In April of 2014, a day spent at home waiting for the second round of horrible storms that had pummeled my Alabama region lead to an amazing creation and an even more amazing revelation.
Bored from the storm watch, and honestly tired of looking at television and in each other’s faces, my sister Kristy and I had a sweet tooth for a sweet treat. As if the brownies she baked the night before weren’t good enough she decided to use some “maturing” bananas to whip up what was supposed to be a Banana Loaf Bread. When she peeled the fresh fruit she realized that the bananas were far too ripe for consumption. (In the words of my two-year-old niece Kenna, they were “yucky!”) With only one good banana left she took to my parent’s pantry. She wasn’t too sure that what she would find would produce what she wanted, but she was certain that if anyone had it “Mama” would. A few ingredients she sought weren’t found, but what she discovered was just short of loaf-making magical. Nestled among the school snacks, toys, paper products, canned goods, recyclable newspaper, stored fine china and boxed dinners she found everything she needed to create two amazing loaves of baked undefinable deliciousness. With bananas, apple sauce, flour, baking soda, baking powder and a few other secret ingredients she took what, at first appeared to be a mass of nothingness and made something moist and memorable that permeated the house like high-priced, autumn-scented, Yankee Candle at your local Cracker Barrel. I watched her work in awe and waited in mouth-watering anticipation, while striking out on my own to dare to make a vanilla glaze to adorn the cake-like creation. The funny thing is that, as we worked and danced/strutted/sashayed around the kitchen as we often did, almost forgetting that we were in the middle of a literal storm, my Mama sat in certainty looking over her reading glasses and going on about her business, not at all surprised by what she had and what it provided. She knew. She’d known all along.
How easy would it have been for us to give up on the thought of being satisfied, having what we needed to have what we wanted. We were already in the middle of a storm, so settling for “life doesn’t get any better, especially in a storm” could have been our response. I’ll admit, that has been my response one time too many. Instead a little faith and a LOT of wisdom from a woman who was stocked for the (figurative and literal) storm offered us a true recipe for life.
The purpose of this post is to remind someone: Sometimes you have what you need and it’s been there all along. You just need the right kind of faith and the right person or people around you to show you what you’re working with, and what’s been waiting on you. So don’t give up. Go right ahead and “bake what your Mama gave ya”.
Trust is one of those things that’s often spoken of, often mishandled, often misdirected and rarely understood.
So much in life is built by trust, and sadly so much is destroyed by lack of it. One of the things divorce or any broken relationship specifically does is try to take away trust, not just in the culprit or culprits so to speak, but in everyone. I’ve experienced, or have heard others talk about not trusting men or women, not trusting family or friends who they felt weren’t there in their time of need, not trusting the legal process, not trusting the healing process, not even trusting God to get them through what they are enduring.
Nowadays it’s has become far too common to not trust people, and is sort of used as a badge of honor or code of ethic. There are even new fangled songs about having “No New Friends”, but as I was riding down 3rd Avenue West in my former neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama an old song called “Friends” by Jody Watley came on. The lyrics, part of which go, “Friends will let you down. Friends won’t be around. When you need them most.
Where are your friend” reminded me that a lack of trust has been unfortunately popular for quite a long time.
Call me strange, but I love the thought of friends and truly look forward to meeting new people and adding to my circle. The thing about it is, through MANY trials and errors with trust, I have learned that the real person who often shouldn’t be trusted is the one doing the trusting, ME. God gives us all a spirit of discernment that is meant to be used to help us carefully decide who should be in our lives and who should not. However, how many of us have actually prayed before accepting someone’s will you be my friend check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ request? How many of us have done a reference check (literally) before going out with someone, talking to someone online, meeting for Starbucks, exchanging numbers or exchanging wedding rings? How many of us have simply said, “God, do you want me around this person?” then waited on the answer and acted accordingly, not matter how fine he was or cute she was?
If we were to look back honestly at the caution signs that must have been there prior to deciding to let another person in our lives whether as a spouse, friend, business partner or mere associate, we will see that signals were in place often screaming…”WARNING!!!! WARNING!!!”
Not trusting people, the right people, leaves us in isolation and prey for the devil to pounce on. That’s all the enemy wants. Too bad the devil is defeated and we have discernment that can push us out of fear of trust and into healthy, God-chosen relationships. Trust me.
A recent conversation with a younger person tickled me as I reflected on how I once was. In need of a job, this person said something that triggered an alarm in me reminiscent of a middle school recess bell. With blatant desperation she said, “I don’t care what I do. I just want a job.” Softly, with age-old wisdom I said, “Yikes!”
When she said it my skin did a little internal twitch as I felt the unbridled urgency in her voice, but also knew the danger of settling while desperate. Now, I’m not all advocating against doing what you have to do to advance in the best, healthiest way possible. I’m speaking more to the spirit of settling. In my opinion, settling is for pilgrims. (Get it?) So I began to share with her some of the mistakes and mishaps that can happen by simply wanting, rather than wanting what’s right.
I don’t want it unless it’s right, and right for me. Here’s why.
