All Is ‘Whale’ With My Soul


As I lay in bed trying my best NOT to wake up early this morning it was as if God started tugging at the covers. The tighter I pulled them around my shoulders, creating a cozy little comfort zone, the harder he tugged. He often does this when I have been absent from our special morning time together for longer than I should or if I’m dragging my feet on something He has asked me to do. God’s not big on earthly comfort zones and, though I usually fuss about it at the time, I really am thankful that he doesn’t let me kick back too long.

This morning it was about digging deeper into some things I just keep putting off. Truth be told, I often put things off, sometimes for a very long time, years in fact.  Fear of failure and rejection, says I. Disobedience and distrust, says He.

As I lay there silently arguing with him and preoccupying myself with a game on my phone, His still, small voice grew louder to the point that I could no longer ignore Him and, just as I gave in and put my phone away, I heard him whisper the name Jonah.

Jonah? Like the guy that got swallowed by the whale? That Jonah?

Jonah, I heard again, as I reached over to pick up my Bible. Flipping through the Old Testament, I finally landed on the book of Jonah and began to read. And the more I read, the more I began to understand. Never in my life had I seen myself in this particularly story, but here in this moment, on the pages of my own bible, Jonah, it seemed, was synonymous with B-R-E-N-D-A.

Like Jonah, I have been running from certain aspects of God’s calling on my life and, as I read his reflections as he was entombed inside the belly of that great fish, I felt compelled to read the words aloud.

Jonah, Chapter 2

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. 3 You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ 5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit. 7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8 “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. 9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’ ” 10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Honestly, I think I have been in the belly of a whale for a while now. And thank God. Thank God that he hasn’t given up on me; that he still finds me worthy of my purpose.

One way or another, He will get me there. Who am I to complain about the mode of transportation?

I’m coming, Nineveh. I’m coming.

Amen and Ehmen.

The Black and White Truth of It: Racism is NOT a Pigment of Our Imagination


Facts are facts. I’m a white woman and, according to the known branches on my family tree as well as a recent ancestry DNA test, I pretty much have been even further than the eye can see.

My DNA also says I’m about as British as they come, 73.4 percent according to my genetic molecules. That’s far more British than the average British person today. Of course, that brings me to the most obvious question of all. With stats like that, how in the world was I NOT invited to the royal wedding? And, why hasn’t someone offered me some tea and crumpets? Worse, yet, why don’t I know what a crumpet is?

Anyhow, that’s enough about DNA. It’s just something I have been meaning to share.

Now, back to the point. I’m white. I can’t hide it and, although sometimes I wish I could, I can’t change it. It’s the way God made me. And, although I haven’t always understood this truth, my skin color has afforded myself and my ancestors advantages that my brothers and sisters of color did not, and in many cases, still do not have. I can’t hide nor change that historical fact either.

What I can change is my awareness of and response to the differences and divide society has created between people of different colors, shapes, sizes and ages. Racism is still very much alive and real and I truly want to be a part of the solution not the problem. God made us all and He loves us all the same. We should all be able to wear our skin color like the badge of honor that it is; just another creative twist given to us by the Master Creator Himself.

Concurrently, I ask for grace, in the event that I say something in life or in this blog, in a wrong way. Please know that my heart is in the right place. I like to consider myself “woke” as folks say, but the fact is I grew up in a society that has been asleep for quite some time. Fortunate for me, God placed in me an open heart and mind as well as people who have come alongside me and helped to broaden my horizon; to better understand our differences, but, most especially, our sameness.

Thank you to my old Centreplex family for putting up with me and all my goofy questions over the years, helping to enlighten me along the way. I love you guys with all my heart and I miss you every day. You will always be a highlight in my career and, most importantly, my life.

Lord, please help me and all of my brothers and sisters be a part of the solution in creating a world that is a true reflection of Galatians 3:28–a world where we are all equal and one in You!

Amen and Ehmen.

