Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What State Are You In?

The first time I did it, I promised myself, I would never do it again. Then a couple years later, in relocating from New York to Orlando, we were forced to do it. Again, I promised myself I would never do it again! Only too recently, upon the death of my husband’s Grandmother, and with funeral services scheduled to take place in New York, we did it yet again! Yep! You guessed it, “a road trip”. This trip should ideally take eighteen hours if you only stop to refuel, but with us older, and somewhat unfit people and young children, we projected twenty-two hours. We managed to do it in nineteen hours and Lorraine has not stopped chiding us for speeding. [Really though, the traffic was light and we had no meals in a restaurant, so NOT much speeding was done.] Despite the sadness of the occasion, driving together was of great benefit. We were able to spend time together in extremely close, confined space, and the children enjoyed being in the different states.

On the journey I noticed that once we crossed into a new state, the signs pointing to the welcome center are quite evident. Everyone was advertising the merits of their individual states and luring us to spend some time and some money. The disparity in the gas prices were also quite evident ranging from $1.71 to $2.25. All this leads me to ask this question, what state are you in right now?

What State Are You In? Almost fifteen hours into the journey, my friend, Cynthia, texted me to ask “What state are you in?” My immediate response was, “We are in Sleepy State”, because although we got some “shut eye” I wanted to sleep. My three year old woke up in Sleepy State and mumbled, “Mom, I want my bed”. Even the toddler recognized that that was no way to get a good sleep! Nevertheless, we were preserved. God gave us the energy and the strength to continue on the journey.

As the world around us seem to be crumbling, people are going penniless, families, and friends are dying, and it just seem like morality is hurriedly escaping through the front door, we will sometimes find ourselves in various states. We may not see the welcome center sign when we are in the “State of Despair”, all we might see is darkness. Don’t miss the sign … “ye though I walk through the valley of the shadows of death, I’ll fear no ill, for though art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”. [Psalms 23:4] Imprint those words on our minds and bring to remembrance as we go through the State of Despair. Accelerate and speed if we must to hurriedly get out of that state.

Ooops! Now we have traveled to the “State of Discontent”. We just can’t seem to get it right. Things are not going our way and we long for something better in our lives. Please don’t slow down in this state, keep the speed limit, but get out on the wings of “they that wait up on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” [Isaiah 40:31]. Did you remember that we can ask the Lord to teach us how to wait? Yes, He Will!!

Dear Readers, aren’t you glad you made it through the Discontent State? Stop!! Don’t go that way to the “State of Sadness”! Now, now, now!! What are we going to do? Being sad is okay, but we don’t want to stay that way for too long. Take the bathroom break, wash your hands, and your face, get back in the car and read the sign written by King David, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” [Psalms 30:11] God will help us to move on through our state of sadness. It is up to us to put that car into drive and press that gas pedal to get out!

Why did we make that wrong turn to the “State of Loneliness”? It is late in the night and no one is on the road with us. Do we feel lost? Turn the radio dial and listen to the news, perhaps, something happened that we didn’t hear about. It just doesn’t feel right. Why must we be so lonely? It sure is taking a long time to get out of this State of Loneliness! Then again, King David found himself in that state and scribbled the sign that said, "Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life." [Psalms 142:4]. Okay, it can’t get anymore lonely! Everyone in our cars has fallen asleep and we are the one driving so must stay awake. My goodness! It sure is lonely on this highway!! We MUST find our way out of this State of Loneliness. LOOK OUT! Our exit is coming up! Read the sign "... God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." [Hebrews 13:5]. Praise God, we are not alone! We were never alone!! Our great Protector has (and will) always been with us - we only forgot! What a relief!!

In this country alone we have fifty states, and we can drive to all but one. In life, we know we have so many different states of mind that we often find ourselves in, so I could go on and on and on….. but I will stop here and encourage us to move over, put down roots, and take up residence in the “State of Leave It All To God” remembering King David’s poignant thoughts expressed on the billboard of Psalm 137:

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You
[Psalms 137:1-12]

“OH NO!” We still haven’t reached our destination! Please take the next and only right, and I guarantee that we will be in a better State…..if only we stay on the narrow road that leads to LIFE!! [Matthew 7:13-14]

I thank you all for your prayers, love, and tangible show of care and concern. Grandma Sophia has been laid to rest and as always, it was good to see (and meet) family members.

