The Malone Zone

Posted in Building Relationships, Dreams, Journey

No Fear In Love

There is no greater love than the love of the Father, and love never fails. Imagine Jeremiah’s reaction as God spoke these words to him:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. ~Jeremiah 1:5

Jeremiah responded with a strong fear of inadequacy — I do not know how to speak; I am too young. God immediately stopped this negative self talk and issued a stern directive. 

Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you. ~Jeremiah 1:7-8

What I suspect is that Jeremiah didn’t yet realize that God was with him and would fully equip him to walk in his purpose. Like Jeremiah, we sometimes forget that as children of God, he was work for us to do as well. He could very easily have a similar chat with you one day — no matter what you’re working on at the time and despite your age. He might just stop you in your tracks and send you in a different direction. Are you willing to say, Yes Lord, or will you tell God how inadequate you are?

God’s love for us is so liberating. He packages courage, love, speaking skills, strength, and compassion into these fragile, human containers and allows us to do his will with the security of knowing that he will rescue us if we get stuck. No one on Earth can make you a promise like that and keep it. Praise God for his vision, provision, and abiding love.

Before you leave today, turn up the volume and sing along to my Music Monday selection by Ginny Owens entitled “Free.” May blessings abound! ❤

 
Posted in Choices, Dreams, Journey

Don’t Put Everything Away

Do you ever think back to your childhood and try to play back the movie of your young life through experienced eyes? I do it all the time — especially this time of year as high school seniors all over the world are graduating and preparing to embark on the next leg of their journeys. I think back to my high school days and wonder if I would do anything differently if afforded the chance to do it again.

Would I take Computer Science or Physics this time? I know for sure I’d probably take Home Economics and an Agriculture class. There are so many practical lessons I could’ve learned from Mrs. Bellamy and Mr. Johnson in their classes. Sure I can take a sewing class or learn how to garden as an adult, but I wonder how my life might be different if I had taken those two classes.

Truth be told, I never dreamed of becoming a farmer or a seamstress, but I certainly had lots of dreams — many of which have come to fruition, but I’m not done yet. When I think back to my humble beginnings in that little house on Jeff Davis Street, so much of my dream casting happened in a tiny bedroom at the front of the house. I believe that some of my dreams are still swirling around in there now — right within reach of another little dreamer who might be living there.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. ~1 Corinthians 13:11

I remember my mother coming into my space sometimes to remind me to tidy up before company came, and my dreams were always at play. She admits that she always wondered who I would grow up to become. A hair stylist, a secretary, a teacher, or a writer? She likely believed that if anyone could do all those things, it would be me because I always lived out my dreams right before her eyes.

As time passed (and it always does), I put away all those toys associated with my dreams: dolls, toy typewriters, journals, and worksheets. At the same time, I put away those dreams of becoming anything I could imagine. Real talk? I think that’s where many of us get off course. We put away all those things associated with childhood, and we forget how important it is to dream. Imagine a world without dreamers. Would you be reading this post if it were not for dreamers?

Go as far as you can see – and when you get there, you’ll see even further.

There’s value in dreaming, and we should never stop, lest they die. As long as you are alive, choose to bring your dreams to life. You’re never too old or too late to reach up, grab hold of what’s swirling around you, and make that dream reality. We’re all waiting on you. May blessings abound! ❤

Posted in Building Relationships, Choices, Goals, Journey, Motivation

Love Defined

Good morning, friends! I can hardly wait to get this day started. I woke up with a song in my grateful heart and a sincere desire to just do better. I think we all owe God our best — whatever that may look like. For some, it may mean donating your money as generously as you donate your time. For others, it might mean reading the word of God each day and acting on those truths. For me, it means finding new ways to draw closer to God so that he will draw closer to me.

There are days when I feel like I’m making up for lost time. Though he’s always been with me, I haven’t always been with him, and that’s a sad realization — knowing that he’s been with me all along, and I didn’t do my best to know him better. I suppose I should also bear in mind that a heart that isn’t open to receive God’s grace and mercy will not appreciate it fully, but a heart that’s open and on fire will burn brighter and longer as it is fueled with the love of God. That’s where I am today — on fire and thirsty. Oh yeah, and grateful. I’m so grateful for all of us that God never gives us what we truly deserve and forgives us our trespasses time and again. That’s real love!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails.

~1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Look closely at the definition of love. Does anything speak directly to you? If you’re as fallible as I, all five verses are speaking in unison. That’s ok though. All five verses will serve as my motivation to be the best that I can be for as long as I am here. Won’t you join me in this journey? Just know that a heart that’s filled with love will always speak love. May blessings abound! ❤

Before you leave today, take a few minutes to enjoy my Music Monday selection by Anthony Brown & Group Therapy entitled “Deserved.”

Posted in Building Relationships, Connection, Expectations

Sunday Sermon: Got Love?

What a great day to be alive! It’s Sunday, the sun rose, and the SON rose. You are alive and dearly loved. This past week I spent some time camped out in 1 Corinthians 13. I read it again and again, and each time, something new spoke to me. What it really revealed was what I’ll call an Expectations Gap.

An Expectations Gap is the difference between what we believe to be true and what is true — a disconnect between what we see and what we hear. For instance, you may know two people who have been married for decades. They go to church every Sunday, and their adult children and grandchildren sit with them in the same pew they’ve sat in since their kids were babies. They give generously to the church and to their community. In their spare time, they donate their gift of music by singing at nursing homes, ribbon cuttings, and other special events. Upon spending a little time with them, you notice that these two people speak ill of each other and disrespectfully to one another. You never witness physical sparring, but their words are sharp and painful–worse than any jab that threatens to level you.

