Nee and New

 
For some reason every time I would try to type “new”, “nee” would come up and not auto correct to new. This was happening since late yesterday, as I was wishing everyone a Happy New Year. So after about the 20th time I got fed up changing it and something said look up the word “Nee”. This word I’ve seen many times!  it is actually used as a French term née often used to denote a former or original (maiden) name. So I would be Sharon Zimmerman, née Bryant.  The former me.

I immediately heard the Spirit of the Lord say there are things trying to pull you back to your former ways, your former self.  You have been born again! 2 Cor 5:17 states, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Isaiah 42: 9 says“Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

God is saying something new! Have ears to hear/ He is telling us before the come to pass. 

Isaiah 43: 18-19 “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

Don’t dwell on the past because God is doing a new thing! Don’t you sense it?! It is new territory no matter where  you are standing. Even  in hopeless places, He is carving a path and bringing life in dry barren places. 

The old is passed away! We do not have to reject the past, because God has done great things! The past is a part of me (us)  but it’s over- A new chapter has begun. 

 But I/we must act- take the first step! I must willfully make the corrections, because (like my phone keyboard) auto correct does not apply here. As we mature, God gives us (demands that we activate) our gift of choice! Choose life! Choose ye this day whom you will serve! Lay aside every weight AND the sin that besets us. (Heb 12:1) Forget! 

In Phil 3:13 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:13-15‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Paul says to forget those things that are behind and reach for those things before. 

God will not take it away, I (we) have to choose to lay aside, forget, leave the former things and reach for the new things before, the PRIZE of high calling. This is the mindset we should have and Phil 3:15 says that if we are “otherwise minded” or have a competing mindset,  God will reveal it to us. God is so faithful! 

Like a good trainer, God reminds us the things we have to stop doing and the things we must start doing. 

Keep declaring and reaching for the New things! Keep making those corrections to forget, let go and lay aside those former, old past habits, situations, relationships etc that hinder us from reaching that high mark in 2016. As we seek God and acknowledge Him in all our ways He will direct our path – and will reveal anything in us that competes with His plan in our lives or may slow us down. 

Happy NEW Year – the Year of Our Lord 2016! 

Remembering my mother

  
It is with a very full heart that I remember my dear mother on the 10th anniversary of her passing. She was that fairy dust that lingered eternally everywhere she went leaving it better, more interesting and happier! She could take anything and make it fun and so so beautiful! She smiled and laughed ALOT! She loved all my friends who became her extended daughters and sons. She fiercely loved her children and knew and celebrated the uniqueness of eachShe could pick the perfect Christmas gift for my husband James Zimmerman. lol! 

She never panicked. She was the original steel magnolia, solution oriented, elegant, fire and ice. She was a champion for the disenfranchised, advocate for the voiceless, a civil Rights leader honored by the State NAACP. She never turned anyone away. 

As fabulous as she was, she did not spend large amounts of time on herself apart from her weekly appointments with Wyona Battle, because her hair was her crown of glory. She was the hardest working board member, and many times at events she was setting up, decorating and making it all look effortless as she wielded her wand! She was an avid crossword enthusiast, read fluffy books and magazines, Legacy Howard U grad, Ivy League grad school, and high school valedictorian. 

 She was a woman of great FAITH, Intercessor and rose early to pray and read the Bible every morning! We found many journals of her prayers that she wrote down for all of us calling us by name to petition Jesus Christ on our behalf. Estelle Elayne Butler Bryant was born on 3/3/33 and I really still can’t believe that she is no longer with us because she is still so vibrant in my heart and mind! I love you and miss you my darling dearest Mother !

Why Do I Watch Plants Die

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This is a recurring thought of mine that brings a tinge of guilt and sadness- and a stirring. I can be so conscientious sometimes about plant care- once keeping a poinsettia plant alive for a year at my office. But it was at the office and not at home.

And I have watched several of my plants die at home. It’s like I have so many things competing for my attention when I get home. I’m not deliberately not watering them, but regardless of my intention the plant dies because they are not watered. I will sit on my sofa and say, I need to water my plants and then plan to do it LATER. When later comes, I’m no longer thinking about watering the plants.

But I love plants! I adore flowers and living green things inside of my home! And I know how to keep them alive. But now having watched my plants die, I very rarely buy house plants. That is sad. We have a nice garden outside and nature plus my husband’s attention keep it beautiful. But it’s not the same as having  a living plant inside the house.

