Pomp and Circumstances

Athena the Tiger            Grad cap

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a young man in front of the library, sitting atop the statue of Athena the Tiger. He had his graduation cap on and waiting for someone to take his picture.   It was the day before commencement so it wasn’t unusual to see students walking around with a bag containing their full academic regalia, although they don’t usually mount Athena to mark the occasion.  While some students simply wandered around campus reminiscing about the past four years and dreaming about years to come, others took advantage of unique photo ops.  But, all of the picture taking, formal ceremonies and sense of excitement in the air was just part of the pomp and circumstances of the weekend.   

For some reason I was reminded of the series finale episode of The Cosby Show. It centered around Theo Huxtable’s college graduation and was appropriately titled, And so we Commence.  I feel like the  last semester of college is almost a paradox. Both a beginning and an end.  Most people attend commencement services or throw parties to celebrate the end of at least one leg of their educational journey.  However, when you get right down to it, the graduating is not the commencing.  The commencing begins after all the pomp and circumstances ends. That’s when students face the “real” world as we call it. 

Much like we do when we finally come to the end of ourselves and find our “real” relationship with God.  After we step away from all the great devotions there are out there.  After we have read all the wonderful books filled with explosive or not so explosive testimonies.  After we finished “preparing” to do what God has called us to do and actually just step out in faith and commence to doing it.  Even if doing it means starting over or facing our procrastination for what it is.

Having worked in higher education for many years now, I am very familiar with the not so wise choices young people make leading up to graduation.  Especially those who put off the responsibility of taking care of a mix up or mistake.  Sometimes students will make it all the way to the day before graduating and be faced with the reality that unless they take care of a bill owed to the school, or a book not returned to the library, they will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony.  It can be a stressful time because they have done all the work they needed to do to obtain the degree, but they still cannot formally graduate because of a minor detail they have left unchecked until it became a major issue.  To get so close and have something of a non-academic nature keep you from completing the process can be a hard thing to swallow.  Fortunately, higher education is very forgiving.  It gives you many opportunities to make it right.  And, so does Jesus.

For many students, commencement is a time of life changing decision making.  In the previously mentioned Cosby Show episode, Theo was given a hard choice on the last day of his job at the center or school he was working for at time.  He could stay and help a young boy who desperately needed a mentoring moment or he could rush to the airport so that he wouldn’t miss his plane and his once in a life time “dream job” opportunity.  Which one do you think he chose?

Today, I want to remind you to consider the words of Zachariah 4:10 and don’t worry if you have to start small.  Just start somewhere.  The platform that you are to share your message with the world may be a lot smaller than the stages of Broadway or a mega church.  But, your “small” circle of influence is usually bigger than you think.  I mean, if you find yourself in the situation like Theo and take time to share what God has given you with one person and that one gives back to someone who gives back to someone else, it only enlarges your circle.  And, just because you have to start small does not mean you need to stay small.  You just need to be content where you are until God moves you and you can’t be afraid to move.

My friend, I don’t know if this graduation season finds you commencing the rest of your life at a formal graduation ceremony, walking down the aisle at a wedding or just waking up every day and praying for strength to get out of bed each morning.   The truth is none of us know exactly what the future hols for us.  But I do know that if you allow Jesus to walk you through it, it’s going to be a much smoother journey.  So, go ahead and complete that degree or make that difficult decision, prayerfully.  Struggle if you have to, but don’t give up.  Just make sure the real reason you are struggling doesn’t have more to do with how the decision will or won’t be part of what you already know is God’s purpose for your life than it does with a lucrative salary or a toxic relationship.   

Commence to get busy enjoying life by truly living the John 10:10 life God intended for you to have instead of just existing.

Be Blessed,




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Judgement Calls


Challenging Thought for Today:  Our judgments judge us, and nothing reveals us, exposes our weaknesses, more ingeniously than the attitude of pronouncing upon our fellows.    Paul Valery


“I can’t believe she couldn’t park that bus.  Stevie Wonder could have got that bus in there! With Ray Charles directing him!”

As soon as she said it, the heaviness that had become a part of my persona that day lifted. I actually laughed out loud.  I was one aisle over from the two ladies sharing this hilarious conversation in the grocery store.  I didn’t know either of the women, but their hearty exchange took my mind of my own troubles for a few moments as I tried to imagine the story behind their comments.   I’d like to think that anything weighing heavy on your mind today felt a little lighter as you read it.

