Monday, August 18, 2014

I have found favor where I haven't earned it

HIS Timing

What do you do when you hear the answer is no?

Does it depend on whom it came from?

What the question was?

How strongly you wanted the answer to be yes?

I remember interviewing for a promotion in December and for the first time in my life, I felt peace when the “waiting game” started. I knew that I had done the best I could and if it fit with God’s timing, great, if it didn’t, I knew he had better plans for me. (I did end up getting the job which I’m currently in and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this department)

At the end of December I got rid of my AWFUL roommates (one wasn’t so bad but together not the best living situation) and God gave me my awesome current roommate within weeks. While I hated how long it took to get rid of one of the girls, it was clearly God’s timing because he managed to make sure the timing of the leave and arrival aligned so the other half of the rent was covered the entire time (even though that itself was an interesting situation). It also was perfect timing because a month prior, my new roommate wasn’t ready to move to another place. Funny how God aligns a girl from bible study I had only known a few months to help me in a difficult situation.

Then in May, I interviewed for a leadership program I was extremely interested in. However, God spoke to me very clearly throughout the entire process, telling me it wasn’t the right time. I didn’t listen (I’m shall we say, a little bull headed, haha) and I didn’t get chosen for the program.

It was the first time I walked a path I wanted to take but God blocked that I finally understood how to immediately react with understanding His timing is better than mine.

While I’d like to say the entire time I had this Godly serenity before me, you can clearly see I was listening to my own desires and not God’s. During the application and selection process, I was like Naaman from 2nd Kings 5. Naaman was a great army leader who had a skin disease. He sought out Elisha the prophet for healing but instead of getting to speak with Elisha, he spoke to his assistant. Naaman feeling slighted, originally chose to ignore God’s instructions. However, he had someone talk reason into him. He then listened to the instructions and was healed.  

I think all of us at times really need that someone to talk sense into us. Good thing we have mentors, small groups, churches, and hopefully, “accountability partners” that many of us have taken advantage of. I’m blessed to have many of these actually.

I recently read Gabrielle Douglass’s book “Grace, Gold and Glory.” That book resonated with me on many levels but perhaps most importantly because she has a mother like mine. One who has scarified over the years to make sure I could get where I was going, who was always there for me, and to remind me of the important things; even when I didn’t want to hear them. She wrote this in her book and I can’t think of a more fitting quote and response:

“I performed so poorly that I didn’t even want to compete on the second day. ‘Why wasn’t God there for me?’ I cried to Mom. ‘I prayed, I quoted Scripture-I did it all. I feel like He abandoned Me.”

‘Mom didn’t miss a beat before offering me another perspective. We don’t always understand the big picture of why God allows us to have certain experiences,” she explained. ‘You just have to put today behind you and focus on what you’ll do tomorrow. You can do this. It’s time to persevere.”

In between this and the next step I took, I started wondering about my place in the company. I looked elsewhere for jobs, considering leaving the company. I started questioning my place in a company just a year ago I had been praising God for placing me with. Funny how quickly we forget God’s blessings to us and the path He has set us on and the lessons He just taught us.

I recently interviewed for another leadership program. This program would be a much better fit than the first. I do know this, I listened to God and know this time, it was a right step to take. I still might not get in, but I’ll have learned something in the process that was vital to being successful. ***

God puts people in my life to help develop and grow me. Each person has a specific timing of when they enter, and sometimes, when they need to exit. God uses them to teach me something. Some have taught me how to love in ways I didn’t know before and others have taught me things about myself like how to control my temper and teach me patience.(I think we all can always learn that lesson...but don't ask God to teach it to you because His sense of humor is greater than ours and He will surely present you situations to teach it to you!)

She really does sleep like this on my floor air vent...Booger!
He even places lovely adorable dogs in my life because he knows I yearned for one and can’t turn away one in need. Just when I thought I was only going to foster for a couple weeks…ha!

Kenzie is learning to love kayaking with me!

When anything happens, whether I get my way or not, I remind myself, God’s timing, has always been greater than mine. I have found so much favor with him even when and in places of my life I feel I haven't earned it. I can find His promise to me both in the Bible in His writing to us His children as well as His goodness to me in the past.




