Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

Peace In.

Good morning, peeps!

Oh, I’ve missed you! Would you like to hear what I’ve been doing during my hiatus…or would you rather see the results of it? Most mamas answer their own questions and I am no different: you’d rather just see the results. I heard Dr. Tony Evans say something a long time ago and it has stuck with me ever since:

“No one goes to a football game to watch the team huddle for 3 hours. You go to see what the huddle produces.”

Ev’ry day I’m huddlin’, huddlin’. Ev’ry day I’m huddlin’, hud—….no? Okay.

Yesterday started off rather rough for me. You know, it was one of those days when you say, “Okay, Imma go back to bed and start this again.” Anxiety, dread, and all kinds of crazy stuff hit me upside the head before I even stood up. So, I came for it. You want some, fool? Okay. I began to say who God is: Father, Alpha and Omega, Almighty, I AM… I went in, y’all. And then I pulled out the heavy artillery: I started reciting the fruits of the Spirit. Not in a quiet way, either. I declared them because I knew the only way to combat what was obviously not of God was to hit ’em with the things that ARE God. You do know that fruit is indicative of the tree, right? So God IS peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.

Whatchu got to say now??

This morning is a brand-new day, peeps. I woke up with the idea that I would wear my freedom t-shirt to work. Y’all know I love printed tees and I just got the okay from my boss to rock them at work. YESSS!  I love this shirt. It says “freedom”. And it’s soft. And it’s grey. And I’m wearing it with dark jeans with my pale yellow cropped blazer. I’m about to be too cute!! Free AND cute! As I was ironing the shirt and looking at the word on it, God reminded me of what comes with freedom. There’s power – duh – but something else: PEACE. Say what?? So, I sat down with my bible and looked in the concordance for a scripture that had the word “peace” in it. Sure, I can recite plenty of ‘em but I wanted a scripture that I didn’t know off-hand.

What happened next blew my mind.

You all know how concordances are set up, right? The word you want – PEACE – will be atop a column and below it will be a list of the occurrences. Well, most of them. It’s usually just a snippet for the sake of context, with a “p” in bold. “P” for the word “peace”. As I scanned down the list, I heard in my spirit, “Read it out loud and say the word “peace”.” So I did.

Y’all…I felt something shift in the atmosphere. On everything.

I want you to do that right now. I am going to fake a concordance – I don’t have time to type the book and verse – and I want you to say each of these out loud with authority and BELIEVE EVERY SINGLE THING YOU SAY. Here goes:

And give you p

My covenant of p

Proclaim p unto it

Lay me down in p

End of that man is p

And a time of p

P been as a river

The way of p

Saying P, p

Shalt die in p

They shall seek p

To send p

P with one another

The way of p

On earth p

P be to this house

P I leave with you

Ye might have p

P from God

The way of p

We have p with God

The gospel of p

Live in p

For he is our p

Preached p to you

The p of God

The p of God rule

P among yourselves

The Lord of p

King of p

Follow p with all men

Depart in p

Let him seek p

P be multiplied

Question: have you ever noticed that the gesture we make for peace with our fingers is the same gesture people make for victory?

It’s good to be back. Have a great day, peeps.

–d

Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

Can You Repeat That?

Good morning, peeps!

“Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you.” – Psalm 51:16 MSG

Every weekday morning, I meet God in prayer.  Monday through Friday.  At 3:30 a.m.

I have two alarms set on my phone.  Yes, I use my phone as my alarm clock even though I have a digital one on my nightstand.  Like I said, I have two alarms on it: one for 3:30 a.m. and one for 4:00 a.m.  Every weekday morning, I get up at 3:30 to meet with God in prayer.  I pray over my family, friends, and this blog.  After that, I get all the way up and start typing this blog.  The 4:00 a.m. alarm is set just in case something goes awry first thing in the morning.

I have been known to fall asleep during prayer.

The first church I belonged to was held in a little building that used to be a small neighborhood store.  If you are wondering, this is where the term “storefront church” came from.  Most new pastors could not afford to rent large buildings so sometimes church services were held in old stores or even in the living room of their homes.  Actually, that was how my church membership began.  I just thought of that.  We went to someone’s house. Oh my goodness.  I remember folding chairs being lined up in the living room and having to babysit the pastor’s kids while service was going on.  I was just a kid myself!  Ha!  I don’t know why they even bothered to put chairs out because people were eventually going to knock them over when they “caught the Holy Ghost”.  Those services lasted for HOURS.  It was also there that I got burned on my leg and still have the scar to this day.  Aaaaand, that has nothing to do with…never mind.  Back to the storefront and me falling asleep during prayer.

