I Dare You…

IMG_20171106_124239488_HDR.jpg

My church is embarking on an “I Dare You” campaign this month. We are challenging ourselves and others to be bold enough to trust God with the important things in our lives. For some, the important thing is personal finances and for others, it’s dealing with a wayward child or a terrifying health condition. As I pondered on the thing I’m trusting God for during this challenge, I couldn’t settle on just one—the truth is, I have to dare to trust God with everything in this moment of my life. I started 2017 feeling extremely hopeful and while my attitude remains the same, there are so many things that need to fall in place in my life! If I were left to figure it all out myself, my human frailties would quickly emerge and incredible doubt would cloud my mind. So daring to trust God in everything seems like the better option for my sanity and my forward movement in this moment. That’s really hard for me to do. Letting go of my desire to be in control of my life in both the present and the future is not consistent with my character. Gladly following Him as He leads me through unknown territory en route to my destiny feels a bit overwhelming to me. But, I’m going to dare to trust God because I know He can do the amazing and the impossible.

I invite each of you to trust God with something important in your life for the remainder of this year. I know I am trusting God for some big things, stuff that only He can allow to unfold. Things that feel uncertain and cause me to question my ability to succeed, but things that I know are possible for God.

Until next time,  I double dog dare you to trust God with your life!

Advertisements

The Awesome Privilege to Serve….

giftThere are so many things on my mind to write about these days. I consider this a huge blessing given the writer’s block I’ve experienced over the past few months. Ironically it now seems that I don’t have enough time to cover all of the thoughts in my head! I look forward to the day when I’m able to dedicate more time to this area of my life.

I have the awesome privilege of leading the campus ministry at my church. And while I’ve not been able to dedicate as much time as I’d like to sharing with students at local colleges and universities, God has shown favor on my church and sent so many students our way this year. I owe many thanks to the awesome ambassadors that God has planted in my midst who invite people to come and fellowship with us every Sunday!

The basis of our work is to support students socially, financially, and spiritually to help them finish their undergraduate education. Yesterday we invited a young lady from DC, Yasmine Arrington, in to share with our students her story of overcoming challenges and finishing strong. It was an awesome experience. As is with functions, there were some hiccups along the way, but we had a great turnout and the students were so engaged throughout our time together. It made my heart smile…

There are many days when I feel like this work of campus ministry is more than I can handle. The stress of my job and pursuing my personal dreams can be suffocating at times. The burden of another person needing me for something, whether it be a ride to church or a quick pep talk can seem like too much. But then days like yesterday happen! I see the zeal of the next generation and my strength is renewed. So, I press on and I serve the Lord with gladness. I think of new and different ways to empower and encourage the students. I think of ways to let God’s light shine through me so that they might want to have a relationship with Him…this ministry is not about beating students over the head with the Bible. It’s about living out those two important commandments, love God first, then love those He places around you. That’s what we do…we love and encourage the students and pray that those who are not saved will make a decision for Christ because they’ve seen His light in us. We also pray that those who are facing great struggles will be encouraged and find the strength to continue placing one foot in front of the other. We seek to see our students finish strong!

So, this morning, I’m thankful for every blessing and every struggle that has defined my life because all of these things have prepared me for this awesome privilege to serve!

Make it a great day…

Be Still. The Lord is Doing His Work.

This afternoon I had the opportunity attend a Christian Writers’ Group at a church not too far from my current residence. I’ve been wanting to attend this group for some time now, but I’ve not made it for a variety of reasons – I’ve been too busy or I’m exhausted following Sunday morning worship or most often, I’ve been ridiculously nervous about going to a new place where everyone is a stranger to me! But, today I ventured out of my comfort zone and attended the group. I had a great time. I left feeling motivated to write a bit (hence this post) and confident that I can achieve one of my life goals of writing a book of devotions/meditative thoughts in the not too distant future.

As I was riding home from today’s group, I began to think of thunderstorms. I’m not quite sure why, there are definitely no thunderstorms on the horizon in Maryland today. Instead, the bitter cold of ol’ man winter rushed back into the area over these past few days and I’ve decided I’m absolutely ready for spring. But I digress…

While thinking about thunderstorms, I remembered something my two grandmothers always said during these events in my younger days, “Be still. The Lord is doing His work.” When thunderstorms hit and we were with our grandmothers, this meant sitting still, no talking, shoes on, and no television, at both of their homes. To me, this was always the craziest thing. I hated thunderstorms, so the thought of just sitting still and suffering through them in silence did a number on my psyche! But I survived, and now thunderstorms aren’t as traumatic for me.

As time has passed and life has unfolded, I’ve realized that my grandmothers told the absolute truth about how we should respond to storms…when the storms of life hit, we should learn to just be still, for it is in these moments that the Lord is doing His work! I’m learning that God can’t do His work when we’re busy attempting to find a solution to our problems. There are some things that we just cannot fix in our human strength, we must learn to trust God with all of our hearts and believe that the One who created us knows what is best for us. I think God does good work, so perhaps we should take a seat and let Him do His thing in our lives! Be still for the Lord is doing His work!

