Is My Marriage Normal?

wedding ringsKeep on living is what the elders say. As I get older, I’m starting to better understand what that means. Growing up I didn’t think about life outside of the rural community I grew up in. I grew up surrounded by family. It was a really good life. It was normal.

Since being married to John, I had to ask myself – what is normal? His normal is not my normal. This fact became crystal clear when we started living as man and wife. We are different in so many ways. Our backgrounds are very different; therefore, our perspectives are different. He is generally mild manner and laid back – I’m not. He can go with the flow and I’m comfortable with structure. Oftentimes our disagreements stem from the fact that we are different because our life experiences are different. But one thing that is our normal and has been from day 1, is our belief in GOD. We both know that there are many ways to CHRIST but only one way to GOD and that’s through JESUS CHRIST. 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV) Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

Although John and I have and continue to work on defining our normal as husband and wife, one thing that is not negotiable is serving GOD. John and I know in order for our marriage to stand through better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness and health, we MUST keep GOD as the head and serve HIM.

As I keep on living like the elders say, I’m learning to appreciate other ‘normals.’ I understand that my normal is not right and that other ‘normals’ are not wrong – they’re just different.

If I had a chance to give myself something to think about before I got married it would be – Getting married is easy. Being married can be tough. Staying married is a choice.

So, to answer my own question – Yes, my marriage is normal.

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT Joshua 24:15 (NIV)“ …But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

If serving GOD is normal, then serving each other will be normal too.

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

The Hokey Pokey

hokey pokeyYou put your right hand in, You put your right hand out, You put your right hand in, And you shake it all about, You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around –That’s what it’s all about.

For those who are unfamiliar with this little game, here’s a YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZinb6rVozc. I love me some YouTube!

This was one of the many fun games I played when I was a child attending St Joseph Elementary, Holy Trinity Alabama. It got me to thinking, if my Christian walk had a theme song, this would probably be it. If I had to change the lyrics it probably would go something like this.

You change your mind here, You change your mind there, You change your mind here, And you shake it all about, You do the go to churchy and you turn yourself around –That’s what it’s all about.

Too often I found myself being wishy washy about what I was going to believe GOD for. I believed HIM for my salvation, but I wasn’t sure if HE would take care of that situation at work. I believed HE died and rose on the third day but I wasn’t sure if HE would handle my finances. I’ve always heard that if it matters to you it matters to HIM. James 1:6-8 (NIV) says But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

The hokey pokey was a fun child’s game but I’ve learned that you simply need to believe. No ifs, ands or buts – I must believe! For every situation there is a Word. I have to do the work and study HIS Word for myself and ask GOD to reveal HIMSELF through that Word. I must meditate on HIS Word. By doing this, my faith is growing and now I’m finding that I’m beginning to believe HIM for EVERYTHING!

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT: Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

BELIEVE!

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

Is it Time for a Diaper Change?

diaper

I was watching one of the family vloggers on YouTube. For the sake of clarity, a vlogger is a person who videos their daily life and posts it online. It’s a video blog. I enjoy watching these vloggers because it’s so much fun watching young families raise their children. It’s like watching a sitcom. This particular family I was watching has a toddler and a set of infant twins. Needless to say, there’s a fair amount of diaper changing discussions. It’s funny to watch the parents’ reaction when there is a need for a diaper change. The parent’s know there’s a diaper change needed because in addition to the less than pleasant smell that launches an attack on their noses, the child may walk and act differently.

The mind is like a diaper. It is the dumping (pun intended- crass, I know) ground for all the words and images we allow into our ears and eyes. I can’t necessarily control all the information that I am exposed to but I can manage and monitor what goes in and more importantly what stays in my mind. Much like a dirty diaper, negative information can sit in our mind and if it’s not removed it can cause, to quote Joyce Meyer, ‘stinking thinking.’

One of my guilty pleasures is watching the Lifetime Movie Network (LMN). John has said on many occasions that I need to stop watching that stuff. I think he is concerned because there’s a significant number of shows where a woman goes over the edge, loses control and takes revenge out on someone. Typically the husband is the recipient of her rage. I would tell him, “Oh honey, it’s just entertainment.” But I started thinking – is it really just entertainment? Not to be overly spiritual but I’ve heard it said the mind is the enemy’s playground. Every negative or positive action, started as a thought. Each time I hear a news report, I’m sadden by most of what I see and hear. The senseless acts of so many, I believe, started as a thought.

