Whacha Got to Say?!

Writing is good for your health. It makes your heart feel better!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Live Your Life

Good day reader! It's been several weeks since I posted and I certainly have missed you. I know you missed me too. My absence was not intentional. November was a productive, and challenging month filled with surprises. As I anticipated the Thanksgiving holiday I prepared and planned as normal; I'd make the candied yams, macaroni and cheese, my mom would make the collard greens, hush puppies and the ham, my sister Kim would fry the turkey...you get the picture.

No one was prepared for the news.

My mother recieved the call one week before Thanksgiving; her mother had passed due to heart failure. So it was. The Friday after Thanksgiving she and her sister arranged a wake for my grandmother, Della Mae Gatlin, and the following day my mother eulogized her mother.

It's not easy for me to see death as an extension of life. Not in the flesh anyway. However, in the spirit, I can see quite easily how death is as much a part of life as breathing is to our daily routine. We all, no matter how hard we try, will leave the life we live on earth. There is no magic potion, diet or anything that will stop the aging process. Sure, we can make changes to live longer, but regardless how long we live, we all must pass away into our next life. As morbid as this sounds, this is probably the best news a believer could hear. Why? I'm glad you asked.

We believe in Jesus the Christ, and that he was not only a prophet, but the healer, deliverer and savior of the world. We know and believe Jesus is The Son of God. We believe that the purpose of his life and subsequent death was to teach us how to live and ultimately die to ourselves. I love reading about Jesus' life because it was exciting. His life wasn't long, but he lived every moment to the fullest. He went to weddings (John 2:1-2), he had friends that were a little unconventional: Matthew (Levi) was a tax collector-he was extremely popular with the community...not! (Luke 5:27). Bartholemew (whom Jesus called Nathaniel) was a skeptic, Simeon (whom Jesus called Cephas, or Peter) was slightly aggressive with serious anger management issues (Matt 26:72), James and John, the sons of Zebedee were both high-minded and presumptous (Luke 9:54). Jesus himself was noted as being hungry after his resurrection from the dead (Luke 24:36-43)!

I call these traits to mind in order to point out the fact that Jesus is as much alive and divine now as he was then. He lived so diligently and intentionally in front of his disciples that their lives were changed from servants to friends (John 15:15). Just as Christ lived and illuminated the dead lives of those around him to the hope of life incorruptable, so he does in our lives when we surrender to him. The challenge today is for us to live. So I speak into the atmosphere: live your life!

Got trouble with violence? No problem. Jesus can fix that, ask Peter.

You say you have issues with doubt? Faggettaboutit! Ask Didymous (Thomas) what Jesus can do for you. Unbelievable story. Trust me. It's a page-turner.

Is intelligence standing in the way of your spiritual growth? King Solomon and the apostle Paul can help you understand the power of one encounter with the Holy One. You'll see how all knowledge is vanity and dung respectively (Eccl 1:14-17, Phil 3:8).

How can I live? you ask. You don't know what I've been through, you say. You're right. I don't. Jesus does. He knows more about you than you know about yourself. He's waiting on you to gather up all your heavy baggage of complaints, excuses and bad habits and lay them at his feet so you can get busy living (Matt 11:28-30). Since it is appointed that we all leave here one day, shouldn't we focus on living while we still can? Before I close out this blog I'll ask these questions: Are you satisfied with your life right now? Do you know for certain that you're living a purposed life? The answer to these question will determine the steps you need to take next. Think about it.

We'll talk more about this soon. In the meantime pray, and always remember to...




Sunday, October 16, 2011

Trust...Who do you?

When I was a teenager I there was a woman in our church that was always there. It seemed as though she was a constant in the church-as dependable as one of the load-bearing walls that kept the high ceilings and steeple from caving in on us. To me, she seemed to have it all together. One Sunday afternoon, I gathered the nerve to ask her a question that had been nagging at me for a while. "How long does it take to trust God completely?" I asked, timidly. As she looked over at me, a little girl decades her junior, it was as though she had been waiting all her life to answer my simple question. As genuinely as she could she leaned over and said "I'll let you know when I find out," after which she smiled and went on her way. It was then that I realized that my question was bigger than I had first imagined.

Not many years after that I joined the military and had to make some major choices and figure things out for myself in a short amount of time. If it hadn't been for my mother raising me to have good character and teaching me how to pray, the immorality I was living in and surrounded by would have been my demise instead of my stepping stone. What I learned then was that I was always on the mind of God (Jeremiah 1:5). This meant that I could depend on Him to be there for me no matter where I was, or what I had gotten myself into.

