Friday, July 21, 2017

Your Fuel Pump

"My car is officially gone. My fuel pump just died." When I received this message, I immediately thought that maybe 'gone' and 'died' didn't really mean that the car would no longer operate. I thought maybe it was a temporary problem that could be fixed at a cost. 

I don't know what you do when you're not sure about something but I tend to turn to my friend "Google." She is so good at pointing me in the right direction. I can find scriptures, images, and information. I get options and can decide whether I trust or distrust something. I can compare a myriad of content. I can also easily cross-reference and drill down until I am satisfied that I found what I was looking for.

So of course, when I received the text message about the fuel pump, I turned to Google. I learned that "the fuel pump is an integral element of any car or truck. Give the responsibility of literally pumping a vehicle's fuel from its tank to the engine, a malfunctioning fuel pump will usually lead to total disaster."

Reading that got my mind to spinning. I wanted to understand more about the fuel pump. Specifically, I wanted to know what caused the fuel pump to malfunction in the first place. This is what Google told me: "A leading cause of fuel pump failure is running the fuel tank low. Running such a vehicle out of fuel once can permanently damage the fuel pump. When the fuel level is low, the pump has to work much harder to produce the same pressure. This is because the reduced fuel weight no longer pushes fuel into the pump."
Do you need to add fuel to your tank?

I could have shouted right there where I was. You see, the fuel pump is to the car what a relationship with Christ is to us. It's everything!
  • God created vehicles for an intended purpose. In its most simplest form, a vehicle transports. A car or truck is a vehicle that moves and carries things and people from place to place.  You, too, are a vehicle. You were also created for a purpose beyond yourself. You were created as a a vessel of God to transport people and things from one level to another. Just like the make, model, size, and year of cars and trucks varies, so do we. The amount or type of people, things, ideas, thoughts, innovations, etc that you move may differ from everyone else around you. That's okay. Just know that you are a vehicle with an intended purpose.
  • Vehicles are inoperable without fuel. Fuel is a material that burns to produce heat or power. With no power, there's no movement. Gasoline is fuel for cars, trucks, and lawn mowers. Food is fuel for our physical bodies. The word of God is fuel for our spiritual beings. The same way gasoline and food provide power for cars and people to operate, the scriptures of the bible provide power for our spirits to operate. We need a constant flow of the word of God in order for our spirits to move. In the same way that a car has a hard time moving without gasoline, we have a hard time moving without the word. Make the word of God a priority in your life. Fill up every chance you get.
  • Flammable fluids must be maintained in safe containers. The flammable nature of gas can cause a fire. This is exactly why cars and trucks are equipped with fuel tanks. The fuel tank safely stores the gas to allow for proper release. This is the same thing that happens with our faith. Faith is a belief system that stores the word of God and is increased or decreased based on the amount of the word or experience that is poured into it. In the same way that the flow of gas is maintained in a fuel tank, God monitors our level of faith and taps into as He sees fit so that we don't have a combustion reaction at the wrong time. Your level of faith can only maintain itself with a supply of fuel, so keep it fueled with the word of God.
  • There is no ability to propel from an empty container. In spite of an empty tank, a fuel pump will continue to try to create action and momentum. But there may be a cost. If there is no fuel in the fuel tank, there is  great potential of harm to the fuel pump. Similarly, if there is no word and a lack of faith, it's likely that there will be harm in your relationship with Christ. It's our relationship that moves the word of God from just a word into an action. When we have a relationship with Christ we are better able to receive guidance and direction. When the word of God is in action in our lives, we are operating in our purpose.
Make sure your relationship with Christ is properly functioning. Fill up regularly on the word. It's critical to your ability to operate in the purpose for which you were intended.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

New Territory

I was running along minding my own business when I started to become more aware of my surrounding. Something began to feel different. I felt alone. I was approaching
The Bridge Between the Familiar and the Unfamiliar
a wooded area. There didn't appear to be anyone around. I was starting to feel unsafe. I knew that I needed to get myself out of that area and back to the main park area where many people where available to me.

Just at the right moment, I heard voices. I didn't know where they were coming from. Were they safe voices or were they unsafe voices? I took a deep breath and when I looked up, there were three bicyclists on the opposite side of the street.

I was no longer alone. Anyone lurking in the woods was sure to be scared off. I refocused and got out of the wooded area as quickly as I could. Here are the three lessons I learned: 

Even in times when you feel you're on the path alone, keep trudging forward. Sometimes, we think we are traveling alone. The truth is that we are never alone. God promised "to never leave [us] nor forsake [us]." He is always with us. God also knows who to send and just when to send them. 

Unfamiliar paths lead to greatness. Trust that God has allowed you to travel that path for a reason. "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." - Psalm 119:105. Everyone is not meant to travel the same paths. There's a path set aside just for you. Follow it. Go boldly. Don't turn back. You get to set the tone for others to follow. 