To this day, I still watch a LMN movie here and there but I don’t watch nearly as much as I use to. Back in the day, I use to have Saturday movie marathons on the regular. I’ve noticed the more positive things I watch, read and listen to, the more peace and joy I experience. Please understand, it can take a tremendous amount of effort to change and much more to maintain. However, Philippians 4:13 (NIV) says I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

In my humble opinion, the world has an insatiable need to be entertained. And because much of the world is driven by the all mighty dollar, entertainment industries are willing to do whatever it takes to keep us coming back and wanting more. More foolishness = more ratings = more money. Entertainment in it of itself is fine. The problem I see is with what we find entertaining. I believe what we find entertaining is directly related to how we think.

Much like a dirty diaper, when I start speaking and acting like I don’t know Jesus, I know it’s time for a change.

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT: Romans 12:2 (NIV) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Start the change, It’s worth it!

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

The Witness Protection Program

witnessThanks to my momma and daddy, I’ve been in church all my life. I was raised with solid values and discipline. My parents did their job to the best of their ability. As a child I really didn’t know why it was important for me to go to church. All I knew was that it was part of our life and it was non-negotiable. When I was a teen, attending church on Sunday morning was the deciding factor on whether I could go to the skate center Sunday evening. My daddy use to say, ‘People who can’t go church, can’t go to the skate center either.’

As I’m moving through my ages and stages, attending church has become more than just the building where I go on Sunday morning or the thing I must do before I can do something ’fun’ later. Truth be told, it wasn’t until my 30s when attending church became more than a religious act. It was during this time where I really started reading the Word for understanding and application. In my humble opinion, reading the Word without seeking to understand so you can live victoriously and be all that GOD created you to be – is POINTLESS! I’m no longer ignorant to what God expects of me. Sometimes I wish I was because in some instances, ignorance is bliss. As you learn and grow, you realize there are some inherent issues with that statement – that’s why I say some instances. 1 Corinthians13:11 (NIV) says When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, claim to be a model witness for Christ but what I can say – I’m working on it. It was this Pastor’s wife assignment that was the motivation for me to enter the witness protection program. Every Christian, regardless of what assignment they have been given, is called to be a witness for Christ – Mark 16:15 (NIV) He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. More often than not, a person will believe your actions, quicker than your words. Although I don’t get it right every time, I can definitely say that I am mindful of my behavior as I carry on with my day. Every situation and interaction with someone can be a potential opportunity to be a witness for Christ. Here is just a sampling of the questions I ask myself on the regular to check and protect my witness: Why are you complaining? Did you show compassion? Who are you to judge? Where’s your gratitude? There are plenty more.

My parents accepted the responsibility to introduce me to Christ. However, they didn’t stop at the introduction, they made sure that I was surrounded by opportunities to establish a relationship with HIM. They created the foundation for the relationship to grow. Until they were laid to rest, through their ups and downs, I was able to witness the benefits of having a real relationship with Christ. Now, that I’m an adult and have been for quite some time, it’s MY responsibility to continue to strengthen the relationship and protect my witness. Here’s a tip: as you strengthen your relationship, it will be easier to protect your witness

Final Word of Encouragement: Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Will you draw anyone to Christ with your witness?

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s wife

24hrs

clockOn my desk I have the following 3 statements: No Excuses. Trust the Process. Stay the Course. I’m an impatient person who procrastinates. This is a mess of a combination. What this translates to is when I finally decide to do what I need to do which typically requires the assistance of others; I have the nerve to get annoyed because they don’t move as quickly as I think they should.   What kind of foolishness is that?

I have such an admiration for people who make a plan and work their plan. I think some people are naturally goal and task oriented. It seems they are wired with this ‘special’ gift to accomplish a multitude of things. Arguably, everyone has their own unique gifts, skills, and talents but one thing we all have in common is 24hrs. The question is, how should I spend that 24hrs? One thing is for sure, people can disagree on many things but they can’t disagree that once time has passed, you can’t get it back.

Here’s my quandary. I don’t want to occupy my 24hrs with busy work but instead with focused and purposeful work. Sometimes it’s necessary to invest time and energy in determining where you should focus your efforts because all good ‘busy’ work is not necessarily GOD work.

Back to the 3 statements I mentioned in the first line of this blog. I am the queen of excuses. There are times when there are legitimate reasons. However, I should be ashamed to say this but to be honest; there are times when I just don’t want to. I’m unmotivated, uninspired, undisciplined, and a host of other pathetic excuses. That’s why it is so important to be prayerful about everything. Especially when it comes how you spend your time. When GOD puts something in your spirit that HE wants you to accomplish, there should be NO EXCUSES. Psalm 32:8 (NIV) I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

It’s been my experience when GOD instructs you to do something, typically, it’s not an easy task. Once I conjure up enough nerve to take a step forward in obedience, because I’m an impatient person, I expect immediate results. However, it RARELY happens this way. I know my GOD can do things suddenly but, in my case, that just doesn’t happen often. What HE is teaching me is that I must TRUST THE PROCESS. What I’m realizing is that, more often than not, it’s not about the end result but it’s about what HE is working in me. I believe GOD is not going to trust me with HIS best until HE knows I have the character to handle HIS best. Proverbs 3:5 (NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding .

