I called out to Jesus to help me, and He DID!

I was in a pretty serious car accident.  You can look at the picture and tell. Short version:  A street light was not working properly.  After waiting for some time, I made the decision to proceed through the light.  Although I was yielding to oncoming traffic, another driver who I suspect was not paying attention and driving at an incredibly high rate of speed hit me. He didn’t just hit me…he hit me HARD!

Now when I decided to proceed through the light, I never thought I would find myself in such a scary situation.  I did see the car out of the corner of my eye, but because I was nearly clear of the intersection, I didn’t think he was going to hit me.  He did, and from one second to the next, things changed.

BAM!!!!!!!  As soon as I felt it, I started screaming, pleading, ushering, “Jesus, help me! Jesus, help me!”  Over and over, I called.  When I was initially hit, the car went forward with the force of the hit (horizontal or side ways for me, if you can picture that).  The next thing I knew, I was  airborne.  I thought, “Am I going to die?”  As soon as the thought entered my mind, though, it was gone.

As my car went in the air and began to turn, I didn’t feel scared.  I didn’t see my life flash before my eyes.  I didn’t feel like death was near.  My mother and sister crossed my mind during the same seconds that I pondered if I would die, but again they were fleeting thoughts.  What I did feel was protected.  It was like everything around me was flying and going everywhere but there was a bubble, a hedge, if you will, around me.

And then the car landed.  I unbuckled my seat belt and fell out of my seat because the car was upside down.  Because I am extremely claustrophobic and it’s very disorienting to have to move around on the ceiling of a car, I did begin to panic just a bit.  Although I was panicked, I still knew who to call.  “Jesus, get me out of here!”  People gathered at my car almost immediately.  They were trying to pull me out of the driver’s side window but because it was obstructed, the car having had landed on this side, and the side curtain airbags were deployed, I couldn’t fit.

“Everybody, back up! I’m a firefighter.  M’am, can you get out from the passenger’s side?”  I crawled over to the passenger’s side of the car and walked out!  Shouting, screaming, “Thank You, Lord!! Thank You, God!!”  People were amazed that I was walking and talking.  They couldn’t believe that I had just walked out of that upside down car.

When I tell the story, I tell people that it looks a lot worse than my experience actually was.  I. DID. NOT. FEEL. SCARED.  I didn’t.  I felt protected.  I. WAS. NOT. HARMED.  All I have to show (physically) for the accident is a small scratch on my arm, which I’m sure will fade over time although I wish it would stay forever.).

GOD. HAD. IT. ALL. PLANNED. OUT. See Jeremiah 29:11; Isaiah 41:10-13; Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:6.

As I waited in the parking lot, I called my insurance company who promptly set me up with a rental.  Enterprise was right next door to the accident scene.  I. COULD. HAVE. WALKED. I didn’t because my mom and I just drove over from one parking lot to the next.  I. DROVE. HOME.

God has a uniquely special way of working everything out.  I have some ideas on why this all happened.  At first, I felt weird because the car looked like I should have been dead, but I didn’t feel like I should have been dead.  I. DID. NOT. HAVE. A. NEAR. DEATH. EXPERIENCE. You know what it is, I feel like God gave me a story to share.  It reveals just how well-planned He is.  How gracious He is.  How merciful the Lord is.

Remember, technically speaking, it was no one’s fault but my own because had I not “ran” the light, I would not have been hit. If I would have stayed behind the red light (even if it took another 30 minutes to change), I would have not gotten hit.

UPDATE: I got a new car.  Same monthly payments. No down payment. JUST. WHAT. MY. MOM. HAD. PRAYED. FOR.

I don’t know how else any of these things could have lined up so perfectly.  It’s not karma (I’m not that good of a person.).  It’s not a coincidence (The causal connection is apparent.  I should have been killed.).  It’s ALL God from the accident to the Enterprise location to virtually no impact on my financial situation.

I thank God for not only sparring my life, but for sparring my family from the grief they would have experienced had I perished.  Remember, I’m graduating grad school on May 13th.  Many of my family members will be travelling to celebrate with me.  Can you fathom the devastation everyone would have felt to have to turn party decorations into funeral plans?!  I’m so utterly thankful that the Lord sparred my family.  I told God that “thank you” is not a big enough word.  It’s inadequate.  There’s not an adequate expression of my thankfulness to our Lord and Savior.  But I can live right.  I can let everyone know that I’m not here by any cause or fault of my own.  AND. I. WILL.