Tip me over and pour me out


January 6, 2019

Dear God,

Out of obedience and Your own beckoning, I am here. I really didn’t want to put this on paper as I feel that I am beginning to sound like a broken record. Actually, more often than not, I KNOW I sound like a broken record in my prayers and pleas. I’m just glad that You can see past it, into my heart, and know my deep love for You. Though my trust obviously wavers, my love does not. I’m a work in progress and, as Your word declares, always will be until the day that I meet You in Heaven. Help me to be more moldable, teachable and trusting, dear Lord. Help me to trade in my fear and fret for unwavering trust and contented dependence.

Each time I come to a crossroads, such as when a project falls through, You always come to my rescue. It may not be in my preferred time, but it is always in Your perfect time. I KNOW this from experience. You have a stellar track record and yet, if I’m totally honest, this living on the edge, not knowing from where my next paycheck will come, wrecks me every time.

Lord, today, I just need to hear from You. I need to KNOW and to hear once again that I am on the path that you desire for me. And, if so, help me to squash my disbelief and rest in the knowledge that You will take care of me just as You have promised and proven time and time again. Help me to hang on to You and not bail or let the enemy steal this time with which You have blessed me; this time to move my purpose forward.

I NEED You, my Father. Every moment of every day. I am nothing and I am useless without You. Come close and allow me to hear Your heart. Amen and Ehmen.

Dear Child,

My desire is not that you are perfect as we both know is impossible by virtue of your humanness.

Instead I cherish the moments that you are real and honest with Me; for it is when you pour out your burdens and fears to Me that I am able to refill you with more truth and love; more fuel to keep on the path I have set before you.

While I wish you would fully trust Me, I also understand when you waver. The most important thing is that you keep coming to Me and laying your burdens at My feet; for when your burdens are at My feet, the enemy cannot use them against you. He knows that I will crush him with a single strike of My heel should he try to snatch them.

You can come to me anytime. I will not grow weary, My child.  I know that you have fears; fear is a common human condition and has been since the days of Adam and Eve. Why do you think “Fear Not and Do Not Be Afraid” appear so many times throughout My Word? You are not the first to need reassurance and you will not be the last. I’m okay with that, as long as you continue to come to Me.

I love you, child. Unconditionally and Completely. Eternally. Even when you don’t understand My ways, trust in My love for you and know that you can always approach Me anytime you desire. Everything else will fall into place. Thank you for spending time with Me this morning. Now, just breathe and watch me refill you with My goodness and faithfulness.

A Dream Awakened. A Purpose Revived.


While I am pretty good at daydreaming, I’m not much of a dreamer when my eyes are closed. And, if I do dream, I typically don’t remember.  About four years ago, however, I had a dream that I shall never forget; a life-changing dream that I soon knew was an answered prayer straight from Heaven; the unmistakable confirmation of a prophecy spoken over my life a few weeks prior.

And, although what unfolded in that dream has never been far from mind, I definitely haven’t allowed it to light a fire under me as I know was intended. Instead, I placed it on the back-burner as I so often do when something overwhelms me. Thank goodness, I have a relentless, never-give-up-on-me Lord and Savior who began the process of coaching me out of hibernation this past summer and moving that dream back to the forefront of my daily consciousness.

Dream Revived Note PhotoAs I began thinking about the dream more, I began praying for another dream to boost my spiritual confidence, or, better yet, a replay of THAT dream. I also became obsessed with RVs as that had been the dream’s setting. I even found and entered a contest to win one as I figured this would be a quite fitting–and inspiring—place to finally finish the book the Lord had begun unfolding almost a decade ago.  And, because God is always faithful, I just knew I was going to win.

Spoiler alert. I did NOT win the contest in October. However, God did show up in a most impressive way and on the very day of the contest drawing, nonetheless. I know because I kept notes in my phone.



Dream Relived Tour Coach Cab in Color 2018From My Dear God Journals. October 31, 2018. My first-ever job on the road.

As I stood alone on the Mann Family’s tour bus, I knew in my spirit that there was more to the moment than just being obedient to God, stepping out in faith and doing something new. I knew there was something else God wanted to reveal to me on this trip and this empty tour bus—parked with shades drawn—appeared a clue.

My eyes were drawn to an iridescent light in the bus’s ceiling which illuminated the driver’s cabin in a kaleidoscope of glimmering light and color. As if a spotlight cast from Heaven itself, I felt compelled to take a seat and closed my eyes in hopes of hearing from the Lord.

