What’s in a Name?

My name isIn the Shakespearean play, “Romeo and Juliet,” the question was posed by Juliet as she tried to justify her love and attraction for young Romeo.  “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.”  What was Shakespeare implying?  He was implying that regardless of name, Romeo would still be Romeo, and Juliet would still be Juliet.  If a rose had a different name, it would still smell like a rose.  In this instance a name doesn’t change who or what we are.  Or should it?

I think of the names that children are given these days.  There is no thought; no significant meaning; no purpose.  I can’t spell, let alone pronounce some of those names.  Some parents go with what’s trending (or not) at the time opting to change a letter or two in order to vary the spelling, but the pronunciation is still the same. (That’s another blog post for another time.)

My mother is a woman of simplicity.  She would dress my sister and I, as well as herself, in timeless, classic fashions that could weather multiple seasons.  She didn’t go for trendy fashions for her purse would not afford us that luxury.  In any event, I believe that is why she named me what she did.  I have a very simple and classic first and middle name, Angela Camille.  As I young child, I hated to be called Angela.  Angie is who I was to family and close friends.  Looking back now, I think it represented a playful, child-like innocence.  Sure my teachers called me Angela, but that was different.  Through high school, college, and today, I was and still am Angie to my friends and family.  As a young professional, I dare not let my supervisor or co-workers call me anything but Angela.  I needed to be taken seriously and that was the way I would gain respect in the workplace, or so I thought.  Then there were a few guys I liked/dated that called me Angela.  There was one that called me Angel.  One referred to me fondly as Camille.  Whether I’m Angela, Angie, Ange, or Camille, there is no one else I’d rather be.  I love Dr. Seuss quotes and this one is framed and in my office at work, “Today you are YOU, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is youer than YOU!”  My name is uncomplicated and easy to spell.  Sometimes, depending on what I’m called, it’s can be reflective of my current position, mood or attitude.  I believe I was given the right name.  Somehow it just fits me or maybe I grew into it.  What about you? Do you fit your name or does your name fit you?

Shaken Confidence

Dont Disturb This GrooveLife happens.  Sometimes it disturbs our groove.  It shatters our confidence, if you will.  We’re moving along and everything is falling into place and going according to OUR plans.  Then BAM!  We run into a roadblock and we doubt ourselves and whether or not we heard God.  Well, this recently happened to me.  I was embarrassed and ashamed.  I thought I was moving in God’s will.  Maybe I was.  Maybe everything that happened, happened the way it was supposed to.  I resigned my job in Texas; sold my house; and accepted a job in Tallahassee at a private school.  The first week in, I knew I was in trouble in that it…the city…the school…was not a good fit.  I had walked into a hornets’ nest.  The staff didn’t meet my “standards” and I personally did not want to train non-librarians how to be librarians.  That is what I believed was expected of me.  Now to a librarian who has obtained her masters’ degree, nothing is more offensive than a non-degree person referring to herself as a librarian.  This was the case at that place of employment and I was vexed by it everyday!  Not only that, there was some house keeping that needed to be done and who better than me to do it, or so I thought.  I went all commando, barking orders, but not valuing the skills they had or the work they had accomplished.  (I need to pause here and tell you that if you are reading this and are perfect, you should probably stop here.  This is a tale of my imperfection.)

In any event, my pitbull approach only hurt me in the end and I was released from that job.  According to them, I resigned, but technically I didn’t have a choice.  “What the hell happened?” is what I thought to myself.  How did I get here?  I just uprooted myself and belongings across country.  I purchased a home.   I know I heard God!  I ALWAYS hear God!  Much to my dismay, my confidence was shaken, and shattered.  I reached out to those closest to me and shared what happen.  My friends allowed me to cry and process this situation.  Needless to say, I just needed a J-O-B!  As much as I love working with teens, I didn’t really want to return back to a school to work.

