Monthly Archives: August 2013
Yesterday I came across a story that crushed my spirit. I couldn’t sleep. All I could do is think about this precious boy in China.
For the life of me, I can’t understand how anyone, much less a woman, could gauge out the eyes of an innocent child.
His uncle says he asks why the sky is always dark … and why the dawn still hasn’t come. Heartbreaking.
How does one explain to a six year old he is blind for life by the hand of a cruel stranger? How is he suppose to understand this? I feel heartbroken for him, his parents and family. No child should have to go through something like this.
At three-thirty in the morning, I cried out to God, asking Him why? Why this little boy? Why any child for that matter?
I fell back to sleep eventually and had a dream. I saw Jeremiah 29:11.
Every now and then, God speaks to me through dreams. I count it a blessing when He does.
He is kind and thoughtful, unlike this cold, callous and cruel world that hurt this boy.
Yes, God made the world beautiful, much like the Garden of Eden, until evil destroyed it.
God reminded me in Jeremiah 29:11, that He is with me, even when my heart feels like it will explode from the pain.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
What a hope. What a promise! One I will grip on to tightly in the days ahead.
When I look over my life, I have a lot of regrets. But the one thing I don’t regret is giving my life to Jesus Christ.
If there is one thing I did right in my life, it was that.
Since giving Him my life, there were plenty of times He could have turned His back on me, but He didn’t.
He loves me unconditionally, something I have a hard time grasping, because I think I need to earn everything.
But grace can’t be earned. He gives it freely.
Which is why I can’t wait for the day I meet Him face to face.
I need to stick around for my boys sake to make sure they are standing on their own two feet. But I can’t wait to experience His uninterrupted love 24/7. Where there will be no evil, tears, pain, hurt, sickness, tragedy or death.
I’m grateful I am a child of God. When things look bleak and I grow weary, I am glad I have His hand to hold.
He is my only hope in this world. I can’t fathom living life without Him.
I remember when I didn’t know Him. What a dark and hopeless place that was. I never want to live like that again.
I wish the woman that gauged the boy’s eyes out knew Him. If she knew Him, she wouldn’t have committed this heinous crime. If she knew His deep and abiding love, she wouldn’t have been consumed with evil to harm him.
My heart is heavy today and I am weary. My prayer is that the darkness which is consuming hearts will be replaced by Jesus’ love and light.
Is Jesus your only hope?
I know you are probably sick and tired of reading about Miley Cyrus.
Some don’t understand what the big deal is, while others are as dazed and confused as I am.
The big question is what happened to Miley Cyrus?
This is how I remember her:
A young, wholesome, beautiful, church going singer.
But somewhere along the line, she turned into this:
What happened? What went wrong?
If I was able to speak to her, I would ask her these questions. I would try and understand her because this makes me sad.
Why did she sell out and so young too? She has her whole life ahead of her and is this the legacy she wants to leave behind? Is her raunchy and offensive performance at the VMA’s worth it?
She made a complete spectacle of herself. I honestly do not see how her mother or father can think this is good. They were a church going family. Somewhere deep down, I know they can’t possibly think this is right?
Does she want to be known as some tongue wagging, butt slapping, crotch grabbing, wannabe Madonna?
Somewhere down the line, she made a choice. She took a turn and it could possibly be connected with substances or her parent’s break-up or her reality TV show.
But one thing’s for certain, the root of it is spiritual.
It is an unclean spirit possessing young, vulnerable, innocent children like her. It is an evil force penetrating the minds and hearts of this generation. The enemy is using drugs, music and the media to captivate our youth and drive them into all types of confusion.
I continue to say, we must pray for our youth, and we must. The days are only getting darker.
Miley Cyrus’ performance is just a small fraction of what’s happening to our youth today.
Yes, what Miley did was shocking and appalling, but Jesus loves her.
We need to pray for her and all those who are blind like her. We must love our children enough to pray, intercede and stand in the gap for them.
Time is short.
Do you believe this epidemic goes beyond Miley Cyrus? What are your thoughts on what is happening to our youth today? Do you agree that it is spiritual?
