Living with Serpents!

Matthew 3:4 – talks about how John the Baptist lived. One commentary response was, “Do you practice what you preach?  Could people discover what you believe by observing the way you live?”  We live in a pit of snakes/serpents/vipers everyday.  Call them what you will.  When I think about the characteristics of snakes, I associate them being sneaky, crafty, cunning, and poisonous creatures.   Take into consideration some of those crafty snakes from the Bible and movies.  Satan in the form of a serpent visiting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Moses’ staff turned into a serpent, although the purpose was to devour Pharoah’s staff turned snakes.  Kaa, the Indian Python in Jungle Book.  Nag and Nagaina, the king cobras in Rikki Tikki Tavi.  Nagini, Voldemort’s giant hybrid python in Harry Potter.   I even had my own snakes last October, which led me to hire a lawn service to mow my grass.  I went as far a beheading one, which appeared to be a rattlesnake to me.  Then again, I deem ALL snakes poisonous because I’m so terrified of those that crawl on their bellies. While my snakes were only about 13 inches, there were terrifying nonetheless.

I wished the first one away. I was mowing the grass along the sidewalk and I guess I disturbed his rest.  He came slithering out of the grass.  I ran to the garage, grabbed a shovel, but when I got back, he must have burrowed himself deeper into the grass.  My nerves were so shot that I couldn’teven finish mowing the grass.  After taking a 4-hour break and came back to finish, that joker slithers out again.  Only this time, he decides to go across the street into the neighbor’s yard.  Good riddens!

If that wasn’t enough, on a Tuesday night like I always do before I lock up for the night, I looked out the back door to make sure everything was kosher.  How come, I see this baby rattle snack (pictured with this post) on my back porch!  Y’all, if someone had recorded me acting a fool, I could have one a cash prize.  Looking back it was kind of ridiculous, but I was terrified and all I knew I had to do was kill him!  I ran the garage, grabbed the shovel and being too afraid to step out onto the back porch, I cautiously opened the door, to make sure there wasn’t a family of them.  All I had ever been told was to cut off the head to stop the snake.  Being afraid to venture onto the porch, I stood in the doorway, extended the shovel in hand, butt pushed back inside, raised shovel and came down in one fallen swoop decapitating that snake…while my eyes were closed!  OMG!  I opened them once I heard the shovel scrape against the concrete.  His little head was spinning through the air and I proceed to go “Rambo” on him, cutting him into more pieces.  Y’all don’t even know!  Then I had to get that joker up, but not that night.  I took two Benadryl and took my behind to bed.  The next morning I got up and hoped some critter had come along and eaten him, but to no avail.  The only thing out there was a bunch of darn ants gathering to eat his behind! That left me no choice but to rake him into a box and chunk him in the trash.  Thank God it was trash day.

The lawn service was already schedule to come on that Wednesday evening.  Do you know they had the audacity to kill another snake on the side of the house?  WTH?  Did I have an investation?  Was there a nest somewhere in my yard?  I wasn’t trying to find out.  I went and bought some Snake-Away from Home Depot and along with moth balls, put that out in my yard!  Needless to say, I have since sold my Honda lawn mower.  I have no intentions of EVER mowing grass again!

All this to say, yes, I am terrified of snakes!  In fact, I’m scared of any reptilian-like creatures, i.e., frogs, lizards, salamanders, gekos, etc.  So I had to decide how to face the snakes in my life because they will come.  I decided to do what the Lord promised me in His Word.  When the serpent deceived Eve, God spoke and said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” ( Genesis 3:15).  God was speaking of Jesus.  As I was bringing that shovel down on the snakes head, that is exactly what I thought, “Jesus is going to crush your filthy head and so am I!”

Now this was an actual snake, but we do encounter people who have snake-like characteristics.  In the same way with an actual snake, we must, metaphorically, cut off their heads when they lie and cause descension.  We crush it before it ever begins.  But we also have to learn how to recognize the venom they spew.  I know of a person who actually has the physical and characteristic traits of a snake.  Small, hard lined lips.  Slit eyes.  Never looking you directly in the eye when she talks to you.  Throwing you under the bus as sure as I am A.Redbone. Never accepting responsibility and always blaming someone else.  She gossips about everyone around her and remains hush, hush about her own life.  She gets dirt on others, but you know nothing about her.

Regardless of the snakes, I try to always be aware of my surroundings.  I look high and low for snakes lurking around corners, hiding in trees, sitting in a cublicle next to me, etc.  They will always be present, but the choice is mine in how I decide how to face and conquer the snakes.

White People Just Don’t Understand

I have said it before and will continue to say it.  America has a heart problem!  I am so sick of having to justify being Black or feeling a certain way when ignorant comments are made and especially, when you have not (and are not interested) in walking in my shoes as a Black woman!  OMG!  You tell us we’re being too sensitive, or that we’re too angry, and that simply is not true.  Perhaps you’re not being sensitive enough!  You make stupid comments that I endure daily and you laugh at ridiculous comedic skits about Black people  and those skits aren’t hardly funny!  What’s worse is you have the audacity to show me this stuff and think I’m going to laugh and be okay with it.  All you get from me is the look that says, “WTF,  Dumb ass!”  And I then walk away shaking my damn head!  Really?  Yes!  It happens all the time.  I’m just pretty fed up with ignoring it and sitting back silently and taking it (or so you think I should).  Now, I just ask, “Really? Why would you show ME that? It’s offensive to Black people.”

