You’re Kidding Me!

One of the venues I’ve come to enjoy in the District is Sixth & I. Not only is the space itself beautiful, but the author talks I’ve attended there have always been great. (Random fact: The space was the home of Turner Memorial A.M.E. Church for over 50 years.) While scrolling through my e-mail this afternoon, I was checking out some of the upcoming talks and to my surprise, I discovered one of the facilitators is a former intern in one of my labs at the NIH. I was shocked. I never doubted his ability to do great things, but the Sixth & I platform is a pretty big deal. I’ve seen Brené Brown, Susan Cain, and W. Kamau Bell speak there. These are all big names, mainstream authors and Vann is facilitating a discussion there. Wow!

I thought about it and began to wonder if this was an answer to a giant prayer he once prayed or just a random happening. I will never know, but I’m reading a book that’s had me thinking a lot about the size and expectation of my prayers. A passage I read today said sometimes God gives us thimble-sized blessings because we have thimble-sized prayers. The author suggests in the midst of the vast ocean of blessings that are available, we can limit ourselves to a portion as small as a thimble simply because we fail to ask for more. I’m guilty! I don’t dream or pray big enough. At work, I give my all and can always push the envelope, but in my personal life, I’m often a lot less comfortable walking on water.

Yet, given where I am in my current thoughts, it’s interesting that I would run across this e-mail today. Comfortable hasn’t been all that comfortable lately. And, even though faith walking is hard, I’ve been forcing myself to trust God more. I’ve recognized that I can’t stay where I am, God has more for me, but I have to embrace faith walking.

About two weeks ago, I spent part of an afternoon writing in my journal about some big life goals. I’m talking, I dropped the thimble and wrote out my biggest and wildest God-sized dreams. Things that only God can do. The day after I wrote them, someone invited me to lead a workshop at a training for leaders in the federal workforce next fall. The invitation was random and completely unexpected, but in my journal I’d written that one day I wanted to be a workshop facilitator. I didn’t know the topic, didn’t know the audience, but I wrote down this big dream, and a day later one path to realizing that dream revealed itself. My initial response was, “God, you’re kidding me, right?” But then I decided to act like the child of God that I am and remember that God’s not kidding around with me. He wants to do major things in my life, but He’s waiting for me to release the brakes. It’s acceptable for me to be nervous, but I ought to pray with the expectation that God is going to answer in the here and now.

I’m nervous about this workshop, if I’m honest I don’t have a clue what I’m going to talk about, but I know it will come together. God did not create me to shy away from opportunities He presents in my life. Things have to work out because God answered my prayer. Now, I’m challenged to trust Him with more. Up next . . . registering for the Publishing in Color Conference. It makes no sense to me, but I stumbled upon this opportunity and writing a book is on my list of God-sized dreams. I’m going to go to the conference AND I’m going to force myself to be brave enough to trust God to let my gifts make room for me. He’s not kidding me, just as God is opening doors for others, He’s willing to open up gigantic doors for me too!

Advertisements

In All Things Give Thanks!

LIfe is a beautiful struggleThis Thanksgiving week has offered me lots of time to sit and reflect about the wonderful things unfolding in my life. From a genuine and sincere place, I can thank God for how He has orchestrated my life in the most interesting way. I’ve not always felt this—no, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve often been angry with God about the things He’s allowed to happen in my life. My first post on this blog spoke of me emerging from a dark season and just hanging in there. Yes, things were challenging in that moment, but the disappointment I was feeling wasn’t as bad as it seemed. And the life hiccup that proceeded that post certainly didn’t equate to God’s absence or lack of protection. I was overreacting. When I look back on my attitude and behaviors, I sadly realize that I’ve been unnecessarily bitter about so many things for too long. Instead of seeing the good, I’ve seen the bad. Rather than seeing the blessing, I’ve focused on the momentary pain. In place of “thank you”, my mouth has uttered the words “why me,” “I don’t deserve this,” and “God must hate me”. I have been a really negative person, but I’m so thankful I am no longer!
What happened? I’m not sure. Maybe I got older … maybe I learned how to be a bit more patient … maybe I feel better about myself in general … I really don’t know. It may simply be that I’ve learned how to give thanks in all things. I’ve come to appreciate the work of God’s hand behind the scenes in my life. While I’ve often been willing to settle for mediocre, I now understand that God only wants the best for me, so He’s taken me through some things to strip me of those hindrances in my life. He thinks I deserve better even if I’m too foolish to realize it!
This past year has been a challenge, but I’m thankful for every aspect of it. I couldn’t understand what God was doing as He was breaking me, but it was for my good (and I don’t mean that in a cliché way, I truly understand and appreciate this truth)! If I knew the magnitude of the blessing that was in store for me, maybe I wouldn’t have been so angered, frustrated, disappointed, and hurt by the difficulty of the season! I’d like to believe I would’ve responded differently and done a better job of speaking life to me and my challenges. I know hindsight is 20/20, but I just believe if I had known where things would end up, I wouldn’t have fought God so hard. But I’m human, so maybe I still would have failed. Regardless, today I appreciate my struggles and how they forced me to grow to this place where I find myself today.
So … in all things, I choose to give thanks. The good, the bad, the challenging, and the confusing. The delays, the denials, the blessings, and the victories. All of these things are working together for my good and my response is “thank you”.

