Follow by Email

Saturday, December 3, 2016

4 Setbacks to Ordered Steps

Thinkstock
 "The steps of a [good] man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way" (KJV). Ordered means directed and established. Directions are not clear unless they are organized, systematic, arranged or laid out in a specific manner to achieve a specific result. Order is then the opposite of chaos.  If this is true, then why is it so hard to work efficiently toward completing our 'ordered' goals? In my own faith walk, I've come to 4 major areas that interfere with my ability to adhere to the ordered steps the Lord has given me:

1.  Putting Energy into the Wrong Things
I call these the distractors in my life.  The things that make me feel like I'm doing something, but my heart knows this is not my assignment.

2.  Working in Reluctance
The Lord needs our YES.  Having the wrong attitude will not produce fruit in a timely manner.  I've found it more beneficial to sit down and pray about why I don't want to do the task, than to pretend I want to do the work.

3.  Comparing
Although I should be well beyond participating in this terrible habit, but on a occasion, one to many scrolls through social media can leave me feeling like I'm on the wrong course. I got it all wrong, and I'm behind where I "should" be in all areas of life.

4.  Proceeding with Caution (AKA Doubt)
Sometimes, I actually receive a green like to move in a certain area, give the Lord my YES to that assignment, and instead of jumping in, I proceed with caution. The fear of being wrong, the doubt of whether I heard correctly, seems to find its way into my mental stream and dismantle any and all momentum I thought I had acquired to tackle the task.

Staying in the will of God is a series of choices one has to make on a daily basis. The bible says that the Word of God is a lamp for [our] feet, and a light to [our] paths. (Psalm 119:105)  If we diligently and wholeheartedly believe that to be true, we will always find clues of revelation along the road of ordered steps.


Like.Share.Subscribe

Order My Steps



Sunday, January 24, 2016

6 Life Lessons From My Locs

The 'Fro'
This week marks two years for my sisterlocks. (1/28/16)  I've grown so accustomed to having my locs that I can't believe it's only been 2-years! While reflecting on the two year journey, I thought back on a conversation I had with someone interested in locking.  The conversation made me realize that the locking process makes for the perfect object lesson for some of life’s key principles. 







Breakage Makes Room for New Growth

February 2014
Throughout the loc process there can be some breakage. Correction, there WILL be breakage. I personally experienced a lot of breakage, some due to dryness, some due to stress and diet, and others due to thinning hair.  At one point, I only wore my hair pinned to one side to cover a broken fuzz patch of hair concentrated in the center of my head. #notcute This particular area of my head refused to hold a loc, and remained grossly shorter than the rest of my hair for a year and a half. At the time, I was terribly frustrated and embarrassed with my fuzz patch.  However, like life, things will break, and no matter how the breakage occurs, new growth is right around the corner if you endure.


There are No Shortcuts
February 2014
Throughout the first several month after installation, I consistently tried shortcuts.  "I don’t have to use that shampoo", "I don’t have to bantu knot my hair just to wash it", "Why shouldn’t I be able to do an apple cider vinegar rinse?".  Taking my own advice, I created some major setbacks for my locs.  Eventually, the locs unraveled (slipped) to the point that my loctician had to relock at least half of my head. It was like starting over. Not following directions cost me money and time. Similarly, I learned the same for life.  Some processes are meant to be followed as is, and any adaptation that we feel is better, easier or faster, will lead to squandered time and money.




Keep it Simple 
July 2014
Hair products.  
I found as I was locking there was very little I could put in my hair that wouldn’t create a seemingly unwashable grimy residue.  Shampoo in itself, would stick to my locs and create a gross grey film.   Over time, I realized that very little product/oil is necessary to keep my locs looking good.  I now use one water based natural leave in conditioner and coconut oil.  

In life we equally have to embrace simplicity. It’s not necessary to buy into the next new thing, when what you need may be in your house already or in the grocery aisle. Additionally, every situation you encounter may very well be simpler than you’re making it. If someone wants to talk to you, they will. If you want to talk to someone, speak.  If the relationship causes strife, let it go. If the relationship gives you peace, stay with it.

Patience
November 2014
It takes time for your hair to actually lock.  During this period, I had a lot of loose ends I had to camouflage and blend into the rest of my hair.   In life, there are also a lot of loose ends we simply just have to wait to naturally come together. 










 Lint is Annoying
April 2015

Whether on your clothes or in your locs, lint is just annoying.












