“ANYWHERE BUT HERE!”

telephoneA few months ago, I became involved in a situation that I fought tooth and nail. I needed and wanted it in my life (had been praying for it for months and months) but didn’t like the circumstances. So, I began to do what we humans usually do when we become stretched, pulled, and uncomfortable, not fully having our way. I began to bargain with God. Once again, He was giving me what I’d been praying for but not exactly how I wanted it. Each day I entered into it with the thought “maybe this will be the day that things will change” meaning the location, mostly. Change was indeed happening, but once again, not like I wanted.

BACK STORY…when I began my freshman year in college, it was my desire to earn a degree in mass communications. This was far from my personality type at the time. I wasn’t much of a talker and I had no clue of how to be interested in people. I did, however, enjoy reading and writing. After being in the mass communications department for a semester or two, I decided to change my major. Aside from making mostly C’s, I hated the way I looked on camera and even more so, I hated the sound of my own voice. Each time I saw or listened to a recording of myself, I grew more and more discouraged. So I played it safe and began to study office administration and management. This line of work would involve some talking but not as much. And I didn’t have to be on camera. I could do my work, in peace, and not have to do a lot of talking.

My career in that field lasted about three years before I decided to enter graduate Romans8.28school to become a teacher. Hey, teachers do a lot of talking too, don’t they? For some reason, during my graduate studies, that fear and dislike of hearing the sound of my voice, never even entered my mind. But once I began teaching, my students, and colleagues, quickly reminded me. I was dubbed the “Southern Belle” while teaching in Metro Atlanta. Each time I’d hear “Miss Howard, where are you from? You sure do have a deep southern drawl.” “You sure are country!” I’d think to myself, well did someone move Georgia out of the South and I didn’t get the memo. Last I checked, many native Georgians are just as “country” as I am, or even more so.

Over the years I’ve learned to like people a bit more; becoming interested in hearing their stories, sharing life experiences, offering encouragement, etc. But oddly enough, I still don’t like talking so much. Those who know me in “real life” know that I cherish my alone time (such is the life of an introvert). However, I will engage those who are in my company unless I’m not feeling well or I really really don’t like you…LOL!

emoji smilePresently, my daily duties and responsibilities require that I talk and talk a LOT! And the conversations are not always pleasant. In the beginning, after each difficult talk, I would begin to brood and whine internally, even sometimes thinking out loud. “LORD HELP!” Sometimes uttering other words, depending on the intenseness of the preceding phone call.

After a few days of sulking and wishing I were “Anywhere But Here” (the title of one of my favorite movies), my attitude and responses started to change. It came to me “you are the one who sets the tone and atmosphere, regardless of how the person on the other end of the phone behaves. Practice what you know to be true. What is your true character?” So, I took a deep breath and took my next phone call. On this particular day, many of them were pleasant, and maybe even the next few days. But then, there were some, at the very beginning of my day, that gave me the opportunity to put my true character into practice and be the person I desire to be. “Ok Stephanie, take a deep breath. DO YOU!”

Some people can be very rude and irate when they aren’t having their way.

emoji mad faceBut I continued with a pleasant, professional tone. And after a few sentences, I began to notice changes in their tones and demeanor. They became calm and pleasant which in turn allowed me to better assist them. Ultimately giving them what they needed and if I couldn’t, they were more receptive of that as well. I think my voice has a soothing, calming effect on people. Come to think of it, I’ve been told that in the past. It has taken me years to believe it.

During my break times, the Holy Spirit began to show me that once again this experience is about changing and creating some things in me. First of all, to help me get over my dislike (or fear, I do believe that it is rooted in fear) of talking and secondly, to continue to prepare me for things to come. I am excited! Not only at the possibilities of things ahead but that I continue to open myself up to being led and used by God. He knows best!

Philippians1.6After years of down time, I was ready to get busy doing things again, but not this. I feel that I am capable of so much more. I would often remind God of that as well…LOL! He knows what He created me for and in His timing, I will be and do it all. Lesson~You can’t hurry the process! #WhatIvelearnedforsure about His character and grown to believe with all of heart and soul, God is intentional, strategic, and purposeful. And if you are truly following Him, He will never steer you wrong. Many of the things I’ve gone through and experienced made absolutely no sense to me at the time (and much of it still doesn’t), but in due time, in His time, He reveals all that I need to know.

