Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Perfect Timing

God has been absolutely blowing my mind lately. He has all but split open the sky to let me know that this desire I have for writing is of Him and not just something I like to do. He wants to use me to spread His message through books, blogs, whatever medium He sees fit in order to "set the captives free." I think the final bit of confirmation came from an email I got late Sunday night from a young lady that I have never met (Hi Nicole!) but who spoke the most encouraging and confirming words to me in an email. We follow the same blog and she found the link to this blog and the rest was all God.

God gave me this idea about what to write about on August 21. I wrote a few pages of notes and some random names to remember later. Ever since that day, I have had this overwhelming, absolutely consuming desire to focus on that idea to a point where it is hard to focus on anything else. I asked my lovely friend Amber to meet up so I can share with her all that God has been revealing to me. As I explained my desire to write, the prophesy spoken over me, the confirmations here and there and just the mind consuming feelings I have been having to write about this idea, I could see her eyes light up.

We were on the same page in so many ways. God was speaking the same message to us, placed the same desires on our heart, all to be carried out in different mediums.

As I was riding home, I was thinking about how huge this calling to write really is for me. I was in awe at the idea that He had been pursuing me since I was a kid through this love for writing.

But then God spoke. This path to writing didn't just get paved when I was a kid. It was paved with purpose and intent from the day I was born.

I was born in a car, told that story a million times and laughed at it a million and one times. But tonight, 30 years later, I realize I was born at the day, hour, exact minute and location I was supposed to thanks to God's timing. I was named after my godmother Frances because she delivered me in the back of the car. Had I been born at any other time, my name would have been Tamika. Why does this matter? I learned that my names means "free." God knew that my calling in life was to "set the captives free" through my desire to write so why not ensure that my name be called "free" so that I can walk in calling from birth?

His timing is so perfect it is mind blowing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bigger Than Me

I love being apart of something that is bigger than me. Something that allows me to just play a small role in the grand scheme of things. Something to leave my mark on so I can look back and know I made a difference, even in what I think is insignificant way. I love being apart of God's master plan, apart of a ministry that is devoted to changing the direction of a generation. I love living life with people who are passionate about change.

Today God showed me that what I do, the people I meet, the people that I lead, the ministry that I serve, the random acts of kindness, the listening ear, that one extra phone call, that one "Hey, I'm just checking on you" text message, that silent prayer, it's all so much bigger than I can imagine. I've never had a day like this before that left me having to seriously lean on God and pray before I too action.

It started with an urgent cry for help at 7:00 AM on Facebook and it didn't end until well after midnight. I was operating on what seemed like strategic tactial mode the whole day. From a chance encounter with a dear old friend, to the series of cryptic updates on someone who fell off the grid, to the silent prayers and worry of someone I Shepard, to a friend going through the hardest time in her life, I was realizing that this life, this calling, this purpose is so much bigger than me. My mere existence in this natural world is all for a grander plan in the supernatural. God is so precise with our lives and the people He puts in them. We have to always be aware of the power that He gives us because you never know when you are going to have to utilize your gifts to get through a 24 hour time span.

This one day was filled with so many up and down emotions, so many tears, so many prayers, but so little focus on myself. This day was not about me at all. It was about me realizing that I have no room to be selfish because I have no idea how far my ripple effect stretches. I have been equipped with the wisdom, discernment and sheer passion for God's people to be such a vital instrument in His master plan. I just didn't know it until today. I haven't been called to just sit back and let someone else lead the way. I have been given the authority to be the one leading the way.

For a brief moment in time, I seriously questioned whether or not I was really capable of leading my generation in the Fusion Ministry. Most days I felt like I hadn't quite got my footing though people often applauded my work. That little bit of fear and uncertainty was causing me to almost consider taking the easy way out and letting someone more experienced take the wheel. But God knew better than to let me give up. How does He show me how equipped I really am? By throwing me in a world wind of events that let me relying on Him completely. In my weakness, He was strong. Where He is strong, I am strong.