Be willing to trot new, unfamiliar paths. Since growth only comes when you step outside of your comfort zone, you have to be willing to try new things. Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds us to "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you He will not fail you or forsake you.When you try new things, you open the door to new possibilities. You expand your worth. You position yourself for even greater things. Get uncomfortable. Try something new.

When facing new territory, just GO!!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

June's Lessons from God

Have you ever realized that life doesn't always go as planned? I'm sure my husband would tell you that I have a type A personality. (Whatever that really means!) I guess it means that I like to be planned and calculated. I like to think ahead. I like to create systems and work linearly instead of in circles. Point A to point B to point C. No zigzagging. No spinning wheels. I even do this on vacation.

Well, I think I'm getting better at my vacation planning. I am learning to go with the flow....but with some ideas in mind, of course 😜

During this past vacation, my ideas were just that. They were just ideas. More than 1/2 of them did not materialize but that was a blessing in disguise.

I was just there.

Living in the moment!

A husband, three daughters, full time job, ministry and organizations. Trying to keep everything afloat is sometimes a challenge. Every now and then God finds a way to slow us down and quiet our spirits.

Instead of running and writing last week, I spent my time fully engaged in my daughter's gymnastics camp. Here's what 'living in the moment' reminded me:

  • Even strong people need love, support, and encouragement! At times, we look at the outside shell of the people around us and pre-judge their needs. Without asking, we determine from a basic look who needs our help and who doesn't. Regardless of what it looks like from the outside, we must remember that "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up." Even if it doesn't look like there's a need, offer a shoulder for someone to lean on. Give a helping hand. Speak a word of encouragement.
  • Take the breaks off! There are times when we fail to meet our full potential because we walk in fear. We fear failure. We fear success. We fear rejection. We forget that "... God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Instead of shrinking back and away from the things God has specifically called you to, walk confidently into and within your destiny. 
  • You belong right where you are! Often times, we fail to see ourselves the way God sees us. We judge our worth against the perceived worth we place on others. The reality is that we all have our own worth and should only view ourselves through the lens that God uses to view us. "God created man in His own image..." God adores you just the way you are. God has allowed you to be exactly where you are. Embrace your place! 
What lessons have you learned recently?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Thoughts from the Air

Guest Blogger: Oliver Green

Today was one of the roughest days I've had over the last five (5) years at work. If you work in a place where they don't value your existence but they expect you to perform to the top of their expectations is very difficult. 

Now don't get it twisted, I haven't always felt like I wasn't valued but when I opened my eyes 👀 and now I realize I am not just a supervisor but an asset to the squad even though I am not an asset to the team. It sounds kinda wanky so let me explain; my squad are people I directly have access to and can either pour into or drawl out of experiences. The team is the mother agency. "The White House" - they have their own world order but have failed to deliver the expectations to the workers. 

You can't have a business and expect to have a quality product but don't have clear expectations MADE KNOW but in the same breath want to hold them accountable for those uncommunicated expectations. 

You MUST be able to measure success or you just spin wheels and go no where. It's kind of like being stuck in a mud pit and you continuously mash the gas pedal hoping to get out. If you never get out of the vehicle and look for something to leverage under the wheel(s) to serve a base to grab onto so you can get out; You'll remain STUCK. 

When you get to a point when you have LOST the drive and spinning your wheels in the mud pit brings more joy, it's time to "Get Out". I've moved through the system and put myself in a position to argue/fight for/and make decisions for my squad. In order to be successful you have to build RELATIONSHIPS and not the relationship you only nurture when you NEED something but the kind you check on, Just Because. You have to genuinely want to know how their life is to determine if you need to give them more time off, more one on one time, need to back off being pushy, reengineer the end game so they don't get stressed trying to get your end result (jedi mind trick). 

You can't be afraid of YOURSELF. I believe being afraid of yourself creates FEARFULNESS in your actions. The only opponent you face everyday is YOU. The outside world doesn't tell You that You suck and won't succeed; YOU tell you you aren't enough (good or worthy). We have a great media influence out there DAILY. We see others "Doing It" and think they are superior (YES YOU DO; WE ALL DO IT Damn It). You can't expect to hit the Power Ball if you've never gone to the store and purchase a ticket. If you want to be successful you need to KNOW you are already a success because you are HERE right now reading this. You have to be grateful for what you have and stop being envious of your neighbor (Yes you have and may still ENVY your neighbor for the stuff they have that you want but are afraid to Go After. 

