Thursday, December 15, 2011

Curly Nikki | Natural Hair Styles and Curly Hair Care: Self-Concept Thursday

Curly Nikki | Natural Hair Styles and Curly Hair Care: Self-Concept Thursday: Affirmations for Letting it Go by GG of PeaceLovenadPrettyThings It doesn't seem fair when he cheated on you and now he's happily marrie...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Daily Bread: World AIDS Day

2 Corinthians 13:11 "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."

My father died from complications related to AIDS.  So on World AIDS Day, just like my father's birthday, father's day, and the anniversary of his death, I think about him and all the things that he is missing.  He never got a chance to meet his grandchildren.  What a lively bunch they are!  He would have gotten such a huge kick out of them.  I also think about how much I miss him being around.  He had such a great sense of humor and he could make anything and everything fun.  In fact, at his funeral, my sisters and I joked through most of it in his honor.  Sounds weird, but that is exactly how he would have wanted it to be.  My father was also an eloquent public speaker.  He could talk about anything and make you believe it.  I never got to say goodbye to him, but I imagine that his farewell advice to me would be something along the lines of the scripture above.  He'd want me to be perfect, well he'd want me to aim for perfection in all areas of my life:  with my husband, with my kids, with my mom and my sisters, with my friends, with my church family, on my job.  That's because he wanted the best for me.  He'd want me to be of good comfort, knowing that even though my earthly father was going away that I still serve a Heavenly Father that is just and true, who blesses and heals and redeems and saves.  He'd want me to be of one mind, be like-minded and on the same page with my sisters about what is important in this life.  And mostly he'd want me to live in peace.  He wouldn't want me walking around stressed out, anxious and frustrated.  He wouldn't want to see me living a life full of anger.  Neither do I want any of those things for myself.  I desire to live in peace so that the God of love and peace will be with me.  And I desire the same thing for each of you.  Live in peace so that the God of love and peace will be with you.  --Lady S.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Domestic Diva Corner: Bedtime

OK... its confession time.  Bedtime in my house is... an experience.  My daughter is, in her own words, "never tired".  And in her 3 years of life, she has proven that she can easily stay up until midnight if given the opportunity.  Bedtime makes me want to pull my hair out, mostly because I'm so tired, and I can't understand how or why my beautiful girl doesn't angelically float to her bed, lay down, and drift peacefully off to sleep.  I started to think it was only me.  Especially after my cousin recently disclosed that his daughter is in the bed at 7:30 every night with no exceptions.  And then I read this post over at Inspired to Action and breathed a heavy sigh of relief.  I'm not the only one.  And what was even more beautiful was that it lead me to this post from I Take Joy.  In a nutshell, the writer talks about how she prioritized bedtime with her children, made it a special time, and closed every day with a blessing.  The post is so beautiful and inspiring.  It just really moved me, and I hope it will move you too.  --Lady S.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Daily Bread: Sacrifices of Joy

"And now mine head shall be lifted above, mine enemies round about me.  Therefore will offer in his tabernacle, sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord."  Psalm 27:6

How can you sacrifice joy?  A sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or lives as an act of worship.  It is the surrender or destruction of something prized, important, or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher value or greater importance.  So how do you sacrifice joy?  How do you offer joy as an act of worship? How can you surrender or give up joy for something higher?

Joy is an emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.  It is a state of happiness or felicity.  Can you imagine anything higher than joy?  Joy is elation, bliss, delight, rapture, and wonder.  What could possibly be higher than that?

 Nehemiah 8:10 says "for the joy of the Lord is your strength."  Psalm 16:11, "Your presence is the fullness of joy."  Psalm 35:9, "And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in His salvation."

My joy is the joy that comes from doing well at work, or making my children smile, or passing a test, or making my mother happy.  Those things are great, but they can't compare to the joy of the Lord.  My joy comes from thinking about how good God has been to me, what He brought me through.  My testimony is my joy.  But the joy of the Lord is even higher than that.  I lay down my joy to enter into the joy of the Lord.