Now that I’m diligently working to grow spiritually, I’m asking GOD to renew my mind through and in accordance with HIS Word. By doing this, I am better equipped to deal with the disappointments, setbacks, missteps, frustrations, hurt feelings, etc. GOD sees and knows all. I truly believe that every tear that is shed while doing what HE called me to do, will not be wasted. When I’m faced with challenges, I remind myself to STAY THE COURSE because Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT: Proverbs 12:24(NIV) Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.

Make every moment count.

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

What I’m Learning from Queen Elsa

forgivenessIs it me? Probably. Does it seem that people are always reading between the lines? Sometimes it’s necessary – especially in the workplace. However, the ability to read between the lines can be an occupational hazard. Sometimes an apple is just an apple. I find it exhausting to constantly have to monitor what I say and how I say it because of the concern of how the person will receive it. Right or wrong, I tend to distance myself from people who think they know but often they don’t. I do believe you should be mindful when you speak and you should listen to wise counsel*.

But I ask myself the question, why do people read between the lines to the point where it puts a person on the defense or alienates them? So where does this come from? Is this a personality flaw? Is this a learned behavior? More importantly, do I do this to people?! I pray that I don’t and if I do , Lord help me!  I wonder if it’s a survival tactic developed in response to a past hurtful experience(s). You know the old saying, First time shame on you, second time shame on me and it ain’t gon’ be no third time.

*FOR THE RECORD, wise counsel typically does not alienate or put you on the defense. It may sting a little if correction is involved but it is received gladly because the motive was pure.

It’s tough to have a true relationship with someone because of the baggage we carry. I believe we are so afraid to enter into a meaningful relationship because there is a level of vulnerability that needs to exist. I totally understand this because people will mess up and people will hurt you. But, the beauty of being a Christian is the ability to forgive and move on. It takes a lot of unnecessary effort to carry around all the intentional and unintentional transgressions that people have made against me. At this stage in my life, I don’t have the bandwidth or the desire to carry extra strife. If not checked, unforgiveness can turn into bitterness and resentment. Hebrews 12:14-15 (NIV) Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

I will forgive because I pray that I will be forgiven. But, I have the right not to forget. Not forgetting helps me to determine what type of relationship, if any; I should have with that person moving forward. I call this wisdom.

Holding on to past hurts, in the long run, only hurts the person that’s holding on to it. I am learning to take the advice of Queen Elsa – Let it Go, Let It Go… Yes, I was singing as I typed. And for those who don’t know, Queen Elsa is a Disney character from the movie ‘Frozen.’

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT: Matthew 6:15 (NIV) But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Forgiveness is tough but living with unforgiveness is tougher.

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

The Challenge is Worth It

dog on leashThis morning Bindi took me for a walk. If you have a dog, you know exactly what I mean when I say she took me for a walk instead of saying I took her for a walk. I enjoy walking with Bindi because she challenges me to keep up. The walk keeps her in shape and helps get me into shape.

I was listening to a Joel Osteen message and he said he read that the reason golf balls have dimples is because it helps the ball travel faster and further. I’m sure there’s a more complex explanation but I thought to myself, in that case, I should be a speed walker. Dimples only look cute on face cheeks. And, how come muffin tops look good in bakery display cases but not on my waistline? Sorry, I digress.

When Bindi and I go for a walk, I keep her on a leash. This helps to keep her from getting too far ahead but far enough out of reach where I am challenged to move quicker than a leisurely stroll. This accelerated pace is enough to get my heart rate up. It’s in the increased heart rate where I am getting the most benefits for my overall health.

I believe the same concept holds true for my spiritual health. It’s important for me to surround myself with people who inspire, encourage but more importantly challenge me to be better. When you aspire to grow, you may need to assess the company you keep. I’ve often heard people say that if you are the smartest person in your circle, then you may need to expand your circle (Proverbs 13-20) Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Be careful, you want to be in relations with people who challenge – not intimidate. Much like my walks with Bindi, I’ve reached a point in my spiritual health where I enjoy and welcome challenge because I know the benefits will be worth it.

I’m learning to rely on GOD to bring the right balance of people in my life at the right time. Because, HE knows who I am and HE knows what shape I’m in.

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT: Proverbs 27:17(NIV) As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Pray for divine relationships.