It just so happens that an acquaintance I made before leaving Texas happened to be a career coach.  In April, she reached out to me.  I shared with her what happened and she has since be coaching me.  Here I was sending out all these resumes out of sheer desperation, even to K-12 schools, which I did not want to return to.  In any event, the coach felt that I needed to stop what I was doing and  re-evaluate my strengths and weaknesses.  Once I did that, the right job opportunity came.  It meant another relocation, but it was still in Florida.  I always say, “THIS is the Florida I thought I was moving to when I moved to Tallahassee!”  It’s a much better fit and I see so much potential at my job, not just myself, but for the program, my team, and the customers I serve.  I’m excited about this second chance that God has given me.  While I feel like I failed, God had another plan…a ram in the bush.  It is true what Jeremiah 29:11 says.  “For I know the plans I have for Angie, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper her and not harm her, plans to give Angie hope and a future.”  What God has for me is for me!  My journey is not your journey; our paths are not the same.

As much as I hate to admit this, I was arrogant and prideful.  There had to be a breaking so I could learn some very important lessons.  I began to think about the kind of leader I really wanted to be and what the role would entail.  My role as a leader was to develop other leaders.  I’m still learning how to be a better leader, but I also focus on how I want my new team to be empowered.  Empower.  That is a word my new manager uses every day and I like it.  I see her vision for our library clearly and from that first moment I met them, I knew.

I cried many days and the love God demonstrated for me through my sister, my brother-in-law, my niece, my aunt, and my friends was unbelievable.  All I can tell you is prayer works and God has strategically placed some prayer warriors in my life.  Sometimes when I would cry out to God, He would answer the prayer, almost word for word, using my brother-in-law as a vessel and I would cry even harder.  It was the comfort and confirmation that I needed.  My family has never been so awesome!  That is when my brother-in-law told me, “I love you even more in your valley.”  Each time I recall that statement, I tear up from the inside out.

After the Tallahassee incident, I lost my confidence.  I doubted myself and my decisions-making ability…always second guessing myself.   I can tell you  this.  God IS faithful even when I mess something up.  He provided and never missed a beat.  My well never ran dry; I never missed a mortgage payment; car payment; or any payment.  Everything was still paid on time!  In fact, my credit score went up and I always had groceries!  It was three months before God opened the right door.  I can tell you that I was afraid every day and that I doubted.  Even in that doubt…in that unbelief, I kept believing.  I know that may not make sense to some of you.  Sometimes hope is all you have to hang on to.  I was determined to not let go.  I had enough sense to know to keep calling on God even if I could not see it.  I kept believing Him and knew this had to be working for my good!  Soon, the shift in my mindset came.  I can’t tell you the exact moment, but I sensed the restoration of my confidence in Him, and perhaps even in myself.

God opened the right door and placed me somewhere I never thought I’d work.  I am happily relocated in my new city, in my new job, with an amazing team!  Not only did the Lord allow me to relocate, but He allowed me to rent my house in Tallahassee.  I didn’t have to lose material things, but I did have to trust God.  I made, and still make, the choice everyday to trust Him even when I don’t see the end result.  He’s just that kind of God.  My confidence was shaken, but HE has restored me…..AGAIN!  God never ceases to amaze me!

If you are reading this, it is not by accident.  If you have hit that  rough patch that shook your confidence, God can turn it around!  It was not an accident; it had to happen.  He can restore you.  He can turn your situation around.  Lay down your foolish pride and shame.  In the midst of my situation, part of getting through it was to share it; to not bear this cross by myself.  When things happen you can’t tell everybody.  There are just some people…the naysayers…the “Debbie Downers”….who are ecstatic when you fall.  That’s okay because they do not have the last word!  They are not the authors or finishers of my faith.

BUT God!  Let God be God.   Keep trusting.  Keep believing.


Loving Me in My Valley

pexels-photo-289472.jpegI am fully aware of what a valley is.  According to dictionary.com,  it is “A long, narrow region of low land between ranges of mountains, hills or other high areas, often having a river or stream running along the bottom.”  My less elaborate paraphrase definition is that a valley is a low lying area of land between mountains or peaks.  It’s a low place, physically, emotionally and/or spiritually.  In this first image, this may be how your vision of a valley….green pastures and rolling hills.

