Moving On…

I am FINALLY ending this season. For a number of years, I have been whining about wanting to be home, finding my fit, and leaving Florida. I look at what I was writing about this time last year, and it’s uncanny how similar it was to my life now (life truly is cyclical if we aren’t careful).  I have been praying about the next step of my life, and asking for wisdom about where I should go at this point. I realized that I needed to be closer to family. For a long time I dispelled the option to go home… meaning my home state. I was intent on moving from Florida to a new frontier.  What I didn’t consider was maybe this new frontier would be on a familiar turf.

So to put it out there, I am moving back to Atlanta in July.

There is a bit of excitement welling up in my spirit because of the new opportunities to reconnect with family and friends in ways that I couldn’t as a 22 year old brat (now I am a 31 year old brat). To be able to have a restart in a safe place…all I can say is “THANK YOU GOD!” It’s funny because last year I stated that I wanted a restart in August 2014.  I do believe that it will happen.

The hardest part was realizing that it was truly time for this season here in Florida to end. I have had opportunities to pick up and leave before, but none of those times felt quite right. For the first time it feels right. Plus, God uses a lot of markers for me to draw conclusions regarding completeness.

My life in this season has come full circle. Let’s begin…

  • 2005 – Moved from Atlanta to Miami (in the 10th month on the 8th day)
  • I had a silver 2005 VW Jetta
  • I left a position that I had only had about five months. I really liked the people, but I was restless
  • I started working in Higher Education
  • I went to graduate school
  • I got restless
  • 2007 – I was promoted to Director
  • I moved four times within  Miami-Dade and Broward counties
  • 2008 – I graduated from grad school
  • 2010 – On the heels of a broken engagement, I had a spiritual revolution and was given the verse Psalm 46:10.
  • 2011 – Left Higher Education and started working in full-time ministry
  • My entire life was ministry focused and God-centered
  • My priorities began to change and shift more than they had when I first moved to South Florida
  • I worked two jobs in full-time ministry and held four different positions
  • I moved three more times
  • 2013 – had a relationship that helped to restore hope in something good even thought it was challenging and tested the boundaries of true love
  • 2014 – I am moving from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta (in the 7th month on the 10th day)
  • In my devotional time today I watched a sermon on Psalm 46, the entire chapter.
  • I have moved seven times in nine years, going back to Atlanta will be move number eight
  • This year, 2014, I will pack up my silver 2014 VW Passat to travel back….home….

It may not look like it to you, but I see so many things coming together.

  • (2005) Five is the number that stands for grace in the Bible. I was given grace and asylum to leave Atlanta. I needed and escape and I needed to learn about my heavenly Father more intimately in a place where there was no true comfort.  I moved on October 8, 2005.  The 10th month signifying divine order (10 commandments) – this was purposed and timely. The eight day signifying a new beginning in my life, and of course we addressed the number five.
  • (2007) The work I had been doing was finally being recognized and I was given more responsibility; a new covenant.
  • (2008) I was in a new relationship and had new opportunity with the completion of graduate school. I was given a new salary as well. This was three years from the time I arrived (three divine completion).
  • (2009) I made poor decisions. Nine – the number of judgement. I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to fall pretty hard the next year and I was about to be in a place that was self-inflicted financial hardship because of that choice. The saving grace is that I was at a level of maturity to see what was going on and I was finally ready to listen to what God had been whispering, but I had been too distracted to hear.
  • (2010) Five years later, again God showed me grace by opening  my eyes to see the truth of my relationship. The man I was going to marry was not who God intended for me. The number 10 comes again as God was making me more aware of my life, and I began to take a spiritual and personal inventory. I was realizing that something was not right…something was off, but what?
  • (2011) Six years after coming to Florida, I left my first job here. Six is the number of man signifying the work and toil as well as the six hours that Christ suffered on the cross as final atonement for sin. My personal work had been completed for this season, and it was crucified when I decided to leave. The number 11 signifies disorder. God began to show me the things in my life that had been keeping me from realizing true joy. The things that were my own personal prison and the source of my spiritual dryness. I left and started working in an environment that incubated me in nothing but Jesus.
  • (2012) I was tested this year. I explored the depths of my own brokenness. I also allowed myself to fall because of temptation, but redemption was on the horizon. Psalm 51, Hebrews 12:1-5, and the book of Philippians were important readings during this year. I received a stiff warning from the Lord and grace again abounded in my life.
  • (2013) The eighth year of my sojourn in Florida signified a new beginning. I experienced a relationship with a man that helped me to understand how I related to all men. All the things I had been learning through the Bible and Christian books about relationships was put to the test. I was renewed in spirit and hopeful. Even though this union only lasted a year, it was purposed and good.
  • (2014) The ninth year of my season – the number of judgment. This season is coming to a close. God is judging my character and has given me a choice to continue to seek my own ambition or to submit his will and exercise the things I have learned since the beginning of this journey. I have chosen my family and a new path. The number fourteen can be seen as two sevens or a double portion of spiritual perfection as well as deliverance. I see that this season is concluding and I am being delivered from this storm I have been experiencing over the past nine years. I will leave on July 10, 2014. The seventh month, in the perfection of God’s will I am moving on.  What will August brings?