***Honesty Disclosure: I had almost completey written this blog minus minor editing a couple weeks ago. I recently found out I did get into that other leadership program. Even if I hadn’t, my feelings would be the same. God’s timing, is always better than ours.  This just happened to help emphasize my point :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Personal Fable

Personable Fable: Psychological term applied to tweens and teenagers used to describe the development cognitive limitation that each experiences. One believes that he or she is so uniquely special and unlike anyone else. It becomes dangerous because the adolescent thinks that nothing bad could possibly happen to him or her. 

While psychologists argue this is experienced by teenagers, I might argue twenty-somethings and even older adults feel this way at times.

It’s why some don’t think they need a seatbelt, or a helmet riding a motorcycle, the parachute will always open, that our home will never the one broken into, or that we will never be the one assaulted.

If we were more cautious, wouldn’t we take more precautions? Get a better home security system? Listen to those advertisements that have the corny fake actors and burglars we mock?
I was 17 years old and had this infallible complex. Bad things don’t happen, certainly not me and especially not in little old Cayce, SC. Nonetheless, my parents were the typical worrywarts “Text me when you leave, text me when you get there! Who is going? Will parents be there?”

                   I’m sure no one else can relate to the feeling of having overbearing parents.

It’s funny how the older you get, the more you recognize your parents might’ve been right about a couple things. Shhh! Don’t tell my mom I said that though!

Working as a food runner and sometimes hostess at a restaurant in downtown Columbia made my parents slightly nervous, not to mention the hours I kept which meant I often didn’t finish until past midnight.

Despite the annoyances, I did try to listen to my parents if for nothing else than so I didn’t have to listen to ONE. MORE. LECTURE.
                        1. Park in a well lite area
                        2. Don’t take your purse, just take your ID and keys
                        3. Have a guy walk you out
and so on.

I did all that, feeling silly each night I had to grab a guy to walk me out but I did it anyway. Sometimes, it just isn’t enough though. It’s funny how certain events have the ability to be defining moments for the rest of your life.

It was a Tuesday night and late when I finally finished. I grabbed a kitchen guy to walk me out because the bouncers were busy. (Note: I didn’t get paid in cash, I got a paycheck, no tips=no cash on hand). I was parked under a street lamp in the back parking lot and I had my keys in one hand and ID in my back pocket.

We reached my car and I turned to say goodnight to the guy when a man approached us from the side. He asked for lighter at which I chuckled and said I didn’t smoke nor did the guy with me. From which the guy responded by pulling out a gun and pointing it at my head. He demanded my wallet which I didn’t have and asked for the guy with me for his wallet. Neither of us could provide anything which made him very angry.

At this point, some of you are probably thinking, hey why weren’t you carrying? Aren’t you a big proponent of concealed carry? Isn’t this the exact type of situation you crazy gun carriers long for?

Let me clear something up (besides the fact I was 17 and couldn't even have my concealed carry)
This is the most important I want to get across. At this point under NO CIRCUMSTANCES am I about to get into a gun battle with some random stranger. Not over $20, not even if I had $200 in cash and three credit cards and debit card I could hand over to the guy. I can get a freeze put on those cards in less time than it takes for them to dress my body for a funeral. Not to mention the $200 in cash loss wouldn’t begin to pay said funeral home to dress my body.

and No 
I don’t think I’m going to decide who can be faster, the guy with a gun out already, or me who has to pull out the gun and aim and pull the trigger before the other guy.

Let’s continue the story. After having emptied my pockets and offering up the keys to my ’94 Ford F150 pickup truck (or should I say my dad’s truck) as incentive to go away and being turned down (damn, I had really hoped for another car too)

Not my truck, but you get the idea
the lovely stranger/gunman turned a little violent. He wasn’t very happy to hear I had nothing of value and the kitchen guy had no cash and no credit cards either. (Newsflash to muggers: restaurant workers are usually broke, we after all, do work at a restaurant. Try the financial district next time). He became irate and started screaming at us, asking if we were stupid, did we not take him serious, etc, etc. He then did something I had only seen in movies. He chambered a round and put it directly to my head.

This is the point if I had my concealed carry I might’ve considered going for it but you have a lot of things that you have to think very quickly through in a matter of seconds.
1. Can you get to it before he realizes what you are doing? Will he be distracted long enough for you to reach for it?
2. What happens if his or your gun goes off and you accidentally hit someone else, i.e. the guy who walked me out? Are you prepared to take that chance?
3. If you by some miracle, get it out and shoot the guy before he takes a shot, are you mentally prepared to deal with taking someone’s life.