Does sacrificing my joy mean that I walk around with a frown on my face?  No, because my joy is replaced by the joy of the Lord.  The joy of the Lord is greater than elation, greater than delight, and greater than bliss.  The joy of the Lord is greater than being joyful because of what God has done .  The joy of the Lord is being joyful simply because God is, God was, and God always will be.  The joy of the Lord does not wax or wane, it does not change, it is a constant joy.  Once you have it, it never goes away.  I will sing, yea I will sing praises unto the Lord, not because of what He's done.  I've sacrificed that kind of joy.  I will sing praises unto the Lord, not because of what He's allowed me to accomplish.  I've sacrificed that kind of joy.  I will sing praises unto the Lord because of who He is.  --Lady S.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Daily Bread: Nehemiah

I was cleaning up my house and uncovered a page that was torn out of a notebook and was dated July 30th.  Now, I'm guessing that because these were notes that I'd obviously taken in church, they must be from 2007 before I had kids!  Since having kids, the times that I've been able to actually take notes in church have been few and far between.  

Anyway, in these notes the preacher was talking about Nehemiah, the man given the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  My notes say, "God wants us to use our lives for a specific purpose.  We are placed on this earth with gifts and talents that are waiting to be used for a divine purpose and until we accomplish that purpose we will find emptiness."  

Now what came next really hit me hard.  "Nothing can prevent you from doing the work that is required to fill your purpose.  But it won't necessarily be easy.  Struggle is necessary.  When you have to struggle you appreciate your purpose more.  Struggle gauges your level of commitment.  Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives because struggle qualifies you to help others.  When you've stood your ground and weathered the storm you are a help to others.  Thank God for the struggle.  There is not testimony without a test.  There is no victory without a battle."   

Given my last post of Dry Bones, I think maybe God is trying to tell me something.  --Lady S.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Daily Bread: Dry Bones

"The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest... Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD."  Ezekiel 37:1-3, 11-14

This parable of the valley of dry bones is a message of hope.  It reminds us that God has promised to restore His people to life.  It tells us that even if we are at a place where we are spiritually dead, that God can and will restore us to life.  It reminds us that no matter what valley we are in, that God will deliver us.  He's done it before so he will do it again, and again, and again.  

While the overall parable gives us a timeless message of hope about being delivered from the valley of dry bones, I think there is an important lesson to be learned about being in the valley of dry bones itself.  The valley of dry bones is a place of pain, suffering, and despair.  For most of us, the valley of dry bones is a place that we have visited on several occasions in our lives:  when we've lost a loved one, when we're battling some type of disease, when we've lost a house or a job.  We all have examples of a time when we looked around and suddenly found ourselves down in the midst of a valley that was full of bones.  I don't know about you, but when I find myself there, my first response is get me out of here, make this stop, deliver me from this spiritual pain, or emotional pain, or physical pain.

Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli.  It motivates withdrawal from damaging or potentially damaging situations, protection of a damaged body part while it heals, and avoidance of similar experiences in the future.  So while the sensation of pain is unpleasant, pain really has an awesome purpose. It causes us to pay attention to a particular situation that we may or may not be neglecting.  It causes us to protect ourselves while we go through the healing process or the process of deliverance.  It causes us to take note so that we can avoid experiencing the same pain again, or at least be better able to handle the pain the next time around.  

Perhaps we should change our perspective on pain.  Maybe we should be thankful for it, because it makes us who we are.  I am a clumbsy person.  And as such, I have fallen down stairs on several occassions (and even tripped and fell going up the stairs a couple of times).  Now that I'm a mom who is often either carrying a child or holding the hand of a child I always take extra special care on the stairs.  I don't want to fall and hurt myself.  And I really don't want my kids to get hurt.  The pain of falling down has made me this way.  

Similarly, the pain of going through these valleys of dry bones have made us who we are.  Our valley build strength and character.  So for those of you are, like me, in the midst of the valley of dry bones, remember that God heals, God provides, God delivers.  But remember that this test will soon be your testimony.  --Lady S.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Daily Bread: Encourage Yourself

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.  1 Samuel 30:6

This past week has been one for the books!  My mother is in the hospital battling a condition related to her diabetes.  My children decided to take their colds to the next level and get pink eye.  To top it all off, a co-worker of mine tried to put me on blast and attack not only my intelligence, but my ability to do my job.  

After spending time writing about and reflecting on suffering, I felt like these recent events were just an opportunity to put my prudent strategy into effect.  But by Monday, I found myself looking around for a word of inspiration.  I went back and read some of the past daily breads to keep me uplifted and focused.  Lord lift me up and We must strive have kept my spirits high and have kept God on my mind as I go through this valley.  