Within moments, my mind began spinning in reverse, like a tape rewinding in the now antiquated and dust-laden VCR I refuse to remove from my entertainment center. Backwards I went, images of places I had been and moments I had lived, all zipping by in sync with a garbled soundtrack which sounded a lot like Alvin the Chipmunk singing in foreign tongue.

Backwards I went, past all the job difficulties that have plagued the last few years—the multiple management changes and difficulties that those brought, the age discrimination, the toxic work environment and the painfully obvious ploys used to seal my fate as the last of the “old crew” to finally be swept out.

Past the death of my brother and the frightening illness of my mother and my other brother; past my own health scares and an extended illness that literally took my breath away; past what I now know was bouts of depression and crippling fear which I allowed to sideline my passionate pursuit of the very purpose God has laid before me. I even whizzed past the good days, the grace and blessings that God continued to bestow upon me despite my hit-and-miss acknowledgement.

Backwards I went at dizzying speeds, coming to a stop at a place of great familiarity. I inhaled deeply as a wave of déjà vu and intense curiosity beckoned me to reopen my eyes. I was still sitting in the driver’s seat, but I was definitely not on the Mann’s tour bus anymore. In fact, I wasn’t even in 2018.

Instead I had awakened in the midst of the very dream that God had gifted me some four years prior; a dream for which I had prayed for fervently; a pivotal dream in my journey of purpose; a dream of great enlightenment that had both thrilled and overwhelmed me, and, because of my own fear, eventually derailed me.

This was obviously more than a run-of-the-mill déjà vu moment; it was a moment undoubtedly meant to put me back on track; a moment that shouted Isaiah 14:27: “The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken—who can change his plans? When His hand is raised, who can stop Him?”

This answer is nothing and no one; not even a stubborn, hardheaded, “bless her heart” southern girl.

Thank You, Jesus, for bringing me back to the last docking station along this purposeful journey; thank You for allowing me to relive the dream in which Your will and purpose for my life became evident and intersected and intertwined with my own.

Thank You for replaying the dream that awoke my reality.

May I honor and be obedient to it and You, putting pen to paper and sharing it with the world just as You have asked.


Today’s take-away: We are to live in expectation when it comes to prayers, but never forget that just because He may not have answered the way we expected, does not mean He didn’t answer. Stay alert and enjoy the ride! I promise you’ll never be bored. As for me, my first New Year’s resolution for 2019 is to permanently capture my dream using pen strokes and paper. Almost as unbelievable as it is true, it—and the prophecy that preceded it—changed my life and will, if I stay true to my calling, eventually lead to a completed book that will change the lives of countless others as well. Pray for my obedience and stay tuned.

–Amen and Ehmen.

Ask and It Shall Be Given Scripture Photo

There’s purpose in the present…


November 25, 2018

 

Dear God,

Where to begin? It’s been awhile since I opened up my heart and let it flow onto the blank page.

If I am finally honest with myself, this year has been fashioned of fewer deliberate Purpose Scripture Image created 11.25.18prayers and more and more silent groanings. Thank You for never letting my needs go unmet, even when I don’t know what they are or are just too tired and distracted to lay them at your feet. Thank You for sending Your Spirit to continuously intercede on my behalf.

Thank You, too, for sustaining me as I have attempted to find a new normal. Losing my job of two-decades-plus, and more specifically the safety net that it provided, has been harder on me than I have admitted. I still believe with all that I am that You did not want me to step back into a full time job, but to remain self-employed so that I am forced to depend on You and You alone. It’s been 18 months now and You are still sustaining me. Though I often fall short month to month, I have yet to want. Still, I have also yet to rest in a place of complete trust in You. I am sorry for that and pray that you will help me with my unbelief.

Thank you also, Lord, for the doors you have opened for me. I never dreamed that I could go out on tour, physically or mentally. But, not only did I do it, it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life, even with the bumps along the way. You made it obvious that I was where I needed to be and with the people I most needed—incredible people so genuine

0A9D2BBB-4FA9-477C-999E-9CB2D6310588

Thank you, David and Tamela Mann, for being obedient to your calling and allowing me to become a part of your phenomenal “Us Against The World” family.

and full of love for each other and for You. No pretenses whatsoever. What a rare and beautiful treat and definitely the stuff of which lifelong friends are made. Thank You, from the bottom of my heart, for the doors you have opened and those that I know You will open in the future.