Then the phrase “planted by the waters” came to me.
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭17‬:‭7-8‬ KJV)”

Plants in the ground have multiple water sources other than our remembering to water them. When you take them out of the ground they are dependent only on external water sources. And all living things need consistent water to keep on living.

So hope awakens with this thought, and I believe I’m finally going get a little plant. And it shall live and not die! Not this time. I will make sure that it stays watered and say a little prayer with each watering. That way we can grow and thrive together!

Ode to My Mother

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Celebrating my mother on her 81st birthday

Estelle Elayne Butler Bryant was born this day 3/3/33 81 years ago. Many would agree that this world is a much brighter, better, happier place with the 72 1/2 years that she was on this earth. I love this picture because she was ALWAYS ready to dance even if she was just passing through a doorway. She didn’t wait for somebody to ask her to dance – she danced whenever she felt like it. She danced with sheer joy! She is dancing with Aunt Shirley (rt) I think it was the second line with the napkin in her hand. LOL!

I love to dance too because of her.

She was:
ENCOURAGER/GIVER: She was always encouraging sharing grace, a smile, a laugh, a kind word to everyone. In her last weeks in the hospital, she was introducing her nurses, attendants to us, sharing their hopes and dreams and encouraging them. Many at Howard remember the few words she spoke to them when she brought us up in our Freshman year. She was always giving (my Dad too) – She gave freely out of abundance or out of lack. She gave her time, her resources, her wisdom freely.

CREATIVE: My mother was wonderfully creative! She loved to create beautiful decorations and could imagine just about anything. She had wonderful ideas about projects, how to make things more interesting, and fun.

WARRIOR: She was a fighter. She fought for her family, for the disenfranchised, for the least of these. She lent her sword in other’s battles as well. She was relentless. Once she joined the battle with you, she would not let YOU give up. At the same time, she would put down her sword when she felt the battle was over or no longer worth fighting. She had nothing to prove. On the other hand, never a vengeful person you did not want to incur her icy wrath. She was not a yeller (don’t know why I didn’t inherit that trait) but she was very firm. Don’t mess with Layne!

PURPOSEFUL: My mother had a great sense of her purpose. Many did not understand why she endured certain relationships that appeared difficult and challenging. But her sense of destiny and purpose went far beyond her personal feelings about a person or a situation. She literally looked at the intended outcome and let that guide her actions. She was a BRAVE woman and CONFIDENT too.

KIND: My mother was a kind woman. Her kindness is one of the biggest gifts to me. She did not dwell on “haters” or “mean” people. She did not let them alter her opinion of others. She was kind behind the scenes to everyone. She did not need a reason. She extended grace because she was a conduit of grace. how how how I miss her.

FAITHFUL: My mother was faithful. She was a faithful and diligent friend, colleague, Board member, Christian, wife, mother. She was disciplined too. She believed God, she believed the Word of God and did not preach it. She lived it. She shared her faith by the way she lived. She was up at 5 most mornings reading her Bible and sipping her coffee. Another gift was her many notebooks and journals of prayers and notes from her prayer time, bible study and church. I found journals of prayers that she prayed for my future husband and children, for her friends, my Dad, challenging situations. In her Bible were prayers that she prayed and “gave to God” for Him to work out after she prayed. She trusted in the solutions that followed and kept it moving.

I am just so so full today and I could go on and on about my dearest Mother. So thankful to celebrate all that she was and still is to so many! Happy Birthday Mom!

Present your gifts with joy!

Last night, I was mesmerized by the voice of Leontyne Price- Feb. 10th was her 87th birthday.  I listened for hours, first to videos of her performances and then her interviews. I realized then that she is the epitome of the verse Proverbs 16:18 that says A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men. The clear perfection of her voice, performances, stage presence clearly demonstrate her steadfast belief that her voice was a gift from God and therefore she cherished it, nurtured/honed it, honored it and then presented it with great joy to the world. She did not just sing, she presented with great joy “thrilling” as she put it, her God given talent. God has given us GREAT gifts and talents that we must WHOLLY embrace and align ourselves accordingly to present with great joy and enthusiasm. Our gifts are really God’s gifts to the world, to make it a better place, to bring joy, healing, solutions, grace to others. Stop hiding your gift – the world needs it.

Leontyne Price NEA interview:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn8mEWvuvMg

Leontyne Price’s last performance at the Met.  the last 3 minutes is the emotional standing ovation she received which lasted for 20 minutes.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGfP38nd-U0

Laissez les bon temps rouler! What shall I render

I am refreshing /updating this note I wrote after Ash Wednesday 2009.  It still blesses me because it refocuses my mind in the Lenten season as a dedication and cultivation of my relationship with Christ right before He paid the ultimate price for our salvation and ultimate reconciliation with our Heavenly Father.  

