Always Remember This

Good Monday morning, friends! I pray that the sun is shining wherever you are today. Even if it’s overcast or storming, know that storms don’t last for long.  I woke up with a grateful heart and a silly grin on my face this morning. All night long I dreamed about the eclipse. In this dream, I was in charge of purchasing safety glasses for all 1,500 kids in our school. Some might call this a nightmare. I guess that falls under “other duties as assigned.” I started this project months ago and had acquired 1,500 NASA-approved eclipse glasses so that our kids could enjoy this once in a lifetime event.  Way to go, Michelle! Right? Wrong. What I realized toward the end of the dream is that I didn’t buy any for the teachers. Epic fail! Can you imagine 1,500 teenagers running around in dark glasses with no supervision? Thank God it was only a dream. Even if that had been my reality, I know that God Almighty would’ve had me covered.

 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

I pray that you feel God’s presence today and know that he’s always with you. Before you leave, please take a few minutes to savor this beautiful message of God’s love by Lady Antebellum entitled “Never Alone.” May blessings abound! ❤

Let’s Talk Forgiveness

Good Monday morning, friends! Lily Tomlin,  an American actress, once said that Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past. If we can begin there as the first step toward forgiveness, the journey may be a bit easier. Perseverating over how things could’ve been or should’ve been won’t do anything to change the past. The only purpose this serves is to haunt you.

I used to dream about how my life would’ve turned out if “this” had happened or “that” hadn’t happened, and I always felt empty or sad afterward. Sometimes I even felt angry as I attempted to rewrite the past in my mind as a way of effecting change in the future. Again, it served no purpose other than to fuel my anger.

What I learned to do instead was to accept the past — good, bad, or downright ugly. Along with that acceptance, I learned to let go of the feelings that haunted me as well as the people attached to those feelings. When I saw this quote from Lily Tomlin today, it just reminded me of the necessity of putting the past into perspective by realizing that it won’t change.

I’m grateful for my past — every bit of it. I can’t change anything about the past, but I can certainly make an impact in my future. Life is far too short to dwell on hurtful things. Dwelling on your blessings is far more palatable than the former. I challenge you all to call to mind those you need to forgive. Oft times their crimes are terrible, but trust that the Just Judge will settle the score for you. In the meantime, make peace with the past so that the memories that haunt you finally die today. May blessings abound! ❤

Before you leave today, I hope you enjoy my Music Monday selection from Matthew West entitled “Forgiveness.”

Sunrise Sermon:What the World Needs

In 1966, Dionne Warwick released a song entitled “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” Though the song is over 50 years old, the message is still relevant. We hear so many mixed messages about love in the world. Some are distorted and conditional. Love is defined as a a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for parent, child, or friend. Many of us know this type of Love firsthand because we are the product of it (in most cases) or we’ve been nurtured in it over time. 

Unfortunately, as we grow up and leave the safety of our homegrown Love, we experience the tainted, conditional, manipulative love masquerading as Love. Words like If you love me, then you wouldn’t do that — are conditional and manipulative. We’ve all done it. Those words just ooze out of our mouths before we can pull them back in or wipe them away.

For those who know and love the Lord, you have experienced a deep, wholesome, unending, consuming Love that can’t be matched by anything here on Earth. Because of his abiding Love for us, he expects that we, too, will love others with all that we have.

Your love must be real. Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves. 11 Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart. 12 Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times. 13 Share with God’s people who need help. Bring strangers in need into your homes. ~Romans 12:9-13

Loving those who love us back is easy. What about those who don’t love us back? What about those who aren’t warm and fuzzy? We all have a few prickly folks in our lives who we try to avoid. How  do we face them? With Love. That’s the simple answer. The behavior is the hard part. Just like anything new, it must be repeated again and again before it becomes routine. If you begin to struggle with Loving others, consider how much the Father Loves you. He woke you up this morning, and he really didn’t have to do so. He doesn’t owe us anything, but we owe him our lives. Remember who you’re living for, and the Love (uppercase) will follow.  May blessings abound! ❤

How Did He Speak To You?

Good morning, friends!  Happy Monday! I trust that your weekend was a good one. Did you fill your cup? There are always so many fun events to attend during the summer, and it’s virtually impossible to choose sometimes. I hope you made it to that concert series in the park or that beautiful outdoor wedding. Perhaps you got a massage or met a few friends for brunch. Maybe you just lounged on the couch all weekend because that’s what you really needed. No matter what you did or didn’t do, I hope that it benefited you.

Yesterday I spoke to you about sound advice and referenced John 10:1. Since we get messages all day long, it’s important to tune in to the ones from God. Spending time with him is essential to knowing his voice. His “true sheep” know his voice and will not be led astray by unfamiliar voices. It sounds like an easy task — to listen for God’s voice, but if you don’t know him yet, it might prove difficult.

What’s worthy of noting is that God speaks to us in various ways. Some have heard his voice while he speaks to others through their thoughts. I’ve even heard someone say that God speaks to her through her heart. He’s not limited in how he chooses to reach you, so expect the unexpected. You might hear a song, see a picture, read a billboard, or hear a familiar laugh. However he chooses to speak to you today, stop what you’re doing and listen up. May blessings abound! ❤

How has God been speaking to you lately? Scroll down to the comments and share your experience with me.