Yearly Reflections…

As another year comes to an end, I’m once again setting aside time for a bit of introspection.  As I get older, I find that reflecting on both the positive and negative aspects of myself helps me identify ways in which I’ll try to approach my life a bit differently in the future.  Whereas I once avoided this hard work, I now find that it helps to ensure I’m always moving in a positive direction.  So, tonight, I’m going to share part of this reflection process (I’m taking this one area at a time) as  I feel strongly that writing things out makes one more accountable, and more importantly, sharing my goals publicly surrounds me with individuals who can ensure I’m not slacking in working towards my personal goals.

I’ll start with what’s perhaps easiest area for me…fitness & nutrition!

What will I do?

What will I do?

The first things I shall acknowledge are:

1.  Innately I strongly dislike exercising,

2. I would prefer junk food over healthy food most days of the week, and,

3.  I’ve been an epic failure in the fitness and nutrition areas of my life over the past year!

The blessing is, despite my natural tendencies and failures, I recognize the importance of both exercising and healthy eating, and would sincerely like to live a healthier life in the coming weeks and year ahead.  For several months now, I’ve moaned and complained about gaining weight and additional soft layers, but feeling sorry for myself has gotten me nowhere.  As the picture so eloquently states, “The question isn’t can you, it’s WILL you?”  That said, I will do better in 2013 than I did in 2012.  I fully recognize that I MUST slow down and release the clutter that fills my mind, my life, and my space so I can focus on leading a healthier life.  I heard the question asked in a podcast this week, “What works better for you…finding an hour a day to exercise now or being dead 24 hours day a later?”  Ummm…I’ll take an hour of exercise for $100.

In 2013 (well, really I think I’ll get started now), I WILL be more intentional in planning my meals and snacks weekly, I WILL make preparing a variety fresh veggies every week a priority, and I WILL write protected gym time into my personal calendar.  I know I can become a bit obsessed with things of this nature, but I need to be obsessed…tomorrow is not promised, so I need to take care of the vessel that God gifted me with!

Until nest time…

Praying for my enemies!

Last week was some week for me…it was long and challenging (at best)!  As I was out running some errands this evening, a thought was impressed upon my heart…“Pray for your enemies”!  After the way last week ended, this was the last thought I wanted to emerge in my mind, particularly because I have trouble not acting on my convictions, but I can’t always control the things that pop into my mind.  So, as I was circling my promises in prayer tonight, I found myself praying for my enemies, known and unknown, as well.  The interesting thing is, my prayer wasn’t that they would get the bad that I feel they deserve or that they would experience pain and suffering, rather, my prayer was that God would forgive them for their wrongs just as He has forgiven me, that His spirit would infiltrate their being, and that He would heal their entire being, for only hurting people hurt people.

I didn’t pray for those people who dislike me because they are my favorite people whom I want to receive God’s richest blessings, I prayed for them because I’m obligated to.  I recognize that the only way I can receive God’s promises for my life is by releasing the bitterness from my heart and forgiving even my enemies.  I’m in no way saying I’m there yet…I would be lying if I said I’ve forgiven every one of my enemies.  Frankly, my enemies make me sick and praying for them stinks!  Let’s be honest, why in the world would we want God to show compassion towards those who are far less than compassionate towards us?  Why should I want to pray for the people who sit and plot out my demise…why should I want God to help those people who hardly have a good bone in them?  These questions will always linger in my mind, but  I recognize that in praying for my enemies, I’m doing my part, and for that God will indeed prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

So, while I’m not happy about praying for these folks, I’m working on doing better at being obedient, so I’m going to praying for my enemies.  And because I’m praying for them, I know God will bless me!