This bigger plan is not about my level of knowledge or experience. It's about my level of dependency on Him to get the job done. Gideon is one of my favorites in the Bible. Weak in his own faith in himself, God used Him to do amazing things...all because He got his source of strength from God. Fusion is about to undergo so crazy, God centered, mind blowing changes and it excites me every time I think about it. He is about to open the flood gates in the city and send people in our direction in ways we can barely imagine. And He needs me there to be apart of it. He needs me there because in that crowd, there is someone I am supposed to meet. There is some one's life I am supposed to impact with a message from God.

It maybe just one life, it maybe 1,000. Who knows? Who cares? This thing is bigger than me anyway. I'm just along for the ride.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Living Letters

I truly believe that each and every believer on this planet should be a "living letter." Just like 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 says, we don't have to have recommendations from other people to show the power of Christ. All we need is our own life. Our life should be a reflection of God's grace and Christ power. People should be able to look at our life and know the goodness of God. We should never stop boosting about what amazing things He is done in our lives. We should be a walking testimony.

I often post on Facebook some random revelation I've had or just a comment about how God moved in my life. I do it because I am not ashamed to give God His due praise. If you have been as low in the trenches of darkness as I have, you try not to miss a chance to tell people the Good News. From my posts, my notes, my blog, my love for my church, my love for the lost, my love trafficking victims, my random pictures from outreaches and mission work, my life reflects the glorious wonder of God.

And people see it. They see the love of God in me, through words and actions.

I realize that I absolutely love counseling women. I love helping women get to a place where they are in love with themselves and know that they are loved by their Savior. A place where they realize they are not their past, that their identity isn't rooted in looks, money, or status, and that they are absolutely, without a doubt worthy to be praised, honored and respected. Every woman needs that sense of security that starts from within.

I had the pleasure of offering some advice to some pretty awesome women I know from back home who I only connect with through Facebook. I'm always surprised when I get advice questions from people I don't really interact with that often. But it's not me they are drawn to. It's the freedom I have in Christ that draws them in. It's the fact that I allow my life to reflect how wonderful and amazing God is. People need something to believe in, something that is bigger than them and their everyday. People need to believe that no matter how bad life gets, there is something better on the horizon. They need to believe that God really is who He says He is.

How will we get them to believe? By letting our lives be the example.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Becoming Someone Worth Finding

Some of the best advice that I have gotten about relationships, courting and marriage has been pretty simple: become someone worth finding. Everyone wants to find that one special person to spend the rest of their life with. We spend so much time analyzing that person and going through their nuiances with a fine tooth comb that we often neglect the most important critical analysis in the whole equation...ourselves. After putting this person through the ringer and our own checklist of must have qualities, do we stop and ask ourselves if we measure up to their expectations? Are we even someone that they would want to spend the rest of their life with?

Every relationship starts with a healthy you. It's our job to deal with our own hangups, hurts, and issues before entertaining the idea of becoming someone's significant other. It's never the job of a man to heal a woman's broken heart and insecurities. Those are repairs that only God can do with perfection. When I decided to follow Christ wholeheartedly, I knew that I had to leave guys behind for a while because I had about 28 years worth of wounds and scars that needed time to heal. I would be doing a guy a complete injustice if I were to enter any relationship knowing I could never give him my whole heart because parts of it still belongs with so many other people from my past. I knew I was not someone worth finding at that point.

I can officially say that I am at a point where I know who I am in Christ. I am firm in what I believe and what I will never compromise on. I love me enough to know that I refuse to settle for anything less that God's absolute best for me. If that means, I am single longer than most, it's not the end of the world. I have a passion for God's Kingdom and the lost who are far from Him. I have a heart for the body of Christ and I serve faithfully. I will be the first to admit that I have some insecurities but I will never allow the enemy to exploit my weak areas because my faith in God and my identity rooted in my Savior will always triumph.