After I read a comment from a friend of mine on Facebook, tears streamed down my face while I popped M&M’s in my mouth.
Something about peanut M&M’s soothes me.
I sit here, typing and thinking, why am I crying? My friends are saying wonderful things and I’m crying when I should be happy.
It’s just like when my husband says I’m beautiful, and I respond, you just love me. Or like in this case, when my friends tell me they believe in me and I cry.
What is it with me?
It seems I’m not used to being loved.
There is the deep seated sense of unworthiness plaguing me.
My husband tells me he loves me, my friends compliment me, and sadly, it doesn’t compute.
This weekend I was really down. I started telling my husband how I must be a real disappointment to God.
I know what you are going to say. I’m being too hard on myself, right?
And you would be right to say that.
However, this is what I believe. It’s not some ploy to fish for compliments or anything.
It’s the fractured self I live with every day.
Broken and battered soul who hasn’t fully healed from all the pain and hurt life has dished.
If you met me in person, you wouldn’t see this side unless you were looking closely. I have learned to survive and put up a good front.
But, the mask I wear is slowly crumbling.
No, I do not see myself the way God sees me. I see through a tainted glass. My perception is warped based on years of repetitive traumatic experiences which I don’t care to get into at the moment.
I see the damage it has done and no, I don’t want to remain this way. I continue to pray for healing in the broken and painful places.
The places where others looking on the outside may judge me for.
It’s so easy to judge someone without knowing their story. We all do it, but it’s wrong, because we really don’t know why a person is the way they are or acts the way they do. We just label.
Meanwhile, I find, the people who judge severest, are the ones who are most damaged themselves. We reflect on to others what we ourselves are; like a mirror.
I want to see myself through God’s reflection and not my own or anyone elses for that matter.
I want to be able to receive and accept love from others without feeling the shame and unworthiness of it.
I don’t want to live my life always fearful, anxious, suspicious or guarded.
Yes, I want to use wisdom and discernment in setting firm boundaries where I must with others; whether it be family, friend or foe.
However, I don’t want to blanket everyone who has genuine intentions by putting them in the same category of those who have hurt me either.
I pray for myself and for all those struggling like me. May the Lord continue to touch and heal the broken places in our lives and make us whole.
Do you struggle with allowing yourself to be loved? How do you think God sees you? How do you see yourself and others?
Wall Street Journal best-selling author Jon Acuff reveals the steps to getting unstuck and back onto the path of being awesome. Over the last 100 years, the road to success for most everyone has been divided into predictable stages. But three things have changed the path to success: Boomers are realizing that a lot of the things they were promised aren’t going to materialize, and they have started second and third careers. Technology has given access to an unprecedented number of people who are building online empires and changing their lives and changing their lives that would have been impossible years ago. The days of “success first, significance later,” have ended. While none of the stages can be skipped, they can be shortened and accelerated. There are only two paths in life: average and awesome. The average path is easy because all you have to do is nothing. The awesome path is more challenging, because things like fear only bother you when you do work that matters. The good news is Start gives readers practical, actionable insights to be more awesome, more often.
I enjoy Jon Acuff’s voice. He has an impeccable sense of humor. This man makes me laugh harder than anyone. He also makes me cry. He is wise, compassionate and brilliant.
I wish I can carry a miniature Jon Acuff on my shoulder every day. He is the greatest encourager and motivator out there.
He doesn’t share what he hasn’t gone through. He is transparent with his struggles and the mistakes he’s made. He writes what has helped him go from Point A to Point B. He is generous with advice and doesn’t hold anything back.
His passion is helping others reach their dreams without destroying their lives. How can you not love this guy?
Start is the kind of book you will want to keep reading and not put down. It is full of wisdom, humor, inspiration, encouragement and motivation.
Why settle for ordinary, when you can be awesome. Jon Acuff tells you how to do it in, Start.
I loved Quitter and Start even more. I believe you will too.
Jon Acuff used to be a Serial Quitter. He had eight jobs in eight years, constantly hoping the next one would be different. From writing advertising for The Home Depot to branding for companies like Bose and Staples, he’s no stranger to the cubicle.
