Not Too Busy to Love

Not Too Busy to Love

Today’s Memory Lane Monday comes from an email I sent on 1/31/07.  I spent last week in Jackson, juggling relaxing with visiting as many family members as I could with meeting up with friends and classmates.  Yesterday, when it was time to leave, I wasn’t ready because I felt like I hadn’t really done everything or seen everybody I had intended to.  But alas, I had to get back on the road.  I say all that to say, at the end of the day, it’s all about love.  Showing people, friends, family, and even strangers, love.  We’re here on earth to make a difference in someone’s life, and who knows who it will be?  Maybe just the fact that I spent a little time with my grandma, my granddaddy, my aunts, and my great-aunts was enough.  Or maybe the fact that I spent a lil time catching up with old friends was enough.  Or just maybe the short convo I had in the mall with a stranger at random was enough.  Anywho, enjoy.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”—when you now have it with you.  Proverbs 3:27-28

A major part of being Christians is our responsibility to love.  And part of loving is giving–our time, our effort, our resources–to people in need.  It’s not always something big that the Spirit urges us to give, but we often ignore those urges.  You never know how a smile might have changed someone’s day.  Or stopping to give someone directions.  Or giving someone a dollar.  Or helping someone with a homework assignment.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, especially for myself since I’m always on the go–every time Jesus stopped to helped someone in the Bible, he wasn’t just sitting there waiting to help someone–he was on his way somewhere, and he stopped what he was doing to assist that person in need.  We should follow suit, and try to make sure we have a loving attitude throughout our day.

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MLM: The Time of My Life

MLM: The Time of My Life

Happy Monday to you and Happy Birthday Eve to me!  The post I’m about to share was written on 9/22/04, and in it, I talk enjoying my 20s, which I’m about to be saying goodbye to over the next year.  Also, I thought it was nifty that my birthday, my golden birthday at that, was on a Tuesday that year just like it is this year.

I still don’t have a bunch o’ regrets.  As I move into my 30th year, I know that I’ve accomplished a lot, I know tons of great people, and I have so much I want to do and know I will do.  Life will always have its ups and downs, and I’ve had some hella ups that are way more vivid memories than the downs.  So no complaints over this way.  Especially after a great weekend.  Friday, I chilled and talked and chilled and talked.  Saturday, I had a day full of tons of stuff, including a workshop,a business launch, a dinner with the girls where they surprised me with cupcakes :), and dancing at Old School Saturday with a slew of friends.  Yesterday, I got to see my mentee strut her stuff in her first pageant, and she won Most Photogenic in her division and overall and 1st runner up to Miss Jr Teen Atlanta, and I was treated to a nice dinner and a delectable dessert.  And later this week, I’ll get to spend my Thanksgiving with my awesome family.  See, how could I complain?  Yep, I’m still having the time of my life.  Anywho, here ya go.

I was listening to the radio this morning, and for one time, Ryan Cameron made me think. (I usually don’t listen to him because he aggravates me.) Anywho, I came in on the end of the convo so I dunno what prompted the topic, but he was discussing with the rest of his crew the importance of living life and not putting things off until you can “afford” it because alot of us will never enjoy ourselves that way. He talked about how some parents miss out on the special moments of their kids’ lives working all the time and saying, “Well, next time, but this time I need to do overtime so I can…” And then he said something about a girl who gave her entire 20s to a guy and now she’s alone and talking about how she’ll never go back to all that drama after she’s missed out on probably the funnest part of the average person’s life. Which got me to thinking about me and this part of my life. I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying my 20s (even though I kinda just began them but that’s ok–I’m looking forward to the rest of em). I know I gripe alot about different things, and I do get sad and unsatisfied sometimes, but overall, I don’t think when I look back on my life I will have many regrets or woulda/coulda/shoulda’s so far. I’m having a ball while working on the future. I’m meeting people, not as many as I’d like sometimes, but the people I have met and gotten to know are great people and you can’t beat that. And my networking circle is widening by the week. And again, I am having fun. I get stressed sometimes, but that’s a part of life, right? Last year was kinda boring, but this year and my senior year were great. Now as I’m finishing up my 23rd year (for you folx who hate my math logic–when you’re 22, that’s cuz you’ve lived 22 complete years and are going into the 23rd), I’m pleased with where I am at the moment. Not to say I’m about to become stagnant–never that–but I’m pleased with the overall state of things.