And then this song came on my Pandora station.  Speak over yourself.  Encourage yourself in the LORD.  The song made my realize that while its nice and beneficial to look for support and encouragement from outside, that inside me I have everything I need to keep going, keep pushing, keep smiling.  And so do each of you.  So today take some time to encourage yourself in the LORD.  --Lady S.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Daily Bread - I WILL BE...!

"10Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

 11And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that 
I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

 12And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain."     - Exodus 37:10-12

"I want to... I wish I could... I wish I had..."

If you have ever uttered these words with the end of the sentence filled with an unrealized desire or goal, I invite you to focus on one thing. 

GOD said I WILL BE...

GOD said this to Moses when he started to question his purpose and authority to go before Pharaoh. Just as we all do at times, Moses needed a little reassurance. 

If you take the time to consider the things that God has been for you in the past, it will be a surefire way of reassuring and reminding yourself of what He IS and what He WILL BE for you right now.

At times, personally we all lack confidence in ourselves and about the path of our lives. But the question we must ask ourselves is why be "scary" when God himself said He will BE with you every step of your journey...

His power is non-conforming and everlasting. He can BE whatever you need Him to be, whenever you need Him to BE it, and in a way that will definitely let you know that it was Him alone who worked on your behalf!

And, the ultimate beauty of God's omnipresence and omniscience is that even while He propping me up, He can lift you up just the same. When He is being a mother and father to me, He won't cease to be a support system for you. 

I encourage you to hone in on what you would like to be or do, and realize that if you acknowledge and court His presence in your life, you can do nothing... but BE that which you want to BE!

Believe. Receive. and then give Thanks!

- Lady R. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Daily Bread: Prudent Strategy

"A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all. A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished. By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life." Proverbs 22:1-4

The word prudent means acting with or showing care and thought for the future. The scripture says that a prudent man foresees evil, and hides himself. So the prudent man (or woman) knows that evil will come and acts in way that shows that he or she has already given thought or planned for the future situation.  In a post last week, I submitted the idea that suffering was inevitable.  So if we know that bad things will happen, that life will inevitably throw us a curve ball, we should have a strategy in place that we can hide in when the time comes.  

Last week,  I suggested that we should practice praising God in the good times so that it would be easier to do in the bad times.  This week, I think that the strategy needs to be a little more concrete than that.  So I started to think about what I've done when I've come face to face with evil. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I do have a strategy in place, because I've realized that I do the same thing every time.  

Step One.  Pray.  I usually just straight up ask God to make the situation better or make it go away.  And then, when I'm a little bit calmer, I acknowledge that there is some lesson in the situation, so I ask for the strength to endure whatever the evil is, to be open to His will in the situation, and to be used as an instrument in the process.  

Step Two.  Prayer Warriors.  I have some praying friends.  I mean friends that can go to God on my behalf with my best interest at heart.  I don't even have to ask them to pray.  I just tell them the situation and they usually respond with, "I'll pray for you".  If you don't have some prayer warriors in your life, get some.  There is something so comforting about knowing that somebody is praying for you.  

Step Three.  Keep My Focus on God.  Evil situations can be distracting and draining.  In order to keep my focus on God and off  the situation, I listen to gospel music constantly.  Thanks to the Brighter Day radio station that I created on Pandora, I have an endless stream of songs that remind me that God is in control, that  trouble won't last always, that there's going to be a brighter day, that the LORD is with me. 

This is the strategy that I hide in every time evil comes my way.  What about you?  What is your prudent strategy?  --Lady S.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Daily Bread: Memorialize Your Praise

"This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD. For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth; To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death; To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD."  Psalm 102: 18-22

There is power in the writing for the generation to come.  Thanks to Lady R and Lady A, who had the inspired thought to create this blog and the technological ability to make it a reality, I have the opportunity to write all the time.  There is something so powerful about being able to sit at my computer, open my heart, and let God's praise flow through my finger tips.  That is what each of us was created to do... Praise the LORD.  But we have to find some way to memorialize our praise, to write it down, to make it permanent in our hearts and our minds.  

We have to find a way to memorialize our praise, so that the generations coming behind us will see that if nothing else, their forefathers (or foremothers) praised the LORD.  We may not be able to leave them trust funds or mansions, but we can leave them a legacy greater than all the finances in the world.  Let the record show, that we were a people who were ready, willing, and able at all times to praise the LORD.   

