Cultivating a Life of Peace – Pt. 4

I nearly choked to death trying to hold back what I knew was getting ready to be the deepest, ugliest sob of my life!! How did I know it? Because what started as a look back over the summer that we’d just had, turned into the last year…that turned into the last 3 and those 3 became one of those old-school red contraptions that you put the little disc in and click down on the lever to go to the next slide – Y’all know what I’m talking about??? YEAH, the VIEW MASTER! My whole life had somehow been squeezed onto the little black boxes of a view master diskette and SOMEBODY was clicking that thing fast enough to make it look like a motion picture. I wanted it to stop because I was losing the battle with my tear ducts and throat, but before I knew it that ugly cry came tearing its way up from the pit of my stomach, spilling out of my mouth eyes AND nose (Viola Davis style, you hear me?!). I had been bracing myself, back up against the kitchen sink, but when all of that came out, it seemed to have taken my strength with it. I slid down the counter and cabinets, mouth wide open in silence until I hit the floor, awkward and limp. Then it happened…that sob came roaring like I was dressed in black at the cemetery watching a casket being lowered into the ground. I mean it was a deep, guttural, almost animal-like sound. It was unmistakably the sound of pain. The kind of pain that only comes from great loss – excruciating pain.

Guess what…that’s EXACTLY what was happening! At that moment I realized that I was in the middle of grieving the death of some beautiful dreams, hopes, and promises…my marriage was over and it was REAL! Screenshot 2018-04-17 at 9.45.54 AM.pngec4f4b76dfb8a5f592160e9bcdbb0b86So much beauty came from what we had, so much LIFE, but none of it had been enough. I couldn’t figure out how or why. “How did THIS happen?” and “Lord, WHY would you allow THIS?” were on repeat in my heart, my mind, my prayers, and my journal. I still don’t have the answers, but I have something that I haven’t had in years…PEACE.

So let’s go ahead and wrap up this series, “Cultivating a Life of Peace”.

I FULLY intended for this to be a vlog. Since I’d done the last two as video, I wanted to end on the same note. The more I tried to prep myself to sit down in front of a camera and convey these things, the more I could feel my bottom lip quiver, so I QUICKLY decided to “get to typin’!” LOL. I decided to end this series, by taking a look at the beginning. Not the beginning of the series, but the beginning of my life. In order to get to the bottom of something, you kind of have to get down to the bottom of something! That’s understood, however, what we see on the surface is generally indicative of what’s going on at the bottom! My beautiful Peace Lilly and Parlor Palm started browning out really badly. They were receiving the same light as usual, I wasn’t missing my scheduled waterings and there had been no other environmental changes – at least not any that I could see. As I began feeling under attack by the invasion of gnats, I realized that my heightened awareness of their presence was coinciding with the browning out of my plants. I Googled it and found out that if your houseplants had ever been outside, and you began noticing the changes that I’d been seeing in mine, it could be a result of gnats down in the soil. Not only are they down in there, but down there LAYIN’ EGGS CHILD!!! I was livid! I had a decision to make – get rid of the plants or get rid of the gnats. Now, were there other options? Yes…but by this time I had neither the time nor the desire to troubleshoot because these rascals were getting bold! Flying all up close to my eyes and nostrils (those of you that saw my video post about them know EXACTLY how angry I was about this disrespectBRUUUUUUH!!!).  So, turns out I could’ve treated the soil, but the likelihood of the treatment negatively affecting my plants was incredibly high. Even if it didn’t kill them in the process of trying to heal them, it would have certainly devastated the root system. So, in my frustration and distress, I decided that maybe they could survive out in a more natural environment…and I could be free of the pests they’d invited. I threw them outside in the wooded lot behind my home. How true to human life is this story? We watch as we and/or our loved ones begin to “brown out” and we start trying to figure out how to fix it extrinsically. Adding more water, more sunlight, more Miracle-Gro.  Frustration comes when none of that works; frustration takes Peace by the elbows, and ushers him right out the door!  At that point, we make a decision – Either we continue to pour into what may seem (or even BE) a dying situation or we part ways.  

Over the course of my life, I’ve tried to find healing in many different ways. Most of these ways dealt on the surface only, because going deep, meant pain. Digging and probing around down in the soil of my heart has taken MAJOR courage (not to mention professional help…YES, I’m talking about a therapist! Don’t look too shocked, it might do YOU some good to get one too, I’m just sayin’) but the benefits that I’m reaping are worth every tear. Why had my life been without peace for so long? Because I’d neglected to properly cultivate the soil of my heart, to allow the growth of this “Spirit Fruit”. Allowing God’s word to pierce through the hard and rocky places, like a farmer’s pick, has broken up some of those hard places that bitterness made almost impenetrable. By inviting me into personal and intimate worship moments, God has allowed me to drink from the well that never runs dry and receive the life that could only come from it! In prayer and meditation, the Holy Spirit stirs in me and shines his light so brightly that others get to experience and appreciate it too! At the end of each day, I get to lay down having had these experiences with Him, and know that the Peace of God is keeping my heart and my mind…because I’ve asked Him to cultivate that thing in me!

