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Monday, March 23, 2015

Pray, Teach, Pray…In that Order

Pray, Teach, Pray…In that Order
Greetings So Fyh readers and subscribers, how many of you can remember your 3 rules of driving when coming to a stop sign? I remember it going something like this…’when you come to a stop sign, look left, right and left
again.” Does that sound familiar? Did I bring back to your remembrance does scary days of learning how to drive for the first time?

 I’m sure I did for most of you, but now that we are skilled drivers, we’ve learned how to drive in the snow, on icy roads, during a thunderstorm, over long narrow bridges, down steep mountain roads and we were never taught this…we learned it along the way. 

It’s just not feasible or generally a good idea to wait until the first ice storm and get a bunch on 15 year old behind the wheel of a car to “see how they do”. But yet, we sometimes have the misconception that we are supposed to be expert drivers simply because we’ve been driving for years.

I had a conversation with my little brother who is a Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corp last week when the Southern United States was hit with bitterly cold temperatures that crippled many Southern Cities, like Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, even some areas of Northern Florida. He said to me that they have about 30 Thousand Service Men & Women stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. 
Many of them are just 18 and 19 years old and we as an American People put our trust in them to help defend our Country. He went on to say that many are from Southern states like Louisiana where our family is from and have never experienced the type of weather that they frequently get in Jacksonville, NC, so a southern young man or woman being stationed in Jacksonville, NC for their first winter is asked to get out and drive a $100,000 Military Humvee over Ice & Snow without question or complaint. The Louisiana Department of Transportation didn’t teach them how to drive on Ice & Snow, but yet, here they are, getting behind the wheel and driving. Leaning on nothing but their trust in Jesus and remembering their basic training learned in Driver’s Education.

King Solomon, the son of David, penned this Proverb “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (22.6 KJV) The verb translated "train" (chanak) means, first, "to put something into the mouth," "to give to be tasted," as nurses give to infants food which they have masticated in order to prepare it for their nurslings; thence it comes to signify "to give elementary instruction," "to imbue," "to train." The Hebrew literally is,Initiate a child in accordance with his way.
  You see, it is important to note that even though we as responsible adults (should be) are responsible for the conception, birthing, nursing, nurturing, teaching and training up our children. There will come a time when he or she will have to take out on their own, or as the old folk use to say, “every pot has to sit on its own bottom”. When that time comes, we can only Pray that what we have Taught them is a sufficient foundation on which to build their own lives and then Pray again that God keeps them in his care when we are apart one from another. 
This is how God always intended it to be, the Shema Prayer is a prayer that was used by the Jewish people. (See Deuteronomy Chapter 6) The Shema is a declaration of faith, a pledge of allegiance to One God. It is said upon arising in the morning and upon going to sleep at night. It is said when praising God and when beseeching Him. It is the first prayer that a Jewish child is taught to say. It is the last words a Jew says prior to death. The Torah records Moses including the Shema in his farewell address to the Jewish people. The Shema is so important to the Jewish people that it is affixed to the doorpost of their homes. But when that child leaves the comforts of his/her Father and Mother, the parents can only pray that what they taught their child will sustain him/her in their daily lives.
So what about the Non-Jews? What is our Shema? What is our tradition? King Solomon was said to be a Wise King (1 Chronicles 1:12) and this wisdom given him by God is made manifest for all of us through the reading of the Poetic Proverbs Book often called the “Book of Wisdom”. Solomon gives us all wise advice to raise our children in the fear and reverence of the Lord so when they take out on their own, away from the comfortable confines of their Father and Mother’s home, they will remember the trainings and know that when their earthly Father is not present, their Heavenly father is always present, even when you can’t see Him. All you have to do is Pray.

