Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Let the Poinsettia Speak



Just recently, I hosted a dinner party at my house. Although I'm not huge on traditional decorations for Christmas like lights and a tree and all the other bells and whistles (I don't decorate at all, really), I did decide on the traditional, seasonal Poinsettia for the centerpiece on the dinner table since we were in the Christmas season. It was the perfect finishing touch. It added that special spunk to the table's d├ęcor.

Some days prior to the dinner as I was getting everything in place, I sat the Poinsettia on the table for the first time. I noticed that there was an open space on one side of the plant that looked like it could use one or two more flowers and a few more leaves to make it look more full. It wasn't as plush as I thought it could've been. So I began to gingerly fluff and gently pull and reposition some of the blossoms and leaves with hopes of filling the gap. There wasn't much I could do, of course, because the plant had already grown as it should and it was potted for its final presentation. It was as it would be. If I wanted to do any rearranging to fill a gap, I'd need to repot the plant, and THAT wasn't happening! To anything even remotely close to gardening, even as simple as repotting a plant, I say, "No, thanks. I'm good."

Besides, the gap wasn't so bad that the plant looked unhealthy. It wasn't enough to make me completely toss the plant as the centerpiece option. It was just enough that it bothered me, though, so I just kept fluffing and pulling. And as I was pulling one of the tender branches toward that open space, with hopes of it staying right where I positioned it, I heard a small snap. The branch had broken.

"Ugh," I thought. "Good job, I. Now it's REALLY gonna have an opening." Without even thinking, and still a bit crazed with wanting to have a full, plush plant, rather than tossing the branch that I KNEW wouldn't survive because it had been disconnected from its life source, I took the branch with its beautiful red blossom and green leaves and stuck it down into the soil, right where I thought it would be perfect. And it WAS perfect! It was finally full and plush!



And it looked good for a couple days...until the inevitable happened.

At that moment when I heard the branch snap, I could hear John 15:1 & 15:4-8 playing over and over in my heart as I placed that detached branch into the soil. I knew the branch, its blossom and its leaves would die. I knew they wouldn't survive because they couldn't. It was impossible. The branch had been detached from its main life-giving source. Over and over and over I heard Jesus' words...

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fine and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.


I began to assess my own life. The Lord was certainly speaking to ME. I did a personal examination of my connection to The Vine. I asked myself, and I ask you, "Are you connected? How connected are you?  Are you as connected as you once were? Is your branch barely hanging on? Does your branch have any fruit, blossoms, and/or leaves that people can see and KNOW that you are Christ's disciple? Or are you disconnected? Are you merely stuck down in the soil near the vine, attempting to suck up its nutrients but suffering and withering because you're not fully attached? Are you trying to plant yourself near the vine to try and look like the other branches and look like you're connected?"

I had to remind myself like I've had to literally EVERY DAY for over a year, that no matter how frustrated I may be with the foolishness I've seen in the past few years in the church and with the body of believers, I MUST stay connected to HIM. I can be as frustrated and as turned off with the church as I want, but I cannot disconnect from The Vine. HE is my life-giving source, and just like The Word says in John, if I remain in Him, I will bear much fruit, but if I don't remain in Him, I'll be like a branch that's thrown away and withers. I can't plant myself near the vine and hide behind the other branches in my church or in my family and expect to live. And it doesn't matter how long I plant myself near the vine. If I'm not fully connected, I won't bear fruit, and I WILL wither and die (spiritually).

My heart's greatest desire is to represent Christ like he should be represented. He is love and He's intentional with His love. He is giving. He is truth. He is selfless. He is forgiving. And when I decided to connect to His Vine, I decided that I wanted to feed on His nutrients and grow to look just like Him.  Fruit is representative of the tree (vine) from whence it came. Who/What are you connected to? What does your fruit look like? Are you connected to THE Vine?
 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Single Women Series: Girl, You're Not Married YET?



Anything that's ever been said about single women like me and why we're not married, I've heard it. I've heard it ALL! I can't tell you how many times people have said...

"Your standards are too high, girl. Dang!"

"He gon' have to be a SUPER Christian to get witchu'!"

"But you don't even give nobody a chance before you cut 'em."

"Iantha, sometimes you have to just work with people. He might not be where you are spiritually, but you can help him get there."

"He can't smoke OR drink? Girl, good luck with that."

"There aren't very many men who will wait until marriage for sex."

"You intimidate men. You're too confident. That makes them feel weak."

And most recently... "And then you went and bought a house? He's really gon' be intimidated now. You've done everything for yourself. What's left for him to do for you?"

Call me crazy (you won't be the first or the last), but I'm just CRAZY enough to believe that if I'm joyfully living a life that pleases God, there are men out there who are doing the same. In fact, I'm sure of it! Women aren't the only species on the face of the earth who love and obey and trust God with their whole hearts. I'm CRAZY enough to believe that if I'm living a life that's concerned ONLY with what HE tells me to do, that there are men out there with the same concern. I'm CRAZY enough to believe that if I'm living a life that's governed by the standards HE set, that there are men out there living by those same standards.

And I'm CRAZY enough to believe that I should wait for someone like me who's looking to find someone like me. Because they're out there. The Godly men are out there looking CRAZY too.


They, too, have high standards. They know what GOD wants for them, and they don't settle. A Godly man can see, early on in getting to know a woman, if she will be worth his time. Her words and actions tell him exactly who she is, and the discernment he gets from the Holy Spirit tells him if he should stick around or call it quits, even if he's only had one day in her presence. Not just any woman will do. God cares about him and requires His best for him, and since God has a relationship with that man, he can speak to his heart and give him the "inside track" so he won't waste time. When a woman sees (and men too) that "I don't have to try you to know you,"  or "I don't even have to give you a real chance for you to show me who you are," it can make the man appear overly confident, and in some women's eyes, it can even seem arrogant. But this Godly man is neither of those things. He's just sure. He's sure he's heard from God and he knows that God won't lead Him wrong. He cuts ties before they're even formed. He doesn't need unnecessary, unhealthy emotional attachments and drama. He guards his heart from that type of foolishness, which at the same time, guards her heart. And for that, she should be grateful. He cares about her well being because he respects her spirit, even though he sees no future with her. And that assuredness...that confidence...that boldness to trust God over what's before him is what some women see as overly confident and arrogant and CRAZY.



