Thursday, June 30, 2016

Crockpot Miracles:

   I was in a church service recently when I heard a lady say very emphatically,  "It don't take God long to do nothing!"  I thought about that on my way home and allowed myself to resonate with the fact that that's not necessarily true. Sometimes it takes a longer time to get the miracles that we want in our lives.    I've seen God work in my life very slowly and very, perhaps, methodically.   Because it took more time, I was allowed to marinade and learn lessons along The way that I would not have learned if my "miracle" came over night.  I was able to  glean from the wonderful opportunities that  that season allowed. So I'm not throwing shade on the notion of quick miracles. But, You may be praying for something or looking for something in your life that expect  to happen immediately. Know that God, at times, allows some miracles to come more slowly.  So don't give up buy into the process and along the way keep your eyes open for the things that he is doing as you're waiting for that over-arcing miracle to take place. God is a God of right now;but he is also a God of low and slow.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

                But How?
   We are often encouraged not to FEAR, and to TRUST God in all situations. But it's easy to say, "DON'T WORRY" and "TRUST GOD," and "DON'T DOUBT."  Just saying these things doesn't suddenly make us be able to live them out.  We are rarely told how to go about achieving these declarations. 
   Here a few tips that I've learned to help me in this area:
1. when I wake up, and before I go to bed, I inundate myself with Scriptures such as these:
"I have it all planned out-plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for" (Jeremiah 29:10c-MSG)
"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure everything out on your own" (Proverbs 3:5 MSG)
"...that trusting me, you will be unshakeable and assured, deeply at peace..." (John 16:31c MSG)
"God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves"
(1John 3:18c MSG).  Filling mind with scriptures such as these and more help me to recalibrate and adjust my focus.
2. I journal and  constantly remind myself of the times in my past when I was going through a challenging situation;and looking back on it, I saw how God worked things out, and got me through it.  Taking time to remember, gives me hope for my present and future. 
3. I write at least 3 things I'm thankful for each day.  Taking time to notice the positive things that are happening in my life helps me to stay optimistic and encouraged.
   I try to start and end my day with these daily reminders.  As I inundate myself with this information
 it helps me to "NOT DOUBT" God's presence and help and to "TRUST" that I will get through challenging times and situations.  As I exercise these practices I see myself being better able to "WORRY NOT."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Give Us A Try!

   I apologize on behalf of ALL the churches who have gotten it wrong.  Who have forgotten the purpose for which what we were designed, for all the ways we have pushed away all the people whom we should have been pulling in.  For all the ways we've been insular in how we have catered to each other (church people).  Forgive us for, in some cases, being down right mean and self-righteous.  Please forgive us for doing too much as we've added a whole bunch of "extraness" on top of what it takes to follow Jesus.
   If I am ridiculed by my fellow Christian brothers and sisters for being relevant and touchable so that I might win some, oh well.  May the love I give and grace I extend to all those who have been turned off by the church, show that it's PEOPLE who have gotten it wrong not the institution that is the church.  Jesus never intended for us to add all the "stuff" that we have on top of what it takes to have a relationship with him.  He never wanted us to make it difficult for those who want to follow him.  God's plan is simple (but not necessarily easy):  He wants us to Love him, and love each other.  
   So, if you never went to church, or stopped going, don't give up. Give us a try. Just find a church that is welcoming to ALL people.  Where the only agenda is to love you unconditionally and  to share the truths of God's word in culturally relevant way that makes going to church irresistible.

Monday, April 18, 2016

An Imperfect Christian

   Since I became a follower of Christ I have not been perfect.  I have talked about someone behind their back, I have been jealous, I have struggled with pride, I have lied...(just to name a few sins).  Yet, Jesus never gave up on me and I never stopped trying to be more like Him, and he continues to love me.  Just because you didn't know my struggles doesn't mean they don't exist. I hope you won't throw me away for sharing this...and please let's not mistreat those whose struggles are more obvious than mine.  I've had these struggles AS a Christ follower.  So why are our expectations so warped towards those who are not (Christ followers)?  They should be treated with the same amount of grace that you might extend to me.  Everyone has issues (yes, Bishops and even the Pope), whether you're a Christian or not. 

  Let's make ourselves approachable in such a way as not to come across as some sort of super saint (like we're better than those with struggles).  Let's run toward the messes not away from them.  I love Jesus with all my heart and just as I am forgiven, I'm determined to extend grace and show love to others.  #graceforall

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Celebrate The Good

    The positive things in our life can often be so mired in the miasma of our world that we forget to celebrate the good.  
   We sometimes look at other people, who seemingly have it all together, and long for the life they have.  There is no one on the planet with "the perfect life."  But I've watched people who are dealing with the most treacherous issues navigate their life with uplifting and encouraging resolve.  I want to be one of those people. 
   We all have so many things in our lives to celebrate and be thankful for.  But we must be more vigilantly conscious of them.  Sharing a fun moment with a loved one, enjoying our favorite ice cream, listening to our favorite song...these are just some examples of simple things that we often don't stop to relish.  No matter how hard life may get we have to remember to build in some exhale moments.  What simple things make you smile?  Find a way to have more of that in your life.  Hang in there, and celebrate the good.  There are better days ahead.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Love "Trumps" It All!

   My husband spoke last Sunday about how we should never let politics get in the way of how we treat each other.  No matter who's in office or who's running, if we treat everyone with consideration, kindness, and respect would it matter?  The love that we show towards our fellow man should always trump whatever is happening in the political arena.  Being polarized over differing political lines is not a good excuse for treating someone with disdain.  We may not agree but let's not allow our opinions to cause harm in any way.