I’ve found contentment in the place I’m blessed to go to daily. Honestly, it’s a different kind of experience for me. In my mind, it doesn’t fit the ‘new me” at all. But with God, there is never a dull moment. Things are coming full circle in my life. I am not fully sure where all of this is headed but I do know that Romans 8:28 definitely applies here. It doesn’t matter if a portion of “ALL” occurred 30 years ago, the word of God is the word of God. So don’t be surprised if you hear my deep southern drawl on a radio or television station (just the thought of that sparks a bit of anxiety in me at this moment. But it’s all good!).  

Encouragement 101~ Keep an open heart and mind. Learn how to truly delight yourself in the Lord. You’ll find that His heart’s desires for you will become your heart’s desires. Even if you have to endure a few bumps and bruises along the way, His plan and purpose in your life shall be fulfilled. Remain confident of this very thing, He finishes what He starts!Comfort Zone

PEACE and blessing to you!

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#ThinkingOutLoud

i-belong-to-godThis was originally a Facebook post, but since I haven’t blog in a while, I decided to post it here…

When it comes down to it, you better know, to Whom you belong. People need people, He designed it that way. But ultimately, people can’t save, change, or heal you. That’s His job! And you can’t allow the criticism or fanfare of people discredit what the Lord has done and continues to do in your life. #whatIvelearnedforsure
I was tremendously blessed by watching the #ForeverDuncan bride’s FB live. If you follow social media in any form I’m sure you are familiar with this couple. In the moment of her surprise proposal, she was experiencing the presence of God. She goes on to share how God had been teaching, leading, and guiding her husband in how to love and honor her as his wife, BEFORE she became his wife.

LADIES, that’s what you really want! This girl sure does. And God was working on her as well.

This goes back to my #prayer post from yesterday. Align yourself with the heart and will of God for your life. Bring Him your heart’s desires, He welcomes them. But in all fairness, YOU’VE. GOT. TO. HEAR. HIS. HEART. FOR. YOU. AS. WELL! That’s just how it works! Then, you’ve got to be willing to do work, endure some stuff, both good and bad, in order to experience the manifestation of said desires.

Humans are selfish by nature but, as sojer33-3meone dear to me shared with me years ago “if you want something/someone

from God, He is not going to tolerate that from you.” In response, I cried out…”Who have You created me to be Lord! How do I get there! I NEED YOUR HELP!” #startthere

Please, don’t misunderstand! She’s not perfect by any means, but this, is what she knows for sure. She shares these things because this life stopped being about her a long time ago. Also, she can’t stand to witness people feeling defeated and hopeless. Been there! Done that! And it’s a LIE straight from the pit of hell! #herfaithhasmadeherwhole
I’M DONE! Love y’all…PEACE! ✌💙💪🙏🏃👂😄👀

“SHE BELIEVED SHE COULD, SO SHE DID!”

From what I have learned via the internet, this quote originated from the author, R. S. Grey. I don’t She-believed-she-could-so-she-didMknow much about her or her work but her quote grabbed me the moment I read it. So much so, that I’ve posted it several times, on various social media sites. I’ve used it as my cover and profile pictures a few times. And, I also have it posted around my home, in various colors and graphics.  

It’s a constant reminder, whatever dreams and visions God has given me, whatever goals I’ve set for myself, I must, first of all, believe that I can  achieve them. I’ve had more “setbacks” than I care to admit or remember at times, but no matter how many times I fall, I’m determined to get back up. I must brush myself off and keep it moving.  
Life is about learning lessons. And lessons rarely come by way of good situations. Not the life-changing lessons anyway. The lessons that make you so mad that you decide to get off your butt and do some things differently. 

Through trials and errors, I’ve developed a strategy for “getting bpause buttonack up.” I take the time to relish in the fall.  

Wait! What? Relish?

Simmer down! Let me explain.

Not relish in as if I’m delighted to have fallen. But relish in the fact that I have gained enough wisdom and life experiences to know that I need to pause a bit, and perform a self-check. Take it all in and really learn what the fall is about, especially if it’s something that I’ve fallen from a few times prior.