Why am I writing about valleys today?  I’m writing because I’m in my own valley right pexels-photo-531525.jpeg now.  In thinking of a valley experience, The Lord brought Psalm 23 to my mind.  “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.”  You know the rest.  I will not divulge all the details of my situation right now, but it definitely doesn’t feel good.  For me, it’s a place of mistakes, imperfections and failures.  I know I am reminded of my venture to Utah’s Bryce Canyon when I moved out to Austin.  We were hiking with about 60 sixth graders.  While it is beautiful and I was just hiking away, it was easy while I was going down and taking in the scenery.  A valley appears one way but can be quite deceptive.  However, when it was time to come out from the valley, the challenge hit me slam in the face.  I was so taken aback by the beautiful rock formations that I failed to notice that I was walking downward and it didn’t dawn on me that I would have to walk up out of that place.  Let me tell you it was the hardest thing I ever had to do! I couldn’t breathe.  I felt like my lungs were collapsing.  I don’t have asthma, but it felt like I could have been having an asthmatic attack.  I hadn’t even considered the difference in altitude.  My legs were like lead, as in the metal.  The higher I climbed, the more gravity worked against me!  Through my blood, sweat, tears, the help of one of my co-workers, and the faithful help of my student angel, I finally made it out of the canyon.  I cried in front of my students and they saw my brokenness.  They were so encouraging and cheered me on.  The closer I got to the top, the more the kids cheered, “You can do it, Ms. Hall!  You’re almost at the top!”  When I got out, I bawled even harder.

“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.”  This brings me to my dark valley.  That scary, unknown place.  This is where I feel that I shadow of deatham right now.  Our walk with God is perfect because we serve a perfect God, but we are not.  It doesn’t mean that we will not have trials, tests and tribulations.  All I can tell you is that they don’t feel good, but they are very necessary for our growth.  Even when I can not see it; God, I’m still going to believe it.  In my valley, I feel like I can’t hear God.  I know He spoke and set my feet upon a certain path.  Did I miss Him?  Did I hear Him clearly and correctly?  The honest answer is, right now, I simply don’t know.  In that unknown space, I’m afraid.  I don’t want to cry out in desperation, but right now, I’m thirsty!  I’m thirsty to hear God and to know His will.  Even in my valley, I have amazing friends and family.  Just when you think you’re about to throw in the towel, God sends reminders of His goodness and faithfulness.  He sends reminders that he has not forgotten about me.  Most recently, God used my brother-in-law to remind me of His love for me.  It was Tuesday morning (3/13/18) and Rob texted me.  “Good morning, Angie.  I just want you to know that I’m praying and trusting God to supply you with strength to make it out of that valley.  You have asked ‘why you?’  Because God knows your strength and the faith and trust in Him to lift you out of that valley.  He is refining you right now through the pain; He’s refining you through the tears; He’s refining you. The Lord knows what He is doing.  Are you ready for what He’s going to do?  Remember His promises; He will protect you; He will guide you; He will bless you.  So praise Him with a joyful heart because in spite of it all, He deserves all praise and glory.  I love you more in your valley.”

Wow.  It was that encouragement that touched me, but even more so, when he told me, “I love you more in your valley.”  If you only knew our story and how much it means for him to say that to me.  To be loved in a place of failure and imperfection; to be loved in a place of mistakes; to walk in a place of shame, but SURELY the God I serve is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that I can ask and imagine even when I’m a mess.  He loves me in my valley place.  He demonstrates His love for me in that valley place.  Can you love me in my valley?  Can you love yourself in your valley? Things can turn around in the valley.  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”



Getting to Happy: Happy New Year – Happy New Life

20171231_120220I’ve thought about this post for a moment.  How will I ring in the new year, 2018?  I have kept a journal since October 1992.  Once upon a time, I would go back and read the past year’s entries on New Year’s Day.  Let me say this loud and clear.  I was a hot mess.  Broken.  Busted.  Disgusted. Masking.  I would read the entries, one by one.  Without any awareness, my tears would stream down my cheeks.  Before I knew it I was sobbing.  Large, broken, shoulder-shaking sobs.  I don’t think I ever finished reading an entire year’s entries.  Eventually, I stopped looking back.  I didn’t see growth.  I was only reminded of my always fractured state of being.