Spring Cleaning

       One morning I gather up the motivation to get rid of old things… you know the kind of stuff that just piles up; cluttering your life? Sometimes it can get so cluttered that you can’t add any more things to it. You somehow ran out of room and allowed certain things to take up space. As I go through clothes, shoes and other objects that wasn’t needed. I think of the past times what I have worn this dress or how many times I have stepped out in an old pair of pumps. There was once a time that I would buy something new then over look things that are old and would continue to overlook the things that in the past or things that I don’t wear or use any more. I continue to hold on to the old things and piling new things on top, which was taking up so much room in my life that there was no room for me to bring in anything new. I wouldn’t have anywhere to put it.
It’s like holding on to so much baggage… so much of a load to carry if you don’t
release and remove what’s holding you down in life. 

Before, a person can hold a grudge, hold in anger, hold in so much power of hate from past issues, past hurts and other things that may make a person want to carry so many burdens. Through life's journey that can’t seem to find any happiness. Happiness that you can have yet you prevent from enduring because you can’t let go of past issues and move on with what can be better for you. They say there's a reason why your past never made it to your future.

That’s just the way life is. Something’s you can’t let go in life to the point that you continue to build on top of it; past hurt and past misery that you continue to let control your thoughts and your actions. There was once saying "If you let the past deter you from your present you will let it control your future". By cleaning your mind out of those thoughts and feelings you’re able to let in new beginnings.  
Clean out your closet; get rid of worn and old shoes that you keep pushing to the back. Set free old baggage and negativity… anything that’s taking up to much space in your life that can bring you down. No one wants to continue to pile up so much mess that you don’t have room to store new happiness, new love, new friends, or new phases in life. 
Things that you can never let go will never give you the chance to live your life. Will never give you the opportunity to try something new, go somewhere new… or to even feel comfortable with meeting new friends. When you allow things in life to hold you back, you are allowing the past to plant seeds in your future. It’s time to Spring clean and let go of old habits, old items… old heartache and friendship… You have to prepare yourself to bloom for a new season… a season of growth.

God's Love Letter

My beloved,
You are always on My mind. There has never been a moment in, and before,
your life that you have not been the apple of My eye. I know every nuance of your being, yet I want you to share so much more of yourself…freely.
 I am so in tuned with you that with every breath I know what you want, need and desire. I contemplate your every move and I have made provisions for you. 
Can you even fathom that I have known you in a way that allows Me to know your thoughts and prepare answers for them, in advance? I have so many surprises stored up for you…I know you love surprises. Yes, I am always thinking about you. I know where and how you will position yourself when things get tough and I wait for you there. 
My arms are always open and my heart is always ready to listen. You are safe with me. You can be your truest self and never fear rejection. I won’t leave you. I will not abandon you, in any way. I will not be absent or distant or distracted. I will look you in the eyes, lean in and hear what it is that you need and give it to you. I know that you are tempted to doubt the intensity and sincerity of my love, yet I won’t budge. 
There is no shadow of turning, with me. I chose you with full knowledge of your faults, your fears, your insecurities, your distractedness, your forgetfulness and knowing that you could never love me in the same way. I love you with your tainted past and your impure thoughts. I love you when you are absent from me and when our relationship doesn’t make it onto your priority list for the day. 
I love you even when you do not feel like I do. I love you knowing that you compare me to others. I love you knowing that you put more stock in what the adversary says to you than I do…when you don’t trust me. I love you knowing that you are afraid, even when I have never given you a reason to fear me. I love you when you say you want more of me, yet you push me away when I come close. I want you to fully know, as you are known, the length and breadth and width of my intimate passion for you and all that pertains to you. I want you to know that you can trust my love, lean into it and abandon all thoughts of your past lovers. 
Open your arms and let me embrace you. Open your mouth and let me breathe for you. Open your heart and let me show you how to accept all that I have for you. I love you so much that I watch you sleep. I count your breaths and every flutter of your eyes. I examine every surface area of your being. I am an expert on you. I know you in a space and time that has yet to be revealed to you. I do that because I want to be prepared for any and every thing, so that I can be what you need. I am enough for you, but I know that you need other people, too. I am ok with that. I love you…the part of you that has no name; the part of you that is yet to be known. 
You don’t have to be ashamed of who you are, what you have done or what you think and say. I love the smile that no one sees. I gently kiss away those tears that are hidden from view. I hold your aching heart, in the palm of My hand, so you do not fully feel the weight of all the pain. I am sweeping the ground on which you walk to remove excess debris that is intended to derail you. I love you. I take away the death grip of grief and buffer you from its intensity. I do not take it all away because I want you to trust Me enough to come to Me with it – hand it over and receive My peace that is prepared just for you. I love you. I got you in a way that you have not fully experienced, yet. However, I am patient – My love compels Me to wait.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Love Realized