Talking with a friend about a guy she likes made me even more aware of just how far I have come. After asking her those tough questions (Where are you in your relationship with Christ? Are you persuing your passions? What is God's purpose for your life? Have you dealt with your own insecurities and past hurts?) and seeing that she is still struggling with finding her own way, it made it even more clear about how important it is love yourself and to know the love of God. I knew her main purpose for our talk was about how to deal with the "notice" phase of a relationship, but I could not in good conscience let that be the focus and neglect where own personal and spiritual well-being. Too many relationships start when we are not even at our best selves. People spend so much time and energy trying to be with someone instead of learning to be happy in their own skin. I'm not anti-relationships but I am very pro-healthy and whole lives. Woman want the guy to meet all these benchmarks on their list never realizing that she doesn't quite measure up herself.

If he needs to have a great relationship with God, so do you.
If he needs to love children, so do you.
If he needs to be good with money, so do you.
If he needs to know what he wants to be doing in 5 years, so do you.
If he needs to have good morals and values, so do you.
If he needs to have boundaries, so do you.
If he needs to respect you, so do you.

I firmly believe that no man or woman should be in a position to make someone happy. That expectation is too unrealistic and unhealthy. No one should have that much control over your emotional well-being. Your significant other should add onto the happiness that you already have in your fulfilled, purposeful, and passion filled life. Together, you will both travel down the same path together, becoming better as a unit, operating in the calling that God has for you as that unit. Sometimes people think that my idea of God center relationships are a little far reaching and almost unrealistic, but I know my God well enough to know that He writes stories like this everyday. Nothing is impossible for Him and He takes delight in showing His majesty and power in the form of a healthy, godly relationship.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Beautiful Surrender

I must say that I am truly blessed with some amazing friends and an AMAZING God who divinely orchestrates my life. My mind is still reeling a bit from the way God has moved over the last few days. He never ceases to amazing me and no matter how many times He shows Himself faithful and loving, it has me in awe like its our first encounter.

Last week, I came face to face with my financial situation (working to pay off debt...slow process) and I was feeling a bit discouraged. Being a single mom makes you very aware of the amount of pennies you having coming in and out and how sometimes there is a huge gap in between. I worry about money (I know God does not give me a spirit of fear, but I am working on that) quite often and several facets of my life and future hinge on money. School is on hold right now because I am questioning whether or not counseling is the most viable career option since the pay stinks even though its something I love to do. Missions is something I want to do more of but again, money is always my biggest concern. I could go on and on.

However, God kinda checked me a few weeks ago and reminded me that money should not be the root of my decision making. He is the ultimate provider and no matter how much or how little money I make, my family will always be taken care of. He has the tendency to do some amazing supernatural stuff so I don't know why I sometimes doubt Him. So here I was last week, staring at my future on a piece of paper and I decide enough was enough. No more worry, no more stress, just a complete surrender to God to let Him take over and guide me.

A couple of days later, I got a semi hysterical call from a close friend who had just had the greatest epiphany from God that changed her life completely. She finally realized that her high powered six figure salary meant nothing if she was missing out on her family and actually doing God's will. She planned to quit her job soon and pursue what makes her happy. She was experiencing the total freedom that comes when you obey God. Just a few minutes later, I got a call from another friend that is barely making ends meet and its stressing her to no end. Because I was in a place of complete surrender to God about my own money woes, I allowed the Holy Spirit to speak through me calmly and confidently about God's view on money, His desire to provide and the first steps she needs to take to get back on track. Yeah, I was shocked at myself. After I took some time to process both phone calls, I realized God was giving me a view of life from two different prospectives. He showed me the freedom and joy my life can have when I surrender my worries to Him just like my first friend did. He also showed me the bondage that I would remain in if I decided to continue to try to figure life out on my own and not allow Him to help like my other friend is.

