Don’t Forget the Seeds

Let’s be real. It can be tough as an old Cordova’s “thickly cushioned” Corinthian leather (Google it) to think that things in life are going to change in our favor, especially when we desperately need things in life to change in our favor. This is the tea, and can be a serious struggle. Ask me how I know. The sweet-as-can-be sweetener in this tea, however, is the fact that in Romans 8:28 God promises that all the things we’re going through will work for our good if we love Him. And that He also promises in Galatians 6:9 that if we keep doing good we will reap if we don’t faint. That is some good news!

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So what do we do between this and that? I would suggest remembering our seeds. Talking to a friend recently who was going through some life-changing testimony builders (as I prefer to call them) I had to remind her of just how faithful to God and her situation she’d been, and how sacrificially kind she’d been to so many people, including me. She was in a time of need and needed to remember her seed. She’d sown some major blessings, that, while the main harvest might not have been meant for her, the residual reaping sure was.

Now don’t get God twisted. He’s not in the lottery business nor is He vying for Wayne Brady’s gig on “Let’s Make a Deal”. We can’t bet, barter and finagle with him like a mid-day game show or a midnight casino run. What we can do is know that, if we’ve done things to please Him and if we’ve been a blessing to His children, like any good Father, in fact the greatest Father, He’s got our back. No, that’s not going to mean that our situations will immediately improve. No, that’s not going to mean that we will necessarily reap from the exact people or places we’ve sown into. No, that doesn’t mean that it won’t even appear (note, I said appear) that somebody “done come all up in our crop” and plundered our stuff. But yes, Romans 8:28 and Galatians 6:9 are true, and there’s nothing any situation or struggle can do about it, but succumb to it. Bow down struggle. Bow down.

So, when we’re tempted to think all hope is gone, things can’t better, there’s no way out, this is as good (as in bad) as it’s going to get, and so on and so on, we can’t forget the seeds we’ve sown. And we certainly can’t forget the works and wonders God has already done. We have to ponder on our seeds and successes for a few then get right on up and sow some more. In fact, I dare us all to sow in the very area we need it most. Need money? Give money. Need a job? Volunteer. Want children? Babysit. Need a marriage miracle? Bless a couple. Desperate for healing? Care for the sick. Family matters? Help another one. Got it? Good! Now let’s get going, and keep sowing.

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@AngelaMMoore316

I Spilled My Tea

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to a group of students from Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School through a mentoring program/small group I host called Steps to Success. The two speakers I’d arranged to come and talk about Money Matters couldn’t make it for very important reasons which left me faced with figuring out in the 11th hour what I was going to talk to them about during the one hour after school I had their full attention. I sat down in front of them and explained the absence of our speakers and asked what they wanted to hear about. One of my more quiet young men hollered out, “You, we want to know more about you.” So that set the stage for me spilling my tea about me…the Ramsay High School Version, that is.

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For a little over an hour, over the backdrop of pouring rain, whispers, giggles, and teens smacking on Little Ceasar’s pizza I told them about skipping school (and the subsequent interaction with a belt that followed), arguing with my parents about not letting me stay in a hotel for prom (and the subsequent interaction with a belt that followed), the battle with the curfew (and the subsequent interaction with a belt that followed), my high school boyfriend’s horrific murder, relying on the support of family, friends, medical professionals and the Lord to help me heal and deal, the importance of being involved in extra-curricular activities to meet new and exiting people and experiences, and so on and so on.

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The things I shared with them were for them, but as I rehearsed my own words, I realize that even now, at my age, or any age they still apply to me, and so many. Here’s what I shared with them:

• If you love someone tell them.

• Use your words carefully for fear they will come to pass.

• Use your words boldly with confidence they will come to pass.

• The heart can heal.

• Choose your friends very, very wisely, recognizing that some may have to one day get off the bus (or be kicked off) because they’re no longer headed in your direction.

• One day you will be someone’s husband, wife, mother, father, leader, Pastor, CEO, teacher, etc. and who you are today can greatly affect that role one way or the other.

• Different is a great way to be.

• It’s okay to start over, and over, and over. Just don’t settle in your mistakes.

