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Better Not Bitter

Responding God's Way to Life's Challenges

Month

April 2014

A Prayer for the Fallen

As I type this post, my fingers tremble. A different title came to mind while driving through torrential rain and hail yesterday morning. I’d planned a completely different angle of inspiration. I’d readied myself to be a hero for someone who’d been facing the metaphorical version of what I’d literally been a part of mere hours ago.  Pushing Through Your Storm was supposed to be this post’s name, yet, this morning’s findings caught me off guard. Sorrow met me at the door when I swiped my badge at work  and learned that one of my co-workers and two of his daughters had been among the fallen from last night’s tornadoes in Central AR. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims of last night’s disaster. I suppose the title would be fitting for those impacted by this tragedy, but more on how to push through it will have to wait until tomorrow as we remember the fallen today.

GOODLAUDWILLINIT! (for translation-read on)

For years as a child, when it was time for bed my mom would say to us, ” Goodnight, I love you.  Hope I see you in the morning, if thegoodlaudwillinit!”  And our response to her was the same.  Of course at 7 and 10 years old, I’m not sure if either my brother or I actually knew what in the world she meant or was actually saying for that matter.

 GOODLAUDWILLINIT!

 confused-and-scratching-head 

Yeah…that’s just how foreign the phrase sounded.  Well, maybe my brother got it, but I know that I didn’t get it until years later. And it was not so much that I didn’t get what was actually said…though that was pretty fuzzy too…it was that I didn’t understand why she would say, “Good night, I love you.  I hope I see you in the morning, if it’s the Good Lord’s will.”

Now my mom grew up in the city of Memphis and has an degree in Education so I’m sure that Southern Twang was strictly something passed on from other generations.  Nonetheless, what she meant was far more profound that I realized at the time that I spouted the same words she’d said just because I’d heard her say them.

In James 5:13-15, James warns us to ensure that we acknowledge God’s will before we make our own plans. Now this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make plans at all, but simply that we realize God’s Sovereignty in any decision we make. After considering all the plans that I’ve made and that have literally fizzled in my face within the last few months, I’m glad I was reminded of this little tradition from my childhood because it’s helping me appreciate God’s will in it.

WWJD: Jesus wouldn’t trip!

Oh wow!  How I thank God for His intervention and His means! Today’s post was straight from the mouth of one His esteemed vessels, Yolanda Adams, and I couldn’t wait to write about it. The focus was on the mental well-being by using Jesus’ earthly demeanor as your guide.

Well, in the last few weeks I have been through the wringer it seems….I’ve had car trouble (a lot), financial trouble (fraud wiped my account out last week), and family trouble (mom’s very ill) and just found out a beloved uncle passed last Friday, and a bunch of other not so nice things have been hitting me left and right.

Now of course, I could go ahead and have a pity party for one, head held down and all, but last week I refused to acknowledge that all that I’d endured was anything less than God readying me for a big finish!  When I got my son’s report card, I will say that I was not pleased as I would have hoped.  I could have again, doubted my abilities as a parent.  Now mind you, when issues like this have occurred before I have broken down a little.  I say a little because it doesn’t take long for God to remind me to Envision the End….Yep, that’s just it…I can’t sit there and allow the enemy to attack my mind by impacting all the little things around me.

I’m sure that people at work thought I’d lost my mind last week when I gleefully told them how I have no money in the bank because someone in Canada decided to go on a shopping spree—I’m in Little Rock, AR mind you—Yet, what actually had happened is that I’d found my mind.…Rather I found what was mine!

I’d found my peace…I recalled how God has always been faithful to me so I had no reason to doubt Him now. You’d think that since I work at a Christian establishment everyone would get it, but I still got some crazy looks…as if the clock was ticking on the moment I’d cave…

I’ll admit…on my drive from Memphis the other day…I almost did…but God helped me get a grip…I snapped out of it and back into my WWJD mode.  I know that Jesus wouldn’t trip about these circumstances so why should I?

Join the Lazarus Experiment!

So glad I joined the Lazarus Experiment…Now it’s your turn! Remember, because Christ got up, you can too! So (insert your name) come forth!

StoryWriting Studio

Photo/KarenJordan

Last year, I accepted Ron Benson’s invitation to join his Lazarus Experiment on Facebook. And I’m taking Ron’s challenge again this year. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to invite you to join us this year.

What is the Lazarus Experiment

The Lazarus Experiment simply asks, “How would Lazarus live differently once he’d been called out of the grave?”

Lazarus gives us all a picture of our own new life in Jesus. We’ve been called out of death into life. But are we really living as if it happened? Do we live like Laz?