So enough with all that, let’s talk about this weekend. Methinks I’m going to the Classic. I’m trying to see how many people are coming with, so far 2. So fun. I plan to go to the parade that morning. It’s been so long since I’ve been to a parade, and the one I used to always go to is kinda hood rich (but I love it) so I’m excited that this may be a little more “big time” than I’m used to. I heard a rep of the 100 Black Men say that they flew in the Ghanaian Royal family, so that should be really cool. Of course there are free parties all weekend, so I gotta see if any of my friends are down. I’m also planning a trip to DC with two very special people for my birthday, so I’m extra excited about that. Extra extra. I hope everything falls in line. And I need to be figuring out what I will give my brother for his 18th birthday, which is 2 days after my birthday (and Thanksgiving). Any ideas? When I can afford it, I think I may start taking him different places for his birthday. I didn’t get my big brother anything for his birthday. It was Monday. But I did call and talk to him awhile. We had gotten close for awhile, but that kinda fell off. Maybe I’ll start calling for often. I was enjoying him being more like a friend brother than the big-bad-I’ll-beat-everybody-up-if-they-mess-with-you brother. But sometimes that is cool too. 🙂

Well, it’s off to the regular grind. But today seems a tad bit brighter than yesterday, and that’s always a good thing!

[lyrics for the day]
So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind, hang it on a shelf in good health and good time. Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial. For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while.
good riddance>>green day

This is a really classic song.  I guess I’ve always had good taste in music. 🙂  I’m going to live the rest of you up, 20s!


MLM: Stagecoach Prayer

MLM: Stagecoach Prayer

Happy Monday, lovelies!  I had a spectacular weekend, and I’m ready to rumble this week.  Yesterday, I felt the urge to watch a friend’s church online, and just like the old days, the Word was just for me.  The sermon was based on Exodus 13:17-18, and it was about how God wouldn’t lead the Israelites through the shortest path because they wouldn’t have been ready for war with the Palestinians and how God may take us a longer route, but long isn’t wrong.  The sermon conjured up all types of thoughts not only about my life and the path I’m on but also about the black community (but I need to organize those).  Anywho, this Our Daily Bread that I shared on 4/4/07 kinda extends my thought process about the sermon.  About how my path is mine–I need to stay in my lane and work on what I’m meant to work on and what’s meant for me will be mine.  If I swerve into other folks’ lanes, I may shortchange myself. Hope you have a productive week!

Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. —John 14:13

Five-year-old Randy wanted a toy stagecoach for Christmas. While shopping with Mom, he found just the one he wanted. It was about 6″ long and had cool wheels and dark brown plastic horses pulling it. “Mommy, I want this one. Pleeeease!” he begged. As young children sometimes do, he threw a tantrum, insisting that he get that stagecoach for Christmas. Mom said, “We’ll see,” and took him home.

Randy was sure he’d get what he asked for. Christmas morning came, and he opened the package confidently. Sure enough, it was the stagecoach he had begged for. He was so pleased. But then his older brother said, “You really did a dumb thing to insist on gettingthat coach. Mom bought you a much bigger one, but when you begged for that little one, she exchanged it!” Suddenly the small stagecoach didn’t seem so appealing.

Sometimes we’re like that with God. We pray about a specific need and tell Him how He ought to answer. We beg and plead—and God may even give us exactly what we ask for. But He may have had something better in mind.

