Turn Into Another Person

Our family ties consist of  parent, son, daughter, wife, spouse, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, grandchild, aunt, uncle, parent’s siblings, cousins – all biologically connected and as we sometimes say, ‘Cut from the same cloth.’. Meaning – We are very alike in some or most ways, mannerisms are almost alike, and some voices sound the same.

From early childhood we are exposed to life through the eyes of those closest to us. But as we all know there are functional and dysfunctional ties that makes it tricky to navigate your way through it. Growing up in a toxic environment creates anxiety, depression and a host of other dysfunctions. There’s sibling rivalry, lack of empathy within the four walls, poor communication, physical and verbal abuse to name a few of family dysfunctions.  

It will be folly to assume that all family members are cut from the same cloth. Are you that one member in your family that could look back at all the disadvantages that you faced yet you still managed to navigate your way out on the other side? The home should be our firm foundation to a healthy life and the launching pad to our greatest achievements, but life isn’t always fair.

So, is there any hope for a bright future despite your family history? David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons and he had a difficult time getting along with his brothers who did not look up to him or treated him with respect. Afterall, he was just a shepherd boy attending to their father’s sheep out in the backyard. But little did anyone think that God’s eyes were on David from a youth and would arrange a showdown between David and a giant before a large army with his brothers having a ringside view.

With only a stone, a sling and a prayer David took aim at his opponent’s forehead and bought the giant down to his knees.

What made the difference between David and his older brothers? The alone times David spent looking after their father’s sheep out in the backyard. He developed a relationship with God second to none. He outperformed his brothers who were fighters in a very prominent army.

In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, we find a short prayer spoken by another least of the least. Cut from the same cloth but had a different destiny. The Bible says, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother named him ‘Jabez’ saying, ‘Because I bore him with pain. ‘ Now, Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, Lord, bless me indeed and expand my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.”

“So. God granted him what he requested.”

Jabez’s mother had a difficult time giving birth to him because it says, ‘I bore him in pain.” Let’s think about this for a moment. Some of us have names tied to us out of circumstances far beyond our control but Jabez changed the course of his life by a simple prayer – ‘Lord, bless me and expand my destiny. Keep Your hand on me. Keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.’

And BOOM – he became more honorable than his brothers.

What’s your excuse? Your pain can bring you before kings and not mean men if you will dare to trust God with your pain. Hurting people DO NOT have to hurt others. The buck stops at you. Your family tree doesn’t restrict you. You’ve got what it takes to step out of the pack. 

Game Changer 2020

Every so often our #1 priority gets lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Before you realize it the real you are no longer visible as you lie buried somewhere under the weight of important files. To all who assumed that their aspirations and mandatory objectives could NOT happen outside of the walls of the office quickly learned to think outside of the box as the world abruptly came to a halt bringing with it fear and an uncomfortable silence.

Corporations big and small reluctantly and mandatory were forced to shut their doors. Employees whose positions made their loyalty to the company of greater importance than their families quickly realized that they will now have to learn a new way of living outside the walls of their security. I can go and on with a long list of the side-effects of the bitter pill COVID19, but one thing stands out loud and clear – God’s priority was always the home/family.

From the palace to the displaced citizens – fear is the common equalizer of all nationality and race. We can’t just give into fear because the lighting on the stage has been changed. The gloomiest part of  this pandemic for me was watching the reality of everyone who fell victim to this awful and unforgiving virus not having a proper farewell or burial.

How short life really is as loved ones had no more time remaining for goodbyes as the news came only through a brief phone call. How do you move on with ripples of beautiful memories mingled with pain, remorse, disbelief, denial and unfinished business? While the decision of having no contact with victims of COVID-19 was not made flippantly but with careful deliberations, the mental health of both the frontline workers and family members will be challenging.

Life will never be the same as priorities now must be altered. We all need to ask ourselves what is really important, and then have the courage to start rebuilding the foundation of our family and home.

My friends, there’s hope now and in the aftermath of COVID19.

It has been said that a family can survive without a nation, but a nation cannot survive without a family. To survive the aftermath of COVID-19 we need to be actively present in the lives of each other. Satan always hates what God loves and God loves the family. We have been so busy that we often forgot that expensive materials things cannot replace our presence or love in the home.

Darkness and death are valleys on earth we all must walk through, that is part of the human experience. But even when we are forced to walk through the valleys and darkness, we will not fear no evil or evil reports if God is in the equation of the family. Our security now and in the beyond lies in the bond of the family. It’s God that keeps the wheel of love turning and in moments of instability His love is sure.

May God go before you and brighten the darkness. May His presence bring you peace and comfort when everyone else is falling apart. There’s no mountain too high or valley too low that God’s presence can’t be felt.

The real frontline workers are those who know their God as the darkness covers the whole earth. No one can be strong all the time but when one is weak the other is strong.

Plot Twist

A plot twist introduces a drastic change when it happens near the end of a story, it is known as a twist or surprise ending. Life is about choices – some we regret, some we’re proud of, and some we will simply have to accept the outcome.