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

I Just Look at the Pictures

manuelI don’t like reading instructions. I have this bad habit of buying items that require assembly and I won’t read the instructions that come with the packaging. I just look at the pictures. There are VERY rare occasions when this approach works. John on the other hand, actually reads the instructions. And as I type, I really can’t think of an instance where his approach did not work. If it didn’t work, it was because the item was defective. Now, one would think that I would change my approach because the number of times my way worked compared to John’s way, well…Needless to say, my approach beget wasted time, sometimes loss of money, the ‘I told you so’ look from John because he would never actually let the words come out of his mouth, and frustration. All because I didn’t want to take the time to read and follow the instructions.

Truth be told, this is how I was treating my spiritual life. I wasn’t doing the work that was required to get the most out of this gift called my life. I just didn’t want to take the time to read the Bible which I heard someone say is the instruction manual for Christians. I’ve also heard it said this way; the Bible is our Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth. Nowadays, Bibles have beautiful illustrations and different translations to help the average Christian understand the inspired Word of GOD. Although some of the translations concern me.  

This Christian walk is a lifelong journey. On this journey, we will encounter plenty of experiences -some good, some not-so-good but all with a lesson to be learned. How you respond to and learn from these experiences will give you a good indication on where you are in your spiritual walk. Sometimes the difference between good and not- so-good is how much time I spend reading and studying my instruction manual. There are times when I’ve read my manual and not understood anything I read. I’ve learned to be ok with those times. Because the beauty of being a Christian is that we have the help of the Holy Spirit. He is there to help and guide Luke 12:12 (NIV) For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” However, you have to give him something to work with. So…I’m learning to not just look at the pictures.

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT:  Psalm 119:105 (NIV) Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Doing the work upfront is better than a redo any day.

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

 

Beware of MS!

20150312_113649A couple of weeks ago, I purchased the UP24. This snazzy wrist cuff is designed to help you learn more about your physical fitness. It tracks your daily activities such as the number of steps taken, sleep patterns, etc. The goal is to track your daily activities to get a picture of where you are and based on your patterns, it will offer suggestions on how you can improve. Now that I’m 45, things are changing and I need all the help I can get. Because it’s only been a couple weeks, I’m still learning how to get the most out of it. There are many features but, to date, my favorite is the ‘Idle Alert.’ You can set an alarm to notify you when you have been idle for a specified period of time.  I set mine for 1 hour because I have a tendency to sit for hours at a time. After 1 hour, the wrist cuff will vibrate to let you know it’s time to get up and move.

My motivation for purchasing the UP24 was my last doctor’s visit. In my humble opinion motivation is critical to start, continue and finish any task.

Life has a way of beating the motivation out of you. It is so easy to give up and throw in the towel. I have heard so many times before from different people that no matter how great or small, you should be careful who you share your dreams and aspirations with. I use to think the primary reason was because folks just talk too much. But what I’m finding is that intentional or unintentional some people can be MOTIVATION STEALERS (MS).

Beware of MS!

Here are some of the ways they can steal your motivation: They

  • Don’t share your enthusiasm
  • Tell you all the reasons why it won’t work
  • Share their unsolicited opinion
  • Laugh at you
  • Are dismissive
  • Remind you of your last failure
  • Share with you how they tried it and it didn’t work for them
  • Are just plain ol’ negative

All of these responses can kill your motivation. I don’t care how spiritually mature you are, responses like these, can really bum you out.

But wait a minute… I am a child of the MOST HIGH! I should not and will not let people rob me of my motivation to press towards a higher mark – Philippians 3:14. I’ve noticed that as I grow in my relationship with Christ, HE’s giving me a boldness that I can’t explain.

When you are solid in your motivation, you will seek out ways that will help you accomplish your task. You will try new things. You will get excited and energized about the possibilities.

After my primary care physician shared that Arthur (arthritis) had stop by my house, I was motivated to find ways to make his stay a brief one -hence, the purchase of the UP24.

If you believe in your heart that GOD told you to do something, don’t let the MS in your life stop you. When they come to visit, and they will, just make sure their stay is brief.

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV) Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

You are responsible for doing what GOD told you to do.

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

Tired and Frustrated

closet

The master bedroom closet is one of my favorite rooms in the house. It’s organized. Shoes, handbags, shirts, pants, accessories, all neatly displayed…. Everything has its place and everything is in its place. I think I’m in love with my closet. Yes, I’m a little extra. It’s ok. I own it. My closet wasn’t always this way. I never gave closets much thought because, to me, it was just a place to hide my crap. One day I was inspired to get my closet in order. I was tired and frustrated with not be able to find what I needed. In this case, frustration worked in my favor because it forced me to make a permanent change. I say permanent change because many, many times before, I have organized my closet but I was never able to sustain the effort. It’s been years since I made that permanent change and now every closet, cabinet and drawer in my house is organized. And keeping them that way, gives me pleasure. Ok, it may be that I’m a little OC (obsessive compulsive). But, who cares, it works!