Maybe you wondered some of the same things I did.  Was someone having trouble passing a school bus road test? Did the lady talking recommend a friend for the job and end up disappointed because the friend didn’t live up to expectations?   Was the person taking the test so nervous that she was having a hard time trying to do something on the test that she had easily done so many times before on her own?

So many questions, so many possible scenarios.

I don’t know if those ladies were making a fair assessment of the incident in question or not. But I know I have sometimes made unfair assumptions and judgement without bothering to get the whole story.  It’s sometimes a lot easier to compare another person’s response to a situation or incident to what we believe would have been our response given the same circumstances.  Without even realizing it, we assess other people’s weaknesses or perceived weaknesses based on what we think are our strengths. We say “I can sing that song better. I can write better, teach better, parent better.”  The list is endless.  What if we turn that around and intentionally find a way to conceal the weakness and promote the strength?

And, I don’t say this judgmentally.  Especially since my first thoughts in overhearing the conversation in the grocery store focused on what the woman whom they were referring to must have done wrong.  However, reflecting on it further, I came up with a different perspective. There could be other possible outcomes.  Maybe she didn’t do a good job of getting the bus in that particular spot, but it still possible that she was able to pass the test and get her commercial license. Maybe the incident they referred to was her first try and she executed the next attempt flawlessly.  I don’t know.  I just hope the story had a good ending.

Now, you may be thinking that there are times when we must offer constructive criticism.  I accept and understand that.  And, Jesus does admonish us to speak the truth in love and sometimes as hard as it is, we must offer some hard truths in order to help those we love.  Nevertheless, I still wonder if sometimes we are too quick to judge, and we count people out when all is not lost.  One of my colleagues recently took a driver’s test and although she passed and is now a licensed driver, the instructor still encouraged her to work on making smoother stops.  The fact that she needed more practice on a specific maneuver did not mean she was not able to safely and effectively operate a motor vehicle.  Likewise, even if we don’t always get it right the first time or the fifth time, we can still put forth our best effort, acknowledge our mistakes and try again. We can still live an abundant life (John 10:10).

Are there things you are dealing with right now that you could look at from another perspective?  Instead of automatically focusing on the one thing that continuously challenges you, why not try rejoicing over the many things that motivate you.  Embrace some of those things that you do exceptionally well and work on improving where improving is needed.

Look at today’s challenging thought and instead of judging the quality of your life by what you don’t have or what you can’t do, trust God and reflect on what you have the potential to become.

Be Blessed.

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Lord, Bless This House


Challenging Thought for Today:    “You never know how well something is built until you try to take it apart”. Jonathan Scott


In a recent Wednesday Night Bible Study, my husband referenced the saying “trials and tribulations build character”.  However,  our pastor countered with “trials and tribulations actually bring out character”.  Both of these statements resonated with me when I heard Jonathan make today’s challenge quote on an episode of the HGTV show, Property Brothers: Buying and Selling.  Jonathan is a contractor and teams with his twin brother Drew, a real estate agent to help clients prepare their current home for sale in order to buy the home of their dreams.  When asked what they are looking for, couples will often say “I want something with character.  I don’t want cookie cutter”.

One online definition of character is “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual”.  When referring to houses, features such as decorative details, original hardwood floors, crown molding and baseboards make a home unique and special to a particular buyer.  Sometimes when the Property Brothers introduce couples to an older home and Jonathan and his crew start to tear it apart, they will discover that previous owners have come in and covered up the character by plastering over fireplaces or covering hardwood floors with carpet.  Other times, they will find evidence of a less than ethical builder taking dangerous shortcuts to save money or time.   Electrical and plumbing issues that should have been updated to current building codes are covered up or partially fixed and camouflaged with the hope that their shoddy work won’t be discovered.

Have you ever been tempted to take an unwise shortcut to save time or money or simply to save face?  I know I have.  I won’t give you my track record, but I will say that it has improved with age and spiritual maturity.  It’s always funny to me that even though Jonathan will warn couples to be prepared for the unexpected, especially when dealing with an older home, most of them are still surprised when it happens.

