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.

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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.
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A Matter of the Heart

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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.
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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.
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The Faith Challenge

I remember so well a powerful teaching many years ago about the Shunammite Woman (2 Kings 4 and 8). Through a most devastating time in her life, her great faith in who she knew God to be made her exclaim, “It shall be well.”

The ticking seconds, the endless hours, the run-on days and weeks when you’re elasticized only by the strength of your faith.

When no answer comes, no door opens … days pass and there is still no way. These are the times when everything we say we believe really matters.

Life comes at you fast and hard sometimes. Some situations you’re prepared for, many you just are not.

But somehow, you manage to get through. The peace of God which surpasses our comprehension smooths the way. The ‘now faith’ becomes the real evidence of what we cannot see. When the game is on the line and you have no choice but to keep playing. Even when you’re losing, you don’t give up, you have to play it out. There is no perceptible evidence of the outcome, but there is past evidence. Evidence of when God brought you through before, when He made a way, when the miracle happened. So it is our faith that sustains us, knowing that our God is unfailing and His faithfulness prevails. No-thing is impossible with God.

When you are empty of answers, God has the answer, He is the answer.

We must not be confounded by our circumstances, but live above them expecting everything to work for our good because God has promised it to them that love Him.

So the challenge is to let faith work, reassuring God’s faithfulness, stirring up praise and worship that connects your heart to His heart, and operating in the promises of His Word, looking to Him who is the creator and sustainer of our faith. He is in control of our lives, watching over us, caring for us, performing His will and purpose in us and for us. He will not fail.

Lord, I trust You, I will depend on You.

You are the author and finisher of my faith.

I am secure in You.

 

KEEP On Keeping On

KEEP is the Five Minute Friday prompt by Kate Moutaung today … each Friday a community of bloggers write for five minutes on a one word prompt, no over-thinking, no editing, no proofreading, just write, then link up here, http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/

KEEP On Keeping On

My fitness journey seems to be one without a destination. Sometimes it feels like a running wheel, going and going and going. Every goal starts and ends with another one.

There are days when I want to just chill, pull back, get some balance, concentrate on something else. It is consuming, often overload. The nutrition, the workouts, the progress check, the set backs and stumbles, the plateaus, the ‘you’re not there yet’. Then, trying to motivate others, be an example, staying true to yourself and your commitment. There are days! But I have to keep on keeping on.

Determination doesn’t always roar, it is not always a crashing wave. Sometimes determination is a little ripple wave, just enough to KEEP you upright. A cool pooling around my ankles to remind me of how far I have come, what I have achieved, that I can do it, I just have to keep on keeping on.

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So for myself and you, “Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears (doubts, whatever). Never let anyone bring you down. You got to keep going.” ~ Chantal Sutherland

 

There Is No Magic In The Vision Board

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This past weekend I created a vision board. One of the goals I put on the board relates to my blog. I started my blog in July 2011 (encouraged by my godniece, Katrice L. Mines of http://www.myvicariouslyfe.com) and did not write another post until March 2012. Since that time I have written over 100 posts, this is post No. 112. My goal is to write more consistently so that my blog is really effectual in inspiring, motivating and sharing sage wisdom and also for my personal development.

I am already beginning to believe there is something to this ‘law of attraction’ (like attracts like) vision board trend. In preparing to host a creativity event for the married couples ministry my husband and I facilitate at our church (Shout out to the Covenant Partners Married (& Engaged Couples Ministry of Zion Pentecostal Church of Christ, Cleveland OH, Bishop C. Wayne Brantley, Pastor) and to create my individual board at the women’s fellowship I attended this past weekend, I have learned some basic points and tips on how and why creating a vision board is a good idea. Not only writing your goals, but creating a visual display of them gives life to them, takes them out of your head and your heart and illuminates them to your mind’s eye which pulls you and motivates you to achieve them. “There is no magic in the board”, said Dr. Sabrina Ellis in her introduction of the activity, but it is the energy and the action plan that we put into achieving the goals and desires we display on the board. Somehow in displaying the images and words of the goals in your heart and consistently looking at them, makes you accountable to the “fruitful performance” of achieving them.

My blog, is just one of several goals I placed on my board. I also inlcuded images relating to my career, my finances, my fitness, travel, and a quote, “… SHINE without permission.” When I decided to change my Facebook cover photo, I thought I will choose a photo for Black History Month; about Love; another fitness photo; but my blog logo suddenly made the most sense. Shine. (Thanks for your impactful ministry, professional and personal development workshops Karla M. Randall) Then, today, in a conversation with my fitness trainer (angelfittrainer, reroutingyourself.blogspot.com), she asked me “What about your blog?” What?!, I thought. You read my blog?, I thought. I mumbled something about needing inspiration to write, yada yada. She replied, what? Just take all the inspiration you put out on Facebook and write it on your blog. A light came on. So, post No. 112.

“The first key to writing is to write, not to think!” “You must write your first draft with your heart.” ~ from the movie, “Finding Forrester

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Note to self, stop overthinking and write. “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” (William Wordsworth)

“Simply Phenomenal” a space for self-expression, to Inspire and motivate others to be their best selves. It has taken me a long time to embrace my ‘better self’ because I’m not my best self yet. It is a process of learning, growing and performing that I must pursue everyday. But the will to do it, the letting go of who we are to become what we can be, that is the key! To no longer wallow in the murk of our usual, comfortable, sometimes self-loathing, confidence-lacking self, just the murkiness of who we don’t want to be, to be who and what we want to be. To not blame others for who or what we are not, to actively engage in what we must do to be who and what we desire. That is how we become our best selves.