I’m learning to treat my spiritual being much like the closets in my house. Day by day, sometimes moment by moment, I try to get my spiritual house in order by transforming my mind. Romans 12:2 (NIV) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

It’s been a slow but deliberate process. I found that in order for me to make a permanent change, I had to get tired. I mean REALLY tired. I was tired of letting my emotions control me. I was tired of giving my energy to things that don’t matter. I was tired of worrying about things I couldn’t change. I was tired of not having peace. I could go on…

Being married to a man of GOD, has been one of the main inspirations for me to continually work on my spiritual clean up and maintenance. When you get serious about making a permanent change in your life, GOD will always provide the help you need.

FAN GIRL MOMENT – I have often said, if I wasn’t married to John, I would want to know him. John makes no excuses for his missteps. When John falls down, he repents, gets up, and presses on in the name of JESUS. He does not sweat the small stuff because he knows WHO is in control.

Back to the point of this blog. I have reached a stage in my life where I want to live a victorious life and be a better witness for Christ. In order for this to happen, I have some cleaning up to do. And, I can’t neglect the areas that I have made some progress. Like the closets in my house, I need to become OC about the condition of my spiritual being. I just think about the happiness I feel every time I walk into my closet. With the help of the HOLY SPIRIT, imagine the benefits of getting and keeping my spiritual house in order?! Oh, how different life can be.

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT Acts 1:8 (NIV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Tired yet? Ready to live victoriously? The Holy Spirit will help.

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

My Legacy

20150309_181843I was watching the ducks glide across the pond and the tracks they left in their wake reminded me of Sundays’ message. Guest Pastor WFB asked the questions, “What will be your legacy? What will you leave behind?” Although I could barely see the ducks as they moved to the far end of the pond, I could clearly see the tracks they left behind.

Over the years, I really struggled with this question – what will I leave behind? I’m an average person with no particularly special gifts or talents. I remember when I was younger, either my Uncle J or Auntie P – I can’t remember which – said, ‘You just brown. Brown skin, Brown hair, Brown eyes… You just brown.’ Please understand, I love my ‘browness’ but let’s be real– who gets excited about the color brown? Yes, I know that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made because Psalm 139:14 says so. And I also know, GOD placed a gift/talent in everyone. Some have few, some have many. Some are obvious while others are subtle. However, all are equally important in the eyes of GOD. They must be. I just don’t think GOD created anything just for the sake of creating it. GOD is not random. Everything HE created has a purpose. And, I believe the purpose is to serve others.

But what does this average ‘brown’ girl from highway 165 have to offer? Well…I’m still trying to figure that out. One thing I know for sure, there’s something I’m required to do because I’m still here.

I was introduced to Zipporah through the book Legendary Women of the Bible and the Lessons They Still Teach Us. Remember I said that GOD is not random? I truly believe GOD wanted me to purchase this book so I could read about her and be encouraged. Zipporah was the wife of Moses (Exodus 2 and 4). She thought she was going to have a simple and quiet life with a simple shepherd. Moses was a shepherd but his life was anything but simple. God had a calling on his life and Zipporah was along for the journey. As the wife of the Pastor of a grassroots ministry, I can relate.

I’m not sure what the rest of my journey holds but my prayer is that this ‘brown girl’ leaves a legacy of service that is acceptable in the eyes of THE FATHER. When I meet HIM, I want to hear HIM say “Servant, well done.”

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Ask God to show you what your gift is and when HE tells you – use it for good.

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

Cheese with that Whine?

girl whiningI remember one day back in the 90s, I was whining and complaining about something to my co worker. She listened. When I came up for air, she simply asked “Do you want some cheese to go with that whine?” I never forgot it. Shout out to MM! It’s true, life can be tough. Crappy things happen to good people. Sometimes ‘stuff happens’ that will rock you to your core. But at some point, you have to deal with it, get over it, and move on.

When the unfavorable and unthinkable happens, it’s ok to express whatever emotion that gets you through. I even believe it’s ok to have a pity party. It can be comforting and therapeutic. However, like any party, there should be a start and end time. Don’t get stuck in a ‘woe-is-me’ mode.