I praise God for waking me up, for starting me on my way, for tempering my morning grumpiness by giving me loving sisters who both made me laugh out loud this morning.  I praise God that even though my babies are battling colds (again) that He has made their Aunty available to take care of them today.  I praise Him for keeping me open to His will in my life, for encouraging me to go forward even if I don't understand how or why or when or what.  I praise Him for teaching me to trust Him.  Let the record show that in the midst of my human undoneness and turmoil that I myself created, I will stop what I'm doing and start praising the LORD.  

So this morning I put it on you to memorialize your praise in the comments.  What's your praise report?  What do you want generations to come to know about how you praised the Lord on this day? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Daily Bread: Suffering

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.  Job 19:25- 27

Pain and suffering are part of life.  I don’t mean that in a morbid or depressing way.  I just mean to state it as a fact.  Our physical bodies have limitations.  This life is full of upsets, disappointments, and hurts.  These things are not anomalies.  They are not rare occurrences.  They happen everyday.

So maybe we should just accept that bad things happen.  That way, when they do happen, we don’t start wondering why.  Why me?  What did I do to deserve this?  Am I being punished?  Perhaps we should just accept that sometimes the car will break down or the money will be tight (or nonexistent), that unemployment may come, that relationships will end, that people will pass away.

Then maybe we can move away from thinking that these things happen because we did something wrong.  Or that things are happening to us because we have bad luck.  Or that these things are happening to us because God is mad at us, so we therefore become mad at God.  No.  These occurrences are just part of life.  And  they only have as much power as we give them.  It is our job, as people of faith, to rise above the suffering, and keep our eyes on God.

Being a child of God does not mean that we will not suffer.  But it does mean that we focus on God in response to our suffering.  Rather than destroy our own peace of mind, by replaying the hurt or the disappointment, or feeling sorry for ourselves, we focus our energy on the One who can deliver us.  This is much easier said than done.  I mean when the money is low, and there is no job on the horizon, and you have no idea what your move will be, its not going to be easy to sing songs of praise.  But that’s why its important to work daily on strengthening your relationship with God.  If you don’t pray and praise in the good times, it will be that much harder to do it in the bad times.

I’ve noticed that this is a particularly difficult concept for people who are non-believers.  They can’t understand telling someone to thank God and praise Him when things are going wrong.  But that is because they are focused on the cause and effect of the situation itself.  I don’t have a quid pro quo relationship with God.  He blesses me when I haven’t done anything to deserve being blessed.  He has brought me out of countless situations and circumstances.  He has shown me a way when I couldn’t see one for myself.  And because I know He’s done it before, I know He will do it again.  I don’t have to know when my deliverance will come because  I know that I will be delivered.  I know that my Redeemer lives.  I know that God is not some random, uncaring, deity that haphazardly inflicts punishment on humanity.  I know that everything I go through has a purpose, is strengthening me for some future battle.  No matter what I go through, I know for myself that when it is all over, I will look back and I will see God in the situation.  So while I’m going through it, I will keep my eyes on Him, trusting that it is all for good. --Lady S.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Daily Bread: No previous work experience necessary

“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.”  Galatians 1:11

The Galatians were a group of Gentiles who were converted by Paul. Once Paul left, a group of people came to preach another doctrine to the Galatians.  They tried to discredit Paul and the gospel that Paul brought. They claimed that Paul didn't even have the authority or the training to preach the gospel.

Paul addresses these claims head on in his letter to the Galatians.  He says that perhaps his call may seem inferior,  but these other people who have come along; they are either called of men or by man.  Paul says that his call is the highest possible.  He was called by God and Jesus Christ.  Paul says he is qualified to preach the gospel because God and His Prophet said so.

This made me think that Paul’s boldness could apply to me and my life.  There are things in my life that I feel are my ministry.  There are things that I do that come naturally to me; talents that I didn’t know that I had until God saw fit to use me in that way.  And sometimes I have doubts.  I am, afterall, my biggest critic.  I think, who am to write with such authority?  Who am I to speak about doctrine with such confidence and conviction?  I didn’t go to school for this.  I don’t have any previous work experience.  What are my qualifications?