Will this woman have to be a SUPER Christian to get next to this Godly man? Probably not, because what is a SUPER Christian anyway? What she will have to be is genuine, though. She won't SAY she loves God and that she lives for Him but DO something different. She won't SAY that she's a Christian who lives a life that reflects Christ's nature but DO things contrary to what He commands. Her life will bear fruit, or be a palpable example of her commitment to Christ and her love for God's people. There will be no guessing "who" she is or who she represents. She won't be one way at church and with one group of friends, but totally different with her co-workers and a different set of friends. She will know her purpose. She will be sure of what God's called her to do in the earth. He won't have to help her or wait on her to get where he is spiritually because they'll both be so enveloped in their "already" relationships with God. They'll understand that God is who causes growth to take place and that as long as they both submit to Him, they'll be exactly who each other needs as they grow together.


This Godly man doesn't smoke or drink and he doesn't involve himself in any other activity that is harmful to his body or his spirit. Why would he want to connect in marriage--LIFE partnership--with someone who does? Wouldn't that be foolish? And yes, he gets bashed and called CRAZY for not engaging in sex outside of the sacred marriage relationship, but he honors his body AND hers enough to not give of himself to anyone but his wife. He refuses to create soul ties with anyone but her since having committed himself wholeheartedly to the Lord. He knows his strength lies in his ability to honor God, regardless of what others say, so he controls his flesh. His flesh doesn't control him. He's not driven by every emotional whim and understands that just because his flesh cries out and screams for what it wants, doesn't mean it should have it.

And yes. He has established himself financially and planned for his future. If God has blessed him to be able to own a home or whatever else his heart desires, he owns it. If he's been blessed to travel the world, he travels. He doesn't set limits on what he can do or where he can go or what he can have. He doesn't sit around waiting to have a wife so he can start his life. In fact, he's so busy honoring God with his time and so busy doing what God has called him to do in the earth that finding her isn't AS important. He wants her. He's actually in pursuit of her, but his pursuit doesn't consume him. He'll know when he sees her.

He'll know her.

He'll know because she'll be the one who has standards as high as his. And he won't be intimidated because her confidence in Christ will be refreshing. She'll be the one who knows what God has called her to do in the earth, and he'll know it because she'll be busy doing it when he "sees" her. She'll be so focused that she won't even know he's "watching".


She'll be the one who doesn't smoke or drink or do anything else that's harmful to her body or her spirit because she understands that her body isn't her own. She knows her body belongs to God so He can use it for His purposes. She'll be that CRAZY one who understands that sex is designed for marriage and will refuse to even deal with him unless that's perfectly clear between them from the start.

She'll be the one who isn't afraid to live life because God has blessed her to be able to do so. She will not have put her life on hold to wait on anyone because she knows to him it'll look like he has to be her savior, and he doesn't want to be that. He doesn't want her to look to him to be the answer to her loneliness or emptiness or... In fact, he'll be most attracted to her love for life and her desire to build God's kingdom with complete devotion to the Lord alone. He'll be grateful just to have her help, as his wife, as he fulfills the purpose that God has placed on his life.

When he sees THAT woman, he'll know he's found his wife. And when he sees her, she'll be right there. She'll know him when she sees him too, and she'll answer his call.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Nothing "Just Happens"


God called me to Augusta, GA in 2003, and I lived in the same apartment for almost 10 years. Somewhere around year 6 in the apartment, I got the itch to buy a home. By that time, I'd learned a lot about apartment living vs. home ownership, and I'd been making financial strides to prepare for the home-buying process. I was growing out of the apartment (literally), and EVERYTHING about living there--the parking (or no parking), hearing my neighbors' every move (LAWD), knowing that my rent was going into a black hole--was working on my nerves. Every inch of my being knew it was time to go!

I walked through the home-buying process 2 times (2009 & 2011) before I purchased my now home in 2012. Both times, something went wrong or things weren't quite right, and I was never able to seal the deal. The third time was the charm, though. I felt like I'd looked at every home in the city before I fell in love with mine, but I knew when I walked in that it definitely belonged to me. It fit me. My house was the ONLY one throughout the entire process that I had complete peace about, and I knew it was God's peace. It had the exact charm and character I was looking for. I was adamant about not buying a home in a newer subdivision where every house looked the same. (I call them cookie cutter homes.) I wanted an older home in an established neighborhood with a dogwood tree in the front yard. (Fell MADLY in love with dogwoods when I moved to GA) And I got it! The process went smoothly and everything fell right into place. There was no hassle, no mishaps, and no horror stories. I simply bought the home, moved in, and started a new chapter.

When I bought the house, I was introduced to the grit and grind of home ownership. Many things I was prepared for, but of course, there were those things I couldn't have prepared for because they "just happened". One of the things that "just happened" was the Augusta Ice Storm of 2014 (Tuesday, Feb. 11 - Thursday, Feb. 13 officially, but the aftermath was alive MUCH longer than that).

Tuesday, February 11th
Schools shut down on Monday afternoon with anticipation of the storm's arrival, so that meant no work for me. I was at home on Tuesday, with plans to finish writing a few chapters in my book. I wanted to write all day! Around 9:30 that morning, though, after I'd been writing for only about 30 minutes, the electricity went out. I used the battery on my laptop until it died, and little did I know, I'd be done with writing anything in my book for the next 2 weeks. The power was restored in an hour, but by that time I'd already washed my hair and was in the middle of deep conditioning and twisting and setting and... The whole nine! A 4-hour process!

When I was done with my hair, the storm had picked up a bit. If I would've even been thinking about writing, that wouldn't have lasted very long. My attention was on the storm. I stepped outside to get a video of the kazillion-year-old pine trees that SURROUND my house (and my neighborhood) because they were literally swaying in the wind. I couldn't believe it! Those trees were one of the many things that helped me fall in love with the house. They're beautiful! But I saw another side of the Georgia pine later that night--a not so beautiful side.

As the night crept on, more ice and sleet began to fall and caused more and more weight to rest on those weak pine branches. All throughout the neighborhood, the snap, crackle and pop of the branches could be heard with thunderous echoes. Limb after limb, branch after branch was falling onto my roof and rolling off onto the ground. It was constant. It was loud. It was scary. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't even sit still long enough to rest. I had to leave the house with its warmth and electricity to spend the night at one of my church families' home that had no electricity, but it was THAT serious. I just wasn't sure that one of those limbs wouldn't plow INTO my roof, and I didn't want to stick around to see.

Wednesday, February 12th
The storm had passed. There was no more ice or sleet projected to fall. I woke early that morning so I could get back home and see what my yard looked like. From the sound of it the night before, I knew it was bad, but I would've never imagined it would be even close to what I saw when I pulled up to my house. The front and sides of the house were quite a sight, with mounds of tree limbs covering the ground, but the back of the house was Armageddon!