“Laissez les bon temps rouler!” Let the Good Times Roll right into Lent

As a native of Louisiana,  Ash Wednesday was a huge deal because of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) whose whole existence is based on the big day of revelry and excess before the Lenten season begins.  Let’s live it up, before we have to give up everything.  What shall I give up is really tired, old, deficit thinking. The Good Book says obedience is better than sacrifice.  Obedience is a forward looking act of your will – acting on a requirement.   All sacrifice should come from a place of obedience rather than convenience.    This Lenten season, I am challenged to think deliberately of how I will prioritize my time to honor and cultivate my relationship with God in every area.

what shall I render


Ps 116:12 says in the Amplified version: “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? [How can I repay Him for all His bountiful dealings?]” 

The Lenten journey is marked by sacrifice – in recognition of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness before he began his ministry, facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance.

Many times we “give up” things, to sacrifice as Jesus did – to discipline our bodies and ultimately conquer it’s desires so we can focus on our purpose, goals etc. It’s very self-focused about getting ourselves right before God.

But this passage provokes me to ask the question ” What shall I GIVE, rather than “give up” — it is directed as an act of thanksgiving for God’s goodness rather than my own failures and struggles.  We don’t have stop having a good time during Lent, we can celebrate and honor our relationship with Him!

Of course, we can never repay God for what He has done for us – but psalmist offers a few suggestions in the following verses 13+. It’s a wonderful place to start

1. Thank God for His Blessings and partake of His saving grace

  • Ps 116:13 says: “I will lift up the cup of salvation and deliverance and call on the name of the Lord. Per one of the commentaries: To take the cup of salvation was in itself an act of worship, and it was accompanied with other forms of adoration, hence the Psalmist says, and call upon the name of the LORD. He means that he will utter blessings and thanksgivings and prayers, and then drink of the cup which the Lord had filled with his saving grace.

2. Boldly commit to do what you have vowed before God, and proclaim His goodness to others. 

  • Verse 14. “I will pay my vows to the Lord, yes, in the presence of all His people.
  • Another commentary writes: The Psalmist has already stated his resolution, to devote himself to the worship of God evermore, and here he commences the performance of that resolve. The vows which he had made in anguish, he now determines to fulfil. “I will pay my vows unto the Lord.” He does so at once, “now,” and that publicly, “in the presence of all his people.” Good resolutions cannot be carried out too speedily; vows become debts, and debts should be paid.

In this age of lack of commitment and betraying on ones word, “Do what you said you would do – no excuses, and don’t be ashamed of witnesses.” It’s liberating to live out your faith, to you and those around you. 

3. Rededicate your service to God, and as we do this we are free AND stay free

  • vs: 16 says: “O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid; You have loosed my bonds .   As explained, David in paying his vows rededicates himself unto God; the offering which he brings is himself, as he cries, O LORD, truly I am thy servant. We are liberated when we declare that we belong to an all mighty, all knowing, omni-present God. We can really boldly say, ” I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me”

4: Continue to give thanks to God for everything and seek Him on ALL things. 

  • vs: 17 says “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call on the name of the Lord.”   This posture reminds me that there is always a reason to give thanks even if I’m not feeling any gratitude at the present time. It is not about me but who God is. Think of how we teach our children to say thank you – many times because they are so focused on the gift. But acknowledging the giver is just as important. That’s why sometimes its a sacrifice, not conditional on how we feel at the moment but always celebrating the sovereignty and graciousness of God.

As Matthew 6:33 reminds us, as we seek Him first, everything else is taken care of. 

There will be times for introspection in this Lenten journey, that’s a necessary part of our daily walk. But God always encourages us that He is also focused on our destiny, our future, the limitless possibilities of walking with Him.

What shall I render means that I  ALWAYS have something to GIVE. In Christ, we are earthen vessels of HIS limitless GRACE, unsurpassed PEACE, unspeakable JOY. – conduits of His Love. Let this Lenten season be filled with the awesomeness of and gratitude for Christ’s great sacrifice, His ministry to others – especially the least of these, His great love for us. 

So over the next week as many of us will be celebrating Mardi Gras or not,  also plan for your Lenten journey.  And while sugar may be off the menu for the next 46 days,  giving our time, service, and thanksgiving to God is going to be the best sugar substitute.