This week I posted an article by another Black librarian and the jest of the article for me was that Black librarians (male & female) don’t get the same level of respect our white counterparts do.  However, someone bothered to claim this article was about Trump, while minimizing the message of the article.  Everything is NOT about Donald Trump!  Needless to say, I have now deleted that person on Facebook.  I must acknowledge that he is a white male and I’ve known of his overly conservative, right-wing views and comments for some time, but the fault was mine in that I ignored them.  Now, I’m done!  Kick rocks, Buster Brown! You can post that crap on your page…Not mine!  Don’t go looking for him because he has been DELETED!  The article in question was this,  Librarians in the 21st Century: It is Becoming Impossible to Remain Neutral  , by Stacie Williams, a Cleveland, Ohio Librarian.

Back to my main point.  When a patron approaches the desk and looks around as if I’m invisible…I look around with them.  Finally the exchange goes like this:


Me: May I help you with something?
Patron: Is there someone here who can help me?
Me: What is it you need help with?
Patron: I need helping finding information. (still not acknowledging that I’m at a desk that is clearly marked Reference Desk or that I have a name badge on with my tile, Librarian).
Me: Sir/Ma’am, this is a reference desk. Anyone at this desk is professional trained and has a master’s degree in library science and can assist you. Please don’t ask that question again. Now, how may I help you?

As a public servant, I try not to profile or judge a person based on looks.  Do I fall short?  I’m sure I do!  When helping students select books for pleasure reading, I always tell them not to judge the book based on the cover.  This hits home with me everyday because when I feel myself moving in the direction to “judge” without having all the information.  We could all stand to be more sensitive and accepting of each others’ differences, but DO NOT claim that you understand being Black, when you’ve never been Black.  By the way, having Black friends does not count!



My Walk Ain’t Your Walk

CaJo_Kingdom Business Canton Jones, gospel artist, has an album called, “Kingdom Business.”  One of the tracks on the album is titled, “My Walk.”  The jest of the lyrics is to not concern yourself with what he does or how he does it because at the end of the day, “still we gotta praise Him!” I learned a long time ago not to compare my walk to anyone else’s, but I also learned not to share every detail of what God is doing in my life.  While I’m excited about the move of God, everyone else may not be.  Just when I think I can share what God is doing, with the very people I think I can share it, I’m proven wrong. It’s those very people that are my friends, but have the hardest time with my journey; my faith walk.  I have more support from acquaintenances and strangers than friends and family.  Instead of praising God with me for what He’s doing, they get out of their lane and shovel out  unsolicited advice and plant seeds of doubt when you clearly know you heard from God in the situation.  They are the very ones not walking their own faith walk or following their own advice. In their lives are tore up!  Over time I have learned to ask two questions when people give advice I didn’t ask for.  “What is the real motive? Why is s/he telling me this?”  Sometimes it goes back to them wanting to discourage you because your life is moving ahead while theirs seems to be in an abyss of excuses, lies and denial.  You think you’re being cautious, but sometimes you can be overly cautious. Slow and steady is okay, and it allows you to finish.  However, sometimes there is no slow and steady with God when he is ordering or reordering your steps.  Sometimes He needs you to do it without delay or excuses!  In case you didn’t know it, a delayed response to God is disobedience,  In any event, maybe, sometimes He may need you to speed up and stop questioning every single thing. I’m sure when I think about how we over think His process and methods, me included, we wear God out!  I know He is whupped at the end of the day!

It all goes back to the previous article I wrote, “No Safety Nets Allowed.”  I don’t have to have a plan B, C or D because God has plans B, C, D, Z, and everything in between!  All I am required to do is to put my trust in Him; put my hope in Him; and put my faith in Him.  He’s got this and He’s got me!

As much as I’d like to share the good news of His works in my life; what He’s saying to me…the reality is that I can’t.  To those people who over analyze the things of God, guess what?  GOD IS NOT COMPLICATED!  We make Him complicated!  We just over think it!  Sometimes we overreact, under-react or don’t act at all!  Where is your faith?  What is it exactly you are waiting on?  Are you waiting on God to speak to you in some BIG BOOMING voice?  He could, but it’s not like that.  Sometimes it’s just a prompting, an unction if you will, from the Holy Spirit.  That quiet, still knowing voice of God may be all you get.  In order to get it, you have to have interaction and encounters with God.  You have to know it’s Him speaking to you.  In John 10:27 it reads, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (NIV)  That is what some of my people aren’t getting.  They question what God is doing as if I don’t recognize His voice.  It is not my first time at the rodeo and this is not the first time God has moved in this way.  Your fear will not become my fear; your delay will not become my delay; your no will not become my no.  The question becomes, “Will I be ready when He is moving and I’ve heard Him?”  I want my answer to be “Yes!”  What about you?