- I don’t just want a job. I want a career I look forward to even when I don’t like it, or some of the cast of co-workers that come along with it. I want a career that sings to my passions and the purpose of why I was created, also leading to the legacy I’m supposed to sow on earth. I want a career at a place that is both professionally and financially rewarding, but also fun, appreciative of my work and conducive to the social and family life I desire (and deserve). I want a career that will place me in contact with mentors, mentees and cool co-workers or counterparts who make what I do even more meaningful, and make me better.
- I don’t just want a man. I want a man who loves the Lord, loves himself, loves me, likes me, is caring, funny, and sociable, but embraces my introversion when it needs to breathe. I want a man who comes from a loving family or has healed from any family pains he might have endured, fits within my family, has similar goals and interests, but isn’t my “male twin” so that his strengths can become mine and mine his. I want a man who isn’t afraid to listen, speak or change, is a hard worker, who also understands and implements the Biblical need for balance. I want a man who is confident within himself, supportive of me, and doesn’t shy away from being both my quarterback who can lead me to the end zone and my cheerleader who can pep me up and push me to the top of the pyramid.
- I don’t just want a house, or a car, or some friends, or a hobby or a church home or anything else. I ONLY want those things and people who are assigned and designed to help me be who I am supposed to be.
While none of my wants ever come in expected ways, I’m confident enough in God’s unexpected always being excellent. I hope my younger job-seeking friend is reading this and comes to know and share the same as God pours out His absolute best for her. And believe me, when He says it’s right, oh, it’s RIGHT!!!
For 40 days during this year’s Lenten season I fasted from the most non-traditional sacrifice I’ve ever offered. I fasted from commenting, critiquing and offering my two-cents worth on things and people. (See the post below.)
Not that I, at all, am a gossip, messy or mean girl with loose lips, but for me the challenge was holding my tongue when it came to people who did things that hurt people I love or me. Making it through Lent was a struggle, and I had a slip up from time-to-time but I made it through. Thank God for Jesus!
One thing that was revealed to me during this relative time of silence is that often the things that happen to us can be the result of the things we’ve said or shared about others…even if those things were true. I’ve learned and lived through the fact that, just because it’s truth doesn’t mean it needs to be told.
We’ve all been, or have known the person who’s known for gossip. You know the secret whisper who’s always pulling others to the side in semi-silent chatter? Or the person who’s name pops up on your caller ID and you instantly know the topic of conversation will be about somebody else’s issues? Or the social media blaster whose status posts are rarely personal but pertain to business belonging to other people? My favorite, however, is the kind, caring companion who comes in the name of “prayer” to really to share other people’s bees-wax.
I don’t want myself or anyone I know to reap the unfortunate harvest of seeds that were sown because of commenting on another person’s marriage then end up with trouble in their own. I don’t want anyone I know to be whispering at the family function about what another person’s child has done then have to see the same or worse in their own. I don’t want any of us to have to walk the road of humiliation because we’ve aided in the pain of another’s embarassment by spreading news about their hurt.
I charge us all to think of the tune of the National Anthem when it comes to repeating or commenting on things related to others. Oh, Say? You Might See… (now let that marinate for a moment…)
Ever had something that was once considered a blessing then something happened and it started feeling like it was sent straight from the devil’s zip code? Well, I have.
In December of 2013, I finally made the move to buy a new vehicle, as my car that I’d had since 2002 decided it was in need of a break. I purchased the vehicle, was initially excited then eventually started having trouble out of it that I shall not discuss as to not revisit those lovely emotions I experienced. While to some, the issue I had might have appeared minuscule. To me it was major enough. My first thought was, “Drats, I wish I could just go back to my old car.” But I couldn’t, so I didn’t. I then entertained the gamut of wild and rapid questions like, “How will I afford to pay for it?”, “How can I pay insurance on two cars?”, “Where will I get money for gas?”
I pressed on and drove the newer vehicle, grateful that I had the credit to buy it and growing in certainty that the Lord was going to give me the monthly cash to keep it. When the 2014 winter storms hit I was stuck in downtown Birmingham, AL more than 35 miles from my home. As with many, I glided and was guided by guardian angels who allowed me to make it to my godmothers house just 10 miles away. It took four hours just to get 10 miles. As I was taking off my boots in the warm comfort of the room I used to nap in as a child when I was sick (or pretended to be sick) I thought about how much worse my drive to Powderly could have been had I been in my old car rather than my newer, bigger, and safer truck. I realized then that a blessing is a blessing even when it doesn’t feel like it. God knew I would need that truck, and no matter how much I tried to go back to what was He wouldn’t let me.
Fast-forward to now, and I’m in the throes of revisiting some tough choices that many might not have understood (many meaning me too) and having recently made some difficult decisions personally that I believe with my whole heart are in my best interest and will pay off for me in the end. And yes, it feels like these choices are bringing along companions that would like nothing more than to drench my dreams with doubt and a splash of “you know you should have just kept things the way they were”, but I have to believe that these decisions too, are a blessing. I have to believe, and I do, that like the newer truck that I tried to give back not one, not two but three times, these choices will one day help guide and glide me safely to where I’m supposed to be with an AWESOME, AWESOME story attached.