However, Jonathan is not.  As a matter of fact, when he budgets the project, he builds in a contingency so that there will be  extra money available, not if, but when they come across something unexpected.  Sometimes I wonder if the Lord included Romans 3:23 as our contingency plan.  When we hear that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, it’s not a license to sin, it’s just a reassurance to us that God already knows that we can and will mess up.  But, the other part of God’s wonderful plan is in 1 John 1:9 in that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us.  And, it doesn’t stop there.  Just like there is still hope for any home in any condition as long as it’s still structurally sound and/or the foundation is still in tack, there is still hope for us when we go astray.  Psalms 139:14 reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  God has “built” us to weather any storm that life throws at us and he can refurbish any part of our life, our heart, our mind and our soul if allow him to.  He is committed to us through eternity.

One of my favorite things about watching home makeover shows on HGTV is the clients reaction once they see their “new” home fully restored.  Often, they can’t believe it’s the same house.  So, I thought today during this time of the year when most people take stock of what’s going on in their lives, I thought  “Why not take a lesson from the Property Brothers?” No matter what condition my spiritual, physical, or emotional home is in, I can still feel the same way the Property Brothers’ clients feel about their new home.  I just need to develop a new outlook that allows my faith in God to be restored and my character to become his character.    .

I don’t want to be like the couple who says they are ready for the challenge of a renovation, but then become very discouraged and wants to quit when more than one problem or major expense occurs.   I want to be more like the homeowner who is so committed to making the home the best it can be, that I take on each new challenge with renewed determination. Even if it means God has to uncover some things I would rather leave hidden and work on some character flaws I would rather not deal with. Will you join me?

God built you to last.  If you have allowed life to place cracks in the foundation of your faith, reclaim it.  Don’t be afraid when Satan places obstacles in your path to discourage you.  Don’t give him power to tear your home or your world apart.   Let your Jesus foundation shine through and show this world and yourself how fearfully and wonderfully made you are.





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Thankfulness and Millionaire Pies

Nothing whets your appetite like someone sitting down beside you with a slice of millionaire pie.  For many years, that pie was a staple at my family holiday gatherings.  Of course, we still get together with or without the pie and this past Thanksgiving was no exception.

Image result for millionaire pie images

The holidays have become more meaningful to me as I grow older and more reflective.  I think of how blessed I am to have had my mother’s love and support for these 50 plus years and then my hearts grieves for those who will spend their first holiday season without the presence of their mother, grandmother, or another loved one.  I am so thankful for my children whom I get to see nearly every holiday with, yet I am still mindful of those who are not so fortunate.

For me, the real beauty of genuine gratefulness rests in the apostle Paul’s Philippians 4:11 revelation. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Of course, this thankful contentment did not come as easily in my younger years as it does in my more “mature” season of life.  Nevertheless, gratitude and thankfulness are now daily things for me.  Especially during the holiday season.

And, they can be for you too.

Again, I know that the holidays can be challenging times for some, but maybe a different perspective can help. There is a commercial for St. Jude’s Research Hospital that admonishes us to give thanks for the healthy children in our lives and give to those who are not. The annual St. Jude marathon was recently held here in Memphis and parents of sick children participated in the marathon either honoring or remembering their child.  Remember, giving is not just financial.  You can give of your time, you can give of your talent.  You can give hope by offering something that is priceless.

Maybe you are thinking, no one will have you on their minds this holiday season, rest assured God will.  Maybe you feel unloved.  Know that God love you so much, he sent his only son down from heaven to come here and die just for you.  He knows you so well he can tell you the number or hairs on your head (Luke 12:7).

Maybe you have been in a rough place so long, that you believe that there no one else can have it that bad.  Trust me, someone does.  And, just as God delivered them in their season of pain, he will deliver you also.

My favorite thing about the holiday season is that it begins with Thanksgiving.  I know that we should be thankful daily for the many blessings of God, but I am extremely grateful that we do set aside special time to thank God and thank those people in our lives who make it as special as it is.

So, this holiday season, whether you find yourself in a house full of fun-loving family and friends or a room with just you and God, there is always someone or something to be grateful for, even if it’s as simple as a warm place to lay your head.  Give thanks for all the people in the world who are celebrating a joyous holiday season.  And, give to those who are not.