I encourage you to look up the verses I mentioned above, and I leave you with this one:

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

-Micah 7:7

#Thankful

I walked in to Texas Southern University on Saturday to meet with my professor, and I saw this hanging (my dissertation defense announcement).  I literally had to stop myself from crying.  Even though I have been in school for as long as I can remember, there’s something still unbelievable about finally being finish.  Like I did it.  I took the classes.  I passed the comps (Which is a whole nother blessing in and of itself….I know it was nobody but the Lord who made a provision for me to pass Statistics the first time (*insert shout*)!!).  I wrote my dissertation.

I am just so very thankful that our Lord has allowed me the time and space to engage in and complete this work.  So many people I started with, for whatever reasons, did not finish, but the Lord saw fit that I did.

I will defend my work on the 28th.  The defense will mark the final major activity towards the completion of my degree.  My mom and sister will be there by my side.  (We may even go live to share the results! *wink *wink!)  I’m so proud of what I have been able to accomplish.  I’m so thankful for my family who has been supportive all of the way.  I’m thankful to my mom who sacrificed so much so when we were younger that we may be capable of achieving such goals today.  I’m thankful to my twin sister who inspires me every. single. day.

Most of all I’m thankful to God for knowing the plans He has for me.

We Have Limits; God Does NOT

Sky, Cloud, No Limit, Unlimited, Purity

-Just as the sky is without limit, so is my God.

A few weeks ago, I told you about how I had always wished I could sing, and the Lord directed me to the choir.  I know it was nobody but God because I can tell you with 99.9% certainty that I would NOT have joined without the urging of others.

I have been kind of slack (well, not slack…I have been totally absent) about mid-week bible study.  I have not been attending.  I have used the excuse of school or that Tuesday (my chi-weenie) was too young to stay home by herself so long after I have been at work all day.  All excuses. So at the start of this year, I said that I was going to start going to mid-week bible study.  After the holiday hiatus, bible study at my church started back last week (1/4).

This is what is so amazing about God, how He works, how He puts you in the right place at the right time, how He aligns everything just perfectly.  Why am I at this church?  Why did I keep coming back after first visiting over two years ago?  First the choir…now this….

At the start of bible study, the young adult minister paired us up to pray with each other.  We were tasked with asking the person what they needed prayer for and then praying for and with that person.

Now when people ask me what I need prayer for I usually just say, “Oh, just that I get through school on time,” not wanting people in my personal business.  For some reason this day, my response was,”Umm….I would say patience.   How do I say this….(long pause)…patience because  I am getting old.” She said, “I know exactly what you mean.” After the prayer, we talked a bit, and we talked more the next day at choir rehearsal.  She is 36.  She got married at 34 and had her first child at 35.  She said something to me that I’m sure I have heard before…I’m almost positive I have but for God’s reason, it really gained meaning for me on this day: “We have a way of putting limits on God.”

The fact that she was over 30…over 32 (my age) when she got married and had her baby was suddenly a relief to me, and then when she said that we put limits on God, I immediately felt a weight lift from me.  I have been so burdened with the idea that I am 32, no kids, no husband in sight:  I am getting too old to have kids.  My body will not work.  What do people think?  They think something is wrong with me because I’m not married…

All undue pressure because, it hit me like a ton of bricks when she said it, “We have a way of putting limits on God.”  God gave Abraham Isaac after 25 years.  Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90.  Now, I realize that if I am 90 without any children, I probably will not have any, but the point here is that, God was able to do what they had already labeled as impossible.  Kind of what I was doing.  I had a million reasons why I was feeling desperate about the passing time instead of looking to the one reason to calm down.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

-Psalms 37:4

The Lord knew the desire to be married and have a family of my own even before I had knowledge of this desire.  The Sunday after the bible study (1/8), our pastor said, “Many of us trust God with of souls but not with our lives.”  I realized again, that this is exactly how I have been living.  After these two encounters with God and the message He has for me, I really do feel like a weight has been lifted because its not for me to try to do on my own.  I just have to delight myself in the Lord, continue to pray and grow in Him, and HE will take care of the rest.

There are NO limits to what God is able to do!!!  And I can just shout right there!!  Thank You, Jesus!!!!

Goodbye 2016, Welcome 2017

I do not know if I expect new and wonderful things just because a day shifts and a new year is ushered in.  I like to think that every day will be better than the next.  That does not always happen though…some days are, in fact, worse than the day or days before.

How do we deal with that reality?  How does that fact that we will face disappointment impact our thoughts regarding the new year?  The bible says:

For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home, and create rivers for them in the desert!

-Isaiah 43:19

What I am going to try and focus on going forward is the brand new thing that God is creating–not because we are entering a new calendar year, but because He is a good and gracious God, always making provisions for His children because He loves us.