Mankind is quick to proclaim love then inflate it in an attempt to cause the recipient of said love to believe that this love is different from all others. Both males and females are guilty of doing this. Our infatuation with the thought of another person becoming vulnerable to our emotion is a great boost to our ego.
Inez Reilly
We consider the immediate present, cast the moment across time and create a blanket of here and now into eternity. “My big love, dissimilar from anything you have ever experienced, will last forever. You can count on it when you can count on nothing else.” This statement, we hope, will elicit a trust to rival that of mother and newborn child. In our minds, it is true; albeit tied to this precise and particular moment. And, yes, there are times when we can stretch and lengthen that minute into times – equaling to hours, days and even years.
We move from this span of time to the next thriving and surviving off of our grandiose infatuation. Can it really be called love until it is tested? Is it possible to love someone without questioning motives and intentions in an attempt to know them in a way that no one else does? Is love birthed or does it evolve? Is it one thing, and then go through a metamorphosis to become real love? Metamorphosis is a profound change from one stage to the next.  It is a complete change of form, structure, or substance; a transformation. Love is created through the process of morphing from stage to stage, moment to moment, and time to time.
Love is patient and patience is developed through trials and experiences. It grows and magnifies as the opportunity to exercise it presents itself. There are situations that require less patience than another. Thus, this characteristic of love is expanded and stretched over time. In true love there is no breaking point. The elasticity of love never remains brittle; it grows ever stronger as it moves from fire to fire. When one fire creates a frailty another fire is needed to realign the DNA makeup of it. Whenever this phenomenon is experienced, some “love” experience fractures. It is in this moment that conditions are realized. To give the benefit of the doubt, most proclamations of unconditional love are perceived as true – and it is, within the confines of that particular moment. It isn’t until patience is worn thin, without the effort to reinforce it, that a realization of limitations is exposed.
Love does not hunt for its own way; it is not self-seeking. In our society, this characteristic of love is not fostered. We are conditioned to embrace the “What about me?” or “What have you done for me, lately?” state of mind. Western civilization has thrived off of looking to please oneself and sometimes to the hurt of those we say we love. Again, we can stave off (or hide) this stipulation for a period of time. However, if we feel like we are giving more than we are getting then we feel an innate compulsion to find ways to “do me.” Our love for material things often cause us to ignore the things that we need the most to survive as loving beings. A new dawning appears as we consider what we are lacking, without grasping hold of the wealth of humanity-laden needs that are being met. I am not talking about those situations where the basic financial necessities are being withheld. There is a safety in knowing that bills can be paid, food put on the table, and a roof over ones head. People need to feel safe. I am referring to the fluff – the pomp and circumstance that is visible to the outside world. This is where most of us draw the line, so to speak. When we begin to believe that if others cannot witness this love, in a manner that is visible to the naked eye, then ‘love’ grows cold and dies (like a neglected fire in a fireplace).
God has given us a blueprint that allows us to measure our claims to love. 1 Corinthians 13 is a real example of unconditional love; love that never fails or remains thin and brittle. It is stretched, but never breaks. It is strengthened in the same furnace that creates weakness. Real love becomes malleable through tests and trials so it can be shaped in a manner that prepares it for what is to come. Once it has been re-shaped, heat is needed to strengthen it for its new purpose.
It may be of great benefit to understand that true love is created through transformation. In the beginning, we are intrigued with the promise that is held within fascination. In order for it to blossom and morph into God’s definition of love, we have to embrace the process. Just as a caterpillar move through the hidden pupa stage in order to emerge as a butterfly, thus is love. As metal is forged into its finished product through the process of heating, cooling and re-heating, love grows stronger as it endures the fiery kiln of difficulty. This is when we realize any conditions that were hidden from view. It is here that we are faced with our personal commitment to our profession of love; where we surrender to the process that produces a profound change – love that does not wax cold.