Phillips Brooks once said, “Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger.” — Anne Cetas

Do not presume to know what’s best
When you begin to pray;
But say to God, “Your will be done,”
Then trust His perfect way. —Sper

Large asking results in large receiving.

MLM: What’s Your Dream?

MLM: What’s Your Dream?

Well, my dream is to make a profound positive impact on the black community. And through Reads and Reels, I can see some of that coming to fruition.  This weekend, I led a group of 15 volunteers in New Orleans as we participated in the ongoing rebuilding efforts.  It was a humbling, educational, inspirational, reassuring, lesson-learning, comical, friendship-building time, and I’m so glad that I had the idea and acted on it.  I’ll definitely be doing it again very soon.  I’m uploading pictures and sharing stories over the next few days.

For Memory Lane Monday, though, I want to share this piece I sent to friends on May 4, 2007 after a sermon I heard.

“Look, this dreamer is coming!…Let us…kill him.” Genesis 37:19-20

What’s your dream?

Everybody has a dream.  What’s yours?  If you could do anything, what would it be?  Most of us don’t achieve great things because we give up, we fall short, we get off track, we settle, or we dream too small.  Only two things stand in your way: dreaming it, then doing it.  Have you dared to dream, really dream?  If something is within your apparent reach, it isn’t a dream.  If it doesn’t stretch you, cost you, or involve risk, it isn’t a dream.  Dreams change you even as they change the world around you.

Maybe you’re listening to critical people. Remember the story of Joseph?  He dreamed big dreams.  God-given dreams.  And what was the response of his brothers?  They said, “Look, this dreamer is coming!… let us… kill him.”  People who aren’t pursuing their own dreams are usually the first to criticize people who are.  So, who are you listening to?

Maybe you’re afraid to dream too big. You don’t want to fail.  Nobody does.  But “safe living” leads to regret.  Theodore Roosevelt said, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor souls who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”  What’s the worst thing that could happen if you pursue your dream and don’t achieve it?  You could end up where you are now.  And what’s the best thing that could happen?  You could find yourself in new territory, enjoying new blessings, living the life God meant for you to live!

So, what’s your dream?  Are you pursuing it?

MLM – Appreciating the Rain

MLM – Appreciating the Rain

Well, I’ve been dealing with some personal storms, and this morning, this story came to mind.  I posted this on 8-18-2003, and the story actually occurred in 2001.

On my way to work, I kept having the feeling that I left the stove on. So I turned around, and of course, it was not on. Luckily, I wasn’t late for work, but I hope I’m not becoming obsessive/compulsive. My ma says it’s probably just that I am growing up and realizing that I no longer have anyone to check behind me. Anyhow, it reminded me of two summers ago, my first summer in Atlanta, when I had an internship here, and I lived in the graduate apartments at Emory. I didn’t have my car with me in Atlanta, so I would walk to the Marta bus stop and catch the bus to the train and ride the train to my internship. Well, one particular morning, I was running late. It was raining lightly outside and I couldn’t find my umbrella or my hooded windbreaker, which was odd since I didn’t have much to look through. So I decided to walk through the drizzle so I wouldn’t be too late for work. The closer I got to the bus stop, the harder it rained. The whole way I fighting tears and asking the Lord to please let it stop raining until I got on the bus. When I got to the bus stop, it started pouring down. Rain was just beating down on me, and I was so upset that I was standing out there in the rain and that I would look a mess when I got to work. I decided to walk back to my apartment and dry off and start over. During my walk, I kept asking the Lord, “Why would you do that to me?” while crying and trying not to be hysterically upset. I walked back in my apartment completely drenched, and there was my answer… I had left my gas stove on. I immediately apologized to the Lord for doubting Him and started laughing after my heart stopped beating so fast after turning the stove off. What a tragedy it’d been if that gas had stayed on from 8-6… After I started over and got ready again, guess what. It was beautiful outside. And of course, I found my windbreaker under my books and folders in my bag (the one I was digging through as I walked in the rain trying to find something with which to cover up). And my umbrella was where I had left it–beside my desk… Unreal, huh? It’s instances like that one that let me know there is a higher power, and that I am watched over all the time. Well, let me get back to work.