Don’t Fear the Process: You are a Worthy Investment
December 2015
I was contemplating locing long before I made the leap of faith to start.  The biggest fears that prevented me from making the commitment were cost and process.  Sisterlocks are expensive to install and maintain, particularly for someone like me who never had a bi-weekly salon routine.  On top of the fear of adding a ‘bill’ to my already tight budget, there was this, “nappiness” fear.  I tried to envision what my hair would look like in the end, but each time was snapped back into reality KNOWING that was not how my hair would look in the beginning.  Not knowing how long, I’d have to live with ‘rough' looking hair, was enough for me not to commit to locking. 

In life, there are also many times of uncertainty as everyone journeys through his/her own processes, but ultimately we should never be so afraid of change, that we miss our opportunity to grow.


Hair Credit: Tammi Gibson +Naturally Mine 
In the end, I know “I am not my hair”, but I'm glad I embraced the unknown and invested in something new. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Your Wilderness is in Your Mind (A Lesson in Thankfulness)


Over the last year, I’ve become increasingly more aware of what I release into the atmosphere through my words.  At one point in time, I can recall saying phrases like “I don’t have any friends”, “I am not needed”, “I don’t have enough money” on a very regular basis.  Being a very logical person, I could reason why I felt how I felt, so in my mind there was nothing wrong with stating the facts.  The challenge, however, became clear to me when I would say things like that to people who were my friends, who thought I was needed, or who knew I had funds.  These individuals would quickly point out the fallacy in my logic, leaving me stuck in a conundrum.  I have friends, but I ‘feel’ like I don’t.  I’m entrusted to many responsibilities, yet I “feel” useless, and I do have money, but “feel” like I’m in a constant financial strain.  Over time, I realized, my daily declarations were creating real feelings that did not actually match my reality.  The real truth was, I wanted additional friends to do certain activities with, not that I didn’t have friends at all, I did not feel appreciated for all my work contributions, not that I wasn’t useful, and I wanted to better budget to have more funds to do other things, not that I didn’t have any money.   Although, I knew what I really meant, I was unaware of what I was really saying. I was unconsciously conditioning my perception of reality with lies coming out of my own mouth.

This revelation led me to reevaluate the term “wilderness” and how it’s generally applied in a church sermon.  Being in a wilderness usually means one is going through a hard time in life, but is that it?  Can one be in a wilderness if everything in life is going swell?  The Israelites journeyed through a 40-year “wilderness” to get to the Promise Land.  Along the way they were met with challenges, but they also had shelter, food, clothes, protection, cloud/fire to guide them, and strong leadership during the journey.   Over the course of 40-years, the bible records no account of them being in extreme need of anything.  Despite having all they needed, they were very unhappy. So what defined their wilderness, their actual situation or their view of the situation?  Their constant complaints about life fueled their unhappiness, and ultimately led to the delay in their promise.  Had the tribes of Israel focused on their actual good fortune they would have reached the Promise Land sooner, but much more than that they would have simply been happier during the journey.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. Deut. 8:2 NIV

Does it take 40-years to learn humility, or anything else for that matter?  I know the answer varies person to person, but as for me, I do declare, it will not take me 40-years to learn any one lesson.  Whatever lessons I will learn, I know through the journey, God will supply all my needs according to his riches and Glory, and I shall not lack for anything.  He plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future.  As long as I remain in Him and He in me, I will bear good fruit in my season. 

What do you need to declare today?  What situations have you speaking death instead of life?  Reflect on those things and choose to speak life over them.



Like.Share.Subscribe



Thursday, October 8, 2015

Spiritual Lessons From “The Walking Dead” Season 5 - Part 2

Disclaimer
  • I originally detested the thought of watching a show full of gore and dead people.
  • I’ve only watched one full season of TWD: Season 5.
  • This post will not cover any theories of eschatology (the study of the end times).
  • The show in no way connects specifically to any religious belief, and this post does not intend to suggest the show is about any particular religion.
As the season six premier of AMC’s The Walking Dead gets closer, here is the second iteration of spiritual lessons I gathered from watching season five. (View Part 1 here).