• Stay connected to teachers, mentors, and associates who are where you want to be, or can help you get there.

• Don’t rush to get old. Stay and enjoy the beauty of right where you are as long as you can.

• Somebody loves you, believes in you and will do their part for you to become who you are created to be…if you let them.

• Our elders got to be old for a reason. Usually they know of what they speak.

• And lastly…never, ever skip school following the Annual College Fair at the Civic Center to go to Ensley Park with friends and a boy with a name you now can not even remember. In the end, after that interaction with a belt you won’t remember his name, only the embarrassment from having to wear a black and white striped, mini-skirt ensemble from Parisian in Eastdale Mall in Montgomery the next day which gave gentle, glimpses of the interaction with the belt. Years after this bit of teenage tomfoolery, you’ll only be privy to enough of the pain from that interaction and sketchy details from the eating pizza in the park story to tell and gain many a gasp and lots of “Oh my gooooddddnneessss, Ms. Moore, I know you didn’t do something like that”, from a group of amazing kids. (And to the non-believers in the power of discipline. No, my parents did not in any way abuse me. They loved me enough to do their part to save me from a path of “Self-Destruction” as the old hip-hop hit went.)

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@AngelaMMoore316

Whistle. Whistle. Tweet. Tweet.

You know you have flourishing self-esteem when you whisk your head around to say “thank you” after hearing what you think are whistles only to find out it’s actually real, live birds just doing their job of tweeting in trees. (I promise you, those birds sounded so “fake”. I just knew they were humans…LOL!) Not to be one easily swayed by the whistle, hiss the, occasional “Hey Girl” or my all-time favorite from the University of Alabama Quad…”Hey, Ms. Lady”, I did want to be polite to whomever I thought was using that age-old method of complimenting and at least wanted to smile in my best southern way and say “thanks”.

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I laughed, really hard at myself after this experience. I laughed even harder when I shared this with a friend who almost choked laughing then begged me not to repeat this story. Of course I did choose to repeat it, hence the purpose of this post. There was a time when I would never have assumed a whistle was coming my way. Now, let me be honest and clear, those times were rare, as my parents did an excellent job of instilling in us to the best of their ability as we received it the importance of healthy self-esteem. However, bouts with life sometimes deal a tough blow which can taint even the most perfect balance of esteem and humility.

There have been times when I would have kept on walking either with my head down (not in a good way) or my head up (in an even worse way) after hearing the fake, yet really real whistles because I thought I was too tall, too thin, too big, not dressed my best, or even too good to be admired by the type of person who has the audacity to whistle from a street (those were the days when the “stay humble” struggle was real for your girl). So as I hopped down 3rd Avenue North in Birmingham, Alabama in my Old Navy deal of the week with an orthopedic boot on my foot and wind-blown hair that had to be rewashed later that day because I failed to condition it and it showed, nothing in me said that for whom the whistle whistled wasn’t me. I knew it was.

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So many times we let life tell us who we are, how we are and what should be expected. I expected the whistles to be from an admirer because that’s what I expected. Simple and plain. I dare you to expect. Expect the best. Expect to be admired. Expect to be appreciated. Expect to be valued. Expect to be recognized, all in the purest place of humility, of course. Expecting is scary sometimes. I know. It’s disappointing sometimes too. I’d even go so far as to say that expecting is risky. but I know the other side of the flipping coin and let me tell you, having expectation is better than having none at all.  In my mind, the fact that God saw fit to even let the birds of they were tweeting) is just the icing on the cake, cherry on top, food for fodder, a post to post about and laughter for days. carl

@AngelaMMoore316

Facebook Wasn’t Made For That

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t a fast fan of Facebook when it first made its options open for non-collegiate grown folk like me. I’d heard of the damage done to relationships where affairs and the likes were allowed to live, and I’d experienced firsthand a person I knew become consumed with it spending far too much time attending to “the book”.