One of my mantras is “perspective.”  Everything happens for a reason, yanno.  Even if it seems horrible or sad or negative now, there’s always a greater purpose that you’ll recognize when you try.  Even when you seem to not have any support or “covering,” God’s always there crafting and managing the situation.

One of my favorite quotes is “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass… it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”

And there it is.  Time to put my dancing shoes on.

 

From the Archives: Sandcastles

From the Archives: Sandcastles

I published this on 6/6/2007.  Hope it speaks to someone today.

“All the things I had toiled for… I must leave… to the one who comes after me.” Ecclesiastes 2:18 NIV

Max Lucado writes: “A little boy is on the beach. He packs the sand with plastic shovels into a bright red bucket. Then he upends the bucket, and a sandcastle is created.

“A man is in the office. He shoves papers into stacks and delegates assignments. Numbers are juggled, contracts are signed, and a profit is made.

“Two builders–two castles. They see nothing and make something. And for both the tide will rise, and the end will come. Yet that’s where the similarities cease. For the boy sees the end while the man ignores it. Watch the boy as dusk approaches. As the waves near, the wise child begins to clap. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He knew this would happen. He is not surprised. And when the great breaker finally crashes upon his castle and his masterpiece is sucked into the sea, he smiles, picks up his tools, takes his father’s hand and goes home. The grown-up, however, is not so wise. As the wave of years collapses on his castle, he is terrified. He hovers over the sandy monument he protected. He blocks the waves from the walls he has made. Salt-water soaked and shivering, he scowls at the incoming tide. ‘It’s my castle,’ he defies. The ocean need not resond. Both know to whom the sand belongs… and I don’t know much about sandcastles. But children do. Watch them and learn. Go ahead and build, but build with a child’s heart. When the sun sets and the tides take–applaud. Salute the process of life, then take your Father’s hand and go home.”

What He said to me:
1. It’s so funny how the Lord speaks to me sometimes. I would have thought he would use something like this to talk about my goals and career dreams, but for me, it was all about my dreams of having my own family one day. Crazy, huh? One thing I do when I’ve experienced pain is close myself off for long periods of time, scared to try again. But oh my, I can’t do that. I have to go ahead and build relationships with the people (men and women) the Lord puts in my path, and I have to be ready for tide. And if a tide comes, I need to appreciate all the good times and the lessons learned and let go and say bye. There’s always a war going on inside me as far as relationships go. I KNOW the Lord puts people in my path sometimes to teach me something in particular and sometimes I’m supposed to teach them something or get them through or lead them to some situation. But that doesn’t mean I like it that way. I’m such an extreme person, and I don’t know (it’s something I pray about) if that’s something I need to work on not being. When I think something–a relationship, a project, whatever–is worth it, I throw myself into it. I guess that could be a good thing if I just learned how to manage saying bye at the end.

So just like with the message last night–I need to help people achieve their dreams as I’m on the road to achieving mine. And I need to stay connected to God so that I will be able to get ready for tides. Especially with my hardheaded butt. I think half the reason I experience pain like I do is that I get so head- or heart-strong and I won’t let go when it’s time so the Lord has to eject them. But the Lord knows my dreams, especially that one, and he’ll give me what I want and need in his time, which is the perfect time.