6. Everyone Has Purpose in the Kingdom
“…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began…” 2 Timothy 1:9 (NKJV)

Daryl loses his girlfriend, Beth, and becomes very distant within the group. Upon arriving to Alexandria, he struggles to adapt and is the only member of the group to not receive a job from Deanna, the town’s leader. Set on feeling useless, Daryl does what he wants and avoids interacting with the residents of Alexandria. Aaron later reveals to Daryl that he has the perfect job for him, and that he is gifted specifically to accomplish the job. Aaron makes a recommendation to Deanna that Daryl help him recruit high-quality people to become part of Alexandria. He justifies this by stating that, “he (Daryl) knows the difference between good and bad people.” Many people desire to know their life’s purpose, and many of those same people go through moments of doubt regarding whether they were born to actually accomplish anything. 2 Timothy 1:9 reassures those in Christ that we were saved for a purpose a long time ago, and that we must remain patient until He aligns our gifts with our situations.
 
Figure 6: Aaron identifies Daryl’s gift and tells him he officially has purpose in Alexandria.
Source: S05 – Episode 13


7. Satan Is a Liar
“…When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44b (NKJV)

Sasha cannot rest. She is in a constant state of anger and paranoia. Because Sasha is always on edge, she tells Deanna that Alexandria is just not real. There is no peace for her, therefore she refuses to let her guard down and accept Alexandria as a peaceful safe haven for her. Satan is a liar, and is very capable of convincing people that good things are bad and vice versa. When we have these moments of extreme doubt and paranoia, it is important to have someone to turn to that you can trust as a personal barometer.


Figure 7: Sasha explaining to Deanna that the peace in Alexandria is not real.
Source: S05 - Episode 13

8. Your Gift Will Make Room for You
“A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16 (NKJV)

Seemingly everyday, someone in Rick’s group is promoted to a leadership position within Alexandria. None of the group members assert their expertise over the people of Alexandria, but they simply help out and step up as needed. In doing so, it becomes very evident that each member has a specific skill set and compassion toward other people. In this scene (See Fig. 8), after Tobin witnesses Abraham save a member of the crew, Tobin requests Deanna make Abraham the construction team leader. Upon watching this, Proverbs 18:16 came to mind. God gives each of the members of the body of Christ a specific gift for a particular purpose. There is no need to compete or connive one’s way up the ladder of success. True heart and skill will always make room for themselves.
Figure 8: Tobin insists Deanna make Abraham the new construction team leader. 
Source: S05 – Episode 14
9. Do Not Succumb to Evil
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

As Morgan sits calmly near his campfire, a Wolf, or hostile survivor catches him off guard. The Wolf informs Morgan of his impending death, to which Morgan politely responds, “I will not allow you to take me away” (See Fig. 9). This scene exemplifies the critical need to speak positivity in the midst of a dead-end situation. The Wolf has Morgan at gunpoint. There seems to be no way out of this situation, but Morgan decides to execute a great deal of faith. He ends up speaking his truth and fighting his way out. The Wolf could represent any obstacle one faces in life. Despite the apparent outcome, one should choose to speak life first before assuming the worst.


Figure 9: Morgan speaking to a Wolf who told him he was going to be taken away and killed.
Source: S05 -Episode 15

10. Redemption: There’s More Beyond Guilt and Shame
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Sasha, Gabe, and Maggie each have different issues that presumably could end with their demise. Sasha is struggling with anger and wants to die. Gabe is struggling with guilt and wants to die. Both have attempted to place themselves in dangerous situations hoping to find death as a result (See Fig. 10). Maggie, on the other hand, is struggling with faith as a whole and is starting to question how much longer until she dies. Despite each of their fights with death, the three are shown praying at the end of the season. This scene, demonstrates, even in the midst of chaos and grief, that one can find peace and receive redemption from anger, guilt, and confusion (1 John 1:9).

Figure 10: Sasha wants to die from her unrelenting anger (Upper Left), Gabriel wants to die from his guilt (Upper Right), and Maggie has lost all sense of faith in this new world (Bottom Left). After a long season, they all find redemption and peace (Bottom Right).
Source: S05 - Episodes 10 and 16


Song
MercyMe – The Hurt & The Healer

Breathe
Sometimes I feel it's all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

So here I am
What's left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide



Like. Share. Subscribe

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Spiritual Lessons From “The Walking Dead” Season 5 - Part 1

Disclaimer
  • I originally detested the thought of watching a show full of gore and dead people.
  • I’ve only watched one full season of TWD: Season 5.
  • This post will not cover any theories of eschatology (the study of the end times).
  • The show in no way connects specifically to any religious belief, and this post does not intend to suggest the show is about any particular religion.

