Love your Seasons of Transition

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” Ecclesiastics 3:1

Earlier this year, after the longish winter,  I fell in love with Spring as never before – and now this November baby is  back in love with Fall again.   Just a few weeks ago I lamented that a month into autumn, the leaves were still green.   It seemed August/September’s lack of rain caused many leaves to go brown and fall prematurely.  But now, in the past week – like a male peacock preening, Fall displayed its plumage triumphantly! And while there ARE less leaves, the remaining leaves have peeled off chlorophyll’s green mask and unveiled their glorious authentic colors as temperatures cool and daylight shortens.Image

The profusion of color as the leaves turn in the Fall is on its best display during rainy grey mornings.   There’s something about the yellows, oranges, reds, maroons and eggplants against that grey palette of the skies that takes my breath away.  The rain darkens the bark of the trees and makes the leaves a little translucent.  The diffused lighting of the cloudy grey skies softly passes through the leaves making them glow against the elegant dancing arches of the darkened tree branches.  Oh yes, Fall is best viewed on inconvenient slightly cold rainy days.  

This morning my daughter begged me to stop my comments about the foliage and exclaiming aloud how beautiful everything was.  I could not promise her that I could hold in my joy if some pop of red/orange color revealed itself in the landscape.   I am completely smitten again with my first love, Fall.  

Fall, like Spring, is a season of transition.  Lots and lots of change is occurring, and only Mother Nature and God who created it all  can predict the rate of change and how the transformation occurs.  After I commented about how the landscape was mostly green last week,  my daughter impatiently remarked “Mom, the leaves can change at any time – it doesn’t’ have to be slow.  Things can change very quickly.” She nailed it!  Change happens when IT is ready.   

I then began to wonder why,  if I’m smitten with transitional seasons of Fall and Spring, why don’t I embrace and fall in love with my own seasons of transitions and change.   Don’t just endure, but embrace, celebrate and flow with the transitions.   God’s grace is in abundant supply in every season.  Like the transitional seasons, it can rain too much for periods of time, or get too windy for our liking.  But the rains are necessary for all living things and the wind too!  The winds may knock off all the leaves but it is also carrying and spreading the seeds of new growth on its wings bringing new life to places that a tree’s limbs just cannot reach.   And who can deny the breathtaking splendor of showers of falling yellow, orange and red leaves as the wind blows.

So embrace and celebrate the transitions in your live – let God’s grace empower you to use every inconvenience as an agent of growth and new life. Let the wind blow you around and spread your glory.  It really is beautiful in every season. May God open your eyes to the beauty of your ever changing life. 

Under construction/Under contract

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I was driving my daughter to school today and realized that a brand new house located on a plot that we have been driving by for at least 2 years is finally under contract.   Last November (2012) I wrote a Facebook post noting that after almost a year of wondering what they were building on that once wooded plot, in about 2-3 weeks I noticed the house taking shape (first image in pic). In that post I wrote the following:

“I have been driving by this intersection for at least a year. It was a vacant lot and then it seems they worked and dug for about 6-8 months with a fence around it with all kinds of equipment. I had no idea what they were putting there. Now in the last month, this house began to take shape. First the framing and now quickly it is taking its form for all to see. I was reminded today, that this is exactly how God works. The foundation building is a lengthy process done in secret. Many people don’t know what is going on but He does. It is messy work and can inconvenience others in the process. But when that is done, our lives start to take shape revealing in time what we are becoming. Consider the cost, pay attention to the foundations for which the rest of your life is built. Jesus is the chief cornerstone. He is that rock, that sure foundation.”

In February of this year, they finished the landscaping etc and listed the house for $1.7 million (it is absolutely beautiful inside) and I thought to myself, “I sure hope they get the asking price (especially since it was not brick but that’s my Louisiana roots speaking)”  Well, after a little over 3 months later it is under contract (second image in the pic) and I was really happy!!!  I almost felt like it was my house because I used to park by that wooded lot and pray sometimes.   Yes, it took a while for that foundation to be built because something of great value was being built to last.  It was really messy  over 2 years ago, but look at it now!  I saw the time, toil and work put into it!  I realize that I have been impatient with God’s process in my life especially as I am trying to transition into another career.   People looking for value  will pay for it.  It just takes a little time for that marriage of mutual respect/values/senergy to be made.  God does not want you to settle for less than what He has for you.  Jerimiah 29:11 says

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Lessons from my mother:Real Beauty

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My mother ‘s salt and pepper hair after her first bout with cancer and my mother before cancer. Always beautiful!

Thinking about my mother this morning – about how her life continues to speak to me. One thing that I find myself thinking about is that she never considered herself to be a great beauty. She always said her sisters and many of her friends were always better looking, but that she didn’t mind at all. She said that she always focused on being the best person she could be.