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Well, in 2010, I decided to bite the bullet and join Facebook in an effort to stay connected to those I would know longer see on a regular basis due to my divorce, to connect with new and encouraging associates and to reconnect with those I needed for my awesome at times, and not so much at others, new journey. Since that time, I’ve become a fan of what I once seriously/jokingly referred to as “the devil”, recognizing the powerful potential Facebook offers to foster healthy relationships, stay connected, get important messages out, build business, provide laughter, promote encouragement and the likes. I’ve also noticed some things that I’m sure Facebook wasn’t made for. I’m not talking about the  typical ease with which illicit associations and drama that puts “Empire” to shame can occur. I’m not talking about the bitter and very vocal hurting woman or man who uses the “Book” to continually put her/his child’s other parent on blast. I’m not hinting at the scantily clad photos or rants that should literally and figuratively disappear (but won’t because once it’s out there it’s out there). I’m not speaking to the cyber-bullying which should cease immediately. I’m not even referring to the poor grammar which pains me to my core each time I scroll by it. I’m speaking to the self-inflicted hurt which causes humans to question themselves or question others based on what someone posts. And while this effect is not at all caused by Facebook, it is certainly conducive to breeding unwarranted anger, misplaced hurt, self-doubt, or distrust if there are internal issues which allow it to do so.

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Again, there is much to say about social media and the damage it can do in the hands of hurting humans who use it irresponsibly. However, there is much good which has come about as well. Now, I’ve not spoken to Mr. Zuckerberg (yet), but I can imagine, after having seen the Social Network movie with my friend-in-my-head Justin Timberlake in it, that Mark didn’t create Facebook for any of the following:

  • Facebook is not made to make us feel left out, excluded, forgotten, ignored or unwanted when we see pictures and posts which may not include us. (It’s just not, and that’s as plain as I can put it. There are a myriad of reasons for things, none of which should ever have us feel bad about ourselves or feel bad about those who truly care whether we were invited or not. Read my blog to find out why: https://angelamooreblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/i-dont-want-to-come-to-your-stinkin-party-anyway/)
  • Facebook is not made to have us scroll through posts and feel somebody else’s life is better than ours. (Every single body goes through something. We can’t let the ability to smile, laugh, mix or mingle (even through pain) fool us into thinking there’s something wrong with us because of what we perceive to be right with others.)
  • Facebook is not made to have us scroll through pictures and posts and feel somebody thinks their life is better than ours. (They may feel that way. If so. Pray. On the other hand, they may simply just be glad to be alive and want to share it with their world.)
  • Facebook is not made to make us compare and compete. (It was made to like, comment, share, post, friend, follow, defriend or unfollow. We can’t let a spirit of comparison ruin the beauty that lingers within Facebook or any form of social media.)
  • Facebook is not made to make us. (It’s social media, which means it in no way, shape, form or fashion rules or reigns over the other amazing aspects of our lives. It should not be our only source of “go-to” communication. It should not take the place of good, old-fashioned chit-chat. It should not be where we post important things, hope others notice and get upset if they don’t. It should not define us based on likes, friends, followers or requests.)

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@AngelaMichele316

Get Yourself a Cheerleader

I’ve been observing relationships lately. Not just relationships along the lines of “boos” and “baes” (I truly detest the word bae for some reason), but relationships between families, friends, coworkers and comrades.

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I’ve witnessed in others, and seen for myself the figurative Negative Nellies, Doubting Deborahs, Cynical Sams, Tear apart Tommies and Gossipping Glendas literally rip relationships to shreds for selfish gain and other unwise reasons. Like a bad bug in a pre-school classroom filled with less than hygienic children, the damage these types of hurting humans can do can be far-reaching and fast-spreading. Those kinds of people, God bless them, are like the hecklers in the sports crowd sent to distract from pending victory. They can throw a game plan off course in the worst possible ways.

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Here’s the tea…You better get yourself a cheerleader. Cheerleaders do one thing. They cheer. Whether winning or losing they cheer. Whether it’s raining or snowing they cheer. Whether they feel like it or not they cheer. Whether you believe you can have victory or not they cheer. Whether you want to quit or not they cheer. Whether a large crowd or a couple of people they cheer.