A Dirty 4-letter word: The “F” word

No, silly!  I’m not taking about THAT “F” word!  I’m talking about the other “F” word, F-A-I-L!  Fail is not a dirty word.  However, most people regard it that way. I fall off the horse all the time, but I get up, dust myself off, and I get back on the horse!  All it means to fail is this, according to, “to fall short of success or achievement in something expected; to receive less than the passing grade or mark in an examination,class, or course of study;  to be or become deficient or lacking; to be insufficient or absent ;to fall short.”  There are many other ways this can be applied, of course, but I’m just talking about life failures, in general.  

In any event, I didn’t realize that it was okay to acknowledge failure until I was completing a job application.  I applied for this job and knew I was not really qualified, but I submitted the application anyway.  I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  While answering the questions, I was asked what qualified me to do this job. HA!  I replied, “I’m a fast learner, willing to listen, to adapt, and to fail, if necessary.” Now, who the heck writes that on a job application?  I did.  I don’t see failure as a dirty word. It’s that thing that propels us to the next level.  It’s what we can learn from, but first we have to accept it.  It doesn’t mean we bask in it.  We re-examine the failure, why it happened and what we can do better next time.  Yes…you will have a next time!  We can try over and over, but still keep failing. So what?  It doesn’t define you; it doesn’t make or break you; it doesn’t make us a loser or unsuccessful.  It’s not who you are.  It’s our opportunity to make whatever it is better.

I think about all the failures in my life, especially at love.  I have to keep believing that some guys weren’t right guy for me.  I almost married one, but God orchestrated it so that guy would call off the wedding.  I didn’t realize that to be the case at first.  I just felt like I had failed miserably and let all my family down. Each time I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a failure.  In time, I have come to learn that the failures saved me from some long-term hurts that I could not see at the time, and that could have emotionally paralyzed me.

Being a Christian does not exclude us from failure.  In fact, I like to fail!  Don’t get it twisted…it doesn’t feel good, but it definitely keeps me depending on God and acknowledging Him in all things!  He is my source…my provider.  His in infinite in everything.  There is no failure in or with God.  When we attempt to face that failure on our on is we when get stuck.  We focus on it and waddle in our pity.  “Woe is me!”  I don’t have time for pity parties….mine or yours!  I may feel bad about the failure for a day or a few days, but rest assured I am restrategizing how to accomplish what I need to.  I simply ask God to reorder my steps; to give me wisdom; to give me understanding; and to give me discernment.

Michael Jordan Quote2How easy it is to quit.  I see students all day who quit.  “The class is too hard.”  So they quit.  “I don’t like this job.”  So they quit. “The manager gave me too many hours.”  So they quit.   “I don’t like the way that teacher looked at me.”  So they quit.  “She disrespected me.”  So they quit.  How much harder would it be to stick it out?  Life is hard, and it will not get easier.  There will be some successes and there will be more failures.  Think about our young people.  There are systems which are failing them.

They don’t know how to stick with anything because parents, educators, and administrators have made it too easy.  Why?  The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)of 2001. We’re pushing them through a system of standardized testing, pushing what’s on the test instead of pushing real learning.  Students aren’t even allowed, or able when required, to think for themselves. Instead of letting them get a “bad” grade (God forbid), we allow the to retake/redo the test/assignment until they get a passing grade.  For real!  This is really happening in the schools.  Those of my generation (born in the mid to late sixties), do you recall getting an “F” if that is what your work reflected?  Teachers did not give do-overs because they didn’t have time to do extra grading.    Does that mean they wanted us to fail?  Absolutely not!  what they wanted and expected from us, as did my mother, was for us to put in the work and effort to get that passing grade on the test or assignment.  Not anymore.  We spoon-feed information that they can’t even regurgitate and will not commit to memory.  But let there be some foul lyrics to some rap song?  You’ll hear that mess all day!  We have failed them by lowering the standards…the expectation.

F-A-I-L is not a dirty 4-letter word.  We loosely use the other “F” word, which truly is a dirty word and we allow it.  I walk the halls of the school and hear students throw it around loosely all day, with no reverence or regard for the adults in their presence.  Heck, I have adult friends who will do the same!  Let us utter “FAIL” and it’s like, “How dare you?  You’d better fix it so my kid passes and can keep playing sports!” Really?  How about this?  You get out of life, what you put into it and that includes all endeavors.