Now that I’m in the 40s club, I’ve had my share of pain, heartbreak, disappointment and failure. When my mom and dad were laid to rest at ages 46 and 63 respectively, it would have been easy to get stuck in the ‘woe-is-me’ mode. Truth is – there are still times when the reality of them no longer physically being here is so overwhelming, that I want to curl up in a corner…but God. HE said in Matthew 5:4 (NIV) Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Generally speaking, I think most people have the ability to feel compassion. However, even the people who have the gift of compassion will get sick of hearing you whine.

The issue I see with whining is that it will eventually lead to what I call life paralysis. In my opinion as I mentioned in my previous blog, good or bad situations are experiences with a lesson to be learned. Staying too long at the pity party will stop you from moving forward. At this stage in my spiritual journey, I’ve decided the best thing I can do is accept what has happened, ask God what I should learn from it, respond appropriately and get ready for the next level. Situations come so that we can grow. Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Please understand, I still have an occasional pity party – some impressive ones I might add. But now, I work very hard not to stay too long. I try to do like the gospel song says – I’ll have a little talk with JESUS. I’ll tell HIM all about my troubles. I know HE’ll hear my cry. I’ll trust that HE will answer by and by.

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT:  Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Stuff happens. Tell Jesus.

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

 

If It Don’t Fit, Don’t Force It

square peg“If it don’t fit, don’t force it Just relax and let it go Just ‘cause that’s how you want it Doesn’t mean it will be so… If it don’t fit nah don’t force it”

This morning I started singing Kellee Patterson’s song from back in the 70s. Of course I didn’t know all the words but it didn’t stop me from making up my own. Typically I would just butcher a song and move on but for some reason I was curious about the actual lyrics to this one. So, I did a search online. Not only did I find the lyrics, I found a YouTube video! I love me some YouTube.

I started thinking about how many times I’ve tried to force something in my life only to be rewarded with frustration, hurt feelings, tears, and the list goes on. Because I want to start making better choices, I find that I’ve really started searching the Word of God to understand and deal with this thing called life. Dearly beloved we are gathered here today 2 get through this thing called life…’ Sorry, It just felt right -Thanks Prince!

Back to my thoughts. God knows everything about me. HE created me. HE knows every wrong turn I would and will make. The cool thing is, in Romans 8:28 (NIV) it states And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. I REALLY like the word ‘all’ in this scripture.

I’m learning to change my perspective. I try not to see situations as good or bad but rather as an experience with a lesson. However, I would like to minimize the missteps. What I am finding is that when I trust the Holy Spirit that lives in me and step out on faith, HE gives me grace.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor. To me, this means if I follow HIS guidance, there will be a favor of ease. Simply put, I won’t have to force it. I’m not saying this is an easy thing and I will miss the mark sometimes, but it’s OK. I’ll just remember Romans 8:28.

 FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

If you insist on making it work, at all cost, it may just work. But, it might hurt a lot. Sometimes persistence equals pain.

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

this Pastor’s Wife

I Talk Too Much

mouthThere are days when I feel like I gave my mouth an enema. I know, crass, but appropriate in this case. It’s the only word that accurately describes what happens when I start running my mouth. My mother wrote a letter to me in 1987 long before she was laid to rest in 1996. It was full of a mother’s love and wisdom. Among many things, she wrote ‘once you say something, you can’t take it back.’ So true momma, so true.

Words can build up and tear down. Proverbs 18:21 (NIV) The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

I heard someone say, God gave you two ears and one mouth so that you can listen twice as much as talk. Perhaps if I listen like I talk, the scores on my Fruit of the Spirit scorecard I mentioned in my last post, would be higher. Hmm…

Among many things, I ask God to help me keep my words few. What I am learning is the more I talk, the more I run the risk of unintentionally offending.

I have a R-n-R issue. Rambling and Repeating. I’m such a fan of a person who can keep their words few, relevant and impactful.  Whether it be for correction or celebration, this person has a way of getting their point across without belaboring the issue. In my humble opinion, that’s a gift.

I love this thought : Say what you mean, mean what you say, just don’t say it mean.

I have to admit there is something addictive about positive feedback when I stumble upon making a good point. Instead of just stating the point and moving on, I just keep going and going and going and going and going… Lord help me! It’s funny because I can tell when I lose someone during an R-N-R episode. Their eyes glaze over and they politely nod their heads hoping that I would shut up.  If I’m talking on the phone, the person on the other end gets quiet. Not because they are listening intently, it’s because they’re saying to themselves – here she goes again.

Remember when the enemy tried to tempt Jesus after his 40 day fast (Matthew 4:1-11)? Jesus simply said ‘It is written….’ stated HIS point and moved on. Gotta love Jesus!

Final Word of Encouragement – Ecclesiastes 10:12 Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.

Use your words sparingly, others will appreciate it. And, it will keep you out of trouble.