So, it may not be as deep as you wanted, but it’s still true. In order for real peace to be cultivated in your life, you must seek it out from the prince of Peace. What better gift to give to Him as we celebrate His birth than to ask him to be your Lord – and to be your peace today!

Cultivating a Life of Peace – Pt. 4

Cultivating a Life of Peace – Pt.3

Welcome BACK Y’ALL!!! Here we are at week 3 of the vlogs return, and I’m still just as pumped about it today as I was 3 weeks ago!!! Let’s continue the “Peace Talks” with my sister, Meredith Harmon, as I sit with her in her beautiful home in Winston Salem NC!

Don’t skip out early, because we’re going to worship the God who extends His “Reckless Love” to us so freely…and we want you to join in!!!

 

Cultivating a Life of Peace – Pt.3

Cultivating a Life of Peace – Pt.2

HELLO and HAPPY WEDNESDAY!!!

Well, here we are at week two ALREADY! The W.O.W. blog made its return last Wednesday, and the response is GREATLY appreciated!!  I spoke briefly about “Peace”, but I also promised that a VLOG was coming…welp, HERE IT IS!!

You’ll be able to sit right there in the living room, with me and my very best friends, as we talk a little deeper about this fruit called PEACE.  

Click on the link below and join in on the fun!!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWyzGJztowA&t=17s

Cultivating a Life of Peace – Pt.2

Cultivating a Life of Peace – Pt. 1

Well y’all…just like Winter crept right back upon us, here I am BACK with the W.O.W. Blog!!!

So much has transpired since my last blog post, therefore it’s going to take me a little while (and a few posts) to catch y’all up! Let’s start with some of the more obvious stuff, like me being an Akron resident once again. Who knew, RIGHT?! I got back from the France tour and God said “Put it in PARK.” I was utterly confused, disappointed, heartbroken and angry…but I obeyed. It’s going on a year now and I can tell you without the least bit of doubt, that had I been ANYwhere else during the experiences of the last 12 months, I probably wouldn’t be in my right mind. I could very easily make this a book and tell y’all the whole story right now, but I fully realize that with Social Media being what it is today, attention spans ain’t what they used to be Child!! (Not to mention this is a four-part series, so I need to keep you saints coming back, Ya Heard?!)

So, I already told y’all we were going to be talking about peace, right? Well, in my preparation for this “Come Back” I made the decision to be VERY transparent. What I can tell you now, without giving too much away, is that my life has been void of peace for the last several years. Don’t get me wrong, all the skinnin’ n grinnin’ was real, but not as a reflection of peace.  Really, it was a constant awareness of His grace being sufficient and a “knowing” that what He had promised, He would SHO’NUFF do!!! One might ask, “Is that not peace?” and would quickly say, “Not in my book”. See, in the book of Mattie, my smile was sustained by what hymn writer Fanny Crosby called “Blessed Assurance”. Isn’t it strange that I could have this deep trust in God and His promises, but still be without peace? I’m still trying to grasp that in its totality, but the part that I finally get, I want to share with y’all!

You know what? I think this should suffice for a reacquainting post don’t y’all think?  Plus, I need to save a lil’ something for y’all to come back for NEXT WEEK!…and make sure you do, because I’m bringing company with me! 

Cultivating a Life of Peace – Pt. 1

Brand New Series- “Women on the Wall”

“Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.” (Proverbs 31:29)

I was 12 years old when I met her – the anonymous “Proverbs 31 Woman” and I knew almost immediately that SHE was #GOALS! I mean, she’s an entrepreneur, a good cook, a seamstress, a philanthropist, an awesome mom with a prominent husband who ADORES her AND (wait for it……….)

The sista’ is wearing PURPLE SILK!!! LAWD HA’ MERCY – sounds like me to ME!!IMG_20170430_142133.jpg

I absolutely LOVE this woman, but we’ll come back to her in a bit. 

This is the first blog post I’ve done in quite some time, as a matter of fact, since I lost my very own Virtuous Woman, my Gammy, Mrs. Bertha Lee Fields.