I then take the time to ponder what lessons need to be learned. Here’s the step many of us miss and/or choose to skip. So, let’s say that again. SLOWLY! TAKE. THE. TIME. TO. LEARN. THE. LESSONS!


Now, I can get up, brush myself off, and BEGIN APPLYING THE LESSONS TO MY LIFE! See, here’s something else we don’t do, well, not long enough anyway.

I know root wordwe all remember our sixth-grade grammar class. In that class, we learned that the suffix “-ing” means continuous or progressive. One definition of the root word “apply” is – to cause (force, pressure, etc.), to have an effect, or to be felt. Very befitting.

By adding “-ing”, we now have the word “applying” -to cause (force, pressure, etc.), to have an effect, or to be felt continuously or progressively.

In order to retain the lessons, to ensure that fewer falls will occur, and most of all, that the thing(s) I’m believing and working for will come to pass, it’s mandatory that I apply pressure, force, etc. continuously. I must progressively move towards my goals. This “applying” must have a positive effect on me, my goals, and all that is associated with them.  And it has to be FELT!  Can you just feel the force behiApplying Tipsnd that sentence? I sure can!

Yes, I am sure this is something that many of us already know, especially the grammar lesson, but knowing is not doing. And I think it preposterous to have a wealth of knowledge stored away in our brains and not use it. I mean really use it, continuously, progressively, until the desired goals are achieved.

This is definitely a post where I am talking to and encouraging myself as I hopefully do the same for my beloved readers. At the tender age of 47, I am still learning this. I beat myself up at least four times a year over things that I should have completed years ago. But I am done with that lifestyle. I have recruited some of my closest, and very honest, friends to hold me accountable. I also have to be accountable to myself. And because I am a woman who lives for her relationship with God, I rely on Him, first and foremost. He definitely holds me accountable. 

As I’ve mentioned before, I am sure many of you know this stuff already, but it’s always good to be reminded. It has been a joy sharing my new found action plan with you. I pray that every dream and vision God has ever given you comes to pass. Just be mindful that it can only happen if we fully participate. God is the Helper! He can only do His part if we continuously and progressively do ours. Now say this with me, I BELIEVE I CAN, AND I WILL!!! 

lifelessons

The Art of Recovery

1 Samuel 30 tells us that David and his men returned to Ziklag to find it burned1 Sam30.8 down. All their wives and children had been taken captive. They were distraught and begin to weep and cry out to God until they were exhausted (been there, done that!). To make matters worse, David’s men became bitter to the point of wanting to stone him. But then, (v.6 msg) “David strengthen himself with trust in his God.” He began to pray and the answer came, (v. 8b) “Go after them! Yes, you’ll catch them! Yes, you’ll make the rescue!” David obeyed!

Along the way, they met an Egyptian slave who had been left by his master. The one who raided David’s camp. After the master used the slave to get what he wanted, he left him sick and probably near death. But God had a plan for the Egyptian slave as well.  David’s men gave him food and drink. After learning who the slave belonged to, David asked him to lead him to the raiders. They arrived, finding the Amalekites eating and gorging on all that they’d stolen. They were just living it up off stolen merchandise…SMH! See, folks didn’t just get “ratchet” and foul in the 21st century, they’ve been around since biblical days.

“David pounced.” (v.17) (pounce-to make a sudden assault or approach). Real talk, I love this part! I am not violent but sometimes people will try you, especially when you are a Christian, but you have to show them that you are not a punk. And for those who want to throw “Jesus is love” in our faces, indeed He is, but name one instance in the bible where He acted cowardly. I’ll wait!

David fought them for two days until he’d recovered all that was stolen from his people. “Nothing and no one was missing…” NOTHING and NO ONE! God’s faithfulness! Let that marinate! They handled their business and were out of there. When David and his crew started back, they came across the men who were tired and didn’t complete the trip. When David saw them, he yelled, “SUCCESS!”