She was always VERY popular because she really was a GREAT person to be around. My mother made more friends at Howard in that first week when she brought us there for my freshmen year than I did. Other freshman and students would say, “I met your mother and she said to look out for you. What a nice lady — she really encouraged me too. “

My mother was a doer… for all her glamour, she was many times the last person to get ready for an event because she was normally there putting it together. She never compromised on the hair (every week at John Jays with Wyona) but while others were getting their nails done, she was doing her own because she would have been helping make sure the arrangements were just so. That includes my wedding.

It came as a shocker that she never thought she was pretty because she was always fabulous to me whether she was a size 6 before she stopped smoking or 12-14 when she stopped smoking, when she had red/light brown hair before cancer, to salt and pepper hair after cancer. She kept pressing, moving, doing, cheering the next person on and bringing laughter in the room. In this my mother taught me that real beauty REALLY REALLY does come from within.  It is who you ARE, not what you look like..

Remembering my mother today and all that she continues to teach me.

Unmerited Favor (Musings from Spring of 2009)

This a re-post from a note I penned in Facebook in late Spring 2009.  (you can find the original post Here 

Found a brief note I had written to myself on the back of an ATM receipt immediately after arriving home from my trip to the Middle East in mid February of this year 2009. It was entitled “ The Grace of God” – unmerited favor.

I jotted down 2 distinct times in my life where I experienced a profound sense of God’s grace – a distinct knowing or acknowledgement in my heart that I was the recipient of favor that was unmerited, unearned, unsolicited and feeing greatly humbled and unworthy of it. It was a knowing that I was profoundly loved and cared for by God Himself and wondering why.

My first remembrance was when I was 16 yrs old at a retreat that my Catholic all-girl school required for rising seniors. Unbeknownst to us, they had asked our parents (one or both) to write letters to us, which we then read during a one on one reflection time with the priest. Because I was not Catholic, and not particularly religious other than singing sometimes in my church’s youth choir (AME Church)- it was more of a discussion.

The retreat was held at a beautiful simple place in the woods and we were in a peaceful contemplative room. I can’t remember how the conversation started but I remember being handed my letters – my Mom and Dad wrote separate letters as requested. The letters were not lengthy, but they packed all the love they had in every sentence. As I read the letters I was overwhelmed with the feeling of being blessed. Not in the trite way that Christian folks say it now, because I really felt that I had literally been touched by God Himself. Tears started to well up in my eyes and the priest gently asked about what was going on. I told him that I was not worthy to be so blessed but I knew I was. I told him that I didn’t have a perfect life, but that I knew I had a great life with generous, wonderful parents who loved me unconditionally. I felt unworthy of this blessing – understanding that most folks don’t have this life. I knew I didn’t deserve any of it, but for some reason God had placed me in this environment just because. Everybody knows their parents love them, but somehow I KNEW it was from GOD. Before this time, my only thoughts about God were making sure He knew I didn’t need a personal visitation from the Virgin Mary. (That was really popular back then –No thank you. )

Fast forward to 2009

The second time of experiencing a profound sense of God’s unmerited favor was just a few months ago as I traveled to the airport leaving Dubai UAE. I knew that God had arranged the trip when I least expected it, did nothing to earn it, was completely unsolicited, and yet He wanted me to go. In fact, I entered into the New Year with huge challenges before me: drying up contracts, promising job interviews that the economy shut down, finishing up school applications for my kids for next year wondering how it was going to be paid and really REALLY missing my mother. Out of the blue, I was asked by a friend to attend this conference with her in Kuwait which was starting in 3 weeks with a few days afterward to see Dubai – I thought she was joking. Did she remember that I studied the subject matter in grad school? No – God just laid it on her heart to ask me to go.

God literally took me out of my circumstances and sent me half way around the world to relax with a skyline view in Dubai – no conditions. Like the first time when I was 16, tears welled up in my eyes because I knew that God had chosen me. In every view of the Arabian Gulf in Kuwait and then the Dubai skyline, I saw the hand of God in the gift of my friend. Through her willingness to obey God’s voice, I heard His voice saying I was very dear to Him, and that He wanted to show me so in a deliberately profound way. It also wasn’t just about me either – others were blessed to by this favor toward me.

What I know for sure it that God uses us as the vessels to bless others. We go day in and day out ignoring, discounting, and sometimes berating the conduits of God’s blessings in our lives and the lives of those around us. We need to cherish and honor these relationships, everyone that we come in contact with. We need so see them for the gift from God that they are and seek to share that gift to others. Grace comes in the smile of stranger, the hug of a child, a beautiful bloom in an unexpected place, a random compliment from your spouse. It is really all around us, if we have eyes to see.

Jesus did not wait till we deserved salvation to give His life for us – He extended grace when we needed it. Unlike Will Smith’s character in Seven Pounds, He is not going through our records and proving our character to see if we deserve the gift of life, grace, healing, provision. No- He says come to Him as you are, where ever you are, however you are.—and He’lll do the work in you as we allow Him access. In fact, He says “Come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy in the time of need”

And sometimes, when you are least expecting it – He sends a fresh breeze of His grace and perhaps a fresh rain, to water and cool the dry places of our souls. Just because He can.

On the Arabian Gulf at dusk

On the Arabian Gulf at dusk