Also:

  • I have spend three years working in ministry. Three signifies divine perfection.  In those three years, I have work in four different positions. Four signifies creation and God’s creativity. I have been transformed in this season. A new work. A mosaic of the sum total of my broken pieces, now a beautiful work of art.
  • I have lived in seven different places during this season.
  • My ages. At the age of 22, I moved here. The number two signifies division as well as double portion. I was a double-minded individual when I moved to Florida like the waves of the ocean as described in James –  I went back and forth (be holy or be a heathen). Now I am leaving at the age of 31: three signifying completeness and one describing unity. I am in no ways perfect, but God has perfected in me a unified mind, body, and soul for this time period. I am leaving with my mind on God and his goodness.
  • I am leaving with a car nine years newer than the one I had when I first arrived and interestingly it is made by the same manufacturer – just an upgraded make a model.

It’s amazing how God pieces our lives together, if we let him. I am excited about what is to come. I know it won’t be easy. I don’t know what I am going to encounter. I pray that I am not slapped in the face with crazy hardship. I pray that I am able to walk out all of the wonderful teachings that the Lord has placed in my life.  I want to walk behind God as he lights my path. I am not perfect. I will still sin and make mistakes in the future.  I have not arrived anywhere, but to the edge of another season where I must be broken again and remade. I am at a new level and I must keep going up the staircase until I finally reach my destination of my heavenly home. Until then, the Lord will continue to show me my life in numbers, signs, wonders, and miracles.

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Wanna read some stuff about Biblical numerology? Go here…oh and here.

Freedom…

It’s here…

It’s a freedom I haven’t had in a long time. I was locked up by my own expectations and fears.

Though the fullness of this freedom is yet to come, the beginning is so sweet. It started with the release of this season of my life. There was so much that I was hanging on to and hoping for that I became bound in heavy chains. I thought that the bondage would be hard to let it go, but as of recent, it just slipped off my hands. Additionally, there is hope. I am very hopeful, and I am looking forward to all that is to come. 

Thank you, Lord… I know I am not forgotten and I am loved.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
- 2 Corinthians 3:17

The Great Divorce…

I broke up with Fred. Well we were married, and now… well we are not. I feel free, even though I know he is still lurking around. I feel stronger, even though I am sure he is running behind me trying weigh me down again. I said what I needed to say. I did what I needed to do. Now here I am.

This past week, was the last week I was allowing Fred to be in my space, at least knowingly. I threw him and all of his stuff in a canal.

I am sure at this point you are wondering who or what ‘Fred’ is, and what I am talking about. Well, Fred is FEAR. Fear has held me back from the things I have desired, wanted to say, and places I dared to go. Since fear isn’t something you can see in your hand, I carried around a potato in my purse for a week. Tonight, I threw him in a canal…him and all he represents.

This season, I have been in a valley. Drudging through the mire. Experiencing small hills during my journey. I have reached the foothills of a mountain, and I am about to start the climb. I can’t have Fred weighing me down. So, he had to go… now…it’s me who has to get moving.