To encourage you, here is a list of people who failed at some point before making it:

  • Jay-Z
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Walt Disney
  • Steven Spielberg
  • R.H. Macy
  • Soichiro Honda
  • Colonel Harland David Sanders
  • Vice President Dick Chenney
  • Sir Isaac Newton
  • Vera Wang
  • Thomas Edison
  • Sidney Poitier
  • Albert Einstein
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Charles Darwin
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Harrison Ford
  • Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss)
  • Lucille Ball
  • Stephen King
  • Lady Gaga

In the words of Henry Ford, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”


No Safety Nets Allowed!

safety netLife is one big tightrope.  You did know this, right?  The difference between a circus and our lives is that we don’t have the luxury of a safety net.  I don’t think I really want one, but neither is it a guarantee. I choose to live my life with reckless abandonment in Christ, trusting that He’s got me!  What I mean by this is that too often we have to have an answer for every situation before we take that leap of faith.  Sometimes there isn’t one. You just jump!

It’s like when you’re a little kid and your parent or some other trusted adult has you climb up high on the monkey bars.  Once you’re at the top, they yell “Jump!  I’ll catch you!” Without thinking, you hurl yourself off the top, trusting they will catch you.  Guess what?  They do!

With God, we understand this concept of faith and walking without seeing.   Hebrews 11: 1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  We have to have the “proof is in the pudding” type situations before we leap.  Our biblical forefathers lived by faith trusting whatever God told them with firsthand evidence.  Are you an “Abraham” or are you a “Doubting Thomas”?  You remember Thomas.  After Jesus was crucified and laid in the tomb, his body was not there when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. Jesus had been resurrected.  A disciple of Christ, Thomas (aka Doubting Thomas) did not believe the news of Jesus’ resurrection from the other disciples (John 20:24-29).  In fact, he declared that he would not believe unless he saw Jesus for himself AND put his finger where the nail marks were.  Oh ye of little faith, Thomas.  Jesus appeared before Thomas a week later.  He took his hand and guided his finger to the place where the nails had been, and put his finger in it.  Then Thomas believed.

It’s easy to believe when we see it for ourselves.  What about those believers like me who have never seen Jesus, but we still believe!  Lately, I’ve been asking God for some crazy faith.  That’s the faith that is so impossible that it can’t be anybody BUT God’s doing.  That’s what I’m asking for!  I’m asking for the ridiculous.  Recently, I read in “Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge” by Mark Batterson, that we should pray bolder prayers because God is uninspired by our boring prayers.  Wow.  How often have I prayed boring prayers?  Many times, I’m sure.  No more.  I’m praying and believing God for the impossible…the absurb…the ridiculous.

This is evident in my life right now. God has been speaking to me about a transition.  I began sensing it last summer.  I even wrote it in my journal so I could refer back to it.  On Sunday night, I recalled what I had been seeking God for, but I became doubtful…maybe fearful.  In any event, I wavered in my belief of what He had already revealed to me.  I asked Him for confirmation because I needed to get out of the way.  On Monday morning during my quiet time, the Lord directed my attention to my journal.  I wasn’t really sure since most times I try not to look back on what I’ve written.  So, I obediently opened the journal and the first page of volume twenty-something, I went to the August 7, 2016 entry.  I wrote, “After watching Eat, Pray, Love, I feel confirmed.  Lord help me to be open to the where.  God you know the how; the when; and the why.  Help me to keep trusting in that and in Your perfect will.  You are a good, good Father and you are perfect in your provision, your wisdom and your knowledge.  God I trust you.  Help me to continue walking in that trust.  Your love is never failing and always on time.  Father, even if….I still trust you.  If you say go, help me with the preparation.”

God continued speaking and I kept writing it down.  He said to start minimizing and get rid of stuff; sell it if you have to, but it has to go!  On August 23, 2016, I wrote in the journal, “Today is my last 1st day of high school.  Lord, I don’t know what the plan is, but I know there is one.  Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).” Most recently, the Lord brought back to my remembrance the story of Abraham’s faith.  Batterson’s Draw the Circle, Day 20 is titled “Go. Set. Ready.”  Wait!  Isn’t that backwards?  Shouldn’t it be Ready!  Set!  Go!?  With God, we can never be ready.  Why?  Because you’re always going to have an excuse as to why you’re not ready.  God doesn’t have time for all the heeing and hawing!  So his order is “Go. Set. Ready!”  When you’re directed to GO, you don’t have time to dissect.  You just do it!  You just GO!  In Hebrews 11:8, Abraham received this instruction, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Abraham didn’t ask any questions.  He didn’t ask God to wait for him because he wasn’t ready.  He went.  You don’t understand it and may never do so.  Nowhere is it written you have to understand it.  If you hesitate that is the same thing as disobedience.  When you say yes to the GO, God works out all the details.  He orchestrates the perfect timing; the perfect cost; the perfect lodging; the perfect realtor.

I know so many people who are living a half-life, or no life at all because they are afraid to cut their safety net.  They have to have plans A, B, C and D.  God doesn’t require you to have a back-up plan when His hand is in it.  When you are uncertain of His voice, spend time in the Word and pray.  He will begin to speak in a way that you will come to recognize His voice; that sensing; that knowing; that certainty.