I would much rather have my freedom and joy in a beautiful and humble surrender to Him.

In that one morning, I was finally at a place where I was not worried about money. Worrying wont solve my problem so why waste the energy. I am sure God was standing over me saying "Finally! I thought you would never catch on." Amazing things happen when you surrender your worries to God. He starts to move in your life in crazy ways. Usually the problems we have stem from us being in the way of what God wants to do in our lives. A friend had to remind me that I am standing in the way of God doing some amazing things because I am still trying to figure out how I am going to make things work out. But like the Bible says, God makes all things work together for the good of those who believe in Him. Once, I decided to fully surrender, it wasn't even a full week that went by when I was presented with the most radical blessing. It's kinda still blowing my mind but I know it is absolutely God ordained. I won't go into details but God has used my friends to show me that when you surrender your burdens to Him, He will definitely make things work together for the good of those who believe in Him.

A beautiful and worthy surrender indeed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Covenant In The Making

I spent a few hours with my lovely friend and spiritual sister, Jillian, tonight. She is preparing for wedding next month and I couldn't be more happy for her. I remember meeting her for the first time at La Madeline at our first small group meeting of 2010. Though kinda shy and reserved in the beginning, our random trip to crash the youth ministry's spring break conference sealed our friendship thanks to a little baptism of the Holy Spirit. We have shared stories, trials, triumphs and wisdom along the way. My heart just smiles at the thought that she will be united in a God anointed covenant marriage with God's absolute best for her.

The anticipation of the pending marriages of couples that honored God through out their relationships are so much more intense and spiritually driven. The atmosphere is different and the expectations for God to move during that time is so much greater. For couples that did not honor God in their relationship by having sex outside of marriage or not submitting to His will usually have a ceremony that is centered around them. For couples that remained pure, sought wise counsel, entered into a godly courtship, had accountability, and allowed God to be in the center of it have a ceremony that gives God honor and glory. The day is not about celebrating the couple so much as it is about celebrating the amazing goodness of God.

In our conversation tonight, I remembered running across a blog entry from my FAVORITE photographer Ross Oscar Knight about this awesome Christian couple that he photographed for their engagement and wedding. Robert and Tia have a beautiful story about wedding preparation and just the magnificent blessing that is released to others when they witness what a covenant marriage looks like (I don't want to ruin it so just read for yourself). Jillian was thrilled to hear about all that happened because of Robert and Tia's faith in God and wanted to do something similar. After running it by her fiancee' Keith (who called while I was there to pray with her over the phone like they do every night...love that), he was on board.

God is such a God of order. I love how He puts things together in such an intricate and precise way, it blows my mind. Ross and his wife Brandi are Christians and he unashamedly attributes everything that he is to his faith in God. I discovered his work some years ago when a proposal he photographed went viral and I was emailed the link. I have been a fan since then. Last year, he hosted a contest for a free engagement photo shoot to a deserving engagement couple and I nominated my friends Elsy and Alvaro. Low and behold, Elsy and Alvaro were picked and had a great session. This is by far my favorite picture of them:

This time around, a random blog from Ross's site I remembered seeing almost a year ago, has inspired my Jillian as well. I am excited to be apart of the planning and execution of this part of the preparation because I had been wondering what it was that could do to bless my amazing friends. God works everything out according to His will and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Awkward Black Girl

A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across one of the funniest YouTube videos I had seen in quite a while. I don't spend much time on YouTube but a lot of up and coming film makers post their videos on there in hopes of being discovered. Issa Rae created The Misadventures of An Awkward Black Girl and it has become an instant hit. I am noticing more and more of my FB friends joining her fan page. The episodes are pretty short but they are hilarious and I am pretty sure anyone can relate to them.

