Is God Bored?

I started this blog in 2013 because I was losing my mind. I called it therapy…and it was. I thought it was necessary for my healing. I really, really thought that.

Today, looking back, I realize the only thing truly necessary for healing was to decide that I was fine. I had to look forward. Reshape my mindset. Position myself for the life that I wanted. So I did.

I promised myself that in 2014, I would live a more positive life. I would trust God and His promises. That sustained me. (Y’all do know His grace is still sufficient in 2015, right?) In fact, my 2014 positivity resolution is the only one that I’ve ever kept.

In 2015, I am challenging myself more. I know that God wants me to continue to trust Him. I will. Likewise, I will continue to marvel at His power and the favor that He shows me. However, this year I resolve to continuously tap into the power that He has given me.

There is more to this relationship thing than love. There is work. There is give and take. There is sacrifice. There is overflow. It is a two-way street.

For so long, I’ve been conditioned to believe that God doesn’t need me. I’ve been taught that He’s just fine without me. I challenge that today. If He didn’t need me, why would He have created me? Does God have that much time to waste? Either He is bored or I am purposed…purposed AND powerful actually. My vote is for the latter. Jeremiah 29:11 backs me up on this.

I’m pretty geeked about that.

Happy New Year to those of you still hanging in there with me…or to those who’ve just found me!

🙂 Keep Smiling,

SBF

My Work…My Ministry

I teach. Summer vacation just ended. I’m back at work now teaching Anatomy & Physiology and Environmental Science to 175 diverse, opinionated, intelligent (each in a unique way) teenagers. I need a little coffee and a lot of Jesus every day to help me effectively teach these young minds.

I pray for my students, colleagues, administrators, my classroom, and myself regularly. Still, when my students have a bad day or get frustrated by something…I just want to pray WITH them, remind them about the love of Jesus, and share some scripture with them. However, I can’t.

The law says that Jesus can’t come up in my classroom. He isn’t welcome in the school building. No matter how many hearts He might touch or lives He might save, He must be a non-factor within the public school system.

Ha! Whomever wrote such a silly law never knew the power of my God! I don’t mention Jesus, but my students do. I don’t quote scripture, but when I ask them for their favorite quote or life motto…they quote scripture! I don’t pray aloud, but during that moment of silence after the pledge of allegiance…Jesus moves! I’m so grateful for these things, but there is something else about the challenge of “keeping Christ out of schools” that I have to shout about.

If I can’t speak about Jesus…I am left with no other option but to teach my students about Him through my actions! Through love, understanding, care, concern, service, encouragement, high standards, dedication, sacrifice, and patience…I model the love of Jesus for them. God wants us to keep Him at the center of all things and remember that nothing can separate us from His love. When faced with obstacles, we have to find a way to magnify Him as we work through them.

Anything that brings us closer to God is a good thing. In this case, I am grateful for the opportunity to use my work as my ministry in deeds and not just with words. Please pray with me that students and educators everywhere have a peaceful, loving, productive school year.

Keep Smiling,

SBF 🙂

P.S. Here is a snippet of one section of my bulletin board for this year. Inspired by a board that I saw on Pinterest, I’m hopeful that it will encourage positive choices and character-building among my students this year.

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Work, Not Worry: My Thoughts on the Visionary Work of God

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

-Matthew 6:33-34 KJV

I view Sunday as a day of preparation. It is the close of one week and the beginning of another. On Sundays, I worship, rest, reflect, collect my thoughts, and begin to set goals for the week to come. I also do these things at the beginning of each new month. So on today, Sunday, December 1st…I’m getting a double dose of my norm.

I woke up this morning about 3 hours behind my brain. I was up late working on a project and quite honestly, I don’t know that I ever stopped working on it even with my eyes shut and my mouth open (I’ve been informed that I sleep like that…don’t judge me). I sat up this morning and aside from thanking God for that amazing thing He did in giving me another shot at life today, all that was on my mind was work.

Over the past year, I have become more aware of visions as a mechanism for advancing the kingdom of God. It is how He communicates to His people regarding their purpose in His plan. I have had so many conversations with Him about this. God has revealed some things to me at the oddest of times that just take me out of the present and into the future if only for a moment. Sometimes, the revelation is so quick that I find myself pleading with Him for just one more glimpse of what is to come. Mind you, I’m not pleading because I’m so excited to get to work. I’m not begging Him to show me the end result because I’m so confident that it is pleasant. I’m asking Him for that glimpse because each of the things that God has placed within my spirit to bring to pass while I’m here…and I do mean each of them…takes a lot of time, a heap of work, and quite honestly (excuse my language) each one scares the hell out of me.

There, I said it. God hasn’t blessed me with cotton candy dreams or cupcake visions. He has required me to trust His timing. Submit to His will. Break out of my comfort zone. Believe that He will provide. Do what I said I would never do. Lose friends. Forgive enemies. Accept that I may never reap an earthly reward for the work that I put in as I walk in my purpose.