   So, whatever your political affiliation, we all have one thing in common…  We're all human and even during this season of heightened political exposure, whether you're in office, running, or you're simply a fellow American, let love win!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Kudos To Creative People:
   Creative people work on a different time clock than the “average”  9-to-5 employee.
   I once had a young man literally sit in my family room in a corner and within a few hours into the night, he wrote a Grammy-nominated track which I'm sure has and will garner him a nice amount of compensation.  He hadn't checked into an office or punched a time clock.
   Creative people work differently and tend to grind a different way. We work on a totally different schedule than most.  But don't underestimate the power of how we work and the quality of our work.
   When my two sons, who are now out in California-the land of creative opportunity, lived at home I watched as they would often be up till 5 AM in the morning working on projects. And at 12 noon they would be knocked out. To the average 9 to 5 worker it might appear that these two grown men were slouches. And one might ask why they would be asleep in the middle of the day?  I get it, because I too tend to work more effectively off the beaten path of a regular 9-to-5 time clock and I work hard at what I do.  I have literally worked all night for several nights to get a creative project done and then took some time to rest.  Additionally, there have been times when I have been exhausted or sick yet I literally sat in my bed for several hours straight with my computer and other materials and was able to get tons of productive work done. But, the old-school-punch-the-time-clock-worker in me, when I finally would get up felt like I had gotten little done. I know now that, that is not the case.  
   So, if you are like me, and you are not prone to work like perhaps, the "average" American employee, don't fret as long as you are effectively getting the job done. Also be vigilant about getting compensated for your time, energy, and talents. Creative people can sometimes be taken for granted.
   It has been said that one should do what you love to do and are gifted at doing.  If you find a way to get paid for it, you won't have to work another day in your life.  It has also been said that creative people, when they are working in their wheelhouse and have the bandwidth and resources to do it, are the happiest people on the planet.  
   So as a fellow artist my hat goes off to all those out there who are creating in ways to inspire the world. Let's keep it going and remember your time clock and methods, though effective, might be different than most.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Happen To Life!

   One of my passions in life is the performing arts so I tend to view life from a thespian lens. That said I’m transitioning to the next Act of my life.  I'm coming out of a season where I've noticed that a number of people who I thought would be around forever ended up moving away.  Additionally, I've lived through the passing away of some of my closest family and friends. AND my children are graduating and moving on.  All this feels like life is presenting me with an inordinate amount of changes in a short span of time.  Broken and grappling for some semblance of normalcy, I decided not to sit back and watch all these things happen in my life and do nothing to make sure I still have a life.  Change is and always will be a constant. Instead of sitting on the sidelines watching life happen to me, I decided to get in the game and develop a new strategy for a new normal.  What do I enjoy?  What is most rewarding?  How can I help more people? What's simply fun?  How can I get my life and live this next Act with purpose and fulfillment?  So, with that in mind, I decided not to just watch life happen to me but make a plan and "happen to my life."
    Last year I went to one of the saddest funerals I have ever attended.  Everyone spent the whole time celebrating what the person was in the past and this person wasn’t that old. They talked about how amazing this person was in high school which was 30 plus years ago.  I said to myself, I” don't want that to be my story.  I want to continue to do amazing things and I want to celebrate today and tomorrow.  I want to look for opportunities to help as many people as I can.  I never want to stop living a most impactful life
   Each season of life can be as rewarding as we want it to be if we sure ourselves up with people, places and things that fulfill us.  I decided that all those things in my life that I’ve wanted to do but were on hold, for whatever reason, can now be explored.  I've never been one to feel the grass is greener someplace else. Wherever I am is where the action is.  So, I'm determined to have each Act of my life as rewarding as it can be.                                                 So, if you are experiencing uncomfortable and maybe even painful change you're not alone.  I want to encourage you to go get your life! Sitting around lamenting about the “good old days” will be of no benefit to you.  Create some amazing new days.  If what was normal and comfortable for you is now a thing of the past, create a new normal.  Don't just sit idly by and let life happen to you.  Make an amazing new plan and go get it!  It's your time.  Go for it!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Music Is Saving My Brain

Music Is Saving My Brain
I have been the music director at my church for 25 years.  Over the years, I have been exposed to countless songs.  My responsibilities include learning and teaching vocal parts to tenors, altos, and sopranos.  I also have to memorize arrangements and lead words and vocals.  The constant  calisthenics that I have to engage to keep all this info at the ready is astounding.
I watched as the aging process ravaged both my parents' mental capacity.  By the time my father passed away his brain had gradually shut down.  He went from not. being to recall every day, simple words so he could engage in conversation, to sitting in silence, and downhill from there.  My mom was not nearly as bad but I watched her struggle to remember what day it was to thinking she was the same age as me to repeatedly asking the same question over and over.
I am so thankful for being able to constantly exercise my brain through the platform that music provides.  With my role as music director, I embrace the never-ending challenges to learn new music and teach parts to the rest of the vocalists.  I know this helps to keep my brain stimulated and functioning on a healthy level.  So, I contend that along with all the medicinal and healing properties that music provides, I certainly have benefitted by the salve of musical exposure.  Oftentimes,  people who haven't seen me for a long time ask me, "Are you still singing?"  I want you all to know that the answer is, and will continue to be a resounding YES!