(I was 6, so cut me some slack.)

At the beginning of the service, there was prayer time.  This was when we knelt at the altar and cried out to God, asking for forgiveness and for His way to be had in the service.  This was really for the adults – most of the kids knelt at their seat, if at all.   Not us.  Noooo.  My dad made it known that his chil’ren were going to be the examples for all.  Take note: Bro. James’ kids are serious about obeying God.  Well, one night, I got a little too serious.  Everything started out great as I went into my routine prayer: first, say the Lord’s Prayer; second, confess whatever sinful thing my six-year-old self had done that day; third, thank God for not putting an axe to the roots of my fruitless 6-year-old tree and fourth, ask God to have His way in the service.  I prayed the same thing every time I went to church, which was seven days a week – twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday. That’s how it started, but that’s not how it ended.  One minute I’m hearing the entire church praying and the next thing I knew, I was hearing the preacher reading Scripture.

I had fallen asleep.  At the altar.

Do you know how embarrassing that was?!  The first thing I did was feel down the front of my skirt to make sure I hadn’t pee’d on myself in my sleep.  This was big issue at the time.  I hadn’t.  God is good!  The next thing I did was peek underneath my arm at the congregation.  Yep, they were all seated and looking at me right then because I was fidgeting.   So I had to make a choice: stay at the altar the entire service and pretend I’m still in prayer or get up and walk to my seat.  I decided on the latter because my legs were getting numb.  I get it.  It’s funny.  You can laugh.  I’m sure I looked a bit disheveled because when I go to sleep, I sleep.  I had slobber on my cheek and my face had the imprint of my sleeve on it.  So that was funny.  I expected a few chuckles.  What I didn’t expect was to be shamed for it.  “Well, I guess Deone was really praying hard!”  That’s what the preacher said and the entire congregation laughed.  Loudly.  Well, everyone except my dad.  He was ticked off.

It’s funny the kind of stuff that sticks with you.

God brought this to my mind this morning as I struggled to get past that 3:30 alarm.  Oh, we met.  And that’s all we did.  We met.  I looked at Him and He looked at me and we both were like, “Wassup?”  My spirit mumbled “Idunno” and I started into my routine prayer.  The next thing I know, I’m hearing the 4 o’clock alarm go off.  What?? I fell asleep??  You’ve got to be kidding me!  So Imma start over, God, because I really need to invite Holy Spirit in so I can write this blog!  Okay.  So Lord, I thank You for this… And then I stopped.  I didn’t stop on my own though.  I was stopped.  By one word: routine.

I’ve been going through the motions.

God brought the above scripture to me as I began apologizing to Him for falling asleep during prayer.  He didn’t care about that.  He knew I was tired.  He’s actually been getting on me about being overextended.  Sleep.  Get some rest.  What He doesn’t want is for me to be going through the motions when I talk to Him.  He wants a real conversation.  Real dialog and not some canned prayer.  What I have been doing is doing me more harm than good.  I’m just going through the motions.  Did you know that because brushing teeth is taught to us as children and repeated so often, day in and day out for years and years, the habit becomes so ingrained that we very rarely ever think about the process until a problem arises?  We just do it. Most times, wrong.

This is a relationship.  Who wants someone who’s just going through the motions?

I have a friend and each morning we send a “good morning” text: they do one day and I do the next.  I don’t know how it is on their end, but on my mine…man.  Those two words may as well be two pieces of old bathroom sponge: they are dry and worn out.  But I do it because I don’t want them to think I’m being funky.   Look, I don’t always feel good-morningly and sometimes (pray for me) I don’t actually care if they are having a good one.  I just do it.  It’s become a routine.  I’m just going through the motions.  So last night, I was like “this is some garbage” and told them not to feel obligated to send that text.  Do it if you want to, but what I really want is genuine interaction.  And it’s okay if you don’t feel like interacting with me every day.  We’re still good.  The look of relief that was on their face!  It was like I had given them the green light to just be in this relationship.

Just be.  Isn’t that what “Press” was all about?

I know the Press series was all about my life, but I hope that you were able to glean some things from it for yours.  Maybe it spurred an examination of what’s been going on with you and how seemingly little things in your past have had a huge impact on your now.  Let it end with your “now” and not carry on into your future.  I want to live free.  I want you to live free.  I want you to live, period, and not just go through the motions.  I hope you think about that this weekend.  Shake up your routine.  God will understand.  Have a great weekend, peeps.

–d.

Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

Pressing On.

Good morning, peeps!