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This pic was taken at one of my Worship events back in October of 2016…I had no idea that it would be the last time I’d see Gammy until we reunite in Glory

 During my hiatus, I found myself encountering a recurring theme – Seasoned women who’ve lost their flavor! It was almost as if I kept running into these women from whom I expected to hear some Godly wisdom, or glean some spiritual knowledge, but was left wanting BIG TIME. Instead of apples of gold in pitchers of silver, I kept finding worm-filled apples sitting in shiny, stainless steel bowls. When Solomon spoke this proverb (Proverbs 25:11), he was using it to paint a picture of how beautiful a word fitly spoken can be. Sadly enough, and to my surprise, instead of Proverbs 25:11, I found Proverbs 26:22-28! I’ll let you go check that one out for yourself but be warned, if you are a gossip, it’s gonna be pretty uncomfortable!! Anyhoo, as I began to complain to God about what I had been experiencing, He began to give me some very clear instructions. I’m not at liberty to share them all, but I CAN tell you the first directive He gave me: “Consider those that HAVE been what you needed, and what I desire.” This came to me one night a couple of weeks ago, after watching “War Room” for the first time (I already repented for being UN-Christian like in my slowfulness about watching this movie, so cut me some slack, lol). The Ms. Clara character was a breath of fresh air after my most recent experiences, and God used her to ignite a gratitude in me that had all but dissipated in response to the few “silly women” I’d encountered. Thus the inspiration for this, my first blog series, “Women on the Wall” – Four weeks, Four women! God wanted me to remember that there were still some women who were living out His call, and to celebrate them instead of focusing on the “mark missers”. This brings us back to Her Royalty, “The Virtuous Woman” – SHE is the first of my four “Women on the Wall”.

The Proverbs 31 woman that King Lemuel’s mother so poignantly introduced to the world…I mean, where do I start? Well, here’s what scripture says about her:

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her,

so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12 She will do him good

and not evil all the days of her life. 13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh

willingly with her hands. 14 She is like the merchants ships; she bringeth

her food from afar. 15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth

meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the

fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 17 She girdeth her loins

with strength and strengtheneth her arms. 18 She perceiveth

that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. 19 She

 

layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth

forth her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her

household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing

is silk and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth

among the elders of the land. 24 She maketh fine linen, and

selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. 25 Strength

and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her

tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She looketh well

to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praiseth her. 29 Many daughters have

done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30 Favour is deceitful,

and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord,

she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit

of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Now…how do we even BEGIN to sum HER up?! Its a tall order, I’m fully aware, but I’m gonna give it a go! She’s a wife, “of noble character” as described in the NIV bible, so she has earned her husband’s trust. Not only is he trusting her with his heart, but with his WALLET too! As a young girl this was a very important note to make, as I prepared to become Sylvester Stallone’s wife. (Yep, had a HUGE crush on him, and would practice writing “Mrs. Matelyn Stallone” in the neatest cursive possible…that is until around the 8th grade when my affections shifted towards Christopher Williams…by the time he was dismembered in New Jack City, I had decided to set my sights on those who were a little closer to home and leave the celebrities on my wall, in poster form!) The industrialism and entrepreneurial savvy that she displayed, was by far the thing that most impressed me about her. As a young entrepreneur myself I found her a worthy mentor, especially so since we happened to be in the same line of business – culinary arts. I opened my first restaurant when I was around the age of 10. I wrote out a little menu that my mother was sweet enough to make copies of so that I can pass them out to potential customers. My specialty was pizza! This would be a slice of white bread, covered in ketchup, a slice of american cheese, and torn bits of bologna…placed in the broiler long enough to melt that synthetic cheese, it made an appealing after-school snack to my sister and the neighborhood kids that made up my clientele. I don’t recall my selling price, but I do very distinctly remember using the mail shoot in the screen door as the drive thru window. The other option was to dine in…the front screened in porch had been turned into a quaint dining area with room for only one little plastic table, two chairs, and a plant stand being used to hold my sister’s Big Bird Record Player on which we would play my daddy’s vinyls, SPECIFICALLY Donny Hathaway!!! By the time I was introduced to Proverbs 31, I had transitioned out of the restaurant business and started my own church, G.C.T. God’s Chirldren’s Temple. We were an effective ministry while we lasted. We even put on our first concert and had a FULL HOUSE! Videographer, ushers, packed choir