Cheerleaders do not ever tell you to come off the field, leave your post, quit your position, question the coach, isolate from the players, forgo the huddle, heckle the fans, shirk the media or dodge practice. They cheer. They don’t try to call plays or interject their “if I was yous”. They cheer. They use words to motivate, stir up, empower and encourage. Why? Because they cheer. They don’t let your fatigue or their own get the best of them. They cheer. They don’t leave their post for a hot dog, nacho and pretzel run. Cheerleaders cheer. That’s all they do. They may say things you don’t want to hear, far more often than you want to hear it or not how you’d prefer hearing it but they cheer. They do their part to keep you in the game, whether you want to be or not, and they hopefully help you win. So I say again, “get yourself a cheerleader”, and if you’re bold enough, wise enough and serious enough you may as well get yourself a whole squad. #rahrah #sisboombahhhh

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@AngelaMichele316

Too Many Thank Yous

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Yippee-ki-yay! It’s my birthday!!!!

There’s so much I could say about my hopes and dreams for year 43. I’m believing God for some major, major blessings, changes, improvements, opportunities and opportunities (yes, I said it twice) this year. I’m just in awe of Him and who He has been in my life, in spite of me. There’s also so much I could say about my tango with year 42. What a year it was, not defined by anything extra, extra defining, but still a year filled with gratitude, life’s lessons, loving family and friends, personal challenges, a few perceived setbacks, an abundance of laughs, and some testimonies to tout.

While looking for some “thinking of you” cards in my stack of cards I have I ran across a whole heap of “thank you” cards. My first response was, “why on earth did I buy all of those thank you cards.” My second response was, “and why on earth haven’t I used them.”

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I have so much and sooooooooooooooooooooooooo many for which to be thankful. There’s nothing like a birthday to remind me of just that. The Lord has truly blessed me with some amazing examples of His love here on earth. Coming in all forms, from far and near, daily chatters or irregular conversers, cheerleaders and correctors, old acquaintances and new found favorites, family and friends, blacks and whites, the pepper to my salt or the fire to my ice, I am thankful for each person who plays a part in my life.

Along with the list of personal goals I plan to accomplish this year, I plan to put those thank you cards to use letting people I know and love know that I love and thank them dearly for being who they are for me. And that, my friends is my idea of an ideal birthday and year. So let’s get this party started with a great big “THANK YOU!”

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@AngelaMMoore316

Sometimes We Have to Know When to Blow

Got your attention? I hope so, because chances are, if you’re like I am you need to read this as much as I needed to write it so I could read it (again and again).

Sometimes we have to know when to blow. Blow what, you might ask? Blow off a little steam I might answer. In the frenzy of life, the hustle and bustle, the grit and grind or whatever you prefer to call those things that keep us on our toes, and often buckle us to our knees, knowing how and when to healthily blow off a little steam means a world of difference.

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I was feeling frenzied recently. I mean I was in a tailspin. I was feeling that feeling that often dances in my head, rests in my neck and lower back, and settles itself stomach disguised as “not feeling well”, but really is stress, tension and a reason to go see Lemar Storey at Life Touch Massage Therapy. That frenziedness was playing over and over and over in my mind as to how I was going to do all I needed to do. I was wondering how God was going to answer some lingering prayers, trying to figure out how I was going to fit 25 hours worth of stuff in a 24 hour day, planning for next week while not yet fully invested into this week, listening to the prayer requests of others (and holding some of their pains personally), waiting on Friday (payday) and working my finagaling to figure out how to make it to that day with things needing to be handled to today. I was convinced I was smelling the smell of something electric in my truck which made me think of another bill. I was balancing a plate full of duties at work that was running over like a gallon of water in a pint-sized container. I was frenzied, my friends. On top of that, I am in my final week of 42 and knew that I didn’t want to carry the unnecessary sense of feeling overwhelmed with me into a blessed new year. No ma’am, no sir. Overwhelmed is not invited to my 43rd Birthday Empire Watch Party Celebration complete with me wearing something(s) with animal print on it.  Toodleloo, overwhelmingness. Poof! Be gone…

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And so I blew it. Literally, I took a deep breath and blew that “ick” right on up out of me. I inhaled in a gut-giving way that would have made Terri McMillan stand up and salute, and exhaled like my very being depended on it. Then I did it again for good measure, just to be sure, just in case. And just like that, with nothing yet changed from my long laundry list of things to do, I decided to simply breathe through all I was going through, even if I couldn’t breeze through it.

