MAKE A CLEAN PRISON BREAK

Linking up with the Five-Minute Friday community of bloggers, the prompt this week is BREAK. Learn more about it here.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.~ Galatians 5:1

My husband and I were fans of the TV series, Prison Break. I loved the ensemble cast and he loved the concept. But when the BREAK was finally realized, the show ended. That is the way we need to look at life and the ‘prisons’ we find ourselves incarcerated by. Many of them are not physical, but mental and emotional. Once someone is released from prison, if they have also been released in their mind (thinking) and emotions (human makeup) they vow to NEVER return, they BREAK free forever.

There are recurrent ministry events and themes that continue to speak to the same place of imprisonment in our lives. When will we finally ever make THE BREAK? When will we finally ‘be not entangled again’?

I have written about it before, https://simplyphenomenal.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/demolish-the-chains-god-has-declared-new-beginnings/.

I believe it is important and so much more sustainable to give, teach and minister to people the tools they need to raise their consciousness to live free, healthy and whole; to make a clean BREAK from whatever their vices or encumbrances.  Obviously, it is not always realistic to immediately overcome circumstances of life but when we have transformed thinking, we are more apt to seek ways to improve and better our lives. We take those tools and use them for productivity and growth instead of wallowing in grooves of stagnant atrophy.
I encourage you reading this writing today to let God empower you to make a clean BREAK. BREAK free – first, from your own captivity (the root of most of our emotional incarceration) and BREAK free from the repression of others, past experiences (that are dead but we keep resurrecting), un-forgiveness and the inflamed guilt we put on people who have wronged us. There are endless chambers of confinement that exist but the God of eternal freedom, He Himself is the key to every clean Prison BREAK.

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately ALL the doors were opened, and EVERYONE’s bands were loosed.” ~ Acts 16:25-26

The Real of Brokenness

Linking up with the Five-Minute Friday community of bloggers, the prompt this week is REAL. Learn more about it here.

My sister-friend, Paulette Foster, preached a theologian’s (scholarly) sermon about the woman with the issue of blood. It was eons ago now, she called the woman Veronica. [Traditionally, Veronica came to believe in Christ when He healed her of an ailment that had afflicted her for twelve years: And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and. touched the hem of his garment: (orthodoxwiki.org/Veronica)]  It was the first time I had heard the woman called by name as it is not given in the scriptures.

fs002-broken-vessel-x-400-232x300

 

What I want to extract from the woman’s story though is her brokenness. Inspired by our Pastor’s message yesterday, “The Blessedness of Brokenness” (Psalm 51:8), what I know to be REAL about brokenness is it brings you to your knees, recumbent and debilitated before our Savior, Healer, God.

Many of us find ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, like the woman with the issue of blood, broken by society, stereotypes, people and their judgments, systemic resistance, broken to a state of nothingness. Pastor also referred to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9), how that we are sometimes broken by someone who was suppose to care for us, not of intention, but by an unfortunate casualty. Whatever the circumstances, there are times of brokenness in our lives.

Like the woman with the issue of blood, it was in a state of brokenness that she became most desperate for God. It was in a state of brokenness that in her despair she ignored all the crushing constructs that were very REAL in her life.

She found her way to Jesus, crawling and clambering through the thronging crowd in the dirt and dung to touch The REAL Healer. Weakened in her body, but determined in her spirit, she pressed through her pride, her fear, rejection and prejudices. She pressed through every ‘no’ she had ever been told to reach her Creator. She touched Jesus with all of her brokenness and He touched her with His healing virtue.

“Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” ~ Psalm 51:8

You may also like, https://simplyphenomenal.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/broken-to-be-made-whole/

The No-Plan Plan

Linking up with the Five-Minute Friday community of bloggers, the prompt this week is PLAN. Learn more about it here.

Initially, I was just fed up. I was depressed to go shopping. I was moving into a larger size in every item of clothing, I was uncomfortable in the bath tub. I didn’t like the way I looked or felt. I was fed up.