Embrace that.

Be Blessed.


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I Am Not My Hair…Am I?

“I need hair help, ya’ll. Always have! Always will!”  This is not my own personal cry for help.  It is the title of a video that my youngest daughter recently posted on Facebook.  She lamented the woes of having long, thick natural hair that looks pretty cute close up but from far away looks like a “cotton ball chia pet”.   She got a lot of replies offering helpful recommendations for various conditioners, special scarfs and pillowcases.  None of which appealed much to her.  I was tempted to respond with a reference to verse in Luke 12:48 that reminds us “to whom much is given, much is required.”  But, I refrained.

We all know that woman who seems to literally never have a hair out of place.  I actually admire them very much.  I’m not one of them.  But, I still admire them.  Especially if they also have a variety of styles that just work for them.

For the most part, I am the woman that sticks with the same hairstyle most of the time.  And, the easier the better.  I think my sister saved my life when she taught me how to wrap my hair.  For those of you not familiar with that concept, you literally wrap your hair around your head.  Well, actually brush it around or use a wide tooth comb for the same effect.  But either way, you secure your hair around the circumference of your head, wrap a scarf around it and go to sleep.  The next morning you spray on some oil sheen, brush it out, bump the ends with a curling iron and go.   How easy is that? And now that buns are back in style, I’m pretty happy about that also.

I have actually never been good with hair as a rule.  Not a great testimony for someone who was blessed with two daughters, I know.  But, somehow all three of us survived those years of school pictures featuring bad hair days and successful attempts at doctoring semi-permanent styles (cornrows and micro braids) to last as long as possible.  Of course, some attempts were more successful than others.  My locks have been relaxed (permanently straightened) for over 40 years but both of my adult daughters now wear their hair natural.    But, all three of us still contribute to the estimated $473 million dollars that African-Americans spend on hair care in a year.  So, if you didn’t already know, hair and hair care is serious business.  I had a conversation with a woman recently who said that hair was such an issue in her marriage that it almost took them to divorce.  She was exaggerating, (I think).  On the other end of the spectrum, I also knew of a lady who finger combed her hair each morning before she got out of bed.  And, least you think this is a women’s only issue, I once dated a guy who told me he always combed his hair before he went to bed.  I never did figure that one out, but I digress.  The issue also crosses racial divide.  However, I should throw in here that African Americans spend 9 times more or hair care than their white counter parts.  So, let’s move on.

Crystal Evans Hurst is one of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speakers and writers that I follow.  One of her laugh out loud blog post is entitled “Black Girl Perms.  White Girl Perms.  All God’s Chillun’ Got Perms.”  She tackled this often-misunderstood topic with both humor and humility.  The first time she got her hair pressed (straightened with a hot comb) she said that she whipped her hair back and forth so much that she almost broke her neck. That’s my translation, not hers.  I don’t have permission to quote her.  But, before you think I’ve taken this faith-based blog down an errant path, let me try to make a point.  She shared some insightful and hilarious stories and echoed one of the replies my daughter received on her Facebook video post.  Hurst concluded that there is nothing wrong with spending time and money to get that fresh salon look if you understand that you and your hair are good looking enough without all the extra fuss.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t make sure your hair always looks it’s best.  A bad hair day is one thing.  Completely ignoring that responsibility is another.

A great hairstyle just puts the finishing touches on a great look.  If you are dressed to the nines and your hair is not combed, it does make a difference as it takes something away from the whole look.  Someone else will have to make that a blog post discussion, however.  While not every woman can be that “never a hair out of place” diva, this day and age, any woman can have hair any color and any style that she likes, depending on how much she is willing to pay for it.  And sometimes the only price is an extra couple of minutes in the morning or an extra hour one or two nights a week before you go to bed.

But back to my point, Chrystal Evans Hurst echoed one of the responses to my daughter’s Facebook post.  Many women are often dissatisfied, overwhelmed and/or obsessed with their hair all at the same time. But she also made the point that there is nothing wrong with all the different variations of hair styles available to women, and/or their desire to achieve the perfect style with their natural, relaxed or purchased hair.  However, there is a something wrong with spending so much money or time on it because we want that to be the thing that makes us something we are not.

