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.