An Introduction…

So… there has been someone in my life for quite some time. I haven’t really talked about him because, well… I am not really proud of this relationship. He has been around through all of my other relationships…kind of like a back up, but more like “the one that I couldn’t get over.” His name… Fred. It’s strange how we let others take root in our lives, even the ones that we know aren’t good for us. Fred has kept me from doing a lot of things that I really wanted to do. He has deceived me, but I let him. He made me miss out opportunities, but I opened the door for him. He prevented me from  saying the things I needed to say when I needed to say them, but I allowed him to put the gag on my mouth. Fred is my nemesis, but I nurtured the relationship between him and I because I didn’t really know how to break up with him. He was always there and I never kicked him to the curb. I was preoccupied with serving him and he just got bigger and bigger in my life. So big that I couldn’t really tell where the truth ended and the lies began. I never loved Fred, but his controlling nature paralyzed me. I’m disappointed that I allowed this in my life. So…. now,…as I stand at the edge of this valley, getting ready to climb a new mountain, I realize that he is too heavy for me to carry with me. He can not go with me. I am no longer willing to break my back keeping him as a fixture in my life. I can’t afford to do that anymore. I feel almost crippled by him. He has no real love for me, and I don’t know why I stood behind him so much. Soon…

The Victor’s Crown

Darlene Zschech, Revealing Jesus, “Victor’s Crown”

I am here to proclaim:

  1. God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit is NOT dead.
  2. He wears the Victor’s Crown because He has overcome the world.

Sometimes I cringe when I look at the news. The depravity that we are experiencing world-wide is so deep. I wonder what God is thinking as he looks down on us. I am prone to think that he has a sorrow that none of us has ever felt before, and like any parent for a child, wants so much to help us. The problem is most times we just won’t let Him. I know I experience the “No, I wanna do it myself!” attitude with my parents all the time – even more as of recent (it’s because of pride). My walls are slowly breaking down so that I can accept the help that I need from both my Supernature and Earthly parents.

But getting back to the point, I have a plea. I am crying out for my Church to listen to the whisper of God right now. I am not talking about where I attend my weekly worship services; however, everyone there is included. I am speaking about the Bride of Christ – the Church with the BIG C. All believers – the Body. I am feeling an urgency to encourage you in a few things:

  • We must remember the truth, the whole truth of God. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is the one and only true God. He created the heavens, earth, and all living things.  He sent Himself in the likeness of those he created (Jesus) to reconcile sin that we invited into our lives. Jesus gave himself willingly to serve as the sacrificial lamb for us. Jesus rose from the dead after the third day – He conquered death. In this way, our mortal bodies will die, but the souls of believers will live on with God. This gift of eternal life is available to any and everyone (Romans 5-10; John 3:16).
  • We must pray for our leaders (spiritual and government), missionaries, and those who don’t know the Lord. The enemy is like a lion, prowling looking to devour and destroy anyone in his path (1 Peter 5:8). The enemy seeks to tear down the heads so that the devastation will trickle down to the people. He seeks to create disunity among those of one faith.
  • We must be armed and ready for battle. We are called to prepare ourselves through oneness with God (prayer, worship, devotion, learning the Word, being obedient). We are called to persevere through trials that come because they will come, and they won’t stop coming until we are reunited with our Father. Christianity was never meant to be an easy, problem free life. (Ephesians 6:10-19; 1 Peter 4:12-13).
  • We must acknowledge our sin, attack it, and defeat it. The world has already been conquered for us, so we have to face each battle of temptation with the attitude that it has not power over our lives. We get tripped up when we try to hide sin and isolate ourselves to feed indulgences. Break free of that and remember your ransom has been paid. Sin is deceitful and we think sometimes that sin is our freedom of choice, but it’s really a prison. A prison that has a door that is wide open, but it’s made to seem so comfortable in that cell we willingly stay. Soon, that door will shut and we will really be trapped. This is easier said than done, but there is power in the name of Jesus and there is a way out of all temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • We must remember that you are a work in progress. God never gives up on us, no matter how we trip up. We just have to actually get up and not stay down (Philippians 1:6).
  • We must love everyone. The Lord said that the greatest command was to love God with everything that you are and love others as we love ourselves. We need to have forgiveness and mercy in our hearts for others as God has for us. No more pointing fingers in blame. No more self-righteous attitudes. No more passing the buck. We are ambassadors for those who are still in darkness, let’s be truthful in love and show that God’s love is for everyone. No matter their past or their present circumstances, the future is bright in Him (Luke 10:27).
  • We must speak clearly. My words above are definitely directed to people who identify as Christians, but we need to be sure to speak plainly to people without out pretense and assumption so that they know what we are talking about. I think many people are turned off by Christianity because it seems like some  exclusive club with its own secret language.  If we want people to know Christ, they need to understand the reason behind the faith and make a decision based on the facts. Let’s do better, myself included (Habakkuk 2:2-3).

Let us not be divided. Let us stand for God, and not just in private. Let us be bold in our faith. Let us cultivate a tenacity that is longsuffering. Let us be the Church that God created us to be!