 ENLARGE: to make larger; expand, to become larger, expand. How many of you are in this place? You feel the stretching, the pulling, the expansion, and the enlargement of your Spirit? Go with it. It is good for you. I woke up this morning in praise and worship to God. I was listening to Israel and New Breed's-TAKE THE LIMITS OFF. As the song ministered to my Spirit, the voice of the Lord spoke to me in a still small voice and said "EXPANSION HAS COME FOR YOU AND IN YOU, PREPARE YOURSELF TO GO". (not that I have not heard this or been in this place before). I began to weep and just tell the Father THANK YOU for the NEW Journey that lies ahead for HIS GLORY. 
Then I began to think about my journey and what it has taken for me to arrive in this
Denise Chase
place only to realize that the whole journey has been one of ENLARGEMENT and EXPANSION. I thought about how my journey began, not knowing anything other than what I was told and what I saw and how I began to mimic others, not aware that what I was mimicking was wrong. Moving on, I thought of how I came into the knowledge of the TRUTH of God and His Kingdom and what HE required of me. My first step of enlargement, dying to the flesh, and living in the Spirit. 
Allowing God to detox me of the former teachings and information, learning HIS way. Next, I just reflected on how the Father has grown me up in HIM. The hard lessons and places I've had to walk through (and yet do). The many nights of wondering, questioning and being of afraid of what "tragedy" was to come next in my life and God, are you really there? Is this your will for my life? The suffering, the pain, the agony, the disappointment, the slip ups, rejection how can anything good come from all of this, I thought. Only to get to the other side of it all and realize that it was my making process. God showed me and told me it was necessary for me to go through this process (me being the clay and HE being the Potter) to be made the vessel HE needed and wanted me to be for HIS use.
 I had to totally release and relinquish myself to the WILL, WAY,  & WORD and into the HANDS OF THE LORD to be ENLARGED AND EXPANDED. The purpose? I had to be made ready to hold the anointing, wisdom, word, understanding, and power of God so that HE could yet have access in this earth realm to manifest the Glory of HIS Kingdom. Why do you share this Apostle? I'm glad you asked. I share this because many of us are still in a struggle of knowing who we are and what our God given purpose is in the earth and in the Kingdom. 
We are still running here and there looking for man to confirm or validate our existence, when the reality is what we are searching for we already possess. Some of us have allowed ourselves to be placed in positions (in ministry and life) that do not fit us, are not beneficial for us or to us and are not fulfilling us or the Will of God for our lives. We sit frustrated and angry because we know there's more, but don't know how to get to it. Well my brother's and sister's your DELIVERANCE HAS COME. The inner turmoil you are going through is your Heavenly Father getting your attention to say, it's time to COME UP HIGHER; it's time to EMBRACE and EMBODY the true essence of who you are IN HIM. IT'S TIME TO TAKE THE LIMITS OFF!! 
The limits of yourself, and the limits that man has placed, on you. Simply, it's time to follow the REAL, TRUE ORDER OF GOD.
When something or someone is ENLARGED/EXPANDED there is a greater capacity to hold more, there is more room to maneuver. That's what the Father desires of and for us. Isaiah 54:2 says: Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes. (KJV). The NLT says it like this: Enlarge your house (YOU, emphasis mine); build an addition; spread out your home!
What is God saying? He is saying go beyond what you know or think you know, build or add onto what you have been taught (all has not been wrong or bad), don't be afraid to be different, take heed to HIS voice, stop being stifled by the opinions of others or yourself. God is saying make room for the more HE has for you and what He wants to put in you. It's time to JUST DO IT!! (like Nike says). 
When we outgrow clothes, shoes and etc, we get rid of them (either trashing them or blessing some else) to make room for new, right? The same principle applies here. Be encouraged my brother's and sisters. Take heed and obey what YOU hear the Father speaking to you. Don't worry, stop holding back just do it. The Father has need of thee. TAKE THE LIMITS OFF and ENLARGE YOUR TERRITORY Going Forth in KINGDOM POWER,