I think I have struggled spiritually this year because I have been praying for some things that have not come to fruition.  I have experienced periods of doubt and periods of drought in terms of my prayer life.  What I want to focus more and more on is the ¨new things¨ that God is creating in my life–terminal degree, love, marriage, children, career advancement, financial peace…  I will not be stifled by what is not yet, but being created.  And so while I do not hinge all of what I think is possible in my life on the coming new year, I will use this opportunity to re-center myself and my thoughts.

I will continue to record next year´s blessings (Watch for our live broadcast as we review what has been recorded in this year´s blessing jar!), set goals, work to achieve those goals, spend time with my family, participate in pursuits that help me grow as a person, and anything else that I feel will contribute to a positive, productive, ¨discipled¨ life but not because it is a new year, but because it is what we are called to do and be–always improving ourselves, growing in God´s word, and sharing the Word with others.

Message Recieved

Music, Melody, Musical Note

I have, for as long as I can remember, wished I could sing.  Now I’m no Beyonce or Whitney Houston, but I liked to think I could.  Some people had even told me I could sing, but for some reason I never felt confident that I actually sounded good.  Well, that’s not true…I thought I could sing; I just didn’t think others (enough) thought the same.

What I realized is that I can hold a note.  I can match my sound quite lovely when singing along with other altos.  So I sing…a lot!!  I sing in the car.  I sing at church.  I sing in the store.  I just enjoy singing!!

I had been attending this small church near my home for over a year now.  I go, I sing, and I participate in worship, but for some reason I hadn’t joined.  Since my mom, sister, and I have lived in the same city we joined and attended the same church.  For various reasons, we each left that church.  Maybe I was reluctant to join a church absent of my family, but I still really like the church, so I continue to “visit.”

One day, I came in late, so I had to sit near the from (not in my “assigned” seat.  (Y’all know we have assigned seats in church right?! LOL.) Anyway, I sat next to an older lady, and I sang along with the hymns as usual.  After some time, she leaned over and asked me why I wasn’t in the choir.  I bashfully didn’t know.  Before service ended, she said to me again that I really needed to be in the choir.  I politely nodded.

A Sunday or so later, another lady leaned over to me with the same question.  I told her I actually wasn’t even a member of the church.  That didn’t change her urging.

I honestly hadn’t really thought too much more about it.  The next Sunday or so, as I prepared to exit the sanctuary and greet the pastor, he said to me, “I need to talk to you for just a few minutes.  Sit right there and wait for me.”   I did, wondering what in the world does he had to say to me.

As the sanctuary cleared, he came over and said, “My mother-in-law told me that you could really sing.”  “I can hold a note,” I replied with a smile.  He goes on to say that the new music director is working to form a young adult choir, if I would like to join, and do I want to meet him.  I obliged.  The music director was called over.  We spoke very briefly…I’ll be going to choir rehearsal Thursday!!

It’s funny how I’ve said to myself for as long as I can remember, “I wish I could sing,” yet the Lord heard my voice and was pleased.  It feels kind of special to hear from God and respond in accordance.  I would have never joined on my own.  I don’t know anyone.  It’s gonna be awkward.  I would have let these thoughts and feelings keep me from being of service to the Lord in the choir.

I’m glad that God knows what I had always wished, and He created an opportunity for me serve Him doing something I enjoy doing.  There is also a message here about the spirit of telling yourself no.

Let us all incline our ears to the Lord and speak life into our hopes, dreams, and desires.

Have You Seen Jesus Today??

cross-66700_1920When Charlene was in Haiti, her group would ask one another each day where they had seen Jesus.  When she came home, she told us about it, and while we don’t share an experience everyday, here are some things we have shared about seeing Jesus:

  • I saw Jesus today! Maurice shared a post from someone who mentioned God.  Praise the Lord!
  • I saw Jesus when I was driving down a road I rarely take to work and a car jetted from a side street, turning right without stopping.  If the timing would have been different, I would have hit her.  My light was green, and I was going straight.
  • Wow! I almost hit someone today.  They were stopped for an unknown reason and at the same time the car in the lane next to me went by and splashed water on my windshield.  I barely saw to stop!
  • I thought today was going to start like last year: no lunch.  I took my break from 10 to 10:30, and the lady came at 11:30 to relieve me for lunch.  I told her I had just came from my break, so I wasn’t ready for lunch.  I’m scheduled for 1:45, so I went and got my lunch and was just going to eat in the classroom, but my regular relief came, so I saw Jesus too!
  • I was just walking the halls and I stopped by this teacher’s room.  I asked her how she was doing, did she have a good weekend.  Today is the anniversary of her dad’s death…1 year.  So we just talked and encouraged one another and talked about Jesus and God and going to Haiti.  He dad died her first year of teaching on a Sunday night.  My granny died my first year as an AP on a Sunday night…

Mom says:  Jesus is all around us!!