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@AngelaMMoore316

Shoot the Photographer

I had an opportunity to fill in for someone taking photographs at a major event. It was fun, and a great way for me to further explore my passion for pictures. Not one to shy away from the camera myself, I noticed that during my time of taking as many as 160 usable shots only one person offered to shoot a picture of me. As someone who likes taking pictures I also like to be taken. Not being shot honestly didn’t fare too well and left me feeling “some type of way” as the urban teens of America say. Later that day while editing my pictures I realized how much I missed being able to see myself in the midst of the hundreds who had gathered to support the important cause that brought us all together.

That made me think. How often do we extend the luxury, care, concern or simple favor to those who often do it for us. Usually, by default, those who do, like to have the same done. You’ve heard of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Well, yeah, that notion holds true for many who often pour out in an area they’d like to be poured in. I realize that I am guilty of possibly not paying attention to what others give and probably would like to receive in return.

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  • So the next time someone encourages us we can’t forget that they probably would appreciate encouragement too.
  • Let’s be fast to text the one who usually sends the text message more often.
  • We have to remember to be generous to those who are generous to us.
  • We must be mindful to invite, plan, organize  and host even for the friend or family member who is usually the inviter, planner, organizer or host.
  • We should remember to call those we’re accustomed to receiving calls from first, especially if we’ve not heard from them like we used to or want to.
  • We should be the driver of those who usually chauffeur us.
  • Let’s grow to celebrate those who take the time to celebrate us
  • We should try cooking for those who cook for us.
  • Let’s go all out to shower and spoil those who shower and spoil us.
  • And whatever we do, let’s never forget to shoot the photographer.

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@AngelaMMoore316

I Don’t Know So I Won’t Say

Have you ever found yourself saying, “I don’t know why he did that”, or “I don’t know why she won’t don’t that”? I have started many a sentence that way, sadly. The fact of the matter is, when commenting on the life, actions or reactions of others often we don’t know so we shouldn’t readily or repeatedly say. Now certainly there are times and occurrences where lives are in jeopardy, situations are dire, God is urging action or experience has equipped us and throwing in the proverbial “two cents” is warranted. But there are times where, from the outside looking in with only half, or less than the facts needed to make an accurate assessment, we aren’t in a position to say something and should accept that as so.

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A conversation with a dear friend reinforced this notion as we both came to the realization that the actions of a woman going through the pains of her divorce didn’t make sense and would end up causing more pain. That was the truth. Still, as two fellow divorcees, with situations very different from hers we quickly realized that we truly can’t say much about her situation since we weren’t in it. As women, we had to step back with empathy, see another sister hurting, and look at the myriad of factors which might have led to or encouraged her actions, then accept that those were factors that we didn’t have to deal with because of the route our lives took in ways that didn’t exactly mirror or mimic hers.

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I’ve learned that it’s easy to say how we think a person’s story should go when we only have a bit part, wasn’t around for the opening act, didn’t make it to the gut-wrenching middle or are simply sitting high up in the rafters getting a glimpse of it unfolding. To cast the kind of stinging commentary that has become all too familiar about the lives of others is unfair, even if the person’s actions ultimately end up wrong, and especially if they ultimately end up right. When it comes to actions which we feel are wrong for a person and end up proving to be absolutely wrong, the truth of the matter is, many times we don’t know the past hurts, the unresolved pains, the unhealthy influences, the spiritual, mental or emotional state, or any of the other impairing factors a person might be facing. When it comes to actions which we feel are wrong for a person and end up proving to be absolutely right, the truth of the matter is we don’t know the past histories, the unknown path to healing, the plans of God unfolding, or the truth behind the bold, unconventional choices which may not make sense now but certainly will later.

What’s the best way to handle situations we may not like, may not understand, may not agree with or hope to be different? Glad you asked. In the words of MC Hammer, “I said, ‘We pray‘, pray, ah yeah, we pray, pray!”

The best commentary we can offer toward another’s life’s circumstances is a good, old chat with our great, big God. We have to pray for the person or persons involved, and pray we are never faced with a situation of that nature.

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@AngelaMMoore316