We all know those thoughts that the enemy will whisper in our ears.  Maybe I would be prettier if I just had long straight hair.  Maybe that group of women would accept me better if I start wearing my hair natural.  I can’t be the perfect executive, mother, daughter, wife, etc. if my hair is not perfect every second of every day. Maybe he would love me more if I was a blonde or brunette.  His girlfriend has short hair, so maybe if I cut mine, he’ll like me too.  Don’t listen to those lies.  Chrystal Evans Hurst and India Arie got it right.  You are not your hair.  You are not your skin.  It’s what’s underneath that counts.

It’s not about the grade of hair you have on your head or the quality of hair you can afford to buy and wear on your head.  Whether you can afford the most expensive hair and/or hair dresser is irrelevant in the full scheme of things.   If you need a little bit of help, a lot of help or if your hair is so fly, you don’t even sweat it out during Zumba, you are not alone.  Maybe the very hint of humidity makes your salon relaxed “Ooh Girl who does your hair” falls hopelessly into an “Ooh girl!” hot mess, there is a hairdresser or Facebook friend out there who can help you.  Likewise, we serve a God who can meet you and your hair wherever you find yourself in life.  If your hairdresser charges by the hour or you must go to the beauty supply store, come home, put on your plastic gloves and work you own magic, the “potential” for greatness is still there.

But, don’t misunderstand.  There is a reason hair stylist can charge us what they do.  They are trained professionals and we pay for their service because it what they do and if they are especially good at it, we are even willing to pay them a lot more.  There are even some hair care products that you can only buy as a licensed professional hair stylist.  Not many amateurs can do a professional job on a hairstyle even if they are “good with hair”.   What we might see as good enough, a hair stylist would spend a little more time making perfect and worthy of their name.  The reason God does a much better job of handling our lives is that he is our creator.  We are his handiwork.  Just like that created especially for you favorite style that you leave the salon with.

There are some things that God can do that you are not equipped to handle.  You must accept that.  If you don’t know how to style your hair, there are people who will do it for you for a price.  One woman mentioned that she hates washing her hair so much that she just goes to the hair dresser every time it needs washing.

How do we feel when we walk out of the beauty shop?  Admit it ladies.  There is nothing like it.  Even if it is not from the beauty shop.  Whether we get it done by Cousin Sally, an upscale salon stylist, or at our kitchen sink, when that hair is slayed, we feel good.  And that’s okay.  Even the bible says that a woman’s hair is her crowning glory (l Cor. 11:15). For those Bible scholars out there, who think I’m stretching the context here.  Well, you might be right.  I know that the true meaning of that scripture goes much deeper than what’s I’m discussing here today, but that’s a topic for a less candid blog post, so stick with me.

Not many people are blessed to have a stylist come in and give them a showstopping style every morning.  Some of the responsibility will still fall on you.  Even if it’s nothing more than wrapping a scarf around your head at night and shaking out that ‘praise Jesus’ look the next morning.  But, the initial responsibility to get you to where you can manage it on your own rest with the stylist.

And there is someone trained to work with your hair type, no matter what it is.  Just don’t forget that it’s what underneath those golden or ebony tresses that’s important.  Take all the time you want on your hair, treat it like the crowning glory it is.  But just remember that for your hair and for your life, take that need to be perfect, that need to be accepted to Jesus.  Let him show you the fearfully and wonderfully made beauty you already are.  Whether you rock it natural or relaxed, or whether something unimaginable or of your own doing leaves you with a shining, bald crowning glory, the real glory belongs to the one who loves you so much he even knows the number of hairs on your head.


Be Blessed.


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Seasons Of Life

Did you know that Punxsutawney Phil recently spent some time in the hospital? Well, he did.  It happened in April when we were a full month past his Groundhog Day prediction of six more weeks of cold weather and Spring was starting to feel a lot like winter.   So, naturally a Facebook meme appeared showing him bedridden after being beaten by an angry, cold person somewhere digging out of an unseasonable Spring nor’easter storm. 

Now, you and I both know that the fate of our climate does not rest on a groundhog’s shadow.  But, when I heard a local weatherman share the Facebook story, I still laughed at the absurdity of the whole thing.   

It was just interesting to me because even though all the cold, snow and ice made it feel like winter, it is still Spring.  I wondered if sometimes human nature feeds an innate need in us to find a place or person to lay blame on for a bad season in our lives.  Even if a lot of stormy seasons are of our own making.    