Are you perpetuating an Israelite journey (Part II)

Read Are You Perpetuating an Israelite Journey? (Part 1)

Have you ever been like Kevin? Have you cried out to God because of an injustice in your life, and experience his goodness in deliverance? Have you disobeyed God even thought you knew his commands were for your safety? Have you ever gotten to the place of deliverance only to complain about the discomfort there? As a result, have you complained and whined so much that you missed out on blessings that were to come at the end of that season? I am sure we have all experienced some or this entire scenario.

The Israelites were delivered from slavery and were grateful for a time, but that seed of bitterness, fear, and ungratefulness began to sprout in their lives. This seed germinated quickly and the roots spread through the 600,000 plus nation.

God gave an exhaustive list of rules and commands for tribute, atonement, celebration, and peace-keeping. Reading about them in Leviticus and Numbers made me cross my eyes, but it is a reminder of how much we need God, and there is no way that we can save ourselves. To be honest, I am so glad I live now and not in the times of the Old Testament!

What strikes me the most about the Israelite journey is that they were so close to the Promised Land! They even had proof that it was a good land, but they let fear and cajoling take them down a road of rebellion. They were seriously going to go back to Egypt! “‘…wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?’  And they said to each other, ‘We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.’” (Numbers 14:3-4). What? Why would they want to go back to the place where their very lives were mocked, and yokes were placed around their necks from people that God did not favor? To top it off, they were willing to rebel against God – the one who supplied food out of nowhere each day! Where else does it rain manna and quail?! Also, the spoils from the land that was promised to them was thousands times better than what they ever experienced in Egypt. It took two men to carry back the grape branch (I hope that we get to see grapes that big in Heaven)! At least God gave them a glimpse of what was to come. He was being gracious by showing them what wonderful treasure was awaiting their arrival.

Some of the leaders that had gone before them said that the land and the people were too large to conquer. This made the Israelites worried and fearful, and incited their coup. The God that delivered them had shown himself so many times, but they allowed dust of the earth (men) to make them do something silly. This seems ludicrous right? The sad thing is that the Israelites were serious, and God punished them for it. Their constant disobedience and ungratefulness cost many of them the chance to see what God had promised them (read Numbers chapter 14). Plus they had to wander around the dessert for 40 years. Sounds boring to me.

Their journey in the desert was not easy. I mean, they had to be ready without notice to move when God moved. That can be emotionally taxing. But if we stand firm in our belief that God knows everything and he knows best, then we should be flexible to follow him no matter where he moves.

The truth is that we are like the Israelites. We move into a new territory of life – unknown, uncharted, and sometimes uncomfortable. We see the lack as a sign of failure. We see the slow progression as a sign of a wrong turn. We see the unfathomable landscape as impassable. We doubt God, when he is actually using the time between deliverance and triumph to shed our skin.

Thinking about desert animals – reptiles, snakes, tarantulas – they all molt or shed their skins. It’s important for their growth and health to slough off the outer parts of them that they have outgrown and allow the new and healthy skin to feel the sun. This also allows for them to shed any deadly parasites that may have become attached to them. If these animals do not molt, the old skin tightens as the creature continues to grow, cutting off circulation, and eventually causing death or at the very least, a loss of a limb.

Our desert time is a place to shed our old skin so the new one that has been perfected by God can come through and shine of His glory. The skin from our old lives can poison our futures. Our old lives can stunt our growth. It makes sense to get rid all of that so we can truly be free.  Why do we fight this?

Well, I can only speak for myself when I say the main component is fear of the unknown. What if I fail? What if I don’t like the result? What if it doesn’t turn out the way I want? What if the struggle is too hard? What if I suffer loss as a result?

All of these “What ifs” can paralyze a person and make them think that the old way is better. We know the truth – once we have been delivered from something, once we have been moved on from a place, we don’t need to go back. That is old news. God is into making things new! He is in the business of restoration and redemption. Why do we toil with our past so that it inhibits our future? I do this all the time. Even as I wrote this, I had an “ah-hah” moment and sighed because this post is directly for me.

I have been struggling with a few things for the past week. A fork in the road has been reached and I am seeking the Lord for answers. At one point, I went over the edge into the “What If” zone and I started making preparations to go back where I started. While there is nothing wrong with starting over, it is important to check the motive is why we are doing this. My motive I realize is I want an easier way, and I want to keep myself from experiencing and hurt or hardship. I want to be in a place where I am (seemingly) in control, even though I would probably be miserable because I know in my heart that being there meant I gave up while standing in the furnace. It’s hot in here!