Fortunately for me, in my little chat with Him this morning, He placed a metaphor in my heart that makes it easier for me to communicate to others why it is important to follow God’s plan for your life and work those visions even if they make you apprehensive. See, to me…God is like a farmer. He plants a seed because He wants it to grow. No good farmer will plant seeds and willingly leave them to fend for themselves. The farmer plants the seed in the appropriate season, waters the seed, makes sure that the soil composition is suitable for the seed, and even removes weeds or pests that threaten the seed’s well-being. Sure, seeds and the plants that they become have natural defensive mechanisms that help them weather a specific range of environmental factors, but they are heavily dependent upon the farmer’s provisions. Likewise, the farmer has planted the seed for the purpose of bringing forth a harvest so He is invested in the well-being of said seed.

I’m sure you’ve figured out that we, each of God’s children, has a visionary seed planted within us. Most likely, we have different visions, but every now and again, we will realize that some of us have been granted a similar vision because God intends for us to help each other bring it to pass. We can’t pretend to know how God intends for us to get things done all the time. We simply must identify what it is that He has asked us to do, commit to doing it, and trust that He will equip us with everything that we need to get it done.

We have to work, not worry. When your vision is God-given, you just work it. Period. Your job is to understand WHAT the task is, not to figure out HOW it will come together. Come what may, you have to have faith that because God wants it done, it will be done. Don’t shy away from what He has placed in your heart. Consult with Him frequently and use the gifts that He has given you. I can imagine that one of the greatest shames that a child of God can face is that of watching someone else bring their God-given vision to pass because he/she wasn’t willing enough, courageous enough, or faithful enough. Don’t let that be you. It definitely won’t be me.

P.S. This is another post for another day (tomorrow maybe), but don’t confuse what YOU want to do with what GOD wants you to do. Not every hustle is faithful and not every grind is God-ordained. God hates sin and will never require you to do so to prosper.

Keep Smiling,

SBF

It’s All Good…

I am truly a work in progress. I won’t use that as a crutch or an excuse. I hate when people do that. I actually get a little frustrated quite often by how MUCH work still needs to be done on me and within me. I have to learn to be patient with myself in that regard because while it is perfectly find to want to do and be better…some things simply take time.

Nevertheless, pressing on is the only option. There is no alternative. I was reflecting on a painful experience today with someone very close to me and was really bothered by the outcome. Fortunately, this week I have been heavily focused on Romans 8:28, which reminds us that “ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose.” With each day that passes, new experiences provide different insight on some of my “go-to” verses such as this one.

I look at Romans 8:28 today with new insight. I look at it with the understanding that if I truly internalize the notion that ALL things are working for my good, there is no worst case scenario. Whether the things that I desire from a person or situation come to pass as I would like for them to or not…God is in control. With focus on what He has placed me here to do being of the utmost importance, each situation that I am faced with and every decision made has the opportunity to bring me closer to God, which is always a GOOD thing.

This is yet another example of what it means to me…to put feelings aside and smile by faith.

 

Only If He Wants…

“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

I just want to love him. I want to love him just as He loves me. I want to love him faithfully and fully. I want to show him that he has my support by helping him to carry the load when it is heavy. I want him to feel my adoration of him each time I place my head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat. I want him to witness my patience as I wait with him for his words and work to manifest…but only if that’s what he wants.

I want to heal his hurts by acknowledging the things that he goes through. I want to help him trust by being honest with him. I want to show him that I believe in him by investing in his dreams. I want to be there for him because he doesn’t believe I will. I want to be what he needs…but only if that’s what he wants.

I want to be his safe place when he feels vulnerable and his voice of reason when he gets off track. I want to laugh with him, make plans with him, and grow old with him. I want to nurture his vision, complement his purpose, and be his good thing. I want to fulfill His purpose for me through him…but only if he wants.

See, I believe that if you want a good man, you have to build yours up. You have to be willing to accept his imperfections, but you can’t let him excuse them. You have to challenge him…push him to be the best man that he can be. Cover him with prayer, listen to his big ideas, and hold him ever so tightly so that he knows that someone cares about his body, his mind, and his spirit…but like the saying goes, “You can’t be hotter than the fire.”

You have to know when to hold on and when to let go. Like a fistful of sand, if you squeeze it too tightly, you lose more than you save. He knows God. It was evident when I met him. He loves God too. That’s what I came to love most about him. He knows the way…to find his good thing. He will go that way because he follows Him. So with each step that he takes away from me…I trust that he is moving closer to what God has for him.

I can imagine that the sadness that I feel when my love is rejected by him parallels what God feels when I reject His love for me. The frustration, the loneliness, the betrayal, the discontentment…all things that God feels as He watches me make attempts to maneuver through life looking for fulfillment elsewhere when He has made it painstakingly clear that He just wants to love me. He has shown me grace, mercy, comfort, forgiveness, hope, provision, healing, and sacrifice. Still, I tell him, “Not right now.”