Only God can bring honey out of a carcass. – from “Sweetness” by IJAC


I thought this thing was over.  It ain’t.  I just realized that as God brought back to me the closing line from the “Sweetness” blog.  God said y’all need to hear about that carcass.  This already sounds extra grimy, doesn’t it?  We love to share the sunny parts of our testimony, but y’all need to know the grimy stuff, too.  It kills me when people say “I don’t look like what I’ve been through” and then walk away, leaving you standing there like, “Wait!  What have you been through??”  I’ll tell ya.  Hey, it don’t bother me none.  My grammar is really horrible today.  If it will help somebody…who am I kidding?  I ain’t really thinking about y’all.  I’m trying to stay free.  I need to do this for me.  And if that sounds selfish, well…I don’t know what to tell you at 4:31 in the morning.  You might not want me to “tell you” anything: this breath is on fifty.  By the way, I AM thinking about y’all.  

I brought up of a few things in this series that I didn’t really elaborate on and God is saying that I can’t leave y’all hanging.

There’s this from “Uprooted”:

In order for this pressing to be effective, God had to first get to the root of my sitch, which happens to be my core – what I have wrapped the roots of my life around.  That’s what is slowing killing me.  I was like, “Hold up.  When I started going to church, I was deeply and madly in love with You.  I completely trusted You.  The rock I wrapped my roots around was You.”

“At first.  Something else has taken My place.”

This, from “Polluted Water”:

“And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.” – Isaiah 34:9-11 KJV

I joined church when I was four and have been jacked up ever since: my water got polluted.

This, from “Sweetness”:

When Samson ran up on the lion’s carcass, he met his past head-on.  I’m sure there was an alternate route he could’ve taken, but there he was.  Can you imagine what went through Samson’s mind as he approached it?  I’m sure being a guy he was probably filled with some macho pride, but have you ever thought of the possibility that seeing the carcass also brought back memories of how horrific it was to be attacked?  That he relived what had happened to him?  Who wants to tell someone that?

“…and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion.”

There’s a song that says “You don’t know my story, so you don’t understand my praise”. 

This, from “Bitter”:

And I still preached.  With a bitter taste in my mouth.

Let me clarify something before I get a ton of messages: I believed what I was preaching because it was scripture.  What can I do with that?  Nothing.  It’s God’s Word.  What I didn’t believe was that God meant it for me.  I had no reason to.  I didn’t trust Him.  That didn’t matter, though.  His Word is still true.  (Add Romans 3:1-4 MSG)

And, this from “Crushing It”:

Yes, it would be great if God could just give us the honey and the sweetness without the pain and death, but that’s not how this works. Romans 8:28 says, “ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD.” Apple juice sure is good and if it takes the crushing of skin, flesh and core to make the good stuff, then gettuh crushin’.

I really hate that I just said that. Man. Why did I just say that??

Life it can leave ~ you so bitter, bitter, bitter, bitter ~ but you must believe ~ that it gets better, better, better, better

Wouldn’t it be super funners if we could just get to the good stuff like this:red-apple-straw-19526777

This is not over.  I won’t call it “Press – The Musical”, but I will call it…I don’t know.  It’s 4-something in the morning.   Have a great day.

–d.

Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

Becoming.

(This is Part 8 of our devotional series “Press – The Musical”.)

Good morning, peeps!

“Til I become what He wants me to be ~ I press” – from “Press” by Fred Hammond

I think I get on my Father’s nerves.

This is the thought that came to mind yesterday as I responded to a comment on my blog. I think I really do. Not, “I think I get on God’s nerves”, but “I think I get on my Father’s nerves”. I was referring to the parental side of God. I thought about one time when my son was 4 and he asked if he could sit by me on the couch. Now that he’s a teen, I kid him by answering “Naw!”, which he ignores and plops every bit of his 100-something pound body not next to me, but on one of my thighs. Those little bony hips of his hurt! But when he was a little boy, there was no kidding. It actually hurt me that he felt he had to ask. Why would you ask me that? Of course, you can sit by me. I’m your mother.

“In the hands of the Master ~ it seems like you gotta fight and scratch just to remain”

I ended yesterday’s blog with “Good grief. Why can’t I just be?” I almost added “I’ll fast about it”, but I felt God’s eyeballs on the back of my neck so I didn’t. This is why I think I get on my Father’s nerves. He’s telling me to sit – as a matter of fact, He’s got a spot right next to Him that says “RESERVED FOR DEONE” and I still feel like I gotta do something first before I can sit there. God is probably like, “Oh my gosh!! Will you sit down already??!” He wants me to sit next to Him. He’s so tired of me and my Martha spirit of doing and not being that He’s actually making me sit.