All you have to do is GO!  I love that God ambushes us with His plan!  There isn’t too much time to think about it, and especially plan it.  You just need to move out the way and let God’s perfect plan flow. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, Rahab, David and Samuel.  They went.  They didn’t ask questions and they didn’t have a safety net.  To have had one would be stating that they didn’t trust God.  For me to have one, says I’m not trusting God.  I always ask God for three things:  wisdom, understanding, and discernment.  For whatever reason, I always sense when the Holy Spirit is moving in my life, putting me on alert.  Can I ever be completely ready?  Probably not, but I am always looking.  I have cast away my safety net.



The Extremeness of God

Sometimes when I read biblical accounts, I can see how extreme God had to be to get the attention of His people and people who He was going to use to do His will.  Heck, when I look at my own life, I look at that same extremeness.  I know you will find this hard to believe because, for those who don’t know me, I look all sweet and docile, but I’m quite bull-headed.  I have always had a mouth that can be used as a lethal weapon. With that sharp mouth came some bold, sassy prayers…maybe “demands “would be a better term.  In any event, there were some pretty extreme prayers.  While you may think you’re on the road to righteousness, you hit a few road blocks.  It is then that God takes extreme measures to get our attention.  In doing so, sometimes it provokes extreme faith.  I like to call it “radical faith.”

I remember back in October 2005, I was driving down Albemarle Road in Charlotte.  I was on my way to work at Bank of America.  I didn’t hate the job, but I didn’t love it either.  I also remember not getting along with my immediate supervisor.  It seemed that she was always picking on me about something, and my best was never good enough for her.  I really wrestled with yielding to her authority because I felt she provided inadequate leadership.  God did not place me there to like leadership style.  I would later learn I was there because I had a problem with ALL authority, including His.  Let me preface this by saying that in 2004 I began sensing that God was going to move me.  I had been praying about this and God was steadily breaking me down.  It was an extreme situation for me and it required extreme measures.  So, while driving down that road, I said to God, “I need to You give me some radical faith!  I need it to be some real crazy faith because I’m sick of this situation and I need to believe in something radical and crazy!”  It would not come to pass right away, but I kept reminding God of what I asked for.  Then in December 2005, I told my sister to get ready because she was going to be mother’s caregiver.  Then in February 2006, I asked my mother how she would feel about me moving away again.  She said she didn’t know, but countered with, “Why?”  I told her God was getting ready to move me again and I didn’t know where it would be.

So while asking for this radical faith and sensing the upcoming move, I activated that faith even further by applying for positions outside of NC.  I applied in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Virginia.  Texas was the furthest thing from my mind.  I saw this position at a KIPP school in Austin, TX and didn’t know anything about it.  I applied in March 2006 and it would not be until May 2006 that I would hear from them.  Before that, immediately after submitting that resume, I ordered a video about Austin from the Chamber of Commerce. Who does that? No one!  It seemed as though I was on auto-pilot.  The video came and I watched it over and over and over.  It made no sense to me to do this, but I was doing it.

In the meantime, I kept praying and seeking God while applying for jobs.  Finally, the call came from the KIPP school in Austin.  That was the Tuesday after Memorial Day (2006).  I had the phone interview on that Thursday and then I was invited to Austin for a face-to-face interview.  I knew it had to be from God because KIPP purchased my airline ticket for me and took care of my hotel and rental car ,as well.  If you are an educator, you know schools NEVER do that!  I continued to see the hand of the Lord in it.  I came.  I saw.  I conquered.  I got the job offer, but not right away.  Three weeks later.

Even  before that, about six months before that interview, I was already packing up my apartment and getting rid of stuff.  While doing so, I couldn’t explain it, I was just doing it.  When the call came, I was ready.  When God is doing that extreme thing, we can be caught off guard…unprepared, but I wasn’t.  When He moves, He does it so fast that it occurs in the blink of an eye; the snap of your fingers!  Before I knew it and by the end of July 2006, I had moved half way across country and was setting up residence in Austin, TX, USA!

I’m still in awe of this amazing journey that God allows me to be a part of.  I love His extremeness and I love it when He reveals it in my life!  Sometimes, He has to be extreme with me because I’m so bull-headed.  God knows that if He gives me too many details, I will take them and run!  That is not His plan or desire for my life.  Why?  He simply wants me to extend my faith and trust Him.  The older I get, the wiser I become in who He is.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not, but I get better at it and become a lot more sensitive to the extremeness of God and where and how He is working in my life!  God is not intimidated by your bold request or your bold faith!  Give it to Him…He can handle it!

Take that Band-aid off!

broken-heartI had the opportunity to talk with one of my students who knows the Lord.  He’s genuinely a good person with values and seems to have had a good upbringing. He always has a positive disposition, always has a smile on his face, and is never disrespectful.  In that conversation, and knowing what I know about people and myself, we don’t like pain.  We don’t want to feel bad and always want instant gratification.  We don’t want to go through the processes; we just want to get over them.  So we resort to covering it up.  Now we know that purpose of a band-aid is to cover a wound to prevent infection and promote healing.  However, think about our hearts.  We fall in love; we get hurt.  You can’t separate the two; you can’t have one without the other.  When the hurt comes, it feels like someone stabbed you in the heart a hundred times.  I believe the pain we feel means we’re alive.  All the same, we use the band-aid to cover the reality of the situation.  That band-aid can’t mend a broken heart; it can’t prevent infection or promote healing.