AMC’s The Walking Dead is a TV series based in the time of a Zombie Apocalypse. The show primarily follows a group of survivors trying to make life work in the midst of a dying world. I recently began watching the series in the latter half of the fifth season. Although the survivors have no specific connections to any religious sect, as I watched, I surprisingly found myself paralleling the characters’ experiences with many biblical principals. This post will cover the first five biblical principals that came to mind as I watched the season five. (Part 2 can be found here)

1. Everything Has Purpose
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

Tyreese has lost many loved ones, and against his own moral compass, killed many zombies, Walkers, and some people. He struggles to recuperate from the grief and guilt, but ultimately decides to live. In making this decision, he finds himself the caretaker of a baby, Judith, two other children, and a woman, Carol who murdered his girlfriend. His grief turns into purpose as he is able to save other people despite his own loss. Tyreese is later able to share his wisdom with Noah (See Fig. 1) who just discovers his own family has died. Tyreese’s words to Noah made me think of Romans 8:28. Many times one may believe the sole purpose of some life events is to bring pain, but there are good elements somewhere along the line in every situation.


Figure 1: Tyreese encourages Noah about as he laments the loss of his family.
Source: S05 - Episode 9

2. Satan Is an Accuser
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.” Zechariah 3:1 (NIV)

During a hallucination, all the people in Tyreese’s past sit around and take part in a gathering regarding Tyreese’s life choices. In particular, the Governor, Tyreese’s ex-boss, condemns Tyreese’s good nature and his forgiveness of Carol for murdering his girlfriend. The Governor taunted Tyreese about his “good” ways having no place in a dying world. Satan often nags us about the negatives of our past, so we remain bound to situations we cannot change. He posits accusations that we should be like everyone else in the world around us, even when we stand out for the good. There is no freedom in guilt. Tyreese, committed to live with freedom of mind, tells his hallucinations that they are dead to him and that he knows who he is. (See Fig. 2)


Figure 2: Tyreese speaks to his hallucinations.
Source: S05 - Episode 9

3.  Do Not Forsake the Assembly
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together….” Hebrews 10:24-25a (NKJV)

Sasha has lost her brother Tyreese, and boyfriend Bob. She’s propelled to take her anger out on the Walkers and struggles with surges of excessive rage through killing. As Sasha goes through another fit of rage, Michonne (having transcended that state of mind regarding the deaths of her brother and husband) understands and commands Sasha not to “go there.” She remains accountable to Sasha throughout the season, keeping an eye out for her mental well-being, and reminds her that she doesn’t have to live in anger and bitterness. Without the group, Sasha would surely have died or committed suicide (See Fig. 3). Hebrews 11: 24-25 speaks to the need for accountability and encouragement from other believers. With no one’s past any better than the next person’s, each person brings support, comfort, and connectedness in a world demanding revenge and selfishness.

Figure 3: Michonne chastises Sasha for thinking about and wanting to attack a herd of Walkers alone. 
Source: S05 - Episode 10

4. Trust Is a Must
“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” Psalm 112:7

Rick struggles with the decision to go to Alexandria with Aaron, a stranger. He knows the group needs a safe haven. They have almost been “out there” too long. Their mental and physical health is declining and Aaron presents a very enticing opportunity of hope and safety for the survivors (See Fig. 4). Rick does not want to put himself or the group in harm’s way, but knows they are equally unsafe remaining where they are. Often worry consumes our judgment and past experiences cloud our ability to “take another chance.” Psalm 112:7 came to mind as Rick spoke. In life situations there is no algorithm for the right answer, one has to make the decision to take a chance and trust the Lord even in the midst of great uncertainty. 

Figure 4: Rick talking to Michonne about deciding to go to Alexandria with Aaron.
Source: S05 - Episode 11

5. Love Will Show Them
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:35 (NKJV)

Despite the unpleasant past of each survivor, Rick’s group maintains a sense of sincerity. Although the majority of them are complete strangers, they somehow became family. Each member is accountable and protective of the other members. As the group arrives to Alexandria, the leader Deanna, interviews each one to determine if they would succeed in Alexandria’s vibrant community. During her interview with Rick, Deanna says she wants to be part of Rick’s family, although she had only heard about the group from her scouts (See Fig. 5). In one’s life as a Christian, there should be something peculiar and enticing about the way s/he lives. Despite one’s individual past, their current way of living should prompt others to “want in.”

Figure 5: Deanna speaking to Rick upon his group’s arrival to Alexandria.
Source: S05 – Episode 12
  
To be continued…Part 2

Like. Share. Subscribe