I didn’t have a plan.
I took an initial step with The 21-day Daniel Fast. I saw results after that initial 21 days that I had never seen before in my experience of trying to lose weight. I made a decision to continue eating according to the Daniel Cure adding seafood. That was over a year ago.
What I’ve learned is a plan is essential in effective executing many things we do. However, a progressive strategic plan that evolves over time can produce results as well.  For me that is what my journey has been, a progressive development of strategies to achieve my goals.
Goal-setting drives the mission, the objective you set for yourself or whatever you desire to achieve. In the beginning it was about changing my diet, that yielded some progress. With teaching I learned that was not enough, I needed to exercise. I had to make a decision to get off the sofa and move. I started with workouts I enjoyed which fueled my motivation. A few months in I hit a plateau and was advised I needed to amp up my workout routine, shock my body, do something different, challenge and stretch myself.
10273709_10152038493795264_5957751443113156624_n 20150313_142231 10408123_10152664281420264_6239539992593841888_n 1601139_10152673990175264_9027699629343304525_n
Not having a plan progressed into a strategic plan that has been an adventure, one that continues to challenge me in new ways to achieve my goals.
Moreover, the ultimate plan (intention; objective) is yet to be accomplished.

Break A Leg

 I did it, I auditioned for The Wiz!

Performing in a stage play is on my bucket list. A dramatic work would be my preference, but I thought this is an opportunity I should take.

I only learned about the auditions a couple days before they were scheduled. I read all the information provided in the FB event post and began my preparations. I asked questions of my family who performed in previous shows at Karamu. I created a theater resume, such as it was. Printed my headshot. I learned an audition song, “Almost There” from The Princess and The Frog, and with my husband’s encouragement, I set out on this little venture.

The last time I was in a play was at church before my children were born, forever ago. I played Queen Dee (Glenda) in my husband’s musical, “The Wonderful World of Calvary” (Christian adaptation of The Wizard of Oz). And more forever ago than that I was in Drama Club at JFK under one of my favorite teachers, Leon Fisher. I played the role of Baby June in “Gypsy” and one of the children in “Cheaper By The Dozen”.

After checking the cast list for The Wiz, I thought, I can play Auntie Em or Addaperle (the witch of the North).

Wiz

I had no idea what to expect. When I arrived at Karamu, the audition process was easy enough, it was the waiting. Waiting to go in ( I had visions of American Idol in my head), it actually was quite similar. I sang my song without accompaniment and I felt good about it. The Director asked me to wait to read for Auntie Em. Shortly later one of his assistants came out to give me a script to practice with a young lady auditioning for Dorothy. We were called in, we read together, and again I felt good about it. We were both invited to come back and I was asked to learn Auntie Em’s song. I went back the next evening. I was asked to read with another young lady and to sing the song. Right away I didn’t feel good about it. Call backs would be in a few days by invitation only. I was not invited back, it was the end of the road.

So it is another, “I did it” experience. Better to have tried and not succeeded than to not have tried at all, right?

The best and most important thing is I did it. I took the first step without seeing the entire staircase. I did something out of my comfort zone. I did something a little scary for me. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

I won’t forget it too soon, but I have to internalize it in a positive way.

Break a leg.

When The Family Gathers

Next to my God and Faith, Family is most important in my life.

Over the past months our family has endeavored to gather together after Worship on Sundays to spend time together breaking bread, enjoying conversation, loving our grandchildren, watching a movie. It was my husband and my son who mentioned that we were missing a valuable opportunity each week to gather (not that exact term) instead of just coming to church and leaving everyone going their own way. I’m so glad for the time we have together; sometimes we go out or we gather in one of our homes.
11014932_10152670704130264_5786699485318580537_n
10919028_10152670704370264_7894218956275132206_n
I really noticed this evening, while watching our grandchildren play together. How blessed the time we have when the family gathers for developing memories for them and with them, and how the time enriches our lives by the joy that they give.
Linking up for Five Minute Friday, the prompt this week is ‘Gather’.