I’d say that he wanted them to join in the celebration of their victory. But because they didn’t help in the rescue, the “mean-spirited men” didn’t want them to have any of the plunder; only return to them their wives and children. But we know David to be a man after God’s heart (the reason he’s one of my favorites). He knew that none of it was theirs to keep. “Families don’t do this sort of thing! Oh no, my brothers!” (v.23) My heart longs for the day that all of God’s children get and begin to live out the truth that none of this stuff belongs to us. “You can’t act this way with what God gives us!” Now, let that sink in as well. He knew that God had kept them safe. He had already prepared the way for them to recover ALL.

prayer powerGod is about sharing. On that day, David made a rule in Israel, “Share and share alike—and it still is.” When he returned to Ziklag, David sent portions of the plunder to the elders and his neighbors, letting them know that it was a gift from God’s enemies.

There are a few good take-a-ways in this chapter. I like to call them “FAITH BUILDERS.” If you are a believer in Christ and find yourself in a situation that brings you to your knees, in tears and despair, cry if you must, but don’t stay there! Pull yourself together by remembering Who you belong to and the promises that He has made. Even when those closest to you want to stone and burn you at the stake, if you are unable to open your mouth and utter a word, let your spirit cry out to God in prayer. According to 1 John 5:14-15 we can become BOLD in His presence.  He has given us His permission!

I bet it’s safe to say that David didn’t give the mood of his men a second thought. He just knew that there was a fight to be had and that God had the answers. Not only did you pray but he prayed a specific and detailed prayer. “Then David prayed to God, Shall I go after these raiders? Can I catch them?” God answered immediately. “…Go after them! Yes, you’ll catch them! Yes, you’ll make the rescue!” Now, our answers may not return as specific as this but don’t let that deter you from being specific in your requests. I am crazy enough to believe that God can and will lay it out for me, just as plain as He did for David.

Next lesson, David obeyed God, immediately! Delayed obedience is disobedience, I’m just sayin’. Humans are so spoiled. We pray and want an answer right away but we are often slow to act on the answer–whatever the timeline. Please keep in mind, answers don’t always come immediately, as in this situation, but they will come. Pay attention and in due time, in one form or another, His answers will come.

David and his men set out for the Amalekites and ran right into a provision, the help theyfaith needed for a successful recovery. They had no idea that a slave of their enemy was in their path. I’m sure they didn’t think about anything except doing what God had told them to do, GO! We don’t always need to know the details. God has everything worked out and whatever we need to know, will be revealed to us in due time. Many people, even Christians, believe that this way of thinking is extreme and often irresponsible, but as a good friend of mine often says, “God is either ALL powerful or not powerful at all!” So with that revelation, I’ve learned to stop trying to figure Him out and just go with the truth, He is God! Something our human minds will never be able to fully comprehend.

The provision led them straight to the enemies’ camp. Just having a feast! Yeah, you talk about getting someone in fighting mode. Nothing like having permission from God to participate in a good beat down of the enemy. Brings to mind all the things the enemy has tried to steal from me. I spent more time brooding and being angry than I should have; I had to learn how to fight God’s way.

Sometimes He gives us permission to fight outwardly (maybe not physically like David and his crew did, unless your life is in danger). But more often than not,  He directs us to fight in the spirit (prayer, fasting, obedience, yes these are all spiritual fighting tools). Living this has been one of my greatest struggles. I use to think it was my job to get people back, tell them off, prove them wrong, etc. Now I mind my own business and meditate on one of my favorite scriptures, Exodus 14:14. Tremendous FREEDOM has been gained!

David got what he came for and left. He then went back and shared the success with those who were too tired to complete the journey. When God gives you instructions you have to complete the mission. As He did for David, He has already paved the way for you and me. And then there’s the sharing part. Yes, I know we don’t always want to help those who don’t help us or don’t seem to help themselves for that matter. But as David reminds us, “Families don’t do this sort of thing!” The one’s who stayed behind looked after the gear, they did their part. No matter what the disgruntled group thought, that was a part of God’s plan as well. It was equal share. Now, I don’t recommend just giving things away to those who are lazy and make mooching a full-time job; I do recommend, as in all things, remaining prayerful and Spirit-led. And sometimes you may find yourself sharing with those kinds of people anyway. Consider Psalms 24:1; you’ll always have what you need and then some.obedience our gift...