I left something out in my story about Christopher. You remember I said that in order to get him to sit in the chair, I had to place my arm at the back of his knees. That didn’t cause his knees to bend – that only gave his legs something to bend on. What I did was pull him close to me. The combo of placing my arm under his knees and pressing him close was what caused his knees to bend. Pressing him close… I know y’all caught that. My peeps are quick!

Through this whole press, God has been trying to get my knees to bend. Knees that are stiff from distrust, doubt, lack of faith usage (this and doubt are two different things), fear, and pollution are hard to bend. They are not only hard to bend, but it hurts to bend them. I know what you’re thinking. “Um, why wouldn’t you want to “walk” without stiffness? Doesn’t make sense to me.” Well, it makes sense to me, but it doesn’t make sense. Freedom looks and sounds great, but it’s scary for someone who’s only known bondage. I know how to navigate bondage. Oh, there’s my favorite pit and my favorite stumbling block. We meet again. That “free to be” stuff? That is scary. You mean I can walk around here just being in God’s presence? What kind of hooky-pooky are you sellin’, sir?? Nah. I’ll just stay in misery because I know that and besides, having a difficult life just seems to be reflective of what Jesus had to go through and aren’t we supposed to be Christ-like? Let me stick with what I know.

God’s not having it.

“Your love never fails ~ You never give up ~ You never run out on me” – from ‘One Thing Remains’ by Jesus Culture

I’ve never felt far away from God. Not one time in my life have I ever felt like He and I weren’t close. I’ve always felt God’s presence. There have been many times that I’ve even sat down next to Him. I have had times when I’ve taken off my apron and sat at His feet. So what’s the deal, D? What’s this been all about? Have you ever felt unwelcome in a place you were welcomed into? I know you invited me, but the vibe I’m getting is that you really don’t want me here. You only invited me because you didn’t want it to look bad if all of our friends were there and I wasn’t. That’s where me and God were. He’s been inviting me to be around Him and I’ve responded, but I’ve always thought He just did it because Scripture says “For God so loved the world”. I’m one of the world people so He had to include me. Ever tried to hug someone who isn’t a hugger? Their body stiffens as you embrace them, doesn’t it? That’s where me and God were. He’d embrace me and I’d stiffen up thinking, “Okay. What is this?”

“Oh how I love this place of worship” – from “Place Of Worship” by William McDowell

I remember one of my friends praying over me this spring, “God, help Deone to be able to receive the love she freely gives to others.” I just thought of that. I am a giver. I am not comfortable with receiving love. It has always come with a string attached. And that string is usually dirty and tied to a cement block. I told you in one of these installments that I had just been set free from some stuff. That was the result of a long conversation I had with God on my way to see my sister two weekends ago. I was thinking about what someone told me was placed on her heart to share with me. She said that even married women need to fall deeply in love with Jesus to be complete. I struggled with this a little bit. I don’t know how much more in love I can get with you, Jesus. As I was driving, I began to pay attention to the songs I had in my “favorites” playlist. Every single song had a recurring message: Jesus loves me. Hmm. Sounds nice. Almost as soon as I realized that, I heard in my spirit, “It’s not a question of you loving Me, Deone. I know you do. Your life shows it. You just don’t believe I love you. That’s why it’s hard for you to just trust Me. That is why it’s hard for you to just be.”

I joined church when I was 4 and have been jacked up ever since.

Before I joined church, Jesus and I had a sweet relationship. He’d never let me down. He always told me I was special and I believed it. There was no doubt, fear or any of that stuff. I knew Jesus loved me and so it was easy to love Him back. But when I joined church… Let me clear something up. This has not been a blog against going to church. You should assemble together. You find strength among your brethren. This has been about how my view of God was changed after I joined. I no longer loved Him freely because of what man did. I no longer trusted Him because of what man did. I have dealt with a man-made health crisis my entire life and God said that enough is enough. This press not been about God pulling me closer to Him. Nope. I’m already there. It’s been all about that arm underneath the back of my knees: the arm of His love. That’s what I’ve been resisting. My knees haven’t trusted the strength of that arm. You mean you want me to be actually “leaning on the everlasting arms”? I thought that was just a nice hymn. You meant that? For reals? Yes. God has been waiting for that little girl to feel free again.