Until next time…

DMW

Interference…

My current life interferes with the life I desire to live! – DMW

Sometimes I wonder if I sit and think about life too much.  I’m always trying to make sense of everything and attempting to better understand how life works.  I’ve been back at it again this week, but this time, I’m ready to not only think about things, but I’m ready to start moving and implementing the change I desire!  Today’s conclusion: My current life interferes with the life I desire to live! 

How did I come to this conclusion?  After taking a moment to reflect on what my life looks like right now, I realized that there are a lot of things that capture my interest, but the self-imposed busyness of my life prevents me from seeking out those things.  What I’m currently doing is preventing me from living the life I want to live.  I’ve been wanting to take tennis lessons for a little while now, and today found out that the local community college is offering a class on Saturdays this fall.  This made my day until I realized that on 4 of the 6 Saturdays that the class is being offered my schedule is already occupied by other things!  Seriously…it’s not even fall yet, and my weekends are that packed!  This left me feeling some kinda way because I’ve slowly allowed my life to be controlled by the desires of others, rather than the desires of my own heart.  That’s not to say that the things that are currently on my schedule are not of interest to me because they are, but these things are interfering with the life I desire to live at this moment.

In light of this, I find myself reevaluating my priorities.  I have to dig down deep and truly consider what is a priority for me…is it my career, spending time with my family, pursuing a dating life, exercising, hanging with friends more often, doing church work, spending time alone, taking pictures, competing in 5K races, taking classes at the community college…the list could go on and on and on.  Recognizing the infinite nature of this list reminds me of the importance of always being aware of the fluidness of life.  The world around me is constantly changing, and as a result, I must allow change to inhabit my life as well.  Doing the same thing over and over again won’t yield significantly different results and resisting change won’t make life any easier.  This shift in my thinking about my priorities may cause some strife and stress in my relationships with others, but that’s just the way it will have to be.  As the picture references, “It’s time for me live my life on MY new canvas!”

Until next time…

DMW

No More Excuses…I’m My Own Change Agent!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time observing the behaviors of myself and others.  I’ve quietly watched, listened, and, in turn, thought about a number things, but one thought resonated deeply within me.  It was simply “No More Excuses!”  I have decided that this will be my mantra for 2012!

As people, we have a tendency to make an excuse for why we choose to remain in our current state of being rather than make a decision to make some changes that will allow us to be in the state of being we desire to be in.  I find myself talking a lot about how I need to make some things happen, how I want to be in this place or that place, how I want to do this, not that, and such, but I am now forced to ask myself the question, “What am I doing to be the change agent in my own life?”

I talk a lot about the direction I want to see my life take, but I’m not so sure that I’m taking the steps to get there.  For instance, I’ve gained a few pounds over the past few months.  I’ve got a great excuse for this, but if I want to get back on track, I have to let go of the excuses and start engaging in behaviors that will yield results (the homemade  cookies are not helping the cause).  I could give a number of similar scenarios in other areas of my life, and the same principle holds true.  I state that I want to observe a change, yet I’m not taking the appropriate steps to get there.  But…in 2012 (well, really starting today!), I’ve decided to be the change agent in my life!

At one point in my life, I definitely did not have the confidence to step out and take the risk that is innately associated with change, but that’s no longer the case.  Change is still difficult to embrace, but I fully recognize that in order to find winning results, you have to experience the challenges of change.  At different points in life we have to expand our skill set, expand our circle of friends and associates, put some restrictions on our behaviors, cut off some friends, take a stand for what we believe in, do something that everyone else thinks is crazy, be uncomfortable, cry, smile, laugh, feel hurt, feel anger, show love, and go through growing pains.  These are elements of change that are needed if we choose to no longer make excuses for not being where we want to be.

For 2012, the excuses are thrown out the window and door.  It’s time for me to be about the change.  I am my own CHANGE AGENT!

It is easier to find an excuse than to find a reason. -Doug Brown

There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.

-Art Turock