So, for forty days, the Lazarus Experiment challenge is to do ONE THING EVERY DAY that is distinctively Lazarus-like.

  • One thing that sets your life apart from the average Joe.
  • One thing that says to whoever is looking, “I’m alive! Oh yes, I am!”

We share our experiences within the Lazarus Experiment Facebook group

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Resurrect the Relationships that Matter

My son said it best a few months ago I suppose.

He said,

Mama, you put yourself in a box, and you won’t even let us in.

As painful as the reality of his comment was then, the fact that I’ve lived this way for most of my life is what stung the most.  It’s not something I’m proud of, especially after all I faced this weekend.  So I guess this post is my attempt at prying the lid off that box.

It had been over three years since I’d had the courage to dot the doors of Grace Rehabilitation Center in Cordova. Yes, a trip to the facility would take a little over 2 hours, but that and all the other the excuses I’d led myself to believe were moot once I entered her room. I’d heard the moaning before I turned the corner. And with each exasperated utterance, I felt her pain.

I questioned aloud as I knelt beside her bed,

I wonder if her pain is physical or emotional?

Had my daughter not answered my question I would never have realized the words escaped my mouth, let alone my mind. That afternoon, a nightmare would have been the preferred venue for what I’d encountered.  At least then, I could wake up and exchange the experience for a more picture perfect view of my mother.  Yet, her frailty was real.  As were her dried tears and my fresh ones.

Some reading this might be aware of the strained relationship my mother and I cultured for years before we arrived at this point, but as streams fought pass my once rigid lashes, all the harsh words and deeds from  years past  no longer mattered.  She’d been forgiven and when she grasped my hand and smiled as I kissed her cheek and caressed her head, I realized that I too had been forgiven.   But, I left that night with regrets.

I replayed my prior visits in my mind on the drive back to Little Rock. I hated seeing her like that. When dementia was mentioned and the words, “no cure” were attached in succession the first time I’d seen her there, though I went into prayer mode, flight mode was also on my agenda.  I refused to see her like that again.  Before, I managed a slight smile when she recognized me and stumbled through the words, “My baby” as I entered with my daughter in tow the second time. The doctors mentioned that she would not be able to do that then.  My prayers were working.

But Look at her now!

The state she was in Sunday brought the guilt of my absence on me like an avalanche. I couldn’t breathe and felt like I didn’t deserve even that simple luxury because that too had been taken for granted as my eyes drifted from my mother and landed on some pulmonary contraption I could not id.

I was in denial for years and honestly had already assumed that the moment I’d entered the facility I too would have been crucified for not showing up sooner and more often.  I was right.

Only, I had been the one wielding the hammer and positioning the nails.I had been the one guilty and the one administering the sentence.

  • I alone condemned myself.
  • I believed that my brother and my cousins thought worse of me because I’d neglected the one who gave birth to me.
  • I believed that my children wouldn’t accept my distance as a suitable means of maintaining my own sanity.
  • I believed that I deserved to be where my mother was.
  • I believed that I hadn’t been the daughter I could have been.
  • I believed that I’d made too many mistakes.
  • I believed that I didn’t deserve forgiveness.

Yes, people, I believed all of these and any number of other negative insinuations that could be drawn from the circumstances, but when I woke up the next day, God reminded me that it really didn’t matter.

…Not what I believed about myself, about my mother, about what others thought….What mattered is my now…that I was able to see her smile…that she acknowledged my presence. That God had forgiven us both.  I was reminded that Christ Resurrection was about so much more than I’d thought. That just as my heart hurt with my mother as she lay there helpless and crying out, Christ looked at me with that same attention to detail and unconditional love. That just as I longed to change places with her so that she would not have to suffer despite what she’d done or not done, Christ had actually done that for me. 

So yes, I’m late in the game  and I can’t do a thing about the things that have occurred in my past between my mother, my brother, and even friends that I’ve banned from my box.  I can, however, decide to change the things in my future. If nothing else, this weekend’s trip has taught me that it’s never too late to resurrect the relationships that matter.

Be Childlike, It’s adorable to God too!

I was reminded this morning of one of the most adorable exchanges. After the demise of my azaleas a few years ago, my daughter and I went to Home Depot in search of some Nadia-proof shrubs.

Yes, I killed three of them!

killing-plants-dead

Anyway, while there, Kayla met a little girl who could have been “Dora the Explorer” in the flesh. She was about five and dressed in the cutest sundress and sandals.   A lone bee arrested  both their attentions and before long my daughter struck up a conversation.

