Thursday, March 24, 2011

Soul Excavation

Today I had a dental appointment and had to endure a "deep cleaning" and a root canal.  It was about a 3 and a half hour visit so I had plenty of time to think about how I am going to floss more regularly and brush after every meal because I never want to experience this pain again.  The drilling, the needles, the water pick, oh my!  Amazingly, I did not have any pain in the tooth that required the root canal and from the outside nothing appeared to be wrong, but the cavity was detected by an x-ray.

The root canal was pretty tough for the dentist to deal with because so much calcium had developed and hardened like cement at the very end of the root.  I actually have to follow up an endodontist in the next few days because my regular dental office did not have the appropriate tools to remove the build up inside my tooth which was tapping on my nerve-endings.  The dentist explained that it is vital to remove everything at the root of a cavity because if left in place these types dental issues can lead to major sickness and disease which could spread throughout my entire body.  He further stated it was hard to tell when or how this problem would impact me so it was best to take care of it now.

It started me thinking about the things cemented in the depths of our souls that need to be excavated and removed at the  root.  We may be walking around looking normal and highly functioning on some level because  we've gone through our lives making adjustments based on painful experiences and disappointments we have been subjected to.  These are adjustments oftentimes result in a masking or coating that hardens over time allowing us to move forward in life as a slightly altered version of ourselves.  However, at any moment if we get bumped the wrong way the coating can shift, leaving those "nerve-endings" exposed.  Some of us are just ticking time bombs ready to go off at any time.  If we don't examine our souls and get at the root of things an entry way becomes available for the enemy to enter and wreak havoc on our emotional and spiritual well-being. 

Just like a dentist must fill in the gaps that were left behind after the root canal, we too must fill in the wounds of our soul after we remove the junk that has been building up there.  The best thing to use is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  It is important to do whatever it takes to move through a complete healing process when conducting these excavations because a gaping hole is worse than covered cement.  I pray you will find the strength to be the archeologist of your soul, rooting out the pain of the past so you can walk in total freedom and live the victorious life you were created to live.      

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Examining the life of Ms. Billie Holiday

Earlier this month, Ms. Billie Holiday was inducted into the National Womens Hall of Fame and I while I was happy about this achievement, I thought about the woman who left this world too soon.  She is a prime example of the limitless bounds for one who fully uses their God-given talents to tap into their purpose.  But sadly, she is also a tragic reminder that you must receive healing for the broken places of your soul in order to live a truly abundant life.

Ms. Holiday was born to a teen mother who sent her to live with an aunt who never gave her the proper love and nurturing that a young girl needs.  Her unique voice and song-writing ability gave meteoric rise to her fame at a time when it was hard for blacks to go any further than the "chitlin' circuit".   However, all of the acclaim could not slay the abandonment issues that I believe plagued her for her entire life therefore she succumbed to substance abuse and unhealthy relationships which ultimately contributed to her early departure from this world.

But I believe as her accomplishments are celebrated this month we should pause and examine the deep soul wounds that may be sabotaging our lives.  It is God's desire for us to live in freedom while walking out our purpose.  To have either one without the other is a tragedy.  Let us reflect this day on the cyclical drama of life that keeps us on the treadmill of pain, fear, bitterness, self-loathing and get down the root cause of the matter.  After that, you will experience true healing and deliverance so you can have the abundant life that you were created to live.

Psalm 107:19-20
19 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. 20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

You deserve a break today

During my years in the AME church I practiced fasting during the Lenten season (forty days from Ash Wednesday through the Saturday before Easter).  It was usually a time of self-reflection, reestablishing a commitment to God, and gaining a deeper understanding of His resurrection power.  Since Ash Wednesday tomorrow I began thinking about the attributes of Lenten season and the significant biblical references of the number forty.  I am reminded of forty years that the Isrealites wandered in the wilderness, the forty days Jesus was tempted by the devil, and the forty days Moses was on the mount.  All of these occurrences were periods of trial and probation which resulted in renewed strength and divine guidance.   

The Lenten season is marked by fasting from certain foods or activities, spending that time in prayer, and allowing a transformation to take place where we exchange our shortcomings for God's grace.  I don't believe you have to practice Lent to experience the renewal that can come from taking a pause to examine your life to find areas that need to be "freed up."  Whether it is a negative people, an over-committed schedule, or unhealthy habits, this is a great time to take an inventory of the things that have you experiencing a wilderness situation.