Bottom line is … we are what we chose to be.

It takes tremendous strength and willpower to allow your kids to suffer the consequences of their decisions.

Samuel was a miracle child. His mother Hannah couldn’t have children, but God heard her prayers and opened her womb, blessing her with the child Samuel. His mother gave him back to God and he grew up in the temple.

Samuel means ‘God has heard’ … a reminder of his miracle birth. As a young child he had his own personal relationship with God. He grew in wisdom and became the last judge over Israel. He was an honest and fair judge who encouraged the children of Israel to turn away from idolatry and serve God only.

He led the children of Israel to defeat the Philistines and as all movies end, the bad guys the Philistines lost the battle

Why did God love Samuel?

Samuel obeyed every word of God.

Samuel had integrity. He was fair in his ruling.

Samuel was obedient and respectful towards God.

Here’s the PLOT TWIST:

Samuel had two sons. He is now old and it’s time for him to step down from his position as a judge. He makes his two sons judges, but Samuel’s sons did NOT have integrity. They TURNED to greed and selfish gains.

The elders came to Samuel and said to him ‘Look you are old, and your sons DO NOT walk in YOUR WAYS. Now make us a king’

Samuel was displeased that the people wanted a king as this would have been the first time a king would have ruled Israel … but Samuel prayed to God. The Lord faithful as He is answers Samuel – ‘Do what the people tell you. They have NOT rejected YOU. They have rejected ME. They DON’T want ME to be their King.’

Here are my thoughts:

Samuel was a man of honor and his sons certainly had a great example before them, but they chose greed and selfish gains in exchange for walking in integrity like their father.

Your children could have had the right upbringing but if perchance they choose not to walk in the ways of the LORD, they will have to live with their choices.

They have NOT rejected YOU, but they have rejected GOD.

Warn them of the consequences of their choices and leave them to make them.

To be a good parent while your heart is breaking is one of the hardest roles you will ever be asked to play but don’t compromise.

God often uses your deepest pain as your launching pad. Meaning God uses the tough experiences in life to help others in the village.

He allows the hiccups in life that you may experience growth and confidence in Him.

The best lessons your children will ever learn are the ones they create. Inadvertently the consequences always follow.

Finally, never compromise your principles in exchange for your children being comfortable around you.

Something about Those Unguarded Moments

Satan is good at doing what he does best and that is, he sees our vulnerabilities, and waits with great anticipation for an unguarded moment to attack us emotionally and mentally destabilizing our confidence. The fight for survival becomes fierce but the more you become aware of Satan’s intentions eventually the targeted areas will become his ‘no fly zone.’

Satan has repeated success when our responses to those unguarded moments throw us into the pit time after time. I call it ‘the same trend madness’ which means a person walks down the street, sees a hole and falls into it. The next day he/she walks down the same street, sees the hole and fell in again. The third day the same person looks back and fell in the same hole again.

The only way out of anything that you maybe struggling with is when you become tired of your failed attempts and decides enough is enough. Choosing to walk on the other side of the street is the better alternative. You know where the hole is, and you say no more to pain. We have heard it said repeatedly ‘Let God fight the battle.’ Is it just something nice and Christian to say?

God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. We are all vulnerable at times and have personal struggles that saps our energy while we hope for a win. We can learn coping tools from reading scriptures, but sure enough Satan doesn’t want to lose our starring role in the misery contest, so his job is to keep you and I from learning coping skills.

Moses told the people of Israel – ‘The LORD will fight for you; you only need to be still.’  Without the Presence of God,  life’s battles are difficult to win. We’ve got to lose our strange methods of fighting alone and turn to Jesus for help. The shortest way to B.E.C.O.M.I.N.G emotionally stable is to maintain a healthy relationship with the Father.

God is more powerful than the weakest areas of our life. He scoops us up from all the noise around us and brings us to the place where we say, enough is enough making us mentally rest in knowing that He understands. Insanity is repeatedly falling in the same hole everyday hoping that one day the hole will be gone. The opposite of insanity is sanity. Sanity is the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner.

The next time you need courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome make certain you have read the scripture and you are doing life with God. The outcome is a lot different. It’s the fear of the unknown that turns our happiness into a frown. With God our pitfalls become our steppingstones and it makes you feel like you have superpowers.

Our vulnerabilities teach us two things – something about God and something about ourselves. We’ve got to get to the place where we see how inadequate we are and that we will have no progress without God.

Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

Beyond the Days

Don’t know how you made it through each day this week but we are humbled that we came out on the winning side. And so ends another week where we reminded everyone to stay indoors and be safe.

We must be brave and believe that every little thing is gonna to be alright. Today is a perfect day to just be happy.

It’s time to laugh!

Thanks for sharing the week with me. Let’s do everything we can to flatten the curve. Let’s stay indoors. Our prayers and thoughts are with all the essential workers around the world.