“I am beautiful. I am powerful. I am free”
-Rossetta Thurman
                  Lately, I have been following a few life coaches, one happens to be Steve Harvey and other one is  Rossetta Thurman. After reading Thurman's blog about writing yourself a love letter, I came to the conclusion that loving yourself is what makes life worth living. Life and love can take you through so many life changing situations.
Sade Collins
Some individuals live by love and then there are some who die by love. Love is judge so much amongst the world that we tend to let it control our very being. In this blog,Thurman's key in on love and life itself and the ways of the world in which we should be grateful. 

Although a person may or may not have all the things that a person would want materialistically… but forget what is wanted as a material… materials are only necessities.  For which we should all be grateful and give thanks and praises for what we do have to survive as a human race; food, shelter, clothing, and water. We have ourselves and plus we have each other to be uplifted. In her blog, Thurman also mentions how to create an ideal life, but choosing to live by the grace of God abundantly. 

Of course, life may bring about troubles, but at the end of every dark tunnel there is a power of strength that is built within you for your struggles that you have overcame. Struggles that only you may go through and not everyone can see or believe that your shoes are made for you to walk in. Based on the struggles, depriving you from self-love and self-happiness and only weaken the soul. 

                  By writing a love letter to yourself you are creating affirmations for the future. There's not a person to affirm your life other than yourself? Not one person can step into the shoes that you are to take to love yourself whole, but only you. Of course you have your friends, your family or even our spouse. No one see that self-doubt that you keep covered or feel that envy, jealousy or those insecurities but yourself. We all fake the funk when it comes to the reality of things. We all have been down that road when it comes to comparing what you have and don’t have. The thing is, you never know what a person goes through to get to where they are trying to go. Same goes for anyone. You are in control of yourself, your life and your decisions don’t make the choices off of what someone else thinks or feel. That’s creating you into the character that God didn’t have set for you.

                  When you come to terms of changing and accepting your flaws you are loving and accepting yourself for the person God has chosen you to be. When Rossetta says, “I am beautiful. I am powerful. I am free.” She saying that no man or woman can take away her joy for who she is. Size, look or even age, she’s beautiful and he knowing that herself bring about so much peace in her life. It enables her to be powerful when it comes to her confidence and enables her to feel free when it comes to her self-development as ROSSETTA. No words , thoughts and or judgment can change that belief and faith. Of course you would have to confirm that for yourself. In agreement, I AM BEAUTIFUL . I AM POWEFUL. I AM FREE!