Initially it was all bugs and flowers, but then “mini me” blurted out, “Do you know Jesus?”

Surprisingly, the other girl’s response was, “Sure, doesn’t everybody?”

Of course, Kayla didn’t stop there. She then asked her did she believe in Him.  Again, the little girl agreed.  Then she kind of wrinkled her nose and responded, “you know there are some at my school who don’t know any better.” This time Kayla agreed.

Now as I recount this long-buried memory, I smile at my daughter’s boldness and innocence. She knew what she believed and was not afraid to share Jesus with a stranger!

Also,  I feel like I need to state this for some who might be quick to judge a book by it’s cover.

The little girl was accompanied by her parents and they did just as I, smiled and nodded as the two evangelized one another.  The father was tattooed from his neck down so had I not witnessed our daughters’ exchange, I could have made some wrong assumptions about him and his family just as the Pharisees made wrong assumptions about Jesus.  They figured that a king had to don royal duds just as we sometimes think Christians have to “look” the part.

Truth be told, there are a lot of people in the church who aren’t Christians.

This revelation makes me all the more pleased that my daughter was not phased by their appearance or by any other hindrance.

Remember the bee…

buzzingbeecartoon

She still spread the Gospel and she was only 8 at the time!

It’s no wonder Jesus says, “so anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (NLV- Mathew 18:4)

That day my daughter and a little girl she barely knew reminded me how we could learn a thing or two about real Christian behavior when we too are childlike.

©2014 Nadia Davis. All Rights Reserved.

Why Robyn Walks

So glad I know this girl….truly a genuine heart for God! I couldn’t help but share it!

Walk for the Waiting Blog

What a powerful story, Robyn.  Thanks for sharing and thanks for championing the heart of God and the needs of waiting children.  We’re cheering for you!

Here’s Robyn’s story:

as a child Robyn in her forever family.

I am walking because I believe in forever families. My family was created through adoption. My brother was adopted at 8 months old from South Korea after being abandoned. He was the beginning of my forever family.

I was put up for adoption at birth and was blessed with my forever family at 3 days old.

19 years later I met my biological family who have now become one with my adoptive family. Members from both my adoptive family and biological family came together for my college graduation ceremony. For the first time I had my fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles together at the same dinner table (pictured below). A group brought together…

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Completely Unplug to Connect

Today it hit me! Again.  I’m doing too much and getting absolutely nothing accomplished!

A few years ago time was my best friend.  Though I worked full time and attended school 2-3 nights a week, I still managed to cook regularly, attend church and school functions, spend quality time with my children, and I even kept my yard in tact. As a single mom, I guess I wore my cape pretty well. So when I went to bed last night, I cringed at the thought of what was before me now.  With mounds of laundry to finish,  endless attitudes and arguments to referee, infamously missing family dinners, and barely a quiet moment in existence, I had to ask myself, what happened?

I’ve sensed the lack of peace in my home for months, but I allowed myself to stay busy in denial of the building tension. Finally, I decided to scale back and get things in order.   Which, until recently, I found out is much easier said than done.  So this morning I was forced to ask another question instead.   This time aloud.  What did I do differently before?  As I pondered the query nearly in tears, I received my answer.

God reminded me when He’d tried to give me the answer before.  Only, I didn’t fully listen.

In fact, a few Sundays ago, I reluctantly sat in the audience for our morning church service.  From the moment I awoke that morning, I had the urge (I know now from the Holy Spirit) to remain seated with my children during service. However, in my haste to “do my duty” I still joined the choir stand for the 2nd one.  A choir member asked me about it.  Here’s how it went:

“I took a break this morning, I felt like I needed to sit with my kids.”

“Honey, your kids are old enough to sit in the service without you, you need to be up here in the choir”

I gave a bit of a grin and nodded because the woman on the other side of that conversation was my elder and shouldn’t wisdom come with age?

Regardless, her comment didn’t sit well with me.   And the next Sunday, I was confronted with the same feeling that I needed to “be with my kids.”

With this tearful reflection of my partial obedience (STILL DISOBEDIENCE) I knew what had been different.

No, I didn’t have a clone!  Rather, Matthew 6:33 was much more to me than just some random verse I touted to sound spiritual. It was my way of life.  I sought God’s approval, authority, and direction in every situation.  I’d loved to say that I’ve always known that I could do nothing apart from God and that I faithfully followed this premise from the moment I became a Christian,  but in my human frailty I know that at least my initial thirst began in a pit much like the one I’d found myself in today.