In 2010, Jon closed the gap between his day job and his dream job when he joined the Dave Ramsey team to become a full-time author. He has contributed to CNN.com, speaks nationally on a variety of subjects, and is the author of three books: Quitter; Gazelles, Baby Steps And 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Debt; and Stuff Christians Like.
He lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife and two daughters.
What is this constant gnawing of discontent and dissatisfaction? What is it that propels me to search and chase after other gods? Why do I continue with cheap substitutes to fill the void? Why isn’t Jesus enough?
The internal battle wages. Desperate for Jesus one minute, like Judas the next.
Why can’t I serve the One who gave His very life?
Sometimes I think I’m ever learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7)
I tremble at the thought of having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:5)
Those are scary verses and so is this blog post written by a wise, young woman, the daughter of missionary friends in Guatemala.
I have been wrestling, after a difficult discussion with a black Hebrew Israelite the other day.
I realized where I’m at and how ill-equipped I am.
I examined myself and came to the conclusion, Jesus isn’t enough.
For if He was enough, I wouldn’t have other affections competing with Him.
These subtle or obvious distractions taking me away from my first love.
Why does this happen?
Am I being deceived or believing a lie?
Why isn’t Jesus enough?
When I say I love Him, what does that mean?
I seem to read the Bible out of rote.
When I read, it’s like a science fiction movie.
The Bible seems outlandish and unreal.
I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, I don’t doubt this.
However, if I’m honest, I have trouble believing everything I read. I guess because it seems so out there.
I make myself read every day. I pray and ask the Lord to open my spiritual eyes of understanding. To make it real and personal, but it hasn’t happened yet.
So when I encountered that man the other day, I wasn’t prepared or able to do what the Jehovah Witnesses did.
It even goes deeper than this, there are times I have a crisis of faith, and don’t know what I believe anymore.
No, I won’t walk away from Jesus again, I’ve done that too many times, by exploring other religions which got me nowhere.
Sadly though, I live as if Jesus isn’t enough. For I am still trying to fill the void, with everything else but Him.
It comes down to this, I force myself to read the Bible every day, but I don’t get it, neither do I enjoy it.
Yes, on occasion, I will come across a verse that speaks to me, but there isn’t some profound revelation that changes my life.
I still have the same habits, the same fears, the same distrust, the same lack of faith; nothing’s changed. I’ve just learned to hide it or mask it better.
The Word does not become alive to me, which is why I’ve chased after other gods.
My story is a long one.
I’ve been in this struggle for years now which is probably why I’ve walked away so many times.
If I don’t love the Word, then how can I call myself a Christian?
I love Jesus, I guess to the capacity I am able.
But, you can’t manufacture something you don’t have. Just like you can’t make yourself fall in love.
Love is more than a four letter word we say. I can say I love Jesus, but at the end of the day, what does that really mean?
How is my love for Him showing up in my every day life? When something unfair or unjust happens? When someone wrongs me? How I treat others?
The reason why I find the bible dull is due to my own lack of understanding resulting from a hard heart.
The Bible says God shall not be mocked. (Galatians 6:7)
He will not unravel, unlock or unleash His mysteries to just anyone.
Do you struggle reading and understanding the Bible? Do you enjoy reading the Bible? What did you do to begin to enjoy it? How has reading the Bible changed your life?
It all began while at this billboard.
Of the HBO award-winning series called “Boardwalk Empire”.
What struck me was the photo of these gangsters. I’ve always been fascinated with the Italian mob.
While observing the billboard, there was a tall, well-dressed African American man to my left.
He says, “Those were the original gangsters and now there’s the Crips and Bloods.”
I say, gang violence makes me sad and mention how a friend in Chicago witnesses the youth dying from gang violence every day.
“That’s because my people don’t know who they are.”
I stop (big mistake), turn around and asked him what he meant by that.
He tells me his people, the American blacks (not the African Americans) and Latinos, are the real Jews and not Jewish people.
Somehow I made the second mistake by mentioning that my husband is half black.
There’s no half black! He’s either black or he isn’t. Is his father white or black?
I tell him, black.