Even though David and his men were initially heartbroken by what they saw upon returning home, David knew enough about God to instantly turn to prayer. He prayed believing that God would answer. Not only did he have faith but he immediately acted on that faith by obeying what the Lord had instructed him to do. Because of this, David and his men were victorious in reclaiming all that the Amalekites had stolen.

When a noun takes ACTION!

If you are associated with me through Facebook as well as in real life you know that over the last eight years I’ve had many challenges. The times that I should have been solely concentrating on internal and external healing and just getting better, I was worrying about what people thought, how my life appeared, and how I was going to make this big “COMEBACK” that would basically shut the naysayers down. Yeah, that right there, a total waste of time and energy.

As a result of a sermon I’d heard in church one Sunday, I began to ponder the word

COMEBACK! Merriam-Webster gives these definitions:Comeback

  • a return to a former good position or condition
  • a return to being popular or fashionable
  • a new effort to win or succeed after being close to defeat or failure

Do any of these definitions actually fit my life back then? Or now? I began to think, “a return to a former good position or condition.” Nope! If I’m honest, which I always try to be, before things started to change in my life, I really wasn’t in a good position and certainly not in good condition. Of course, if you’d asked me this around mid-2007, I would have answered, YES! Because in my mind (and according to society), I was doing what a young professional in my age bracket should have been doing; working in the career field that I studied in college, preparing to become a first-time homeowner, furthering my education (mainly for status and money), and dating here and there. Now that I’ve grown and healed a bit, I know for sure that this definition of comeback does not apply.

2Corin5.17“A return to being popular or fashionable,” I laugh out loud as I read and type this definition. Nope! She was definitely neither of these things.

“A new effort to win or succeed after being close to defeat or failure,” of the three, this one would be the closest fit for my life. I could go in a few directions with this definition. But let me just say, had I not been close to “defeat or failure,” I shudder to think of what my life would be like today. Here’s the truth about defeat and failure, in the eyes of humans, it’s a travesty of life. But to the God who created humans, it’s the perfect opportunity to get our attention, bring us closer to Him and put us on the path of becoming who He created us to be.

At the beginning of my “eye situation”, I had many other issues but the loss of eyesight is
what was used to get my attention, I had no idea where God was going with this. I surely didn’t see it as a blessing, a means to heal me, and certainly not an opportunity to get me closer to Him and my true identity. Because I had yet to know His true character, I thought for sure He was nowhere in my situation.

I allowed people to get in my head and further break my spirit, “God is punishing you.” “You must not be living right.” “You are not a real (good) Christian.” But what “people” fail to understand is that ALL means ALL. And the word of God declares that ALL things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Not my or those “people” but His purpose, for His glory.

So, how do I launch my COMEBACK? First, I had to realize that it’s not about proving anything to anyone. The new winning and success seen are for the sole purpose of glorifying God. While He’s being glorified, many lives will be touched and changed. And to the human eye, that would be seen as winning and success. That’s fine by me! I believe that everything that I’ve experienced was all a part of His plan. I welcome thbutterfly transforme well wishes and kind words. Hey, I’m human and we need that from time to time. But, I will not forget the true purpose of it all. A few days ago while I was brooding over something or another, I heard in my spirit, “The gift is not for you!” That put things right back in perspective.

Secondly, although all three definitions of comeback define a noun (a person, place, or thing) for me, it entails many verbs (action words). I have to continue to walk in faith and obedience even when what I see is contrary to the promises and will of God for my life. I must develop and grow in the things that I desire to achieve. I must constantly refresh and renew my mind, never allowing what the enemy brings to deter me from my destiny. I have to rebuild and restart relationships that were once thought to be dead and gone. This is one thing that many of us shy away from; but, oftentimes people need to experience your change for their own good. Mainly those who have written you off to be a lost cause. The new creature you’ve become will bear witness that the power of God is real.

I have to believe that I have been reborn and conduct myself accordingly. If not, all of this would have definitely been in vain, all the way back to the birth, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. I have to develop a lifestyle of fasting, praying, and praise. The rebirth brings on a level of responsibility and accountability that must be maintained. I have to believe, cobroken peopleme what may, that God is for me and His is exactly who He says He is. Please believe, the enemy never lets up on his job. He’s foolish enough to keep at it even after the new creature has come forth. Never stop letting him know to whom you belong.