Who do you look up to? Who is your roll model. Does the "social norm" bore the heck out of you? What will you or are willing to do so you are not Bored As Heck. Don't get sucked up into the 'You are Lesser Than Them' mentality. If your black, white privilege, isn't an excuse. My question to you is "what are you going to do about it?" I'm on a plane in the B seat (for those who have NEVER flown before that's the damn middle seat) and I'm in between two middle aged (28-36) white males who feel they can spread their legs open and limit my space. So what does the old me do PUSH back. The right now me sits in firm position with firm body language (no words) to let them know I Am Here. We have no problems until it is tried again. You need to have confidence In YOURSELF. 

I Am Great and the fact I am sitting on a plane ✈️ headed to Portland in a situation that sucks and I feel like I am/we are all alone makes me believe I still care about the positive outcome but it doesn't change "what is IMPORTANT right now wasn't IMPORTANT when it needed to be" and Instead of the proactive phase of this journey we are operating off the defensive. Forget your Defensive - pass the buck - self.  In a relationship you won't leave your partner out in the wind to blow away. Understand this News Flash "No One Cares about you Like YOU care about you." 

What decision(s) will you make today to make sure your tomorrow will be better? It's been Well over due to demand respect ✊ but in a respectful manner. It may not be beneficial for them but it has to be BENEFICIAL for you. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Ride of Temptation

Who doesn't look forward to going to the Fair or Amusement Parks? There's so much to see, eat, and do. One of my favorite rides was the Gravitron. It's the ride where you lean up against the wall on a padded
My favorite ride: The Gravitron
panel. Once the ride starts, your get "sucked into" the padded panel, your feet leave the floor and you spin around in circles. You aren't holding on to anything and there's nothing supporting your feet. I remember trying to pull myself off the wall during the ride, but I was "sucked" back in. I couldn't move. Even trying to lift up a leg took lots of energy.

This ride reminds me of temptation. Temptation has sucked me in, taken control over me, and made me feel powerless. This doesn't have to be you. Take heed of these three things:

1. Temptation will come. Yes, even to you. You are not exempt from being tempted. You might not fall prey to the serpent, but he's coming. Be ready! 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." Notice that the scripture says "but when." It doesn't say "but if." If the serpent has started whispering to you yet, know that he's headed your way.

2. Keep your eyes open. Although you will be tempted, you don't have to give in. Matthew 26:41 and Mark 14:38 encourages us to "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Pay attention to the warning signs. Stay focused on him and his ways. God always provides us a way out. Choose to listen to God ... before it's too late.   

3. Trust the power within. You are stronger than what meets the eye. You have the ability to resist. Just do it! Resist! James 4:7 urges us to "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." At times, temptation is so strong that it makes you feel powerless. You are not powerless. You are amazingly strong. Decide to resist temptation. It's nothing but the devil. When the serpent sees that he can't coax you, he will surely flee.

Temptation is coming! Be ready to resist!   

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The HEART of Soccer

I remember when Saturday mornings were sleep in days. Days to sit in front of the t.v. eating a bowl of cereal and watching cartoons. Not just any cartoon. Tom and Jerry was the best. Admittedly though, I never really knew who was who. I mean, who was the cat and who was the mouse? (I sure hope this is a judgment free zone! 😅) It didn't really matter. I still laughed throughout the whole thing and looked forward to my morning routine. On most Saturdays, my cartoons were followed by a series of dance classes. Ballet. Tap. Jazz. I had a routine and carried it out for many years.

As time passed, my routine changed. Many years later, I found myself creating a Saturday morning routine for my daughter. I needed to guard her time. I needed to control her environment. I needed to protect her developing a spirit of laziness. She needed a routine.

Having relocated from Philadelphia to Tallahassee and transitioning from a two-income household to a single-income household, the options for routines were limited. Dance classes were quickly replaced by soccer games.

We attended every scheduled practice and every Saturday morning game, no matter how cold it was. Oh, the sacrifices that parent make.

In the beginning, I didn't always understand the master plan behind the practices but I quickly figured it out. The coach used practice time to not only equip the kids with the skills to be successful in a game but also to assess their skills in preparation of the game. The coach needed to identify the players with their best suited position.

One of the most challenging positions to fill was the goal keeper, also known as the goalie. This wasn't a position for everyone. Here's what I learned about this position:

  1. The ultimate goal of the goal keeper was to do anything possible to keep the opposing team's ball from going into their team's net. This required several concurring characteristics. Attentiveness. Steadfastness. Determination. Commitment. Initiative. 
  2. To guard the net, the goalie had to watch the entire game. They had to know when the ball was coming in their direction. They needed to plan a way to counter-attack the ball to get it out of their area. They needed to be ready to act quickly and strategically. 
  3. Unlike other players, the goal keeper had full authority to use any body part to accomplish their goal. Similarly, he goal keeper also had the unique advantage of accessing areas that were off-limits to everyone else. The goalie had space to work. On soccer fields, the net that requires guarding is set inside of a special goalie box. With the exception of the goalie, no one is allowed to access the box. The goalie has complete control over the box in order to protect the net. 