FRONT OF THE HOUSE


BACK YARD

BACK YARD
 
BACK YARD
 
BACK YARD

My mind was racing. I knew it had to be cleaned up, and I knew it would be cleaned up, but I just kept looking at it in disbelief. Then I surveyed the neighborhood and saw that everyone else's yards--the whole neighborhood--had taken a pretty big hit from the storm.

Then, I went inside and saw this in the computer room, right outside of my kitchen...





A limb lodged in my roof!!!!! And from the looks of things outside, I wasn't surprised. I was shocked, though, and I wished it weren't so, but I knew I couldn't just stand there and keep looking at it. (I did that for, I know, at least 15 minutes) I had to spring into gear.

I didn't call my parents immediately (they live miles away) because I knew they'd worry. I called my realtor. She was SO amazing throughout the home-buying process AND after I purchased my home that I knew I could still bring questions and concerns to her if I needed to. I'd never had to file a home insurance claim before, and although I was pretty sure it wouldn't be much different from the car insurance claims I'd filed with car accidents, I still just wanted the comfort of knowing how to go about it. I wanted to hear from her, step by step, what I needed to do.

But I couldn't reach her. Because of the storm, the cell phone service was a little sketchy for a time. I'd left her a message, and she'd called me back a couple times, but I didn't see that I had missed calls from her until the next day. I later learned that she wasn't even able to leave a message. It was cool though because when I couldn't get her after a couple of calls, I did what I should've done from the very beginning. I went to God. I didn't make any immediate moves. I knew the insurance companies were already, no doubt, pretty busy with claims, so I took a minute to gather myself and get quiet before the Lord so He could tell me what to do and give me the gusto I needed for what I anticipated to be a long process.

While I cleaned up what I could in my house, and while I studied my insurance policy, I prayed. I knew that this wasn't as big a deal as it could have been because my roof was only punctured. It could have been a million times worse based on the evidence that lay in my back yard, so I was definitely grateful. I still had electricity, and after about a half day of silence with the Lord, I had peace. That whole day, I just cleaned, prepared, and prayed.

Thursday, February 13th
I woke up bright and early. I knew the first thing I needed to do was call my insurance company.

I called.

My claim was filed within 10 minutes. The representative closed the call by giving me 3 restoration companies to contact about removing the limb from the roof and having the storm debris cleaned from my yard, and things immediately became overwhelming because Iantha hates making huge, life-altering decisions (and big purchases)! Oh, the stress!

When it comes down to having to get quotes and seeing who will give the better deal and seeing who's trustworthy based on their credibility from others they've served, I wanna crawl under a rock! I want to snap my fingers, get someone for the job and have that person just be the right one EVERY TIME. If I had my way, I'd never have to run quotes for anything. I'd never have to search around to see who'd be best for any job. Whoever I choose would just always be the right one. I look forward to my one day husband either completely taking things like that over, or us handling those kinds of decisions together. When I don't have to do it alone anymore (or at all)... HALLELUJAH!

It was at that point that the Holy Spirit told me to get on the phone with my biological father. His wisdom with natural disasters is a lot more vast than that of my parents (my mother and step-father). My biological father has had a few homes damaged from hurricanes and tropical storms. He's had houses built. He's been around the block with insurance and contracts and anything else that comes along with home ownership. The Holy Spirit told me to glean from his wisdom, and immediately, I got on the phone.


My father told me to check each company by first seeing if they were approved by the Better Business Bureau. If they weren't, I had to scratch them off the list. If they were, I could take it from there. He talked to me about the process, step by step. He told me what to do and what to expect from the beginning to the very end when the roof was repaired and the house was restored back to its pre-storm state. I was so grateful to God for calming my inner storm with that phone call. I felt like I could conquer it all after that!

After many calls and scratches from the list, and internet searches and more phone calls, I found the restoration company that would remove the limb from the roof and cover it with the temporary tarp, but they wouldn't get to me until Friday or Saturday because, of course, they were inundated with work all over the city.

That day, I cleaned what I could in the front yard, and even had some church family over. They were still without electricity, so they wanted to charge their phones and other devices and enjoy some heat.

Friday, February 14th
One of my friends came over that morning, and we tackled quite a bit of the front yard. He's always looking out for me and refused to let me even think of working in my yard alone. I waited to hear from the restoration company with hopes that I'd make it on their list for the day, but I didn't. I spent the day helping others where and how I could and sharing my heat and electricity with church family.

Saturday, February 15th
I got an early morning knock at the door. I already knew who it was, so I emphatically jumped from what I was doing to answer it. The guys were ready to remove the limb! The repair process was beginning! After I directed them to the back yard and signed on the dotted line giving them the "OK" to get started, they went out to do what they needed to do, and I went back to whatever I was doing.

I didn't hear much happening on the roof, but I didn't fret. I trusted that the professionals knew what they were doing and that they were probably just scoping everything out. After having been out there only about 10 minutes, the guys rang my doorbell. When I answered the door, the concern in one of the man's eyes scared me a bit.  He asked, "Is your electricity still on?"

I said, "Yes."

He said, "How in the world are you even still in this house?  Have you seen those wires on your roof? We can't remove anything until the electricity is off."

My concern grew by the second as he stood before me. A childlike innocence and ignorance must've been all over my face because he went on to explain further...

"Those are live wires. It's no wonder you haven't blown up in this house the way those wires are mangled around that branch. We can't touch them, and that's for your safety and ours. You need to get your electricity cut off and get your insurance company to get you a hotel room. I wouldn't stay another minute in this house. I'm tellin' you. This house shoulda already caught fire by now."

He couldn't see what was happening in my head. I was jumping and screaming and thanking God for His protection! I couldn't wait to close the door and shout! Yes, I'd seen the power lines. I'd taken pictures of everything. But did I notice how badly mangled they were? Sadly, no. I didn't. I honestly wasn't even thinking about wires. My focus the entire time was on the fact that the limb was inside my house. I hadn't given much attention to the outside yet, other than the limbs that needed to be removed from the yard. I would shift those gears once the tarp was on and the adjuster had come to make his report. I couldn't believe that I'd been so oblivious, but with everything going on, it just seriously got past me. I just wasn't paying it any mind, and in my ignorance...in my oversight...in my inability to see EVERYTHING that was happening...the Lord protected me.


The guy went on to explain that after the electricity was cut off, I'd need an electrician to come out and take care of the wires. Once the wires were taken care of, they could come back to remove the limb, and I could have the power restored to the house.