Before you leave today, please take a moment to enjoy my Music Monday selection from Donnie McClurkin entitled “Speak to my Heart.”

Sunrise Sermon: Sound Advice

It’s amazing how a verse or a quote you’ve seen time and again can speak to you in a way that you hadn’t experienced before — depending on the season you’re in. Some days as I’m reading a chapter or two from the word of God, something will get my attention, and I usually stop and unpack it a little and research its meaning if I have the luxury of time that day. If I don’t, it just replays in my mind until I do something about it. Today’s excerpt is an example of one of those readings that made me pause and reflect because of an article I had read a couple days earlier. Take a minute to read the following excerpt from John 10:1.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” ~John 10:1-5

If you go on to read verses six through ten, you’ll see the meaning of Jesus’ illustration. He is the gate for the sheep that’s referenced in today’s reading. He continues to explain that those who came before him were thieves and robbers whose sole goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. Does that sound familiar? His “true sheep” didn’t listen to them and didn’t follow them; instead, they waited and listened for his voice.

The article I read a few days ago was about self-care. The author of this short article referred to those who don’t seek mental health support because of cultural norms. This person sought sage advice and embraced the words of this trusted family member who insisted that she didn’t need to see a therapist even though she was an emotional wreck. This trusted family member suggested that the author’s faith wasn’t strong enough and that her relationship with God was probably tenuous at best.

We get advice from others every day — both solicited and unsolicited, and it comes in various forms: commercials, billboards, hushed conversations, or the tape that’s playing in your head. Sometimes, the advice givers are like those robbers and thieves — they’re miserable, so they want you to be miserable too. They offer you advice without good intentions. They may realize that you are a home maker — a mother of five with a 5,000 square foot house and very little time to keep up with all you’re required to do. When you mention getting a housekeeper to come in once a week, you’re made to feel weak. Are you really weak, or is the advice giver merely envious of your ability to secure help? Consider what will benefit you. Your life is clearly imbalanced. What will make life a little more manageable for you? Sometimes we should just thank advice givers for their advice, but do what’s best for ourselves and our situations.

I’m not the woman in this scenario, but if I were, I’d definitely get some help — a housekeeper, a Southern cook, and maybe even a driver. I’m not the author of that article either, but if I were, I’d seek emotional support from an expert if that is what I truly needed. Questioning someone else’s faith is a flagrant foul, and if someone does that, it should raise a red flag in your mind. No one knows the state of your relationship with God but the two of you. The truth of the matter is simple. The thief’s purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy. God’s purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life. Only you can decide whose advice to take. May blessings abound! ❤

 

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

Myopia

Without a vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). This message is succinct, yet you can glean a sense of urgency, a call to action, and a dire consequence of inaction from two clauses, six words, twenty-nine letters. The cause-effect relationship is clear. If there is no vision, there will be no followers — no one to carry your hopes, dreams, and plans into the future.

Some of the best ideas are conceived and birthed from some of the brightest minds. Though these hopes and dreams born out of a perceived need are brilliant, their light is quickly extinguished if there is no light bearer, if there is no road map.

I’m no ophthalmologist, but I can recognize someone suffering from myopia just from spending a little time observing him or her. The good news is that myopia is treatable. There’s hope. Seek wise counsel in the form of a coach or mentor. In fact, pray for it and watch what happens. Remember, iron sharpens iron. After securing a mentor, the next step is clear.

Go to the people and tell them your vision. Allow them to use their talents, abilities, and gifts (TAGs) to help you create a road map. Follow the road map, and make a few adjustments along the way. Rest when you’re weary. Fuel up when you’re empty. Move when you’re tired of sitting still. Never get too comfortable.

I met a man years ago who was called a visionary. He had great ideas, dreams, and hopes for a better educational experience for students in his school. He worked for years to bring his dreams to life, but as soon as they were conceived, they withered and died  almost immediately. He, like some leaders, suffered from myopia. Those around him who saw no success come of those dreams and hopes lost respect for this dreamer because he was shortsighted. Having a vision without a plan is like having a picture of a magnificent, 12-layer cake and all the ingredients but no recipe. This leader needed a recipe. Because he lacked a plan and chose to work alone, he soon burned out and left the profession.

A new leader took his place years later, and though he wasn’t a visionary when he took on this role, he has a recipe for success, and he found a teacher on his staff who had been a project manager. He took his predecessor’s vision, created a road map, articulated the timeline, and the people were intrigued. For once in their lives, they had hope. Over time, all of the dreams of the visionary were born of this surrogate — the new leader who carried the hopes and dreams of a brighter future and shared the excitement of a bright future with the people. They became excited — ignited in fact! In this case, the cure for myopia was a simple recipe — equal parts vision (to know your goal), a plan (to know the steps), people (to execute the plan), and a little fire (to light the way).

Note – If this post speaks to you, scroll down to the comments and share your experience with me. Don’t forget to like, share, or reblog. May blessings abound! ❤