I love to see creativity like of this video and I hope the show gets picked up for TV. Something on cable and not network TV because they wouldn't do it justice. I am thrilled to hear that Issa was able to raise the additional funds to keep the show going. Right now, there are only 8 episodes and its definitely at a cliff hanger so to keep it going, she needed about $30,000. Thanks to her loyal fan base and crazy world of mouth, they have so far raised over $40,000 to keep the shows coming. People crave good work but I can't quite figure out how some of the stupid reality TV still seems to stay on the air.

Oh well. Check out the videos on YouTube because the site is under construction. Check back frequently, join the FB fan page, Twitter, etc and become awkward.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Boys Over Flowers

I must admit that I have a new love interest. One that has taken up quite a bit of my free time (what little I do have) and take over my thoughts with wonder. I am almost ashamed to admit it...actually no I'm not. I'm that awkward girl that likes all kinds of weird stuff.

I am in love with the Korean drama Boys Over Flowers.

When I visited Peru a couple of months ago, I remember some of the young Peruvian girls being completely obsessed with this Korean drama (kinda like a soap opera minus the endless story line and blatant sex) called Boys Over Flowers. For some reason its just struck me as odd that Peruvian kids were watching Korean shows. They were caught up in the fantasy world and desperately wanted their lives to be like the main characters. A few weeks ago, I was reminded again of the drama by a couple of girls in my small group and since I tend to have LOTS of down time at work, I figured I would check it out since it was available on Netflix (I have the app on my smart phone).

25 episodes, some tears, screams, near panic attacks, and victorious cheers later, I am finally finished with the entire series. Unlike American shows, Korean dramas don't drag on needlessly for 12 season until their is nothing left to write about. Korean dramas end after anywhere between 10-50 episodes. Boys Over Flowers was the most popular drama in South Asia about a year ago and it spread like wildfire to other countries. Now that it has ended, I honestly feel like I have parted ways with some old friends after experience a roller coaster of adventures, heartaches, mixed emotions, betrayals, disappointments, redemption and triumphs. I enjoy a good love story and this definitely was one I could appreciate without having to shield my eyes from flashes of half naked women.

If you have some free time and enjoy foreign shows, I would highly suggest Boys Over Flowers to anyone. It's a high school drama but a far cry from Gossip Girl and 90210. It's cheesy but heartwarming at the same time. The emotions of the actors is far beyond what I have seen before and it's truly what makes the show real. I hate that the show has ended but I am enjoying the memories and warm feelings I get when I remember the story. I don't watch TV much so I have no clue what is on but if they had more shows like this, I would probably watch more.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

God's Not Fair...Thank Goodness

I'm still chugging along with the book The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. I downloaded the ebook to my laptop and spent about an hour highlighting and making notes for myself because there is so much truth to the words in the book. If I had the actual hard copy, there would be an abundance of highlights, pen scribbles, dog eared pages, and Post It Notes.

I was reading through the section on knowing God but thinking that He is not fair when a light bulb came on. I know I have had plenty of episodes where I questioned God because I didn't think He was being fair in my life. Why do the people that don't believe in God or adhere to His commands seem to prosper more than those who follow Him whole-heartedly? Why was my prayer for a new job not answered? Why did I pray for a Ebony's new born baby only to have him die a few days later? In my mind, none of it makes sense.

In my reading, I unearthed Psalm 103:10-12 that says, " God does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." God is not fair and that's actually a good thing. If He were a fair God, everyone on Earth should be wiped out. We are sinners by nature and we all know that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Think about it.

Life often times will not be fair. That's just how it is. Yet, at the end of the day, we serve a God who is loving and just. He provided the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be redeemed and saved from our sins. He did the ultimate act of love by sending us Jesus, our Savior. No matter how many times we think He isn't fair because life doesn't always go the way we think it should, we need to always remembers that He loves us, He cares for us, He desire for us to live an abundant life, He yearns for us. He will always make things work together for the good of those that believe in Him. Hard times will happen and many we won't even begin to understand. Lean not into your own understanding and trust God. He is just because He forgives us, He is not fair because He loves us.