Paul’s response to the questions about his qualifications is the TRUTH. He says in Galatians 1:11,  “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.”  I don’t need any certification from man to do what God has called me to do.   I don’t believe Paul was stating this in  an arrogant way.  But I believe that he was just making a bold declaration  that once God has called you to do something, that’s it.  Its done.  Shut down the doubts and the disbelief.  You don’t need man (or woman)  to validate you or tell you that you're qualified.

Embrace your calling.  Do what God has called you to do.  And do it with confidence.  Don't allow others to doubt your qualifications, and more importantly don't doubt yourself. You are qualified because God said so.  --Lady S.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Daily Word: Lord lift me up!

Today there was no one scripture on my heart but a line from a gospel song.

Lord lift me up, and let me stand….. Plant my feet on higher ground.

Often times we are physically standing on our own and getting around but our emotional, mental, and physical state is in need of a lift.  I know for myself there was a point in my life when I looked great and felt fine but inside I was in need of a pick me up.

Lifting Process

According to the dictionary, “lift” means to raise from a lower to a higher position, to elevate.  When things are going on in your life often times you need to be lifted to another level of happiness and joy in the midst of your dark hour.  Just because you are going through something doesn’t mean you have to be down with the problem.  When you ask the Lord to lift you up that signifies that you want God to raise you to a level that will allow you to get through what is going on in your life.  Lifting you up gives you the strength and the will power to move forward.  It gives you the spiritual sight of hope, promise, and victory.  It can enable you to deal with a health issue that may be fatal, or care for a loved one without losing yourself in the process.  If you lose your job and it is difficult to make ends meet God will lift you just enough so you can continue to go onward.  

To plant means to put or set in the ground for growth.  There is nothing written in the book of life that says you will not be tested or tried.  However, if your roots are planted in the ground/foundation of God and the Ten Commandments, the only thing possible is to grow from every situation in your life and come out with a testimony.  When my grandfather passed, I couldn’t understand why my grandmother didn’t appear to mourn, but she would thank God for allowing him to reach his 80s and that he was able to live a good and long, healthly life serving the Lord.  Yes, she was wounded, but her healing was coming from God; he was her strength.  Do you ever think about how a tree can live for hundreds of years within a spot without being uprooted?  It is constantly nurtured by the soil in which it is planted.  The soil is the source of strength, its means to grow, and source of food.  You can be planted just as a tree, with your roots being love, goodness, mercy, strength and durability. Your source is God and he will nourish you with spiritual food always.  If you haven’t already started calling on God more often, now is the time to thank God more often and love God as if your life depended on it.  

Higher Ground
What can be higher than the ground you’re standing on?  Earlier I talked about being lifted high enough to see over your problems.  This higher ground is a level of insight from God.  It is the eye that allows you to somehow see clearly during disasters.  It allows you the ability to see past the problem and reach for the solution.  It is a slight elevation that allows you to hover over the storm and see your way through.  When you are on this ground you see with your heart and you stay up, positive and motivated.  You might have no money to go to college, yet you stay determined and apply to any and every school even if you don’t have the means to pay for it.  How?  You’re on a higher ground that allows you to know that there is something bright in your future and a door WILL open.  You know that your circumstance is temporary and not permanent.  The higher ground allowed you to be just above the situation and gave you the energy to go, go on, and keeping on going because you will reach your predestined mark in due time.  Lady ~ A

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Daily Bread: Shake the Dust off Your Feet

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.  Matthew 10:14

Back in the good old Biblical days, the Children of Israel would shake the dust off their feet to symbolize their separation from the practices of the people whose city or house they were leaving.  They shook the dust off their feet to show that they were not in agreement with the choices that those people were making.  

I noticed that the scripture says you should shake the dust off your feet WHEN YOU DEPART.  And it got me to thinking, when I am in a situation or a circumstance that is below my spiritual walk, I should depart from it.  If I am not being received well, if my faith is not being received well, then I should depart.  When I find myself in a situation where I feel like I have to defend my beliefs as a child of God, I should depart.  When I find myself falling into old habits that are in direct conflict to the commandments of God, I should depart.  When I find myself in situations that are in direct conflict to what God wants for me, I should depart.

To get up and walk away from situations and circumstances is sometimes very difficult.  Sometimes its easy to stay in a bad situation because at least you know what to expect.  But we have to remember that our expectations can't compare to the expectations that God has for us.  I know I say this a lot, but it is so true.  His dreams for us are bigger than the dreams we have for ourselves.  So when we get caught up in low level situations, and stuff that is below us, we have to remember who we are, who our Father is.  And at that moment, we should hold our heads up, push our shoulders back, and DEPART.  