You’re probably thinking of course, it’s my life or his. Let me tell you from experience, I had nightmares for almost two years about that night. My roommate my freshman year of college told me I woke her a couple times screaming in my sleep. If I had that experience when I did nothing, I can’t imagine waking for years to seeing the face of someone I killed.

So what am I saying? I’m saying you should be prepared. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

1. Women! Get off your cellphones when you are walking out to your car at night or in a parking garage. You’re distracted and a prime target.
2. Have your keys out and ready to go. Fumbling for your keys in your giant Mary Poppins luggage purse is one more distraction that makes you vulnerable.
3. Lock your doors the minute you get in. Not after you fixed your hair or situate your purse. Immediately.
4. Walk widely around your car. This way you can take a peek if anyone is in your backseat and prevent someone from hiding on one side of your car to pop up and grab you.

THIS IS NOT MY GUN NOR WOULD I EVER OWN A PINK GUN...but some women seem to love them
Concealed Carry: If you have it, know how to use it. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing people (typically women) come in to get their concealed carry and have NEVER SHOT A GUN BEFORE. Then they proceed to never practice. Take lessons. Take classes on defensive shooting. Learn how to quickly draw and practice doing so. If possible, DON’T CARRY IN YOUR PURSE! Your purse is the easiest thing for a mugger to grab and go. You can’t exactly say, I’m sorry Mr. Mugger, you can have my purse but do you mind if I grab my $600 pretty shiny gun out first? Not only do you lose an expensive investment, the paperwork that comes with it is a needless headache as well as you just put a gun in a criminals hand and took away any defense you had if the altercation does turn violent. 

In the off chance you are abducted, by keeping the gun concealed on you, you at least have a chance of keeping it because most likely, the abductor isn’t going to throw your purse in the trunk with you.

I am not a police officer. I am not even old and wise. I’m just passing along some solid advice I’ve been given as well as preaching on common mistakes I see and hear.

Don’t be a victim. Try to prevent it. You might not be able to avoid it, but you can at least say, I did all the right things.

 As always, I’m still a proponent of all women learning to shoot, taking lessons, and going to get your concealed carry permit. At the very least, take a self-defense class.

I'm off my soapbox for the night. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014



Possibly the most popular saying (at least among teenagers) back in 2011/2012. It was ALL OVER our
-Social Media  #YOLO  #hadtotrysomethingstupid #YOLO

This statement might surprise you; but I love that saying. In fact, I wish it were still popular. I might even try to bring it back.

Except, I probably don’t mean it the same way those high school seniors with the beer bottle in hand or the college student who skips class all the time to get crazy with friends because hey, you only live once right?


You see, we do only live once here on earth. I don’t believe in reincarnation like other religions or the idea that we get second chances (even though many marriages are treated as if there are multiple opportunities). If future me has encountered a time travel machine, I apparently hated my younger self enough to not come back and share it to redo those ultra embarrassing moments from high school or even college.

So we get one shot at this thing called life. One chance to explore the world, make friends, find the right job, marry the right person, try new things.

Except, we forgot something along the way. We also only have once chance to make an impact on this world. Leave a legacy. The RIGHT kind of legacy. My man Jeff said it best in the video below when he said:

"When your legacy is left on that piece of cement, do you want to be known as that moral Christian who was against secular music, cursing, and tattoos, or do you want that slab of stone to say yeah, his life was messy, hard, but he spent his entire life loving God, loving others, serving people?"

As Christians, we need to stop worrying about the most irrelevant items (cursing, music, tattoos) and focus on demonstrating through our actions Christ's love for this whole world.

I’m challenging you to pick up that Gauntlet and make a difference. Maybe, instead of averting our eyes when we see a homeless person at an intersection, we keep a small bag of food and toiletries in our car we can hand out. How about offering to be the designated driver with your friends who tend to drive after drinking so you can spend time with them but take a stand without saying a word. Don’t be afraid to bless your meal in public, at work, around your friends. Be bold about our mission from Christ. Sometimes, it's the little things that add up.

You are going to screw up. Jesus didn’t call perfect people to be his disciples. Or even people that became perfect. He called men that screwed up the beginning of their lives and continued to screw up even after devotedly following Jesus. It isn’t about getting it right. It’s about the honest effort.

You never know when your "YOLO" is finished. 

It can’t wait until tomorrow. When life slows down. When you’re married, have a family. Life is always going to be busy. God gave you gifts and talents now to make a difference. 