And, thank You, Lord, for yesterday, for instantly answering my prayer to have my passion reignited and ink to begin flowing again. The God moments and ideas started flowing within minutes. So, so many ideas, that I am honestly not sure where to start, but I know I should not worry as You are with me.

I couldn’t ask for a better Muse and Mentor. Ever.

Help me to walk in complete obedience so that the seeds You have planted within take root and bear abounding fruit for Your Kingdom. I love you, with all that I am.

Amen and Ehmen.

 

Dear, Dear Child,

How happy it makes me when you meet me here. I can speak to you anywhere, anytime, but it is in the peace of My Presence where the world falls silent that you are able to hear and understand Me most.

Thank you, Child, for your obedience. I know you feel deep down that you have squandered much of this past year, but I encourage you to not let the enemy twist your thoughts. He’s resorted to the same old tricks since the beginning of time. Attempting to lead you away through guilt; through self-doubt.

He knows your heart is Mine, so instead he has to resort to making you feel unworthy.

Hogwash!

You, My Child, are worthy. I picked you. I equipped you.

You are the only one who can fulfill the purposes I have for you and, as long as you love Me and stay connected to Me, nothing can stop you.

I AM proud of you, Child.

You have done nothing wrong.

That Elevation Church podcast that popped up out of the blue yesterday was no accident. I need you to Job on Purpose Image Created 11.25.18hear and believe that the downtime of the past couple of years has not been wasted. It was necessary. Like My son Steven said, it has all been a divine delay; a delay of My own design.

I am lining things up, Child. My plans for you are even bigger than you know; bigger than you will know while on earth. The impact of your purpose will ripple throughout the generations well into eternity. And, as long as you believe in Me; as long as you trust in Me; as long as you are Mine, you can rest easy knowing that you are called; you are equipped; and you are right on schedule—for nothing, My Child, can thwart those who love Me and are called according to My purpose.

Buckle up. You are in for the ride of your life. While the phrase “it will happen” brings hope for the future, I need you to retrain your brain to this truth that your heart already knows to be evident: Your purpose is present tense; a fluid, living, breathing part of you and it is happening right now!

You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

I love you, Child, with a love like no other. Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

Bereaving a bully


Earlier this week I read of yet another classmate’s untimely demise. The older I get, the more frequent these reports seem to come and my reaction is usually pretty much the same—a smorgasbord of emotions.

If the person knew Jesus, I find myself consoled, but still saddened for their loved ones. I then usually spend some time thinking about the good old days and, wonder how they could have possibly passed so quickly.

However, this week’s news did not spark a welcomed walk down memory lane at all. Quite the contrary, in fact.

My mind seemed hell-bent on traveling to a time some 45 years ago where hurtful words repeatedly hurled in a locker-adorned junior high hallway still echo deep inside.

What? Why does something that happened so long ago still linger in the recesses of my mind? Why, when I haven’t given it a thought it all these years, does the mere mention of a name bring it all back to the forefront?

The purpose of this is, by no means, to shame the unnamed or to defile her memory in any way. But, I do See the source imagethink it important to remind everyone to be careful what you say to others and to remind your kids to do the same. What you say does have the power to hurt another and to haunt them long after the words themselves have fallen silent.

Truthfully, at my age, it’s kind of embarrassing, to realize that I still harbor such feelings about someone I haven’t seen or talked to in four-plus decades.  

But, now that I know, I have asked God to help me lay both to rest; to help me to forgive her just as He has forgiven me; to replace the negative memories her name evokes with a celebration of The Father’s unyielding grace and mercy.

Please, Father, I ask you to grant her family and loved ones peace and comfort during this difficult time and help me to look forward to a second chance at friendship when it comes my time to join You both in Heaven.

Amen and Ehmen!

Message Received: Back to Work!


