"My legs look like toothpicks"
"I hate these moles on my face"
"I wish I didn't have this gap in my teeth"
"I need a girdle to suck in these rolls"
"My arms are too jiggly"
How many times have you caught yourself saying something like one of the statements above? Maybe you've even tried crash dieting, minor cosmetic surgery, or restrictive garments to hide your rolls.
But have you ever stop to think that the God who made you also made the ocean, the birds, the beautiful flowers, and the sky? Did you ever stop to think how beautiful and perfect YOU must be if he created you?
I believe that we should take the absolute care of our bodies by eating healthy, and by getting some sort of exercise every day. But I also believe that we should honor and praise our bodies (and all of our little "inperfections") just as we are today. We are wonderfully made! You don't see the ocean complaining in the mirror about his water not being blue enough, do you? And you also don't ever see a bird wearing a girdle or a flower complaining about her legs being too skinny do you?
You are perfect just as you are, RIGHT NOW. TODAY.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14)
Our hands do so much on a daily basis. We spend at least an hour every day online, "liking" posts, posting photos or statuses and writing on each other's walls. We also send countless emails and text messages on any given day.
But when was the last time you used your hands to offer hospitality to a loved one?
When I was growing up, anytime there was a new baby, an illness or a death in the family, friends and loved ones would surround the family with love and hospitality. They would show up to the home with food (often just leaving the meal in a cooler on the back porch along with a note), offer to care for the children, mow the yard, etc. Even if the family in need insisted "I'm fine, I don't need anything", they'd show up anyway!
And if there was a death, the community would step in to help with the preparation of the repass meal and even serve the meal if needed. The grieving loved ones did not lift one finger on the day of the funeral. They were served, loved on and looked after.
But I've noticed a shift in how we care for each other. The apron-clad church-based hospitality ministries may still exist, but I haven't seen the caring hospitality from individuals that used to exist before. I've attended repass gatherings recently to find that loved ones were left to fend for themselves, make their own plates, etc. This is unacceptable! I may make some people uncomfortable by saying that, but I don't care. We have to do better! We have to care for each other in the way that we are called to do in the Bible!
I've also noticed that when people visit with someone who has a new baby, they sometimes expect the new mom to serve them! They simply show up and "hang out" (texting on their phone, watching tv, etc.) while the new mom continues to care for the (sometimes crying) baby, provides a meal, etc. Newsflash! You are not being helpful or present if your eyes are glued to your phone!
How can you be less of a jerk and more of the person God called you to be when others are in need?
1. Check in
If you have a friend or a loved one who is ill, has recently given birth or has just suffered a loss, call them! Offer to give them a ride to an appointment. Offer to bring a meal or babysit. Offer to mow their yard or take their car to the car wash.
2. Be PRESENT when in the presence of a new mom, sick loved one or a grieving family
If you are visiting a new mom, hold the baby so the mom can have a break (or so that she can throw in a load of laundry, take a shower, wash bottles, etc. Offer to feed/ change the baby. I'm sure you've fed or changed a baby before (even if it was 100,000 years ago).
If you are attending a repass after a funeral, pay attention to the needs of the immediate family members. Can you cook your signature dish to bring to contribute to the meal? (And if you can't cook, by all means offer to make a Costco run to buy paper goods, etc.) Can you offer to make a plate for the family or get them a second helping or drink refill? If your mobility is limited, can you just SIT with the family and be a presence of God's light and compassion?
3. Pray for them or sending thoughts of good energy
We all need prayers and thoughts of good energy. You don't have to say a special prayer or kneel in a cathedral. Just send thoughts of healing and good energy to the person while they undergo this life change.
I am blessed to have been raised with a mother who extended (and continues to extend) hospitality ANY time she sees the need. And I have also been blessed with a mother-in-law who has the same compassionate heart (even when the receiver may not "deserve" it.)
We have to do more to care for each other. It only takes a few hours to help someone in need. Imagine the difference we could make if we could step away from our computers and phones for a little while! Not only are we called to help others in Romans 12:13 (as well as COUNTLESS other scriptures in the Bible), but we should WANT to because it is the RIGHT thing to do.