Lord, I want so much for an easier life, but easy isn’t necessarily what is true, or what is good, or what is righteous. What I want most of all is to please You, God! When we become Christians, we are promised hardship. The hardship I am experiencing right now is a true test of on what and who I am going to rely.

There are certain things that I want in my life. I want to have experiences just like many women who are my age. I have hope that one day I will get to experience the fullness of a marriage union, complete professional satisfaction, financial means to help others in need, and satiated wanderlust. All these things are good and I am sure that God can snap a finger and I would be wealthy with these indulged desires. But…I am left questioning – is that what God really wants for me? Is that all? Is there something more?

I just finished the book The Hiding Place which is a biographical account of the life and ministry of the ten Boom family – specifically told firsthand by Cornelia “Corrie” ten Boom. This is a woman who was a truly devout Christian, loved one man, who would never marry her because his family would look down on the union. This is a woman placed others above herself and actually enjoyed being around those less fortunate. This is a woman experienced extreme depravity in a concentration camp and had gratitude, even at her worst, in the small things like being able to read her contraband Bible. At the conclusion of the book I cried and asked the Lord to help me cultivate an attitude and a life like Corrie. I remember being angry at the man with whom she fell in love because he lead her on with his courtship knowing he would never marry her. I remember being even more angry when she had the resolve to bless him and his new wife, and was OK with becoming a spinster. Why would she settle for this? As I continued the book, I began to realize that she received the greater prize. She was given an honor here on Earth to serve and to actually make a difference among people who were hardened it seemed by the devil himself.

Lord, if I could only have a tenth of that tenacity!