For awhile I thought I was a lone ranger in the things that I’ve faced. My story may not be exactly like anyone else’s but there are many who need to launch a “comeback” in their own lives. Start by evaluating your life, right before things started to go wrong. Where were you spiritually? Emotionally? What have you learned? How has it changed you? How can you share it with others? How can you help someone better their life? All of these are very important questions to ask yourself if you believe that your life has a purpose and God has a specific plan for you that will glorify Him.

It may sound a lot harder than it is. Just start right where you are and I guarantee you the Holy Spirit will be there to help you every step of the way.

Continued blessing and peace!

Phil1.6

What’s Leading You?

While I was finding my way to a new “normal” much of my inspiration came from some extraordinary Facebook posts. One day while in the midst of my emotional madness, this Healedone post vividly stood out to me; “If you’re leading with your pain, you’re not ready yet.” It was written in reference to marriage and relationships, but for me, it went far beyond that. It was a wake-up call of sorts. Resonating quite loudly…”Stephanie if you don’t get yourself together, you may just forfeit God’s promises and it will be no one’s fault but your own.”

“Lord, I hear you but I NEED HELP!”

This helped me see that every emotional meltdown, the dreaded roller coaster I couldn’t seem to get off of, the sleepless nights, the crying spells, the inability to focus, keep my mind on getting better, etc. were all results of me allowing my pain to lead. The pain of where I was living and hated so much being there, the pain of not having sufficient means to take care of myself, the pain of not feeling like an adult, the pain of being stuck, the pain of wanting to be noticed and loved a man, the pain of still sometimes hating to look at myself in the mirror, and so forth and so on.

I was led to these TRUTHS of who God is and how He sees me…
2Corin10.5His word cannot return unto Him void!

I am fearfully and wonderfully made!
His promises are Yes and Amen!
The vision is yet for an appointed time!
I will live to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!
His strength is made perfect in my weakness!
He knew me before He formed me in my mother’s womb!
He wishes above all things that I prosper and be in good health even as my soul prospers!
He has a plan for my life, an expected end!

He will fight for me and I have only to me silent!

He is always good to me; my soul can be at peace!

He invites me to become bold and free in His presence!

He hears and answers my prayers!John8.36

He will never leave me nor forsake me!

He is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer!

 I’m sure many of you are familiar with these. I had to stop looking at what my physical eyes could see and begin to see things from a spiritual perspective. The change started by writing these things down, taping them around my apartment, as well as putting them on my phone. I began reading them every day, all day.

Whenever doubt, fair, anger, anxiety, and anything else that goes against the TRUTH came upon me, I replaced them with these words. I didn’t just read them, I spoke them out loud. I had to renew my mind by changing the way I thought and spoke. Which is why I am now, very careful about the thoughts lingering in my head as well as what comes out of my mouth. KNOW THIS~Once you have peace it must be maintained.

SURVIVAL 101~Two thoughts CANNOT occupy the same space at one time. If you’ve never tried it, you should. Think of something and then begin to speak your name out loud. Did the thought remain? More than likely, it didn’t. Put this into practice a few times a day and before long it will be second nature. When you’re fighting the battle of the mind and negative thoughts come, you will automatically start to speak things that are contrary to those thoughts.   Eyes see only...

Although I’d practiced this before, I had to make a firm decision to not forsake the commitment that I’d made. The enemy’s mission is and will always be to kill, steal, and destroy and he starts with our minds. One of my favorite bible teachers, Joyce Meyer says “where the mind goes, the man will follow.” If I wanted to truly live, I could no longer allow my mind to go to that place of pain. My life depended on it.

At this point I was so desperate for change and healing, I told God, “If things don’t change, this time, I want my next stop to be heaven.” And I meant that! But that wasn’t His plan for me. Even before forming me in my mother’s womb, He saw me just as I am today. I sit writing this whole, healed, delivered, and free. Sharing my journey with others so that they may learn to live free as well.

freeyourmindIf you are in the midst of a battle don’t continue to be led by your pain. Begin to learn the TRUTH according to the word of God. He has an awesome plan for your life. I’m a living witness that ALL things can work together for your good and His glory, but you have to do your part.

I wish you abundant love, peace, and grace!