I didn't waste a minute. I'd heard the warning. At that very moment, I was washing and drying clothes, the television was going, I'd just finished preparing breakfast on my electric stove, and of course the heat was going...my house was in full electric operation with MAJOR appliances. I can cry tears of joy right now simply thinking about that divine protection! Umph, umph, umph...

I packed for a couple days and headed back to the same house where I'd stayed on Tuesday night. I had the electricity cut off and began searching out electricians immediately. When I found who I'd go with (after calling around and quoting-UGH!), I was placed on the list for the next day, Sunday. The company that took care of my wiring was one of the many in the city that was working on Sunday because of the number of homes that needed attention. It really was a beautiful time of working together. I enjoyed seeing how everyone worked to get Augusta back up on its feet.

Sunday, February 16th


I got up early that morning to go to church. I expected to hear from the electrician in the 9-11 am window. I was at church for all of 20 minutes when my phone rang. The electricians were headed to my house. I met them there and they worked diligently for about the next hour and a half to restore the wiring on the outside of my house. They also had to remove the limb because they couldn't properly tend to the wires without doing so. It was finally removed! When I saw them removing the limb, I got on the phone with the restoration company. I told the guys that they would be able to come and tarp the roof whenever they were next available. After that call, I called Georgia Power to get on the list of homes to have electricity restored THAT day. And it all worked out BEAUTIFULLY! After the electricians finished with the wires, there were already a couple Georgia Power trucks working in the neighborhood. My phone call was in cue, so not even an hour after the wires were done, one of those trucks stopped by my house and restored power! Within the next hour or so, the tarps were on the roof. Those guys had made it their business to get back to me THAT day! I was so grateful!


February - June   (Yup...June...late June)
For the next few months, I would make call after call after exasperating call. There were some contractors who wouldn't even allow any other work to be added to their load because they had just that much. They gently (except 1) and apologetically (except 1...the same 1) turned me away. At the same time, though, there were a number of contractors who came out to the house to see the damage and provide quotes for the service they could provide. What I found, early on, was that many contractors did only exterior roofing and made it a practice in their companies to sub-contract the interior work out, so they put me in touch with the people they sub-contracted with. Getting the exterior repaired was a breeze. That happened quickly. It was the interior that took FOR-EVER!

Contractor after contractor came to the house to assess the damage. They took notes and made sketches and did all the same things every other contractor did, but none of them followed through. I had people just straight up not call  me back after saying they would. I even set a dollar amount with one guy who said he was drawing up the paper work to present to me so we can get the job started, and I'd still be waiting on him to call me back. It was ludicrous! Then, one guy came to my house and was there for literally 6 minutes. After taking one look at the ceiling he said, "You don't need restoration contracting or general contracting. You need a paint contractor. No wonder no one's been able to help you."


That was the FIRST time I'd heard that.


I'd explained to him in that short time that a few had come by, but no one followed through on anything. He said, "Because they just want to make a buck, but when they get here and see it and know that insurance is involved, they cave."

PRO-TEC-TION!!

All the while, those people were just trying to make a deal so they could get the job and get paid. Knowing that that wasn't their area of expertise, the repairs probably would have been botched, but God's divine protection didn't allow it! When each of those contractors saw my adjuster's proposal, a legal document of detailed expected repairs, it kept them away. They couldn't complete the repairs as required by my insurance company and they knew it, and if they'd tried and didn't do them like the proposal suggested, lawsuits would've ensued. They weren't the people for the job, and God knew it. He kept them from  me.

After that last contractor, I called my home insurance agent because the Holy Spirit told me to let them do the searching. My agent connected me to a representative at the company that would eventually complete the repairs in my home. I connected the rep directly with my adjuster and let them talk about what needed to happen next. I simply stayed back and covered it all in prayer.

We all set up a date to start the work, and that was that. My home is repaired and even better than before because the new paint job added a freshness to the room. It feels like a new place, and I love it!

AS REPAIRS BEGAN WITH WHITE WALLS

THE FIRST COAT OF PAINT ON CEILING AND WALLS AFTER REPAIRS


None of It "Just Happened"
I knew my house was my house. I wasn't supposed to buy any other house as my first home. I knew I was supposed to be living there. I also know that God is in control of natural disasters. If a natural disaster, that He controls, hit my house and didn't take me out, it's because He didn't let it! It didn't destroy me or the house!

I saw pictures like this one as people were beginning to share what had happened to them in the storm.



That could've been my house. My back yard was full of monstrous limbs, but none of them destroyed me or the house! The house could've caught fire, but it didn't!

And I was completely protected until it was time for the work to begin. There were only 2 houses on our street that had electricity the entire time, and 1 of them was mine. I had comfort in the storm. I had a place to go that's just like home. I didn't go without any of my needs at any time.

NONE OF IT "JUST HAPPENED".

All of those "happenings" were a reminder for me. I believe God was very intentional in speaking to me during the storm "happenings". It was as if He was telling me again, just as He did when He commissioned me to Augusta in 2003, "I have you in that city...in that region...on a mission. I sent you there on Kingdom assignment. Do you think I'm gon' let anything take you out? As long as I've called you and you still have work to do that I've clearly shown you has to be done, you'll be alright. Sure some things may come, but they can't take you out. I've got you covered. No harm shall befall you."
I snapped this picture of one of the trees in my front yard with it's beautiful winter blooms while the electricians worked on the wires. I allowed the beauty of those blossoms to remind me of the beauty in the storm.
 
With everything that happened (and DIDN'T happen), that thought is what sustained me. Every time I prayed, I was comforted in knowing His promises cover me. I'm His.

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."
- Psalm 91:14-16

Monday, August 11, 2014

Making Room for New!


I AM NOT a careless person. I don't just lose things. In fact, I'm overly cognizant of the "stuff" I have. Carefully and thoughtfully, I give everything its particular place so I'll always know how to get to what I need. That kind of order is necessary for me. This week, though, I was shipwrecked! Distracted and overwhelmed with a non-stop schedule, I managed to lose my little Praise Movement boom box that I sometimes carry to off-site rehearsals (I think it was taken), and I lost my make up bag. COMPLETELY unnerving for me because like I said, I don't just lose stuff! I honestly felt a little stripped and vulnerable. I felt "played" because I ALWAYS know where my things are. And if I move them...if I move ANYTHING...it's not long before it's back "at home". After searching every place I'd been, over and over, AND asking around for that little make up bag, I heard the Holy Spirit speak loud and clear. He said, "I'm just making room for NEW!"

I thought, "Whaaaaat?!?!"