So…are you perpetuating an Israelite journey? Are you risking being cut off from the community because of disobedience and shortcuts? Are you whining about shedding your skin? Are you in danger of roaming around in this season longer than you really have to as a consequence to your unbelief? I am asking myself these things too, and I am realizing that some of the answers are ‘yes.’

~~~~~

Lord, make me more like you. Help me to be still in Your arms. Let me pray without ceasing, giving gratitude and thanks for everything. Let me remember that in due time there WILL be a harvest if I don’t give up. I don’t want to give up Lord! I want the reward in heaven as a result of the things that I did here on Earth. Lord, take my life and let it be all for You. That is a very deep cup from which to drink, but I take it God. Not my will, but Yours be done. I ask that You help me remember this commitment as I walk this rocky path. I don’t take it lightly and I know, though not in the fullness, of which I am requesting right now. This is bigger than I ever could have imagined. I may kick at the geodes, Lord, but the truth is I know this time must come.

In Your presence darkness must flee; my path is so bright. At the same time Lord, I am very weary. I am so incredibly discouraged. Sometimes this is too hard for me and I need to sit down to be nourished by Your water. God I really want to scream that this is impossible, and pack up my car, and go to my home…my starting place.  I want to make sense of it on my own! But You know that I know better than to act on that without You giving me the green light. Thank You, Lord, for this revelation and enlightenment! Thank You for being gracious to help me see where I am wrong and off base. I am sorry for leaning on my own understanding. I am sorry for allowing my thoughts and my beliefs about myself and abilities to cheat me out of the blessing on the horizon so many times. I am sorry for taking shortcuts.

I want to move forward Lord. Regardless of how situations will play out, I want to move forward and I don’t want to look back. I don’t want to wander around for the next 40 years. Besides, that will make me 80 years old. I don’t want to be that old just getting to the sweet life that I can experience during my short stay on this Earth. I want to have my best life today. Help me to see through your eyes, the things that I can’t see with my own human nature.

As I stay and wait, anchored in this ocean, grow my faith in your presence and show me how to walk on water.

Are you perpetuating an Israelite journey? (Part I)

Carol started the day energized and ready to go. It was beautiful Saturday morning and she set out to take her ten year old son, Kevin, to the park. There were plans to go to the circus when Kevin’s father, Robert, came home from work. She had arranged a sitter for her youngest, Kelly, who was only 18 months old. She thought that the circus would be over stimulating and forgettable for the baby. Carol was excited because Kevin had been having a hard time at school making friends. He was smaller than the other boys his age, but was very intelligent and this made them jealous. As a result, they teased him incessantly about the very quality they wish they had – aptitude. Many times Kevin would come home crying. Some days he would be withdrawn, but he always brought home stellar grades.

When the circus came to town, Carol and Robert immediately bought tickets for premium seats. Kevin would be delighted to be so close to the elephants and the clowns. They also arranged to have pizza with the Ring Master, his lion, and few other prominent circus entertainers. Carol made sure that Kevin had to nicest outfit to wear and a new ball cap (he loved how they looked on him).

Carols mom, Nana Jean, agreed to watch Kelly while Carol and Kevin went to the park for the afternoon. On their way to the park Kevin began to complain about how hot it was outside. Not just a comment here and there – no – Kevin wailed about it being hot outside. Carol’s good mood was starting to fade, but she sternly corrected her son as lovingly as possible and he seemed to straighten up. Carol bounced back to her cheery attitude as they arrived at the park. She found a nice bench under a tree, and told Kevin that he could play anywhere he wanted as long as he followed some simple rule.

“Listen to me, I am your mother,” she began. “Any equipment that has stairs, you need to step on each and every one of the stairs. If there is a handle, you must use it. If there is a limit to how many children can play on it at a time, you must obey the rule. If someone got there before you, you must be courteous and give them their turn. If someone is rude, you mustn’t be rude back. I am your mother and I raised you with good manners! You must also stay out of the pond. I have a special treat for you tonight, but you need to be obedient to receive it. Do you understand me Kevin Mitchell Smith?”

Kevin understood, nodded his head and uttered out a compliant “Yes Ma’am” before he ran toward the playground.

Carol sat down with her book and began to read. She was still very excited about the events to come. She couldn’t wait to shock Kevin. She and Robert had kept the circus surprise for over a month. As she turned the page, out of the corner of her eye she saw Kevin disobeying one of her rules! Carol rushed over to the playground where she saw Kevin jumping from the top of the slide to the ground.

“Kevin! Didn’t I instruct you to use the equipment properly?”

“Sorry Momma. I was just having fun.”

“Kevin, you could get hurt! Now what did I tell you to do?”

“Take the stairs if there were stairs, use the handles, be courteous and not rude, obey the park rules, and don’t go near the pond.”

“That’s right. If you don’t obey these rules, then you could get seriously hurt. I am your mother and you are special to me. I want to keep you safe, do you understand?”

Kevin nodded in agreement again. Carol dusted him off and sent him back to play. While she was walking back to her seat, she heard kids screaming. She turned around only to see Kevin running toward the pond with the doll of a little girl. The litter girl was crying and screaming for her doll and Kevin was laughing euphorically as he bolted toward the pond. Carol caught up with him and saved the doll from being submerged in the slimy water. She handed it back to the little girl and told Kevin to apologize – he complied.