A goal keeper/goalie is to soccer net what we are to our hearts. Our hearts are the gateway to life. Our hearts are the very thing that allows blood (life) to flow through our veins. When our hearts are contaminated, our entire system shuts down. Proverbs 4:23 commands us to "above all else, guard our hearts, for everything you do flows from it." Like the goal keeper, we are to do the following:

  1. We (yes, you and me) are each responsible for doing anything possible to keep the lies of the devil from entering into our hearts. We have already been created in God's perfect image. It's time to hone in on everything that we are. When we hone in on our predetermined God traits, we minimize space for haphazard negative traits to seep in.
  2. We are to stand guard against the attacks of the enemy. The attacks are sure to come. When we develop a true relationship with God and get grounded in the word, we are better equipped to see the enemy before he attacks. We are also, then, in a better position to prepare for his arrival. When you stand guard, you are able to get your plan of action identified and in place. Don't get caught off guard. Be ready to protect yourself, your family, your purpose, and your destiny.
  3. We have unfettered access to God. He is sitting high, yet looking low. He is just waiting on us to access Him. God will open doors that we can't see. God will shut doors that we erroneously opened. God hears everything we say to Him and responds to us individually. He will enlarge our territory as we demonstrate our readiness. There may be times when we have to step outside of our comfort zone. But just remember, in those cases, we are never alone. God is with us. We are in control of how we allow God to work through us.

You are the ultimate protector. You get to take control. The inflow and outflow are all up to you.

What steps will you take to guard your heart?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Couch to Clarity

Life was beginning to wear us down! Our days were draining the life out of us, so 9:00pm was mommy and daddy t.v. time. He would lie on a blanket on the floor and I would lie on the couch. Occasionally, we have our cell phones in hand. On this particular evening, the periscope symbol popped up on my screen. When I saw who was broadcasting, I immediately clicked the button to view the scope. I listened to this couple have a fun and frank conversation about relationships.

It was early February and I began to feel myself sinking into a pool of emptiness. My heart was broken. My joy was gone. My church affiliation had turned upside down in the blink of an eye. I felt completely disconnected from God. I felt like I was talking, asking, and crying out to him but receiving the silent treatment in return. I felt like I was running around in a circle and not getting anywhere.

My husband and I were on the brink of celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. I was clear that this milestone was a true honor. I knew that many marriages didn't make it to this stage so I was overjoyed that we made it and still liked each other. In the midst of this joy, I felt empty. My daughters were all doing well in school and in their extra-curricula activities. Their happiness consumed my world and always had a way of placing a smile on my face. Yet, I felt empty inside. I didn't have my ideal job but I did have a position that paid me well for my responsibilities. A position that gave me flexibility to serve my family in the way my heart desired.  Still, I went to work daily feeling empty.

There was something missing and I couldn't figure out what it was. 

I listened to the periscope and at the end, there was an offer to attend the Complete Women's Conference at RainFire Church in Douglasville, GA. I immediately looked at my calendar on my phone and didn't see any other activities for the conference dates. Less than 24 hours later, I was registered for the conference.

As time passed, I kept the conference in the back of my mind but I didn't make any concrete plans to attend. At the time I completed my household budget for the month of March, I had completely forgotten about the conference and didn't budget travel costs.

The time came for the conference and there was conflict after conflict. One of my daughters had a track meet on that Saturday. My sorority had one of its biggest events of the year on that Saturday. My bank account had $0.17. My attendance at the conference seemed impossible. Shouldn't I be at the track meet with my daughter? Since I'm the 2nd Vice President, in charge of programming, shouldn't I be at the sorority event? Wait a minute, how would I even get there with no gas and lodging money?

In spite of what it looked like, there was a yearning inside of my to press my way.

This was an example of when I gave my Best Yes to ME.

I unapologetically said Yes! My daughter did not participate in the first AAU track meet of the season. I missed the Finer Women Rock banquet. I sent a last minute message about housing opportunities and was blessed with a hotel room. I attended the conference and my many things things. My Return to the Well not only filled me up, but it also taught me/ reminded me of the following life lessons:

Lesson #1: We have not because we ask not OR because we ask with bad intentions.

Lesson #2: God will always make provision for you to follow His will for your life.

Lesson #3: Impossibility is a state of mind, not a state of reality.

Lesson #4: Self-care is paramount to fulfilling your life's purpose and destiny.

Lesson #5: God is always present and patiently awaits your willingness to listen.

Lesson #6: Your willingness to get uncomfortable will lead you to a place of comfort.

Which one of these lessons resonates with you the most?

Your Fuel Pump

" My car is officially gone. My fuel pump just died ." When I received this message, I immediately thought that maybe 'gone&#...