Because you only get one life to make an impact.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Life is like IKEA.


                                                                      Have you ever visited IKEA?

Unless you have a mind numbing three plus hours to fill, rethink visiting in the near future. Also, drive a small car. So small in fact that it resembles one of those cars that you try to picture eight clowns POPPING out of but it just isn’t actually feasible


When you first enter the doors, a daycare is located at the front for you to check your kid(s) and there is a café located halfway through. Enough said, right?

For those that have been bear with me while I paint a picture for that that can’t say they have had this particular pleasure.

It’s laid out in a large warehouse with random walls sectioning “rooms” off like a maze. There are arrows on the floor to serve as a guide and so that you don’t grow bored as if it was the yellow brick road, the type of arrow changes!
·      Some painted a bright yellow
·      Others white, barely there faded arrows you have to look for
·      Continue onwards and you will find them illuminated on the floor with a light from above
·      This is where it gets exciting! Some of the lit arrows even pulse forward, as if to spur patrons onward to look at even more wonders. 

Each “room” if you will is designed with a different theme. Each person will have a different style that allures him or her, beckoning in. Some rooms have a modern and sleek design, reminding me of a hotel room in Europe. Others are dark and gloomy, almost reminding me of the axe murders man cave. A scene from Transformers seems to flash before you in the rooms with stainless steel covering every surface while yet another has glossy, shiny white that is just asking for muddy cleats and paws to destroy. 

          (The five hour project my dearest brother Brandon and my sweet friend Sam helped                                           me put together from IKEA. It looks awesome though!)

What room will you choose?

Personally, there is a room with floor to ceiling wooden bookcases with a comfy sofa and recliner that easily holds my attention each time until my shopping partner yanks me along.

It’s funny how experiences like this can relate to other areas.

I’m about to get a little Christian on you. For those that don’t like it, this is where you exit stage left. Or stage right. Perhaps you found the trap door beneath the stage. I don’t care as long as you do so quietly please. Actually, on second thought, don’t. I love to hear what other people think so read on and share your thoughts even if you disagree!

After each time I visit IKEA, I find myself relating the experience to the rat race of life. Each person moves at his or her own pace, stopping at different attractions and scurrying forward in search of different things.

As a child, no one explains to you what certain scripture means. They read it in church and you wonder at the logic of the statement. One of the most interesting pieces of scripture I remember from childhood is taken from Matthew 7:1-5

““Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. “

How can there be a log in someone’s eye? Certainly they would be in pain or dead right? As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand that in order for someone to condemn another, you first have to be sin free yourself. Who among us can claim that victory? I know I certainly can’t. Going back to my favorite room at IKEA, I know that I have my own type of arrows that attract me and my own bookcases in life that hold my attention. A flashy arrow in my life is seeing the happiness in couples. It causes me to become distracted and leads me to the room of fulfillment which is me dating guys that were never a good fit in the first place but I compromised.

What are your arrows and “bookcase” rooms? What attracts you and leads you astray? It’s so funny that if I asked this question to 100 people, I would probably have so many different varying responses. Some of the most common types of distractions that seem to be typical are:
·      Dating the wrong person
·      Failure to tithe
·      Lack of time daily with the Lord
·      Cursing
·      Immodesty

Should I go with what typical Christianity deems as the more controversial ones?
·      Sex before marriage
·      Porn
·      Homosexuality
·      Gambling
·      Alcoholism

Why is it that we seem to classify sins in different categories? I’m pretty sure somewhere in some part of the bible it says something about for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Oh right. Romans 3:23 says that. 

In fact, Isaiah 64:6a states “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”

That’s pretty severe. All of us are unclean. Not just someone that watches porn. Not someone that commits adultery. Each and every one of us. So why do we continually point out each others flaws and then rate them according to society’s standards of which are more socially acceptable and which we won’t even discuss because they are so socially unacceptable?

All of us are not without flaw. Just because someone else sins differently, doesn’t make them better or worse than you. It’s time that as Christians, we stop making others feel like the Christian religion rejects them because they need to clean themselves up first before attending church and coming to Christ. 

Jesus ate with tax collectors and persecutors of Jews. He made them feel welcomed with open arms. It’s time that so called Christians start acting like it and stop judging others. Maybe then when someone is invited to church or religion is discussed, I stop hearing as much that they don’t want to be around some of the most hypocritical type of people they have ever met. 

**All pictures inserted are from Google image search**