Now the young man is always in the library with his girlfriend…I mean everyday!  I began to notice I hadn’t seen this couple in a while.  When I thought about it, I hadn’t seen him either.  Finally he surfaced and my inquiring mind wanted to know ,”So, where have you been?  Where’s your girlfriend?” He, being all evasive, responded “She’s around.” Oh Lord!  My probing mind was like, “What does that mean?  Around?”  He said, “Ms. Hall, I don’t want to talk about it.”  I said, “Oh we gonna talk! What’s wrong with you? You ALWAYS talk!  I can’t get you to be quiet, so spill! Y’all done broke up, haven’t you?”  He admitted they had and I asked him why.  He (and I can only take his word for this) said that they were “too serious.”  He said they had dated two years and they were too young to be so serious.  Really?  You think?  I wish I could say I had some consoling words for him, but I didn’t.  Instead I said, “You’re absolutely right.  You have your whole life ahead of you.”  He justified the relationship by saying he brought her to the Lord.  Okay…that doesn’t mean you have to date.  Me being me, I probe and dig a little deeper until he can’t take it anymore.

Another few weeks go by and he’s a no-show, at least in the library.  This week he comes by the circulation desk as I’m sitting there.  “Well, well, well….look what the wind blew in!  Where have you been?”  He tries to be all cool about it, but he can’t.  He was also looking rather happy.  I said, “What are you smiling about?  You and that girl got back together, huh?”  I wanted to be happy for him, but I wasn’t unhappy for him.  I just felt like, according to the young man, if God told you to end the relationship or you felt some kind of way about it, can those feelings have changed that fast?  I’m not saying he didn’t care about her, but I do think he acted hastily.  I say this because it had only been a few weeks and he admitted he didn’t like being alone.  This is what gets me.  He put old girl on a “contract” and what’s worse is she accepted those terms.  I wish some man would put me on contract.  Boy, bye!  In any event, I do not know the terms of said contract, but he wants certain freedoms and privileges.

That’s when it dawned on me that he (and we) want to put bandages on our feelings.  We don’t like the way hurt feels.  We don’t like the way rejection feels.  We don’t like the way uncertainty feels.  So let’s just put a band-aid on that nasty wound.  Like a natural cut or wound, lack of exposure to the elements is not going to make that broken heart or rejection go away.  It has to run a natural course of healing.  That course, my friends, consist of time, prayer, some tears and some more time.  We want that band-aid to carry us OVER the emotional injury instead of THROUGH it.  There is no getting around it.  There are not shortcuts with God.  Besides, don’t you want to be the best you can be in and through Christ?

That young man reconciled on his terms.  That young lady settled for his terms.  They are both doing themselves an injustice by taking matters of the heart into their own young hands.  I encourage them both to continue to grow in their walks with the Lord and to take their time.  If it is God’s will for them to be together, it will come to pass.  In the meantime, don’t be afraid to take that doggone band-aid off!  Your greatest blessing may come through that wounded heart.  Psalm 51:17 (NIV) reads, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”  God has everything you need to heal that emotional wound.  God is the Father that kisses the “boo-boo.”  The blood of Jesus is the band-aid because He covered us with the blood He shed for us.  The Holy Spirit is the Neosporin that comforts, soothes, and eases that wound over time.  We can’t hurry love and we can’t hurry the work and moves of God in our lives.

The Audacity to Ask

This title came to me one morning when I was reading my devotional.  No, it is not something that happens everyday, but I am working towards that.  I’m reading from “Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge” by Mark Batterson.  Day 6 is titled, “Shameless Audacity,” and it’s taken from Luke 11:8 (NIV), which reads, “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[a] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.”

It’s taken me a minute to publish this blog post because I’ve really pondered this.  Audacity.  Boldness.  Persistence.  We don’t have because we give up in our asking.  Sure God hears us the first time we ask, but how are you asking?  Are you asking without faith?  Are you praying without believing?  Sometimes we need to be bold in our prayers.  Prayer is the activation of our faith.  If we never ask, we will never know.  When you ask, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  In asking, I’m not in a worse position than I was before.  I may be in the same position, but at least I have lost nothing materially, but my faith has been activated, and I’m just crazy enough to believe God for the impossible.  As a child of God, I can call Him on His authority.  Yep…I said it!  What I want you to understand is that this is what God wants us to do.  He wants us to ask Him because it’s His reputation on the line.  When I pray God’s word, what else can He do but prove Himself? I just asking what He’s already promised.  By not asking God, we limit our faith.  God is not to be contained.  He is so infinite and so powerful that you can’t put that in a box and expect it not to explode.  He’s bursting at the seams with blessings for us, but we do not ask.

