayer warrior! 

[On a side note: if you're wondering about the "do evil" portion of the above verse, that would take this post in a different direction that I'm not focused on at the moment...]

God is trustworthy.  He will never bring us to a point of despair.  Like your crush - who you found has 3 other love interests.  Causing you to regret the substantial amount of time you spent focusing on  your appearance, how long it takes for them to text you, if you will be going out this weekend.  

Let’s be mindful of how we treat God.  Wonderful and unimaginative things happen when we move Him from our "Automatic Taking Machine", to "Adored & Treasured Master".

Having a deep & real connection, and relationship, with Him triggers the next idea and the motivation to get it done. 

And like I said, I’ve failed at this many times.  With many other reasons that I choose not to share (just yet), but I have learned to change the order of my interest.  Putting Him first each day, gave me the opportunity and the allowance to tap into Him when I needed Him to give me the job I wanted, or the help I needed to complete a project; and be in the midst of people that I cannot relate to.

See to it that the next time you ask for something, the answer isn’t returned “Insufficient Amount”.  Let’s deposit more love, more time and more attention into our God Banks.  Not only is the experience of spending quality time with God rewarding, but the effects of it are eternal.
Ephesians 5:15-20 (NIV) Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.  Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
x0, d

05 January 2017

I COMMIT.



So I rang in the new year with an awesome "One Little Word" (more on that later), a huge list of Goals - mainly organization, and a desire to experience more of God's Love & Faithfulness.

2016 was eye-opening.

I was able to tap into some hidden treasures... it turns out I do have some inner strength, confidence and determination lying around.  It did take me tapping into God as a power-source, so I really cannot take any credit for it.  But it's wonderful to actually realize it.

I learned how to start the tearing down process of fear and to trust in the fact that I serve an awesome God, who continually proves His faithfulness and love.  Who works best when I surrender my worries and anxieties to Him, and know that His ways are better than any thing I can dream up.

I learned that the more I open my heart to loving people in general, and rid myself of the tall walls I've spent most of my adult life building, the more selfishly fulfilled I am in giving freely of my love; without looking to gain anything of it or expect anything in return.  This is something I've had to learn through studying the word and prayer.  This is something that doesn't necessarily come as second nature to some people, especially if/when they've felt used and lied to.  But it's vital in our spiritual walk, or else how will they know that this type of love exists?  Because although I may be leaving myself vulnerable to getting hurt, feeling abandoned by people I consider to be friends (but in their mind I'm just someone to say Hi to once in a while), it's God who will ultimately receive the glory in me sharing this unconditional love.  It's God who will take care of the empty spot in me that longs to be filled by interaction with people.  And it's God who determines and understands the need for reciprocated love and is always available to pour Himself into me.

This year I learned that I'm not as "perfect" or "put together" as I thought I was.  For instance - and this is just a quick example, because I'd like to tackle this topic in a later post - I'm not really a great mom.  Yeah, my kid is smart and cute (Kudos to my husband on his looks), but there were other areas of parenting I/we failed at.

I also learned, that no matter how broken, and self-righteous and insecure I am/was/is, I will always have the reassurance of One whose infinitely Perfect, ready to impart Grace, Merciful and what He declares about me in His word cancels what I think about me.

So this year I plan to share more about all I've learned, and I plan to share my inner most thoughts and feelings, in the hopes that it will spark an interest in this God that I serve and bring others to a point of complete surrender.



...is my One Little Word.  2013 was the first year I participated in this yearly activity... I never really purchased the kit that came along with this project, (until this year) and I have yet to set it up... (since it's been more important for me to complete my January goals).  But if you're interested in learning more, please click here or Google search it for yourself.  The founder and creator is Ali Edwards, who also created December Dailying, which I also participate in, which I also am way behind on since I've been so busy living and organizing and not making time to craft.
So this year I COMMIT:
- To reading at least 1 book each month.  (any recommendations?)
- To spending weekly time with myself and for myself.
- To making healthier choices when it comes to food.
- To sharpening my parenting skills.
- To being a better wife and friend.
- To walking and exercising.
- To another 21 Day Fast.
- To saving money.
- To bible study.
- To this blog.
What's your OLW?
x0, d