Then I sat still for a moment, replaying in my mind the things that He and I have been talking about in prayer, and I shut that make up bag search right on down! There was no need to look for it anymore. I WAS NOT going to find it. God had spoken. "The old is gone, and the new is coming! Stand ready!"

God's promise in Isaiah 43:18-19 began to play in my head. "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?"

And I love how He speaks to the figurative thinker in me. The last thing on my mind was a new radio or make up bag when I heard Him say new. Child, I can go and buy that tomorrow if I want to! *rolls neck* But His idea of new is change in position and/or stature, and change of seasons in my life!

New is defined as unfamiliar, and existing or appearing FOR THE FIRST TIME. That means I'm about to see things happening in my life that I've NEVER seen before and it's HIS doing! He said HE'S making room for new. HE's removing old things and replacing them with new. I don't even need to be concerned about what was, because it's GONE!

I remember back in high school when I'd get a new pair of tennis shoes/sneakers. My old ones weren't completely worn out because I took good care of my shoes, but just knowing I had new ones--the knowing alone--was enough for me to act like the other ones no longer existed. I wore them NO MORE! The new had come!


What NEW is God trying to give you? What OLD do you need to completely forget about so you can receive the new? You won't be able to "wear" both and call it new. Having even a little bit of the old cancels out the new. Let it be gone! Let God have all the old so He can give you the new!

"Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are." - I Corinthians 5:7

I'm pretty sure those things won't be the last things I "lose," now that I know God is doing a new thing. Kinda scary, but definitely more exciting than scary because I've been assured that no matter what I "lose", there's NEW coming after the loss!

Umph! I just love Him!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Scared? Do It Anyway!


Some of the best "Kingdom Advice" I've ever received is, "DO IT SCARED." Pretty much everything I've done in my life that brought someone else's life closer to Christ, I did SCARED. Yup...pretty much EVERYTHING!

When God called me to teach His word in 2002, I thought He'd made a mistake. He couldn't have been serious when He told me to lead a women's bible study on my college campus during my LAST QUARTER before graduation. Really, God? He had it ALL WRONG! I was going to teach CHILDREN the Word and teach them dance. That was MY plan because I knew that's what I was created to do, and I knew I did it well. (I would teach children eventually, but it wasn't time.) I knew how to use dance as an avenue to teach children the Word of God, and I loved it! I had NO plans to teach my peers. None whatsoever!

Because my heart was so set on teaching children, I thought I couldn't teach my peers, so needless to say, I was scared. I didn't know what to do. I was in more shock and disbelief at first, but after I got over it because I KNEW what God had said, I was just scared. 

I knew He wanted that bible study, and I knew He wanted ME to lead it, and since He was the giver of the assignment, I knew I had to go to Him for direction...scared and all.

And that's exactly what He wanted. He wanted me to go to Him.

The last meeting with my bible study (most of them) before I graduated college. They were presented with purity rings after studying, that whole quarter, what it means to offer ourselves completely to the Lord--mind, body, and spirit.

God knew He'd called me to something that hadn't quite developed in me yet. He knew my heart was set on children. He knew I was scared to teach my peers because something like that was the farthest thing from my mind. But He also knew that that would be the best way to teach me to lean completely on Him.  I couldn't do it without Him. He told me what to do, but He wanted me to see that if He gave the assignment, He would have ALL of the instructions. I wouldn't be able to do even the first step without hearing from Him. I wouldn't be able to carry any of it out without His play-by-play guidance. What He'd called me to was so much bigger than me, and He wanted to teach me that I'm only the body He uses to get His work done in the earth. I MUST listen to Him for instructions in order to carry them out. Period.

And Lord, the many times He's told (and tells) me to speak directly to someone to either encourage them, or warn them, or help give them direction!!
IT.
IS.
SCARY.

One time, specifically, He gave me a dream about a young lady I was mentoring, and showed me that she was headed down the wrong path. I was scared out of my mind to tell her! I thought sure the girl would think I was crazy. But I knew God told me to tell her, and He'd shown me specific things that she KNEW I couldn't possibly have known. I had to lean on Him for the boldness to initiate the conversation. I had to pray for the way to say it. I had to get direction from Him and do it the way He said.

I did the bible study scared. I was scared when I had to tell little missy what God had shown me, and as I said before, there was a host of other things that I did with a shaking in my boots, but I had to "DO IT SCARED."  It caused me to lean on God in every step, and that's what He wanted. Had I thought I could do it and that I had everything under control, I would've been working in my own strength and would've pushed God aside, and surely, whatever I was "working on" would've probably been disastrous! It just doesn't make sense to go into the game without the coach's guidance.



Recently, a friend and I took a trip to Charleston, SC. When we discovered a few festivals were happening in surrounding cities that weekend, we made it a point to check them out.  The bridge that took us from Charleston to Mt. Pleasant, SC was BEAUTIFUL, but boy was it SCARY! I've driven a lot of places over a lot of high bridges, but this one was a different kind of high, and approaching it, I must admit, made me shift in my seat a bit. I put a little extra grip on my steering wheel, sat up straighter, and purposed to look directly in front of me. It's like I had to retrain my mind, in that instant, to not focus on the height and structure of the beams above the actual bridge, but to simply focus on driving and keeping my eyes on the road ahead of me. And the Holy Spirit began to speak.

He reminded me of what it means to "DO IT SCARED".  He reminded me of the bible study and the dream and all the other scary instances that forced me to look to Him for direction. He reminded me that I can't look at the size of "the bridge", but that I need only focus on what's directly in front of me and just keep driving. When He gives me my first instruction on an assignment, I have to do that and wait on the next. Then, when He gives me the next one or so, and I have to do those. I just have to keep driving. If I look at the size of "the bridge" or think about all of the components of the assignment, surely I'll be afraid and stop in my tracks because it will look too big!


Even now, as I'm planning one of the biggest projects Praise Movement School of Dance has seen in its 9 years, I have to keep telling myself, "Don't look at the bridge. Just drive." Every day, I have to say it. As God gives me instruction for one piece of the assignment, I work on that, and that piece leads to the next, and that will keep happening as I just drive until I eventually end up at the destination.

Has God given you some Kingdom Building assignment that looks and feels a little scary?  You're not alone. His assignments ARE usually bigger than us, and that's exactly why we need Him. It's His work; we're just the bodies that He uses to get the work done. Don't look at the size of the assignment. Don't look at its make up. Just look to Him who knows every detail of the plan. Get your instruction from Him, and just drive...scared and all.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When You Know What You Know...

I was going through some old e-mails in my "Precious Treasures" folder, and I landed on one I wrote to one of my dearest spiritual mentors. I felt led to share it on my blog.