One factor that determines whether or not you will experience colder or warmer weather is your geographic location.  Here in the deep south, it can feel summer warm all the way through October or longer. Likewise, winter cold can linger through April or May in the Northeast.   

Ironically, the weather these past couple of weeks has everyone saying that we skipped right over the warm breezy climate of Spring temperatures and went straight to full blown summer heat.

Of course, in keeping with our theme here, that made me ponder this “seasons of life” thing even more. How many times have we thought we were nearing the end of a bad season and looking forward to a little bit of a reprieve only to have life throw us another “hotter than July” situation? 

I thought of the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1.  To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.  Seasons are just that.  Seasons.  Three short months on the calendar of your life.   Granted, there will be uncomfortable seasons that will last much longer than three months.  Some bad seasons can last for years. But, rest assured that God will orchestrate those days accordingly.  It’s okay to trust him even when life throws you a winter curveball in the middle of your “happy dance” Spring.  No matter how hot it gets, it won’t replace the forthcoming Summer season.   For that matter, even if we get a blizzard in April, winter will not return until December.  Why not reflect on that some today?

Whether you are facing a tsunami of emotional life changes or a tornado of teenage drama, he will never leave you nor forsake you.  The damages can be minor or they might be catastrophic, but remember this.  You are not alone in the storm.  Even the winds and rain obey him.  Matt. 8:27.

Douglas Miller wrote it like this in his song, My soul’s Been Anchored 

But if the storms don’t cease
And if the wind keeps on blowing, (in my life)
My soul has been anchored in the Lord.

So, whatever season you find yourself in. Don’t live your life in fear of the storms.  Be prepared like the man who built his house on a rock instead of sand (Matthew 7:24 -27).

Be Blessed, 



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TGIF : Friday Fun Challenge

Challenging Thought for Today:  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.   Exodus 20:11


TGIF.  Thank God, it’s Friday.  It’s the weekend.  Friday Fun Day.  Casual Friday.

You’ve heard them all. I know you have seen the Facebook memes comparing  work enthusiasm on Monday to Friday.  Someone peeps out from under the covers on Monday, trying to muster up enough energy to drag themselves in for the start of another workweek. Then you see the same person in their car leave work burning rubber on Friday.  I don’t say this judgmentally.  I feel you.  I have posted a couple of Facebook Friday memes myself and have eased out the door (with permission of course) a little early on Fridays.  However, as I had one of my many TGIF moments today, I started to reflect on today’s challenging thought.

Now, I know that the general work force’s fascination with Fridays does not stem from the fact that it’s a day of rest, because surely none of you would go to work on Friday and spend the whole day doing nothing but waiting for quitting time, would you?

My point is that the Lord spent a full 6 days working to create this beautiful world for us.  Then he sanctified the 7th day as the Sabbath and blessed it for us. I could go into a little bit of reflection here on the fact that while Friday is for most people the end of the workweek, it is not a workweek Sabbath or day of rest.  But, I don’t want to burst your Friday bubble, so I’ll take off my supervisor hat and put back on my Friday fun hat as I finish my lunch break.  Today’s challenge is super simple.

Reflect on those blessings that bring you to TGIF.  That could include your faith, your family, or your job. Whether you are working or unemployed, you still made it through another week.  No matter what your week looked like, someone in your circle of influence is glad you were a part of theirs.  And, even if your calendar for next week is already full, at least you have a couple of days of rest before you have to deal with it.

It’s the Weekend.  Enjoy it.



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A New Year, A New Beginning

Challenging Thought for Today:  “Let us begin again.” Reverend Henry Biggs, The Preadher’s Wife

Along with this opening quote, two lines from Courtney Vance’s character in the  movie, The Preacher’s Wife have always stayed with me. “When we love someone, we are really loving God.  Look in wonder at those you love, for they are the face of God.”  The pastor in the movie did not just wake up one day and have this revelation.  He was going through a difficult time and was in danger of losing his church.   Additionally, he was questioning his faith because the compilation of ministry and family struggles made him feel like his work was in vain.

Then he prayed a very simple prayer: “I know you are extremely busy this time of the year, but I could use a little help right about now”. Although God responded immediately, the troubled pastor was not easily convinced.   An angel in human form was not how he thought relief would come.