And once we're out of there, then we shake the dust off our feet to show that we are no longer part of that situation.  That thing that was holding us down below our divine potential is no more a part of our lives. We shake the dust off our feet to show our separation from it and that we won't be going back there again.  

So today, let's make a conscious effort to identify those people, things, behaviors that are holding us down and holding us back.  Let's make an action plan to figure out how to depart from them.  And once we do, let's shake the dust off our feet!  --Lady S.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

{Cloud Meditation} Peaceful Projects

The sky is (a lot of times) representative of many peaceful things:

and in MY mind, closeness to GOD

so I thought it would be fitting to share this email, titled Cloud Meditation, that's copied below.
Just looking at the title, I had to open the thread and see what it was about (obviously, it couldn't be asking me to meditate on a cloud!?)

But that's exactly what it ended up being... and it really helped me clear my head. Check it out...

Cloud Meditation
Head in the Clouds

Following a cloud with our eye and drifting through the sky with it can be an easy and relaxingmeditation.

When people use the phrase “head in the clouds,” they usually refer to a mental state that appears to be drifting rather than concentrating. For this reason, putting our heads in the clouds can be a wonderful meditation tool. Whether puffy and white or tinted with the colors of dawn and dusk or shades of gray, those vaporous sky dwellers can remind us of so many things about life and about ourselves.

For this meditation, we can find a physical place to relax and look upward, or we can look to the skies from within our imaginations. Directing our thoughts to the endless of expanse of sky that clouds inhabit, we feel our souls expand to reach beyond any seeming limitations. Following the clouds, we are free to unleash our imaginations. We may choose to merely drift along with them for a time, enjoying their distanced perspective on the world. Or we can look for messages in their fantastical shapes, or feel the joy of bounding between their immense billowy puffiness. However we interact with them, we do so from a peaceful place. Clouds drift above the hustle of the world below, knowing they belong to another realm that cannot be affected by its frenzy, reminding us that peace is always available to us. By directing our vision beyond the ordinary, clouds also remind us of the illusion of appearances. While appearing to be solid, their vapor and mist appear like cotton balls ! from below, giving little indication of the heights they reach. Sometimes they may cast shadows, leaving us in shade, but like life’s difficulties clouds change shape and move onward, revealing the shining sun, twinkling stars, and blue sky that are behind them.

When a ray of light breaks through the clouds, their dramatic filtering only makes the light more beautiful by contrast, just as we can shine more brightly in the midst of life’s challenges. When we allow clouds to offer us a welcome respite, they help us visit the realm of illusion to see the truth beyond. 

I hope this helps you have a more peaceful day!

- Lady R.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Domestic Diva: Packing Up

My family and I are preparing for a weekend trip to Suffolk, VA.  I have been looking forward to this trip for some time.  It is an opportunity to see family and friends (Lady R. and Lady A. will be there), and to get some much needed spiritual rejuvenation.  Our flight leaves tomorrow night, which means that tonight I am taking on the all important task of packing us all up.

Now let me say this.  I hate carrying more than one bag.  (Cue Erykah Badu singing "Bag lady, you gon miss your bus.  You can't hurry up.  You got too much stuff.")  However, when travelling with a 5 month old and a 3 year old, the reality is that everything is not going to fit into one bag, and even if it did fit... its probably not the best packing strategy.  Instead, I've decided I'm going to pack smart: a place for everything and everything in its place.

Step One:  The clothes

I usually use one suitcase for myself, my daughter, and my son.  I pack our clothes in layers.  Mine on the bottom, my daughters in the middle, and my son's on the top.  Because of this packing strategy I typically unpack all the clothes as soon as we get to the hotel, so that I don't spend the entire time digging through the suitcase looking for things.  I love this packing tutorial from I am Style-ish.  The idea of using packing cubes is fantastic and I certainly will be investing in them for our next trip.

For myself, I concentrate on clothes that are versatile.  I like things that can be worn in church or on a casual walk through a mall.  That way I don't have to pack a whole bunch of outfits.  Skirts, casual dresses, and cardigans are my must-have items.  And I have recently fallen in love with flats because I can play with my kids and still look cute!