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!
This Pastor’s Wife

What I Learned from a Flower

lilyI love fresh flowers in the house. This week’s choice was lilies. I intentionally select flowers that have blooms that have not opened yet. These tend to last longer. Now here’s the thing, I purchased the flowers on Sunday and was annoyed on Monday because all the blooms had not opened. I went on a mini rant because I was sure I had selected some ‘bum’ flowers. But lo and behold, when I went to inspect the flowers this morning, I noticed the blooms were starting to open. I was so happy. Pretty flowers make me smile.

Awhile ago I made a promise to myself that no matter what the day brings, I would find something to smile about. Having fresh flowers in the house helps me keep this promise.

I started looking closely at each of the blooms because now I was intrigued about the various stages of each bloom. Just a few days ago, I was frustrated because the ‘bum’ flowers were not opening as fast I would like. But now, my frustration had turned to excited anticipation. Now, I’m eager to get home because I want to see how each bloom is progressing.

The same frustration I had over my ‘bum’ flowers, is much like my frustration with my personal development of the Fruit of the Spirit. Ok, below is my personal scorecard – according to me.

FOS Scorecard4Galatians 5:22-25 (NIV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Christlike Fellowship’s motto is Learning to Live like Christ Everyday. What this means to me is if you develop the Fruit of the Spirit in your character, you will live a victorious life. This does not mean troubles and problems will be a thing of the past. Actually, it’s been my experience that trouble and problem got married just to have kids so they could send them over to my house to raise. It’s Ok. I realize that troubles and problems help me develop the Fruit of the Spirit. Once the enemy knows you are actively studying and applying the Word in your life, his sole purpose is to steal, kill and destroy any effort you make. And, he will use whatever or whomever he needs to get the job done.

Back to the chart. As you can see by my chart, I’ve got a lot of work to do. And you know what? I’m ok with this because I’m willing and diligently working to develop the Fruit of HIS Spirit that lives in me. I recognize that I’m a work in progress. My God is patient and merciful. He is a God of many chances. HE knows exactly where I am and HE knows that I sincerely want to be and do better.

So what did I learn from what I perceived to be my ‘bum’ flowers?

As I continue to work towards developing the Fruit of the Spirit, I‘m realizing that each fruit will bloom at its own pace. I’m learning to appreciate the progress of each. So instead of getting frustrated because I’m not further along –by the way, frustration is a trick of the enemy- I will keep pressing in Jesus name and wait with excited anticipation to see how each Fruit of the Spirit develops. The good news is, I have my whole life to keep working at it.

Final Word of Encouragement – Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Don’t give up, don’t give in – keep pressing!

Be Encouraged! Be Blessed!

This Pastor’s Wife

Joy in the Freedom to be Me

clip-art-illustration-of-an-african-american-school-girl-playing-hopscotch-by-pams-clipart-386During my walk around the block yesterday morning, I started smiling and laughing out loud. Nothing in particular happened. If any of the folks driving by noticed, I’m sure I probably got the hairy eyeball. Later in the day, it dawned on me why that sudden burst of happiness erupted in my spirit – it was joy.

As I understand, joy is a calm delight regardless of your circumstance. So, where did this come from? There are things happening in my life that I pray that God’s promises manifest sooner rather than later. But, in the midst of it all, I’m experiencing a ‘calm delight’ that sometimes borders on hilarity. I can’t explain nor can I adequately describe it but one thing is for sure, I’m enjoying it. Perhaps it comes from the acceptance that I wrote about in my last post. The difference in this instance is the acceptance of just being me.

Dare I say, I’m finding joy in the freedom to be me?

Years ago, I started my natural hair journey. It wasn’t something I purposely set out to do. Quite the opposite. It was a reaction to the many years prior of what I like to call the ‘perm and burn’ phase of my life. It was a vicious cycle: Braid – Healthy Hair- Perm- Burn- Breakage- Back to Braids. I was over it. So, one day, I grabbed the scissors and Voila – TWA (teeny weeny afro). Little did I know, this was the start of getting to the joy of being me. For those of you who have embarked on this ‘natural hair’ journey, you understand how frustrating this path can be. It can be tough and a lonely road to travel. And EXPENSIVE! Y’all know – all those products you must try. My Hair Equation: W+O=H3 Moisture is key! [Water (Moisturizer) + Oil (Moisture Sealant) = Happy Healthy Hair].