This scenario makes me wonder how many times we continue to stress over a prayer that God has already answered simply because the answer does not come as we imagined or hoped it would.  Just like the character in the movie, we continue to search desperately for what God has already provided.  Fortunately, by the end of the movie, the pastor realized how much he was missing and the many things and people he was taking for granted.

The older I get, the more reflective I am on the beauty of God’s love compared to the bounty of the world’s drama.  Trying circumstances shift our focus from the promises of God to the problems of life. We stop cherishing what we have and start bemoaning what we lack.

It’s interesting to me that the end of the holiday season is marked by the beginning of a new year.  What an excellent opportunity to take the preacher’s quote literally.  I challenge you today to take a few minutes and look in wonder at those you love.   Begin this new year with a fresh appreciation for everything and everyone in your life.  Take a walk through the mall or sit in any public place and marvel at the beauty of human nature.  No matter what is going on in your life, or what difficult circumstances you may be facing, God’s love is all around you.  You just need to take time to see it and open your heart to receive it.

Be Blessed,

Happy New Year!




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Friday Fun Challenge : Pass the Test

Challenging Thought for Today:  “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

It’s post finals here at the University.  Yesterday was the last scheduled exam for the semester.  As I walked to my last class last week, I overheard a student talking on the phone.  She said, “I love his tests!”  She then paused for a minute before she continued.  “Do I do well on his test?  No, but that’s my fault.”

I wasn’t privy to the rest of the conversation, but what I did hear intrigued me.  I wondered if she loved something that she was not putting forth an effort to be good at or if she was in one of those classes that none of the students do particular well in due to the nature of the subject.

Either way, it made me think of the test and trials that are a daily part of our lives.  I can’t think of a time when I have said aloud or even consciously thought, “Lord, I don’t do well on your tests, but I sure do love taking them.”  Have you?  Should you?

Your Friday challenge: Think about the greatest test before you right now.  Remember our challenge quote for today, consider Philippians 1:6, and remain confident that whatever work God began in you, he is able to complete.

You may have to take the test more than once to pass the class, but as the song goes, “there is no failure in God.”

Think on these things.



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I’ve Got the Power

Challenging Thought for Today:    Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  Psalm 119:105 KJV

“Well, we’re out of light!”  This was my oldest daughter’s proclamation one evening after the power went off.  At the time, she wasn’t old enough to understand that the light is generated from a power source rather than a particular bulb or fixture.

A brief power outage on last Friday had me thinking about light and power.  Not just how much we take it for granted but also how much we depend on it for quality of life issues every day.

One student must have walked over to the library from the cafeteria only to find the power off here also. “Are you kidding?”  he asked.  “I didn’t get any breakfast and now this.  It’s not a good way to start off my day.”  Hopefully, his day got better after power was restored.

When we told another student that the outage was campus-wide, she moaned, “I’m going to die! I have to print my paper.”  I’m pretty sure she’s still alive and they eventually cancelled  classes, anyway.

Sometimes I think people who are afraid of the dark are not so much afraid of the presence of the darkness but the absence of a source of light.  Think about the India Arie lyrics to the song, There’s Hope.  One verse tells of a young man in the “back country of Brazil” who was extremely poor, living a simple life in a home without windows or doors.  However, his story didn’t end there.  The song continues: “On top of all of that he had no eye sight, but that didn’t keep him from seein’ the light.”

What a powerful message!  No matter what dark place you find yourself in, it doesn’t have to take away your power, which lies in the source of your hope.

So, just what is your power source today? If your hope is built on anything less than Jesus, you are living a powerless life.  Since I could not post last Friday, I decided to there was no need to waste a Friday challenge question and just give it to you on Monday.  What if we were all little light switches connected to heaven.  Would your children, best friend, spouse,  co-worker or customers get Christ-like responses when they flipped your “last nerve”  switch or would a very different light shine through?  Would you make the right decision in a heated moment when the “temptation” switch is flipped or would you listen to the Spirit and walk away?

Really think about what we are plugged into.   If we truly have the power of God through his Holy Spirit, then we don’t have to walk in fear, we can walk in faith.  Reflect on the challenge verse for today and take your power back.


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