This morning while in church, I heard the pastor reflect on 2017 from what I considered “the half empty glass” perspective.  I was very disappointed.  I thought to myself,  “That’s not encouraging anyone or giving them hope.”  For me, my glass is half full.  In fact, my cup was running over!  The year of 2017 was great for me!  I believe that 2018 will be the fulfilling of some God-made promises.  This last year has been my best, by far.  My pastors from Summit Worship Center (Austin, TX) always encouraged us to extend our faith….to really stretch and go beyond ourselves.  I made a conscious decision to do that.  I had already known since spring 2016 that God was going to move me.  It would not be until late 2016 that God began to have me get my house in order and declutter.  I went on a major household purge.  By the time 2017 rolled around, I was ready to buckle down with God and seek His will.  I had been given this book, which I have mentioned in my other posts, “Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge” by Mark Batterson.  I sought God for the impossible and I believed Him for it.  I would rise early for what Pastor Andrea called the Hour of Power.”  I would pray and study God’s word.  I would rise by 5:00 AM and loved that still quiet of the morning. God spoke and kept speaking.  He was very clear about what I was to do:  look for a new job; resign from my old job; sell my house; sell this; sell that; give this away; or give that away.  It didn’t make sense to me, but I trusted Him.

Before I knew it, my life completely shifted.  I resigned my job, sold my house, got a new job and purchased a new home.  During the entire process I just kept trusting God.  I would remind Him that all this was His doing and His name…His reputation was on the line.  In that obedience, I experienced the smoothest transition ever.  So I did have a great 2017.  God exceeded my expectations, doing more than I could ask or imagine.  I’m still in awe and still find myself shaking my head in amazement.  I knew He would do everything He had told me.  I kept believing it…even when I could not see it…I still believed.

I now sit in my new home in my new city, knowing I’m on the path God has orchestrated for me.  I still don’t know the details of God’s plan, but I know I’m where I’m supposed to be.  For some time now, I have been of the mindset that I do not have to know all the answers or have it all figured out. It’s okay to live in the unknown.  I’m still doing that, but I’m still trusting God, too!  I feel like I finally got to my happy….not that superficial happy that people want to see because my truth would make them uncomfortable.  They don’t know what it took for me to get to my happy.  Maybe my happiness is more contentment.  Maybe that contentment stems from the wisdom I’ve gained from years of hurt and pain. Maybe that happiness is just that joy that I finally understand that the world didn’t give to me and it can not take from me.  It brings me to a place of being centered and grounded.  It’s not what I do, but who I am. It is not me; I am it.  I AM centered.  I AM grounded.  I no longer sweat the small stuff.

This is my happy.  This image is what that happy looks like for me.  It only took me 52 years to get here.  It is my hope that you will find yours in 2018.  Take a picture today and tuck it away in your phone.  On next New Year’s Eve, take an new picture.  Pull out that old picture and compare it to the new one so you can see how far God has grown you.  I wish you and your family many blessings in this new year.

Living on the Offense

I am the first to admit that I know NOTHING about sports.  I can name some teams and some players.  Those who know me, know I love the Arizona Cardinals, but more so, I love me some Larry Fitzgerald!  I fell in love with him and the Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII, 2008!  It was the first time I had actually sat with a group of people to watch a game.  My heart-strings were tugged and I wanted a win for the Cardinals, but to no avail, that game would be lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So what was it that drew me to the Cardinals; to Fitzgerald (besides those long, beautiful locks)?  It was the way they played.  I’m sure other teams play just as hard and until the end of the game, regardless of the score.  The Cardinals were relentless and never let up.  It was a defeat with a difference of 3 points in that super bowl game, and I was deeply disappointed.  Even as I have watched them over almost 10 years, they still play with the same heart and integrity until the end of the game, win or lose.

What I have learned is that the ultimate goal of the offense is to score a touchdown.  The offensive line has the responsibility of protecting the quarterback and the person receiving the ball.  That person could be the wide receiver (Fitz), the running back,  or a tight end.  Basically, whoever gets the ball in their hands, on the offense, is working to score a touchdown.

