Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Word for a New Year

A New Word for a New Year

As I sit here at my computer on this last day of 2014, I’m looking back over all that it has brought to my life. There have been some incredible highs and some difficult lows. But thankfully throughout the year there has been more joy than sorrow.

In 2014 God placed upon my heart the word “intentional” as my word for the year. You see, I gave up making resolutions a few years ago and instead I choose a word that I believe I need to focus on. On January 1, 2014 I wrote this: This year I pray that God will help me to become more intentional in my life journey. To be more intentional in my relationships with family and friends, in how I spend my time (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually), in my ministry and in my time spent with my heavenly Father (in scripture, meditation and prayer).

Over all I believe I was intentional in many areas of my life. Relationships that were broken at the beginning of the year are now healed or in the process of healing and I am so grateful for that. My work in ministry at Rustin Ave. UMC turned from being assigned as pulpit supply to being their appointed pastor and with that brought new challenges; leading confirmation and developing new opportunities for worship. At Grace UMC, I took off my Administrative Secretary hat that I had worn for 11 years and became the Minister of Small Group Ministry, a new position at the church developing small group opportunities. I was intentional about my health as I began exercising and eating healthier. I had a mammogram, a physical and dental work done that I had put off for a few years.

But there were those areas that I was not intentional. Spending time with family, friends and God fell short. Reading and writing for pleasure were non-existent. And as I thought about this and why it happened I came up with the same excuse I used all year long. I was so busy I just didn’t have the time. Unfortunately, I did seem to have the time to watch reality T.V. shows, scroll Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s so easy to say I don’t have the time but in reality I just didn’t use my time wisely. It’s easy to make excuses and pretend that ministry and work have consumed all my time, but that isn’t the true reality of my life. The reality is I didn’t make the time, and because of that God has placed upon my heart the word “time” as my word for 2015.

Time; we can use it, make it, take it, gain it and lose it. We either want it to slow down or speed up. I love the line from the movie Steel Magnolias where Truvy says to Shelby, “Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin’ across your face.” How true! The wrinkles around my eyes prove it. And then there is this saying, “Take time to stop and smell the roses.” And that is also true. But this year I don’t want to just stop and smell the roses I want to plant, nurture, prune, water and enjoy the roses. Using my time, planting new ideas, cultivating relationships, nurturing growth, pruning away the senseless & useless and enjoying the bounty of time well spent, is what I pray for this New Year.

Being overwhelmed is no excuse to procrastinate and lose myself watching T.V. or scanning the internet. It means taking the time to plan, prepare and pray so that I will have the time to enjoy this life and all that it has to offer.

As 2014 comes to a close and 2015 begins, I pray that God will help me to use my time wisely, efficiently and intentionally so that this year may be filled with less anxiety and stress and be filled with more joy and happiness and time spent in the presence of the One who makes all things possible.

And I pray that each of you have a year filled with God’s blessings. That time will not slip away from you but that you will grasp it and live your life to the fullest. May 2015 bring to you a year filled with love, joy, laughter, and peace.

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Blessings & Happy New Year!

FYI - To help remind myself of my 2015 word “time”, I purchased a necklace that I will wear (pictured above) from Kashoan Ward of Krafty Kash. I hope you will check out her beautiful line of handmade jewelry at,, or @KraftyKash on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Monday, February 24, 2014

You're Not a Writer!

I can feel the sting as if it were yesterday, those words that cut deep down into my soul. “You’re not a writer and you shouldn’t even think of yourself as a writer.” I was 18, unable to utter a single word. I just stood there as he placed the paper back into my hands with an F in red pencil written at the top. I’ll never forget that feeling, the feeling of what little self-esteem I had being sucked out and thrown in the trash can.

Just one year earlier as a senior in high school, my Comp II teacher had given me an A for the class and had submitted one of my papers to a young writer’s publication. I was so proud and confident of myself and excited about even being considered a writer.
I had always loved to write stories, poems and my thoughts down on paper. So having a paper submitted and my teacher acknowledging that I was good enough gave my confidence the boost it needed.

How did I go from excitement to humiliation?
It was a class that the college I attended required all freshmen to take. The class was called “Liberal Arts” and was led by a panel of 6-8 professors from different departments of the college. Each professor then was over a group of students. They would mentor and grade the papers and exams for their particular group.

Various topics were discussed in class. There was a lot of reading and many papers that were written.
The group of students that I was placed in was led by a professor from the Science department, a chemistry professor. He was arrogant and behaved as if it was a complete waste of his time to be involved with the class.