“There’s a voice that cries out in the silence ~ searching for a heart that will love Him ~ longing for a child that will give Him their all ~ give it all ~ He wants it all” – from ‘He Wants It All’ by Forever Jones

This is where I am. This is what this press has been about. About me giving it all to Him. About that little girl finally letting it all go. She’s been trying, but this adult has held onto some stuff because it’s familiar and what I’ve concluded is familiar ain’t always the best. Oh, there’s my favorite pit and my favorite stumbling block. We meet again. I shouldn’t always go with what I know. What I know is not all that great. During this press, I have discovered something else that is, honestly, scary as all get out: I have to relearn who I am. My identity or rather, my self-awareness, was lost when my innocence was taken away from me. Ages 4 and 5 are when this identity develops for a child. I didn’t get a chance to develop nuthin’. I was told who I would be. And God is now saying that this press, this bending, this surrendering, will be the start of discovering who I am.

“Til I become what He wants me to be ~ I press”

It starts with just being. No lie, I am going to have some relapses along the way, but I am determined to walk this thing out. It has to be intentional. I’m talking about breaking free from over 40 years of habitual living. I’m excited and scared. Keep me in your prayers. Love ya.

–d.

Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

A Human Response

Good morning, peeps!


My spirit feels like it has been beaten over the head with a sock full of pennies. As I told you last week, this leg of my fight has been a doozy. I’m a bit battle-scarred (battle-wounded…these wounds are still fresh), raggedy, and my clothes don’t fit. Yes, I just blamed the spreading of my hips on the enemy. This is not a space I’m comfortable in ’cause I’m IJAC, right? The encouragement of mankind, right?? I’m really not. I’m human. Well, your girl is in need of a bit of encouragement herself so God is taking me back through some of my earlier posts as a reminder of just who I was when I wrote those: human, wounded, and raggedy. Sometimes I forget that in my most human state, God used me to do some marvelous things. Human ol’ Deone. And I was victorious! Yessss! This walk down memory lane is definitely giving me the boost I need to press on and I hope that it helps you, too. I’ll return next week with a new devotional series titled “The Press”. Have a great one.


Picture it: You’ve been happily married to your sweetie for over 30 years and are living “the life”. You have a houseful of beautiful children who’ve never given you a day of trouble in their lives. Speaking of “house”, you have a sprawling estate sitting on hundreds of acres of fertile farmland, with thousands of livestock to boot. You and your family are well-respected in your community and known as God-loving people. Life is good, right? Can you say “I’m blessed and highly favored”?? Then one day, you lose it all: your house, land, livestock, AND your children. Gone. All that’s left is you and your spouse. And if that’s not bad enough – I mean, seriously, can it get any worse? – the love of your life is stricken with a debilitating disease causing painful sores and horrific disfigurement. Your once-beautiful life is gone. How would you react?

In your Bible, read Job 1 & 2. If ever there was someone in the Bible who has been given a hard time for their reaction in a crisis, it’s Job’s wife. This is her story. Now, you probably can’t relate to this story because I bet she and I are the only people who’ve ever let their emotions get the best of them and ended up saying something that they really don’t mean. We’re the only ones. Just us. Too many times we judge people by how we think we would handle a situation. Notice my emphasis on “think”. Oh, it’s easy to say what you would do when you’re just a spectator, but when it’s your life that’s topsy-turvy…yeah. I’ll be honest, I don’t even have to go as far as topsy-turvy: step on my pinky toe just right and I may have to repent for what I think…or let slip out. I’m a work in progress. What I love about Job’s wife is that in her only recorded statement in the Bible, she was painfully transparent. We’re talking raw emotion here, folks. Think about it: so maybe losing the family’s livelihood and possessions wasn’t the best thing in the world that could’ve happened to her, but her children?? I’m a mother and I get upset whenever one of my babies breaks a bone! God only knows how I would react if even one of them died. (By the way, Lord, I don’t want to find out.) Back to Job’s wife: she loses all of her possessions and her children, right? Then on top of that, she has to see her sweetheart – probably known him since high school – go from being the strong man she’s always loved to a sore covered, grossly disfigured, and emaciated beggar who has been banished to the outskirts of town. After who knows how many days, she says in her frustration, “Curse God and die”.

And there they were: words that would be associated with her forever.

We quickly forget how human we are when we witness others’ frailties. What Job’s wife had was a perfectly human response. She spoke out of her pain, her frustration, and her desperation. Thankfully, Job didn’t follow her advice…and neither did she. Ah! Did you miss that? I’m not excusing what she said, but with that being her only recorded statement, we don’t know if she asked God for forgiveness. I hope she did. If she did, she would have found out that the very God she was upset with was the same God able to forgive and surround her in His abounding love. Some people have said and done worse things in less stressful situations. And guess what? There’s even hope for them. I know this because I’ve had to ask God for forgiveness several times for my own reactions and responses. I still deal with hurtful situations, but now I’ve learned to talk to God about them and with His help, I will have more of the right responses. I’m a work in progress, folks.

May we always remember that we all need His grace.