The Lost Social Virtue of the Visit

Linking up with Kate Motaung and a community of bloggers for Five Minute Friday. The prompt is “Visit”. Write freely for just five minutes, no overthinking or editing. I usually write longer than five minutes and ALWAYS edit (can’t help it).
GO
We used to be a lot more social, even on social media.
I often think how people don’t really ‘visit’ much any more. I reflect on when my husband and I were a young married couple we would host the young people of our church or married couples in our home weekly, we loved to entertain, we loved each other’s company. We would play games, talk, our children would play together, we would learn and teach, just visit.
Even family visits were more frequent which now, at least for many are mostly just on holidays.
It seems the more we are connected through technology and social media, the less we are present in one another’s lives.
I wonder when, if ever, we will regain some of the social virtues we used to enjoy. They were so important to building relationships and nurturing family.
STOP (Just noticed I didn’t start the timer.)

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, ~ Acts 2:46

Her Children Rise Up And Call Her Blessed

Of this Proverbs 31 verse (:28), I have always thought of children verbally honoring their mother when they grow up. That they would speak of her influence in their lives and perhaps the lives of others.

Yesterday, I had a moment that immediately engendered this verse in my mind and heart. I realized I have these ‘call her blessed’ moments quite often. They are not always verbal, nor necessarily intentional. They happen when I see values we have instilled in our children play out in their lives. Our children make us proud every day and if you could see the magnitude of my pride as it really is in my chest it would appear as a deformity because my chest is inflated with Godly pride of not just what they do but who they are. They are not perfect (no one is) but they are my perfect heritage, my anchors, my God-gifts whom I cherish and yes, I celebrate them.

Our firstborn Son has a work ethic that is unrivaled in my opinion. His grandfather modeled it and his father modeled it.

Our second Son has an ecclesiastical mantle on his life. His passion for and faith in God awes me and frames his entire life. Also generational.

Our only Daughter, has such intellect and resourcefulness. I love that she is so grounded, embodies strength of character and sensibility. Yes, generational.

These are just a few of their qualities that I admire. They are our rewards.

In addition to who they are as individuals, they have blessed our lives with additional daughters and a son and grandchildren of whom our lives are enriched with immeasurable JOY.

I promise, when you invest into the lives of your children, not just things, but values, they rise up and call you blessed. The spiritual, educational and social experiences that you mandate for their lives as well as every single sacrifice will be worth it. The blessing is when you see what you have instilled in them demonstrated, even when it is not spoken or directly exclaimed, the fruit is the sweetest reward. Now as parents of their own children, I see them modeling values, expectations and lessons that we set for them. At first glance it can be comical but then it is a ‘Yes!’ moment. We did good.

So for parents whether you’re with a covenant partner or it is you and God, the sacrifices, commitments and investments you make in and for your children will yield a rich return. You really do reap what you sow. First and foremost, be the example they ‘see’ and ‘hear’. We are all the sum of our influences, make your influences on your child(ren) Godly, positive, of integrity, of excellence, of learning, of love, of character. They will rise up and call you blessed, they will rise up and be your examples, they will rise up and bless your life.

Since I’m coming to tears, I will stop here.

CELEBRATING Terry Dale Lipford II, Brandon Keith Lipford and Camille Joy Lipford … our heritage from the Lord.

“Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.”

Don’t Miss The Beauty

I’m linking up with the Five-Minute Friday community. Simply use the prompt and write freely for the five minutes. You can learn more here. This week’s word prompt for Five-Minute Friday is OPEN.

This week I experienced an impactful film, The Book of Negroes. It is a miniseries based on a novel written by Canadian author, Lawrence Hill. The film turned out to be so much more than I anticipated. I was interested because it is Black History Month and it was something new. The story is about the life journey of a woman who was taken from her African homeland as a young girl and the five decades of her life after being brought over the ‘big river’ to America. It is about how she endured and triumphed over the unimaginable despair of slavery and the ultimate love story of she and her husband.