I’d forgotten my first love. I’d stopped seeking Him first in everything. I’d stopped letting Him guide me in all of my decisions.  I’d stopped praying.  Worse yet, I’d stopped listening.   Instead, I found myself asking for mercy at every turn. I was so busy being “involved” at the church and elsewhere that I completely missed how quickly my home life had “evolved” into utter chaos.  Yet, instead of letting it all go, using the grace I’d been given to get back on track, I convinced myself that I could “do” something else to make up for the void.  So though I’d saddled many of my activities, I failed to properly prioritize the rest.

Now I know why the scripture Luke 14:25-28 has been on my mind for a few days.  When I finally read it, I was a bit ashamed.  I never considered the cost of “doing it all.” Jesus warns against this inconsideration. Of course, this parable is usually taken quite literally in that one should ensure he or she has everything needed to complete a specific task or risk embarrassment. However, the Lord showed me I needed to apply this to my life in that I had already been given everything I needed to be the mother He knew I could.  Only, as of late, I’d forgotten my part. Had I considered the impact of “playing the part” in public, but privately failing on regular basis?  Had I considered my priority was to build up my home and not tear it down brick by busy brick.  Indeed, had I not caught this revelation today I suppose my situation could have become much worse than that of the builder mentioned in Jesus’ parable.

Thankfully, I know my children’s souls are at stake and no “duty” could equate to being a living example of Christ at home.  Yes, being a doer of things– EVEN IN THE CHURCH– has very little to do with being a doer of the WORD. So, yes indeed, as of this week, I now have completely unplugged to allow quality time for my children, myself, and most importantly My God.

©2014 Nadia Davis. All Rights Reserved.

Faith it ‘til He makes them!

It’s easy to lose hope when circumstances are glum.

Today I turned 36 and initially this revelation was anything but a happy one!  No, I’m not old enough to experience a mid-life crisis, but I was uncomfortably aware of how much I hadn’t accomplished…especially in parenting.

So when my son burst into my room to wish me Happy Birthday, I wasn’t exactly the welcome wagon. An hour later, I couldn’t stop crying. I tried to hide my tears only to erupt in anger of how tired I’d become!  Perhaps, my explosion was prompted by my pastor’s sermon referencing when Paul got tired of the demon-possessed girl who’d been following and taunting him while he preached.

I felt like all I’d done for my children had been for nothing because they have an attitude of entitlement that made my blood seethe!

Thankfully, as I dressed for work, I listened to an old J-Moss CD

I was reminded to work my faith!  I apologized to my children and explained (CALMLY this time) how underappreciated I’d felt.

I wasn’t trying to guilt trip them, people! I just needed them to know why I’d had the patience of a gerbil lately.

I was grateful for the reminder. Yet, God didn’t stop there.

In fact, as soon as I got to work, a co-worker sent me a link to modern parables.   The prodigal son no less!

God still wasn’t done with me!

Just as I finished the video, an anonymous caller commented the following about our broadcast.   I was so moved, I transcribed it below:

“A family is a community of people on the abundant life adventure.  It’s about development, it’s about someone loving them, somebody knowing them and becoming themselves.  Do you agree with that?”

<I DID>

“Well, pass it on to those brothers talking. And let’s remember this, children are to be celebrated.  They are a heritage of the Lord and we don’t know a thing about them. We know what we want them to do, but we don’t know what they are going to do. That is their uniqueness. We have to balance those two things.  Train them and help them become. Ok. You see I’m a grandpa, and I didn’t get any of that from my family and I hated it, it is as good as being dead, sister.

I said, “Well, sir I thank you for your comment and I’m glad that I was the one that received it.”

His response, “Hallelujah.  They are becoming.   We have the right to become children of God and sister, what’s our Pa like?  Our Heavenly Abba?  He wants us to talk all the time.  You have a glorious day!”

The icing on my cake

I received an e-card that provided me with three scriptures and the following additional reminders:  Simply stating:  May God grant you:  Mercy for the Sins of Yesterday- Isaiah 55:7… Grace for the challenges of today- 2 Cor 12:9…Hope for the uncertainties for tomorrow-Jeremiah 29:11 

With that I smiled and understood that as a parent, single or otherwise, it was my responsibility to be the example.  I was to be merciful and not hold grudges against my children for past mistakes… I was to extend grace as God had done for me countless times, and more importantly, I was to continue in my faith and not allow satan  distract me from the future I know God promised.

So yes, I had a brief bout with amnesia (I was trippin’) and it almost wrecked my whole day.  Only, even as I type this message now, I’m rejoicing in the knowledge that I’m a Daddy’s girl.

©2014 Nadia Davis. All Rights Reserved.

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