Until God Says So…

Nearly a month ago, as my work day was coming to an end, I got a call that no one wants to receive.  Through the earpiece of my phone my crying mother said, “Dawn, you need to come home.  Mom-Mom is dying, she only has a few more days to live, and she wants to speak with all of her grandchildren tonight.”  Without thinking, my immediate response was, “I’ll be there, I’m leaving here in just a few minutes.”

Despite having just visited my grandmother the weekend before, I had to go, I had to see my grandmother, I had to be there for my mother…I had to be an adult and face the difficult challenge of death once again.  When I arrived at the hospital, I felt like I was on the set of Soul Food…my entire family was gathered in the halls of the hospital and despite our tears and emotions, my grandmother was offering her final words of wisdom to everyone and unlike me, she was very much at peace with the situation.

A month later, I’m happy to say that I didn’t face death that night, and death still hasn’t knocked on my grandmother’s door.  No, she’s alive, kicking, and amazingly getting stronger each day.  Interestingly, my oldest nephew declared on that challenging day a month ago that he had faith and believed that Mom-Mom was going to get better.  Well…out of the mouth of this child we were reminded that nothing happens until God says so!

I don’t know what my grandmother’s fate is…she may have just a few days left here with us, or she may have a few years, I really don’t know and am afraid to guess, but I do know this, God has not said it’s her time yet!  When I visited her last week, she shared with me that the Lord had brought her a mighty long way, and this same thought rings true in each of our lives.  Whether we choose to admit it or not, there are areas in each of our lives that have been on life support a time or two.  It could have been our marriage, our finances, our children, our health, our job, our academic achievements, our home, or our anything!  All of us have been down so low in something that we were certain death was inevitable, but in that moment, somewhere deep down on the inside we had just enough faith to whisper, “I’ve got faith and I believe my life is going to get better”!  This is my conviction this year, not just for me, but for everyone who is connected to me, my family, my friends, my coworkers, and even my haters!  We’ve got faith and life is going to get better for all of us!

This chapter of my grandmother’s life story has reminded me that God truly has the final say!  Many of us (including me) get a bit too confident, and think that things happen in this life because of what we’ve done or who we are, but it doesn’t matter what anyone says or does, God does what He wants, when He wants, and there’s nothing we can do about it!  So, I’m gonna keep on visiting my grandmother and enjoying the time I get to share with her until God says it’s time for her to come home and rest with Him eternally because nothing in this life happens until God Says So!

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” -James 4: 13-15

A New Day…A New Chapter…A New Season!

***A quick suggestion…if you typically just read this in your e-mail, please check out the blog itself.  I’ve posted an amazing video that I want you to see.

That being said…I received some awesome and absolutely amazing news this week that is going to launch me into an amazing new chapter and season in my life!  After much prayer, moments of confusion, and moments of wanting to give up, I was blessed to receive an offer for a new job opportunity!  And not just any ol’ opportunity, this is an opportunity of a lifetime.  I’ve been offered a position in the NIH Management Intern Program.  For many reasons, this is a big deal.  This program is over 50 years old, and graduates of the 2-year program have become some of NIH’s most respected administrative managers.  I’ll get to identify a senior-level mentor, go to trainings, and regularly interact with NIH leaders.  It’s an amazing opportunity…but that’s not really what I wanted to focus on, and you’re probably asking how the above video about marriage meshes with me and a new job.

I’m over the moon today because this opportunity signifies the door closing on a challenging, and frankly BAD, season of my life.  Let’s be honest, for the past 2 years, my life has been hard and it has sucked!  I didn’t stop existing, but the reality is, in those years, God was allowing the life and breath in me to be squeezed out and there were times when death felt like an easier option.  My view of life always came from a negative perspective…I didn’t expect things to go my way, I didn’t expect moral support from others, I always expected the worse, and doubted myself so much.  After life beats you down enough, it’s hard to look up, it’s hard to do more than exist.  But…I had enough sense to hold on to a remnant of my faith and trust God that the pain I was feeling internally would only last for a season.  It was a long season of hurt and suffering, but it was just that, A SEASON!

But I’m excited because a new season is on the horizon for me, and the God who allowed me to feel like all of the breath was being squeezed OUT of me, has turned around and breathed new life INTO me.  God showed me how He would not allow the enemy to prevent me from reaching my destiny, He reminded that we go through tests so that we’ll recognize that what we go through is for His Glory and our good!

I had this awesome picture that I was going to post today…it was a picture that I’m going to call Night Light…because in the deepest and darkest moments of the night, God’s light still shines all around us, but then I stumbled across the above video on Facebook.  Little did I know that this video was going to tell the story of a fellow Morgan alum who lost his wife shortly after they were married from the awful disease, cancer.  Yes, I wanted to post my picture…but I had to share the story of he and his new wife, because while their circumstances are different from mine, they share the same story of being in a place of happiness, to falling in a pit, and at a divinely appointed time God stepping in and breathing new life into them.  They share the same story of not dying in the valley, but rather, walking through the valley of the shadow of death and still managing to survive.