Since my daughter is potty-trained and relatively neat, I pack an outfit  for her for each day, as well as one back-up outfit in case something should go awry.  I love having sweaters for her (especially now that its fall) and I make sure that I always have some jeans, a pair a sneakers, and a hooded sweat shirt because she's a little kid and little kids must have play clothes.

And for my little man, my default rule is 3 outfits per day.  That might seem like overkill to some, but when it comes to him, I'd rather have too much than not enough.  Plus he's a baby and between spit up and blow outs and drool... he'll probably need all 3 outfits.

Step Two:  The plane

Everyone needs stuff for the plane and while my instinct is to cram it all into the baby bag, I'm gonna fight that urge and have 3 separate bags.

I scored this Baby Bjorn diaper bag from a Consignment Event last weekend for $4!  As you can see, there is space for everything!  And when the bag is all closed up it is really quite small!  So I'll will put all the necessities for the little boy in the diaper bag, including a nursing cover, bottles, a blanket, a back-up outfit, pamper, wipes, changing pad, teething toys, etc.

For myself, I will carry my purse.  This is new for me, because usually I just dump my wallet into the baby bag that I'm carrying.  But this time, I plan to carry my purse with just stuff for me, including my nook color on the off chance that everyone is asleep on the plane and I have an opportunity to read!

As for my daughter, she will carry her own book bag.  This is always a tough one.  I have to pack enough stuff to keep her entertained for the flight, but not too much stuff because then it will be too heavy for her to carry.  What I like to do is actually ask her what she'd like to bring.  I limit her to one doll or stuffed animal, 3 paperback books, and one activity book.  And when she's not looking, I usually sneak in one or two other things so that she will be pleasantly surprised when she opens her bag.

So there it is!  My domestic diva packing strategy.  I'll let you know how it all works out!  --Lady S.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Daily Bread: Hearing the Truth

Psalm 119: 159-160 "Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness. Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever."

There is no peace outside of the commandments of God.  There.  I've said it. We can  twist it, turn it, and try to manipulate it to say what we want it to say, but God's word is true. God's commandments are truth.  And the more time we spend reading and meditating on God's word, the more likely it is that we will get some Divine Truth out of it.  This Divine Truth resonates within us.  Our hearts know Truth as soon as we hear it.  We can feel it down deep in our bones.  

We need God's righteous judgments to live.  And not just to live a meager existence, but to ascend to a higher level of living and to aspire to be more tomorrow than what we are today.  As we remain open to the will of God in our lives, and we actively search for His Truth on a daily basis, it is inevitable that we will encounter some untruth.  Something that sounds good, and may make good sense, but doesn't have the same salvific power of God's word.   We must have a discerning ear, and a true love for God's commandments.  This will keep us focus on attaining that everlasting peace that can only come from God.  --Lady S.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Daily Word: You Are Not Alone, for I AM is with you!

Isaiah 41:10, Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;  I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Have you ever been going through something and felt so alone?  You might have a great support system, but yet it is not enough to comfort your wounded heart.  When I first moved to Philadelphia, I had only had a sister and church family; however my immediate family lived far away.  My loved ones would call often and check up on me, but it was never enough.  I would tell people how difficult my transition was and they would say they understood, but I still felt isolated until I met another woman in a very similar situation. As she shared some of her story, I began to feel some sense of comfort because I knew that God had sent her as an angel.
In Exodus 3:14, God reveals himself to Moses saying I AM THAT I AM.  This bold statement tells us that God is from everlasting to everlasting.  The name I AM means that God is independent and his existence does not rely on anyone or anything.  The name I AM also suggests that God is whatever you are lacking personally, spiritually and physically in your time of need.  God is the light within you when darkness surrounds you because I AM THAT I AM.
In Isaiah 41:10, God makes a similar declaration when he tells the prophet Isaiah, “Fear not, for I am with you.”  If I AM THAT I AM is with you then you are never truly alone. When someone or something appeared in your life that allowed you to see that God knew your pain, IAM THAT I AM has sent you an angel.  Be not dismayed, for I AM YOUR GOD.  God tells you not to be discouraged or be fearful of the mountain that lies ahead of you, because I AM your God.  God is with you from the beginning to the end.   God is your personal guide and protector, and with him all things are possible.  It doesn’t matter if there are people who don’t believe in you because God is letting you know that in spite of all the naysayers, I am your GOD.  God is so good, and affirms it by saying “I will help you.”  It doesn’t matter if no one volunteers to come to your aid – God is there to help you and make your burdens light.  You may ask, “If this is so, why am I going through this trial?”  Well, the Lord did not say that there wouldn’t be any trials in your life or that things would always be on the upside; however, God promised to uphold you with his righteous right hand.  Sometimes God has to break us before we can be healed.  Your current circumstances are never the conclusion.  You are never alone because God is always with you. ~ Lady A