A good laugh heals a lot of hurts. Laughter is contagious. Laughing is like going on a vacation. Laughter is still the best medicine.

It takes EVERYTHING to Stand Still

Waiting is never fun. Waiting for hours is awful. Waiting for decades for a promise to be fulfilled requires trust and loyalty in the one making the promise.

God and I usually have a conversation when I find it difficult to keep up with His pace. Sometimes, our conversation goes like this:

God: I am taking away the security blanket that has provided psychological comfort to you over the years. I am taking you on a journey into the unknown and all I want you to do is to trust the process. This is an open book test so keep the Book open.

Me: Hold on one minute God, did you forget to give me a timeline? How long is this journey? Will I have company on this journey? Hmm…God, are you serious about not taking my security blanket? God, we humans do not enjoy doing life without full disclosure. Remember we both had this discussion many times before God.

Meanwhile, anxiety is gripping my heart and yes, I spent more waking hours these last few months wrestling with the thoughts of what my life would look like without timeline. Now, I have no timeline to work with but I was told to keep the Book open.

The page in the Book opened to a few highlighted words with a date scribbled besides showing that I was on that page before. It read – ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.’ The unknown makes my heart sick. I want to help God plan this unknown trip if I only knew how to do it without messing it up.

But, because I understand how God works, I’m forced to sit still on this winding road trip with many huge bumps and resist the urge to flee. It’s folly for me to even consider it an option because I have filing cabinets of evidence where my heart was afraid but God bought me out on the other side.

If I allow my thoughts to linger on the ‘what ifs’ it will cripple my ability to trust God on this journey. What ifs should be permanently disallowed in every human’s vocabulary. It’s the most disturbing place to be lost in.

I know fully well that restlessness gives rise to mistakes and regrets. So be it fast or slow, smooth or rough terrain all I really need to be concerned about is, do not fret. Instead of worrying, pray, Sounds pretty close to what my mother would have told me. The only difference is, I am now the mother/adult.

The season of COVID-19 has shown me that sickness is no respecter of status, race, poverty, or family history. The sadness is overwhelming as I watch people drop like flies. If you don’t know God – the fear is a zillion times worse. My mom if she was alive will tell me ‘ let your gratitude shape your worries into prayers.’

It’s not a cliche at all, but when the battle chooses you – mustering every ounce of strength to trust God into the unknown displaces worry and turns it into prayers. Before you know it, God sends a flood of peace to replace your worry.

We all need this journey into the unknown to get us to a place of total dependence on God and not trusting in our ‘what ifs’ that makes us weak and vulnerable.

Never let the unknown make you question what God already knows. It’s only unknown to you but never to God.

Got to Grab My Security Blanket

Charles M. Schulz wrote this line for his cartoon character Linus -“I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand.” The thought that you can love humans but not like people makes you want to go grab your security blanket before you step outside.

I’m sure all of us have our own personal stories on healthy and unhealthy relationships and the lasting effects these relationships can have on you. We all fall short of our full potential when we begin to interact with others either on a short-term basis or for a lifetime.

Ask the server at the restaurant when your order got mixed up or the shoe clerk at the store where your size was out of stock or the hairdresser in your salon or a member of your WhatsApp group. We all love humans but it’s the people we can’t stand. What a paradox.

No rolling of eyes or no surprise looks from you until you see where I am going with this thought. The older we get is the more we should want to enjoy life and walk away from anything that threatens your peace. What does it profit if you live in a nice cozy home, have good food and your stress level and hostility towards people make you feel vulnerable?

Is it time to check in with the people in your community? Some people will make you laugh a little louder. Some will test your resiliency. Some will bring out the best in you. Some bring out the worse in you. Some will use you. Some will love you. Some will hate you. Some will remind you that there are still wonderful people around.  

Everyone that comes into your life has a reason, a season, or a lifetime. It’s up to you to figure out each person’s role and don’t lose hope in humanity if and when it expires.

God is so generous with His kindness even when we do not deserve it. He teaches us by His example how to extend random acts of kindness even when others may not deserve it.

Here are some of the people that were meant to be in our life and it’s important that we hold ourselves accountable for how we deal with them:

Some people can be difficult but with a little care and extra prayer they will not require long term care. Finding a haven in you they cling to you so with good mentoring their issues can be resolved in the proper environment.

Then there are people who you will meet at the crossroads of life because they have run out of options. They are now ready to get help because there are serious and sensitive matters at stake. They require an immediate intervention and your prayers are the only connection they have to Heaven.

Other people come along in your life to be nursed back to health. They need critical care and cannot be left alone. This requires teamwork to make the dream work.  In critical care, crisis is an everyday occurrence so many hands make the work light. Their miracle is credited to the team and God gets the glory.

The older I get the more I realize what really matters in life. You are never too important to be nice to people. It doesn’t matter if people like you, love you, hate you, understand you or validate you just must be nice to everyone because everyone is fighting a battle that no one knows about.

Just grab your security blanket before heading outside.