These stories and films are difficult to view for many because of the grief of the historical reality depicted in them. Sometimes our world view and quick assumptions cause us to tune out or turn away from some things prematurely and we miss the beauty. I know because I’m guilty of measuring reality television that way, although I have found that I am usually correct in my perception at least as it relates to my personal value system.

safe_image

The story of Aminata Diallo was one of beauty that I am so glad I was open to experience. The award-worthy performances of Aunjanue Ellis and Lyriq Bent as well as young Shailyn Pierre-Dixon has been seared into my mind. I love how the writer created this beautiful, strong, smart, determined, courageous, tenacious woman who ‘had trouble dying’, who was ‘not killable’, who was ‘no man’s property’. She did not give in to death in any form though it loomed and pursued her throughout her entire life. Even the love of Aminata and Chekura Tiano (who as a young boy was one of her captors) endured the unthinkable until they returned to their homeland as free people. Watching it was like a roller coaster ride, so many emotional highs and lows, but had I not been open to another film or story about slavery I would have missed the beauty.
It is true in life each day, media bombards us with images of tragedy on a global scale. If we are not open to see and experience God’s beauty, our lives can be filled with misery. We must not let the tragedies confine our thinking or consume us, we must be open to the beauty.
Don’t miss the beauty.  five-minute-friday-4-300x300

A Matter of the Heart

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I think it is interesting how we construct defenses.
We say, “What others think don’t matter; only what God thinks matters.” Yada, yada.
Truth is it does matter what people think. We all want to be well thought of, approved of others. It matters what the employer or supervisor thinks, what the professor thinks, what that person we admire or crush on thinks, what our spouse and children think, what the person who shows indifference, disrespect, insensitivity towards us thinks. If it didn’t matter, we would not need to respond to it, have it dictate our behavior or introspection.
It is toward people who we claim do not matter (but they do), that we throw out such disclaimer. Persons who exclude us, don’t consider us, disregard or ignore us. The ‘haters’, persons who do not support or celebrate us, do not condone our behavior, or laud our every endeavor. It is of those people that we say, it doesn’t matter, I don’t care. But the attention and response to the opinion of those persons is a clear indicator that we do indeed care.
I guess this interests me because I relate to it so well. I notice sarcastic graphics and posts surface in the FB TL quite often raising the walls of defense. When I see them, I think – the time and attention given to the things and people who do not matter is really amusing. The constant lashing out or buffering from things that do not matter … Why? Because they do.  The responses are erected like cement but really have a soft clay base needing the Refiner’s fire.
What we really need to pay attention to is why, why a response. The question to ask, ‘What is it in me, my inward sensibility that makes me respond and defend against the offenses of people and things that ‘do not matter’?’ Until we answer that question, we will continue to falsely accuse others of what is lacking within ourselves.
Reality check.
Growth and maturity becomes more evident within ourselves when we accept responsibility for who we are, where we need to grow, where we need to change and then do the necessary work to become that person. A person who is not always on defense, but one of a self-awareness that is nurturing and healthy, one who gives light, life and love from a transformed heart, mind and essence that is renewed daily by the love of God.
When we go to God with the broken pieces of ourselves, He really does put them back together. We must give Him ALL the pieces, confess our heart and He promises, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” ~ Ezekiel 36:26

He Took My Heart By Surprise

The Five-minute Friday word prompt is WHEN
The moments that take your breath away.
It was the first evening of a regular week or so I thought.
Then it began, a Valentine’s Week when he would take my heart by surprise.
It started with a Valentine’s e-card. Then I arrived home to find a gift on my pillow that promised little expressions of love every day of the week.
It was this evening, the moment when I took it all in and thought what a week it has been and there is one more day to go.
I have been overwhelmed with and by his love in a special and memorable way.
He said, no one would out-romance him.
roses_and_red_hearts_zastavki_com_1
He took my heart by surprise over and over again. All the little gestures, gifts and expressions of love, text messages and an e-card every day.
The moment when I just settled into it all and said, Thank You, Lord, for blessing my life with someone who knows and loves everything there is of me.
The moments this week and for the past 36 years when he has and continues to take my heart by surprise.
I’m linking up with the Five-minute Friday community. Simply use the prompt and write freely for the next five (or so) minutes. You can learn more here.
five-minute-friday-4-300x300
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 940 other followers