Fast forward over a decade and I had only taken several small steps forward in my journey to the land of Trusting in God. I did figure out that God understands this is a process and has set up scenarios for me-as any good father would, to help me grow and learn to trust Him. I've learned that trust is something that is innate and learned, simultaneously. For example, even as a child I knew I could trust my mother intrinsically, but I had to learn how to trust her fully as I grew and matured in different areas and levels of my life.

"For everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the word of rightousness: for he is a babe. But stong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" Hebrews 5:13-14

What does this have to do with trust, you ask? I'll tell you. Many adults trust God on the same level I trusted my mother when I was a toddler. I knew she would feed me, clothe me, make sure I was clean and address all of my basic needs. I knew she was taller than me, older than me, knew more and could do more than I could. There were times when she was gentle and would rock me in her arms. Then there were times she was firm and had to command my obedience or at minimum my obeisance, as the Queen of her Kingdom (a.k.a. our home).

It was not until many years later that I would learn how deeply I could trust her. How she was not simply my Queen/Mother, she was also my friend and confidant. I no longer questioned whether I would be fed, clothed, or bathed; I knew that was a given. However, through consistent relationship, I learned that there was no part of me that I had to hide from her, there was no place I had been, or thing I had done that would change her love for me.

"And if you who are evil know to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give The Spirit of Holiness to those who ask Him?" Luke 11:13

If God, through a human being, could show me love in its purest human form, how much more would He, the Creator/Giver of my first love, love me? And if I could for a moment take my mind off of the sounds, pains, disappointments, rejections, deadlines, chores, commitments and all other busyness surrounding my every waking moment and ponder that thought...if I could forget my intellect and experiences, my short-comings and frailties and think about the loveliest thing I've ever imagined, and that Christ is lovelier than that...then I would have a glimpse of what trust, Godly surrender and dependence means.

I invite you on this journey with me. Abandon yourself right now. That's right, put all your stuff and anyone else's stuff you're holding on to aside. Lay it down. Go ahead, I'll wait...

Now, think about what love is. If you've never experienced love or don't think you have, pull on your deep rooted desires. Not your wants-a new house, car, or job; those are things you can function properly without. The things you need and can't live without, those are desires. You know exactly what I'm talking about because you know that love is not a feeling. I repeat: Love is not feeling. Feelings of contentment and confidence are simply the result of true love; the comfort and security that have been birthed into and belong to those who are truly loved. And let me tell you what I've discovered: God alone can love this way, and God through His son Jesus the Christ can teach us how to accept this kind of love.

When we understand-even in our finite minds, how much we are loved, we won't be able to do anything but rest completely in it. That, my friend, is trust.




Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Choose

"...choose this day whom you will serve...”
Joshua 24:15

Today I had a choice to make. Actually I had several but one in particular sticks out. Because I'm a thinker I thought about which choice would be better. Should I say and do exactly what I would usually say and do? I asked myself. My natural inclination was to rely on habit. I could react first, and ask forgiveness later. Hmmmm, that sounds like a good idea. I hesitated. Then thought some more.

I literally saw myself making one choice, and the reaction I would get from it, then making the total opposite choice and seeing that reaction in my mind as well. I was amazed by the power human beings have to choose. For a moment I had forgotten about the choice I needed to make, and instead focused on the freedom I had to choose. It was liberating to say the least. I understood deeply that my life only belongs to feelings or emotions if I choose to give myself over to them. And if that is true, then my life only belongs to reason and compassion if I choose to give myself over to them.

Now, I know you're waiting to read that I made the perfect choice and everything worked out well. That's what Hollywood is for. This blog is real. Even though I use general happenings in my life and leave certain details out, it's real nonetheless. No, maybe I didn't make the best decision, but I did make a better one. I chose to be as mature as possible, given my personal shortcomings and human characteristics. In spite of my issues, I chose to satisfy my desire to be understood with my greater desire to understand. To take my confusion, hurt, disappointment and give it to God first, so He could help me internalize it, make sense of it and see exactly what He was doing in the midst of my situation. Did it make the job of choosing go away? No. But because I used my power to reason, and have compassion, I saw myself becoming who God made me instead of who I have always been.

I choose. Do you?



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dream A Little Dream

Hey! It's been a while since we've talked but that doesn't mean you weren't on my mind. As a matter of fact, I was thinking about you today so I decided to share what was on my mind with you.