But, I have to say my hair issues was the catalyst that prompted me to start learning more about myself. Long story short, I went to the Word of God. And, HE brought me to Psalm 139: 14 (NIV) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Some may read this and think, Girl. It ain’t that deep. Perhaps. But in my experience – it is, unfortunately, that deep. This scripture helped me embrace what was growing out of my scalp. This may seem strange but through this one scripture, I started to develop boldness and rubber skin. Rubber skin? Yep! When I stopped hiding my hair under weaves and wigs, some family and friends…well…let’s just say, they weren’t feeling it. Make no mistake, to date, some still aren’t feeling it. It’s Ok!

By the way, I still have my wigs and I will rock a weave and braids when I feel so inclined. Years ago, a friend of mine use to switch up her looks all the time with wigs, half wigs, extensions etc… She said, ‘Girl, hair ain’t nothing but an accessory.’ I don’t know if I ever told her but that statement opened my mind to a whole new world – yes I was singing when I typed that. Shout out to KP!

Back to my morning walk. I’m in Florida so that means humidity. Back in my perm/burn and earlier natural hair days, humidity was the enemy. My hair is very soft. That means, any moisture in the atmosphere make the hair on my head shrink like roaches running from the light.

But now, YOLO (You Only Live Once)! Remember Psalm 139:14? I believe my kinky coily hair was fearfully and wonderfully made. Now, I know why I was smiling and laughing out loud during my morning walk. It wasn’t too long ago that I would have passed on going out for a wonderful walk because I feared the inevitable return of the TWA.

Learning to love all that is me, started with my hair. But, that’s not where my story ends….

Final Word of Encouragement: Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Discover the joy in the freedom of being you – I am.

 

Change Happens. Seasons Change.

thKYDQ6LJXIt feels like I’m in the middle of another shift. I have come to a conclusion – my  physical body’s change cycle is on a 10 year rotation. I’ve never been one of those people who have a mini melt down because I’ve grown a year older. Honestly, I’ve never really thought about it beyond the fact that another year has passed. However, what sticks out in my mind are the changes my body has gone through. I distinctly remember after I turned 35, I couldn’t eat a large ‘The Works’ Papa John’s pizza, in a single sitting, without having to hide the evidence in my ‘pleasingly plump’ clothing. Yes, I have specific articles of clothing that are accomplices in hiding my crime of gluttony. Don’t judge me.

Now that I’m 45, I’m no longer a MRI virgin. I had my first MRI recently because for a couple of months I’ve been experiencing tingling in my right arm – from my shoulder to my fingertips. And…to top it off, I shared with my primary physician that I was having this pain in my left hip when I wake up in the morning. She nonchalantly commented – Yep, that’s arthritis. Really?! Make no mistake, I’m not complaining. Quite the contrary, I’m acknowledging that there are changes.

Change happens. Seasons change.

Ok, I have acknowledged these physical changes – now what? Wait a minute…there’s more. I’m sensing a change in my mental and spiritual being. What I have found in my personal journey, God gives you signs long before the change manifest. For me, two things I notice when I’m nearing the end of a season and getting ready for the next. #1 – HE starts moving people. #2 –  I experience an unusual restlessness that nags me until I deal with those things that I have purposely ignored. Procrastination is bad.

In the past, I have denied the obvious, made excuses, and tried to keep things as they were. Only to find that it made things uncomfortable and prolonged unnecessary stress.

The change that I’m sensing in my mental and spiritual being is the gift of acceptance. I’m grateful for this gift. So much so, that John and I celebrated by expanding our personal family this weekend.  We welcomed 20150303_060821a new child – Mr. Bosley! Remember Charlie’s Angels? Mr. Bosley is a betta fish –      aka Siamese fighting fish. I’ve always wanted a pet named Mr. Bosley. I don’t know why – I just have. Of course, John didn’t know that ‘we’ were celebrating. He just knows that he has another mouth to feed.

To me learning to accept change is a gift and worth celebrating. Change is going to happen with or without you. You can choose to ignore it but it won’t stop it from occurring.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) says ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: speaks about seasons. There is a time for everything under the sun.’

At this stage in my spiritual journey, I find myself asking God to give me strength to let things and people go. Letting things go is not as tough as letting some people go. But, if God says it’s time, I will trust that it’s time because apparently those things and/ or people are not part of my next season. It’s OK! This life has a shelf life.  I’m learning to not waste time. I don’t know when my expiration date is but I’m going to pray that God helps me to move forward with only what I need for my next season.

FINAL WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT –   Philippians 4:13 “ I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Is He telling you to let go? Know this – God’s timing is perfect timing.

 

 

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We believe in the POWER of PRAYER. Please submit your prayer requests directly to Pastor Crayton, Minister Lee  or Minister Barber at the emails listed below. If you have questions or comments about our church, please feel free to contact us using any of the information below:

 

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Pastor John F. Crayton Sr.

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