This scenario might leave you a bit confused. How could they do so much good and secretly do so much harm? We expect one outcome based on what we have always seen, but when we look closer, we see a disconnect between what we believed to be true and what actually is true. What we’re left with is confusion, questions, and a need for answers — a way to bridge that gap with whatever is missing.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Having many God-given gifts and stewarding those gifts is a huge responsibility, and it’s often times exhausting. Many who have these life-changing gifts grow weary along their journey and eventually hit a rough patch. That rough patch can lead to stress and uncharacteristic behaviors. The fire with which your heart burned for your ministry seems to have been extinguished, and anything can be the culprit: 15-hour work days, financial woes, health concerns, or a family crisis. All those things can put a damper on your fiery passion, but all is not lost. There’s always hope when we turn to the Gift Giver.

Carve out some time for God, and make that your priority. Let nothing else jockey for first place. He alone must always sit atop everything else in your life. Now that the issue of priorities is settled, ask him for a heaping helping of his grace, mercy, and abiding love. May the infusion of God’s love course through your veins and spill out into everything that you touch. May peace, love, and blessings abound! ❤

Click here for Part II of this series on Love. 

Posted in Answered Prayers, Bible, Building Relationships, Connection

Never Alone

Good Monday morning, friends! I trust that you had a wonderful weekend, and now you’re ready to start a new week — ripe with opportunities to grow, to love, to teach, and to serve. Some of us will actively seek to do these things while others do them with seemingly very little effort. It’s just who they are and how they operate.

All that time and effort you spend actively doing God’s will can be exhausting. It’s rewarding, but some days you just feel spent. That is when you should unplug for a spell. Disconnect from the world, and spend some time alone. Allow yourself some quiet time to reconnect with God. You don’t need an agenda; choose to do nothing but listen to your surroundings and your body — the rhythm of your beating heart, the sound of your breath as you exhale, and the sounds of nature just beyond the walls of your quiet space.

Take this time to pray in the words our Father gave us and really reflect on the meaning of that prayer. Add your own petitions, dreams, and special intentions. Remain in that space as long as you like — knowing that you’re not alone. Invite the Spirit to add substance to your prayers.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. ~Romans 8:26

Enjoy this quiet time with God. Make a habit of scheduling these retreats with him, and you’ll soon see the clutter in your mind disappear. Replacing the clutter are snippets of His vision along with a route for getting there. It’s ok if it’s not a direct route. Enjoy the journey as you meander about. God knows the way; all you have to do is follow him. May blessings abound! ❤

Before you leave today, take a moment to enjoy my Music Monday selection by Cece Winans entitled “Never Have to Be Alone.”

 

Posted in Building Relationships

Sunrise Sermon: It’s Her Day

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From the time we were conceived, we were loved with as much strength as the human heart can muster. Most of us would do anything for mom. An even greater love comes from God our Father. His love has no limits — a love that our minds lack the capacity to understand. Would you also do anything for him — the one who loves you most?  He asks us to honor our mothers and fathers. Surely we can do that for him and for them.

That doesn’t seem so hard to do as we get older and start to appreciate our parents’ wisdom. Personally, I’d like a do over for my teenage years as I was most likely temporarily insane. I had to be hard to love at that stage, but my mom stuck it out. The incessant eye rolling and bad attitude was enough to make any mom flee, but mine stayed put. I owe her so much more than flowers, cash, and phone calls. I owe her my life. She still drives me nuts sometimes, but I treasure the time I get to spend with her: experimenting in the kitchen, shopping, drinking coffee on the porch, and reliving days gone by. You can’t put a price tag on those moments; they’re just too precious.

If your mom is still with you, honor her today and for the rest of her days. Even if she wants to go to Walmart and browse for hours, go to Walmart and like it. If your mom is no longer with you in the flesh, she’s still with you in spirit, and your heart beats because of her. What a wonderful gift — life! Honor her memory today and always. Spend the day with people who knew her and loved her. Get out and do some of the things that she loved — pick a few flowers from your garden, cook a nice meal, wear a big hat, or serve others who may need your smile (which is probably a lot like her smile). When you honor your parents, you also honor God. May blessings abound! ❤

Posted in Building Relationships, Change, Journey

I Am Clean

Lord God, the lover of my soul, I thank you for this day. Thank you for my life and purpose, and thank you for restoring me piece by piece. My heart aches for those who feel hopeless or helpless. I ask that you speak to them, Lord. In a whisper or a loud voice, allow them to feel your presence and to hear your voice.

I see a woman today emerging from the darkness in search of the light source — fumbling for the switch to see who’s speaking. It is you, Lord. It has always been you — sitting beside her in the pit of despair, protecting her from the flames that threatened to consume her, and providing her sustenance in the wilderness.

She’s still searching, Lord. Her mind is a mess of lies, and she doesn’t know you YET, but you long to be gracious to her. I can hardly wait to see what happens next. She’s out of the pit, and you’ve piqued her curiosity, and the time to plant the seeds has arrived. It will be my pleasure to provide water, God. Won’t you please allow her to grow? Fill her with your Holy Spirit and watch her come to life. Thank you for this gift of life. Thank you for hearing my cry, and now I will praise you and wait.

Your servant,

MM