Give yourself permission to "just say no" for the next forty days to determine what really matters, what activities are literally draining the life out of you, and what you just to let go of once and for all. Change, growth, and transformation are necessary to live the life that you were created to live, so take a break, recharge your batteries, and walk into your next season with clarity and focus.  Remember, time is one thing that we can't save, post-pone, or retrieve and there is no investment of your time more valuable than the investment in yourself.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Healing Power of an Ugly Cry

A few months ago my Pastor was closing out the service and as he began to pray he started by saying, "We love you Daddy" while looking up toward Heaven.  Now I know he has said this at least 100 times before, but on this day something shook me at the core.  I opened my eyes and looked around wondering if anyone else had felt that powerful jolt.  However I was all alone in my personal, gut-wrenching moment with God.  After the altar call I made my way out of church with my girls.  I do not know if I spoke with anyone on the way out or not, I just had to get out of there.  I do not know how I managed to drive home without falling apart. 

I got the girls lunch and then went into my master bathroom and began to sob.  The tears seemed like they had been pent up for years, I mean I had sat through years of father's day services, sappy daddy-daughter movies, and even watched my own husband with my girls, but nothing compared to Pastor Brett standing there talking to God and calling Him Daddy on that day.  I realized that I had accepted God as my Savior, my Lord, my Provider, but not my Daddy.  So the tears kept flowing as memories flashed through my mind like a Lifetime movie:
  1. Living with a wonderful caregiver until the age of 5 but always feeling like something wasn't quite right
  2. Going to live with my mother and her husband after my sister was born and always feeling like I didn't belong there
  3. The ten-year old me wondering why I didn't look like anyone in my family
  4. The twelve-year old me asking God how my dad could just live his life without ever even wondering about me at all
  5. Me, at 13 meeting him and it was such a let-down.  I wanted a hero but he was a troubled man suffering from liver disease due to years of drinking
  6. Then me at 16, attending his funeral feeling nothing as he was laid to rest; I did not shed a tear
And here I am, 39 years old crying my eyes out; crying the ugly cry.  Crying for my daddy, wishing I had had a real relationship with any kind of father figure, sobbing, wailing and praying.  I cried thinking about how unlovable and inadequate I have felt most of my life.  I cried and prayed for forgiveness for all of the envy I had had over the years of other girls' relationships with their fathers.  I think I cried all of the tears from all of the times that I buried my feelings.  There had been times in my past that I thought I would go insane if I began to think about these things I am writing today.  But something happened that day.  In the midst of the tears a healing power came over me.  It was as if the Lord Himself reached down from Heaven and comforted me that day.  I started out crying about my natural dad and I ended up having a supernatural encounter with my heavenly Daddy. 

I had a divine moment that day and the word of the Lord in Psalm 27:10 became clear to me: when my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.  I thought about how He must have taken me "up" above those circumstances throughout my life so I would not be consumed by them.  In other words, I don't look like what I've been through.  So many people have difficult family relationships but I am so glad that my Daddy specializes in healing the brokenhearted.  Psalm 34:17-18 gives us hope: the righteous cry out and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  I thank my Daddy for His healing power and the power of His love that overtakes me.  I am the apple of His eye and He is making my latter years SO much better than my former years.  So when you see all my blessings just remember: I am a Daddy's girl!  And if you're in need of some healing don't underestimate the healing power of an ugly cry.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Start Right Now

As am sitting drinking my after dinner coffee from my Caribou coffee mug I look closely at the clever sayings that adorn the mug.  It is meant to be motivating with phrases like, "dance to your own rhythm", "follow your own heart", "make today special" and so on.  But tucked down at the bottom, sandwiched between "take all your vacation days" and "marry your sweetheart" are the words that speak life to me: "START RIGHT NOW".

I am a planner by nature, I like to set time tables and map things out and it gives me great pleasure when things get accomplished on time.  But of course life has curve balls that come out of nowhere and then there are times when there are too many plans happening at once and no matter how much planning has occurred the all of things are not going to happen.  I've been known to reassess and map again, you know, just kick the can down the road a bit.  But inevitably some things in my life just didn't go according to my plans or even the reworked, improved, re-planned, plans.  Some got shelved and life moved on.

But we're talking about starting right now and the beauty of it is that it takes no planning!  Some of the most gratifying things in my life have come from just going with the flow.  An idea occurs, a chance meeting, an unexpected opportunity and even though I didn't plan to make a life-long friend on a particular day, I started a conversation with someone and that is exactly what happened.  Are you looking for a friend? Become friendly and be open: START RIGHT NOW!  Have you always wanted to be a business owner? You don't need a 100-page Small Business Proposal to begin your dream.  Just take some small steps, enroll in a class, attend a workshop: START RIGHT NOW!

Finally, the longer I walk with the Lord I begin to truly believe that He is the only one with the master plan for my life.  He wants me to have healthy relationships, success, prosperity, and a long life doing any and everything that He in store for me.  All I have to do is believe His word, listen for His voice, and move when He says move.  Note to self: START RIGHT NOW!