To purposely determine the goals, the action plan, the strategy, the implementation and to perform it, that is how we achieve success. The goals, dreams, and desires I have illustrated on my individual vision board and the one my husband and I created for our marriage is giving me/us a lot to work toward.

This is a good start, stay tuned. I’m anticipating my ‘kairos’ moment.

Demolish The Chains – God Has Declared New Beginnings

Too often we sit bound in restraints that are only slipknots, from which we have the capability to free ourselves.

“The Devil Wears Prada” is one of my favorite movies. I love one of the last scenes of the movie, when characters, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) and Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) are having their last conversation while being chauffeured from the airport in the Mercedes Benz … Miranda made an assumption about Andy that at that moment Andy decided did not and would not define her and she simply walked away. No parting words were spoken, there was no reply, no apology, no notice given, she simply walked away. With every liberating step she took, tossing her incessantly ringing cell phone into the bubbling fountain, she never looked back … she broke the chains.

I was inspired to write this blog sometime ago (June 2013 to be exact), but it has taken some time to publish it from the proper perspective. It had to come from a healthy place in me so that it would heal and edify, not convict or cast down.

I love it when I can share out of a genuine experience, it is so much more authentic and carries so much more value, than sharing something you have heard, read, or witnessed of another. For so long I was bound by my own insecurities that I blamed on others, literally for years. It was the powerful ministry of God’s Word that opened my eyes, my heart, my ears, my understanding to realize it was me who held the tools to cut and severe the bondage … to demolish the chains.

It was in 2006 that I saw that movie in the theatre, I was in a place emotionally where I was all bottled up, bound up, caged up, shut down, praying to God for the cloud to lift, the dam to break, and it did – a little.

Our emotions can work for us or against us. As women, we are these beautiful, complex beings … every part of our makeup rocks and reels our existence. Our emotions get the best of us in inconspicuous ways. We become bound by our emotions. The spectrum is an ever-spiraling vacuum, sensitivity, pride, self-preservation. Then we act out, throwing tantrums and pouting. It shows in our disposition, interactions, and behaviors.

Today’s Deborahs, Esthers, Ruths, Marys and Marthas, women of purpose, gifting and promise (that’s you and I!), who are capable of fulfilling God’s call, are confounded by emotional yokes, shackles and chains. We become slaves to our emotions. We are infirmed by insecurities, dysfunction, fear, false commitment, indifference, position power, entitlement, intimidation and manipulation, damaged relationships … Then spiritual decay sets in, atrophy, carnality, and even apostasy, unless we take ownership of it, surrender and release it all to God.

It was also in 2006 that I sat under the teaching of my mentor that lead to further breaking of the chains. In her no-nonsense manner she exclaimed, “Stop throwing temper tantrums.” Yes, to an audience of adult, sanctified and holy, learned, some leaders, some ministers, women in a church seminar, that was her declarative instruction. She continued, “learn to manage your emotions, eliminate friendly fire, own your own stuff, confront your own fears, exercise maturity, don’t submit to temper tantrums.”

The process begins with being responsible for ourselves. First, demolish pride, own our insecurities and perecptions, and confess them to God. Confession TO GOD is so cleansing. Not when we confess about another person, but about ourselves, me! God it is ME! Then we are broken, not so much in pieces, but to a weakened, vulnerable state where it is the strength of God and not our pride that holds us up. In that place of vulnerability to God, we can surrender and release our helpless selves to Him, then we can be forever healed to experience and enjoy new beginnings.

Fighting for Greater

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A year ago today, I started a fitness/wellness journey which has transformed my life in so many ways. I have blogged about it throughout the year so I don’t feel inspired to write a year-in-review post.

My perspective for this writing is, ‘what now?’

One (among many) of the lessons I have learned is the importance of evolving, growing, and stretching.  So that is my focus on this anniversary date.

I set a lofty weight loss goal of 100 lbs, not understanding what would be required to actually make that happen. I am proud and grateful to God that my weight loss to date is 55.5 lbs and that I now have the understanding to set new goals and strive for what is best for me.

I reflected not long ago about how I actually succeeded this year and the many multidimensional components that were important to the process. Tenacity has to be the most aggressive driving force that has fueled me to this day.  Just staying committed to the grind and enjoying the journey although it was not easy by any means.

Primarily, making a commitment to MYSELF and not willing to break that commitment; Setting a goal(s) and keeping my focus on it; Surrounding myself and connecting with fitness trainers who have invested their expertise, time and support to me, to teach and guide me; Taking off the cloak of intimidation and going for my own goal no matter what I looked like doing it … all of this has been the wind beneath my wings.

God gave me a hero in my husband, Terry D. Lipford, who has been my ultimate support. He is my everything, my God-gift and without him, I don’t work very well. He has sacrificed for me to have and do what I needed to do to reach my goals and he has been and continues to be my champion.

Finally, not to be long here, I want to say Thank You to the Lord of my life. So long I prayed but I know it is not enough to pray about something, you must also take action. Even in taking action though, I could not do what I have done under my own strength.  It was God who gave me the strength of mind, the strength of purpose, the strength of this physical body, even with a torn meniscus and aggressive osteoarthritis in my left knee … it is not by my might, nor by my strength, but by the Spirit of God that undergirds me because He is the foundation of my life.

On this anniversary date, in addition to continuing toward my fitness goals, I am setting a challenge for my spiritual life and the transformation that it shall birth in me … I’m in earnest anticipation.

Fighting for Greater. I will keep you posted.

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