Scripture reference: “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
Romans 12:13 NLT
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“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be.”
Psalm 39:6 NIV
When someone asks: How have you been? Do you automatically answer "Busy!"?
When you say "Busy", do you smile? Are you excited to be so busy with doing the things you love? Or are you filling your hours with endless loops of things that don't matter?
We only get one life. And ever moment we spend doing something we don't enjoy is a moment we wil never see again.
What can you remove from your calendar this week? Choose at least one thing, and see how much lighter you'll feel come Sunday!
Praying Creatively-Matthew 6:5-6
I have said the same bedtime prayer every night since I was a little girl. Same mealtime prayer, too. Somehow that ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ and 'God is great, God is good’ always seemed to do the trick, and I felt satisfied that God heard me loud and clear.
But then I realized a few years ago that my prayers had become methodical. I sped through the words without even thinking. Suddenly I realized that I was not connecting with God while I was praying. I realized He didn’t want a rehearsed, storybook prayer. He wanted to hear the song of my heart.
So I began to pray creatively. I stopped the usual, scripted prayer and instead began to say what was on my heart. I prayed for God to transform me. Break me. Make me new. Make me uncomfortable in stagnate situations. Bring me to a new level. I didn’t need a crowd around me, I didn’t need to be applauded when I was done. I all needed was an audience of One.
And guess what? My life shifted. Everything began to change. The bad habits I had carried with me for years were suddenly gone. My speech changed. My writing changed. Even the way I interacted with others changed. God was (and still is) shaping me into the woman He created me to be.
I encourage you to shake up your prayers today. It’s okay to say your usual prayers, but when you’re done, speak from your heart. You don't need scrolls of prepared prayers.
All you need is a heart that is open and ready to talk to God.
Scripture: Matthew 6:5-6 MSG
“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
"Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
Do you think an author has the right to say who is "too street" to play a character they created? The author of James Bond can't see Idris Elba in the role. He says he's "too street" (aka too black). . Many people are upset about that. At first I was too. Until I thought about some of my favorite movies and how I would feel if they re-cast some of the main characters with different people.
For instance, what if they re-cast my favorite movie The Color Purple? Could Taylor Swift play Sophia (Oprah Winfrey's role) in The Color Purple? Could Beyoncé play the role of Celie? Could Shemar Moore play the role of "Mister"? Probably not. Alice Walker created these characters to look and feel a certain way.
So before we go attacking Anthony (the author) for rejecting our beloved Idris, remember this: as authors, it is not our job to be inclusive of everyone. Our characters can look and sound the way WE want to because WE write them.
Just because the public thinks "It's time for a black James Bond 007", doesn't mean the creator of the character has to agree. It's HIS story! His characters. But I do think he should be HONEST and say "I don't want a black man playing Bond." Because Idris is capable of playing any role he is given.
Maybe instead of being angry, we should work to create more positive characters that look like us! This way we won't need to beg for a "black" ANYTHING, because the role will already exist.
Don't look back!
Scripture: But Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:26
Anytime you’re making plans for the future, it’s easy to look back on all the things that have gone wrong along the way. Maybe you made a foolish choice when trying to find the perfect mate, or maybe you allowed your finances to end up in the dumpster after using one too many credit cards. But all of that is in the PAST. It is up to us to start looking forward.
God allows us to make mistakes so that we can learn, but He also gives us the wisdom to know when to move on and not look back. It’s hard for some folks to do, which is why some people seem to always be reliving the past. They wallow in it, swim in it, eat with it, sleep with it and put it on as an overcoat every single day. Don’t be one of those people! If you made a mistake in your life, ask God to forgive you. If the mistake harmed another person, ask THEM to forgive you as well. Once you’ve asked for God’s forgiveness, don’t you DARE go back there again. You’re forgiven, your slate is clean.
Every day is another chance to get it right.
Mama. Wife. Poet. Teacher. Maniac.