Let us try to remain in the State of Hope, knowing that our Righteous God knows just what we need! We praise and thank Him!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Such Comfort

Live, Love, Laugh

I am feeling so guilty right now. I have broken my promise to write every week and for that I am repentant. It is amazing how terrible I felt knowing that I was not keeping to my promise. And you might think it is a small thing, but to me, a commitment is a commitment. Too often we make commitments, big or small, and we do not follow through. Can you identify with me here for a minute? Well, just imagine how God feels when we do not live up to our promises to Him. He gives us such comforting words, and when the need for comfort arises in our lives, we turn to other people, other things, and other places. Take God at His word, Dear Readers, and “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) Such comfort!!

Live, love, laugh was the theme of our Ladies’ Motivational Weekend two weeks ago. Our congregation hosted the event and over 120 sisters gathered together to share and fellowship with each other on Saturday (the main event), April 4, 2009. Debbie Houston out of Rochester New York was the Keynote Speaker and she sure gave us a revival in our souls. One main thought she delivered and that I wish to share here is this:

"We serve a Sovereign God. Because of this undeniable fact, God has the right to allow us to go through some stuff. God is good no matter what we go through. We should learn to live, to love, to laugh, despite the hard circumstances; and this can only be achieved by having a confrontation with God. Get face to face with God, and submit ourselves to His warm embrace. God is our all powerful God and the sooner we believe this and live life to the fullest, the better equipped we will be to deal with our grief, persecution, and despair."

The Friday night before, we had a fun time singing, and fellowshipping with one another. We learnt that laughing will burn up calories, so we have been laughing since.

We were blessed to have received a revival in our lives, and I pray that we will call on the name of the Lord so that He can help us to stay alive in Christ. The smell of death is all around my family, but I have to keep on living, loving, and laughing as I know that my God is able! Now I must live what I have been preaching – hope in the midst of all our sorrows!!

And a child shall lead them

Last weekend we went to the youth convention, Lads to Leaders and Leaderettes, right here in Orlando. My boys participated in song leading and Bible Reading and we walked away with three trophies in Girls Songs of Praise, Girls Speech, and Boys Speech. This Convention was such a blessing. Seeing all the young people from Kindergarten up to high school enjoy singing, speaking, reading, performing (puppet theatre) for the Lord, was incredulous! They are the future of our congregations, and it is a wise thing that we are training them to fulfill those roles. I thank our leadership at our congregation for facilitating this training. This points to a future of hope for our churches, and we ought to encourage and uplift our youth at all times.

Thankful that God never gets tired of hearing our prayers!

After 11 p.m. last night, I was making final preparations for bed, and it would seem that every two to three minutes one of my boys would come calling, “Mom, my brother did this” or “Mom, can I have some water, please?” or “Mom, can you read me a book, please?” or “Mom, I can’t go to sleep!” (that was my three year old). Noticed the time I mentioned in the beginning? Yes, dear readers, it gets tiring and especially at that time of night! I’m human, and I am so thankful that God never gets tired of hearing my pleas, like I do with my children. Lately, we have been calling on Him a lot for help in our sorrows. This past Monday (4/13), my husband’s maternal grandmother departed this life. She was such a blessing and she served her family well. Many Sundays we would have dinner with her and she would always have enough for us to take home. Even when we don’t visit, she would call to say she made dinner. This she did not only for us, but for others of the family, and many at her congregation. To lose “Mom”, as we all called her, is to lose a wonderful blessing! God will sustain us, we know, but your prayers are most welcomed. Thanks to you who have already put through a call, send an email, or verbally expressed your condolences. As you pray, just thank God on our behalf for all that He sends our way. My Aunt/Mom is still low and we expect that she will go anytime now. We know that God knows just how much we are able to bear, so we rest in His comforting arms.

I encourage you to live a life full of hope!