I’m beyond excited…I truly believe in my heart of hearts that everything in my life is on the verge of shifting for my good!  In an instant I’ve gone from feeling hopeless to seeing how God has used situations and circumstances to bless my life, AND if He did it in one area…I’m convinced He can do it in every area of my life.  It’s truly a new chapter and new season in my life!  I’m excited about the possibilities.

Until next time…

DMW

Amaze Me…

This week has started on an incredibly high note for me.  My Pastor preached the sermon, “Amaze Me, Lord” on Sunday morning and it hit me in an interesting way, sparking a fire deep within me.  The root of her message focused on how we live never expecting anything outside of normal to occur in our daily lives.  She stated that in many ways we have planned our lives out so much that God has no room to step in and do something amazing.  And, even if he did, many of us aren’t open to the spontaneous and unpredictable ways of God…we shut Him down and refuse to surrender our own personal agendas to follow God’s guidance.  This message struck me in an interesting way because I’m always trying to figure things out, I need everything to make sense, and I NEED life to unfold as planned!  On the one hand, I panic and experience anxiety when life seems out of control.  On the other hand, I sabotage my efforts whenever it seems like things aren’t going as they ought.  The idea of not putting forth effort, thus not getting expected results is much easier to accept than the idea of failure!  But Sunday’s sermon really made me think deep about my perspective and approach.  Perhaps continuing to do the things that I feel led to do, rather than sabotaging my efforts, would result in God doing something amazing in my life!

Earlier today, I posted the Holstee Manifesto…this is a great example of something amazing happening in the lives of people who took a step of faith.  The gist of the story is that a few individuals quit their job to start a company selling all natural tee shirts, which initially weren’t a big hit…somewhere along the line they posted the Holstee Manifesto, a personal mantra gone public, that went viral and gave the company a name.  Graphic designers made the statement visually appealing and this became the company’s most popular item…it wasn’t in the plan to sell it, but this amazing and perplexing thing happened simply because these individuals followed their heart and stayed the course.

In 2013, I want amazing and perplexing things to happen in my life!  This year I want to stay committed to following my heart and following my life dreams…I want to stay committed to conquering every challenge that I encounter.  Specifically, this year, I want to start figuring out how to move from my day job to my dream job…this year, I want to not just run a few 5k races, I want to set personal records and run farther without fear, I even want to complete a sprint triathlon…this year, I want to encourage others and let them know that those things that were once impossible can now be done…this year, I want to trust God more than ever before to start granting me the desires of my heart…this year, I want to give more to others than ever before.  And if some these things happen, then God will have amazed me and therein lies the beauty in all of this…God’s amazing grace!

It’s going to be an AMAZING 2013!

Where’s my faith?

That’s probably not the best question to ask on a late Sunday afternoon after I spent my morning in church being reminded of how God has a plan for each of our lives, but that’s the thought on my mind tonight, “Where’s my faith?”

A few people who are very near and dear to my heart have recently experienced some remarkable joys in their lives.  And, while I’m extremely happy for them, some deep emotions were stirred up in me as a result of the great things happening in their lives.  I found myself becoming angry (and possibly jealous) about the blessings and happiness that they were experiencing because it feels like God doesn’t deliver on the desires of my heart.  It feels like I continually try to live right and do good by people, yet I don’t get the things I so desperately want.  I think what made things even more upsetting for me is that the friends who were in the midst of receiving God’s blessings don’t go out of their way to help others (I might even lovingly call them selfish) and they don’t really go to church (being actively engaged in the life of the church is a dream for these folks).  In my personal opinion, their blessings weren’t and aren’t fair!  I stated to my mother, “I can completely understand how one could lose their faith in God!  How can God expect me to be faithful to Him when I’m repeatedly getting the short end of the deal!”  I know the super-holy folks in this world would probably look at me like I’m crazy, but really I’m just being honest.  My question…how can I be faithful to God, not perfect, but at least striving to be aligned with His will and His commands, yet He continually denies me the deepest desires of my heart and blesses the disobedient?  It’s not fair!

Yes, my life is nice and comfortable.  Yes, I’m in a better place than many other people, but that doesn’t diminish my anger.  That doesn’t eliminate my frustration…because trust me, I’m irritated with God!  His requirements for me continually grow, yet I don’t see changes in the areas that I would like to see changes in.  And perhaps that’s the problem…I want to see blessings in specific areas, but isn’t God still blessing me in other ways that I don’t appreciate at the moment?  Of course He is, God is faithful to me, His goodness and mercy follow me, He leads me and guides, He keeps His hand of protection on me, BUT I still at times feel like God doesn’t care about the desires of MY heart!  And that feeling sucks!  That feeling makes me not want to go to church…that feeling makes me want to go live like the “blessed” folks…that feeling makes me want to stop caring about others…that feeling makes me want to stop trying to do the right thing.  But I can’t!  Simply being in relationship with God mandates that I have to accept things as they are and allow my mustard seed faith to carry me through the challenges of this season.

Who knows…perhaps some of the blessings I’ve been praying for are just around the corner…perhaps they are just a matter of days, weeks, or months away.  But no matter how close or far, I just have to wait.  So even though my faith is wavering tonight, deep down I know that God’s got it!

 

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