It should be the same for our spiritual life.  We should be on the offense against the enemy.  We should not just be sitting and waiting for an attack.  We need to be ready at all times, always prayed up and always ready to use the Word of God, which is one of the spiritual weapons God has provided for us.  Don’t live your life waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Instead be proactive.  Seek God-given opportunities and sightings for when and where He is working.  In the “Experiencing God” series, by Dr. Henry Blackaby, he teaches us to look for God where He is working and to join Him.  We live offensively in that we choose how we will react to life.  We choose how we respond.  We choose to walk away with a life lesson.  We respond out of love and in forgiveness.  I know this sounds really hard….heck, it is hard!  Believe me, I practice this EVERY day!  Sometimes I fail and most times, I succeed.  I have lived defensively and it takes a lot of energy…too much.  That is just another trick of the enemy.  He only wins if you let him.

I can promise you this.  When you take one step, God takes ten.  He desires to have us live above our privilege, not beneath it.  When we fight for Him, He will fight for us and win!  Winning may not come in the way man sees it, but your victory will be peace of mind and joy that the world didn’t give you and can not take away.  Today, I’m choosing to live on the offense.  What will you choose?

Be About It!


It’s weird to me that I seem to make connections via songs, books, and TV.   This post is no different. I was studying day 10 of  “Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge” by Mark Batterson. Day 10 is “Crazy Faith.”  That is my way of life and has been since October 2005. Asking God for something crazy and beyond my means; believing Him for it; and then it coming to fruition.  He leaves me in awe once He delivers.   I remember that date because I recorded that in my journal and I remember exactly where I was when I prayed, “Lord, I need you to do something radical in my life.  I need some crazy faith.”  I was driving down Albemarle Road in Charlotte and I was passing the State Employee Credit Union.  Don’t ask me how or why I remember those specifics….I just do.  I knew what I was asking and what He would do.  When you ask God for something, sometimes you see instant results; sometimes you don’t.  It was around that same time I asked God for the “Yellow Rose Promise,” which He delivered months later, like the birth of a baby. He planted the “seed” and I watched it grow.  Be about it.

So, with that being said, I wasn’t just sitting there doing nothing when I asked God for something.  Asking may have been activating my faith, but it wasn’t until I started doing that it was truly activated.  If it was a job I was seeking, I sent out resumes.  If it was something as simple as needing a new outfit and not wanting to pay a lot, I scoured the racks for a bargain and found one.  If I sensed God relocating me, I opened myself up to where He wanted to send me by taking a chance and exploring those places via research.  I ended up in Austin for 11 years and now He’s moved me to Tallahassee.  I don’t know how long I will be here, but it will be as long as He wants me.  Be about it.

Don’t just ask.  DO!  Do your part! Do the work!  We want everything done for us, but will not and do not do anything to help ourselves.  We must activate the very faith we’re asking for.  The Word says that, “Faith without works is dead.”(James 2:14-26).  I get so sick of people telling me what they want, but they do nothing to move in that direction.  God is not going to do all the work for you!  Get off your lazy behind and do something about YOUR life; YOUR dreams; YOUR desires; YOUR hopes!  You must be faithful over a few things before you can be ruler over many things.  (Matthew 25:21-23).  Once upon a time I asked God, “How much of my destiny is up to me?”  He said, “All of it!  Sure I have it mapped out, but you decide the path based on free-will.”  Riiiiiiiight.  So it is for you, as it is for me.  Be about it.