The Flip Side of Hate

The Flip Side of Hate

When we watch the news today, it’s filled with grief, despair, & negativity. We see murders, kidnappings, violence, torture, & many forms of evil from every angle. So many times, the negativity hits us right in our own backyard, & unfortunately, sometimes in our very households.
Our families are subjected to watching tragedy on television, our children witness bullying in their schools, & parents aren’t really parenting anymore. In these days, we’re experiencing more hate,
Erika Whitehead
more fear, more uncertainty, & a lot less love. Where did the love go?
During this is time of year, we put special emphasis on love. Valentine’s Day wishes fill the airwaves, specialty gifts flood the grocery & department stores, & people go out of their way showing the love, they haven’t thought to show, the other 364 days of the year. People bombard the stores, purchasing love, vying for another persons heart or a temporary moment of meaningless affection. Many proposals happen & many life changing deals are made, but should real love be able to be purchased or negotiated in humanistic terms? Have we really reduced love to something to be obtained by financial means or temporary gain?
Hate comes in various forms just as love does. The world has sacrificed warm fuzzy feelings for greed, jealousy, & disrespect for the fellow man. Life no longer has value, whereas love comes with a price tag. Where do we draw the line & take back the idea of love? Is it too costly at this point? I think not! If Christ can freely give Himself for the love of us, who are we to consider the cost?
The bible discusses love in ways that the world has ultimately overlooked. In Galatians, it clearly states to “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So are we seeing prime examples of people not loving themselves, by the violence we witness on the media? Even our children are displaying a disconnect between the love they (innately) believe to be & the love they exhibit. Where does it begin? Who teaches them the right way to love…Love & Hip Hop? Ok, nevermind, I digress.
So where do we begin? As we continue in Galatians, the apostle Paul describes the character traits of love…that cannot be bought from the sales rack at Nordstrom. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control are the traits that describe the kind of  love we’re suppose to express towards each other. It’s not about the diamonds, gold, new outfits, new cars, houses, flowers, or even chocolates (as delightful as these temporary fixes may feel). Nothing can compare to the “genuine-ness” of abiding in the word of God, the Author of LOVE. No amount of money can compare to a person who chooses to exhibit the flip side of hate.
I’m a bible toting, walking testimony of God’s love for us. It saddens me because we are so blind, that we strive to put price tags on what God freely gives us, to share with others. What makes it so difficult for us to share with others without cost attached, is beyond my comprehension. In a world that tells us love comes from Tiffany Co., Christ shows us love goes beyond anything money could possibly purchase. I feel we as humans, have lost touch with true & sincere, selfless affection. I believe we’ve lost our ultimate purpose of being. Let’s learn to be inspired, to experience a priceless love all year round, instead of someone telling us when that should be. I’m living under the divine inspiration of AGAPE love!  

Parable of the Sower…But other fell into good ground

The Parable of the Sower…”But other fell into good ground…”
Greetings So Fyh readers and subscribers, we have made it to the fourth part of the parable in this series. The fourth part of the parable states, “But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit,
Winston Howard 

some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:8 KJV) As many times as I have read and taught this parable, I seem to get something from it more than from the last time. This time what illuminated so vividly was the word “into”. For many years I’ve unknowingly mis-quoted the verse by saying “on good ground…” As this one word made me think differently about this parable, I am more and more convinced that I was continually sent to this parable so that I can see the depth of the message and be able to share it with you, my brothers and sisters.
So you might think that you may have made the same mistake and mis-quoted the same verse, and maybe even now thinking it’s not a big deal. However, it is a big deal, not only is it a big deal, it’s the whole of the parable. Let me explain by telling this story. A couple of years back I bought a Utility Trailer to pull behind my Truck when I’m hauling brush, furniture, heavy equipment, etc…I bought the trailer from a neighbor who every year grows the best personal vegetable garden I’ve seen. I didn’t know him well until I offered to buy his trailer at which point he and I got to talking and I asked him about his garden. He told me that the secret is to prepare the soil throughout the year. He actually plants the seeds in the month of March, but he will till the soil at least twice in the winter to get the soil prepared to receive the seed. This way when March comes around, the soil is ready to receive the seed.  If the soil is not properly tilled, the seed won’t penetrate “into” the ground.
You see, if my neighbor wants his soil to receive the seed, he has to prepare it to receive it. Otherwise, when the seed is broadcasted out, the likely-hood of the seed getting into the ground becomes…well, less likely. What Jesus is sharing with us in this Parable, is that He, like my neighbor knows how important it is to cultivate the land (believer) before the seed (word of God) can penetrate the soil (heart). My neighbor knows that there are 365 days in a year and if he ignores the land all year long, the ground would become hard and stubborn and the seed would just either fall by the way side, fall upon stony places or among the thorns and he wouldn’t have a harvest. Jesus knows that if we don’t cultivate or till our hearts by being Christlike, which is to “love God and love your neighbors” (Mark 12:30-31), that we will not be ready to receive the Word and Grace of Jesus if our hearts have become hard and stubborn. Thus, not producing a harvest of believers of Jesus the Christ.
As I said at the beginning of the study, Jesus is the Sower, the Word is the Seed and we are either the “Way Side”, “Stony Places”, “Thorns” or “Good Soil”. When we Love God, and Love Others, we constantly till our hearts by putting on the whole armor of God to protect ourselves from the Devils schemes which are busy every day of our lives. Ephesians 6:10-12 back up this claim as it states, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (KJV) Keep your heart cultivated, study to show thyself approved unto God, and Love always. You will then be ready to receive the Word, Mercy and Grace of our Lord’s Love. God Bless!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Reality Check