“Kevin I don’t understand what has gotten into you today! Come have a seat with me for a few minutes. Come drink some water, and have some yummy carrots and apples!”

Kevin immediately threw himself on the ground. “I wish I were at home! At least there I could have all the cookies and lemonade I want!” Kevin began to cry loudly and threw dirt in the air. Carol was so angry; all lovely thoughts about the upcoming evening had vanished. She was beside herself and thought about tanning Kevin’s hide right there in the middle of the park. She grabbed him by the arm and dragged him to the shade. Carol took Kevin’s dirty face in her hands and looked him directly in the eye, seemingly unmoved by his outburst.

“Kevin, you are not doing a good job at being obedient, nor do you have the proper attitude to be rewarded. Straighten up young man! If you don’t, you will be very disappointed.”

This took Kevin aback. He had never seen this side of his mother before. Instead of making him compliant, it only made him crankier.

“I don’t care Momma! I don’t care! I don’t want a reward. I want cookies, and lemonade, and I want to go on the boats in the lake!”

With that, Kevin started up again toward the lake; faster this time. Carol almost didn’t catch him, but when she did she picked him up, almost pulling a muscle in her back. Carol’s strength surprised her as she carried the boy all the way back to the car, which was a quarter of a mile away from the park. She strapped Kevin into his seat firmly. Her eyes glared into his, more intensely than before, and she dared him to say another word before they reached home. Carol took Kevin by the arm in the house. To her surprise, Robert had come home early. He was excited too and wanted to get an early start for the evening’s festivities with the family. Robert was startled by Carol’s swiftness into the house. The look on her face signaled only one thing, their child had gotten out of line.

“Kevin, son, what on Earth is going on?”

Kevin stared angrily at his father without a word.

“Robert, Dear, Kevin disobeyed all of the rules I gave him at the park and his attitude is atrocious! I had to carry him back to the car in fear he would run to the pond and hurt himself!” Carol gave Robert the details about every incident of Kevin’s defiance.

Roberts face became hot. It was then that Kevin knew he had gone too far. He tested his mother and father a lot, but never both his mother and father at the same time.

“Kevin,” Robert began in a stern, but calm voice, “Your mother instructed you specifically about her expectations on your behavior while at the park. You clearly did not follow those instructions. I can even tell by the look on your face that you have not been on your best behavior. Now, your mother and I love you and we want to give you good things, but your bad behavior will not go unpunished! Tonight, we had a wonderful night planned. We were going to the circus and we were going to sit in the front row so you could even touch the elephants. After, we were going to eat pizza with the Ring Master, lions, and circus performers. But you have ruined that opportunity. You will not go to the circus tonight. In fact, you will stay home with the sitter and your little sister will go instead. There will be no video games and no movies. You will have your dinner and you will go to bed forty minutes earlier than you do on a school night. We love you son, but I and your mother are very disappointed with you. We forgive you, but you will pay the consequence tonight for what you have done!”

Kevin began to tremble, not only in fear, but of true distress from what he had just learned. He was going to miss out on the event that every kid in his grade was talking about. Huge tears formed in Kevin’s eyes. The difference between these tears and the ones from earlier in the day was that they were from sincerely remorse.

“Mommy, Daddy, please! I will act right and I will behave! I will not be like this again. I want to go to the circus! I really want to go and I know you worked hard to get tickets for us. Please let me go!”

Carol and Robert shook their heads. Robert reiterated Kevin’s consequence, but assured that next year when the circus came back to town that the family would go again.  Kevin thought he could test the limits one more time later that night by trying to get in the car when everyone was preparing to leave. He got a swift smack on the bottom, and he knew that he had been defeated. When his parents and his sister pulled out of the driveway, he went to his room after that and didn’t come out except for dinner. When Kevin’s parents came home, he was already asleep. They came up to his room with lion toy from the circus and left a note that said:

Son, we expect great things from you. God gave you mighty talents and gifts,
but you must learn how to use them wisely. Next year, we know you will be ready for the circus.
Love, Mom and Dad.

(Read Part II)

Gimmie Dat Cake, Cake, Cake, Cake, Cake….

Ok, before you go and accuse me of being ratchet and obscene…. please understand I am talking about real cake. I only just learned about the cray-cray dirty connotation to ‘cake’ about a week ago. THANKS RIHANNA FOR RUINING MY BAKING LIFE! I ain’t about that bidness!

I digress…

I was commissioned to make a tasty treat for a co-worker’s baby shower. She said that she liked white cake and raspberry. So I am venturing to make a butter cake with raspberry filling and a lemon cream cheese frosting….all* from scratch.

*The raspberry filling is pre-made. I have not figured out a good way to make a good seedless berry filling that isn’t either a crazy gelatinous mess or runny.

So I sit here waiting for the cake to finish baking… I love they way pastries make your home smell!

That was the highlight of my day I suppose. I brought home some work-work to do, but of course I didn’t do it (womp womp). I can’t seem to get that going and part of me doesn’t want to. I want work to stay at the building where I call work unless I have to do it from home for some reason. I guess I may take a look before bedtime so I don’t go to work completely freaking out about deadlines.

Here’s to the weekend! I hope that you enjoyed yours :). I can’t wait for it to come again in a few days.