December 20, 2004

I was thinking this morning about the day of my salvation.  I've tried many times to pinpoint the day I received Christ, and I've thought over and over of many different instances that it could've been, but none of those instances ever settled with my spirit.  There were so many circumstances and events that played together in leading me to a relationship with Christ that I've always just bundled them all together and settled by saying that I came to know Christ my freshman year in college. That's true, but it's not the definite, ya know?  Until today, I never really knew so I couldn't really say EXACTLY when I confessed Christ as Lord and Savior with my whole heart.

The Lord caused me to remember, this morning,  when you were holding bible study in Mitchell's lobby one night (1998-1999 school year), and there were only a few girls there.  I remember Catresa being there, but I don't remember anyone else.  We were going over some stuff that we'd talked about before, and you asked each of us if Jesus is Lord and how we know He's Lord.  You asked if we know He lives, and how we know He lives.  And you did it corporately, but then you looked each of us in the eye, one by one, and asked us, and when you came to me you said, "Do you know Jesus lives?"  I said, "Yes."  And then you said, "How do you know it?"  And I said, "Because I believe He lives in me!"  I confessed it with my whole heart with real understanding for the first time in bible study with you!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Now that I think about it, I can remember how my body felt all warm because I was nervous to be called on in front of everyone, but I was warm from excitement too because I knew what I was saying, and I knew that Christ had really become real to me.  I'd been singing about him in the gospel choir, and I had been talking about Him with my peers, and all of that was revealing the truth of His majesty to me, which in turn led me to confess and call out for myself! Also, now that I'm thinking about it, I remember how refreshed I felt when I left that bible study.  My growth, from that point, skyrocketed, and I just couldn't, and still can't get enough of God's word. I praise God for you!  I praise Him for calling you to lead us, and I thank you for your obedience in doing so.  I praise God for the boldness He placed in you, and I thank you for your obedience in moving in that boldness.  I've always loved you because of the part you've played, and still play in my life, and because you're so doggone AWESOME, but now, even from afar, I feel a deeper connection because of what God allowed me to see this morning.

I love you dearly!  Know that you've impacted and changed a life, and that this life is moving to do what I learned from you to do--impact and change others' lives.


In His Hands (Because I KNOW He lives),
Iantha

If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  
- Romans 10:9-10


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Scars and Bruises

 

I went to the grocery store yesterday to buy fruit and some other things I needed. When I saw that the pears were .99/lb, I about lost my mind! I LOVE my pears! I began picking them up one by one, examining them for ripeness because they have to be just right when I take that first bite. There's nothing worse for a pear lover like me than biting into a pear that hasn't quite reached edible maturation. Talk about disappointing! I've had those pears that are hard and lack sweetness. They just aren't pleasant eats. But I've also had the seemingly beat up pears with a bruise or two that have that perfect taste--that balance of sweetness and tang and just the right juiciness. Makes my world turn!

Needless to say, I was looking for beat up pears--ones that had a bruise or two, because I knew they'd been through more necessary growth than the others. They were more ready for consumption than the picture perfect pears--the ones that were placed on display before their time.

I picked up, squeezed, dropped. 
I picked up, squeezed, dropped.
I picked up, squeezed, smiled, and placed that one in my plastic produce baggie.

And then God spoke.

 
My heart smiled when He reminded me that He finds beauty in bruises and sweetness in scars. The more I shopped for my pears, the more He spoke, telling me that He does the exact same thing I was doing. He, too, shops for "fruit" with scars and bruises. It's what He does best.

He showed me that our scars, like that of the fruit, are often viewed as dirty. Our mistakes and mess ups from our past sometimes cause others to count us out and see us as failures or unworthy, but He sees the scars and bruises differently. He sees scars and bruises as the perfect opportunity to heal and restore. He specializes in taking what looks like a mess and finding the sweetness in it. He then takes that sweetness and uses it as nourishment for others.

I could've cried right there!

Who would dare toss the bruised fruit...the fruit that's ripest and most mature? He assured me that He most certainly wouldn't because HE CAN STILL USE THAT FRUIT.


Some fruit...a banana, for example...has more nutritional benefit WITH bruises than without. Just a few quick facts from onegreenplanet.org...
  • Because the resistant starch changes to simple sugar when a banana ripens, yellow bananas are easier to digest. The higher glycemic index of ripe bananas shows that they are digested quickly. 
  • Bananas also have higher levels of antioxidants as they ripen. 
  • One interesting fact about fully ripened bananas is that they produce a substance called TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor).  This means that ripe bananas have anti-cancer qualities as they combat abnormal cells.  
  • (Iantha's Insight) Ripe, bruised bananas produce BANGIN' banana nut bread! Yumness!
  • The more dark patches a banana has, the higher its immunity enhancement quality will be.

And bananas aren't the only fruit with benefits in their bruises.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has learned more from people who have "been there" and maybe gotten burned, than from those who've never experienced "it". It's their hurt, and yes, their pain, and sometimes even their misfortune that they lived through and learned from that helps others. Their scars tell the story a whole lot better than mere words. It's THOSE scars that God uses to reach other people. And nobody uses scars better than He does. He takes scarred lives and creates ministry.

And who hasn't been scarred or bruised by life in some way or another? Who among us hasn't failed at some point or another to do what God would have us do and felt the pain that comes with disobedience? Who doesn't have a scar from that disobedience to wear as a banner of what NOT to do? We ALL have a story, and we can't be afraid of the scars and bruises in those stories because there's sweetness in them for someone else. If your pain can provide nourishment for someone else, share it. Tell your story. Bear your bruises. Share your scars.

Did you disobey God and engage in fornication (sex before marriage)?

Were you promiscuous?

Maybe you had a baby out of wedlock?

Did you struggle with any addictions that caused you to live recklessly knowing that God commands us to live with self-control?

Were you a manipulator?

What did you do that went against God's plan? What scars and bruises do you have to show for it?

Have you learned from it? Is your life now headed in the opposite direction? Are you doing it His way? Tell it! Someone can learn from it. Someone can gain hope from knowing He didn't toss you out with the trash. Someone needs to know that He still uses bruised fruit so they can be free to let Him use them too.