Life has its advantages and disadvantages… for some reason the route is always the hard way to learn and to be aware of. For the past few months I have come across different people… achievers, believers… and even those who were goal setters. Then there are those who chose the other route in
life that I tend to question. As I sit at the bus stop and await for my six year old niece bus to arrive… the location is in a rural area where the crime rate is high and the population is majority of the African- American race.

 Although as a child, I was raised in the same type of environment, around the same crowd, living off of the same governmental or public assistance. I question on why I wasn’t in the same position as those that I have seen walking, riding the transportation bus… struggling and striving to make ends meet. Some whose faces I remember as a child. As I sit and wait, I ponder the difference between those who I have come across and question why my life is so different from theirs.

Not only days ago, in the same neighborhood that my niece lives occurred shooting by a seventeen year old. Leaving the result with one dead, three wounded… one of the three being a one year old. As a child of course we are blinded by the reality of life. For my niece, I tend to question her future, her upbringing… her surroundings. Although, life can get in the way of itself there is always a positive tunnel in the end it may never be that way for some. Life itself can get in the way of reality… of truth… of indifference.  I am never the one too quick to judge those who are living in the projects; because I myself was one of those children getting off of the bus and such a setting as the projects that now my niece is being raised in.
    When the bus arrives, I sit there, watch each child run along, going their separate ways laughing, giggling, and playing. I realize they are just innocent. Not understanding the ways of the world. Like me, when I was younger, being a child was all that mattered; not bills, not having good or bad credit… just the life of living with the joy of fulfillment. Not knowing where the road will lead for each individual, I pray that they make it out of their environment; I pray that they are believers and achievers. Unlike the seventeen year old who will be facing a life in prison at such a very young age.

    I question my ability to make it out of the hell hole that I once was raised to be a part of, although as a child I didn’t know too much of nothing about drugs, gangs and any of the killings that occurred around me like I do now with my adult vision and mind… The world is much different from the view of a child. As for my niece, I wonder is it right for me to not only want to protect her mind from the world outside of what she know. It’s a fearful thing to know… the knowledge is there… the lifestyle is different and yes the struggle is real. Sometimes in life, we all need a reality check on where we once started to where we are now. Life isn’t so great for everyone we must learn to take our blessing and opportunities as they come. Our off springs indulge from what they do and see…  choose to live wisely for the sake of their future.


Fret. A powerful four letter word. We are commissioned, by God, to “Fret not because of…” To be burned or kindled with anger. How often have you said, “It just burns me up”? Maybe it wasn’t you. Perhaps it was someone you have conversed with – a family member, a friend or co-worker.
Inez Reilly
Fret. To feel or express worry, annoyance, or discontent. This definition may bring it closer to home. You watch someone do some shady business and somehow they get ‘rewarded’ in spite of the means that were used to get to the conclusion. It’s annoying. It chafes you. It just doesn’t sit right, in your spirit. We have tried to gain solace in the scripture, “Fret not thyself because of evil doers.” Do we take it there? Do we call them ‘evil doers’?
Some of us, I dare not say all or even most, choose to live our lives out doing things the way God ordains. We seek the Lord, listen for His voice, and follow His instructions to the letter. We do not allow ourselves any input nor do we assign a conclusion. We just trust God with the outcome of our life’s events and find peace in knowing that He directs our steps. We are keeping our eyes on the prize and not on our neighbor, those we work and/or go to school with or that family member that seems to find success at every turn. *Crickets! Crickets!*
I want to take our focus of off the passage that comes so readily to our mind and take a look at this … Fret. To compete. Pause and carefully think about it. Let it wash over you. Mull it around. Swish it around in your mouth like a fine wine (or grape juice). Fretting – being overly concerned with the way someone else is doing things and their outcome can lead to competition. “If Bob or Fran are doing it that way, and it seems to be working for them, maybe I should do it that way, as well.” Let us not forget that we are going to ‘tag’ God in on our plan (which is really Bob’s and Fran’s plan) looking for His blessing and provision.