For some people, the concept of faith is very foreign.  How do you get?  How does it grow?  How do you believe in something you don’t even have yet or can not see?  All I can tell you is what I know and what works for me.  Firstly, I spend time with God and in His word.  I prefer to do it early in the morning before my day gets going.  I don’t always succeed, but I strive for that time of day.  Try to make it a point to get up early in the morning.  I have found that is when God speaks, revealing bits and pieces of His plan for me, and when I hear Him the best.  You will not mistake that the voice you heard for some other voice.  So for you folks who like to talk non-stop, this means you will need to be quiet.  In case you don’t understand, it means “SHUT. UP!”  Sometimes, you just need to listen.  Secondly, faith requires a little bit of crazy.  I’ve got plenty for everyone, but only your crazy will work for you!  That crazy is what propels me to seek the impossible; things I can’t possibly do myself.  I figure I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So I put it out there before God.  My methods are a little unorthodox with God, but they work for us.  I’ve always been sassy and I’m the same way with God.  That’s one thing I love about Him…He lets me be a daughter…a little girl who seeks her Father in all things and is not afraid to ask for anything.  In any event, the  last thing I encourage you to do is to go about your daily life, BUT as though you have already received what you’ve asked God for.  Before I relocated, I sensed that was the direction God was moving, and I began packing, with certainty, that He would move me and move me to the destination of His choice.  Be about it.

Be about it.  Don’t just talk about it; do something!  I don’t like to date guys who talk a lot!  I mean, conversation is good, but if all you’re talking about is you and never listening, we have a problem.  It’s not just the guys I’ve dated, it’s the people in my circle, too.  One of my dear friends and I were having a discussion about faith and she said (paraphrased), “This comes very easy for you.  You don’t realize that.  Not everyone hears the voice of God so clearly and just does what He directs them to with such obedience and ease. You don’t hesitate.  You don’t stumble.  You just do.”  That silenced me.  Mainly because I had never thought about it and assumed everyone did the same thing.  She assured me that is not the case.  Regardless, try Him.  All you need is faith the size of a mustard seed.  God will work with that tiniest portion of faith, and then He will exceed your expectations above all that you asked or imagined.  He will blow your mind.  Just be about it.


My Abraham Journey to the Sunshine State

It’s been quiSunshine Statete some time since I’ve written, but that is in part due to the fact that I have been in transition.  God has been busy moving me and I was making preparation from packing and selling my house to job hunting.  Needless to say God has worked all things for my good, even when I could not see it, I still believed Him.

How often have you walked blindly into a situation when God told you to “Go”?  I’ve done it a few times and it was no easy task.  I certainly had questions and even challenged Him on a few things.  I now reside in a city which I had never even visited until I arrived on Monday, July 31, 2017:  Tallahassee, FL.  I knew this was the city God had chosen for me, just like I knew Austin was the city He had chosen for me.   He even created a job opportunity, as well as an opportunity to buy new home.  I know, I hear you thinking it. “How are you moving to a new city and house, sight unseen?  Are you crazy?”  Sometimes, you just have to trust God and that’s what I did and stayed determine to do so, despite the naysayers.  My journey was my journey.  I couldn’t be “cautious” because you were afraid.  I didn’t have a choice and I knew God was sending me back east.  I had already declared that if I had no job offer by Monday, July 31st, I would start driving back east.  My plan was to camp out at the home of dear friends in Columbia, SC.  I knew God would be moving me somewhere on the east coast.  I just didn’t know where.  Once I listed my house (May 24th), and as I would walk through my house, God would give me directives about items in the house.  “You’re not taking this.”  “You’re not taking that.”  “Sell this!”  “Sell that!”  “Give this away!”  “Give that away!”  “Daughter, I’ve already restored you many times over.  Don’t you think I will do it again?”  And He did!   I was not attached to any of that stuff.  I trusted Him.  While the house was listed, I would pray daily, “Lord, send the right buyer to this home; someone who will sense your presence when they walk in; someone that YOU will speak to about this house.  Father, I only need one.”  And ONE is what I got.  I got one cash offer on June 18th.  We closed on July 17th.

So here I am at a private school in Tallahassee.  I wish I could tell you it’s been a super easy transition.  In the sense of finding the job and buying a house, absolutely!  I started my job on August 1st, signed loan papers, and put an offer in on a house I had been eyeballing on the internet.  Everything was so smooth.  What has not easy is missing my friends and church family back in Austin.  Heck, I miss my church family more.  What’s weird is that I didn’t even want to join that church but when I did, they became my “blood.”  I know God will plant me in another church.  He’s already orchestrating it even now as I type this.  I’m here for a reason and only He knows what that is.  Walking in the will of God is the safest place to be, and it’s perfect in His mind.  To us, maybe not so much, but still the best place to be.