 ~~~~~~~~~

Here’s that cake, cake,cake, cake, cake…. (this is actually version #2…)

raspberry cake

Hey, Wait a Minute Mr. Post Man…

notecards

Yes… YEEEEESSSSSSSSS. YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEESSSSS! Clearly I love stationary. Michael’s always has very good sales. I got these packs of note cards (quantities of six to ten) for $0.50 each.  I already have a pretty good stash, but I like to keep stocked with new designs. In a world where people communicate mostly by electronic means, I want to continue to keep handwritten notes relevant and alive because it is a dying art. Schools have already removed cursive curriculum (gasp)!

Writing a handwritten note takes effort, but it is worth the trouble. Hmmm… maybe for my next get together I will give printed invitations.

Are You Potted or Planted?

This question is asked rhetorically where I work to everyone at some point.  Initially someone may want to quickly give an answer, but it really causes for some deep thought and consideration about the truth. Not the truth that you really want and desire, but the truth that actually exists.  If you are fortunate, then your desire and the actual truth will be in alignment. If not, you are bound to be driven crazy until something matches up.

So what does this mean?

To be POTTED

If you have ever gone and purchased a plant from anywhere, they typically come in a plastic pot of sorts. Then you take it home and you either plant it in a garden or in a more stable pot to be displayed in your home (your porch perhaps). This plant will only grow to be so large. It may even have a shorter lifespan. The reason is that its environment has a finite amount of space. The roots will only be able to spread so much before they reach the bottom or the sides of the pot, and then begin to recoil either stunting growth or starting death. It depends on the plant. Some vegetation will do just fine in a pot.  They don’t have deep roots and just need sunlight and water. At least, that is what their tags say upon purchase.

To be PLANTED

Now take that same plant and providing that it will not be detrimental, place it in the ground giving it an expansive space to grow. Of course there are other elements such as other plants that may be surrounding the plant that can get in the way of roots and of course the general nutrition of that plant (sunlight, fertilizer, water).  That plant has a potential to grow exponentially larger than the one that is in a pot. Why? Because it doesn’t have the same limitations of space. Have you ever seen a tree that was planted near a house or some other stable object. A lot of times the tree will grow around the object, and sometimes the roots will damage or even destroy whatever was placed in its way. Quite aggressive!

What does this matter? I believe that in the continual evaluation of our lives in every aspect, we have to ask if we are potted or planted. This goes for our relationships, jobs, homes, cities, churches, and extracurricular activities.  To be potted means that you know you will be in that circumstance only for a short while. This can be contrived by our perspective of the activities in which we are involved, or it could be a limitation set up by circumstances beyond our control.  To be planted means that you are there for the long haul (until you are re-positioned or die for lack of better words). The difference is the perspective. You can be involved in something for a long or a short while, but if you look at every experience and treat it as if it is the “forever” project, then the care you take with your actions will invoke a deeper commitment than “I will do this for a year and then I will move on” type of attitude.

Why is this important to me now? I have been in South Florida for about nine years now. I think after the second year I was incensed on moving as soon as possible. Looking at every opportunity as just a short sojourn until I could break free of what seemed like a long lasting jail of humidity and rude people. I did this so much that I began to loathe EVERYTHING. I would frequently look for opportunities in other states. A good friend told me one day recently that if I couldn’t find contentment here then I wasn’t going to find it somewhere else. I didn’t want to admit it, but she was right. Her wisdom stung me.  Contentment isn’t a state of the physical or event circumstantial. It is a state of the mind. It can be closely compared to joy. Joy is based on fact, and as a Christian the fact of life for me is that my eternal destination is to be with God one day. The fact that I have been saved from the fiery chasm of hell is a miracle. So no matter what happens in life, nothing can change that fact for me. I could die tomorrow and be with Jesus in heaven, which is better than anything that I could ever imagine. Happiness on the other hand is circumstantial and based on what is satisfactory in my immediate sphere of influence. What my friend was reminding me was that if I couldn’t remember my joy and act positively and change my perspective of life in the place that I disliked the most, it would be only a fleeting happiness that I would experience in another place because eventually my mind would catch up with me no matter how fast I run away from it. The mind always finds fault somewhere.

So, the reminder of this is being asked by executives where I am employed if I am potted or planted. The culture there requires you to make that decision very quickly. It’s OK to be either, but you have to know where you fall. To answer that question for myself, I had to really look at my life. Because I was trying to be a potted plant in every other aspect, how could I be planted in my job? How could I not see it as a means to an end? That felt very wrong, and it caused for me to do some soul searching. The fact that I hate South Florida should have no bearing on whether or not I plant myself here for as long as God allows.

I realized that the critical flaw in my lifestyle was that I was living waiting to die, so to speak. I was doing just enough to try to get through my pitiful existence here in Florida until my golden ship came sailing into Port Everglades. I further realized that I didn’t want to live that way anymore. That perspective and attitude was preventing me from truly enjoying my life. I have experienced all of my adulthood here in South Florida. I am now a 31 year old female; when will I start living to live? That was what I asked myself at the end of last year when I was pondering 2014 and what it would mean for me.  Then I realized that I had to give up on my plans, thoughts, dreams, and expectations of everything that represented adulthood for me.

I continue to say:

So here,  I stand, with arms wide and heart abandoned. In awe, of the one who gave it all. I stand, my soul Lord to you surrendered. All I am is yours. I give up. I raise the white flag. Lord, take this life and show me how to plant it no matter where you place me. I want to live my best life today.