Speaking of sharing my mind, it has been filled with so many things to blog about. The topic that's been waiting in line the longest is that of dreams. Several weeks ago (around about the last time I blogged) I had an amazing dream. I dreamt that I was in a church and it seemed as though I was singing in a choir with one of my friends from Tennessee named Karen. My husband was there, and Pastor Angela (another close friend of our family who lives in TN) was there as well. The one thing that wasn't there was order. There was so much chaos everywhere. People were walking, talking, children were playing and coming up to us trying to distract us from singing and disrupting the service. After a while I couldn't take any more.

I walked out of the choir stand and went to gather up all the children and sat them down. As I walked through the church I saw people sitting in their seats with food and empty wrappers in the pews and on the floor. I saw people turned away from the pulpit talking to each other. It was as though we weren't even in church. I remember feeling sad about that. Then I went to the front of the church and tried to get the choir to sing. The altos acted as though they didn't know their note. Karen was singing the soprano note all by herself and the Tenor section literally sat down and refused to sing at all.

I was perplexed. I looked at Karen, who, in the midst of all the distractions, quietly walked over and pointed to the tenor section and as I looked at them again I saw stones piled on top of one another. The people were stones on the inside. Once I saw that I walked over to them and tried to pull them up but they were too heavy. When I realized I couldn't pull them up with my strength, I felt a strong urge to take the microphone and speak to them.

Then I woke up.

What's amazing about that dream is that God was able to speak to me in many ways through it. My question to you today is, when was the last time you dreamed? I'm not talking about pepperoni pizza/acid indigestion dreams about gun-toting dinosaurs and chocolate rivers (you know the kind of stuff you dream about when you eat weird food right before bed). No. I'm talking about dreams of your future, or of someone else's; dreams of what God has for your life, of your expected end (Jeremiah 29:11)? If you can't remember the last dream you had, maybe it's time for you to talk to God about that so you can get busy seeing in your dreams. Good night...




Monday, September 5, 2011

Give It The Boot

Writers come in all ages, shapes, sizes, national origins, races, genders. What makes a writer? The posh answer would have something to do with education, literary skill, artistic capacity, blah, blah, blah. Bottom line: writing is what you make it.

I’m not a mechanical writer. There are people who advise writing every day. Eh, well, if you can that’s great, but if you can’t, there’s no need to panic or worse, give up your dreams of writing. I recommend reading every day. I write often and usually by some delightful, painful or melancholic inspiration. But, I digress.

I have said for some time now, and still believe wholeheartedly that every person who can should write at least one book in their lifetime. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. You may not know or even care to know about grammar, spelling, syntax and the like, but you do have a story within. Your story may be funny, fanciful, frightening or even a little frugal, but it’s yours. What is your story? Perhaps your life is mundane or maybe you don’t think you’ve lived long enough to have a story but I beg your pardon. We all have something to say.

Where would we be if not for writers? How wonderful is it for a loved one to write something on a napkin and leave it in a drawer or their jacket pocket? Better yet, how extrodinary is it when we find a note writtin on the margins of a page in the middle of a book stuffed in the corner of an obscure bookshelf? And when we find it, when we hold our gaze on that little taste of priviledge, we have a chance to peer into the crevices of their mind if only for a moment. Just the thought of it makes me sigh with joy.

My mother is in her early sixties. I have been encouraging her to write about her life for herself, as a gift of the legacy she created and for the many people who love her. Recently we had a conversation about a blood transfusion she received when she was born. Before that I had no idea she’d had to endure so much as a newborn baby. We talk every day, sometimes several times a day and I didn’t know anything about a surgery that could have resulted in tragedy. I went and bought her a family album and a book on writing memoirs right away!

You have a story within the confines of your mind with the potential to encourage, enlighten and evince. I recommend you give it the boot. That’s right. I said give it the boot and kick it out of your head! There are people waiting to hear your story. The question now, is will you write it?