Can you imagine how healthy people will be after consuming the nourishment that comes from the beauty in our bruises and the sweetness in our scars?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Single Women Series: Guard Your Heart


One of the very first things I did when I bought my home was have an alarm system installed. It was important to me to have an extra line of protection for my valuables. And for my LIFE! I made sure I didn't cheat myself. I had every door protected, and I was adamant about having motion sensors in all the key places throughout my home that would trigger the alarm if there was any movement once the system was armed. I test the system with my security provider regularly because I want to make sure it's working properly and that it's ready to respond if there's ever a problem. I'm VERY serious about protecting myself and the things I've worked so hard for. My livelihood rests in my home. My peace is at home. In fact, there's no place I'd rather be more than my home. It's where I'm secure. It's where I rest. It's where I have the most intimate times with God. I don't willingly invite strangers into my home because it's my safe haven, and I don't want just anyone in my most cherished place.

You should see me when someone I'm not expecting rings my doorbell. I become my own guard dog. I have windows in my house that allow me to look out at the front door to see who's there, but whoever's standing out there can't see me. How perfect is that?!  When that doorbell rings, I thoroughly examine the front stoop from the window. Nine times out of ten, I won't even open the door for an unannounced visitor, but if I do, I talk to them through the locked storm door. I'm not opening up my home to them. I don't care who they are. I don't care what they're selling. I don't even care if they're trying to alert me about something happening in the neighborhood. I don't know them, and they're a threat to my safety. My friends laugh at me because they know I will let that door bell ring, honey. LOL! (Literally; I am rollin' as I write this) I can be sitting right in my living room, watching TV or reading or whatever, and I'll just let the uninvited patron ring and/or knock on. I don't flinch. I don't even care that they're out there. I just don't do uninvited visitors.


Oh, how abundant were the knocks at the door when I first moved into my neighborhood!  My house had been on the market for some time, so when I moved in, it was quite evident to everyone who was already living on my street. And apparently, it was evident to people who "work the neighborhood" too. Guys were constantly knocking to offer their yard service. I had cable representatives trying to sell their stuff. I had visits from insurance reps, home alarm system reps, tree guys... They all wanted business at my home. I had fliers and business cards tagged to my door, and some were even left on my car. They were swarming bees! But regardless of their relentless pursuit, my safety was priority.

And I'm sure I'm not the only one who takes these cautionary measures. We all protect something to this extent. We all have something or some things that we hold dear and go to great lengths to secure. Why, though, is it so seldom our hearts? Why don't we guard those with such intensity...especially in relationships?
 


Many women feel like every guy who "knocks on their door"--at the mall, or at church, or when they're introduced to them by a friend--deserves their attention. They feel like if he asks for their time, they should oblige. If he asks for their number, hey...why not? If he tries to "holla," they let him. Why? To see if it will go somewhere, maybe? Or because they want to have someone give them some time and attention? It could be a little bit of both, but I can promise you it's mostly the latter. And every woman, at some point or another, has been there. I'll be the first to admit.

Too often, women will have some guy around just to get attention. They'll allow any guy who "works the neighborhood" to enter their most cherished place--their heart. Those women don't know that their heart IS their home. They don't know that their heart is the center of their being and because they "live there," they MUST protect it. They don't know that they should, as the Word of God says, guard their hearts ABOVE ALL ELSE. They should guard their hearts with all diligence, for it is the wellspring (a source or supply of anything) of all the issues of life.
(Proverbs 4:23)

Not every guy should be invited in just because he knocked.

Think on this...

Proverbs 15:13 NIV says: "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit."

Have you ever been heart broken from a relationship gone sour and found it difficult to do normal, everyday things? I mean, you were so hurt that you could hardly pay attention when life was going on around you. You couldn't eat. You couldn't sleep. Every thought was of that relationship--good times, bad times, how the break up happened, what he was doing at that very moment you were thinking of him... It's because your heart was sick, and when your heart is sick, it affects everything within, around, and about you.

On the contrary, I'm sure you've experienced extreme happiness at some point or another.  I'm talkin' about "walking on clouds" type happiness. Have you ever felt, as Pharrell puts so perfectly, like a room without a roof...like anything is possible?  That's because your heart is happyyyyyyyy! And when your heart is happy, likewise, it affects everything within, around, and about you. We have to consider who we allow into the center of our being, knowing that anything that happens in the relationship has the potential to affect EVERYTHING else.

Unfortunately sometimes, death and other unforeseen circumstances can cause our hearts to be sick, and we can't keep those from happening, but God tells us to guard our hearts because there are some train wrecks--relationship train wrecks--we can prevent. If guarding our heart wasn't necessary, He would've never told us to do so. It starts at the heart. Guard it! You control if you'll have a happy heart and cheerful face, or a heartache and crushed spirit.



Let me suggest these for the next time some guy comes "knocking on your door".

1. "Peek out the window" and study him for a spell to see if he's even worthy of your time. Don't be so desperate to have somebody around that you invite in someone who you know isn't even worthy. Just because he knocks doesn't mean you have to answer. For instance, if a man approaches me smoking, I don't have to stop and think about that. It's a NO off top! I'm not going to try and talk myself into being his savior and helping him to quit smoking because that's not my job. Jesus is who saves. Not me. He had that habit long before he approached me, and it's a sho nuff nasty habit that I can live without. If a man comes up to me cussing and carrying on with foolishness about fighting and clubbin' and anything associated with that lifestyle, I don't even have to think about that. He's not for me. I live a life for God. I live and breathe Jesus, and me hookin' up with someone like that is the ultimate unequal yoke. That's light and darkness. The two can't walk together; they don't agree. I can't be so hungry to have someone around that I'll negate who I am. You can think you'll stand strong all you want, but I believe the Word when it says "bad company corrupts good character".  I know aaaalll about that, honey. Been there. Done that. I know how to guard my heart from that mess.

2. If you see, after peeking through the window, that he's worthy of your time, "talk to him through the storm door" for a while. He still has to present his case. He's aware that there are other people "working the neighborhood" (even if they're not) for the same business, so he'll be crafty.  He has to be if he wants to make the sale. It's your job to get as much information as you can about the product he's offering. Know him by watching him interact with others. Ask around. Ask him if he's on Facebook (or other social media) and "friend him". If you see and/or hear things that don't line up with who you are, let him go on about his way. Don't lie to yourself saying those things don't matter because you'll be hurting yourself in the long run. That's a train wreck waiting to happen. Be real with YOU! Tell him you're not interested. Simple as that. Be okay with leaving these guys right where they stand. Your heart is too valuable to have them hanging around in your most cherished space. You and I both know that the longer they hang around, the more you become acquainted, and the more you build emotional ties and memories. When you have guests over and entertain them in your home long enough, they get comfortable and want to stay. Don't allow that. GUARD YOUR HEART! And don't forget to "unfriend" him and be DONE!