He’s black then. Period. End of story.
I proceed to bury myself even further by asking him a question.
I asked him what his thoughts were on inter racial marriage.
He responds, there is no hope for me. But there is hope for my husband if he repents by divorcing me.
Is this guy for real?
He says, I’m white and there is no hope for rednecks. White people are from the lineage of Esau. All white people are of the devil.
At this point, my head is spinning.
He continues with his rant about New York City being like ancient Egypt. The buildings like Rome. And all white people will become slaves or destroyed by fire.
He criticizes black women passing by, saying they dress like whores, and they learned it from white women.
He then spots a group of Jehovah Witnesses’ and shouts for them to come over.
They see me, I’m sure with a forlorn expression and asked if I was ok.
I told them that according to him, I have no hope of salvation because I’m white and if my husband, who is black, doesn’t divorce me, he and my children will be destroyed for eternity.
He quickly bends down, unzips his black duffel bag and takes out his marked-up Apocrypha and King James Bible.
The four Jehovah Witnesses’ were black, so he was on a mission to open their eyes to his truth.
But what I was able to see in their exchange was that he was getting bible verses wrong.
I didn’t have a bible with me (I know, shame on me), but when the Jehovah Witnesses showed up, they were going through their bibles as he was quoting scripture and calling him out on his mistakes.
They all were smart, kind, educated and respectful.
I’ve always been impressed with the Jehovah Witnesses’.
I don’t concur with their theology, but I do respect their dedication.
I personally know of a few and their work ethic is impeccable. They are more dedicated than most evangelicals I know, myself included. They put us to shame actually.
I digress, what an experience.
I actually felt bad for the guy. I mentioned to him that most of my friends are black, so he called me a nigger lover.
At that point, I realized there was no reasoning with him. He was completely convinced white people are the enemy and can’t be trusted.
I walked away feeling helpless and sad. What a disappointing experience.
Have you ever encountered something like this?
Nothing can really compare to the excitement and happiness one feels when they first find out that they’re pregnant with their first child. I must have been the happiest mother-to-be when I was blessed with the news that I was going to have my first son, Nathan, but nothing could have prepared me for the journey ahead. I was devastated when my doctor told me that my son was not developing properly; he had a condition known as holoprosencephaly, in which his forebrain was not dividing to form bilateral cerebral hemispheres.
Because most children with this condition do not usually survive birth, you can imagine how devastated I was; however, despite what the doctors and specialists told me, Nathan did survive, and he is now seven years old and he must be one of the happiest children in the world.
While I’m incredibly grateful—more words can describe—that Nathan is still with me today, his path has been quite rocky, having undergone numerous surgeries and medical treatments to keep him as healthy as possible. During one of his most recent surgeries, he was given the wrong medication and because of it, we almost lost him.
Turning to Prayer
As you can imagine, it was an incredibly difficult experience to see Nathan in a catatonic state, not responding to me at all. What made it even worse was that it seemed the doctors and nurses surrounding Nathan weren’t paying any attention to him at all either, since nothing they had done so far had helped.
Not knowing what to do for my son while sitting in a hospital room, I turned to prayer and asked everyone in my online community to pray for Nathan’s recovery. While most do not rely on Facebook as the optimal prayer forum, I felt completely powerless and didn’t know how I could help Nathan in any other way; I reached out to friends, family and even strangers for support.
What was really surprising was that in just a matter of minutes after posting my prayer, the doctors and nurses who had previously been doing what seemed like nothing, were back to work, and at what seemed like a feverish pace. All of a sudden, all of the people that should have been working to find a solution for Nathan were doing exactly that.
Right after I posted my wish for people to pray for Nathan, doctors started running blood tests and actively tried to figure out a solution to how to get Nathan back to health. At first, I didn’t necessarily relate it to the Facebook post I made just moments before.
However, when I think back on it now, I see that the power of prayer – simply asking people to pray for my son – made a huge difference in his recovery. Within what seemed like minutes, Nathan was awake and responding to stimulus in a way that surprised even the doctors and nurses (who I’m sure have been in similar situations before).