The Israelites, when they were in the wilderness, began to fret about Egypt and the Egyptians. Think about it. They began to reminisce about the food they enjoyed (in slavery, all the while complaining about it). They began to think the ways of the Egyptians got things done, so they pooled their God-given booty together to create an idol. The Egyptians, evil-doers, were idol worshippers and things got done in Egypt. The Israelites took fretting all the way. And at times, so do we. Admit it. How many times have you changed the way you handle things based on what you have seen others do? I am not talking about successful God-fearing mentors, but those who seem to be getting it done. The movers and the shakers.
Fret. A worn or eroded place; to cause corrosion; to make a way by gnawing. Eventually, as we keep our eyes on what is happening outside of our true sphere of influence (in someone else’s lane), it eats away at our faith and our confidence that God’s plan and process for our lives will not produce the outcome that we are looking for. We become worn down in our search for our path and our way that has been ordained by Him. The thoughts that others are setting goals and achieving them in a timeframe that has been set by God knows who, vexes our spirit and we become restless – just like the Israelites. We start creating our own golden calf and doing things we see others doing and appearing successful. It creates friction within our relationship with God and we turn to things – regimens, schemes, processes and plans – that have not been written into our story.
God says He has thoughts and plans that are specific to each one of us. We just need to learn how to be yielded and still enough to hear what He has to say. He says to be still and know that He is God – we are not the gods of our own lives. He will direct our footsteps for our path. He will give us plans and insight into what we should do to prepare for our destiny.

Arose From The Thorns

Sometimes in life we become discouraged by the things that happen to us and we forget that all things have a purpose.  Every trial we experience is a learning tool.  We may not always receive
John Keenan - Columnist
the lesson at the time that it is given to us, but believe me, it is there waiting for us to find and acknowledge it.  If you separate a rose from its thorns, you take away its ability to protect itself from the things in life that will come along and harm its delicate petals. 

            At some point, we must develop a tough exterior in order protect the most delicate parts of ourselves.  We have to become less offended and hurt by the things that people do to or say about us.  We must find ways to pray, shake it off and continue to move forward.  Some things will surely scar you, but it is completely us to us on whether or not we will allow those things or people to cripple and immobilize us.
   Let every moment you experience enlighten you, and not dampen or darken your spirit because essentially we are sponges that will soak in any and everything that we are subjected to.  The free will that God gave us is ultimately our Achilles heel.  Why?  Because we have the power of choice without the wisdom to know how to use it.  Of course, this does not apply to everyone but just being honest, there are a lot of us that believe everything we hear, see and are told about ourselves.  We must never forget whose we are.  It is in that identity that we find who we are. 

That revelation helps create a happy internal atmosphere in our lives.  It helps us to develop those thorns we need to protect our delicacies.      
         When someone goes into attack mode, it is usually done through misunderstanding or the unwillingness to learn.  That is where hatred stems from; a lack of knowledge and a refusal to understand or find common ground with that thing, person or situation we claim to hate.   In most cases, the things we hate are the things we fear or can’t comprehend.  That makes it important to love.  Love is the only thing that can successfully penetrate those thorns that protect you but if it is real love, you won’t have to worry about a lack of protection.  Love covers all things.  If it were not for love, Jesus Himself would not have been the example that He was meant to be.  The thorns He was protected by were the very thorns that He was mocked with in the form of a crown on His head.  Alas, He was still resurrected and that is the example of love that is meant to guide us through everything. 

            Do not allow your thorns to be a burden.  Let them be the armor you need to carry on.  Let love be the only thing that can break though that barrier while keeping it intact.  Do not allow your worries, doubts, fears or your imperfections make you vulnerable enough to think that you are not strong enough to make it.  Just as Jesus arose from His thorns, allow yourself to be a rose that is protected by them.