3. Is he still around after the storm door? Are you okay with what he's presented? Take what he's presented and do your homework. That means PRAY! No one knows the heart of man like God does, and if you really want to know, ask God. He'll show you what you need to see, and tell you what you need to know. In a few of my own "storm door" situations, I shut myself off from the brothers for a few days--no communication--and just spent time with God in fasting and prayer. I wanted GOD to show me who they were. I know emotions can sometimes get in the way, and I don't want an emotionally-led relationship. I've had those. I want a Spirit-led one. I'm not interested in a man seeking me out to be his girlfriend, or someone he can kick it with. I'm interested in a man seeking me out to be his wife. When God showed me in those times alone with Him that those guys weren't for me, I didn't even hesitate. My heart was being guarded from the foolishness. I politely let them know that I didn't think we would work, and I went on with my life.

4. Know that you have a responsibility to guard  his heart too. If you KNOW this man is not the type of man you want/plan to marry, let him go. Don't string him along because he's buying you dinner or because he's showing you a good time. That's not fair. You're intruding in his home now. Don't allow him to make a space for you in his home when you don't plan to stay.  You don't want anyone dragging you along, now do you? Yes, guard your heart, but guard his too.

For those of us who are saved and living a life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is the alarm system of our hearts. He speaks to our hearts and tells us when something isn't right.  If there's an intrusion or if what's before us presents some danger, we'll "hear" a  siren, and that alert is designed to make us take action to either protect what's ours, or remove ourselves from the danger. Heed the warning. If you don't allow the Holy Spirit to guard your heart and you ignore the alarm system, expect intrusion. Expect damage. Expect loss. Expect to feel violated in your own home.

You can guard your heart now, or not. If not, expect to pay for it later.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Perfect Shape


I remember, quite vividly, the very first time I got my eyebrows arched. Boy, I fought it to the death! I DID NOT want to get them done. You see, the women in my family have been blessed with natural arches over our eyes.  I thought sure if I let somebody touch my eyebrows, they'd ruin them. I was totally fine with smackin' a lil' Vaseline on 'em to keep 'em tamed, and going on 'bout my business. I didn't need to do what everyone else was doing with the new eyebrow arching trend anyway because I made (and make) it my business to defy trends. I purposely go left when everyone else goes right, as far as trends are concerned. Plus, getting my eyebrows done would mean more maintenance for me--something else I'd have to keep up with. I had found every reason under the sun not to get my eyebrows done. Ha!

My best friend, Chantel, who is a BEAST with eyebrow shaping, assured me, however, that she was simply going to "clean them up".  She explained and demonstrated how she'd follow my natural arch to do the shaping. She told me my arch would always be there, but she would be removing some of the wild hair around the perfect shape to enhance my already beautiful eyes. It certainly took some convincing, but I let her hook me up.

2008 - Chantel and I after my first eyebrow arching
I'm wearing a sticker that I got from my students earlier that day. :-)

After Chantel, who lived 14 hours away, I refused to let anyone else touch my eyebrows because what she had done was perfect. I trusted her. I'd seen her work. I knew she wouldn't mess me up because she loved me and she wanted me to look fly. So, for years, I touched them up myself by just plucking the wild hairs from around the perfect shape, but that got old...and painful...and I was jackin' myself up every now and then. A hot mess! I needed a professional. And after 2 misses, I finally found a hit! She is the BIZNISS! (Can you tell I teach 7th graders?)

At my most recent visit to my new "eyebrow lady" (Ha! I love that), she hooked me up as usual. Home girl waxes and tweezes to perfection! While she was waxing, we made small talk about her new baby and my students and other things we know about each other. Then, when she finished, she handed me that mirror (my favorite part), and I looked and saw that perfect shape. I just shook my head with approval and told her, "I wouldn't dare let anybody else in this shop touch my eyebrows. You just do them so perfectly."  She replied, with her usual sweet smile...

"That's because you trust me."

And the Holy Spirit took over right there.

He began to speak to my heart and tell me that life can have the perfect shape for those who trust Him. God can "shape" and "clean up" anything we trust Him enough to "shape" and "clean up". And He wants to, but we MUST trust Him to do what He MUST do to "shape" and "clean" us up.

We can try to shape and clean "it" up ourselves, but we can't always see what He sees, no matter how close we are to that mirror. He has the perfect view of us when we're laid back on that table. As He stands over us, He's perfectly positioned to get that perfect shape. And since He's the one who designed our "eyebrows" anyway, He knows best how to maintain them.



The waxing can be uncomfortable, but it's necessary for that perfect shape.  The tweezing can be a bit painful, but it's necessary for the perfect shape. God's shaping of us isn't always pleasurable, and sometimes it's down right tough, but it's necessary for that perfect shape. And if we trust that His hand knows EXACTLY what it's doing, even when it hurts, the end results are beautiful!

And sure, the wild hairs of life will pop up every now and again like wild hairs do, but the professional knows exactly what to do to make the perfect shape appear again.

My eyebrow lady is able to maintain my eyebrows' perfect shape because I trust her to do what she does best. I don't make any suggestions. I don't take the wax from her hand and try to do it myself. I don't grab the tweezers to pluck my own wild hairs. If I did any of that, I'd be in her way. So I don't even move. I'm completely still when she's at work on me.  And this is what God wants of me . And this is what He wants of you. Trust Him to do what He does best. Be still, and stay out of His way. He knows the shape of your life and the shape of your circumstance. He has the right tools and the perfect view and position to work on you.

Will you let Him make perfect shape of your life?  I can assure you He loves you way too much to mess you up.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Why I Started This Blog

My testimonies are plentiful. I'm favored. I'm grateful. And God's doing too much and saying too much for a mere Facebook status.

When He does it, I share it.

When He speaks to me, I speak it out.

A blog will allow me to speak on His goodness in its entirety rather than in a bite-sized snippet. *bows head to thank technology*  My hope is that readers will be encouraged by what I share...encouraged to CHOOSE righteousness, and encouraged to live a life that pleases God. That's it.

Oh, and maybe one or two of my friends were praying about me starting a blog. Y'all did this! God's been talkin' EXTRA loud lately, stamping out my stubbornness to NOT do a blog because I felt like everyone else was. Y'all know I'm a rebel who goes left when everyone else goes right...the rebel who REFUSES to join the Twitter and Instagram community because it's "trendy". LOL!

Single Women Who Desire to Do Marriage God's Way: I've lived your story. I'm living your story. I am your story. There will be a lot for you here. As He pours into me, I'll pour out to you. We'll be enlightened, encouraged, and challenged together. He's always in my ear for you...


Stay Tuned!