Sunday, August 21, 2011

As If

“As If” is a phrase made popular by a movie that came out some time ago. I’ve never used the phrase myself, but if I did, I would probably not use it as a stand-alone. Now, I don’t know much about phraseology, but I think it had to do with rejection of some sort. On the big screen it played out like this. A smart but not-so-popular boy would work up the nerve to ask a super-popular girl something  like, “So, do you wanna go to the dance with me Friday night?” to which she would raise her brow, contort her mouth and reply “As if!” and walk away.
Interestingly enough, this is yet another term the world has used as a form of denunciation that God uses to enunciate His love for us. How so? Ephesians 1:7-8 says “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us; with all wisdom and understanding” and to further make his point, Paul wrote in Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God”.
Of all the many wonderful blessings noted in the two scriptures above, the justification portion is eating away at me today. Redemption, forgiveness, grace, wisdom, understanding are all topics I could talk about for weeks. However, I want to focus on justification for a moment. Let’s be clear about one thing; God is just and we are not. Even on our best day, we don’t have the power to be anything close to good, let alone just-outside of a pure relationship with Christ.
So, why the need for justification? Where redemption saves us, grace assures us, wisdom and understanding lead us and forgiveness pardons us, justification is a major prong in the spiritual legality of God. I read somewhere that to be justified by God makes it just as if I had never sinned in the first place.  
When we apply the blood of Jesus over our situations it makes the sin in our lives as if it had never happened. At this point in my life I am more grateful than ever for a clean slate. How about you?




Saturday, August 20, 2011

Little Children

Sometimes I think we are all crazy like that song by Cee Lo. We have this awesome Father who has given us everything we could ever want, need or ask for and what do some of His children do? Squander his gifts like brats.

As a parent-formerly-known-as-adolescent I can relate to this scenario on many levels. I've been the kid who gets exactly what she asked for only to toss it to the side like an old rag moments later. And I've been the parent who worked diligently so I could have money to buy gifts for my children, or stayed up late at night working on a project so I would have time to spend with them the next day, only for the effort to be unappreciated. Am I saying my children don't appreciate me or that I didn't appreciate my parents?
Well, yes.

As little children we don't appreciate what we have until we wake up one day as adults and wish we could crawl back into our twin bed with our super-hero blankets and sleep in comfort and serenity. Actually, it's a natural occurrence for children to be somewhat oblivious to their fortune. However, it is the job of a good parent to lovingly remind our children of just how fortunate they are.

But what happens to adults who never fully mature?

Adults who continue in the milk of life while rejecting the meat will have telltale signs; we disrespect God, take His kindness for weakness, ignore His counsel and shun His wisdom. Bottle-drinking adults are really just old children. Frail, helpless and searching. Then Jesus inserts Himself into our world and everything changes. The hope that was lost is found again. The light that was dim is rekindled, and the pain we've inflicted upon ourselves is replaced with forgiveness.

Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3 that he could not see (perceive, understand) the Kingdom of God unless he was born again. In order for us to mature into the human beings we were created to be, we must abandon our old selves and start all over. What a concept! After total abandonment, Jesus tells us that he can then send us out as "sheep in the midst of wolves", but warns that we must learn to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16) in order to fully appreciate what we have been given and share it with others. It's quite doable when we surrender ourselves to the power of the blood of Jesus.

Proverbs 10:12 says, "Hatred stirs up strife, but Love covers all sins". Isn't that good news for us as we mature in Christ, Little Children?




Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bad News

How do you handle bad news? There are many phrases that can help the average person along the way. One such saying is When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. What happens when life hands us lemons, and grapefruit. And we, being human, add to our bitter citris punch-a splash of lime. Then others come along and pour in vinegar instead of water! I know what you're thinking, That sounds nasty!

Isn't that how life is sometimes? Just downright unpleasant? I heard an elderly man say 'In the meantime can be some mean times' and I agree. Life can throw us a problem or two and our human nature doesn't always help the situations very much. What do we do? How do we go on when life knock us down with bad news? How do we turn our lemon, grapefruit, lime and vinegar into anything drinkable???

Christ took on all of our sin, just to make our burden lighter. Matthew 11: 28-30 says "Come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light".

We have to carry something, but Christ took on our burden, so we wouldn't have to be so heavily weighted down with it. We can live in a world filled with bad news and still find the good in it. Christ took on the bitterness of this world, so we could enjoy it's sweetness. He will take your bad news and show you something good. All you have to do is believe.



Monday, August 8, 2011

What's In A Word?

Today I read some pretty interesting blogs about editing by Eric A. Kimmel and Debbi Mack. The best part about them was they inspired me to start my own! :-)
 Since I started writing a novel several years ago and an editing company last year I have been getting familiar with words in a whole new light. I've always known that words have power; we can speak death and life whether we know it or not. Scholars call that the self-fulfilling prophecy. Either way, the words we use, the meaning and motivation behind them and the actions we take because of them are all linked in a cosmic way. How cool is that?
In addition to having power to speak death and life, we also have the power to write in the same fashion. I choose to write life. It is my desire to help those writers like myself who wish to add more than they take away by editing with that in mind. This is not to mean that characters will never die or be eulogized in my books. They will. However, my writing will always point to the words that give. Probably because I've been given so much.

Check out my site: www.twfginc.com