His lips say love. His actions say maybe later. Perhaps he is torn…between what he wants and what he thinks he needs? With this in mind, I am prepared to step aside and clear his path so that he can find and commit to the ONE heart that he believes is worth winning. I understand that He will not force His love upon me just as I cannot force mine upon him. I understand his dilemma. I face it every day. I want to love him just as He loves me, but only if He wants.

Note: I wrote this post when I was feeling rejected. I felt that I was in love, but I wasn’t feeling reciprocity. It wasn’t written out of anger…a little disappointment, maybe. Some definite frustration. A sprinkle of understanding. Through this late night reflection I realized that true love is not restrictive. It is meant to free us to do what it is that we are called to do. I had to love him enough to free him. Maybe you can relate. The “he/his” versus “He/His” are deliberate, FYI.

Pain for Purpose

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

She provided a safe place for my vulnerability so I confided in her. I poured out the contents of my heart. Perhaps, I was looking for validation. Perhaps, I sought comfort. Quite possibly, all I was searching for was a listening ear. What I got instead, was a reality check in its purest form. She lifted my chin, looked me square in the eyes, and said sternly, “It is time to get over it. Let it go. You have to move past it.”

I was not expecting her to give me such a definitive, borderline-insensitive response. I was used to her telling me that it was okay to not be okay and reassuring me that my feelings were natural. Her demeanor was different though. It was as if she knew that I was in the midst of an intense spiritual battle and I was on the verge of taking a loss. She wasn’t going to sit by and watch me lose.

Truthfully, I agreed with her words. I was ready to release everything that had me bound. Not because I was so strong or brave, but because I was tired. I was exhausted from carrying around the hurt from my past. It was so heavy and it weighed me down. I feared that it would kill me. If not my body, it would certainly kill my spirit. The problem was, I didn’t know how to move on from it. I didn’t know how to let it go.

My pain had become a part of me. I had gotten so used to being hurt that I began to define myself by the many experiences that had broken me down. Abused. Cheated. Rejected. Abandoned. Betrayed. Denied. Unappreciated. Belittled. Despite the smile that I plastered on each day before leaving my home, I wore those titles like invisible name badges. They belonged to me. I belonged to them. It made no sense to me to let them go because each season of my life brought more of the same…packaged differently, but with the same sting. Still, I heard her words to me…and I prayed desperately for the strength to release my past.

One sleepless night, He spoke to me. He whispered in my ear, “I’m here. I never left even when you couldn’t feel me. Follow me…one step at a time. Move when I say move.” I wanted to argue with Him. I wanted to ask Him why He didn’t speak to me sooner. I needed to explain to Him that I could not move. I couldn’t leave my pain behind because I was responsible for it. It was mine. I needed it and it needed me. After all, it defined me. I wanted Him to understand that if I could have moved on from it, I would have moved already. I tried so hard to scream and shout my protests at Him, but when I tried to speak, no sound came out. Instead of moving my mouth, I moved my feet…one step at a time. Sometimes, I moved them quickly. Other times, I moved so slowly that it seemed that I was standing still. But I kept moving. I moved forward…and I’m still moving forward.

Chances are, my “it” is different from your “it.” However, the message is the same. Your pain has purpose and God is more than capable of guiding you out of the pains of your past and into your purpose in Him. You just have to be willing to move your feet…one step at a time.

Lord, I admit that I am broken and I trust in You for full restoration. I know that I cannot be defined by both You and my past. Help me to release the strongholds of my past hurts and walk into Your purpose for my life. Help me to give my pain a voice so that I may use it to glorify You. Remind me of the promises that You have made for those who believe in You. In Jesus’s name…amen.

Hello Beautiful…

One thing that I rarely ever am, is short of words. Most often, I have way too much to say about any given topic at any given time. I make a conscious effort to keep my thoughts to myself a lot of the time…but sometimes I fail miserably at it. Perhaps, that’s why writing has become so therapeutic for me. I’ve always loved to write. Short stories, love notes, to-do-lists, reflections…prayers even. I never imagined I’d be sharing my most personal thoughts with the world. I never imagined that my healing would come through writing. And I especially never imagined that God would nudge me in THIS direction. But here I am…pouring my heart and soul out from behind a computer screen. Hoping to encourage someone. Help someone. Heal someone. The irony is that the more I pour out via written expressions, the more He fills me up. I feel closest to God when I write. I feel stronger. I feel empowered. I feel purposed.

This blog is for the broken. The misunderstood. The hurt. The lost. The forgotten. I have been…actually I AM all of those things if I were to listen to myself. However, I have decided that here…at smilingbyfaith.wordpress.com, we will acknowledge God in all things. That includes an acknowledgment of who God says that we are. Rebuilt for a purpose. Called. Forgiven. Redeemed. Loved. He knows our names.

Thank you for opening your mind and heart to me as I share with you reflections of my quest to find the God who has always dwelled within me. It is my sincere prayer that if you have not already found Him within you, that this blog may help guide you to that point.

Be blessed. 🙂