If you look for Jesus you will find Him.  Why don’t you start sharing with family and friends or in your diary or journal how you have seen Jesus each day!!

 

Moving Beyond Intentions….

Road, Start, Beginning, Intention, Plant

So here I am encouraging you all to have hope, faith, and prayer, yet I wasn’t necessarily adhering to the prescription.  I’m sure it happens to us all: we can tell our friends and family to be encouraged and give specific scripture to help them with their situations, but when we go through something, we fail to encourage ourselves.

The whole reason my family and I decided to blog was to share our experiences with prayer, doubt, faith, hope, answered prayers and whatever else God put on our hearts to share.

I’ve been dealing with some doubt.  I don’t know.  I feel like I’m just in a holding pattern.  I try to pray, but I often times don’t even know what to say.  I say I try, but I actually do pray.  If I don’t say anything else, I say thank You.  But that’s not what God wants from me.  He wants a real relationship with me (and you), and truth be told, I want the same.

God is urging me to commune with Him in prayer.  I know because of what I experienced at the Women’s Prayer Breakfast (If you follow our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/hopefaithprayers, you may have seen us check-in.), and the Word that came down the next day at church.  The pastor of the church I attend preached from Isaiah 40:28-31.  One of the points he made was at v.31:  they will walk and not be faint.

The pastor called us to be OK with the ordinariness of life (the walk..not the run, nor the soar). This is how I know, God is urging me to really commit to Him.  That is what I am struggling with:  I feel like I’m waiting on the next phase of my life to begin.  I’ll admit, I am sometimes discouraged because it has not happened in my time.

At the women’s breakfast, we received a book: 30 Days to a More Dynamic Prayer Life: Making God Your Focus by John Franklin.  Last night (Sunday), I was going to read the introduction so that I would be ready to begin Monday morning, but I had pattered around the house doing this and that so much so that by the time I settled down I was too sleepy to focus.  I said to myself, I will read it tomorrow and start Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, my absolutely adorable chi-weenie, usually sleeps through the night, but last night she didn’t.  She got up about 3:30 am, so I got up and let her out.  She came back in but was still restless, so we went back out.  After all of that, I was wide awake……I read the introduction.

I know God is calling me to come into better fellowship with Him, and I really believe He won’t move me forward until I move Him forward, to the front of my life, beyond just good intentions.

Will you pray for me as I work through these feelings?

Right on Time

I hope you all have committed to our Journey through Proverbs!!  I pray that you are blessed through this reading and that we all grow a deeper knowledge and understanding of what the Lord is calling us to do, be and how to live.

My intention for this week’s blog was to write about what I hoped to gain from this journey, but God had a different plan!

No Cellphones, Cellphone Not Allowed

I will admit:  I usually use my phone when I am driving.  I know, I know…a big, HUGE no no!!  I am always working to just unplug and drive! Please pray for me regarding this matter, and I will pray for you just the same.

Today, I was not texting and driving…

I was on my way home from meeting with my professor at Texas Southern University about a 40-45 minute drive from my house.  I was coming up on the 610 merge when I saw a funeral procession on the southbound side. I’m from a relatively small city in Kentucky.  I’m sure you’ve heard of it…Lexington. You know, Wildcats…UK..#bigbluenation?!?! I digress…

Lexington is small, and we have small town customs.  Whenever a funeral procession passes you in Lexington (and I’m sure countless other places), the custom is to pull over or stop and turn the radio off until the hearse passes.  Because Houston is so big, it’s not really practical (or safe) to do, so I will usually turn my music down and say a prayer for the family. That’s just what I did today.

I can’t really say what happened after I prayed.  I obviously didn’t close my eyes, but I was somehow not focused on the road.  My mind was gone. Thinking about life and death always gives me pause.  The next thing I knew, however, I was going full speed into slowing traffic.  “Oh, God!” I yelled as I slammed on my brakes.  Because I was on the highway going at least probably 70 miles per hour, braking was not going to be sufficient.  I glanced in my side-view mirror and leaped over to the left lane.  I was panicked, and I didn’t want to hit the barrier.  My car was slowing down but still had some speed.  “Turn back…don’t hit the barrier,” I thought.  As I tried to correct my vehicle, maintain my lane, and not hit anyone, the car was kind of going out of control.  The “vehicle stability assistant” feature turned on and steadied my car.