stand boasting a mixture of actual human beings and some dolls. Singing some original songs and having programs that were again, printed off by the church mother…MY mother, we were SERIOUS. We even had refreshments afterward which had been graciously provided by my Auntie Ruthie. We passed my tambourine around as an offering plate…seeing it all in my mind right now is putting the biggest, brightest smile on my heart! Well, this was the manifestation of something very real to me, Church Work. I was around 12 during this time, and as I transitioned out of our home basement at 822 S. Hawkins Ave. I flowed quite naturally into ministry on a bigger level. As I continued to grow naturally and spiritually, becoming a wife and mother, I found the character traits of this woman more and more appealing. How she cared and provided for her children, and beyond just the walls of her own home, she cared for anyone in need. I was inspired by it all! I mean, she’s sewing, cooking, cleaning, buying land, building, planting, and blazing a trail for young women like me who just wanted to be great! She came into my life at a very pivotal time…the age of transition. A 12 year old young lady who walked out of the choir stand during a district revival and gave her life to the Lord. A 12 year old young lady who woke up on the morning of her 6th grade graduation to find that she had been visited by “Aunt Flow” for the first time. A 12 year old young lady who would face MANY a challenge in the years to come! Some of the challenges would leave her bruised, some would leave her feeling stronger, but they would all change her forever in one way or another. I met this lady who liked to wear purple just like I always did for as long as I can remember, and she would be the one I’d strive to be like for the rest of my life. She would be my inspiration when I didn’t feel like being a “sweet wife”, or when I felt like I was missing the mark with my babies, or when I felt like I was far too in need myself to reach out my hand to the needy. She would be who I looked to when I began to doubt my own entrepreneurial savvy, or when I felt like giving folk a piece of my mind instead of words that are kind. It is THIS woman that I choose to salute today…because although I’ve never laid eyes on her, and don’t even know her name she has impacted me more than I can ever express; and because of her influence, I can exhibit for young ladies that may be looking at me, something of FAR more value than what they’re being bombarded with on Reality TV, music videos, and MOST Instagram posts!! Its my privilege to be that example, and I just don’t believe that I’m by myself.

So stand up Proverbs 31 ladies and let us hear from you!?! What “Woman on the WALL” has inspired you and how do you intend to pay it forward?

Brand New Series- “Women on the Wall”

Finding Him In It

WHEW…what a week ALREADY!! I’ve got a heavy school load, had some car troubles, and been forced to face this stone cold fact – The determining factor for which side of eternity we stand on is ONE BREATH!  Regardless of how many we’ve taken, or how many we have yet to take, ONE has been designated as the last.  (Too early for this kind of talk? Stick it out, it gets better!!!)

I don’t intend to have the mortality conversation right now; it’s just too much for me to tackle at the moment but in light of “too much to tackle” let’s talk about some of the things life forces us to deal with.  As a worshiper, wife, mother, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, student, and entrepreneur I come across my fair share of obstacles.  For instance, One of my deepest desires is to see my children avoid some of the pitfalls I encountered, but for some ODD reason, I have not been as successful as I’d hoped.  Sometimes I even think, “Ok, maybe if I tell him/her to go ahead and do this foolish thing they’re thinking about doing, they’ll do the OPPOSITE… since that seems to be the friggin pattern!” SMH. Don’t get me wrong, God has blessed me with beautiful, talented, AMAZING children, but I’d be lying if I told y’all that they were less foolish than the rest of these Grow(ing)-Ups!

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                                          Christopher (21), Danay (19), and Montel (18) 

Another unavoidable hurdle is that of balancing my schedules so that no one and nothing suffers loss.  Between my quiet time alone with God, quality time with my husband, availability to my children, diligence in my school work, stewardship over my entrepreneurial endeavors, faithfulness to ministry opportunities, and proper self-care (which could stand to steal a few minutes from some of the aforementioned categories!) a Sistah is OFTEN drained! As much as all of these things add to my life, they all require intentionality in my approach to them…I have to be intentional about seeing to EACH ONE.

So, this is where the phrase “It’s not about what you know, but who you know” becomes more real than EVER!  On my own, I could NEVER accomplish all the things on my To-Do List, but did you notice where my list starts? Yep, I get alone with Him…in fact, on the rare occasion that something else sneaks in and jumps the line in front of Him, it becomes obvious to anyone who really knows me, because I’m just not right without that time.  The reason is this – during our quiet morning moments, I’m reminded of what a massive part of my world He makes up…He’s my EVERYTHING!! With that being the case, it is easier for me to view all of the things I face daily, through the lens of Christ; in other words, it’s easier for me to see evidence of His presence in it all.

I remember being in a pretty uncomfortable situation that, at that moment, couldn’t be avoided.  I walked into the restroom of the house I was at and began to complain to God.  As clear today as it was that day when He first spoke it to me, He said: “Find me in it.”  Just that simple, but abso-LUTELY profound!! From that day forward I’ve practiced the art of searching Him out in everything I face…children making foolish decisions? “Oh what a testimony you’re going to give them out of this!!” Car stalling? “God I thank you SO MUCH for whatever you just protected us from out here in these streets!” Heavy school load? “Thank you for teaching me endurance Father!” When I sit still and look close – I ALWAYS find Him in it!!

 

Finding Him In It