<<::update::7/28/2010::>> So when I read the allegory this time, 3 years later, I did think about my career and where I’m headed.  I wonder about the revolution that I start in my dreams–will I ever fulfill all my dreams?  Will I actually make a substantial impact on the black community?  Lucky me, I know I will trust my instinct when I’m led to make my next moves.  I still wonder if as I get older, will I ever be like the man, holding on to something that’s out of my reach and out of my control.  And of course, I read my response from 2007, and funny how we grow over time.  I still don’t give any ole Joe Blow a chance, but I step out there and try, even knowing that if it doesn’t work out my poor lil feelings may be pummeled.  Right now, I’m in limbo, and not really trying but I’m not not trying either.  I’m just being.  And I’m cool with that.  🙂

2. I was led to share this with a bunch of people. Some I talk to regularly, some I never talk to, some I don’t want to talk to, some I probably need to talk to in order to resolve something even if I don’t know what the something is, some that an issue has recently been “resolved” but I haven’t necessarily strived to rebuild, and some who I guess maybe just needed to read this? I dunno. But as each person popped in my head, I entered their address. Who knows what kinda responses I get? I’ll definitely have to stay prayed up before I respond to anything that I get. Heck, I may not get anything. 🙂 And that would be cool too!

<<::update::7/28/2010::>> I guess this still applies because when I read this post, my first thought was to share!

And just because the name has “Sandcastle” in it and because I like this song, I’m including a lil music!


From the Archives: Dream Big

From the Archives: Dream Big

I posted this in my old blog on 6/11/2007.  I gave a speech (or a sermon as the pastor wanted to call it) on 6/10/2007 at Light of Life Church in College Park, GA for their Youth Day.  I just felt like sharing today.  Hopefully, it inspires someone.

I started by telling a story of a little girl with huge dreams to be successful in school and go on to become some sort of leader—maybe a judge, maybe a scientist, but definitely someone who would make a difference in the world. The little girl experienced extreme hate from her 5th grade math teacher, who berated her daily and told her she’d never be anything and that she was dumb and not as smart as people thought she was. Her ma gave her some wonderful advice that she can’t let negative people have a negative effect on her life, and eventually the little girl got her grades back up and started turning the teacher’s discouragement into encouragement and made the decision to prove the teacher wrong. The little girl ended up graduating from high school at 16, earning two bachelors degrees in math by the time she was 20, and has a Masters degree <now 2 Masters degrees>. And now she’s giving speeches. Imagine that. I told them, of course I’ve gone through many trials and tribulations since then, but that particular experience was an early lesson in how to handle people’s negativity and just the world in general.

I encouraged the audience (congregation) to pursue the dreams God gives us, no matter how big or impossible or crazy they may seem. I told them a story I heard Joel Osteen give once–there was a man who went fishing, and he saw another man fishing and noticed that every time he caught a small fish he kept it, but each time he caught a big fish, he would throw it back. Finally after watching this for awhile, the man decided to ask him what’s going on. The guy told him that he only had a 10″ frying pan. We have got to throw away our small frying pan and invest in some larger ones. We can’t limit God, so we shouldn’t limit what he puts in our spirits to do.

The underlying tool we need to pursue our dreams is faith–we have to trust God and the Holy Spirit and have faith that ALL things are possible. Sometimes the trouble is that the idea just seems odd. When God told Noah to build the ark, they had never seen rain ever before. They had no clue what it would be like for water to fall from the sky, let alone water coming so much that it would flood. I’m sure Noah was like what the heck? You want me to do what? Build a huge boat in the middle of the desert?! BUT he had faith and he did what he was told, and it came in handy, eh? You can’t let the size of your dream intimidate you.

Sometimes we’re worried about what other folks say. I can only imagine how much Noah was made fun of. But those people ended up drowning. You can’t let people stop you from making the mark God intends for you to make on the world. You have to stay true to God and yourself. Don’t change your dreams for your critics!

Sometimes the trouble is low self-esteem. We underestimate ourselves. God told Moses to go tell Pharoah to let his people go. Moses said what the heck? I can’t do that! I stutter! And to that, God replied, who made your tongue?! God doesn’t make mistakes. He put you in the life you’re in for a reason. And he equipped you with everything you’ll ever need to conquer all your storms.