How my son was given the wrong medication at a major hospital isn’t necessarily the important part of my story here – it’s how quickly Nathan recovered just moments after I simply asked for others to pray for my son’s well-being.
For many people, the power of prayer can be difficult to understand– even many of us who do pray on a regular basis. Most of the time, our prayers aren’t answered in such an immediate way.
While I do believe the doctors did everything they could to help Nathan, I think it was the prayers that ultimately motivated them to work – that made them become a force to help Nathan.
I know Nathan is a lucky child, and I know he’s relatively strong, but I really believe prayer is what saved him in this case. For me, this incident really was proof of the power of prayer.
Have you ever experienced a miracle such as this as a result of the power of prayer? Please share with me your experiences and continue to follow my journey by following www.PrayForNathan.org.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer and proud mother. Her journey with her son has taught her life lessons that she would never trade for anything else in the world, and through the power of prayer, he continues to thrive and love life.
I swore up and down, I would blog more often when I committed to Jon Acuff’s Start Experiment. I took on the challenge and then lost my groove.
Ugh! I hate when that happens, don’t you? You tell yourself you are going to do this or that, and then your enthusiasm dwindles down to nothing.
I can tell you what happened to me.
It’s called the perils of self-editing by thinking too much of you.
Yes, let me explain.
I would start by writing a blog post and then tell myself, oh no, my audience isn’t going to like this at all. Scratch that.
The next day, the same thing happens.
I convinced myself that the content wasn’t any good. What kind of person would I be if I allowed you to read something painstakingly awful?
I’m sorry, I couldn’t do that to you.
So… one day turned into two days, a week into two weeks and you get the picture.
No writing. No nada. Zilch.
Today I’m writing because like Stella, I want to get my groove back. Except in this case, it’s my writing groove.
So if this is awful, I’m sorry, but like Jeff Goins says, I have to practice [and fail] in front of an audience.
This concept reminds me of when I was in professional acting school.
We had to practice and rehearse our scenes in front of a live audience.
It was torture.
Every day we would get up in front of everyone and practice whatever assignment was given by the instructor.
I remember one acting teacher in particular who would stare at me with her big, laser beam eyes. As if her eyes were piercing into my soul. I felt exposed and naked. It made me nervous.
She scared me. But as painful as the process was, I learned the most from this teacher.
I learned that by risking and getting critiqued, I was growing in my craft. I despised the process, but my art wound up better for it.
The same applies to writing. We have to take the risk and put ourselves out there. This is the only way we’ll learn and grow as writers. There is no other way.
Have you lost your groove? If so, what do you do to get your groove back?
In this emotionally charged and inspiring novel about a love triangle, secrets between best friends threaten to blow up friendships and a marriage and change lives forever.
When Miriam’s fireman husband, Chauncey, dies while rescuing students from a school fire, Miriam feels like her life is over. How is she going to raise her three children all by herself? How will she survive without the love of her life? Luckily, Miriam’s sister-friend Emily and Emily’s husband, Jamal, are there to comfort her. Jamal and Chauncey grew up together and were best friends; Jamal and Emily know they will do all they can to support Miriam through her grief.
Jamal steps in and helps Miriam with the funeral arrangements and with her children, plus he gives her hope that she has a future. But all the time that they spend together—grieving, sharing, and reminiscing—brings the two closer in ways they never planned. . . .
There is one word to describe Never Say Never, scandalous.
Victoria Christopher Murray does it again by this cleverly written novel.
Never Say Never is heart wrenching on many levels. I had trouble reading this book because it was so realistic and emotionally challenging.
Victoria Christopher Murray is a masterful writer and storyteller, she lures you in at page one.
I do not want to get into the specifics of Never Say Never, because I do not want to spoil it for you.
But if you want to go on the ride of your life, I highly recommend reading Never Say Never. You won’t be able to put this book down.
Personal Disclaimer: For mature audiences only.
Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of ten Essence bestselling novels, including Too Little, Too Late and Lady Jasmine. Her most recent novel, Destiny’s Divas, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Fiction). Winner of the African American Literary Award for Fiction and Author of the Year, she splits her name between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.