Work at it with all your heart scripture

Since the moment I embarked on this self-employment journey over a year ago, I have felt that this is exactly what the Lord wants for me as it requires me to fully depend on Him.
Still, if I am completely transparent, not knowing where or when my next paycheck will come can be more than a little unnerving at times.
This morning was one of those times, but instead of spending precious time worrying, I turned to God in prayer. As I prayed, I felt a nudge to open the daily bible app on my phone and this is what jumped off the screen.
Oh, sweet Jesus!
The Lord has used this verse many times in my career life and it always seems to be when I am at a crossroads or in challenging times. Needless to say His timing is always perfect. Message received.
Back to work!
Amen and Ehmen!

 

He was real. A living, breathing work of God.


dad and girls

Like a rose garden in the rain, your memory comes to life watered by my tears.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad lately. Though he has been gone for close to 50 years now, the gunshot that took him from us, still echoes deep inside. A bad decision by one individual with a sawed-off shotgun forever changed the lives of two families who lost their patriarchs and the many friends and loved ones left to grieve their loss.

Although I have long forgiven the man who wielded that shotgun, I can’t help but wonder how my life and the lives of my family would have differed. I wonder what it would have been like to grow up with my father and for my daughter to grow up with a grandfather.  His absence still ripples through the generations and can still be profoundly felt in my heart, perhaps now more than ever as I have spent the last several months working on Planes, Trains and Heroes, a book exploring the history of my hometown and the region that surrounds it.

All along this book project has been special to me. As a freelancer, each and every time I lifted a pen to capture the lives of individuals, families, business owners and churches in other communities across the United States, I dreamt of offering the same opportunity to those with whom I share my geographical DNA. I was thrilled when both the publisher and the City agreed and work finally got started in the closing weeks of 2017.

What I didn’t expect was just how personal it would become. You see, my job as project manager and managing editor, is to call on local businesses, organizations and families that themselves have a story to tell—some people and places whose roots are traced to the beginning and others who were drawn here later to become a part of our blossoming heritage.  It has been even more endearing than I anticipated as local business people reminisce and remember events and people of days gone by—including my dad! Yes, Billie Q. Gibson lives on in the memories of people I didn’t even know before now.

Unbelievable and absolutely unexpected that almost a half century since my father was transitioned into the afterlife, people still remember him and fondly so. They worked with him and served with him. They laughed with him and had lunch with him. They respected him and loved him. He WAS real. A breathing, living, work of God. My daddy.

Because he was killed when I was barely eight years old, my memories and even my thoughts of him are from the perspective of a little girl. It’s as if that part of me—the daddy’s little girl part of me—will always be frozen in time; a story that won’t be complete this side of Heaven.

In the meantime, however, hearing that people knew my dad as an adult and hearing that the picture that I had painted in my mind of a knight in shining armor, a true-to-life prince of a man was pretty much true. My dad was an awesome guy –a respected businessman as the manager of a finance company on the corner of Commercial Circle and Watson Boulevard; an active member of the community; a dedicated servant who among other things served on the board of the Civitan Club (it’s good to know those darn Claxton Fruit Cakes served a greater good!); a beloved friend to many; and, of course, a loving husband and father.

Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me this very special walk down memory lane. It was an unexpected blessing that I will cherish forever. Happy Father’s Day to You and to my earthly dad, both who await me in Heaven. I’m proud to be the daughter of The King and the little girl of a true prince

Amen and Ehmen

 

A Battleground Prayer


praise God girl and cross in sky

Lord, you know the needs of this day. I will do my part and clothe myself in the armor that You designed. The Belt of Truth. The Breastplate of Righteousness. The Gospel of Peace. The Shield of Faith. The Helmet of Salvation. And, the only offensive weapon, the Sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word. Please open the eyes of the spiritually naïve, Lord, so that they may suit up and STAND as well, at all times, but especially today when it seems the enemy is being called out to play.

                        Amen and Ehmen.

A Word on Worry


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Worry is a sin and I am a sinner.

I am so sorry, Lord. Perhaps, that is what I could give up for Lent.

What?

You want me to give it all up and you will fill the empty places with peace and joy?

Oh, Lord, that sounds perfect, BUT first I need you to help me give up my pride and stubbornness. You know I can worry about not having anything to worry about. Help me with that?

Amen and Ehmen!