I had worked so hard on that paper and because it was college I felt that I deserved a B or at the least a C on it.
I walked away with tears in my eyes. The words playing over and over in my head, “You’re not a writer.” My mom worked at the college in the business office and so I walked over to see her. I needed her words of assurance and asked her to read my paper. She read it and told me to go see one of the English professors to get their opinion.

The next day I mustered up the courage and walked into the English department and asked to see a professor. The professor I spoke to was also a member of the panel from the class. I explained to her the situation and asked if she would read my paper, knowing that it wouldn’t get the grade changed but I needed to know if it was true, that I had no talent for writing.
She read the paper, looked at me and told me that I was talented. That the grade I received was in no way equal to the grade I deserved. She couldn’t change the grade but she did change me to another group.

That was 30 years ago and the pain of that moment is still embedded in my soul. I’ve never been able to let go of those words that pierced me so deeply. A little voice still speaks, “You’re not a writer.”
Words fill my mind and they float around like snow in a shaken snow globe just wanting to be released. I jot down thoughts and reflections in journals but when I sit down and place my hands above the keyboard of my computer that little voice begins to speak, “You’re not a writer” and I pull my hands away.

Fear grips me and I’m 18 again and the feeling of self-doubt comes over me. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not talented enough. I’m not a writer.
A few years ago I went to God seeking answers to questions that I had regarding my life. It was an afternoon that I found myself sitting next to a lake and opening up my mind and soul to hear God speak to me. He did and during that conversation God said something that I didn’t quite understand. God told me to write. He told me to write and write and write and that many people would read my words.

I had no idea what he meant. Write what? Did he want me to write a book, devotions, letters, articles…? Over the next few weeks I did try to write but every time I would sit down I would hear those old familiar words, “You’re not a writer” and I would stop.
The dream of being a writer never left me. I tucked it deep down inside where only I knew where it was.

Last year I attended the Refresh My Heart Conference and was blessed to share a room with Michelle DeRusha and Jen Sandbulte. Michelle was in the process of writing a book and I sat in that room listening to her talk, about agents, publishers and the highs and lows of writing. It was exciting and I hung on every word she spoke. The dream I had of writing began to resurface.
And this past summer during lunch with my best friend from high school, who was back for our class reunion, I shared with her that one of my dreams is that someday I would love to write a book, a dream that I have only shared with my husband and couple of other people.

Last week as I was writing my sermon on the topic of loving your enemies, I asked myself if I had any enemies. The person, who came to mind, was the professor who gave me that F, 30 years ago.
Why is it that I have allowed the words of a professor to speak louder to me then the words of God?

The words from the One who created me, who gave me my gifts, my calling, who loves me unconditionally, are the words I push away.
Why do we allow others to shatter our dreams when the dreams we have are God’s dreams for us?

Over 30 years I have hung on to the dream of being a writer. I’ve purchased more pretty journals and notebooks then I can count. Opening them up, staring at the blank pages and then closing them shut.
Too afraid to put pen to paper, that what I would write someone would read. And when I would finally write I would rip out the pages, tear them in half and throw them in the trash. Each time hearing the words, “You’re not a writer.”

Those words have haunted me for 30 years while fear grips. Fear of criticism, rejection and fear of it being true. And all the while God continues to say, “Write your words. Tell your story.”
The only way to conquer the fear is to look it straight in the face, stand before it and claim victory, by picking up a pen, writing down words and leaving the pages in the book.

So I take my red leather journal off the shelf, open the cover, take my pen and begin to write. Writing the words that have been filling my mind as my pen flows across the page like a skater on ice, making lines and curves as the letters form words.
I may never write a book but I will continue to keep the dream alive.

And those words that stung my soul 30 years ago have begun to fade away and grow quiet as God smiles and says to me, “You’re a writer.”

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dare to Dream

A few weeks ago, I attended the Compel Conference and the speaker was Deidra Riggs. She spoke on the topic “Dare to Dream”. During the Saturday morning worship and prayer time, I wrote this in my journal.
            “Do I dare to dream? Yes, God says. Sit with me and let us dream. Dream together. Seeking and searching, where and when. Do I dare to dream for more than I deserve? Yes, God says. Sit and let us dream. The world is yours, I created it for you. To live, and breath, to walk and dance. My child you are mine. Let me show you all that I have planned for you. As high as the mountains, as wide as the seas, is the expanse of your dreams. Dare to dream with me and I will show you this beautiful, wonderful world, in the faces and hearts of my people. Dream”

Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.Jeremiah 33:3
I’ve always been a day dreamer. I love spending time in silence with my mind wandering. It's where I find myself dreaming. Pondering the past but also dreaming of the future. I turn 49 in a month and I know for some it would seem like this is the last year that I will want to celebrate my birthday. You know that big “5-0” comes next year and supposedly it means that I will then be old. Too old to do much of anything. Turn out the lights the parties over.