You know why I quoted “vehicle stability assistant” right??? #ButGod I was safe; the other drivers were safe, and my vehicle was not damaged!!  I was full of adrenaline.  I immediately started thanking God!!  Praise break right in the car, right!  I know I was not on my phone, but my mind was in Lala Land.  My mind was, but God’s mind was right there with me!

It’s kind of crazy to think about how I would have slammed right into the back of the car at 70 miles per hour if I had not snapped back at that precise moment.  There was no other second to spare.  Although the experience was frightening, I thank God for giving me a warning that I really have to give up using my phone while driving.  I thank God for giving me that message to give to you.

Most of all, however, I thank God for loving me more than I love myself, for looking out for my safety even when I am not!

Next time, I’ll write about my experience with Proverbs.  This word could not wait!!

Thank you, God!

 

God means it ALL for good

 

Bible, Old Bible, Christianity, Pages

 

The focus of our next series is centered on Genesis 50:20.

The King James Version reads: But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

I like the Holman Christian Standard Bible’s translation:

“You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result–the survival of many people.”

I began my career in public education as a classroom teacher directly after graduating from college, and I was good at it.  Prior to becoming a teacher, I toyed with the idea of going to law school.  I wasn’t ready or prepared when I graduated undergrad, so I decided to teach while I took time to figure things out.  Well, turns out that I really loved teaching and public education.  After working for a year, I returned to school to get my Master’s of Education.

The beginning of my career was uneventful for the most part.  I loved what I was doing; my students were achieving, and I had developed some close friendships.  There was one, tiny, little thorn in my side though: my department chair.  On the surface, she was a fun and helpful mentor who just wanted the best for her team of teachers and students.  It turned out to only be a facade, and I found her to be indescribably mean and underhanded.

The truth was that she didn’t want anyone to do well, and she secretly thrived off of creating problems and manipulating situations.  I had, for the most part, been able to continue to work with her because I realized after a while that it wasn’t me or any inadequacy I possessed.  It was her and her need to feel grand by making others small.

When I came to this realization, the way I handled our encounters changed.  I no longer got upset or panicked when she came to me with a complaint.  I simply acknowledged and carried on.  She hated I was not being sucked in to her drama and upset by it anymore.  As a result of her mounting frustration over her lost ability to upset or stress me, after five years of working together, I was moved out of the department to a reading lab position that is usually reserved for those not as effective in the regular classroom or the veterans of the building who have “paid their dues.”  It was counterproductive to what I was trying to accomplish long term…remember: I went back to school to get my Master’s after my first year in the classroom.

It was counterproductive to what we were trying to accomplish as a school, as a profession. Here it is we want our kids to do well and pass the state tests so that our schools can be deemed “effective”. (The high-stakes testing and accountability environment that exists today is a conversation for another day.) Yet, my principal moved me from a classroom teaching environment to an elective that no one valued. I had been extremely effective with all groups of students in that position. They needed me there, but my principal decided otherwise. I’m sure he was under pressure from the department chair. It felt like a setback. And that’s not to say the elective is not a necessary class, but I was young in my career and that kind of experience just doesn’t cut the mustard in a highly competitive promotion pool.  Or so i thought……

I just about shouted thinking about this entire situation and how God knew the plans He had for me from the very beginning (Read more about my favorite verse: Jeremiah 29:11 here.) .  He KNEW the plans so what she planned against me never had a chance to prevail.  In fact, God meant it ALL for GOOD!!

Soon after I was told I was changing subjects, I became keenly aware of what that meant for my future.  I couldn’t help but to imagine interviewing against math, science, and reading teachers with testing data to quantify their effectiveness.  BUT…..GOD!!!!

The next year, we got a new principal, and I found favor with him.  I made him aware of my intentions to advance, and he gave me every single opportunity to learn and grow my leadership skills. The change in position and leadership, came with a title.  After the year started, I became the RtI Coordinator.  The responsibilities of that role came with an extra “off” period, and that extra period gave me all the time I needed to be available to gain experiences that would prepare me for leadership.

The next two years were all about my growth and development.  As a result of the change in assignment, I moved to the other side of the building from my former department chair, and although I was still teaching reading, I was not in her department anymore.  I never had to see or speak with her.  I was not longer impacted by her antics.

So yeah, God meant it for good.  God meant it for good.  GOD meant it for GOOD!!!!!!!  He meant it for good to bring about the survival of me.  He meant if for good to bring about the survival of you.