Then I shared 6 pieces of advice.

1. Make it a habit to talk to God when you get up in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Read your Bible, for it will equip you. You can’t receive your dreams and assignments from God if you’re not in touch with him. Pray for guidance and help in being in the right place at the right time to meet the right people.

2. Plan ahead! Proverbs 14:16 says “The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.” When I’m going somewhere, I don’t just hop in my car and start driving, I have to look at a map or get directions. Same in life–we have to know how to get to where we’re going. Once you make the choice to pursue the dreams God has given you, you have to do your research. Find out what is needed to go to the college you want to go to; find out what you need to get that internship; ask someone what you need to start a business; find out what you have to do to become a minister; find out who you need to know to work on a political campaign. Get an idea of where you’re going before you start walking.

3. Don’t believe everything you see! Proverbs 13:7 says “Some who are poor pretend to be rich; others who are rich pretend to be poor.” Don’t pursue other people’s dreams because of what you think they have. Pursue what God has especially for you. You don’t know what people really have or what they had to do to get it. Some people who drive fancy cars and live in big houses may not have it made like you think. For all you know they’re on the verge of losing it. And don’t judge the poor looking man on the corner trying to tell people about God or handing out flyers for his new business. The rappers and folks on TV look like they have it all, but you don’t know what goes on when the cameras stop rolling. Don’t believe everything you see, but do believe what God has said to you.

4. Know that everything does not come easy. You HAVE to work for it! Three verses here:
Proverbs 13:4 “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”
Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.”
Proverbs 14:23 “Work brings profit, but more talk leads to poverty.”
We’ve all heard that saying “don’t talk about it–be about it.” Don’t spend your time talking about your dreams and waiting for success to find you! Once you’ve received your dream, once you’ve done your homework and figured out what you need to do to achieve it, go do it! Know that there will be rough times and everything won’t always seem to work out, but remember that God has a master plan. Your trials and pitfalls are there for a reason, a reason you’ll find out later. So thank God in advance for the lessons you learn and for divinely setting up life to get you to where you’re supposed to be. Be diligent. You can’t stand on the sidelines. You have to stay in the race for God to get you to the finish line. As my ma told me, in order to enjoy the rainbow, you have to endure the rain.

5. Hang around people who can help you and who know more than you do. Proverbs 13:20 says “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” Proverbs 14:7 says “Stay away from fools, for you won’t find knowledge on their lips.” Surround yourself with positive people who also strive for success. Take advantage of the adults in your life. Listen to their experiences; ask them for their advice; ask them if you can help them with a project in which you’re interested; get to know them. You never know who people know, what opportunities they may know of, or who may be willing to write a letter or make a phone call for you. Stay away from folks with a 10″ frying pan, who think small, who are negative, and who don’t know any more than you do. What can they offer you but bad advice? Don’t get stuck thinking you can’t do something or making wrong decisions. Hang around people who will keep you moving forward.

6. Accept constructive criticism and loving guidance. Do not reinvent the wheel–learn from others! Proverbs 13:18 says “If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.” People have been where you are. Even when you feel like NOONE can POSSIBLY understand what you feel, what you’re going through at home or at school, chances are someone does, and God will put them in your path. Those people who love you just want to help you avoid some problems and help you out of others. But you have to LISTEN. Don’t get angry if someone tells you there’s a better way to do something. Don’t get an attitude when someone tells you something you did was wrong. Hear them out. Don’t get wrapped up in the fact that they may be fussing–listen and consider what is being said. You’ll probably be better for it!

I finished by giving them a quote by Benjamin E. Mays:

Every man and woman is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive, and if he or she does not do it, it will never be done.

And I’ll finish this post with a song by one of the best bands of all time, Earth Wind & Fire.

For you, here’s a song to make your day brighter
One that will last you long through troubled days
Giving your heart the light to brighten all of the dark that falls in your way