But for me that’s not how I see it. God has done so many amazing, wonderful things in my life in the last 10 years that I cannot wait to see what He will do in the next 50 years.
So I sit and I dream with God. Dream of what God will show me, where God will take me and how God will use me. Dream of the people I will meet, the places I will go and the path I will walk. To dream is to live, to breathe, to be the person who God has made me to be.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires” Psalm 37:4
Where will this life take me? What dreams will come true?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11
Dreaming, trusting, believing & hoping. Spending time with the One who created me and the One who dreams with me.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year New Word

2013 Christmas Family Photo

Happy New Year!

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. It seems that every year that I would make a list of resolutions, I would find myself feeling like a failure by the 2nd week of January. In 2007 I decided to forego the resolutions and began picking a word for the year, something that I could carry with me as I journeyed throughout the year. Instead of looking at everything that I thought I needed to improve or concentrating only on the negative things about myself, I began to see the positive aspects of who I was and started to concentrate on how God was continually molding me and providing opportunities for growth.
In 2013 God placed upon my heart the word, “simplicity”. After a chaotic 2012 I was relieved that “simplicity” was my word! On January 1, 2013 I wrote:
“My word for 2013 is “Simplicity”. The word simplicity brings calmness to my spirit that I deeply need. I realized after a year filled with new responsibilities, traveling back and forth to see my grandson for 5 months, the everyday drama and challenges that my own choices and decisions brought to my life and those that other people brought to my life, I am ready for a little more simple and a lot less hectic. So this year I am searching, beckoning, needing and embracing a more simple way of life… Turning to him to reveal to me the simple pleasures, blessings, changes and growth opportunities that may bring to me simplicity.”
I was so excited and relieved that 2013 would be surrounded by simplicity.
As I turned my calendar to December I started to think about what my word for 2014 would be and that’s when I began looking back over this last year and my word “simplicity”. I laughed out loud at how I had imagined in January of 2013 that it would be a year filled with simplicity. In all honesty it was anything but simple. At the end of January our granddaughter Adalyn was born 5 weeks early and stayed in the NNICU for 3 weeks, we traveled out to see our son and his family 5 times (a 7 hour trip), our grandson Jackson had open heart surgery, we put on a benefit pancake breakfast, silent auction & bake sale for Jackson and his family, I became the Pastor at Rustin Ave. UMC along with maintaining my positions at Grace UMC as part time Admin Secretary and Director of Women’s Ministry, and most of my time was spent preparing sermons, visiting parishioners, church meetings, women’s events and Bible studies. Not as simple as I had imagined.
But when I really examined this last year I realized that although it wasn’t a simple year, God had shown me ways to face challenges in a more simple way. Instead of freaking out when something went wrong, I took a deep breath, accessed the situation and moved forward. Relationships that brought chaos and stress into my life I walked away from, not completely closing the door on them but leaving the door cracked. My home became my sanctuary and I stopped hanging on to things that I didn’t like or enjoyed any longer. I breathed more, laughed more and loved more. And I learned to let a lot of things go.
My year may not have been simple, but God showed me the simplicity within it and myself and for that I am grateful.
As I started to think and pray on what word God would place on my heart for 2014, a word started to come to mind. Over and over I would hear it or read it. It came up everywhere in my daily walk. My word for 2014 is “Intentional”.
With all of the responsibilities with my ministry and work I have sometimes felt overwhelmed in wanting to be all that I can, everywhere I need to be and for everyone at all times, but not knowing how to do it all. And because of this I have neglected time spent with family, friends, taking care of myself and time with God.
This year I pray that God will help me to become more intentional in my life journey. To be more intentional in my relationships with family and friends, in how I spend my time (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually), in my ministry and in my time spent with my heavenly Father (in scripture, meditation and prayer).
So as we begin 2014, I pray that each of you have a year filled with God’s blessings. That your life will be filled with more love, joy, laughter, courage, strength, growth and peace.