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Daily Word: You are not alone

1 John 1:8 "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

I am really bad at admitting my mistakes.  My father used to call me "wrong and strong" because even if it was clear that I was wrong, I'd be stubborn in my wrongness and stick with it until the very end. I hate being wrong.  I hate making mistakes.  Mostly because it carries with it this feeling that everyone else is doing the right thing; that nobody would be foolish enough to make the same mistake that I did.

This, of course, is not true.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone is wrong at one time or another.  Everyone has sinned. And if the tell you they haven't, the scripture says the truth is not in them.  To acknowledge that we are all human and that we make mistakes works to a certain extent. It gives me the strength to acknowledge mistakes when I make them, because I know that I am not alone.  I am not the only one who falls short sometimes.

But I must take responsibility for some of the mistakes that I tend to make over and over again.  I must acknowledge the mistakes I've made AND do something to change that behavior. Change is hard work.  It requires accountability and constantly reminding myself that I want to walk in a new way.  I have to be truthful with myself.  I'm not going to get it right all the time.  But with a strong desire and with God's help, I can do anything. --Lady S.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Daily Word - RE-Turn everything to God!

Luke 6:38

King James Version (KJV)

 38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

With there being a tendency in the world of greedy and ungenerous mindsets, it is sometimes a task to hone in on the innate urge to give. But I ask: what does it cost to give? What does it take from you to give? Financially, one can argue that it is not free to give, however it can be said that the best things in life are free. 

A hug can make a lonely person feel warm and a smile can turn a person's frown in a different direction...

Consider this scripture that says when you give, you will be given what you gave away back fully in return. It will be given to you shaken up, packed in tightly (to get as much in as possible) and spilling over into your lap.

If you give love, love will return to you!
If you give sincere advice, that will available to you when you need it!
If you give with a pure heart, you will receive a gift that so filled you will barely have room to receive it!

Who doesn't want a gift like that? 

Realizing that every good and perfect gift comes from God, it is encouraging to know that the things that I have control over (which are on loan to me for a time), will come back to me if I have a mind to give. 

Today, my heart is made up to give love, support, and time to those people and things that I believe will please God.

Join me in returning our gifts to God!

- Lady R.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Domestic Diva Corner: Southwestern Pot Roast

Today I thought I would share a recipe from one of my favorite cooking blogs:
I love making pot roast in the fall. Roasting meat in the oven at a low temperature for a long time makes the house smell fantastic! I decided to make a Southwestern flavored pot roast and we all loved it. The flavor was fantastic and the meat was extremely tender and delicious. I served this pot roast with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and simply sautéed green beans. My whole family loved this meal and my husband enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the following day.

Southwestern Pot Roast:
Recipe and photos by For the Love of
    * 2-3 lb lean chuck roast
    * 1 tsp olive oil
    * Chili powder, to taste
    * Paprika, to taste
    * Cumin, to taste
    * Oregano, to taste
    * Coriander, to taste
    * Garlic powder, to taste
    * Onion powder, to taste
    * Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
    * 2 4 oz cans of diced green chiles
    * 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
    * 1 1/2 cup beef broth
    * 4-5 cloves of garlic
    * 1 handful of cilantro
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sprinkle all of the seasonings over both sides of the meat, to taste. Place in hot skillet and sear all sides of the beef. Add the green chiles, diced tomatoes, beef broth, garlic cloves, and cilantro to the Dutch oven. Cover with a lid and place in the oven. Cook in the oven for 3-4 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart.
Note: Make sure to check the meat periodically to make sure there is enough liquid in the Dutch oven. Add more beef broth if needed.
Remove the meat from the Dutch oven and place on a cutting board to rest. Strain the liquid into a bowl then place back in the pan to cook over medium heat for a few minutes to reduce. Pour the liquid onto the sliced beef and serve immediately. Enjoy. 

~ Lady A