Do you think you will offend God in asking Him for anything?  You offend Him when you don’t.  When I think about my personality, I can tell you I’m a smart-(bleeeeeep), quick-witted, sassy little thing!  I speak what is on my mind, but have gotten better because God had tempered the delivery somewhat.  I take no pleasure in hurting people with words, but I know that I can if I choose to do so.  That is part of my personality.  So, the same way my friends and acquaintances catch it, God does too.  What I mean is that because I have a relationship with Him, I can ask in my personality, in my voice…not in Sally’s, Betty’s or Billy’s voice or personality.  God made us all uniquely individual.  Your wants are not like mine; your needs are not like mine; your questions to God will not be like mine.  I’m authoritative and bossy.  I have to dial that back when I’m talking to God.  Because He and I talk so much, I sometimes forget, and it just comes out.  God is not so easily offended by that.  I figure, “I already thought it and He knows it, so I may as well just say it.”  And I do.  Even in that boldness of asking, I still honor and reverence God.  Sometimes I ask him for something so impossible (not material things but moves of God) that I know that when He answers, my only response will be, “Nobody BUT God!”

In your asking be specific.  God can read your mind and He already knows your thoughts.  Duh!  Really?  By asking you are activating your faith.  God tells us to ask because we will receive; to seek because we will find; and to knock because the door will be opened for you.  I dare you to have the audacity to ask!

Crisis of Identity: Who’s Your Daddy?

blank-mask1Most days I wake up with an awareness of who I am, but that wasn’t always the case.  Much of who we are, our identity, is tied to our parents.  While we know them, we don’t know them.  I know my mother loves me; she provided for me; she knows what I’m afraid of and what I dream about.  However, I was never so sure about “My David.”  That’s my dad.  He’s My David because I’ve never called him “dad,” “daddy,” etc.  He never wanted it.  Maybe in doing that, it liberated him from a responsibility he didn’t want.  I observed the relationships around me and watched my friends with their fathers and wonder how that’s possible.  He doesn’t know my hopes; my dreams; my fears.  I wondered about My David, “Why doesn’t he love me? Why doesn’t he want me? Am I not pretty enough?  Am I not smart enough?”  When I communicated what I needed from him, he would clam up and accuse me of opening a can of worms which, if truth be told, was never closed.  It was always open because I always had questions.  I never understood how he expected me not to have any questions.  What was more bewildering was that I never understood why he didn’t have answers.

I desperately wanted to be “Daddy’s Little Girl,” but to no avail.  I would never hold that position in My David’s life.  All through my childhood, young adult years and even adult years, I struggled with not having this special father/daughter relationship.  I wanted so desperately to be pursued by My David, to feel like I mattered and that I was a priority to him.  There were many broken promises and lack of or no response when I was in need.  Sometimes he would say things a father should never say to a daughter.  The words were hurtful and even as an adult, I had a childlike heart, tender and easily wounded.

At some point enough was enough.  I knew I needed more, and was never going to get it from My David.  I dug deeper into my relationship with God.  I knew Him, but I really needed to KNOW Him!  I needed to test Him to guarantee He would always be there.  That came at a very costly, almost detrimental price because of an act of disobedience on my part.  Once God had my attention, He had it!  I had no choice but to call on Him.  He told me, “Your mama can’t help you.  Your daddy can’t help you. Only I can help you.”  Long story short, I was about to marry someone God had clearly told me not to.  The wedding was called off ten days before the date.  I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had been jilted, left at the altar, if you will.  I didn’t want to face anyone.  Most days, I was just a functioning dysfunctional with no awareness of Point A to Point Z or anything in between.

People meant well, and kept telling me, “You’ll look back over this in a year and laugh.”  I thought, “Is this fool kidding me?  I ain’t laughing now and I don’t have a year to waste on this mess!”  So, what was my plan to get through this?  I had no clue.  I just knew I was very broken and could only turn to God.  Once I finally stopped crying so much and began to think clearly,  I would take my journal and head to the park and just sit for hours reading, writing and studying God and His character.  Over several months, I began to realize who I was and who my Father was.  It was Him!  He had always been my Father and He promised He would never leave me or forsake me.  He revealed to me that I was a daughter…His daughter; that I mattered and that He cared about the smallest to the biggest details of my life. In actuality, He is the only Father I’ve ever known.  Do I still have issues?  Absolutely!  Do I still wrestle with my abandonment issues?  Absolutely!   I expect people to always leave me.  The only confidence I have is in God, His word, and the fact that He never leaves me and I am always His daughter. I am no longer fatherless; I know to Whom I belong; I no longer have a crisis of identity.

Flip the Script!

I have always been fascinated by the story of Queen Esther. In part because my maternal grandmother’s name was Queen Esther Hubbard Staton.  Esther was a young woman, who was orphaned and raised by her cousin, Mordecai, and he claimed her as his daughter.  She  never wanted for anything and wasn’t bad on the eyes.  There was also a king named Xerxes.  In some biblical translations, his name is spelled, “Ahasuerus.” Xerxes was the King of Persia.  He was married to Vashti.  One day Xerxes held a large a banquet, a feast, if you will,  and had a little too much to drink.  He sent for her so he could parade her in front of the people and the officials.  Vashti knew they were intoxicated and refused to go to him.  I think Xerxes was too drunk to care.  However, when his “homies” started saying, “Whaaaaaaat?  You gonna let her dis you like that?  Man, if she did it, what will other women in the kingdom think they can do.”  He knew he had to do something.  He divorced Vashti for her disobedience to the king.  Not only was her refusal a slap in the face to the king, but also to the in the provinces of King Xerxes.  After that incident, Xerxes decreed that Vashti would never again come before the king.

Some time had passed and Xerxes remembered his former companion.  It was decided that he should look for a new queen.  Word went out to all the provinces under his rule.  The eligible women were brought to the palace, prepared and trained for twelve months.  Esther’s destiny was chosen by God, even then, as He orchestrated who would help her and how.  Esther was the chosen contender, it was determined that King Xerxes favored her about all others, and she became his queen.

Mordecai stayed close to Esther, always keeping an eye on her.  One day he uncovered a a plot by two of Xerxes eunuchs to kill the king.  He went to Esther and told her.   She informed the king in Mordecai’s name.  The eunuchs were hanged on a gallows, and recorded in the book of chronicles in the presence of the king, but the king did not read it.  After all this, Xerxes had a right-hand man,  Haman, whom he promoted and sat him above all the princes.  Haman was arrogant to the nth degree.  For some reason he hated the Jews.  He especially hated Mordecai, who refused to bow down to him.  Why should he?  He wasn’t the king and even still, Mordecai wouldn’t even bow down to Xerxes.  Haman was infuriated by Mordecai’s lack of regard, and began to conspire against all Jews.  He convinced Xerxes that the Jews did not keep the king’s laws.  Without any investigation, Xerxes ordered a decree be written to destroy the Jews.  The decree was proclaimed throughout the land.  When Mordecai learned of this, he was deeply grieved and cried out to God.  He wore sackcloth, fasted, wept, and wailed.  In hearing this, Esther became distressed and wanted to know what had brought this on.  Her maids relayed her message, and Mordecai responded by sending her a copy of the decree for the destruction of the Jews.  He implored her to go to the king and request that he reverse the order.  In those times, the king’s decree was bond.  It could not be undone.  Esther worried what might become of her if she saw the king without him asking for her.  It could mean death for her.

Sometimes it’s not easy to take a stand for injustice.  Why?  Fear.  We have all experienced that same fear at some time or other.  Mordecai reminded her that she was Jewish and that, queen or no queen, that decree included her annihilation, also.  She didn’t have a choice.  She fasted and prayed, seeking an answer from the Lord.  Her response, was this in Esther 4:16-17, “Go gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day.  My maids and I will fast likewise.  And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

Queen Esther approaches and is granted an audience with the king.  She wisely invites him and Haman to a banquet, at which she reveal Haman’s plans.  In the meantime, Haman continues to fume about Mordecai’s indignation and receives unwise counsel from his wife and friends.  They goad him on and say in Esther 5:14, “Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet.”  In his arrogance, this pleased Haman, and he had the gallows built.

Remember when Mordecai saved Xerxes life and he had it recorded in the book of chronicles?  Well, Xerxes never read it until one night, he could not sleep and ask the book be brought to him.  This is when he discovered that it was actually Mordecai who revealed the plot to assassinate the king.  Xerxes wanted to know what had been done for this man who saved his life.  The attended answered, “Nothing.”   Xerxes reveals his intentions to honor the man he delighted in.  Arrogant Haman, thought the king meant him, and vainly made self-serving suggestion:  “…let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn…a horse on which the king has ridden…parade the man on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him….Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!”  Haman was gushing arrogance and pride.  The king then commanded him to take the robe and horse to Mordecai!  Hit me with a brick!  Haman was stunned beyond belief.  He did as he was commanded.  What else could he do?

At the banquet, Esther attends and serves he king.  He is so enamored with Esther that he begs to know what her petition is and declares he will give it to her.  Esther proceeds to make a petition on behalf of her people and unfolds the plan of Haman.  Haman pleads for his life!  He falls across where Esther was sitting.  Begging for dear life!  Xerxes is enraged and he can’t believe the audacity of Haman.  The eunuchs say to the king, “Look! The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the king’s behalf, is standing at the house of Haman.”  The king said, “Hang him on it!” There hung Haman until dead.

All this to say, your enemies may be preparing a gallows for your right now, but you can rest assured that God is still in control of your very situation and that He will have the last word.  He  is the author and finisher of our faith, not man.  You may not know every detail of the plan, but He’s working it out for you.  Haman prepared the gallows for Mordecai and God turned that thing around and hanged Haman from the very gallows he built for Mordecai.  Who is man that we should ever be afraid?  Regardless of your status or station in life, God is will work it out for you, for this United States of America, for the leadership of this country.  We have nothing to fear and certainly not a gallows built by man for us.  God’s got it! To my enemies, be careful.  The very gallows you’re preparing for me may be used by God in your demise.